New Wine for New Wineskins October 2018

By , October 1, 2018 8:59 am

First Things First (Part 6)

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

God is a God of order, and so we must always recognise, respect, and submit to his order if we are going to experience and enjoy the fullness of life that he has planned for us.

We have previously emphasised the need to ensure that Jesus’ vision statement recorded in Matthew 16: 18 is also our vision statement, and that his mission statement (which reveals how he plans to achieve his mission statement) as recorded in Luke 4: 18 – 19 corresponds with our mission statement.

Jesus is building his church and it is not a weak and defeated and miserable church – it is a victorious, prevailing, and overcoming church. It is also a prophetic church with a prophetic message, which will always and inevitably attract opposition.

As I said last time, the reality of opposition necessitates that we maintain a heightened awareness of the subtle ways in which the enemy seeks to prevent that message from being heard by those to whom it is designed to minister to and to liberate.

I said that we were going to be looking specifically at three of many demonic spirits that attack the church in order to limit its effectiveness, and so last time we began looking at the jezebel spirit.

For the sake of continuity I am going to begin with the couple of paragraphs that we ended with last time.

Jezebel always wants to put you and I on the throne so that it can negatively manipulate us and influence us as we manoeuvre our lives and our words and our actions in ways that protect our position to our own advantage, which will inevitably involve sacrificing and exploiting and damaging others.

The good news is that we have been given a strategy to safeguard against this tendency toward self-advancement and that keeps us in alignment with God’s throne and his perfect will for our lives.

Philippians 2: 3 – 11

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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

The awesome truth is that our security is in our humility. This super-strategy modelled for us by the Lord Jesus Christ himself effectively immunises us to the wicked jezebel spirit.

Jezebel, in common with all demonic activity has to harness a place of pride (which has numerous ugly manifestations) in our lives.

Jesus refused man’s throne because he knew that would make him – and subsequently we who follow him – vulnerable to jezebel. Jezebel wants you and I on the throne so that it can manipulate us.

Whenever you feel intimidated to silence in regard to the self-denying message of the Cross or you are afraid to speak in line with that message that denies self and exalts Jesus as Lord then you can be sure jezebel is around.

We must always keep the Cross central to our message. Any time jezebel succeeds in silencing us it is because it has exploited a place of brokenness in us – a manifestation of the orphan spirit in a fear of rejection and a soulish need to be accepted.

There is obviously a lot more I could speak about in regard to the jezebel spirit and its operations but I want to share something that the Holy Spirit revealed to me a few months ago that is very relevant to protecting the church from demonic infiltration and division.

I believe it is possible to create a firewall around the message and ministry that the Lord has committed to us – a firewall that will safeguard us against the enemy’s strategies and his attempts at infiltration.

At the end of March Catriona and I went over to New Wine Church Tain at the request of Pastor Marie to pray in six new leaders. These were all people who were recognised as already doing the work of a leader before they were officially appointed to the position.

1 Corinthians 16: 15 – 16

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted [addicted, ordained] themselves to the service of the Lord’s people [to the ministry of the saints]. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labours at it.

We arrived in Tain on the Saturday and I was seeking the Lord on how best to carry out the ordination because I didn’t want it just to be a formal ritual.  I woke up early on the Sunday morning and he began to download the strategy into my spirit.  First of all he led me to Exodus 18.

Exodus 18: 17 – 26

17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good.  18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.  19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God.  20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.  21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.  22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.  23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” 24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.  25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.  26 So they judged the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves.

Jethro advised Moses on the importance of delegating authority – specifically to those that you recognise are able and who fear God, love truth, and who hate covetousness. You see, it is Scripturally okay to eagerly desire to fulfil your potential in a leadership role, but it’s not okay to covet someone else’s leadership role – that is where strife and schism enter in and begin their destructive work.

Hebrews 13: 17

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

The Message

17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?

Paul said in Ephesians 6 that an important part of our spiritual armour is to pray for our leaders just as our leaders pray for us. Paul outlined in his letters a number of prayers that he was praying for the church.

And so, the strategy that the Lord downloaded in my spirit for the ordination prayer was to place Pastor Marie and Catriona and myself in the centre of a circle made up of the new leaders and their families. The next step was to create another circle made up of the rest of the congregation and their families around the leader circle that was around Marie, Catriona and I.

As I meditated on this a picture developed in my mind and it was like I was looking down from above and the three concentric circles looked like a target.

The Holy Spirit then showed me that as individuals we are all – every one of us – of equal value to our heavenly Father as his children regardless of our role, function, or status within the Body of Christ, the family of God.

But he then told me that a leader is actually of greater value to the enemy, because the enemy knows that if he can target and take out a leader then he can do major collateral damage to the wider church. This makes leaders a more valuable target and this is why the enemy specifically targets leaders with his high-ranking spirits.

For that reason we are to position ourselves around our leaders in order to protect and support them.
The message in this super-strategy that the Holy Spirit gave me is primarily that we all have equal status in the kingdom of heaven – that our heavenly Father has no favourites among his children – and so a position of leadership should never cause us to think that we are in any way superior and someone who doesn’t yet have that position should in no way consider themselves in any way inferior.

But the enemy of our souls doesn’t operate that way.  He knows that if he can puff people up with pride by convincing them that they had the right to lord it over others, or if he can cause people to resent and covet the position held by others – which is also a manifestation of pride – he can create conflict and greatly hinder the church.

Listen to how Jesus described leadership.

Matthew 23: 11 – 12

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Being a leader doesn’t mean that you are being given more people to serve you, but you are being given more people to serve. If we ever reach a point where there is someone that we are unwilling to serve the validity of our ministry crashes and burns. Jesus never turned away anyone who came to him.

The church works best when we all recognise that we are here to serve one another.

Galatians 5: 13 – 15

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

The enemy will try and gain an entrance into the lives of those who are called to support the leaders, or he will try and establish himself in the lives of the leaders themselves – both of which strategies are designed to infiltrate and do damage to the church that Jesus is building.

As we implemented the God-given strategy that Sunday in Tain and as we prayed the new leaders into position there was a really powerful time and a very tangible and manifest presence of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God.
Remember – all of us are of equal value to our heavenly Father, but if we are a leader we become of higher value to the enemy. He knows that if he can pull us out or deceive us then he can do damage to those who we are leading – those who are following us.

It is also important to remember that we all have the potential to move into the inner circles but we should always be aware that promotion comes with greater vulnerability and the need for greater vigilance.

Our security is in our humility – ministering on the earth as the Holy Spirit anointed sons of men from the security of knowing that we are registered as sons of God in heaven, and always being willing to go through the second humbling of death to selfish ambition so that the church can continue to grow and increase without the creation and distraction of a celebrity culture, all the while maintaining the understanding that what the world calls celebrity the word (of God) calls carnality.

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

Commit to serve one another in love. Keep it a two-way street and always speak the truth in love, not in a harsh and judgemental or a soft and sentimental way.

Elijah took out the false prophets of Baal and Asherah that jezebel had brought in to replace the true prophets that she had cut off and silenced.

Listen up.

Malachi 4: 5 – 6

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

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

We are living in these days – days of blessing – and so it’s all good news as Jesus is building his church, and he wants us engaged in the fulfilment of his vision through our involvement in the outworking of his mission statement, fully immunised against the subtlety of a wicked devil. 

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

More next time….

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