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Tag: Hope

5

Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days

Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception

Colossians 2:4(NLT) - I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.

Have you ever tried to figure out how "magicians" do their tricks? I remember walking through the streets of Manhattan, New York at night over a decade ago with some family and friends. It was late and we were a few blocks from the most active areas so I thought it strange to see a small, lively crowd quickly gathering at what seemed to be an arbitrary street corner.

As we approached the group, I noticed a man in the middle doing what I now know was a typical NY hustle. He had a makeshift table and on it he placed three cups turned upside down. Below one of the cups was a little ball which observers wagered money to locate after he moved the ball around between the cups.

"Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." If you keep your eyes on the ball, you'll know exactly where it is. Yet, something so elementary is so much easier said that done. By moving the cups frequently and quickly especially without the actual ball, he was able to deceive his patrons with misdirection.

Eventually, they spent more time looking at the three cups than they did at the one ball which essentially led to them being fooled. Fast forward to 2016 and once again, misdirection and distraction are the tools being used to keep our eyes away from the truth. Many of us are in the middle of a typical New York hustle and we don't even know it.

Welcome to today's blog. I have heard from The Lord and can remain silent no longer. I ate the little scroll and after a minor stomach ache it's time for me to prophesy (See Revelation 10). Like the Apostle Paul said, "I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments."

Daniel 12:4(NLT) - But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”

Welcome to the last days. With the advent of the printing press in 1440, thoughts and ideas could be communicated to large groups of people far and wide through books. With the advent of the radio in 1895, the same could be done audibly in real-time. With the birth of television in 1927 the ability to communicate messages through audio-visual imagery in real-time changed the world forever.

From there came 24 hour news cycles with CNN in 1980, the world wide web in 1989, the smartphone by IBM in 1992, the first social media website Six Degrees in 1997, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, the iPhone in 2007 and the rest is history. We are now at the peak of the information age with immediate access to more information than we even need.

With so much knowledge at our fingertips we should be the smartest generation in the history of mankind. Think about it. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report in the first quarter of 2016, mobile broadband subscriptions topped 3.7 billion while mobile smartphone subscriptions topped 3.4 billion worldwide. That means billions of people can know anything they want at any time by just pulling out their phones and accessing the information. So why is it that so many of us don't seem to understand some of the most basic principles that control the world we live in?

How many of us reading this right now can confidently explain exactly how our economy works and why the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. What about our political system? How are laws made or changed or more importantly what laws have been made or changed lately? What about election? Who really controls what goes on in an election campaign? What about our healthcare system? What are the driving factors behind legislation surrounding healthcare? How about answering the question, "What goes into making the food you buy? Would you still eat it if you found out?" I can go on and on.

The point I'm making is that even though an overabundance of information is a good thing, it could also lead to confusion which takes us back to the NY hustle; "Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." The truth is the ball and the cups are the information surrounding the ball. If the hustler moves the cups around quickly and frequently enough, those who are watching the cups will lose sight of the ball.

Therefore, we can become completely obsessed with watching cups when our real focus should be on the ball. What we have playing out before our eyes is a simple case of misdirection. A free press is essential in any successful democracy so any effort to suppress information is "frowned upon in this establishment".

Therefore, instead of suppressing the truth, those who want to control the narrative drown out the truth with useless information. It's a simple approach. Don't suppress an unfavorable headline, create commentary on the headline that questions the authenticity of the information supporting it then highlight or even create a distracting event that legitimately replaces the headline with something different. It works especially when people are gullible enough to believe that the information they are receiving is impartial and if it's not, the inherent bias is easily recognizable.

For instance, many people know that money rules the mass media. Why? Advertisers pay the bills so in the end they control the content. If you don't believe that, try to get your message in the media and see how far it reaches. You will quickly find out that it reaches as far as your money does. So the answer to that dilemma for many smart people is that they don't believe what they see or hear on network television and they only trust the messages on public television and radio.

Yes, that's a step in the right direction but let's not forget who finances public radio and television. In addition to the donations of viewers and listeners like you, many of the same corporations who practically own the content on network and cable television support non-profit foundations which in-turn donate to "you guessed it" public radio and television giving them the platform to influence content.

So some smarter people have figured that out and don't believe what they see on television or hear on the radio. They get their information from The Internet. If they want to find the truth, they google it. The corporations and special interests might control mass media like television and radio but they definitely don't control The Internet.

That might be true but why don't you peruse the most visited news, commentary sites, blogs and social media accounts? What you see running on many of those pages are what we affectionately call ads. Why are there ads?

People advertise on sites that have large followings. Pay even closer attention and you will realize that sooner or later, mixed into the messages being presented even on the most thoughtful blogs is sponsored content. The same way doctors are paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs to their patients, Internet celebrities are paid to mention certain products or take certain positions on issues. In other words, some free thinkers you trust to tell you how to think may not be as free as you originally thought. Nonetheless, that's not the priority of today's blog. This is...

Amos 8:11-12(AMP) - Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of the Lord. And [the people] shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord [inquiring for and requiring it as one requires food], but shall not find it.

Whenever there's a major news event in the world we can find no shortage of commentary all over the media. Much of this commentary comes from "experts" in the issues at hand, guided of course, by media personalities whose jobs are to discuss the news and shape public perception. Not just that, with immediate access to the available information, any person can make a comment on their social media accounts or in some cases, directly below the news articles on major news websites.

So that's exactly what many of us do in The Body of Christ. We join the commentary and share our opinions with anyone who would listen. While there's a plethora of Christian commentary everywhere, especially on social media, there's a famine of The Word of Lord. When we give our opinions we essentially regurgitate the perspectives we viewed in the media that shaped our mindsets. Hence, our opinions have no power and the famine continues.

Yes, we appreciate what you think about President Obama and his wife, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton but what is The Lord saying? It's easy to join the movement and say "Black Lives Matter" when we see disproportionate use of lethal force or "Blue Lives Matter" when someone attacks the police or "All Lives Matter" when we don't understand what's going on.

However, what is The Lord saying? People are scrolling through the channels on television, radio stations, Google searches, Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and anywhere they can find information looking for more than just commentary and personal opinions but a Word from The Lord.

Luke 21:34-36(AMP) - But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth. Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.

For years, we have been fast asleep with our eyes wide open. In an age when the truth is out there for everyone, less and less seem to find it. While we're busy being entertained by sponsored media content, worrying about what's going on or dealing with the everyday stresses of our lives, important things are drastically changing around the world.

Many of which will directly affect our lives very soon. The Lord revealed that an economic boom is coming followed by the hugest economic bust we have ever seen. The oil price will go back up. The result of the upcoming US Presidential election will shock the world. There's a Muslim connection to The Antichrist that's clearly visible through the countries that support him in Daniel 11 and the way Christians will be persecuted by beheading in Revelation 20:4. Additionally, both Turkey and Russia are on the short list of countries from which The King of The North in Daniel 11 will come.

According to Reuters, Turkey responded to a failed military coup by arresting, detaining or questioning over 60,000 people, many of whom are not in the military and did not participate in the coup at all. Long before any of this took place, The Lord told us to keep our eyes on Turkey because they play a major role in the End Times as a whole and specifically the rise of The Antichrist.

We really have no idea what is going in that country right now but we are paying very close attention because we heard from The Lord. Istanbul, Turkey was once known as Constantinople, one of the capitals of the Roman Empire and then the Ottoman Empire which helped spread Islam through large portions of the world. Turkey is now a major link between the Muslim community and Europe because it borders both regions. It also has very important ties to Russia.

Among other things, The Lord showed us a secret plan that is currently underway involving Russia within The United States that very few will know about until it is too late. Since The Cold War ended many assume that military conflict between the two countries is possible but highly improbable. However, what may not be accomplished with direct military intervention can be done through subtlety. Let me explain. Airplanes, submarines, ships, missiles and all of these other tools of war are being closely watched by the US military which is the most powerful in the world.

However, while terrorist organizations have found a way to attack from the inside what is impossible to attack from the outside, countries like Russia have paid very close attention. They won't come by air or by sea with an external attack because that will not work. Like the Trojan Horse used to enter Troy they will slowly build their forces then attack from within. If you don't believe it, you will find out soon enough. Based on what The Lord has revealed, the plan is already underway.

2 Timothy 3:1-5(NLT) - You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the last days. While you were sleeping, everything changed.

2 Timothy 3:13(NLT) - But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

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Understanding The End Times - Persecution

You can view the slides from this presentation at the following link; Understanding The End Times - Persecution

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this third session, the focus was on Persecution. Click here for Session Two - The Beginning of Sorrows.

Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of at least 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith. (Source: Open Doors USA)

Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Christ. (Source: U.S. Department of State)

Many Christians will be put to death during The Great Tribulation because of their refusal to take The Mark of The Beast.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Christian Dating Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Christian Dating". Click the link within the video to see more extended highlights. 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

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Understanding The End Times - The Beginning of Sorrows

You can view the slides from this presentation at the following link; Understanding The End Times - The Beginning of Sorrows

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows. Click here for Session One - The Introduction.

Every time there’s a war, earthquake or other natural disaster people keep saying these are signs of the end times. If wars, famine, earthquakes and pestilences are the signs we should be looking for, the data should prove it the same way it did for the disciples.

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In the second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows.

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

As long as we deem the content of the material appropriate for public release we will make the videos public. If we start dealing with information that's a bit too controversial to make public at this time we will restrict access to those who have signed up for the workshop. To register for live online access to upcoming workshops, click here.

Understanding The End Times - Workshop

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Decatur Community Workshops - Extended Video Highlights from Living Single In Atlanta

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Living Single in Atlanta". 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

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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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Stay Focused: Avoid Theological Debates

Stay Focused: Avoid Theological Debates

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 22 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 21, "How Do We Evangelize? - Share YOUR Testimony!".

The seventh and final practical key to evangelism is “Stay focused: Avoid theological debates.”

Titus 3:8-11 (NASB) – “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”

Be careful that you remain focused on the goal of sharing The Gospel. Along the way, you will encounter individuals who ascribe to a different belief system, doctrine, or spiritual perspective. The reason you are evangelizing is to tell others about the love of Christ. It is the truth that make us free (John 8:32). Therefore, it is vitally important to communicate the word of God accurately so that the truth is presented. You must know the word of God and be able to give an answer for the reason that you believe at any time.

2 Timothy 2:15(NASB) – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 4:2(NKJV) – “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

However, the goal is not to win arguments, boast of your knowledge, or demonstrate your intelligence. The goal is to present the truth in love unto the winning of souls to Christ! At the end of the conversation, if you have simply won an argument but lost the heart of the person, you have lost overall. Does this bring glory to the name of Christ?

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Mark 8:36 (KJV) – “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASB) – “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

Ephesians 4:15 (NLT) – “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

If you do not know what to say or how to say it, pray and ask the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things, and tell you exactly what you need to say at the right moment (Luke 12:12). When you are evangelizing, remain focused on presenting the truth of the Word of God. Do not engage in fruitless debates or arguments that only result in strife and division. Present the truth in love with a heart solely motivated to win lost souls to Christ.

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Share YOUR Testimony!

Share YOUR Testimony!

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 21 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 20, "How Do We Evangelize? - Be Relevant: Connect With People Where They Are".

The sixth practical key to evangelism is; "Be personal: Share YOUR testimony."

Revelation 12:11(KJV): “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Your personal testimony of what the Lord has done is more powerful than engaging in a theological debate. No one can argue with you about the lifestyle change and heart transformation you experienced when Jesus encountered you. Who can argue about what your eyes saw, your ears heard, or your heart felt when you met Jesus? No one can argue with the word of your testimony concerning His blood and what His blood has done in your life! Sharing YOUR testimony is one of the most powerful tools you have when evangelizing to the lost.

Let’s look at six biblical accounts when individuals shared personal testimonies about Jesus Christ.

1)Paul’s Testimony: Paul shared his personal testimony of life before and after encountering Christ.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (AMP) – “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has granted me [the needed] strength and made me able for this, because He considered me faithful and trustworthy, putting me into service [for this ministry], even though I was formerly a blasphemer [of our Lord] and a persecutor [of His church] and a shameful and outrageous and violent aggressor [toward believers]. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief. The grace of our Lord [His amazing, unmerited favor and blessing] flowed out in superabundance [for me, together] with the faith and love which are [realized] in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful and trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance and approval, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example or pattern for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King of the ages [eternal], immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

2)The Samaritan Woman’s Testimony: Jesus’ knowledge of her life story caused her to evangelize. Her encounter with Jesus compelled her to run into town, testify of Christ and lead many to Him.

John 4:28-30(NIV) – “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”

John 4:38 (NIV) – “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

3)The Blind Man’s Testimony: His testimony was undeniably supported by his healing. No one could argue with his testimony of receiving sight after his personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

John 9:6-7 (NLT) – “…Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!” His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

John 9:10-11 (NLT) – “They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?” He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!” “Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he replied .Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

John 9:24 -25 (NLT) – “So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

4)John The Baptist’s Testimony: John was a "forerunner voice" preparing the way for the coming Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and resting on Jesus. His testimony about the Lamb of God caused many to follow Jesus including two of his very own disciples. Concerning John, Jesus declared "I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist..." (Matt. 11:11) What a powerful endorsement from the Lord! 🙂

John 1:23 (NLT) - "John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, Clear the way for the LORD's coming!"
John 1:29-37 (NLT) - “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel .”Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. ”The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.”

5)Andrew’s Testimony: Andrew went and testified to his brother Simon about the Messiah. His testimony resulted in Simon meeting Jesus and being named Apostle Peter.

John 1:40-42 (NLT) – “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”. Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter).”

6)Men Walking To Emmaus Testimony: The men testified about their hearts burning within them as Jesus spoke to them and explained the scriptures to them after His resurrection.

Luke 24:28-34 (NLT) - “By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if He were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So He went home with them. As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment He disappeared!” They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

Remember, no one can argue with you about what the Lord has personally done in your life. Only you know the whole story of what Jesus has done in your life! So, be personal and share YOUR testimony. The enemy would like to keep you silent because he knows that your testimony could effectively lead others to Christ. Don’t keep silent! Start testifying about how the Blood of Jesus has changed YOUR life!

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Young Atlanta Pastor Confession #9 - Be Sure God Called You To Pastor Or You'll Quit!

Photo credit: fuzzcat via Foter.com / CC BY

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 ninth point; "9) If you're not sure that The Lord called you to be a pastor, quit now because you'll eventually do it anyway.

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #8 - Some People Will "Love" Your Ministry, Just For Someone Else!"

James 3:1(NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Big houses, big checks, big stages, private jets, fancy cars, VIP treatment, bodyguards, cameras, etc. Just another day in the lives of "The Real Pastors of Somewhere". Well, that's the dream of some after watching too much television. Some young ministers dream of being the next Pastor Joel Osteen, Pastor Andy Stanley, Bishop TD Jakes or Pastor Creflo Dollar so they "step out in faith" and pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, the dream only lasts for a very short while before reality throws cold water on their faces and wakes them up. These powerful, internationally known men of God with successful ministries represent the top 1%. There's a 99% chance that none of us will be one of them.

For the 99%, starting a church is so not glamorous. It's quite the opposite. It's about sacrifice and it will cost you more at the beginning than you'll get out of it. There will be tough days, weeks, months or even years when you will feel like quitting. During those times, if you're not sure that The Lord has called you to do it, that's exactly what you will do. That's probably a good thing because God can use those situations to remove people who enter the ministry for the wrong reasons. It's similar to the test God gave to Abraham in Genesis 22 when He asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. There's nothing more harrowing than putting your dream on the altar and killing it.

John 12:24-25(NLT) - I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

I have had to answer the following question in my heart several times; "If nothing big comes of The Body Church would you still be happy being the pastor?" To be honest, my answer is yes. In fact, I find so much joy in knowing that God is pleased with our faithfulness that I forget to count how many people are actually in the room. I've put the future of the church on the altar before God and settled the issue. We can't make this thing work by ourselves. We can only obey God. He makes it work. If that means pushing through this early season of the church with a few faithful people wearing multiple hats, taking on multiple responsibilities and filling multiple roles, then let's do it to the best of our ability.

The fantasy has died. We let it die the day we realized that God's definition of success is predicated upon obedience to His Will. I'm so proud of the group we have. Every week they put a smile on their faces and take care of their responsibilities with the joy of The Lord. At one point in each service, we point to the North, South, East and West calling the people God has already called to be with us. We encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus because He is the reason why we are together in this journey. We have given it all over to The Lord. When He makes things happen they will happen. Until then, we will keep showing up and doing our part. Building The Church of Jesus Christ is not our dream, it is His. We're just privileged to be a part of it.

Luke 9:62(NLT) - But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

There's no turning back. I once heard a preacher say that there's no such thing as a former pastor. When you sign up for this job, you do it for life. It's like becoming a supreme court judge. You don't leave this vocation and reinvent yourself as something else. You leave everything else you're doing and reinvent yourself as a pastor. Outside of health issues or transitioning the ministry to the next generation we don't get the luxury of answering the call of God to lead His church then changing our minds when things get rough. It's like a marriage. You made the decision to say yes, now you have to do your best to stay faithful to your commitment and make it work.

Nevertheless, I do acknowledge how difficult it gets sometimes for those who have chosen this path. It's difficult to watch the vision move forward much slower than we could have imagined. It's discouraging when people don't show the same level of faithfulness to you that you've shown to them. It's discouraging when it seems like The Word of God is not bringing the level of results you would expect. It's discouraging when people question your integrity out of complete ignorance regardless of what you've done to prove otherwise. On top of all that, I acknowledge that eventually some pastors just get tired. When it costs more to keep the ministry going than the return on investment it starts to become an unsustainable effort. Yet, we cannot quit. That's the easy way out.

Galatians 6:9(NKJV) - And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

My goodness, this scripture is a life-saver. Believe me, I've had my moments when I wondered if this "church thing" would ever work out right. After all the effort, all the money spent, all the ideas, all the studying of The Bible, all the worship team practice, all the attention to detail, all the relationship building, all the outreach, it seemed like something would still go wrong. One time, there was a leak in the roof and a portion of the ceiling collapsed during worship service. We had to just keep going.

Another time, the AC would not work on an extremely hot day. We opened the doors and shook our heads in disbelief. Still, another time the heat would not work on an extremely cold day. I had to leave in the middle of the service to go find a space heater. Problem solved, right? Wrong! We finally got the heater into the sanctuary, turned it on and it tripped an electrical breaker so we lost power on one side of the room. I looked at my wife, she looked at me and we just smiled.

That's just another day in our journey. Regardless, facility issues are much easier to deal with than the disappointment we face when people we think will be with us all the way turn their backs and walk away. Nothing prepared us for that. That's why we say that if you believe God has called you to do this, just be sure. 🙂 Hopefully, you have a good sense of humor because if you don't know how to laugh under pressure you will cry.

Never assume that anyone will support you faithfully for a long time. That will save you a lot of heartache. Then, if people do remain faithful it will be a pleasant surprise that will only add value to your ministry. The only person who knows the true level of someone's commitment is God. The most valuable resource we have in the church is each other so during challenging times, if we have the right people around us we know we will make it.

So why do we keep showing up every week? The group of us who show up every week believe that this is what God called us to do. Many people don't believe the same but we know God does and that's what matters. If we don't grow weary in doing well, one of these days we will reap a bountiful harvest. God will exalt us publicly when we complete this process. In the near future, we will see our breakthrough and nobody will be able to deny it. We can't lose heart even when things go wrong. We just have to keep rolling. God will have it no other way. We won't quit because there's no quit in us.

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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 7 - The Buck Stops With The Pastor

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 7 - The Buck Stops With The Pastor

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 seventh point; "7) If you don't take personal responsibility for the success of your ministry, do not expect anyone else to do so.

For the previous point click the following link; "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 6 - People's Giving Reveals Their Hearts"

Luke 12:42-48(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. But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful. “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Leadership is more about responsibility than it is about authority. On the most basic level, when people assign a leader to a task they make that person ultimately responsible for getting it done. When things go well, good leaders are rewarded but are still expected to share the glory with everyone else involved who helped them make it happen. On the other hand, when things go wrong, leaders are expected to take the blame for themselves. Good leaders know that they don't get to pass blame on to their team without implicating themselves. Even when it's not really their fault they can't throw other people under the bus to save themselves. This is even more pronounced when it comes to spiritual things.

The leader of The Church is Jesus Christ which makes Him ultimately responsible for His people. However, pastors are low to mid-level managers given the responsibility by Jesus to lead other servants in the local church. When things go right at a church assembly, first and foremost God gets all the glory. Once God gets the glory, everyone else who serves in the ministry deserves appreciation for the part they've played including the pastor. We should all understand that.

Running a church successfully takes a team of dedicated, selfless individuals whose hearts are submitted to The Will of The Lord. However, when things go wrong in the church, blame is not shared equally. Those who are in positions of leadership, especially the pastors are judged more strictly. People don't look around at each other when things are falling apart, they look up to the leader to do something. Not just that, if that leader is a mid-level manager like pastors are in The Body of Christ, upper management, namely Jesus Christ is looking down to that leader to take responsibility for his/ her assignment.

James 3:1(NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

I remember our first year as youth pastors. We planned our first youth conference at the church within a couple months and laid out the schedule for the entire team in advance. Everyone was excited. The first session took place on a Friday night. We arrived early, rehearsed all the roles and responsibilities with the team then anticipated smooth sailing through the weekend's proceedings. At 7:00 PM sharp the Friday night proceedings began. We promptly took our seats in the front and looked forward to enjoying the service with everyone else. At least, that's what we thought.

It didn't take long for things to start going wrong. I can hardly remember exactly what happened but I do remember how it felt. We just wanted to sink into our seats and pretend we were not involved. Then from across the room we could feel the eyes of our pastors. People were looking at them and they were looking at us. I remember that look because I saw it before. It's the same look my parents gave me when I had done something wrong. If a picture says a thousand words, that look said one million.

I looked at Angel, she looked at me and we both knew what we had to do. Get up and get to work. That day we learned a valuable lesson. We can't be in charge of a church department then expect to sit down and enjoy an event our department is putting on. We have to take up residence in the back of the church and quarterback the event to success. As the leaders we must take personal responsibility for our department's success. If that means running wild behind the scenes to ensure everything looks smooth to the public so be it. That's our job!

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.

This scripture is one of the main reasons why I was initially hesitant to become the pastor of a local church. Our job is to watch over the souls of the people God has assigned to us. Hence, God holds us accountable. That's why it hurts when members of our churches lose their way and walk outside of The Will of God. It's not just their problem. It's our problem. That's one reason why we pray for our members early in the morning each weekday. It's also why we don't just sing random songs for worship, preach random messages or carry out random initiatives at the church.

Everything we do at the church has a purpose. That's to ensure that the people assigned to us are successful in every area of their lives with special emphasis on the prosperity of their souls. So when people fail we feel like we fail. I remember dealing with a situation recently at my father's church where a lady at the church had lost her husband to senseless violence. As a fellow believer, I was so frustrated at seeing the pain on her face and feeling essentially powerless.

What happened to the angels who are supposed to lift us up lest we dash our foot against a stone? (Psalm 91) Why wasn't his life redeemed from destruction? (Psalm 103) Why didn't it work? The truth is that we don't know and I guess that's where the frustration came from. Pastors are supposed to have the answers. Yet, situations arise that we cannot explain. Hence, when we don't have the answers what are we supposed to say? Nothing! If people look to us and we have no idea what to do, we join them and look to God because He alone as the ultimate leader of The Church always knows what to do. In those instances we must remind ourselves and The Church that our ultimate leader will always be Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:28(NLT) - Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

We thank God for Apostle Paul's honesty. As a man, it's hard enough to be responsible for your family. As a pastor, it's hard enough to be responsible for your local church. Yet, he was an Apostle over more churches than any of us and successfully navigated the challenges. Every Epistle was a letter to a particular church or group of churches in a region. In each letter, he addressed the issues in that church including answering the difficult questions that were posed to him. He had to hear from God to create updated spiritual guidelines which were not already clearly outlined in the scriptures.

There was no television. There was no Internet. There was no radio. There were no telephones. There was no mobile communication. There was no air-travel. He had to write letters to the churches until he could physically get there by land or sea. Now consider how he felt when he received a letter from a church about some mess going on there. What was he supposed to do? Not a whole lot. He could pray and he could write. That's about it! Well, not really. This is Apostle Paul we're talking about here. He didn't need technology. He was a spiritual giant. Our cell phones, Internet, private jets, Facebook and "Face time" have nothing on the spirit realm. Check this out!

1 Corinthians 5:1-15(NLT) -I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.

WOW! While Paul was in Ephesus, he received a letter about some trouble in Corinth but the distance was no problem for him. He told the leaders of the church to call a meeting and both he and Jesus will show up to the meeting in the spirit. He said what? He didn't just say he would show up to the meeting he said that he was already there. Now that's some kind of Apostolic anointing. He dealt with the issues with boldness and spiritual authority. Put the man out! Paul said to hand the guy who was giving trouble over to Satan to destroy his body so his soul could be saved. That's bold!

Yes, he walked around with the daily burden of the churches on his shoulders but if he ever needed to take care of business he could handle it from wherever he was. Why? There is no time or distance in the spirit. From wherever he was in Ephesus, he passed judgment on the person in Corinth prior to the meeting and the meeting was just a formality. It was his personal responsibility to ensure that the churches he founded were successful. Therefore, he wasn't afraid to use the authority and power that Jesus gave him in the spirit to take care of his business.

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

Pastors don't volunteer for the job. They are called out from among the people by God. They are then given to The Church as gifts to feed His people with knowledge and understanding. That is a big responsibility and can feel like a burden sometimes but God has given us His power to do it. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It sure is when we carry it with His power. When we don't cast our cares on The Lord (1 Peter 5:7) and decide to carry it all in our own strength we get completely worn out and feel like giving up.

Ephesians 4:8-14(NLT) - That is why the Scriptures say, "When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. 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.

Don't take your apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for granted. We are responsible for equipping God's people to do His work and build up The Church. We have to do this until the entire church is unified in the faith and all Christians have a proper understanding of Jesus. Most importantly, our assignment ensures that all Christians mature in The Lord and become more and more like Christ. When we carry out our calling, the immaturity that allows Christians to be vulnerable to false doctrines will be broken throughout The Body of Christ. It's a high calling but God has equipped us to carry it out.

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