The Greatest Sign We Are Given {and how this sign is fulfilled}

This article has been curated from "Jesus the Pattern Son" by Bill Britton, examining the Life of Christ in His humanity here on earth as a divine pattern for the perfect endtime body of Christ. 

THE GREATEST SIGN AND WONDER

In our time, as in the New Testament Church, God is showing forth His power and making known His presence by many signs and wonders. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that this glorious gospel “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according his own will”(Heb. 2: 3b-4). Mark 16: 17 says, “…signs shall follow them that believe.” Notice that it does not say that believers follow after signs; too much of this is being done today. Our first job is to preach the gospel in the power of God’s Spirit and let the signs follow according to His will. Verse 20 says that the early believers went everywhere preaching the gospel, and the Lord worked with them, “confirming the word with signs following.” There is nothing in this to be ashamed of or to hide, as some so-called “preachers”try to make us believe.

Signs are given to be seen and heard about.

Daniel 4: 2-3 says, “I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are His signs! and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” But I would not speak of the many signs and wonders that God is giving forth in this hour, and there are many.

But a greater sign than all these has been given and it is this marvelous and glorious wonder, God’s greatest sign, that I wish to address in this book.

Jesus is God’s greatest sign!

THE GREATEST SIGN IS A SON

In Isaiah 7: 14 the prophet cried out, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ”Now I want to show you that the sign was not the virgin who brought forth. It was not the swaddling clothes He was wrapped in, nor was it His miraculous birth itself. Rather, the promised sign was the One who was born and brought into the world in such a manner. He was and still is God’s greatest sign.

A sign always points to something, and the life of this man Jesus—His birth, death, and resurrection—points unerringly to that great thing which God is doing in the earth. God’s eternal purpose is revealed in Christ Jesus! Read Matthew 1: 18-23 and you will see plainly that the sign was not fulfilled when Jesus was born. It was given at that time, but not fulfilled at that time. Isaiah 7: 14 promised that God would give them a sign, and God gave them this sign when He gave them Jesus in Bethlehem’s manger.

A sign is not fulfilled when it is given. It is fulfilled when that to which it points comes to pass.

That baby lying in Mary’s arms is the greatest sign God ever gave to the earth, and it shall not fail. That to which it points shall most surely come to pass. Glory to His mighty name! The angels spoke to the shepherds in the field on that glorious night, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger”(Lk. 2: 10b-12). Jesus is God’s greatest sign!

Later in the same chapter we find Simeon, that old prophet of God, coming by the Spirit into the temple, where he sees Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. Here we find hands being laid on Jesus and prophecy going forth over Him at the tender age of six weeks, for Simeon took Him up in his arms and began to prophesy. Hear, my friends, what the Spirit said about Him: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against”(Lk. 2: 34b). Yes, beloved, this child is for a sign.

See what He says about Himself in Luke 11: 29-30: “This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be (a sign) to this generation.”The prophet Jonah was a sign pointing to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This sign was given to the Ninevites when Jonah came forth alive after three days in the belly of the great fish. The sign of Jonah was fulfilled when Jesus came forth from the tomb. Jonah’s sign pointed unerringly to the truth; it did not fail. And now a greater sign than Jonah is given.

A SIGN POINTS TO A FULFILLMENT

Let us hear Christ speak once again through the mouth of the prophet: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders…”(Is. 8: 18a). We discover in Hebrews 2: 13 that the One who spoke these words was actually our Lord Jesus. What He is saying is that He is for a sign, and so are the children (sons) that God has given Him, those who are to be conformed to His image; the body of Christ, the Overcomer. Hallelujah! Thank God for His eternal plan and purpose!

Now our minds begin to wonder: if Jesus is the sign, and the Scriptures most plainly show that He is, then who or what is the fulfillment of that sign? Our precious Lord does not leave us in doubt, for the Bible very plainly reveals this great mystery. This is the glorious mystery that was revealed to Paul the apostle, which he calls “my gospel.”For it was Paul who saw the wonderful truth of the body of Christ, the “perfect man,”the sons of God, the many-membered man that God was making after His own image. But this is not gender-specific. God’s “man” is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free; “he” is made up of many members of both genders and every ethnicity, and we are all one in Him. If you are called into this high calling of God in Christ Jesus, chosen of God to be made in His image, and faithful through the fiery test, then you are a member of the perfect man regardless of who you are.

Everything about the life of Jesus points to the body of Christ, of which He is the Head, as well as filling the whole body. He is the divine sign, and that which is coming forth to rule and reign with Him in God’s eternity must follow that sign and fulfill it to the letter.

Yes, the mystery of the body of Christ is hidden to them that are lost. Nevertheless, it is in the Word of God , and is now being made manifest to His saints; those “to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery… which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1: 27).

 
 

The Power of an Opportunity (and the two ways successful people obtain them)

This article is curated from "Not Another Rich Idea: Turning Riches into Wealth" by Eugene Strite. 

SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE RECOGNIZE OPPORTUNITIES

What separates the successful from the unsuccessful? Why do some people succeed while others do not? There could be many reasons: motivation, passion, education. One of the most significant factors is that successful people know how to recognize and seize opportunities when they appear, while unsuccessful people do not. Opportunities abound for those who know how to look for them. Although the timing of opportunities cannot be predicted, it is possible to prepare ahead of time for when they do come. There is power in an opportunity. Depending on the circumstances, an opportunity met or missed can be life-changing. One key to seizing opportunities is to realize that they often appear in unexpected ways or in an unexpected form. Failure to recognize this fact can lead to a missed opportunity.

In 1995, I had been invited to travel to South Africa for the first time in my life. I gave little or almost no thought to this invitation and made a hasty decision to decline the offer. I had no desire to travel that far during that time of my life; nor did I see any advantage in spending time in a place where I knew absolutely no one. Six months later, I was presented with the same invitation. This time, I hesitated before making a decision. When the same proposal was extended to me a second time, I paid more attention. It didn’t take long before I decided I had better accept the offer. The end result was that, because I was willing to travel to an unfamiliar place, I was able to eventually purchase four game farms, several apartment complexes, and houses—all in South Africa.

Here is my point. Opportunities often appear in unexpected ways or in an unexpected form. We miss some good fortune because the opportunity comes in a much different way than we had expected it to. It may involve people we don’t care for or situations that we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. Hence, we immediately disregard the potential of the experience.

I almost missed my chance because I saw and concentrated on a risk that I wasn’t willing to take. Fortunately, I put aside my lack of knowledge, shifted my perspective, traveled to a far-away country, and realized a substantial profit through acquiring several real estate properties. However, my narrow, fixed expectations almost cost me the chance of a lifetime. Once I saw things from a different perspective, I recognized the opportunity that was mine and seized it.

 
 

 

SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES

Narrow vision can be our greatest enemy in recognizing and seizing opportunities. We can be sidetracked by pride, prejudiced thinking, or other limitations and consequently miss wonderful opportunities for growth and increase that may come our way. This is why we need wisdom in our finances and every other area of life. Wise people expect, prepare for, and look for opportunities…and then grab hold of them as they come by.

Webster’s Dictionary defines opportunity as “a good chance for advancement or progress.”In this life, time is all we have and opportunities are what we get to make our time on earth meaningful and significant. Life, then, is a collection of seasons of taken or missed opportunities.

It is opportunities met or missed that determine our success or failure. The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of that opportunity. Opportunities are time sensitive. It may never come again. If we do not seize the opportunity while it is there, we must live with the consequences of our inactivity, possibly for the rest of our lives. The big challenge of opportunities is that they will always take us out of our comfort zone. Some people don’t want to be made uncomfortable, which is why they never succeed.

Oprah Winfrey, a successful American business entrepreneur, has said, “Success comes when preparation and opportunity meet.”It is a true statement. An egg may be small and fragile, but it is destined to fly. Opportunities, then, are stepping-stones on the way to success. They are vehicles to help us get where we are going. Sometimes, opportunities may be small or appear not to hold much promise. Don’t let that bother you. Remember, an egg may be small and fragile, but it is destined to fly.

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Moving Towards A Common Definition of Transforming Nations

This article has been curated from "Understanding the Wineskin of the Kingdom" by Dr. Joseph Mattera.

It is easy for those of us who preach on the Kingdom of God to teach that God wants to transform nations, however, we need to have a common definition of what that looks like. Merely using the word “transformation”is ambiguous and if we do not have a common definition of the meaning of “transformation” then our objective and goals will not coincide with one another.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2: 2-4 KJV)

DEFINING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A PLACE

In this particular passage it indicates both God’s Kingdom and nations of the world. In this beautiful picture, God is showing that in the last days, His Mountain will be lifted up above all other mountains, and that the nations of the world will come to the mountain of the Lord to learn His Ways and for Him to teach them His Laws. Thus, in this context, they cannot know His ways regarding how to function as a nation without knowing His laws. His laws reveal His ways when it comes to civil government and spheres of culture. This has vast implications!

DEFINING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A PEOPLE

Furthermore, verse two calls the Mountain of God the ‘Mountain of the Temple (or assembly) of the Lord’ which puts the true believing church, who is called the ‘temple of God' in 1 Corinthians 6, is the Mountain of God. The church is not the Kingdom of God but is in the Kingdom as the main agent of change and/or His representative to the world.

Consequently, if the church is in the Kingdom mountain and not in the mountains of culture or nations that look to God for His Law, then the church is not in the so-called “religion mountain”as many seven mountain practitioners believe. The church is not in the same mountain as the Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Hindi’s and nominal Christians.

Furthermore, according to Colossians 1: 13, when we are born again God translates us out of the kingdom of darkness and places us into the Kingdom of His Son. This means, whether we believe it or not, true believers are already in the Kingdom of God positionally. Which again puts the true church in the mountain of God and not in the religion mountain. What I am not saying here is that the institutional, organized church is over the nations, but individual believers who make up the visible (spiritual) church, irrespective of denominational affiliation, are in the mountain of God.

 
Understanding+the+Wineskin+of+The+Kingdom+Cover.jpg
 

 

DEFINING THE MISSION

This means that, the main call of the local church is to serve as an equipping center in which believers are raised up from within the Kingdom Mountain and sent into all the other mountains to teach them the ways and laws of God. This is why God has called the five primary ministry gifts to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. According to Ephesians 4: 10, the context demands that we redefine the “work of the ministry”to include the “filling up of all things”which was the purpose of the resurrection and ascension of Christ. In light of the ascension, God has given the church these five ministry gifts to train believers to serve God in every sphere of culture to fill up all things and bring Kingdom government to the whole earth.

That is to say, the five ministry gifts are not just to prepare other preachers, pastors and plan church planting, but are to train architects, plumbers, painters, composers, economists, politicians, mothers and fathers and beyond, to bring God’s Kingdom presence and rule to every domain in which they serve.

DEFINING THE SCOPE OF THE MISSION

From my perspective, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God that emanates from the throne of God (the throne of God is where His personal presence is in heaven). The Kingdom of God rules over all, not just over the true church. There are two aspects of this rule: 1) the Kingdom of God sovereignly rules over all. In a general sense, Psalm 22: 28 teaches that God rules over all the nations which is also the theme of the book of Daniel (Daniel 4: 32-35); 2) In addition to the general rule of God, the Kingdom of God can be also be personally manifest to affect change in the lives of people.

This is what Jesus meant when He said that when He cast out demons it was to demonstrate that the Kingdom of God had come in the midst of the people (Matthew 12: 28). This is also what He meant when He taught believers to pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6: 6-9). 

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The Secret Worship Life of Spiritual Fathers (and the four things it requires.)

This article is curated from "Covenant Transfer" by Dr. Stephen Everett. It is the last of three books in this series that unfold the ministry of Spiritual Fathers and the process they walk through with Father God that prepares them for the task. 

A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES SACRIFICE

We now shift to the latter stages of Abraham’s life. The process of developing him as a father has been rigorous to say the least. All the tests have been imposing to some degree. However, he has passed the most important one thus far: releasing Ishmael. The release of Isaac is yet to come. He loved both dearly and, each release required tremendous fortitude and faith. How does one give up what one has waited on for so long only to realize, technically, it was never yours? The promise of a son was a gift to him, a loan; but actually, the son was the possession of God.

Now, he must deal with the closing chapters of his life, which probably incorporated the last forty years or so, considering the total of God’s dealings lasted about 100 years with him. These last encounters prepared for the final shift to occur, as another generation (Isaac) prepares to continue the purposes of God. 

A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES TRUST

Abraham’s separation from Ishmael primed him for the conclusive separation: His willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command. Fathers must be able to trust the integrity of God’s heart with their choicest treasures. The book of Genesis said that God did tempt Abraham. The purpose behind this trial was to prove to Abraham the depth and quality of his commitment and love to his heavenly Father. If he refused to withhold Isaac from God, he would withhold nothing from God.

Probably the greatest test in a father’s life is relinquishing to God the thing we love the most. If a father is willing to give his “only”to God, he has nothing more to give. Every person has an “only”that is different, for that is why the test is dissimilar for each man. Abraham carried the promise of Isaac in his heart for many years and it was challenging to give him up. If he passed this test, he would walk in uncharted territory: A man with a pure heart never needing a recorded command from God again.

Apostles must know how to lay their long awaited dreams down with grace. The real test is does one want his or her dream more than the God of the dream? In the New Testament, apostles would plant and water a work, and then, they would turn it over to the certain care of a plurality of elders. If apostles will release their dreams at one level, God will return them to them in a higher level –an unprecedented maturity working in people.

A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES A SUBMITTED HEART

The writer of the book to the Hebrews captures this series of events to help us to understand it in light of a New Covenant pictorial. Though the young men accompanied Abraham and Isaac, this was primarily a transaction between the “father and his son.” Equally, although the interplay of characters involved in Calvary was somewhat wily and devious, it was more so a transaction between the heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure”(Hebrews 11: 17-18). “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”(Romans 8: 32)

Isaac was probably a young man by the time God gave Abraham this word. Although it is very apparent Abraham had an unquestioning response to God’s command, we must also recognize the compliance and trust Isaac had in his father. Isaac is a type of Jesus Christ, the Father’s only Son, who willingly submitted Himself to the will of His Father. Being that Isaac in type became a burnt offering, it speaks to the truth that Calvary’s offering was totally unto God.

The heavenly Father lit the torch of Jesus’afflictions. They were initiated by the flame of God’s love and executed by God’s merciful hands. We fulfill the same truth of the burnt offering by becoming “living sacrifices.”Fathers must model this lifestyle before their families because it is the highest level of worship.

The first occurrence of the word “worship”is in Genesis 22. This is a far cry from what we call worship in modern times. There is no music, no choruses, no instruments, and no Davidic expressions –just plain, unadulterated worship. If the law of first use establishes precedence, then, it is impossible to worship apart from costly sacrifice. We are able to behold an unsullied order of worship in everything that Abraham did in preparation for that monumental occasion. A principle we may draw from this transaction is that fathers are skillful worshippers provided they listen to God.

There is no such thing as leaving the praise and worship to the children while the fathers wait to deliver the sermon. In fact, fathers should be the family worship leaders. This is part of the Melchizedek priestly expression –the ministry of offering gifts and sacrifices to God, with the greatest one being our very own lives. The only way Abraham could have explicitly executed God’s orders was to remain in a spirit of worship. By doing so, he wouldn’t stoop to sentimentalism and spare Isaac’s life. Worship enabled him to fully obey God.

A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES OBEDIENCE

Just as Abraham laid the wood of the burnt offering on Isaac, the heavenly Father laid the wood of the cross on Jesus Christ through the instrumentality of human hands. Similarly, we each bare the wood of our personal crosses daily (Luke 9: 23). Though Jesus endured the animosity of a carnal, vitriolic priesthood protecting their religious system and Roman occupiers clueless as to the purposes of God, it was really God orchestrating this whole matter. He hid his plan from men and they became co-conspirators with the adversary in crucifying Jesus. Jesus, like Isaac, was a lamb led to the slaughter, refusing to accuse His Father or to condemn men for what was happening.

Abraham’s reward for his obedience was to receive Isaac back from the heavenly Father as alive from the dead. This is one of the more beautiful pictures of the doctrine of the resurrection. God saw the travail of Abraham’s soul and was satisfied.

The sparing of the son’s life was the father’s reward for total trust.

God vindicated Abraham and Isaac, and He also vindicated Jesus Christ, the suffering Servant, by raising Him from the dead. Another official act of vindication was to provide seed that prolonged his days. This indicates that one of the ways Father God vindicates spiritual fathers is to give them sons. We must lift our thinking beyond church membership at this point because most church members are not necessarily sons. Those who prolong your days have your spiritual DNA –they carry your name, your heart, your passion, your vision, and your agenda. If we use this criterion to determine sonship, most fathers have few sons. However, sons are one of the rewards for obedience. Abraham not only received Isaac to prolong his days in another generation, but he also watched God make his name great.

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4 Realities We Must See to Function in the Supernatural

This article has been curated from "Supernatural Culture: Living From Above" written by Frans Du Plessis. His words and experiences in the supernatural will both challenge and stir your faith for greater things. 

WE MUST SEE THAT WE WERE MADE FOR THE SUPERNATURAL

After thirty-seven years in full-time ministry I am convinced more than ever that the best for the Church is yet to come. God’s best wine has always been saved for last (see John 2:9). The Church was born in the miraculous; the early Church lived in it and I believe we will finish in it. There are people who question the authenticity of miracles today or even the need and purpose for these acts of God’s grace towards men. If one were to remove the supernatural and the miraculous from the Old and New Testament writings, no one would even bother to read them. It would be like taking the sugar out of chocolate or the musical notes from a song. What is the use of a bell if it doesn’t ring?

Man is an eternal spirit being having an earthly experience. In Christ, man was spirit before he was formed in flesh and time. The truth is, Christ was before Adam. The last Adam, Christ, was before the first. Man stands between two worlds, or dimensions, and is the only being created to touch both the natural and the supernatural. As such, man needs to bring the supernatural into the natural—the invisible into visibility.

All natural things have their origin in the spirit. Man is the manifestation of God in the natural. The Kingdom of God is spiritual and supernatural and it rules the natural. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned, the earth began to shake. The prison doors swung open and all the prisoners’chains fell off. The natural could not rule the spiritual. There is a higher dimension than the three-dimensional and rational world we live in. This reality is above the reality and experience of our natural world. It is higher and supersedes it, but also includes the rational and physical realm. It is the realm of the Spirit of God.

WE MUST SEE THAT FAITH IS THE CONNECTING FACTOR

Faith opens the door and connects us to this realm. The Word of God and the Spirit of God govern this realm and dimension. Faith is the ability to see the unseen and make it visible. The origin of God’s Kingdom is not of this world; therefore, neither the science of this world nor the mind of man can understand or control it. The writer of Hebrews says that God “[upholds] all things by the word of his power”(Heb. 1:3 KJV). Jesus’prayer was: “Our Father…Your kingdom come…On earth as it is in heaven”(Mt. 6:9-10 NKJV). Paul puts it this way in 2 Co 4:18: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal”(KJV). Through the following practical life stories I would like to create a hunger in your heart and in the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ to live in and from this spiritual realm.

In Galatians 5:25 Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”(NKJV). It’s not walking in the Spirit that makes us spiritual. It’s because we are spiritual that we walk in the Spirit. This is how the first Church lived and walked. It was not only the apostles who manifested the supernatural power of God and His Kingdom, but also the elders, deacons and other believers. Jesus said: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me: but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him”(Jn. 10:37-38 NKJV). All the works of God are miracles to us, but to Him it is normal behavior. This is the way He operates and, I believe, He also wants us to live naturally supernatural.

WE MUST SEE THE SUPERNATURAL AS A NORMAL WAY OF LIFE

As Paul says to the Ephesians, God has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”(Eph. 2:6 NKJV). This is our position and this is our identity. The miraculous should not be such a big deal to us as sons of God. Rather, it should be our normal way of life, for we are not just common men. Let me repeat that. In Christ we are not just common man. We are not fleshly man but spiritual man. We carry the image of the heavenly Man, Christ Jesus: “As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly”(1 Cor. 15:48 NKJV). Furthermore, Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”(NKJV).

Because you are a heavenly being in Christ, and because His Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death, you should never let your circumstances determine who you are. Not even your behavior determines who you are. Only God—His behavior and what He says about you—determines who you are.

And God says that you are the righteousness of God in Him. He says you are holy. He says you are His son and a partaker of His divine nature. He says you are an heir of God and a saint. We are in Him as He is in us. He is the Man from heaven, and that is also the image and identity we have, because we are part of the heavenly Man. First John 4:17b says: “As He is, so are we in this world”(NKJV). This “we”speaks of a corporate “we”. In the Greek this verse is in the present tense, which means this is not a future idealistic hope for someday when the Church grows up, but is a present reality for us.

WE MUST SEE OURSELVES AS QUALIFIED IN CHRIST

As He is so are we in this world. Not as He was, but as He is: the victorious, holy, sinless CHRIST. When John, on the island of Patmos, saw Him as He is, he fell like a dead man at his feet. This leaves us with a dilemma: A sinless, corporate victorious Christ in the earth cannot be made up of a multitude of individual “sinners in the flesh.”In the same way, many “individual wrongs”cannot constitute “a corporate right.”This sinless, corporate Christ can only exist if the individuals in the body are holy and sinless. Only then can the Corporate Christ be holy. Could it be that Christ looks at us differently than we look at ourselves, that He calls us by nature and not by our behavior, that He calls us holy and sinless and believes that our actions will eventually line up with who we already are? And who are we? We are people whom Christ has made completely new.

As Paul expresses it: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”(2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV). Notice the verb tenses in this verse. Present tense: “he is a new creation”; past tense: “old things have passed away…all things have become new.” These tenses represent current and completed action. We should not let our environment determine who we are. We are not what we do. We are who we are! We are what Christ has already made us. The miraculous is not a reward for doing right things. This would take us back under the law of performance and reward or failure and punishment.

Miracles are our life in Christ. It’s who we are.

Read more by Frans Du Plessis in "Supernatural Culture: Living from Above." His experiences in the supernatural will both stir and challenge your faith to believe for greater things. 

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3 Necessary Components for the Making of a Mature Son

This article comes from Dr. Sam Soleyn in his book, "My Father! My Father!" These foundational truths will anchor you in the perspective you need to grow and mature in this present season. 

A TRUE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AS FATHER

Jesus fully presented an understanding of a true relationship with God as Father. Adam’s early departure from this intended relationship to God left unshown God’s intended relationship to man as sons. Adam’s default to the culture of the fatherless provided no foundation for humankind to live in relationship to God as a Father whom he loves and trusts. The Gospels, however, introduce Jesus Christ as the Son of God and presented to humankind with the declared purpose of finishing all that was lacking with his predecessor, Adam.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the earth included fulfilling the requirements of the precreation covenant, but His life was also meant to fully demonstrate how the Son of God, born into the world of human beings as an infant, would progress through the stages of a human life. Though ultimately He was killed on the cross, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended to heaven, Jesus’ life provides a history filled with details about the Son of God and His relationship to His Father.

THE LOVE OF A FATHER & THE TRUST OF A SON

This life was designed to be a template for understanding how God relates to His sons and how sons of God are meant to relate to the everlasting Father. Jesus’ life filled the void that Adam left regarding a model for understanding the relationship between man as a son of God and God the Father. When Adam defaulted to the position of being alone in the world, without a Father, God acknowledged that Adam’s condition entitled him to the bread of his own toil. Adam’s separation from his Father also resulted in a separation from the estate designed to supply him in this way. He and his progeny came to rely instead upon the force of their own strength and their skill in the development and use of technology.

As a son of God, Adam had been entitled to the support of his Father’s house while he attended the rule to which he was assigned, and the Kingdom that he represented was sufficient to supply all of his needs for resourcing so that his rule would not be deficient in any manner. His Father would supply his need for wisdom, knowledge, council, understanding, and power, all key elements necessary for his successful administration. God would have conveyed this supply both directly and indirectly. Direct conveyance would have occurred by Spirit to spirit contact. Indirectly, supply was already present in the order and structure of creation around him, which Adam would have called forth.

The relationship of sonship, in which the Father loves the son and the son trusts the Father, is required for this order of rule and supply to function. The relationship between Jesus and God the Father shows this relationship perfectly. Although the Father remains invisible, His divine goodness is resplendently displayed through the words and works of Jesus. For His part, Jesus clothed Himself in the role of a son, affording humanity a complete picture of the order of the relationship that God envisioned when He made man as His son. Therefore, Jesus’ life is the intended point of reference for understanding the father and son relationship as God originally intended it.

A PLAN OF PREPARATION

Jesus’ life from the age of twelve until He was thirty years old is summarized in the statement, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52.) Paul would also write about Jesus, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered" (Hebrew 5:8.) The Father permitted every form of trial to which a human being would be subjected to attend Jesus, while God carefully monitored His progress and gave Him what help He needed. The Father did not simply abandon Jesus to the circumstances of life until He was thirty. Jesus’ path was laid out carefully so that His sufferings and trials would install the layers of obedience necessary to sustain the pressure of His destiny. God’s intent was to prepare Him for the time of His maturity through the incidences that shaped the quality of His responses.

The things He suffered were related directly to the specific obedience to the Father required by His unique destiny. The Father’s involvement in the process is clear and unambiguous. Jesus grew in favor with God as He submitted Himself to the leading of the Spirit and to the instruction of Scripture, both of which informed His choices consistently.

God put the results of Jesus’ training on display for us to observe when, immediately after His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1.) In the three recorded temptations, Jesus responded to the enemy on the strength of the word of the Spirit applicable to the circumstance. He verified that word by the use of scriptural text. Jesus restored the appropriate authority of Scripture, being familiar with the voice of the Spirit. The temptations and Jesus' responses reveal the results of the Father's deliberate preparation of the Son with full knowledge of the Son's destiny. 

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Why Our View of the End Matters So Much

This article comes from Frans Du Plessis in his book "Revealing God's Intended Finish." We are thankful for his words and writings through which he has left a legacy for generations.  

THE UNFOLDING MYSTERY OF HIS KINGDOM

It is of utmost importance that the doctrine of the Church be continuously, critically analysed and apostolically redefined to ensure that it is in line with the doctrine of Jesus and His apostles. We must interpret the Word of God like Jesus and His apostles did: “by the Spirit,”and not let majority or popular views influence us to stray from the unadulterated Word of God. We must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and remain Christ-centred, interpreting the end from the beginning, to discover the original intent of God and the unfolding mystery of His eternal Kingdom.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of a man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Inaccurate mindsets, traditions, and wrong paradigms can frustrate the acceleration of God’s Kingdom purposes in the earth. Defining this current apostolic season and understanding the rhema word of God by the revelation of the Spirit is essential for the Church to stay relevant and accurate. The leaders of dead religion have always been seeking new ways to gain power, rule, and dominion in order to enrich themselves through others. This season is not about the title of Bishop or Apostle, or of men trying to outrank one another. Entitlement has always been a way of hiding insecurity.

Thus, we must rely on God, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to distribute His gifts in and through us according to His will and not our ambition. We have the assurance of the Lord in Revelation 3:8 that He has given us an open door that no one can shut. In fact, we are in the season of an open heaven. The most important issue in the Church is the issue of God’s Kingdom. The message of the Kingdom was and is the priority of God, and must therefore become the priority of His Church.

THE SEASON HAS CHANGED

Previously, the Kingdom of God was understood, defined, and administered by the Holy Spirit through a pastoral grace in the local church. The shepherd heart of Moses is a good example of this grace, through which God gave Moses the ability to deliver and lead Israel out of Egypt in their journey to the Promised Land for 40 years. One generation later the season changed, and Moses, from the tribe of Levi, had to make way for Joshua, the commander from the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim) who had the grace to possess and prosper through the Book of the Law.

When God changed the season for Israel, He also changed the leadership-grace through which the new season would be administered. After Joshua, Caleb from the tribe of Judah started leading Israel toward their victories in the Promised Land. His grace was different from that of Moses and Joshua. Caleb’s grace was that of a conqueror. He conquered the giants of Hebron and possessed and ruled the land which he had spied. David would be from this same tribe—Judah. This became the ruling and leading tribe in Israel—the tribe from which the kings of Israel and Jesus Christ, the Greater Son of David, the King, would eventually come (see Gen. 49:10).

Caleb operated in this spirit of the Kingdom. Caleb was a type of the leadership-grace God is currently restoring to lead the Church. God spoke through the prophet Amos and said that He would restore the House of David (see Acts 15:16-17). In this current apostolic season of reformation, God is awakening us to the reality of the Church as the restored House of David, the Kingdom of God, and the rule of Jesus Christ as Lord.

Moses was able to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took a commander, Joshua, to take them into the Promised Land. Joshua took them in and taught them to walk by God’s Word and how to prosper. It was only when Caleb, from the tribe of Judah, came that the remaining land was conquered. David, also from this tribe, possessed the stronghold of Jerusalem and established Zion.

Dear friend, God’s season is changing. Like the changing of leadership from Moses, to Joshua, to Caleb, God is currently administering His Kingdom purposes on the earth through the apostolic and prophetic graces, which are foundational and governmental in nature. Therefore, we can expect all Church doctrine to be reevaluated. This is critical because doctrine forms the foundation of the mindset of the Church and ultimately determines our behaviour. We are and behave according to what we believe.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCTRINE

Doctrine is of the utmost importance. When the first Church met under the grace of the Apostles of the Lamb, their first and foremost focus was apostolic doctrine, for without accurate doctrine their fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers would have been rendered inaccurate (see Acts 2:42). Apostolic doctrine is more than creeds and ancient beliefs. It is the proceeding Word that allows the Church to walk accurately in what is relevant for its season, without ever violating the Scripture. The accuracy of the interpretation is that which makes the Scripture alive and effective in our lives.

Jesus defeats the devil with “present-day truth" in the wilderness of temptation through an accurate interpretation of the Scripture. However, Scripture without the revelation of the Spirit can become a dry well.

Paul, the apostle, says in Second Corinthians 3:6: …the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. In this season, we are not ministers of the letter, but of the Spirit. This is one of the most important aspects of this current apostolic season. Apostolic grace has the ability to interpret the scripture by the Holy Spirit. Accurate interpretation can only take place by the Holy Spirit and makes the Church relevant, dynamic, and powerful. 

ESCHATOLOGY

Eschatology is the understanding concerning the end times. True eschatology must be Christ-centered. Apostles and prophets make sure that Christ remains the center of it all. They are master builders, laying the foundation of Christ (see 1 Cor. 3:10). Eschatology is not so much the sequence of end-time events, but rather concerns itself with rulership. Who has the right to rule? True eschatology is all about the finish and the ever-increasing Kingdom of God.

Most books about the end times were written in the previous century by people whose ideas have proven to be inaccurate and outdated. Most popular, modern-day eschatology is fear-based, preoccupied with the antichrist, and pessimistic about the future. Because of its sensational nature, it has become popular and well-advertised, rather than an accurate doctrine that brings God’s Church into dominion.

Modern-day popular eschatology, with its futuristic dispensational theories, creates an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the end. Therefore, most Christians have a negative expectation about the future.

If we are misinformed and have inaccurate concepts about the future, we will come to wrong conclusions that will render us ineffective today. The first weapon of mass destruction used on mankind was the weapon of misinformation. The snake used this weapon in the Garden when he said: “If you eat, you will be like God.”(See Genesis 3:5.) Man was already created in the image and likeness of God. This misinformation led to an identity crisis. If you do not know who you are and where you come from, you will not know your destiny.

If we do not have an accurate picture of the end, our current direction will be unclear, and our overall effectiveness will be limited. This current apostolic season will of necessity involve itself with eschatology. The questions we need to ask ourselves are: “Are we waiting for Him, or is He waiting for us?”and “Whose move is it now?”

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One Simple Truth that Brings Financial Breakthrough

This article comes from Eugene Strite in his book "Strategies for Financial Breakthrough."

HOW BREAKTHROUGH COMES

Many times we look at our situation and wonder if there is hope. The mortgage is due…there was an unexpected hospital bill…the kids’school expenses were higher than usual this month…and then there was that irresistible deal that we just couldn’t pass up. How will we make it? we wonder. What needs to happen for us to get relief? So we pray and ask God for a breakthrough in our situation. The problem is, we often don’t recognize them when they come.

Breakthroughs come in people’s lives mostly through a new concept or through relationships. Many people do not realize that they are simply one truth away from a breakthrough.

Instead, they are looking for something to fall out of the sky or are hoping to win some lottery or million-dollar sweepstakes when the answer to their prayers are all around them through opportunities and the people they meet. They are looking for the wrong thing.

You see, the truth is, it’s not about the money. It’s about obedience. It’s not about what you have; it’s about what’s in your heart. What is the vision and purpose of your heart? Why are you interested in financial gain? God is very interested in money, finances, and wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18 says that it is the Lord who gives the power to get wealth. But God has a specific purpose in mind for this wealth: It is for the expansion of His Kingdom. Money is not to come to us, but through us. We are like a filter or cleanser through which the goods and wealth of this world transfer to the Kingdom of God.

RELEASE OF KINGDOM WEALTH

God is looking for a group of people through whom He can release the wealth that the world has stored up. He is searching for a generation of people who have a passion to extend His Kingdom, so that all nations would come to know God. And He hasn’t been able to find too many of them.

The problem has been that when we begin to possess things, those things begin to possess us. As soon as we decide to hoard some of it for ourselves, the flow stops. Our hearts have become corrupted. We have replaced our passion for God with a passion for mammon. There are only two gods: God and mammon. You cannot serve both. But you can allow the one to serve the purposes of God through you and do all that God has in mind for your life and the lives of many other people. But, I repeat, it’s about obedience and the heart.

FULFILLING YOUR DESTINY

If your heart is to fulfill your destiny and extend the Kingdom, then God can trust you with wealth.

Do you want to fulfill the destiny that God has for your life? Do you want His passion to be your passion? Have you prayed and asked God for a breakthrough in your situation?

Money is a means to the end, not the end itself. It is only a tool to advance things, to get a job done, and to fulfill the destiny of your life. Some of my greatest breakthroughs have come in the simplest things or through comments made by people. They, not money, were the answer to my prayer. There is one who scatters, yet increases more. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. If you bless people, God will honor the work of your hands.

Pursue the things of God first and foremost, and He will add the things to you as you gain the ability to receive and do good with them. Obedience will take you further with God than you can ever take yourself.

A Model for Reforming the Global Economy

This article comes from Dr. Elijah Morgan in his book "The Economic Pendulum." 

THE CENTRAL ELEMENT TO A STRONG ECONOMY

It is time—indeed, it is past time—for us to rediscover the importance of the household as the central element for the health and success of both the economy and the church and to restore it to its rightful and indispensable place. The evidence of history leaves little doubt as to the critical importance of small businesses to the health and vitality of a nation’s economy, at least in countries where the economy is essentially decentralized and free-market forces are allowed to operate with minimal governmental restriction and regulation.

In the United States, for example, over 25 million small businesses employ over half of the private workforce in the nation, create 70% or more of all new jobs, 40% of new high-tech jobs, and account for over half of private gross domestic product annually. Over 50% of all new technologies and innovations come from small businesses. Not only do small businesses create the vast majority of new jobs, but they are also the gateway through which most people begin their working careers. Small businesses are the primary providers of opportunities for women and minorities to achieve financial success and independence. In the United States today, over half of all adults either are self-employed or work for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

A healthy economy depends on the presence of healthy, vital small businesses. When small businesses suffer, the economy suffers.

According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), a small business is one that is independently owned and operated, exerts little influence in its industry, and employs fewer than 500 people. Large businesses, while presenting a significant competitive challenge to small businesses, especially those in the same or similar industry, are at the same time dependent on small businesses for a number of things. For one example, small businesses supply components needed by large companies, such as the manufacture of automobile parts used by the “Big 3”automakers: Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Many large companies choose to outsource certain business or administrative functions to small businesses, such as billing, advertising and marketing, payroll and accounting, bookkeeping, administration of health care benefits, etc. While a small business may exert little influence in its industry compared to large businesses in the same industry, at least in individual economic and monetary terms, its social, cultural, and even moral impact in its community and business sphere of influence can be very great indeed.

FAMILY VALUES THAT BECOME BUSINESS VALUES

One reason for this is that most small businesses are also family-owned businesses that operate according to the same principles and values of the families that own them. Many of these enterprises have been in business for decades, their success and longevity due to the effective transmission and perpetuation of these family values from one generation to the next. The positive impact of family values on small businesses and their communities is so marked that studies have been undertaken to identify these values, measure the extent of their influence, and explain the reasons for their effectiveness. One such study, conducted as a research project through the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra, examined the longevity of Spanish family-owned businesses. Their research identified 14 key values that drove the success and longevity of these firms—and which undoubtedly also reflect the values of family-owned businesses anywhere in the world: respect, quality, excellence, entrepreneurship, humility, hard work, reputation, stewardship, social responsibility, accountability, prudence, loyalty, honesty, and profitability. In fact, these findings were compared with findings from earlier studies that looked at family-owned businesses in France, Italy, and Finland, to provide a true cross-cultural analysis. One reason this was done was to prevent cultural bias from skewing the results. Identified values from all of these studies were compared, and although the lists naturally varied somewhat in the specific values cited, allowing for different terms that define similar concepts and other terms that bear close relationship with each other, the lists were remarkably similar.

The three values that emerged as most important for the longevity of these family-owned businesses were quality, honesty, and hard work.

REFORMING A GLOBAL ECONOMY

These values, which are recognized factors in the long term success and viability of small family-owned businesses (households), are the same values one would expect to find in ancient Israel under the full operation of the sabbatical, Jubilee, and other domestic provisions codified in the Mosaic Law: a nation of entrepreneurs (self-employed) working their own land or business (private property), prospering through honesty, excellence, quality, and hard work, always laying the foundation for the success of the next generation through accountability (to God and each other), social responsibility (care for the poor) and good stewardship (before God) of their land or other resources.

Could it be that one reason the economies of the West lost their way is because the Church of Jesus Christ lost its way? Is our current abandonment of economic focus on the “households”of small family owned businesses in favor of centralized government control a reflection of the church’s abandonment of its original identity as a family household of faith in favor of the hierarchical institutionalization that came into its own at the time of Constantine? The best hope for reforming the global economic system to focus on households and on social and economic justice for all is for the church to recapture and re-embrace the family/ household mindset and structure it had at the beginning; a mindset where believers saw themselves—and lived accordingly—as a community of faith and the family of God.

The Intention of the Father's Heart

This article comes from our CEO and Founder Vishal Jetnarayan in his book 'Designed to Hear God.'  Download your digital copy when you subscribe.

FRIENDSHIP

Everyone needs a friend—someone with whom we share affection and esteem, someone we are interested in and desire goodwill towards, someone we favor and who we can be cheerful, comforting, and amicable towards. But while most of us seek friendships with others, we are not always naturally inclined to desire a friendship with God, and this is for various reasons. To begin with, we don’t necessarily seek His ways. If we did, then the world around us would be a much more pleasant environment. At other times, we approach God the same way we approach some relationships in our lives— using control, manipulation, or self-interests. We attempt to exploit God, while lacking understanding of His affection for us. Nevertheless, it has always been the intent of our heavenly Father to be our friend.

Many people relate to God from fear of being punished or struck dead rather than loving and worshiping Him as a friend. Fortunately, there were men in the days of old who were able to go beyond the law and who became known as friends of God.

Before there was the law, Abraham was visited by God, and he had a relationship with God. The Bible says that God did not hide what He was doing from Abraham (see Gen. 18:17), but communicated His thoughts to him. The driving force behind Abraham’s relationship with God was that he was obedient to the Father and followed His voice (see Rom. 4; Gal. 3; James 2:23). But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend (Isaiah 41:8). Moses, another great leader, was able to establish a friendship with God that would change God’s heart from destroying the nation of Israel (see Exod. 32:10-15). So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11a). And then, there was the king who was known as a man after God’s own heart. David had a very special relationship with the Lord (see 1 Sam. 13:14). During most days, before he would finally be placed on the throne, he was on the run for his life from his jealous father-in-law, King Saul; and it was during these times that he grew much closer to the Lord. Throughout the Psalms, we read about his experiences and of his friendship with God.

WE ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet (Psalm 8:4-6). In this Scripture, we learn that God is “mindful”of man. In other words, He remembers us; He mentions us; He thinks of us. We are important to Him. He considers us, remembers us, and calls on us to come to this everlasting friendship that He will not walk away from. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (see Prov. 18:24).

In all of mankind, no matter who you are, there is that innate response to want to have a relationship with a “being”higher than man. But indeed, we are no longer on a search for Him because He has come in the flesh (see 1 Tim. 3:16), and His name is Jesus Christ. We don’t have to labor to have a relationship with Him, for His friendship is freely offered to us. He confirmed this friendship when He declared: No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:15). We are considered His friends, people who He is fond of, who are dear to His heart.

His friendship is not demanding but is a matter of mutual affection. I long for Him and He longs for me. As we desire to take on His characteristics, vision, and purpose, His friendship with us will lovingly convict, correct, instruct, and change our lives.

BE AN INSPIRATION

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