New Wine for New Wineskins July 2018

By , July 1, 2018 10:00 am

First Things First (Part 3)

It is always important to put first things first because the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.

In Jesus’ mission statement he revealed the main thing.

Luke 4: 18 – 19

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent Me to preach deliverance [announce release] to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty [send forth as delivered] those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], 19 to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favours of God profusely abound].

Jesus is building his church – a victorious, prevailing, and overcoming church – and he is building it through those who recognise that their freedom and purpose is embodied in the outworking of his mission statement.

The main thing is not a what but a who – the Spirit of the LORD. You can’t be the church in real-time – real, relevant, and radical – without the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “He has anointed me”.

anointing = supernatural enablement, grace, manifested presence of the Holy Spirit operating upon an individual or corporate group to produce the works of Jesus – the works of the Father.

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will do the same works that he is doing – not in a copycat historical context but in a now context, the works that he is doing now. Jesus said you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

But first things first because the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.

The power is not the main thing, although we have often foolishly thought that it is, and have ended up in lots of trouble and much frustration as a result.

There is a scriptural account that actually highlights this very well.

Acts 8: 1, 4 – 23

1….At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles….

4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.  5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.  6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.  7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed.  8 And there was great joy in that city. 9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery [magic arts] in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”  11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries [magic arts] for a long time.  12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptised.  13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptised he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus.  17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,  19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.  22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.  23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

Power is not the main thing, and we are wrong when we make power the main thing. The Holy Spirit is the main thing. Preaching Jesus is the main thing. The Holy Spirit brings the presence of the Father and of Jesus. When you receive and welcome the Holy Spirit he brings his power.

We talk often about supernatural ministry and rightly so but the emphasis can be too much on the power, because we have made ministry about power. The problem with making something primarily about power is that there are other power sources out there vying for our attention and seeking to deceive us. The people listened to Simon because they saw the demonic power he had, but when Philip showed up he preached Jesus and then the people saw the demonstration of Holy Spirit power because the Holy Spirit always comes to confirm the preached word of God.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me because he has anointed me.

anointing = the supernatural power of God manifested on human flesh enabling that person to do what they could never do on their own.

According to Jesus’ mission statement the first thing we are anointed to do is to preach.

It is important to put first things first because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

There can be a temptation towards employing a reverse evangelism that can be out of order because it focuses on demonstrations of power before preaching, and where there is a lack of respect for and submission to God’s order there can be confusion.

What was Simon the former sorcerer’s motivation in offering money to receive the power?

James 3: 16

16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  

It’s not ever supposed to be about self-promotion and spiritual one-upmanship, but when we emphasise power first we create an environment where wrong motives and even counterfeit signs can abound, even if these wrong motives are masked by a legitimate desire to see the power of God demonstrated and to see people blessed.

The good news is that Peter and the other apostles obviously weren’t interested in receiving payment for spiritual impartation. They had been with Jesus and so they were freely giving from what they had freely received and were still freely receiving.

When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness into a time of testing. The reality is that where there has been no test there will be no testimony. What was being tested in this wilderness episode was the integrity of the word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus countered and conquered every temptation with the word of God, “It is written”. Jesus was about to launch out on his preaching ministry and so the word and the Holy Spirit were being tested to prove that together they are an unstoppable force.

The Holy Spirit always confirms the word – makes it a now word, as he supernaturally transforms the logos word to a rhema word, a living word.  Jesus said that the words he spoke were spirit and life.

In Matthew 11 Jesus invites us to learn from him how to take a real rest. He invites us out of our soulish living – trying to live from the inadequate resources of our soul – and into a life in the Spirit. The devil is the enemy of our souls, and so he always attacks us in the soul realm – in our mind, our will, and our emotions. His goal is to get us out of the Spirit and back into waging war from our souls where we will have nothing but religious works and mantras to oppose him with, and most of us have discovered how ineffective these can be.

Ephesians 6: 12

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The wrestling is in the resting. The enemy wants to provoke us out of our place of rest – the rest of faith – where we simply believe and trust in the word of God and his faithfulness to fulfil his word in our lives..

1 Peter 5: 8 – 9

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith.

Resisting means refusing to be provoked and moved away from what God has said and be tempted to reengage the enemy in the soul realm where reason and feelings and emotions can be exploited, and where we are susceptible to the false wisdom that is earthly and sensual and demonic.

We will always become what we don’t resist, and we will always overcome what we do resist.

Jesus came out of his time of testing with a testimony that the word of God and the Holy Spirit are more than sufficient to defeat and to overcome the devil and he came out preaching Good News – the best news – the news that with the Holy Spirit and the word of God you are more than sufficiently equipped for any and every battle.

When Jesus showed up with the Spirit of the LORD upon him – preaching and teaching – many manifestations of darkness were exposed and cast out.

Luke 4: 31 – 36

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths.  32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.  33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice,  34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”  35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.  36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

What a word this is. Remember Jesus promise in Luke 10:19.

19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

The deep desire of my heart is that all of God’s people would catch, receive and walk in the full implications of this incredible promise.

That is why we must put first things first and remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

The main thing is a “who” and his name is the Holy Spirit and he is our teacher to help us to enter and to remain in the rest of faith as we rest in his presence – because where he is the word is a now word, it is a living word. We don’t have to strive to do anything or make something work because he is there to do it – to confirm his word.

First things first because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Jesus was a message before he was a ministry, and he still is because he is the same yesterday, today, and forever – he is, and he was, and he is to come.

Jesus is anointed to preach good news to the poor.

poor = ptokos = beggarly, cringing, a pauper, destitute, down and out.

Poverty is a result of disconnectedness from God’s blessing through a broken spirit so it infects our soul and will manifest outwardly in the body. Jesus came to reconnect our spirit with the Father so that we can have a powerful revelation of our Father’s heart.

1 Corinthians 6: 17

17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

There is something Jesus said that niggled me at a deep level for years.

Matthew 5: 3

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

How can the poor in spirit be blessed? How can the beggarly, the cringing, the pauper, the destitute, and the down and out in spirit be blessed? Jesus is talking about where these folks are at before they hear and respond to the good news – before they hear and receive the message of the kingdom. Read through the rest of the following verses in Matthew chapter 5 and you’ll discover it’s a progression – just like in Luke 4 – and it starts with the poor.

Listen up.

2 Corinthians 8: 9

9 For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognising more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favour and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied).

Where there is a poverty spirit or mindset there is no vision for, or expectation of, the blessing of God in all of its fullness that impacts on every part of our lives – spirit, soul, and body. Without the Holy Spirit upon us and without the fullness of God’s provision we are spiritually impoverished – we are disconnected from the abundant supply that has been freely provided for us.  The blessing and all that it includes has been freely provided but we should always remember that it was at great cost.

Galatians 3: 13

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The blessing cancels out the curse, but where there is a broken spirit there is an orphan spirit, and where there is an orphan spirit there will be a poverty spirit and a poverty mindset regardless of how much of the world’s goods we accumulate.  Some of the richest people in the world have been bound by a poverty spirit. The poverty spirit says I haven’t been able to do enough in order to get enough to make me feel secure. On the contrary, the prosperity spirit says my Father in heaven has more than enough and so I am secure in his promise to abundantly provide and supply for all of my needs.

John 14: 18

18 I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come to you.

An orphan is someone who is bereft of position, provision, and protection. When Jesus says, “I will come to you” he is talking about the Holy Spirit coming to reside within us and upon us. He is telling us that we will never be bereft of position, provision, or protection due to the awesome reality that Almighty God is now our Father.

Romans 8: 14 – 16

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Galatians 4: 6

6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father.”

Jesus said to pray, “Our Father” because his Father is now our Father and that is about as radical as anything you could imagine and opens up all of heaven’s riches to all who simply accept that as a fact.

Jesus showed us that this truth is actually dead-raisingly radical. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus said, “Thank you Father that you hear me,” and then he called Lazarus out of the grave.

Galatians 5: 1 – 6

1 In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

A startling and disturbing fact is is that 99% of the world’s wealth is controlled by 1% of the world’s population. Just 62 people, 53 of them men, own as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire world population – or 3.6 billion people – according to a report released by anti-poverty charity Oxfam. And the richest 1 percent own more than the other 99 percent put together.

This can have a spiritual parallel in the church – where a far larger percentage of the benefits of the Spirit of the LORD being upon us are only enjoyed by a small percentage of the people, and often it is those are deemed to be the professional ministers – those who are supposedly more qualified.

In the natural there is a theory that giving the wealthy extra benefits actually has a positive impact on the rest of the population – it’s called the “trickledown” theory.  Such a theory is obviously one proposed by someone with a vested interest as one of the seriously wealthy.

The good news is that our heavenly Father doesn’t do “trickledown”. He pours out his blessing in superabundance – he abundantly blesses people so that everyone gets abundantly blessed.

Proverbs 11: 10

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices

When the righteous prosper everyone benefits from the blessing. It is time to deal with the orphan spirit once and for all.

Tradition taught us that God wants to see our brokenness over sin – that he wants to break us – but the truth is that the Holy Spirit comes to show us that we are already broken.  He comes to heal us.  Jesus said that he came for the sick, because they need a doctor to heal them. It is when we recognise that sin has broken us that we turn to God. And he says you are the son that I love – I am well pleased with you. He doesn’t despise a broken spirit, he heals it.

The Holy Spirit specialises in healing brokenness. He doesn’t come to condemn us for our sin – he comes to convict us of how sin has broken us, and of how he has provided righteousness for us, and of the reality that the prince of this world, the enemy of our souls has been judged. All of the sin in our lives has been the result of our brokenness. Our Father wants us to come to that realisation so that he can heal us.

First things first, because the main thing is keeping the main thing.

Healed people heal people, whereas broken people break people. If we try and minister when we are still broken we will be harsh and judgemental. Religious tradition, including a lot of the revivalist culture, taught us that the only way to fix the sin problem was to be broken over our sin but we can waste precious time religiously breaking over again what has already been fixed.

Jesus was broken for us, more broken than anyone has ever been or ever could be, and he is the once and for all sacrifice for sin that is forever acceptable to God.

The Spirit of the LORD upon Jesus didn’t set out every day to expose and condemn sin, but to locate and to heal brokenness. He still has good news for the poor.

First things first, because the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

More next time…

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