Perspective: “It’s Not If, It’s When” Featuring Joshua Dillard

I hope that all those who listen to this message find it just as inspirational, motivating and encouraging as I have.

I pray that as believers we do not allow the world to steal our dreams, but that we instead live the abundant lives which God has predestined for us to live in Christ. Father, help us to become world-changers as we walk in step with Your Holy Spirit to fulfill our God-ordained, Kingdom-Furthering purposes. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Insight: Do You Have the Holy Spirit or Does the Holy Spirit Have You?(Part 1 of 2)

Once we have placed our saving faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, God graciously sealed us with the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. Because salvation is derived from the finished atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, our deeds will never be righteous enough to earn us our salvation. As believers, the loving work of Christ on the Cross mightily liberates us to be all who God has purposed us to be. We now have this remarkable assurance that our salvation is not contingent on our overall performance as Christians. While I do vehemently believe that genuine believers cannot lose their salvation, I do believe that it is possible to live a defeated life as a Christian failing to live in the fullness of what God has ordained.

Have you ever wondered why so many Christians are merely scraping by within this life? They may go to church faithfully, know all of the right things to say within Christian Culture, avoid committing the obvious sins, and even become involved in a ministry or two. But, they are still struggling with the same addictions and struggles that they have for decades as Christians. They may have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, but not as the Lord of their life; they have not wholeheartedly surrendered every area of their lives to Jesus. Why is this? Why would a Christian choose to live a mediocre life with a divided allegiance? What I believe God has taught to me through His Holy Word and through other mature believers is the importance of being immersed in the Holy Spirit.

When Christians are born again, they are born of the Spirit. Through the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, our heart of stone is exchanged for a heart of flesh. God’s Spirit now resides within each and every believer who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer certainly has the Holy Spirit but does the Holy Spirit have the believer? There is a significant difference between the two–the difference between simply surviving as a Christian and actually thriving as a Christian. The Holy Spirit deeply desires to be actively involved in the believer’s life rather than to be restricted to the confines of the believer’s body. He wants to overflow as a stream of life towards everyone whom the believer comes into contact with. The Holy Spirit wants to radically transform your life as a believer so you can live the life of victory God has destined for you to live. Jesus has already overcome this war and the dominion of sin, but it is up to us to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. The invitation is there. Will you respond to it or ignore it like so many already do? God will not infringe on our free will; we either want Him or we don’t, it is as simple as that!

Humility is one of the secrets to the Holy Spirit controlling, leading and empowering the believer. This is counter-cultural and a major threat towards our westernized mindset(which has affected much of the church already). God’s Spirit cannot work as it intends to when we place confidence in the flesh or when we become prideful. Pride and humility are opposing forces. Until we humble ourselves and repent before our mighty God, we will be stuck in this spiritual stalemate. We need to get on our knees before God and confess our sins. We should not ritualize this confession like so many do, but we should weep and mourn over our sins recognizing how depraved we are before a Holy and Just God.  It is then and only then that God’s Spirit may begin to work within us as Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered believers.

Secondly, there must be a willingness and openness to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit through abiding in Him. An interesting observation from Jesus’ earthly ministry is His repeated emphasis on Him being One with God the Father. For example, in John 14, Jesus teaches His disciples, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves”(Jn 14:11). Once Jesus ascended into Heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit(John 14:26; 15:26) onto all those who would believe. The person of the Holy Spirit is co-equal with God and Jesus. Unfathomably, God has purposed for His very Spirit to dwell inside each believer. Now, each and every believer has direct access to God through Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit! It is pivotal that we as believers comprehend the importance that the Holy Spirit has for us in our lives.

Jesus teaches in John 15, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing”(Jn 15:5). Please listen closely and hear what Jesus is saying here! If we do not abide in Him, we can literally do nothing of spiritual worth! We are fruitless, ineffective and destined for destruction if we do not abide in Him. The way in which we abide in Jesus is through abiding in what Jesus gave us before He ascended, that is His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word! There is no other way to fruitfully live the Christian life. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit within individual believers where the spiritual body of Christ is now capable of living within and among huge numbers of people at a time. Jesus exemplifies this awe-inspiring truth when He teaches in John 14,“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father(Jn 14:12). Jesus was not referring to the quality of the works, but rather the size and quantity of the works from this multiplying effect from disciple-making. Because Jesus is residing in each believer through His Spirit, He is able to replicate Himself as many times in order to broaden and extend His reach to further His Kingdom.

In conclusion, as followers of Jesus who are called to model the way in which He lived, we must be one with the Holy Spirit. In addition to the Holy Spirit residing within us, we must reside in the Holy Spirit through being immersed within Him. This is primarily accomplished through humbling ourselves and through being one with the Holy Spirit, much like how Jesus and the Father are one(John 14:20).

Stay tuned for next time where I plan on showing how this would practically look in our lives as Christians seeking to live immersed in the Holy Spirit today.

Father, please humble your Church before You. Help us to repent over our sinful ways and return back to our first love, Jesus. Provide us with an openness and willingness to have you move within our hearts anew! I pray that the Holy Spirit will overflow within each believer’s heart and stream into every area of our lives so that we can powerfully transform the lives of those around us! In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!

What The Enemy Does Not Want You to Know

Key Biblical Text

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete”(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Introduction: Too Busy to Focus on the Spiritual

Have you ever stopped to consider that what we see in the physical realm is only a portion of what is actually happening all around us? I think that it is a safe assumption that most of today barely have enough time for ourselves, let alone to ponder on the spiritual realities within this world.

Life in modern society is moving at such a frighteningly-fast pace that we barely have sufficient time to get our day-to-day tasks accomplished. Statements such as: “I just don’t have enough time”, “I’m too busy for this”, or “There aren’t just enough hours in the day to finish what I need to accomplish” are ubiquitous to the average person today. While it is not necessarily a sin to be busy, what I fear is happening today is that we are being greatly distracted from the things that truly matter in the context of eternity.

Westernized Christianity Waters Down The Spiritual

It is my assertion that the teaching among most Christian Churches within the West does not provide enough focus on the spiritual warfare surrounding Christians. Yet, the Bible repeatedly underscores the importance of recognizing the spiritual realm as something very real and also something which Christians must prepare themselves against.

In the West, we have this prevailing humanist and materialist mindset which overshadows much of the way in which we think and operate as a society. Secular psychology is an incredibly influential and authoritative force even to the degree that it has begun to infiltrate the Church. Almost everything, including the things of spiritual origin, can be merely theorized into these humanist “boxes of understanding”. Christian Colleges and Universities have begun to incorporate psychology-counseling into the teaching curriculum for those studying to become pastors and teachers.

We Are in All-Out Spiritual War

Christian, do you know that you have an enemy who will stop at nothing to annihilate your faith? If you do not recognize how high the stakes are, then surely what reason would you have to equip yourself for this spiritual warfare? There is an old quote that teaches that the greatest thing the enemy ever pulled off is to convince us that he doesn’t exist. The schemes of the enemy work best when those being deceived are ignorant to what is actually happening. Therefore, I think that it is also fitting to say that one of the greatest things the enemy has pulled off is to convince the Church to downplay the importance of spiritual warfare. Perhaps one of the leading causes for why much of the Church in the West has fallen asleep stems from its ignorance of spiritual warfare. We are called to make war with sin so that we can grow in holiness and righteousness, but how can this happen if we are not even aware of the type of battle which we are involved in?

Spiritual Strongholds

GotQuestion.org provides a Biblical View on Spiritual Strongholds below:

The enemy is firmly entrenched; these strongholds have been guarded for thousands of years, presenting a great wall of resistance to the Truth. None of this deters the Christian warrior, however. Using the weapons of God’s choosing, he attacks the strongholds, and by the miraculous power of Christ, the walls are breached, and the bastions of sin and error are battered down. The victorious Christian enters the ruins and leads captive, as it were, every false theory and every human philosophy that had once proudly asserted its independence from God…Sharing the gospel is not the only time we see resistance. We can also face demonic strongholds in our own lives, in our families, and even in our churches. Anyone who has fought an addiction, struggled with pride, or had to “flee youthful lusts” knows that sin, a lack of faith, and a worldly outlook on life are indeed “strongholds.”

I believe that understanding and being able to identify spiritual strongholds in our lives as Christians is one of the first steps to conquering them. Interestingly, a significant degree of our spiritual maturity and growth as Christians is dependent on how effectively we make war with these spiritual strongholds. Each day we wake up, we are faced with a decision to equip ourselves with the armour of God or not. We must understand that even though God has finished the work through His Son on the Cross, we are responsible to continually walk in obedience and to access the spiritual means of grace freely given to us. The spiritual toolkit in the form of God’s armour and the reservoir of His grace is definitely there for the Christian, but it still needs to be accessed by faith in order to be effective.

Tragically, so many ignorant Christians fail to live their spiritual lives in victory and instead choose to live defeated lives. As they listen to the lies of the enemy, they begin to believe them. These lies gain a foothold in the minds of the believer leading to a crippled and ineffective life as a Christian. Rather than reclaiming the authority they have in Christ in order to overcome the dominion of sin, they allow themselves to remain spiritually-complacent and unfruitful.

The Solution: Live by The Spirit through Repentance, & Equipping Yourself with God’s Armour 

God will not provide us with the spiritual victory as long as we are not surrendered to Him. We need to die to self so that Christ through His Holy Spirit will reign and actively work through us as one of His instruments. In the West, I fear that we often intellectualize Christianity and that we restrain it to some kind of futile head knowledge while the heart remains unchanged. If our faith does not manifest in commensurate righteous actions and deeds, then we may be wise to question whether we have a saving faith or not. James 2:14-17 teaches:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

The core teaching is not that it is works that saves us, but rather the point is ultimately: What is the point if our faith is not accompanied with works? Our hearts, not merely our minds, needs to be transformed. It is then and only then that the Holy Spirit will reside within us and empower us to conquer the spiritual strongholds in our journey. As we abide in Christ(through study and application of Scripture), the Holy Spirit works mightly in our life while demolishing those strongholds in the process!

In addition, equipping ourselves with the armour of God as detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18 is essential. Without which, we will inevitably compromise our Christian living and our faith will eventually be sifted like wheat as Jesus Himself reveals the enemy’s intentions to Peter(Luke 22:31). I find this analogy about the Christian from GotQuestion.org helpful as it relies on Ephesians 6:14-17 for its framework:

Our weapons are not physical, for our warfare is spiritual in nature. Rather than guns and tanks, our weapons are those of the “full armour of God” and consist of “the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”(Ephesians 6:14-17)

 

Prayer

Father,

I pray that you awaken your Church to the spiritual battleground around us. Please strengthen us as we ready ourselves for battle in this spiritual fight. Thank-you for providing us with the spiritual weapons of warfare to be victorious over the dominion of sin. Help us to walk in step with Your Holy Spirit to experience the fullness of the plan to that which You have called us in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, I pray Amen.

 

Reference:

https://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-strongholds.html

Insight: “Church, Please Ensure that Your Leaders Practise What They Preach at The Very Least”


Beware of False Teachers within the Church

The Church, particularly within the West, is in serious danger today. I do not say this for the sake of needlessly instilling fear in people(esp. believers), however I also cannot overemphasize the importance of what I am about to share. Within 2 Peter 2:1-3(emphases below are mine), we are plainly forewarned about the presence of false teachers within the Church:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Continue reading

The Paralyzing Power of Fear(Part 2 of 3)

The entire narrative contained within the Bible focuses on a spectacularly all-encompassing Love Story of Redemption where God graciously extends salvation towards rebellious human beings. Within this broken world, only God’s boundless and exceedingly rich love extended through Christ Himself is capable of perfectly casting out fear in our fragile lives. Not only did Jesus Christ model the perfect example of what it means to love one another, but He also lived a perfect live of obedience to God, the Father. Therefore, those who place their full, unbridled trust and surrender in Jesus alone making Him the Savior and Lord of their lives, will be saved from the dominion of sin in their lives. In a similar way, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”. Jesus paved the only way(John 14:6) for perfect reconciliation between us and the Father. Until we are made right before God through being justified by the blood shed by Jesus, we will continually be at enmity with God being under His righteous judgement.

The Christian Church today is under siege by false teachers who masquerade themselves as apostles of Christ(2 Cor. 11:13) whom are in control of many of the world’s largest religions(some of which operating under the guise of
prosperity-gospel“Christianity”
) . To many of you reading, this probably doesn’t strike you as strange considering the vast growth and popularity of the Prosperity Gospel within the West, even being exporting to other countries around the world. What I feel compelled to share and expose is that fear-based religion, whether it functions under the Christian label or not, is not of God, nor is this what God has ever designed for His redeemed people. This is purely of man, and it is basically a repackaged form of the way the Religious Leaders(Pharisees, and other Experts of the Law) of Jesus’ day sought to oppress and enslave the people of this time. Astonishingly, those who adhere to any form of fear-based religion are in greater danger of perishing than those without any religious affiliation, like the atheists, agnostics and/or those who have not yet heard the full Gospel message. Allow me to explain by quoting from part 1 of this series below:

However, the church is always one of the most dangerous places you can be if you ignorantly fool yourself into thinking that you are saved when you are really not. Essentially, you have not only become a hypocrite without even realizing(or through suppressing it) but once you are within the clutches of religion, it is exceedingly difficult to escape because the enemy has cunningly fooled you through using religion as his choice of weapon.

I don’t think that I need to remind everyone that Jesus also reserved the sharpest rebuke for the hypocrites who, ironically, were those within the religious community of this time. Therefore, it is critically important that we examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith as Paul prescribes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 saying, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test”. There is no such thing as a lukewarm, half-committed Christian contrary to popularly held opinion. We are either true Christians, or merely impostors–it is as simple as that. This also is why we need to be continually growing in our faith walk by pursuing the Lord daily and putting to death the deeds of the flesh(Rom 6:11-13), otherwise we will be drawing further away from Him.

One of the strongest indicators that you belong to a fear-based religion is that those who are placed in leadership seek to control you. We will term this, the “spirit of control”. Usually such people have been prematurely respected and therefore placed in positions of leadership in churches and ministries before their character can be clearly confirmed. This spirit of control will eventually lead to destruction if it is not stopped immediately. The distinction between God’s Holy Spirit and this demonic spirit of control is that the Holy Spirit liberates while the spirit of control imprisons. The Spirit-led person cares solely about being controlled by Christ, as opposed to the spirit of control which focuses on manipulating people. The main cause of someone with the spirit of control is almost always because they have not yet completely surrendered to Christ. When someone like this is ignorantly placed in leadership within a church, the consequences are wide-reaching and far-extending. These ripple effects are opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit, and tragically those who follow such leaders will replicate their hypocritical example.

spirit-filledThis is why spiritual discernment is absolutely essential for every believer which comes from being in God’s Word and leading a Spirit-filled life through surrender. Our spiritual walk is greatly contingent on the level of discernment we possess as believers. Isn’t it interesting how the majority of the followers of the religious cults of today are almost always those who lack Biblical Literacy? There is an unseen spiritual battle in our midst which is why we need to always be alert, and continually equipped with the entire armor of God(Eph 6:10-18) wielding the sword of righteousness which is the Word of God. It can only be effective if we keep it sharpened which comes from actually reading, meditating, and living out God’s Word. Otherwise, we as believers are extremely vulnerable and destined to fall away from the faith. False teachers prey upon the naive and the ignorant. They hope that they know the Bible better than you and I in order that they can exploit and manipulate us for their personal gain. One of the biggest lies “progressive Christianity” teaches is that once we are saved, we are free to live however we like because of God’s abundant grace. This heretical teaching has already been soundly debunked by Paul in Romans Chapter 6 and consistently throughout the entire book of Galatians. Rather than an easy-believism, seeker-sensitive, man-centred false gospel of health and wealth, the true Gospel must always be preached in its entirety. Being a real disciple of Jesus requires more than just attending church on Sundays and going out for brunch with some friends afterwards, it requires dying to self daily through continual repentance. The true Gospel message does not end at salvation. Salvation is like the first side of the coin which is like the first step in the Christian’s walk of faith. The second side is repentance through surrendering every single area of your life to Jesus so that the old self can die in order that the new self may live(see Galatians 2:20).

Those who reject the necessity of repentance within the Christian Walk were probably never saved in the first place, despite fooling themselves into thinking that they somehow were. Such people are in grave danger and they are really at the mercy of fear-based religious institutions which help to propel this false sense of security. While many fall into this category, there are still those who have genuinely accepted Jesus as Savior but not as Lord of their lives through repentance, thereby quenching the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit drives the whole engine of the Christian life, we need to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled in order to walk in the fullness of God’s Plan. This can only happen through humility and dying to self. Indeed, fear will consume and paralyze the Christian when they do not live Spirit-filled lives through this daily surrender and repentance. The source of any kind of fear is not of the Father, nor can it ever be, it is of the flesh, primarily coming from the irrational fear of man. Those who are saved and living the Spirit-filled life are not only thriving spiritually and being used as instruments of God’s mercy and grace, but they are free from fear itself because of Christ Who dwells inside them through the Holy Spirit. In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus teaches,

“I tell you friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him”

Because Jesus has conquered the world and overcome death itself, His followers are liberated from the fear of man. The only fear we should ever have is the Fear of the Lord consisting of a reverential and holy fear because of God’s omnipotence and His supremacy over all things.

May God Bless everyone! Stay tuned for the last part of this series where I will share some practical steps to overcoming fear in your life through the power of the Cross and armor of God.

Father, I pray that You can use this blog entry to remind of us of who we are in Christ while re-orienting our attention to the Holy Spirit, Who is often the most neglected Person of the Trinity. Father, remind us of the need to lead a Spirit-Filled life in order to be victorious in the ongoing spiritual warfare we face and to be fruitful for furthering God’s Kingdom. Demolish any strongholds set by the enemy and as you perfect us by Christ’s love, I pray that the fear of man may also be eliminated!

In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

Reference: http://www.godfactor.com/blog/are-control-freaks-killing-your-ministry

 

The Importance of Prayer


power_of_prayer_400.jpgRecently, I feel that the Lord has been drawing my attention to the importance of prayer more than ever. It is so easy for Christians(myself included) to become apathetic with our prayer life, particularly living in an increasingly Biblically-hostile society. However, I firmly believe that prayer is the powerhouse for the Christian life. It is paramount that as Christians we realize that “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”(Ephesians 6:12, NIV). There is an unseen world around us where Christians are living in the midst of a spiritual battleground. This is why it is critical that we put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 13-17), and that we pray for God’s continued protection. Continue reading