This means that the fresh revelation of Jesus’s heart is the essence of His testimony. This includes the revealing of who He is along with what He does and how He feels. The spirit (purpose) of prophecy is to reveal these aspects of Jesus’s testimony. Passion for Jesus is the result of this prophetic revelation. Such holy passion is the highlight of the prophetic church. It is a ministry that passionately feels and reveals the divine heart to the church and the world. Prophetic ministry has to do not only with information but also with the ability to experience in some measure the compassion, grief, and joy of God, and then to gain a passion for God. Out of experiencing God will come the revelation of some of His future plans and purposes. If you “desire earnestly to prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:39) by merely seeking information from the mind of God, you have bypassed the cornerstone and the essence of prophetic ministry—the revelation of His heart.
Father, may I never forget that the revelations You place within my spirit for others must be given out of a heart that passionately loves You and desires to reveal Your heart of compassion and love for Your people.
The prophetic ministry is to be stamped and
sealed with an affection for and
sensitivity to the heart of God.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” -1 John 3:1a
There are so many misunderstandings about what the word love means.
When we hear that God loves us, it can create some problems. The love of God is the most foundational, important thing in understanding all spirituality, all theology, all doctrine. The most important concept to know and to understand is the immeasurable, limitless, and boundless love of God for His sons and daughters.
And not just the love of God for the church as a collective group, but for you – for you the son, the daughter of God, for each one of us to know that God loves us individually just as a parent with many children individually loves his or her children. That the love of God, the boundless, unending, perfect love of God is the source of all great spirituality, of all perfect doctrine, of all growth.
We must understand that God’s love surpasses everything. There’s nothing you can do, even if you hate God, there’s no sin you can commit, no filth you can have in your life, nothing you can do to ever remove God’s adoration and love for you. God’s love is the greatest love of all.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I come to you hurting, broken, wounded, lonely, and sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that you actually love me. But your love abides. Amen.
Devotion: How have you felt God’s love at work in your life?
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. —Acts 14:3
Revelation itself is not going to help the body unless it goes through the process of interpretation and application. The interpretation may be accurate, but if a person jumps the gun and gets ahead of God in the application, a considerable amount of hurt and confusion may result. Consequently, there is as much need for divine wisdom in the interpretation and application as there is in the revelation. God never works as fast as people think He should. Don’t get involved with prophetic people and words if you are not willing to wait on God to bring them to pass. God will declare His intention through the prophetic gift, but if the application is not in His timing, you’ll find yourself trying to step through a door that is not open. The way is not yet prepared, and the grace is not yet sufficient.
Father, help me to understand that when Your Spirit speaks through Your prophets to Your people, we must clearly know how You desire Your people to apply those words to our lives. Don’t let me get ahead of You or fail to respond when You speak to me.
God never works as fast as
people think He should.
Duck Dynasty features a number of things that run against the grain of popular culture. They’re a strong family that runs their own business, which is based on their patriarch’s invention. They go to church. They don’t engage in microwave marriages to pop stars. Their daughters aren’t famous for sex tapes or appearances in men’s magazines. They hunt. With guns.
When the producers of Duck Dynasty asked the stars to stop saying “in Jesus’ name” during prayers because it might offend Muslims, Phil Robertson stood his ground and gave an eye-opening response.
“So they would just have me saying, ‘Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us. Amen.’ So I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘In Jesus’ name?’ They said, ‘Well those editors are probably doing that. They just think that they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.’” source – PJ Media.
In the spring of 1974, a young woman attended a service at the little church where I had come to faithin December 1971 as a 16 year-old heroin-shooting, LSD-using, Jewish hippie rock drummer. Little did I know that this 19-year-old red-haired young lady—at that time a Jewish atheist—would soon come tofaith in Jesus, becoming my very best friend and soulmate for more than 39 years. It was truly miraculous and, without a doubt, orchestrated by the Lord.
I know that it’s the trend these days to wait a while before getting married, but back in the early 1970s, in particular in our church circles, all the teens were dating and were eager to get married, including my two best friends, both of whom had girlfriends at the time.
Once I prayed that the Lord would show me in a vision or a dream the person I would marry. This way I wouldn’t bother getting into a relationship with anyone else until I met that person. Needless to say, I never had the vision or dream, but I started to pray a prayer regularly for more than 24 months, and it’s a prayer the Lord wonderfully answered.
This was the simple request: “Lord, give me the one You have for me when You have her for me, and give me patience until You do.” And while praying this prayer for her, whoever she might be, I prayed extensively for myself, that God would continue to conform me to the image of His Son.
A few times, I became very friendly with one of the girls in the congregation, but it was clear to both of us that we weren’t a match. In some cases, it seemed as if the Lord Himself intervened to help us understand we were not to pursue a relationship.
In the meantime, my friends were getting into serious relationships, often going out as couples while I stayed home at night. But rather than get frustrated, I would spend those nights in the Word and prayer, enjoying extraordinary fellowship with the Lord. Looking back, I’m so glad I had that time alone, not distracted by a relationship with anyone else.
Then, in early spring 1974, Nancy Gurian attended one of our night services. Her mother had been married four times, and she had been a committed atheist since the age of 8, when she concluded with sadness that there was no God. As for the Christian faith, she had no more interest in the gospel than she had in Muhammad.
Why, then, did she attend a church service? She was invited by a friend from work, and for some reason she didn’t want to offend him, so she agreed to come. In retrospect, it’s only by the Lord’s grace that she walked into our building.
As for her friend from work, space forbids me from telling the whole story here, but it was only by a divinely orchestrated series of events that the two of them ended up on the same job, which makes this all the more remarkable.
Getting back to that first service she attended in 1974, it was my custom in those days to talk to every visitor, and if they were nonbelievers, whether male or female, I would ask for their phone number so I could follow up.
Now, it might not have been the wisest approach (especially with the opposite sex), but I was quite sincere, committing the phone numbers to memory and praying for those visitors by name for months thereafter.
Did it help that I found Nancy attractive? Of course, but I would have talked to her either way, and for some odd reason, she gave me her number (which I still remember). On her end, as I found out months later, she found me quite unattractive.
We began to talk by phone about spiritual things, she attended more services, and then one day, when she was by herself, the light went on and she realized that evil personified—as in “the devil”—was real, at which moment she knew that God existed. Shortly after that, in May 1974, she was born again, and one week later we began to date (at that time, we never heard of the concept of courtship). One week after that, we were in love and knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together.
What was it that attracted Nancy to me? It was the fact that she saw Jesus in me, and it was our relationship with the Lord that became the foundation of our relationships with each other. And as we spent countless hours together, we found each other to be deeply compatible.
Interestingly, in the months leading up to her salvation, Nancy broke up with the guy she had been seeing for a couple of years and actually stopped using drugs, drinking and even smoking cigarettes (without any consciousness of God in her life). Then, in the most unlikely series of events, she ended up working at that particular job, coming to our little Italian Pentecostal church, becoming a believer and becoming my bride.
She has been the perfect God-ordained companion for me (she would say the about me for her), and if the Lord did that for me, he will do it for you.
Why not pray the same prayer, praying for your own walk first? “Lord, give me the one You have for me, when You have that one for me, and give me patience until You do.”
Canadian churchgoers say reading the Bible has changed their life and they readily confess their sins, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.
The survey included 1,086 Canadian lay people who attend church at least once a month.
More than half say they try to avoid temptations but few say that becoming a better Christian involves self-denial.
About a third (33 percent) of Canadian churchgoers agree with the statement, “A Christian must learn to deny himself/herself in order to serve Christ.” Close to half (45 percent) disagreed.
“Obeying God and Denying Self” is one of eight attributes of discipleship found in the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by Nashville, Tenn.-based LifeWay Research.
Each of the eight attributes consistently shows up in the lives of spiritually growing believers, said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research.
McConnell said researchers didn’t list specific sins that churchgoers should avoid. Instead, they were more interested in people’s attitudes. They wanted to see how important obeying God is to churchgoers.
He said spiritual maturity goes beyond avoiding sin and asking for forgiveness. It also involves conscious choices to obey God’s will rather than our own.
“Obeying God is only easy when a person’s own desires match God’s,” McConnell said. “Until believers have the same mind as Christ, denying their own natural desires will be hard.”
The survey asked churchgoers how often they confess sins or ask for forgiveness. It’s a way to measure a spiritual attribute called “Obeying God and Denying Self.”
Sixteen percent of those surveyed say they confess sin and seek forgiveness daily. One in five say they confess to God a few times a week. Almost a quarter (23 percent) rarely or never confess sins and wrongdoings to God and ask forgiveness.
The survey also asked churchgoers how proactive they are in avoiding sin.
Just over half (52 percent) agree with the statement: “I try to avoid situations in which I might be tempted to think or do immoral things.” Twenty-five percent disagree, and 23 percent are indifferent.
More than half of Canadian churchgoers (58 percent) change their attitudes when they feel those attitudes displease God.
The idea of obeying God, however, got mixed results, especially the statement: “When I realize that I have a choice between ‘my way’ and ‘God’s way,’ I usually choose my own way.”
Forty-percent disagree, while nearly the same number (38 percent) neither agree nor disagree. Only two percent strongly agree, while 22 percent agree overall.
The survey also reveals actions that lead to higher scores on the “Obeying God and Denying Self” attribute, according to researchers.
Those actions include:
Attending a worship service;
Making a decision to obey or follow God with an awareness that choosing His way may in some way be costly;
Being discipled or mentored one-on-one by a more spiritually mature Christian;
Reading the Bible or a book about what is in the Bible;
Praying for unbelieving acquaintances;
Setting aside time for prayer of any kind.
McConnell noted that “Obeying God and Denying Self” is the only one of the eight attributes of discipleship that was predicted by more frequent worship attendance.
It’s a sign that spiritual maturity often happens in community, said McConnell.
“Many people think of obeying God as something they must do on their own,” he said. “However, it’s clear through the research findings that the teaching, encouragement and accountability of corporate worship have a direct impact on obedience.”
These findings on obeying God and denying self are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.
LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity based on eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides practical suggestions for continued spiritual development.
I think I can make a pretty good case that Hebrews was a sermon, probably, in fact, a handful of sermons stitched together to respond to the urgent needs of a community in crisis. (You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.) Here I want to reflect on three things aspiring pastors like myself—and, I suspect, seasoned ones too—can learn from the wise pastor who prepared this sermon.
#1: What sort of sermons—solutions—should we offer? The pastor models for us what we should do to address the needs of people within our churches. He’s met with a problem as multi-faceted as it is urgent and he thinks long enough about it to tell the difference between its implications and its cause. Then he identifies what part of his community’s confession—what part of the Gospel—they needed to hear to confront their problem and heal their spiritual disease at its source (for a summary, see, esp., 4:14–16; 10:19–21). Pretty straightforward. It’s pretty simple, even if it’s not often very easy. There’s quite a bit more I might say about this one, but let me here simply draw out two further implications. First, we need to listen. That’s right. Listen. We need to spend the energy necessary to get the “pulse” of our communities, to know our people’s hurts, disappointments, fears, accusations, doubts, etc. (After all, we’re not looking to do exploratory surgery with every sermon.) To put it another way, as pastors we’ve got more than one “text” to exegete each week. And, added to this, we need to follow Hebrews lead and commit ourselves to a robust, probing grasp of the Gospel so that we’re ready and able to faithfully, nimbly, and insightfully bring it to bear on the needs of our flocks.
#2: What shape should our sermons—our solutions—take? The pastor also models how we should bring the Gospel to bear on our community’s needs. He doesn’t simply meet their problems with Gospel aphorisms, with naked Gospel propositions, with—forgive the way I’m going to put this—dogmatic theology. Rather, he brings the Gospel to bear by placing his people and their problems within God’s story. He meets their needs with biblical theology. He places his friends, first, in the story’s broadest context—Jesus and Adam (1:5–14; 2:5–9, 10–18)—and, then, in one of its narrower story-lines: Jesus and Israel (spec. Levi; 5:1–10; 7:1–10, 11–28; 8:1–13; 9:1–10, 11–28; 10:1–18). In both places, the author shows the audience that what the Gospel asserts about Jesus corresponds to what earlier parts of the story anticipated and, moreover, prepares the audience for the story’s next chapter. We might say, then, that there’s a satisfying movement, complete with an eschatology, to the author’s response.
#3: How should our sermons—our solutions—be administered? Finally, the pastor models for us how our sermons—our solutions—should be administered. At the heart of his response (see, e.g., 10:22–25, esp. vv. 24–25), the pastor insists that the community of faith—the church—is an indispensable part of the solution, an urgently-important means of grace. If the gospel work of our sermons is to have its full effect, the church must be actively involved. The pastor encourages his friends to follow his example and do the hard work of insightfully-preaching the Gospel to one another. The pastor makes it clear, in other words, that his and the other elders’ leadership was insufficient. His friends needed the member-to-member ministry of the word; they needed the pastoral oversight of the community itself.
This article was used with permission from BibleStudyTools.com
I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance offs with students.
Another element that I love is having one-on-one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. I think for a lot of youth workers this is an area that they may struggle with or not be as comfortable with as they want to be.
I posted a blog a while back that deals with the importance of why these three things matter to me. So, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that has helped me in one-on-one situations.
1. Take control. Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk, which is great and sometimes the only thing needed, but sometimes you want to guide the conversation to an area they may need to get some guidance or prayer.
I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows, when I show genuine concern for the good and the bad in their life.
Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how’s life, I’ll say let’s have a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You will be surprised with the response you get. If they don’t have time I’ll say “great, let’s get together this week or I’ll say “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” I’ll leave a message with specific questions for them to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response.
Just a caution: when communicating over social media always think about context. My rule of thumb is “communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.
2. Use discernment. Every time you get the opportunity to talk one on one with a student consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push them and when to let it go
Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come to Jesus moment. Like I said, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed and you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when they need to hear the truth of God’s word.
3. Pray with them. I know this sounds like a no brainer, but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about students performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all.
We need to model that to them. So look in all areas in which you can pray for them. I always hear people say God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than my little situation. I always wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.
I could have listed more, but I really wanted to zero in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students but I also know that they need more than just fun. They need Jesus and that’s the primary assignment God has given me being in youth ministry.
So what has helped you connect with students better?.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been on a dating website, but the stereotypes are common enough that I don’t need to see it with my own eyes to imagine the “worst” kind of profile.
A list of exaggerated accomplishments. A photoshopped picture from a decade ago. A dozen euphemisms for anything that might be considered a “fault.”
All it takes is a one date to discover the person across the table from you is nothing like the person they said they were online.
Could churches and dating websites have something in common? In all my work with social media and churches, I’ve found that churches make many mistakes when it comes to their online presence. Some churches simply don’t have an online presence (which is a huge mistake since studies are showing more and more young people are finding their churches online).
Others have an online presence but are tweeting too much, or too little, or simply making their online life all about them. But, of all the mistakes churches make, one tops the charts. Most little mistakes churches make fall under this one BIG mistake:
They try to act like someone they’re not.
Like a bad profile on a dating website, so many churches want to pretend like they’re bigger, or cooler, or “prettier” than they really are. And the scary part of this desire is that, with Instagram filters and web designers, they can do a pretty good job of putting on that show, of framing their image—for a while.
Here’s the catch. All it takes is one encounter, one first “date,” for a churchgoer to discover that the church they met online is not the church they’re meeting in person. And this is one mistake you it’s virtually impossible to recover from.
Chances are, they’ll never step foot in your building again.
Here’s the beautiful part of this whole thing. You don’t have to pretend. This is what I would tell the owner of a bad-dating profile, and it’s what I say to churches all the time. You don’t have to pretend like you’re someone you’re not. In fact, if you waste your time pretending, people miss out on the real you.
And the real you is really unique—important and useful to the Kingdom of God.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Just like there is “someone for everyone” in dating, there is “some church” for everyone as well. Not every churchgoer is looking for the hippest, coolest most mega-church in town. In fact, they might be looking for you, the real you. And when you are authentic on social media, those who are looking for a community like yours can find you.
So, no more “bad dating profiles,” so to speak. Be yourself on social media, whatever that means. The church people encounter online should be the same church they encounter when the step foot inside your building.
What does that mean for your church?.
Written by Justin Lathrop
With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.
Studying U.S. death data from 1979-2004, a team of researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that Americans are more likely to die over the holidays — including fatal events on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — than at any other time of the year.1 That should be enough to encourage anyone to slow down and enjoy a stress-free Christmas this year!
Today is December 1 — you have several weeks to prepare for a peaceful and safe celebratory season. Indeed, preparation is the key to preventing stress all year long. You’re off to a good start, reading your daily devotions in Turning Points. In addition, ask the Lord to help you reflect Him this Christmas. God is not stressed or in a hurry; God’s face doesn’t turn red because of traffic and shoppers and the cost of gifts. So we shouldn’t be stressed or turn red either. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Stay filled with the Spirit this Christmas and there will be no room left for stress (Ephesians 5:18; 1 John 1:9).
Let the only red you see this Christmas be on the decorations, not in the mirror!