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8

Guided by God's Presence

The Importance of Recognizing God's Presence

1 Kings 19:1-10(NKJV) - And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Elijah, the most powerful prophet of his time was scared. He had just pulled off one of the most improbable miracle in history. He called fire from heaven to douse a wet sacrifice in the world's first and only "Fire from Heaven Competition". Yet, he was so scared of Jezebel's words that he took off running. Don't forget that in 1 Kings 18, he outran the King's chariot so he probably took off pretty quickly. What's interesting to note is that The Bible doesn't show us anywhere if Jezebel actually sent anyone to pursue Elijah. Perhaps, she had nobody to send because he had a reputation for calling fire from heaven on people who came after him. Nevertheless, he did have one pursuer and that was God. In the worst season of his life, every time Elijah stopped to rest God was there. Under the broom tree, God fed him there. In the cave, God met him there. God valued Elijah so much that even though Elijah was straying from God's Will for his life, God still went after him.

1 Kings 19:11-13(NKJV) - Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God told Elijah to stand on the mountain before Him. He then conducted a simple exercise. He passed by and caused a powerful windstorm to hit the mountains, breaking rocks in pieces. However, even though He caused the windstorm, He was not in it. Then, He shook the ground with an earthquake but though He caused the earthquake, He was not in it. Then, He caused spontaneous combustion right before Elijah's eyes but though He caused the fire, He was not in it. Wait, what? How could God not be in the wind, earthquake or fire? He caused them, didn't He? Yes, He caused them, but God didn't want to direct Elijah with storms, earthquake and fire. He wanted to guide Elijah with His presence.

That's why The Bible said that God was not in them. It didn't say that God didn't speak through them which is what we typically extrapolate by reading between the lines. It said He was not in them. Hence, the writer placed the emphasis on the presence of God. In fact, if you keep reading, you would recognize that Elijah did not move until He heard the still small voice which we can safely assume contained God's presence. Yes, there's revelation in the stillness of God's Voice when compared to the grandeur of wind, earthquake and fire. However, today God wants us to recognize the importance of being guided by His presence.

Why was it so important for God to distinguish the value of His presence to Elijah from signs and wonders? Think about this a little. Elijah called fire from heaven at least three times; once to burn up a wet sacrifice and twice to burn up Ahab's armies. In 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah called a drought on the spot and rain didn't fall for three years. In 1 Kings 17:6 ravens fed Elijah bread and meat. In 1 Kings 17:8-16, Elijah showed the widow and her son how to have their cake and eat it too for the duration of a multi-year famine. In 1 Kings 17:22, Elijah called the soul of the dead child back into his body. In 1 Kings 18:11-12, Ahab's servant said that Elijah had a reputation of instantly translating from one place to another.

In other words, signs and wonders were commonplace for Elijah. Hence, the wind, earthquake or fire from God may have moved us but unless God Himself was in them, they didn't move Elijah. Neither, did God want them to, especially with Elijah's state of mind at the time. Elijah's life was in complete turmoil. He was running for his life from Jezebel. He was scared. He was tired. He felt all alone. He knew God's power. He knew God's miracles. He knew the power of God's Word. He didn't need another sign. He just needed God's presence. He was at his lowest point and he just needed to know that The Lord was with him. He didn't want what was in God's hands. He just needed to be in God's face.

Exodus 33:12-17(NKJV) - Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

Moses understand the value of God's presence. He spoke to God face to face. He knew God's personality. He shared God's heart for His people. So he chose to be guided by God's presence. If God's presence moved, they would move. If God's presence stayed, they would stay. Wherever God's presence would go was the place that the Children of Israel needed to go. Wherever God's presence would not go was the place the Children of Israel needed to avoid. From the days of the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, they understood that following God's presence was the best way to remain in God's Will. Today, God also wants us to get to that stage of our relationship with Him. He wants us to move away from simply following signs, impulses, trends or crowds to following His presence. If you believe God is leading you somewhere or to do something you should use His presence as confirmation that you're on the right track because God doesn't show up where He doesn't want to be.

2 Samuel 6:12-15(NKJV) - Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.

Why did King David dance before God with all of his might when they finally got their hands on the ark of The Lord? The ark represented God's presence and wherever God's presence rested so did His blessing. That's the essence of this entire message. If we only understood the intrinsic value of God's presence we would stop running after every other thing and pursue His presence for the rest of our lives. In His presence we will find joy and pleasures (Psalms 16:11). Where His Spirit is, we will be free (2 Corinthians 3:17). It's His presence that's the difference maker for our present and our future. It's His presence that will keep us through difficult seasons of our lives. It's the people who have God's presence who will be confident that all will be well with them. It's all about His presence.

Psalm 51:10-12(NKJV)- Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

This is my prayer and should be yours too. Enjoy God's presence today.

2

God of the Open Door

Psalm 25:4-5(NKJV) - Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

Options... options... options... life is full of so many options. What career should I choose? Where should I go to school? Where should I work? Who should I marry? Should I even get married? What church should I join? Where should I live? What should I do with my free time? What should I do with my life? What should I do with my talents? What should I do with my money? Those are some of the biggest questions we need answers for. Yet, on top of those big life questions with existential significance, there are many more smaller questions we have to answer everyday of our lives. Why? It's because life is about choices and the choices we make define the lives we live. How do you know which option is God's choice for you?

The easy answer is to say that the option you should choose is the one that lines up with God's Word. That's a great answer but it works best if the choice is between doing what is clearly morally right and doing what is wrong. God's Word will always tell you to do what is morally right. Yet, moral or ethical choices aren't the only ones we have to make. What do you do when you have to choose between two options that are morally right or morally neutral? Which scripture is going to give you the answer? This option also works if you can find an example in The Bible which either closely matches your situation or can be related to it. However, what do you do when your circumstances are not easy to match with specific scriptures?

Isaiah 30:21(NKJV) - Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

The next easy answer is to say that God will tell you which option to choose. I like that answer because it is the right one. However, how does God speak to you? What did He tell you this morning? How did He say it? For the last five confusing situations where you needed to make important choices between options that were morally neutral or good, how did God tell you what to do? Are you sure it was Him? Do you still wonder if you made the right choice? Hindsight is 20-20, so you should know by now if at least some of your older decisions were right or wrong.

I'll be honest with you. God talks to me all the time. I'm thankful He does but that's not the whole story. Sometimes, I can hear what He's saying with total clarity but other times I can't and that's a problem. It's not good enough for God to speak. I have to hear what He's saying too. It's especially difficult to hear His Voice when people around me who also hear from God provide conflicting perspectives on the same situation. It's not good enough to be religious about it and act like you always know what God is thinking. Let's get real. Yes, God has all of the answers. We just don't always know what they are. Hence, we need a consistent and reliable way of getting answers from God even when we're struggling to hear His Voice. Hence, the subject of today's blog; "God of the Open Door".

Revelation 3:7-8(NKJV) - “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

For over two decades, God has shown me what to do in the simplest of ways. He opens the door to the path He wants me to take and closes the door to the path He doesn't want me to take. When faced with some of the most difficult choices in my life, my prayers have remained largely consistent. "Lord, open the door you want me to walk through and close the doors you don't." Even though life presents us all with choices, I like narrowing mine down by the process of elimination. I know it works because I can look back over my life at a track record of good decisions that were only possible because I chose the doors God opened for me and gave up on the ones He closed. It's a remarkably simple approach but it's worth a try.

In the Old Testament, the names of God were directly related to revelations of God's character. When God provided a lamb for Abraham in place of his son, Isaac, The Bible says in Genesis 22:14(KJV); "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." When the Angel of The Lord visited Gideon and commissioned him as the savior of Israel in the midst of their oppression by the Midianites, The Bible says in Judges 6:22-24(KJV); "And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." So when God showed me how to make good decisions in the midst of confusion by noticing the open door, He revealed Himself as "God of the Open Door".

Psalm 37:23-24(NKJV) - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

If God orders our steps, He won't order us to keep butting our heads against doors He has purposefully closed. He would order us through the doors He has purposefully opened. My engineering career is a perfect example. Since the day I graduated with my BS an MS degrees from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech it's been an interesting journey. When I was in graduate school God opened the door for me to get my first job then after 12 years the door started closing. Since I'm a creature of habit, I watched the door closing and the walls closing in around me but did nothing about it. Then after months of inaction, God did the following to me.

Job 33:14-16(NLT) - For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.

When I wouldn't notice the God of the Open Door, He transformed into the God of the Terrifying Dream and got my immediate attention. Since then, my career has been on autopilot. Each step I take now is away from closing doors and through open doors. God hasn't terrified me with dreams about my career lately so it looks like He's satisfied that I'm getting the point. I've stopped trying to force things to work that just aren't working anymore. Things that are past their season have become the closing doors in my life. When the door is closing, it takes tremendous human effort just for it to stay open because I'm on my own. Yet, the more I do to prop the door open, the more the door closes. Eventually, I have to accept that it's not what God wants and He's the one closing the door. Fortunately, God never closes a door without opening another so if a door is closing, it's time to look around for the door that He's opening.

All of us don't have the special ability to hear God's Voice in every situation. However, all of us can see if a door is closing and another one is opening. God has guided me this way for two decades and for the last few days He's been stirring my heart to share our special arrangement with you. Now is the time to ask yourself the tough questions. Have you been trying to keep a door open that door is closing? Have you been ignoring the only open door because you don't want to walk through it for whatever reason? Your success or failure in life is based on the choices you make. A life that's defined by forcing open closed doors is always going to be hard. It's not worth it trying to swim against the current when God is in the current. As my father says; "The worst place to be is where God was." When the cloud moves, even if you're comfortable where you are, pick up your tent and move with it.

Acts 26:14(AMP) - And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’

I won't challenge Floyd Mayweather to a boxing match, Usain Bolt to a 100m dash nor Michael Phelps to a swimming race of any length. Why? I'll lose! It's pointless. Then why would I, in my right mind, think it makes any sense to resist God? If He opens the door and says go right, why would I go left and try to force open a closed door? Because he offered pointless resistance, Saul ended up being knocked off of his high horse by Jesus (pun intended). Jacob would not stop wrestling with God so he ended up with a disjointed hip in Genesis 32:24-25. Jonah tried to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh so he ended up at the brink of death in Jonah 2. What will be your story?

I invite you to get to know Jesus as the God of the Open Door. Unlike many of us, He is very decisive according to 1 Samuel 15:29. He knows exactly what He wants to do and He knows what's best for you. Even if He's promised you things that you are not seeing right now in your life, He can be trusted. Focus your energy on the opportunities He has placed before you. Don't waste energy stressing about the opportunities you did not get. Set your sights on the doors He has opened. Don't be distracted by the doors He has closed. In this season of your life, He closed them for a reason. Now is not the time for that. It's the time for something else. Something He wants you to have. Something He's placed before your eyes. Something on the other side of the open door... something good. Get up and take it. It's yours.

3

The Power of His Resurrection

Philippians 3:7-11(NKJV) - But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

As I prepare to preach this Resurrection Sunday at The Body Church, I've been mulling the significance of this scripture. In our current sermon series, Vision 2018, we've come to the part where we're dealing with "The Power of God" and the role it plays in our personal and corporate church growth. I don't consider it a coincidence that what God wants to say to us this Easter Sunday is directly in line with what He's already saying to us in this sermon series. So today, I'll introduce Sunday's message in this blog.

Apostle Paul's primary desire was to know Jesus Christ. He put that desire above everything else in his life including his personal accomplishments and self-generated righteousness. He then elaborated on the specific aspects of Christ that interested him the most. He wanted to know Christ in two main ways; the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Why? So that the same victory Jesus Christ attained over death would also be his portion. In other words, through Christ's resurrection, he would receive his own resurrection.

At first glance, it seems quite simple. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, so that those of us who were once dead because of sin, can receive life through Him. That life manifests itself through instant spiritual renewal at the point of salvation. It is then followed up by physical resurrection on The Last Day (not before) when Jesus returns to earth. For those who die before that day, the resurrection is literal. Yet, for those who are still alive, their natural bodies which are subject to death and are already in the process of dying will be changed to immortal, glorified bodies similar to the one Jesus received. It also means that those who are in Christ will not experience eternal death which is separation from God. Yet, there's more.

John 11:1-7, 11-15, 20-27(NKJV) - Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, “He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” ... These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house... Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After Lazarus died, Mary and Martha were distraught. First, they were devastated by the loss of their beloved brother. However, what made it worse was that Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, had the power to do something about it and never showed up until after Lazarus was dead. Interestingly enough, Jesus revealed to His disciples that He did that on purpose. It was actually Jesus' intention to let Lazarus die first so that He could raise Lazarus from death (sleep) and glorify God through it. As demonstrated in their conversation, Martha exposed the outer limits of her faith in the power of Jesus. First, she believed that Jesus had the power to heal so if Jesus had arrived on time Lazarus would have been saved. Then, she believed in The Resurrection at The Last Day. At that point, all believers would rise again so even though Lazarus was dead He would live again eventually.

The only thing she didn't believe was God's power to do anything for someone after physical death and before The Resurrection. In other words, she didn't fully understand The Power of His Resurrection. So, to teach her and the rest of us a valuable lesson about His true power, Jesus orchestrated the perfect demonstration. His main goal was to redefine The Resurrection as a person (Himself) and not an event that takes place on The Last Day alone. Hence, wherever He was present, so was His supreme power over death. He also used the opportunity to explain that belief alone gives anyone access to His power. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection and die before The Resurrection will live again and those who believe and are alive will not die.

Obviously, we can apply His statement to The Last Day when we are assured that The Resurrection of all believers will take place. Yet, Jesus was clear that He was not just talking about The Last Day but He was talking about any time before then. He then proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead after three days and subsequently raising Himself (Jesus is God) from the dead after three days. Let me reiterate something you may have missed. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection are able to tap into the Power of His Resurrection. Why do I say that? Whether we know it or not, belief in The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation. It's even included in the main scripture we quote for salvation.

Romans 10:9-10(NKJV) - that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and “believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

To become a Christian you don't just believe in Jesus as a prophet, a Rabbi, a miracle worker, teacher or an overall good guy. You can't even simply believe that Jesus was born and died for your sins. You have to believe in His Resurrection. In other words, you have to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead to be saved. No Resurrection, no salvation! It's that simple. Essentially, The Power of His Resurrection is the power that gives us salvation. Since Jesus is The Resurrection, when you believe in Jesus you believe in His Resurrection from death on the cross and also your Resurrection from death on The Last Day. What you should also believe is that His Resurrection has the power to affect your life between those two events. In fact, because you believe in Jesus Christ, The Power of His Resurrection is active and alive in you now the same way it was available for Lazarus to defeat death before Jesus even died on The Cross!

1 Corinthians 15:12-19(NKJV) - Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Our salvation is all about The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's because He lives, that we can live again. It's because He lives that we can face death with hope of life everlasting. It's because He lives that sin has been defeated forever. So, as we commemorate the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend, let us remember how important this is to our existence as Christians. The good news of the gospel does not end with Jesus dying for our sins but continues with Him rising from the dead to totally defeat it. Not only did He pay the price for our sins but by rising from the dead He defeated the power of sin. He had His cake and ate it too. He paid for sin with His death, then rose from the dead and took His life back once the debt was paid. We should be clear about what that means for us on The Last Day. Now let's talk about what that means for us right now.

Romans 8:9-11(NKJV) - But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Spirit of Christ lives in us which means The Resurrection lives in us. Yes, our physical bodies are subject to death but the life-giving power of His Spirit lives in our physical bodies right now. Hence, all of the power we need to rise from the dead on The Last Day is already inside of us. It's the same power which raised Christ from the dead. It's also the same power which raised Lazarus from the dead. It's the power of The Holy Ghost and The Power of His Resurrection. What can we do with this power? Possibly, anything. We just have to believe. And what do we have to believe? Whatever we see in His Word that applies to us.

Mark 9:23(NKJV) - Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Mark 16:15-18(NKJV) - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Luke 10:18-20(NKJV) - And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Like Martha said to Jesus in John 11, every Christian believes that we will defeat death on The Last Day and rise again in The Resurrection. However, what do you believe God can do for you today? What are the outer limits of possibility in your life? If you can believe, all things are possible for you. You can defeat demons, serpents, poison, sickness, criminals, accidents, disasters or any other agent of death on earth today. You just need to have the faith! How does faith come? By hearing and hearing by The Word of God. Saturate your mind and heart with God's Word until you believe what's written in it. Then everything you believe will become possible in your life.

What's the extent of The Power of His Resurrection in your life? Whatever you believe in His Word!

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Decatur Community Workshops: Single Parents

This video provides highlights from our recent workshop "Single Parents - How To Set The Atmosphere In Your Home". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and Singles Point of View. It was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you.

For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

2

Decatur Community Workshops - Hearing From God

This video provides highlights from our recent workshop "Hearing From God". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

2

Prayer: Why We Pray In The Name of Jesus

Every time we pray, we pray in the name (authority) of Jesus. In other words, we don’t expect God to answer our prayer because of who we are or what we’ve done to deserve the answer. If that was the case, we would pray in our own names. We expect The Father to answer our prayers because of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. That’s why we only pray in the name of Jesus.

Date - October 2nd, 2016

The Body Church

3015 Rainbow Dr,

Suite #142,

Building #3009,

Decatur, GA 30034

**Located in Building 3009 in South DeKalb Office Park, 3015 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034**

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

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July 27, 2016 Posted by admin in Prayer

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Ezekiel 33:1-6(NKJV) - Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

This is the second of a series of blogs birthed out of a Word from The Lord we received over the weekend when we were given a simple instruction, "Prophesy again!" The first blog was published a few days ago. If you haven't taken the time to read, "Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days" do so now. There are things you will read in there that you probably won't find anywhere else.

Furthermore, something quite unusual happened when we published the blog. Within a short period of time our website disappeared and a strange landing page showed up to replace it. For a moment, we had no idea what was going on. Thank God for putting some great people in our lives. It took the expert help of a great friend and his team to undo whatever was done to hijack the site.

We thank them for getting us back up and running properly by the next day. So again let me put it this way, it's important for you to read that article. There's a reason why we went through so much trouble just so you could have access to it.

Nonetheless, let's get to what really matters. Things are changing in the world around us in many crucial areas. There is considerable angst in the US concerning the upcoming Presidential election in November and with good reason. The rise of terrorist attacks on innocent people around the globe has put considerable fear in people's hearts. The global economy seems to be recovering but in disproportionate ways. We know something's going on that we cannot understand but there's a sense of hopelessness and helplessness when we consider our options.

With that being said, The Lord asked me the following question in the midst of a conversation with my wife; "Will you be an observer, commentator or intercessor?" Observers see what's going on and are completely satisfied with simply seeing it. They pride themselves in being "in the know" and feel good about their awareness. Yet, that's the full extent of their involvement.

Commentators however, take it one step further. They see what's going on and speak up. They post their opinions on the issues to their social media accounts. They talk to their friends and families. When they see something they say something to those around them.

Yet, intercessors are the ultimate respondents. When they are privy to important information they get actively involved in changing the circumstances. They don't want to just be informed. They also have no pleasure in simply talking about situations as they unfold. They don't only want people around them to be impressed by their informed perspective but they do something meaningful about what they know. They get in the middle of the situation with the express intention of seeing change. Here's a perfect example.

Genesis 18:16-33(NLT) - Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. 17 “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. 18 “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” 20 So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.” 22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” 26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” 27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” 29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.” 30 “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.” 31 Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” 32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.

God just couldn't keep Abraham out of the loop because of the depth of their relationship. God thought about it first then chose to reveal to Abraham His intentions to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. If Abraham was just an observer He would have taken the information from The Lord and went back to his tent to continue his personal business. If he was just a commentator he would have taken the information back to his wife and let her know what was going on. They may have discussed it at length and felt sorry for Lot and his family. However, that would have been the extent of their involvement.

However, Abraham was an intercessor and his response remains the blueprint for intercession. He didn't waste any time with the information. As soon as Abraham knew of God's intentions he got to work interceding. In fact, he probably could be credited for the salvation of Lot and his family while the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

To put it simply, that's the example we all need to follow. When The Lord allows us to be privy to important information, instead of ruminating on it or talking about it, we need to intercede. For example, when you are shown dreams and visions about things that are coming, always pray because that's one big reason why God opened your spiritual eyes in the first place. Also, if you see something in the spirit you don't want to happen in the future, make your request for a different outcome known to The Lord.

Philippians 4:6-7(AMP) - Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

The Word of The Lord in Philippians 4:6-7 is that our most important response in every circumstance and situation is prayer. It's when we pray that we involve God in our situations and position ourselves for Him to respond with a miracle in our favor. So instead of fear and panic we can have the peace of God which goes beyond our natural ability to understand. In other words, God expects us to pray even when we totally understand the reality of a bad situation and our understanding should result in a natural response of anxiety. If we would just pray specific prayers and thank God for who He is, what He's done and what He will do, He will respond with supernatural peace to replace our natural panic.

Christians are called to be intercessors. When we see the news and don't like what we see we can't simply be passive observers or even commentators. By simply seeing things, we don't change them. By simply talking about things, we don't change them. By simply worrying about things, we don't change them either. Our most effective and primary response has to be prayer. Our human strength is limited so we can't depend on it to make things happen but God's strength is unlimited and when we pray, that's whose strength becomes available to us.

James 5:16-18(NLT) - Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Are you an observer, commentator or intercessor? Observers look, commentators talk but intercessors pray. It's time to make prayer a priority again. It really works.
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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #10: Preaching is the Easy Part!

Young Atlanta Pastor Confession #10: Preaching is the Easy Part!

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the tenth point; " The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #9 - If you're not sure that The Lord called you to be a pastor, quit now because you'll eventually do it anyway."

Jeremiah 20:9(NKJV) - Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

As a student I competed in track, football (not American) and swimming. I still remember the adrenaline rush before getting down in the starting blocks for track, taking the field for football or climbing up on the blocks for swimming. Still, there was something that excited me even more. Academics. Do you know how some people describe themselves as hopeless romantics? I was a hopeless academic. I loved school. What can compare to the fresh smell of brand new text books? Mmmhmmm... Or what's more exciting than a final exam in a class you know you're totally dominating? Oh yeah!

On my last day of high school at Hillview College in Trinidad I just hung out in my school uniform until late in the evening knowing that it was the last day I would ever wear it. On my last weekend of graduate school at Georgia Tech in Atlanta I spent the entire weekend in the computer lab. A friend and I worked on a project while eating cold pizza and drinking hot soda with no sleep. I went home on Monday morning, slept a few hours and rushed back to campus for an 8:00 AM final. Needless to say, I made it out of that program alive. What a rush!

Yet nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like walking up to a pulpit to preach the gospel. Sometimes, it feels like everything is happening in slow motion as the worship team trails off and the hum of the instruments slowly wanes. I imagine myself sitting in the preacher's locker room with some Beats headphones over my ears listening to some Christian rap. My feet are in an ice bucket, a towel is over my head and my Bible is by my side. I've zoned out the world preparing to preach the message of my life. Pastor Duncan, you're up! Oh yeah. What time is it? Word time! What time is it? Word time! OK! That's a bit corny but you get my drift.

My parents say I was a loud baby who cried so much that they just knew I would grow up to be an opera singer, preacher or at the very least, the town crier. 🙂 As a preteen, a lady once handed me a note after church with a prophetic word about my future as a prophetic mouthpiece for The Lord. I still keep that message with me as a reminder of what God called me to do. So, when The Lord told us to start a church it was an easy decision. Here I am Lord, send me! I no longer had to wait for a pastor to give me the opportunity to do what I was born to do. I could do it every week.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

God put His Word in my heart and I couldn't hold it in. That's one of the reasons why I've written five books and hundreds of blogs. The Word was like a fire shut up in my bones so The Lord let me use my fingertips as the outlet. I had the gift of speaking so it was my responsibility to use it for God's glory. Therefore, if accepting the call to pastor meant more opportunities to preach, God didn't have to ask me twice. I was ready to go. Lord, where do I sign up? I'm ready to preach. Well, to my surprise, preaching was the easiest part.

What makes it easy is the fact that it's between you and God. He gives you a message, you package it for the people you are reaching out to and then you do what you are gifted to do; deliver it. Done! If a pastor preaches what God says and the people understand the message, he's done his job. It's each person's responsibility to do something with The Word that they receive. Isn't that the point behind The Parable of The Sower? All the sower can do is sow The Word. He can't control the soil. So preach The Word and go home. Right? Well, not exactly. There's more to the job. A whole lot more. Regardless, I had good reason to believe that preaching was my top priority once I became a pastor.

Jeremiah 3:15(KJV) - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Feed the people of God with knowledge and understanding. That sounds like a great job description to me. Count me in. Where do I sign up? Teach The Word of God, answer questions and help people understand what God is saying. That's not too bad. It's kind of like being a TV preacher without being on TV, right? The 20 minute clips they share on their programs look easy enough so what's the big deal? If you want to be a pastor, you need to be ready to preach. That may be true but there's more to being a shepherd than providing spiritual food to God's sheep.

Ephesians 4:11-14(NLT) - Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

Pastors also have to provide protection and guidance to the people of God because the enemy is all around trying to deceive them. We have to equip people to do God's work, build them up and help them mature in the things of The Lord. We have to be vigilant in the spirit to protect people from spiritual wolves, lions and bears which come in from outside to snatch them away. On top of that, we sometimes have to protect them from each other because everyone inside the fold isn't there for the right reasons. Last, but not least, we have to protect them from themselves.

Sometimes people make poor decisions and put themselves in situations where they need someone else to intervene and help them out of their mess. That's where the real work of a pastor takes place. Preaching is easy compared to the rest of the full job description. It's an awkward position to be in sometimes because we don't want to be in the middle of "grown folks business" but we don't have much of a choice. If we don't at least inquire about what's going on in people's lives, we're not doing our jobs. We have enough to deal with in our own lives but God put us on this earth to serve others.

Hebrews 13:17(NLT) - Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

Whoa! That's heavy. One of the great advantages of a small church is that we can pray for every single member by name each morning. I don't know what we will do when the numbers are too much for that to be practical anymore. I guess we will have to make general declarations over the congregation unless The Lord puts specific people on our hearts. Nonetheless, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. We have to watch over the souls of those we lead and God will hold us accountable for how well we do so.

We teach, we pray, we check up on people, we show up when they need us, we intervene in drama, we do what we have to do but we ensure that the people God has assigned to us are edified, equipped and developed to maturity. Now, lest we get carried away, there's another side to this story. Some pastors can get so caught up in the daily grind of dealing with people's issues that they lose track of their primary purpose. When that happens, God has to send an Apostle, Prophet or other spiritual father along to have a conversation with the pastor that goes a little something like this.

Exodus 18:13-27(NLT) - The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.” “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves. Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.

Stand before The Lord on behalf of the people. Tech them God's decrees. Give them His instructions. Show they how to live. Those were Jethro's instructions to Moses. Once those are done, take care of only the major disputes among the people. Assign a group of leaders to handle everything else. There's the balance. Like Moses, pastors are not supposed to wear themselves out trying to solve everyone else's problems even though many are more than willing to do so. Our first order of business is prayer and teaching people The Word of God then we can take care of everything else.

Acts 6:1-4(NKJV) - Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Here it is again. The pastor's first role is prayer, then ministering The Word, then taking care of the rest of the church's business. Yet, when you first start a church you feel like you're spending more time on so much else. As the church grows, God sends capable leaders who can do the work of the ministry. We thank God for a team of people who really help us out now.

We started the church in a hotel meeting room so we had to bring the equipment from home each day in two cars like a garage band on a low-budget tour. After dragging everything into the room and setting them up I had to change because I would be drenched in sweat. Then we sang and played instruments during prophetic Prayer and Worship, then we led worship, then I needed a cough drop to soothe my throat before I preached. It wasn't easy but it was worth it.

After a year and a half, The Lord made room for us in Decatur, GA eliminating the need to set up and break down the church each week. That freed up an extra hour of sleep each Sunday that we are very thankful for. Everyone pitches in at the church now so we can focus our energies some more. We still lead all the church outreach efforts because it's our responsibility to get it done. We also still lead worship. Until God sends outreach and worship teams, we still have to do it ourselves which brings us full circle. When I signed up for this job, my desire was to preach. However, as we got deeper into it, we realized how much else we have to do as the pastors of the church since we don't have all the people we need yet.

So as we end this installment I'll repeat Confession of a Young Atlanta Pastor #10 - "The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."
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Ask Donnell: Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

Ask Donnell: Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

We received the following question from Sharon;

"When Christ came and departed the earth realm, he said he would send the Holy Spirit who would guide us into all truth. Since the Holy Spirit resides within new testament believers, can they lose the anointing. I say yes but my class is in dispute. Can you respond to this please?"

Sharon, thanks for your question. Sorry it took so long for me to finally address it. I knew what I wanted to say initially but I had to wait for The Lord to reveal His heart on the issue. It sounds like a very simple question but it's not that simple. Over the years I've noticed that some issues I used to assume were black and white in the scriptures now appear to be surprisingly gray. It's not that The Bible doesn't provide clear answers on these issues but it's the fact that it does provide clear ANSWERS and not just one answer.

What do I mean? I mean there are multiple answers and they are all right. Each answer gives us a different perspective on the same issue allowing us to see it from different sides at the same time. This is the comprehensive way that God sees things and it stretches beyond our basic human understanding. The truth never changes but how we see the truth changes as we learn more and more of it. The topic of The Anointing is a perfect example.

It's our responsibility to find these answers and present them in a balanced way so that we get a proper understanding of God's heart on the issue. Hence, for certain issues that appear gray in the scriptures, we can no longer just pick one side and completely ignore the others. We have to resist the urge to use our denominational and experiential bias and be open to a more global Biblical perspective.

All scriptural truth is truth so if we find something in the scripture that disagrees with what we first believed we must wrestle with it in our hearts until The Lord gives us peace. Let's try to do that with this issue of The Anointing. Since I know you already finished reading our earlier blog, "The Heart of The Anointing" I won't repeat some of the basics on The Anointing. If necessary, you can review what was said there before you keep reading this response.

John 14:16-18(NLT) - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

The Holy Spirit will never leave you! That's it! For some people, this is the end of the discussion. It doesn't matter what you do or don't do, as long as you receive The Holy Spirit at salvation once, He is in you forever. End of discussion. Since that's what the scripture says, in no uncertain terms, that's the truth. However, this is where we will start our discussion.

1 Samuel 16:14(NLT) - Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.

Judges 16:20(NKJV) - And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

The Holy Spirit left Saul and Samson. The scriptures were clear about that. Fortunately, He did return to Samson at the end of his life but never to Saul. Nonetheless, this is The Old Testament and since we're talking about New Testament believers, we'll just use these examples as background information and not the foundation of our approach.

Psalms 139:7-8(NKJV) - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Obviously, since God is omnipresent, we are in no way asserting that God is not geographically present anywhere at any time. Of course, He's always there because He's everywhere. However, when God left Saul and Samson, even though He was still present geographically due to His omnipresence He was no longer active in their lives.

He took His hands off of their lives and no longer empowered them to do what He had called them to do. That's what we mean by God's presence being with someone or leaving someone. Yes, He's always present geographically but if He's not actively empowering people to do His Will they are not benefiting from His presence. His Spirit is there but He's not manifesting Himself to them.

1 John 2:27(NKJV) - But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

So what is the anointing?

The Greek word used here is chrisma (khris'-mah) which means an unguent or smearing, i.e. (figuratively) the special endowment ("chrism") of the Holy Spirit:

The anointing is the residue of The Holy Spirit when He rests upon someone. In 1 Samuel 16:12-13, immediately after Samuel anointed David something specific happened. The Holy Spirit rested upon him. The oil itself meant nothing. It wasn't about the oil. It was about The Spirit of The Lord resting on the man whom God told the prophet to smear with the oil. Hence, the oil was just a sign that represented God's choice for His Spirit.

Additionally, in 1 John 2:27, The Apostle John said to the church that The Anointing abides in us. Why is this important? The easiest distinction between being saved and anointed is usually The Holy Spirit being in us versus being upon us. According to Romans 8:10-11, The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian so that's established. Then, in Luke 4:18, Jesus stated; "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To....." However, because of 1 John 2:27 we can't use the distinction of Holy Ghost within versus upon us to distinguish those who are anointed from those who are not. Jesus said The Anointing was on Him, but John said The Anointing is in us. Both are true!

1 John 2:20(NKJV) - But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Apostle John did not isolate a particular group of anointed Christians out of the Christians he referred to in 1 John 2. Therefore, we may assert that Apostle John referred to every Christian who received his letter as being anointed. In other words, knowing this, I would find it difficult to state unequivocally that some Christians are anointed while others are not. That's a big deal because now we have to put salvation and anointing together.

Therefore, if we say that someone can lose The Anointing we might also be saying in the same breath that someone can lose their salvation. That is a much more crucial situation. Nonetheless, the scriptures do show that even though The Anointing comes with The Holy Spirit there is something special about The Anointing. It goes beyond simply receiving The Holy Spirit into your heart at salvation. Let's approach this using Jesus as the example.

Luke 4:17-21(NKJV) - And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus helped us to understand The Anointing by expounding on what He was anointed by God to do. In other words, The Anointing is for a purpose. When someone is anointed by God what that means is that The Holy Spirit has empowered the person to do something. Whether that means The Holy Spirit is in you or upon you doesn't matter. It just means that He's enabled you. God is a Spirit so the distinction of Him being in you or upon you is not literal especially for a Christian. There is no physical location for the spirit realm so we can't project our physical limitations on The Spirit of God. Some say that prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus, The Holy Spirit was only upon people and after the advent of The Church He was in people.

That makes sense except when describing John The Baptist, who was born before Jesus, the scripture says in Luke 1:15; "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." How do we explain that away? Was he filled with The Holy Ghost prior to the birth of Jesus or was he not? Again, all Biblical truth is truth so that's the truth. We just have to deal with it and just use it as another perspective on the truth which helps us to understand the truth even more. Anyway, let's drive home the purpose of The Anointing.

Can a Christian Lose The Anointing?

1 Corinthians 12:4-11(AMP) - Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; to another [wonder-working] faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.

Here's the bottom line based on what we just finished reading. Everyone who is a Christian has the same Holy Spirit but everyone is not empowered by The Holy Spirit to do the same thing. That being said, if merely having The Holy Spirit in your life is The Anointing, every Christian is anointed. However, our definition of The Anointing has to be more robust than that. We cannot define The Anointing without considering the function of The Anointing. Like Jesus, The Spirit of The Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to do something.

I am not anointed just for being anointed. I am anointed to do something. Therefore, until I submit my will to The Holy Spirit and allow Him to not just be alive in me as a Christian but be active through me as one who's anointed I am not walking in The Anointing on my life. There's no merit to the distinction of being anointed unless we are functioning in that anointing. I might have had The Anointing to preach the gospel all of my life but until I actually started preaching the gospel I was not putting The Anointing to use. Hence, simply saying that I was anointed meant nothing. I needed to preach the gospel because of The Anointing and that's what mattered.

Now let's move on to the main point of this entire blog. Once anointed, always anointed? We know that The Holy Spirit will never leave us but that's not the real question here. The real question is can we ever leave Him? Let's find out!

Hebrews 10:37-39(NLT) - “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

James 5:19-20(NKJV) - Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Hebrews 6:4-6(NLT) - For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

2 Thessalonians 2:3(AMP) - Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed],

Can a Christian make the conscious choice to turn away from The Lord and no longer practice Christianity? In the context of the scriptures cited above, the answer is yes. You may not be able to leave Him geographically because of His omnipresence but you can reject Him and turn your back on Him. Yes, it's true that The Holy Spirit will never leave you but you sure can leave Him. In fact, one of the most distinctive events of Bible prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a massive falling away that will take place before the return of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:37 (quoted above) states that a Christian can turn away from The Lord unto destruction. James 5:19-20 (quoted above) says that someone who is a Christian can stray from the truth and return to being a sinner whose soul is destined for death. Thankfully, we can reach out to that person and save the person's soul from death. However, there are those who cannot be saved and that's the category we're most interested in today.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (quoted above) says that there are those who can experience the good things of heaven, share in The Holy Spirit, taste the goodness of The Word of God and His supernatural power and then completely turn away from God. Obviously, these people are Christians who are anointed in every way we can approach the concept of The Anointing. They fall into a special category because of their unique experience with The Lord. If after all of that, they still turn their back on Him, there's nothing we can do to help. Anyone who can walk away from a personal experience with God's power like that has made up his/ her mind.

Saul and Samson lost The Anointing in The Old Testament and it's no different in The New Testament. They chose to walk away from God. Samson sincerely repented and received The Holy Ghost again but Saul never did. Sometimes, people try to explain away the truth in The Old Testament by claiming that everything is different in The New Testament. Well, Old Testament truth is as much truth as New Testament truth. The God of The Old Testament is the God of The New Testament. The difference is Jesus. He gave us a new perspective on the truth of The Old Testament. We don't reject what we see in The Old Testament we just see it through a new pair of eyes; the eyes of Jesus. The truth did not change, our perspective on the truth has changed.

Can a Christian lose The Anointing? That's not the question we should be asking. Can a Christian reject The One who gives The Anointing? Yes. You don't lose The Anointing. You know exactly where it is at all times. It's with The Holy Ghost. What you can do is reject The Anointing by rejecting The Holy Ghost. That's a choice some people have already made and many will make in the future. God will never leave us. He is forever faithful. The choice to leave is ours.

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Special Bulletin: Making Sense of This Crazy Global Economy

Making Sense of This Crazy Global Economy

Proverbs 23:4-5(NLT) - Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.

1.5 Billion dollars! That's the latest lottery jackpot for The Powerball. If someone has the winning ticket that person's life would change forever. All of that person's money problems would be over. The person might pick up some new problems but that's a different issue. We found out that three people from Chino Hills, California; Munford, Tennessee; and Melbourne Beach, Florida had the winning numbers. It would not surprise me if there were a few Christians in the long lines outside of convenience stores and gas stations waiting to buy tickets. Some were believing God to guide them to the right numbers. Come on Jesus! All we do is win! Won't He do it? He did it once, He'll do it again! Maybe that was God's plan to reward some lucky tithe payers somewhere. Maybe not.

30 dollars! That's how low the oil price has fallen. That's a 70% drop in 18 months! As the oil price sunk lower and lower so did the hearts of people in countries with oil dependent economies. Some economists think it will only go lower. Perhaps as low as $10? It's tough times all around. One silver lining would be the low gas prices which we love. SUVs and big cars are selling again because with record low oil prices come record low gas prices.

Sell everything! 2016 will be a cataclysmic year so cash out while you can. That was the advice given to investors by Andrew Roberts, head of European economics, rates and Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and African research at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). China's economic growth is slowing. The stock market is down. The oil price is down. All the signs point to a catastrophic collapse. One of my investment holdings reported horrendous earnings a few nights ago and the value plunged overnight. I guess it's time to jump off a building right? Of course not!

All of this craziness is happening with the world's economy all at once. What exactly are we supposed to do?

Luke 16:8(NLT) - “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.

Well, I can tell you what's not the answer. Doing nothing. When the world's falling apart around you pretending not to notice it and thinking it won't affect you at some point is not an option. Everywhere we look, people are responding to the global financial upheaval. The Trinidad Government is cutting back. Nigeria, Venezuela and seven other OPEC members are pushing with all of their might against their OPEC counterparts Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Quatar and the UAE to lower oil production. OPEC has the power to lower production and raise the oil price but won't do it. Unfortunately, the latter four (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Quatar and the UAE) hold all the cards and will not back down on production until they push the US shale oil producers as well as other non-OPEC producers like Russia out of business.

The world is doing something. There's no guarantee that their plans will work but at least they have a plan. As Jesus stated in Luke 16:8, the children of this world are crafty and cunning when it comes to handling worldly affairs. Sadly, the same can't always be said of the children of God. That's understandable because we are not of this world so we find no pleasure in being experts at the things of this world. Nonetheless, what's happening around us is affecting us so we might want to pay attention where we can and do something to hedge against the disaster that's already here.

Important Biblical Principles To Keep You Sane In The Middle of Financial Insanity

1) Fast Money Is Not God's Answer To Lasting Financial Stability

Proverbs 13:11(NET) - Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich.

Sorry you didn't win the $1.5 billion jackpot. Maybe next time God will tell you the correct numbers in a dream. Constantly, we hear horror stories of people who get money quickly and lose it just as quickly. Why is that so common? It's a Biblical principle. That's why God will not give you the numbers for the lotto jackpot. He will give you a business idea, an assignment, a gift, favor and an opportunity. Steward them well and you can turn into a money making machine. However, if you think talking in tongues while lining up at the gas station for a lotto ticket is God's answer to your financial problems, think again. Am I saying it's impossible for a Christian to ever win the lotto? Nope. I'm saying that it's not a Biblical financial principle for wealth building and never will be. It can't work for everyone so it can't be a principle.

2) Your Money Will Match Your Mindset

Proverbs 14:24(NLT) - Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.

It's easier to make money than to manage money but the latter determines your long term financial status. Your long-term financial state has more to do with your mindset and money management skills than your talents or luck. Talent and luck may open the door for you to get money but your mindset and money management skills are how you will keep it. This explains why many professional athletes and entertainers who don't understand how money works turn into poor former professional athletes and entertainers. Once the checks stop flowing they have to do something they never mastered and that's manage money. In the same way, many lottery winners blow through their fortunes because they have no idea of what to do with money of that magnitude. Your money will either rise or fall to meet your mindset. If you know what you are doing you can start small and steadily increase your net worth. If you don't know what you are doing you can start big and steadily decrease your net worth. In the end, the wise will rise above the foolish.

3) God Puts Money In The Hands Of People Who Know What To Do With It

Matthew 25:14-29(NLT) - “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

In this Parable of The Kingdom, Jesus explained that God gives people money in proportion to their abilities. That's His way of holding people accountable. If you want God to put more money in your hands then you have to do two things; increase your financial management ability and demonstrate it by successfully managing what you already have. That's how God works. He doesn't spread wealth evenly. Those who do well with what they've been given are rewarded and those who don't do well lose what they have. God's plan for your long term financial success is not giving you wealth you have not demonstrated the ability to handle. Stop waiting for your lucky break or a million dollars to fall out of the sky. That's not established Biblical wisdom so you can't plan your financial future around it.

4) Don't Spend All You Earn

Proverbs 21:20(NLT) - The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.

This might be the simplest financial principle ever but unfortunately, it still needs to be said. The world's economy is not in good shape so don't spend your entire paycheck. The Bible describes that as foolish. Live below your means and save as much as you can because you have no idea what could happen next. Even if you don't have a reliable income stream for any period of time your savings buy you time to figure things out. Essentially, your financial state is a measurement of what you have left after your financial commitments. You can improve your state by either increasing your income or decreasing your expenditure. When the latter is below the former you can build your savings.

If you want to spend more and still save then you have to figure out ways to generate more income. One way to do that is give yourself a raise by finding a higher paying job. Another is to pick up a second job. Even if it doesn't pay that much it provides additional income. You can also figure out innovative ways to get money. I have a couple that I won't share in this forum but believe me, they exist. Another is to develop your gifts and talents. What do you do extremely well that people would be willing to pay you for? I've been working hard on mine all my life. I hope you have been too. In times like these you may need to pull on them. Regardless, it doesn't matter how much you earn, don't spend all of it. That's not wise.

5) Be Excellent In Your Work Because It Will Affect Your Money

Proverbs 22:29(NKJV) - Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.

Luke 12:42-44(NLT) - And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

Everyone loves excellence. We may not all be willing to pay the price to operate in excellence in our own lives but we usually prefer those who deal with us to do so with excellence. God's established wisdom is that people who excel and demonstrate faithfulness are rewarded. If we accept that wisdom we position ourselves for promotion in the midst of mass layoffs or faithful clients when everyone else has to scale back. The time of reckoning comes for everyone so it's wise to prepare for it now. Be excellent in all that you do. If you own your business, God will reward you with clients of a higher echelon. If you work for someone, God will reward you with promotion. Excellence never goes unnoticed. Even when you think nobody else sees, God does and He rewards what He sees.

6) Don't Stop Sowing Financially Into God's Kingdom

Matthew 6:33(NLT) - Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Proverbs 11:24-25(NLT) - Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

In tough economic times the one advantage we do have as Christians is access to God's economic system. So it would behoove us to continue to participate in it. Keep tithing. Keep sowing. Keep investing in the work of The Lord. You can't get out of God's system what you do not put into it. This is not the time to skip out on your tithes. If you generate income, be sure to give The Lord His 10%. That's established Biblical wisdom. Don't give into the temptation to remove yourself from God's covering on your finances in an effort to save a very small portion of your total income. It's better to have money coming in and pay your tithes than to get your flow of money cut off as a result of circumventing Biblical wisdom.

7) Don't Panic, Pray and Experience God's Peace

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) - Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I prayed in tongues this morning. When's the last time you've done that? Hopefully, you just did because when things start looking crazy, prayer is your only answer. The world's economy is shaking all around us but we can have peace. It's a peace that exceeds understanding. That's what we need. Worrying will get us nowhere. Common sense says that we're supposed to panic. As we watch the stock market plunge and our investments suddenly lose value what are we supposed to do? Cry? Nope! We pray and enjoy the peace of God. Let the world panic and go crazy. Yes, the global economy is going crazy right now but that doesn't mean we have to.

In sum, let's get real about a few things. The rich are still getting richer and the poor are still getting poorer while the middle class are being stretching thin. That's not changing soon. The oil price is going to have to go back up eventually. It's a rigged system and it's rigged to make money for the people who are rigging it. If dropping the price helps them to make money they will drop it. When it causes them to start losing money they will raise it. They are losing money by the billions so before they run out of savings they will have no choice but to manipulate production and raise the price again.

Nothing is for certain in this world so put all of your trust in The Lord. Many people are in a state of complete fear concerning their financial future and that's understandable. We can't participate in that. The Lord is on our side and He won't abandon us at a time like this. He is speaking and it's our job to listen to what He has to say. There's so much more to be said but I've said enough for now. Think about what you already know and do something with that. Nonetheless, if you want to dig even deeper, watch this video. It will help.

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