The great news of hope is that JESUS CHRIST has arrived to heal our souls, our families, and our futures. Discipleship is how many people come to Christ and begin to open His gift of a future and a hope.
Characteristics of Discipleship
Children are trusting, fun-loving, and humble. Jesus emphasized the need for humility and trust for all children of God. As children of our Dad in Heaven, we are just that: children. Discipleship is learning to leave behind our pride and know-it-all ideas, while growing in humility, trust, and godly wisdom. We learn how to have joy through trust, daily. In some mysterious way, we learn how to be better at being children. This process is called growing in grace... some call it discipleship.
Discipleship is proactive in healing and developing identity and the corresponding holiness. As a child of God learns his identity in Christ, he begins to worship, think, and live in spirit and in truth. His thinking, emotions, and daily activities begin to reflect the character of his Father. Discipleship isn't teaching a list of dos and don'ts. Discipleship is teaching the beautiful doctrines of God's grace, character, and salvation... And, teaching how to reflect those doctrines in daily life.
Discipleship seeks to heal the wounded soul and equip the believer to glorify God in daily life and dreams for the future! Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the believer finds inner healing and a rock-solid identity as a child of God, as new creature in Christ. This changes everything for his/her future! Without discipleship or with imbalanced discipleship, the healing can be stunted. Both Paul and Jesus warn disciplers about misleading or harming the sheep. This is a serious consideration for all teachers and pastors.
Healing is necessary for living out a hope-filled future in Christ. Through discipleship, we have to deal with each area of brokenness and invite the Holy Spirit into those spaces to heal and fill. If there is demonic oppression or strongholds in those spaces, they need to be evicted. And, the spaces need to be filled with the opposite. When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit in each broken place, he no longer reacts in ungodly ways when a trigger is pressed. A healed disciple produces the fruit of the Spirit, no matter which button is being pushed... because he is walking in/with the Spirit.
Many of the social and moral evils of our day can be prevented on a personal level in the life of a disciple through discipleship. If you look at the core of the moral evils that plague our world, they all stem from brokenness and broken identity. Discipleship equips a believer to make choices from a place of wholeness, resulting in more personal holiness. As the child of God seeks the kingdom of God and His righteousness daily, God works out the spiritual, financial, and physical details. Discipled believers grow into Biblical parents, Biblical employees, and Biblical community members.
Life-on-life discipleship seems to be God's plan for growing His children into mature adults. This is one reason why there is such a need for Christ-followers to mobilize. One Christ-follower can probably only disciple a small group of people really well. Discipleship takes place in the context of daily relationships, which requires consistent time together in intimate settings. Jesus had ministry to thousands, ministry to hundreds, and discipleship for 12. Jesus was consistent in modeling wisdom, teaching truth, and encouraging growth for a small group of people.
Teaching the disicple to love Christ and obey His commandments is the core of discipleship, This is done by introducing the disciple to walking with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the arm of God in discipleship. Discipleship introduces the sheep to Christ through His word and the Holy Spirit. This is an organic process that must be done through daily prayer on the part of the discipler. There's a human tendency to control or manipulate the sheep. It is true that we need to protect the sheep from wolves and false teachers. And, that is primarily done by equipping the disciple to read the word and recognize false doctrine. We always need to remember that the sheep belong to the Shepherd and we are only stewards of their discipleship. Our authority needs to diminish over the believer, as the authority of Christ increases in his life. This is easier said than done and requires a lot of prayer.
Discipleship is bringing the King to the neighborhoods, families, and children, so that the King can change His citizens from the inside out! The Kingdom culture invades the hearts, minds, and actions of the King's kids, resulting in generational repentance and spiritual renewal of parents, families, and children.
Shaming is a diabolical strategy that is used in shame-culture countries to control and manipulate. There are a couple types of shaming that are used. It's a little difficult at first to identify shaming because it masquerades as morality and righteous correction. Some shaming is open and vocal, while others shame quietly. All shaming is manipulative and destructive.
Shaming hides inside a mist called cultural practice. The mist swallows up the victim, causing him to believe that he is the problem and not the perpetrator of shame. Shaming creates a power imbalance where the perpetrator (shamer) becomes the bully who has power over the victim. The victim believes that he deserves the shaming.
When used by pastors, parents and teachers, shaming is like pouring poison onto the petals of a flower. It's like the gardener slowly killing his plants. With each careful drop of shame, the flower wilts and weakens. Shaming creates an unhealthy self-hate and destroys trusting relationships.
People usually shame with good motives. They think, "If I shame this person, he will choose the right path next time." Shaming can cause that person to make the right choice later, but the choice is negated by the ill effects of the shame. Shame can breed fear and unhealthy guilt, rather than birth trust and repentance.
"But," you may be thinking, "how about guilt and shame because we're all sinners?" Good question.
There is only one Being in the world that is qualified to convict a person of shame and guilt: God. The Holy Spirit is kind, firm, and exact. He knows just how much knowledge of one's shameful, guilty condition is required to wake up a sinner to his need for Christ as Savior. The Holy Spirit produces a "godly sorrow, which leads to repentance." But, the world produces a "sorrow which leads to death." It is true that sinners should feel shame and guilt for being rebels against God. And, this is the job of the Holy Spirit.
It is my belief that a saint no longer has any shame or guilt to live with because all of the shame and guilt was absorbed by Jesus Christ on the cross. Vanquished! As a child of God, a believer now lives in relationship with his Heavenly Dad. When he feels guilt and shame, he needs to look to Jesus Christ and find peace, discipline, and restoration from His Dad's loving hand.
We shouldn't mistake the Holy Spirit's voice of rebuke for shame. I believe that the Holy Spirit always speaks the truth in love to the kids in God's family. Sorrow for one's sins and humility in seeking forgiveness is different than shame, I believe.
So, where did the shame go for a believer? Into Jesus Christ on the cross.
Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Does the Holy Spirit give you shame? No, He gives you joy, hope, and pours into your heart love. We can trust Him not to shame us.
Romans 5:3-4 "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Psalm 25:2 "O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me." Again, it is really important to differentiate between shame and humility. Humility is openly recognizing the truth about your situation. A Christ-follower is a saint who sins, so he should be truthful about his weaknesses. Shame attacks the identity of the saint and assaults the worth of Christ to absorb the shame for the sin that the saint is being truthful about.
Part of sanctification is realizing our identity as children of God and giving our shame to Christ. As we trust in Christ to have removed our shame, we will realize joy and hope. Trust is the opposite of fear. And, acceptance as a saint is the opposite of shame. Do you believe that? Or, do you continue to live in shame? Or, do you continue to shame the saints?
Isa 54:4 Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed: neither shall you be confounded; for you shall not be put to shame: for you shall forget the shame of thy youth, and shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 5 For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
Discipleship is teaching believers to believe and live truth-filled lives that are authentic to their identity as holy children of God, saints seated in God's royal throne room with Christ Jesus.
Here are some tips for pastors:
1. Always remember that you are speaking for God to His royal children.
2. Be gentle, firm, timely, and loving in all of your speech and preaching.
3. Model humility... Deal with your own shame, if you have any.
4. Help the saints be delivered from the shame that they carry with them.
5. Don't shame the sheep... shepherd the sheep!
Children are beautiful because they trust. They trust and expect good things to happen. That is one reason why the gospel is so well-received by children. They hear good news of God's love for them and expect that it is true. Jesus said that we need to be like little children to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus in Matthew 18:3 We need to accept the truth about ourselves and God, trust in Jesus, and expect good things to happen! Expect to receive all of the spiritual blessings purchased for you by Christ! Be like a kid and trust God because He's a good, good Father!
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8:2 Kids love to sing and worship God. Most children sing out the truth about Jesus without hesitation! It's simple for them! Children recognize that God is amazing, and they like to sing about it! Let's worship like children, God's children! As an aside, worship pushes back the power of Satan. As worshipers of the King of Heaven, we bring the King's throne into our neighborhood and He rules triumphantly. Yet You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3
To Share! Children are always willing to share the love and light of Jesus with others. They go out of their way to invite others to learn. They love truth and enjoy sharing truth with others! Children are not worried about adult concerns. They don't have prejudices or inhibitions. Mostly, children enjoy sharing a good thing with others! Jesus is the best, so let's share Him with everyone!
To Hope! Children see the best in others and looks for good things to happen. Hope is excited and optimistic. Children usually expect good things to happen in the near future. Anchor your soul into the hope that Jesus Christ gives. Hope for salvation and sanctification! Hope for victory and freedom in daily life. Hope for the abundant life! Invest some time today and think about all of the hope that you have as a child of God. The King's kids live in an expectation of grace, victory, and salvation! "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Pray for God's children's ministry here in the Philippines. Pray that God will raise up a generation of worshipers who will in turn pass their faith on to their children and children's children.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs to you and to your children and to all who are far off, to all whom the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38-39
Fun is rolling down grassy hills with your siblings! One of the joys of being a missionary is seeing kids smile. Whether it's in a mountain village or near the seashore, it never gets old seeing smiles and hope.
Christ brings smiles and joy into the lives of so many! Here is a picture of students who came by our house to sing at Christmas time!
These precious children are enjoying a sweet read aloud about Jesus and His love by Gina on a balmy Sunday afternoon. It's such a privilege to bring the love and hope of Jesus into the lives of youth and families!
It's a privilege to spend time building friendships and enjoying game time together! That's something to smile about! Thank you for being with us on this journey of bringing the hope and joy of Jesus to Mindoro!
2000 years ago, the Kingdom of God burst onto the planet! Planet Earth had travailed in darkness and moral chaos for 4 millennia, since Adam and Eve planted their flag of rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Millions had come and gone, living out their lives in futility and uncertainty. A few had believed in the Provision of Creator-God and had lived under His protection and in His purpose!
When Jesus Christ entered time to be the Savior of the World, He ushered in God's plan to bring good back, and turn millions of rebels into righteous citizens of the Kingdom of Light. Life leading to the cross was spent bringing healing to many, many people who were oppressed by Satan. As Jesus was modeling how to be a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, He perfectly obeyed every aspect of God's expectations for humanity. On the cross, Jesus Christ took away the penalty of rebellion and absorbed the justice of God for every act of rebellion committed by every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, past, present and future. In doing so, Jesus Christ removed all power from Satan, the king of darkness. Jesus Christ bought the right take citizens from the kingdom of Satan and change their citizenship. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He rose with the power to give life and freedom to anyone whom He pleases! And, He pleases to give it to anyone who comes to Him in faith and trust.
The Kingdom of Christ invades the dark neighborhoods, ruled by territorial spirits and rebellious citizens of the kingdom of darkness. Ambassadors of the King of the Kingdom of Heaven are strategically placed by the Holy Spirit across the planet. Each is commissioned to bring the good news of a new life and allegiance! Each soldier for Christ has been given special gifts and talents, which perfect equip him/her to reach future citizens of the Kingdom of Righteousness. Each is placed in a specific team of Heavenly citizens who are fitted together to bring peace, love, justice, and righteousness into the hearts and lives of new believers through the work of the Holy Spirit. All are motivated and reminded by a memo from the King of kings announcing the termination of the war. The reset button will be pushed by the Creator, and this planet and the universe will burn and all who own a Heavenly passport will be transported to a huge, victory celebration, attended by a number of righteous veterans that can't be counted. Eternity will be spent on a fresh, sinless planet where the King of Light is the only Light needed! There will be no darkness there, only worship and what is good and right.
The Enlisted Mentality
Do you view your time here on Earth as a tour duty in the service of the King of Righteousness? Do you know that a battle rages against you, seeking to steal your commission and leave you wounded and worthless on the battlefield? Our battle is not against governments or people. No, we fight against an organized force of evil spirits that are bent on retaining their citizens.
Physical poverty is a living example of spiritual poverty. The care and compassion that the above picture of the little girl creates in your heart for her is just a small measure compared to the care and compassion that Jesus feels for His spiritually impoverished children!
God's Powerful Grace
There are two kinds of graces that the believer brings to children in darkness. Both empowered by the Holy Spirit, and carried out in perfect submission to the sovereign will of the Father. Special grace was purchased by Christ on the cross and achieved by His resurrection. The entire Trinity is involved: One God in Three Persons.
God is constantly restraining evil and doing good for rebellious sinners. He uses social restraints, education, and His power to restrain evil and give temporal blessings. Without the restraining undeserved-goodness of God, the world would spiral into wide-scale rape, murder, gossip, witchcraft, infanticide. Along with His sovereign, restraining power, God uses Christians to bring common grace, as they obey God's laws in government, education, neighborhoods, and friendships.
Along with restraining evil and providing for his creatures, God uses believers to bring His common goodness through ministry. Many, many people are physically healed, set free from addictions, or freed from evil spirits by the Holy Spirit through the ministry of soldiers of Christ.
Billions of people are saved through discipleship and/or the preaching of the gospel. (In fact, the amount of people from start to finish in this war against darkness will be innumerable.) They are instantly justified (forgiven and acquitted). Over their life-time as expatriates on the battlefields, the Holy Spirit does a process called sanctification, whereby He cuts out evil and replaces it with Christ-like attributes. Part of this process is healing of broken places from the past and realizing freedom from the oppression of evil spirits and internal sin. Throughout this process, the Holy Spirit heals physically and also uses physical and spiritual pain to train the believer. The Holy Spirit uses the Body of Christ to facilitate much of this healing and bondage-breaking.
We fight because we're all part of Christ's body. It's our birthright and privilege! Also, it's our responsibility. If the arm refuses to fight, the entire soldier suffers injury. If the stomach refuses to digest, the body loses health. You and I are uniquely gifted to fight for the King of Glory and bring the light of His glorious gospel into the light-less crevices of the dark kingdom. Every citizen has a fight to engage daily, the location depending on his/her orders from the Top.
So, how do we carry out this mission?
1. With Faith!
2. With Joy!
3. With Tenacity!
4. With Boldness!
5. With Awareness!
6. Until Death Ushers us Home!
O Lord, from the depths of despair I cry for your help: “Hear me! Answer! Help me!” Psalm 130:1-2. When we pray those kinds of prayers, the spiritual war around us is visible and real. The problem that most of us face is that unless we're under serious trial, it is easy to disbelieve that the battle is raging around us.
If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you are right in the middle of a world-wide war between two kings. One king has already gotten the memo that he's lost, and he fights as dirty as possible. One of the major strategies of Satan is to neutralize saints without them even realizing that they have been rendered ineffective.
A Few Methods of Neutralization
1. Separate spiritual life from daily life. Biblically, our jobs, interests, and secular pursuits are ALL part of our spiritual life. Everything a Christian does is in obedience to Jesus and to bring His light and kingdom into all areas of daily life.
2. Busy, busy, busy! Too busy to read the Bible. Too busy to pray. "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1a. Jesus was here to do the works of His Father, which is our pattern. We need to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible to discover how we can follow in Jesus' footsteps. We are here to do the works of our Father (Ephesians 2:10).
3. Distractions in your head. Do you have a hard time reading the Bible for more than about 5 minutes? This is a common problem. Tell the spirit that is distracting you from reading the Bible to leave in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Then, deliberately spend time reading the Word. You'll probably see an immediate difference.
4. Brokenness... There is a good brokenness and a bad brokenness. Good brokenness has you trusting in Jesus and reading His word often. Bad brokenness is a misunderstanding of your identity in Christ, sometimes compounded by a failure to deal with past experiences. Bad brokenness has you feeling depressed, discouraged, angry, or empty. Do you have unexplained feelings of anger, neglect, discouragement, sadness? Are you overcome by exhaustion for no reason? Do you have fear and anxiety? Do you have multiple narratives running in your mind? The answer for brokenness is a little more complicated. It takes a combination of spiritual warfare tactics. Contact me if you want to find healing from brokenness.
5. Division. My way or the highway. If you don't play well with the other Christians, you won't be effective in the battle. This one is simple: Repent of your pride and practice being humble.
6. Deliberate ignorance. This one is tough to overcome because it is fueled by a rebellious heart. For this one, pray through the Psalms!
7. Misunderstanding of who God is as your adoptive Father. Can you say "Abba Father" and do you know that you're accepted, and welcomed at the family table? It's also possible to fall into the opposite trap of irreverence. Our experiences growing up can deeply impact this understanding.
8. Picking up hitchhikers. Sometimes, when you are in rebellion against God, it's like you slow down the car and pick up a hitchhiker. For some, it's controversial about whether these hitchhikers are in the cab with you or in the back of the pickup. It's best to get rid of these hitchhikers as soon as possible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify them and then send them away in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Fill up on the truth of the Word that is the opposite of the hitchhikers that the Holy Spirit just sent packing! If you continue to be bothered, you'll need to get help. Contact me or another pastor who can assist you.
Every Christian has been commissioned to extend the Kingdom of Christ, mirror the attributes of God in daily life, and enjoy a healthy, familial relationship with God. To do this, you must do spiritual battle daily. This is a daily process of deflecting attacks, while full-scale assaulting the enemies strongholds.
This conquest is real and a believer cannot be neutral. The Kingdom of Christ is bringing life, hope, and healing to the darkest corners of the kingdom of Satan. It's time for battle because the war is in full-swing.
Read the word... 30-60 minutes a day. Pray for specific prayer requests. Pray for healing and repentance from specific sins. Pray through portions of the scripture. Spend less time thinking about politics and more time thinking about missions. Carefully examine yourself. What are the thoughts that live in your head? What are the attitudes that color your thinking towards yourself, God, and others? Ask God, "Where do these things come from? Show me why I think like this."
Engage the battle! This is real.
Picture Credit: https://activechristianity.org/whole-armor-of-god
“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves... heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'... I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you... rejoice because your names are written in heaven." Jesus Christ in Luke 10
The Kingdom of Jesus has come and with it came freedom. Believers have freedom through justification, and freedom through sanctification. One major objective in sanctification is to become more like Christ, doing the works of the Father in our daily lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Applying the books of Romans and Galatians to our daily lives by walking in the Spirit, obeying the will of our Father.
We've been given some very powerful weapons and tools, as well as have been given a one-on-one Coach who leads us into all truth. Using these tools, we can take the next step in our own sanctification, realizing more freedom from sin, self, and Satan. Simultaneously, we attack the empires of Satan and bring freedom to others.
The Harvest is Great
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
Many of these people have been harvested! Someone told each one of them the good news of Jesus Christ. The mission for us is to find the rest of this multitude without number and bring them to Christ. To do this, we must sail through bloody seas and battle leviathans to rescue the captives from the devilish tentacles. Through the Spirit, we must speak the gospel and wake the dead. Humbly and valiantly, we storm the fortresses of the kingdom of darkness and set the captives free! This is called the great shared-mission... or great co-mission! We get cuts, infections, and lose limbs in some of the battles, yet we triumphantly march through the streets with the parade of joyous Christians who've just changed their citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light!
The Laborers are Few
No one knows why, but there are always few who receive the joy of harvesting. We all have our own reasons for going or not going out to work in the fields. One mistake we make is to separate spiritual and secular ministry, which makes the labor force seem smaller. In fact, the kingdom of God is as present in a cubical as it is in a counseling room. The evangelist has the same commission as the electrician. However, each Christian makes a choice as to how involved s/he is in the harvesting. There are also some harvest fields that have thousands of harvesters wandering around, while other fields are ripe for harvest with only one or two harvesters methodically moving down the rows, sacks bulging with ripe fruit, musing to themselves, "I wish others would join us!"
Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
You are going out among wolves that hate you and want to kill you, ruin your marriage, and maim your children. It sounds fatal until you look up and see the Shepherd. The Shepherd is with you at all times. He has given you a Personal Trainer who trains you to defend yourself from wolfish fangs and to bravely inflict vicious wounds into wolf-flesh. The problems happen when we run away from the Shepherd or decide to nap during a battle. Sometimes, we just forget that we're highly-trained professional soldiers and submit to the abuse of the enemy. Then, our Captain rescues us and puts us up on his horse for a while.
Heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'...
Healing happens wherever Christ's ambassadors are stationed. In the last 24 years of being an ambassador for Christ, I've prayed for a large amount of people to receive healing. Think about how many prayer chains, prayer meetings, prayer times have been spent on healing! And you know what? Many have been healed by the Holy Spirit. One thing that I've noticed is that God enjoys healing people. I think it is because it is a visual aid of the fact that "the kingdom of God has come near to" them. Physical healing is a calling card for the spiritual healing that is to be found in Christ, as well as it brings God glory and shuts down the oppression of Satan. (Acts 10:38) The goodness of God leads people to repentance and soon many find that the kingdom of God is not near anymore. It is in them and they are in it! New passport! New identity! New KING! New mission!
I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,
Authority. Without it, we are powerless and vulnerable. Christ gives all believers His authority to trample on demonic spirits. In our own authority, the demons mock. In the authority of Christ, they are crushed beneath our feet. A practical way of looking at this is to think about an off-duty soldier and an on-duty soldier. The off-duty soldier is wearing civilian clothes and receives a different response in battle. However, a soldier in full fatigues, body armor, and carrying a variety of weapons is taken very seriously in battle. We've been given authority "over all the power of the enemy." We need to armor up and act in Jesus' authority. What I mean is that we can have the authority and seldom use it. It is also possible to act in our own authority. That is why James says to "submit to God" first. Jesus probably used this figurative wording on purpose, since He was about ready to crush the head of Satan. We step on the heads of demonic spirits in the authority purchased by Christ on the cross.
Let me say this also: We trample on the skulls of spirits when we bring people to Christ! And, when we disciple those people to find freedom from spiritual and sinful bondage. There's nothing more demoralizing than having someone take your property while you're guarding it. It's like walking up to a trafficker who is beating his slave and taking the little boy away from him permanently.
And nothing shall by any means hurt you...
I don't think that Jesus is talking about flesh wounds here. Our Heavenly Father uses the battle to refine our fighting skills and condition us. We know from the book of Job and from 1 Peter 5 that spiritual battles have specific parameters. And, my experience is that, as we engage the battle using the authority and weaponry of Christ, we can exit a battle with significantly less flesh wounds.
Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
The context here is that the 70 people returned and were excited because even the evil spirits obeyed them and were cast out. Jesus knows that this is exciting! When a person receives freedom from a harassing or controlling spirit, there is hope, relief, healing for him/her. Even as this is a time for thankfulness and joy, Jesus reminds us to keep our eyes on Him. Ministry has its highs and lows! Anchor your daily joy in the Person and Work of Christ! Rejoice because your name is written in Heaven! You're His forever! You're a child of God forever. Eternal life is to know God and be in a relationship with Him forever... which is why we are harvesting! Some day, an innumerable multitude of people from every family group will live together eternally in relationship with the Triune God!
Thy kingdom come, on Earth and it is in Heaven!
Helpful Verses About Spiritual Warfare and Discipleship
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jesus in John 14:12
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:8-10
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
'Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free" is how the Christmas hymn begins! The world steeped in sin and darkness had reached a bitter broth. Suddenly, a light erupted and dispersed the darkness.
Christ came into the realm of the king of darkness. He beat Satan and took away his power at the cross. At the cross, Christ bought the right to take citizens from Satan's kingdom and bring them into His kingdom of Light.
Satan delights in sickness, lust, envy, pride, bitterness and rebellion. He loves the chaos and brokenness that humanity reaps, as we rebel against our Creator and hurt each other in the process. Sin has consequences, and those consequences directly affect our families and communities. ENTER JESUS CHRIST! King Jesus enters a family and changes that family from the inside out. King Jesus enters a community and turns darkness into light! Satan and his hoards of evil spirits are desperately trying to prevent the King of Light from taking what belongs to HIM. But, they can't.
The King of Light brings His salvation and healing power into the lives of His people. His kingdom has come on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Jesus Christ delights in healing, love, kindness, humility, bravery, self-control, forgiveness, and obedience. And, His citizens do, too. Every time we bring the gospel, healing, peace, and freedom from evil spirits to individuals, families, and communities, we do these things as ambassadors of King Jesus Christ. In His authority, we fight Satan and cut through the darkness with the sword of the Holy Spirit. It isn't easy, but the success is already written in Heaven. Our work is to do the will of the Father and do the good works that He's already planned out for us to do, which are all part of His plan to bring His kingdom across every community on planet Earth.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." God
As ambassadors of Christ, we aspire to the sorrow and joy that He felt. The hard rebelliousness of humanity cut Him to the core, while the Father's sovereign work of salvation brought Him joy! (Luke 19:41, Luke 10:21). To survive... to thrive as Kingdom ambassadors, we must follow Jesus' example.
Joy! I see it in the eyes of new believers and in the eyes of vibrant believers, those who are walking in daily relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy is deep within, while happiness is a state of mind. Joy transcends circumstances because it trusts in the Joy-Giver. Joy doesn't lose hope because it is anchored in the infinite God.
The Pit of Despondency
Sorrow. It surrounds me like a sea of darkness, licking at my temples and biting at my soul, threatening to swallow me into it's despondent depths. This kind of sorrow is worldly sorrow because it sees no hope and fatalistically condemns future generations to repeat the cycle of rebellion. Rebellion against God's law produces grotesque, hard brokenness. Watching it daily causes me deep pain, and threatens to callous my heart.
Within a week, I met two young women on different islands with babies that the respective daddies rejected. One was about sixteen and the other in her early twenties. Seeing the rejection of these girls and their babies created sorrow in me. God's family is precious and our reflection of His family here on Earth is our joyful purpose. It breaks me to see a generation of children giving birth to a succeeding generation of broken identities.
The Secret to Sorrow
How does a Christ-follower see constant darkness and have sorrow without shipwrecking on the shoals of despondency? What did Jesus do? Jesus was the perfectly balanced God-Man. He anchored His sorrow and joy in the infinite attributes of God. That is what we must do. We must focus our minds' eyes on the character of God. God is infinite holiness, limitless love, perfect justice, rightfully sovereign, delightfully joyful, infinitely good and quick to help those who cry out to Him.
Why do we care so much? It's partly because we care about God. Seeing the broken images of God smash themselves on the rocks of rebellion causes me intense pain. I know how it could be for them... how it should be. Every person was made to be a God's glory in their daily lives, especially in their families. It's partly because we are made to love: Love God and love others. Seeing people act in hate, slices into the love that we have for them.
We have to process what we see within intimate contemplation of our God's character. When we trust His sovereignty, depend on His goodness, and anticipate His mercy, we will have weep godly tears and embrace His joy!
The Complete Story of Sorrow and Joy in 3 Verses
The life of every Christ-follower is described briefly in Isaiah 60:1-3. In these verses, you'll see our sorrow and our joy.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Get up! Shine because Jesus has come and His glory shines like the sun on and through you! This is the daily life of a Christ-follower. Get up! Spend time with Christ. Reflect the glory of His character in your day's activities and reactions! The Holy Spirit has everything you need to be empowered in your day!
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
We are citizens of the kingdom of Light! Yet, we live in the kingdom of darkness. We are surrounded by a evil and the darkness that rebellion against our Creator and created purpose generates. We walk among people who live in darkness so thick it has a presence of its own.
But the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Our King has risen from the grave and conquered sin, death, disease and the Satanic forces. He has turned on the light! His kingdom advances, as He takes back what He bought with His life: His family. As long as we keep our eyes unwavering upon Jesus Christ and walk in daily relationship with the Holy Spirit, we will not be cast down by sorrow. We will experience godly sorrow and godly joy!
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
Christ is the LIGHT! We first find our joy in Christ. Then, we find joy in seeing each new believer drawn to Christ's light and converted by His Holy Spirit empowered gospel. Christ's light lives inside of every believer... overflowing out through every crack and cascading over the brim! As we go to the palaces and provinces, kings and nations are drawn to the Jesus Christ, who is eternal Light and eternal God.
Jesus said that he came to proclaim liberty to the captives. What did Jesus mean by that? Who are the captives and who has shackled them?
Since Adam's rebellion, all humans (except Jesus) have been born into generational captivity to Satan. First, all humans are born spiritually dead and disconnected from God. Their dead spiritual nature totally permeates their bodies, thinking, and emotions. This alone is enough to hold humans captive. However, Satan is 100% evil and hates God's creation. So, he further captivates humans using their cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, and horrific experiences at the hands of others. Generational sins and addictions are passed along. Depending on the brand of religion and culture, evil spirits manipulate and control in a variety of ways.
Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan and his evil forces when he died on the cross. In victory, Jesus Christ rose with authority over everything, spiritual and physical. He commands His followers to be His ambassadors and live truth-defined lives in His authority.
In the Philippines, we encounter rampant bondage to the spirits of fear, debt, and desertion. These spirits have burrowed deep into the cultural fabric, impacting the daily lives of millions.
For countless generations, fear has ruled daily lives. Fear of spirits, curses, and sickness are common. Spirits are feared and appeased through rituals, purchasing charms or by visiting a witch doctor. Fear of being cursed, either intentionally or by accident also is real.
Another aspect of fear is the fear of breaking the trust of a spiritual or physical patron. This ties into the spirit of debt. In the Philippines, it's possible to own someone if you become their patron. This is one of the pitfalls that can affect missionaries. A patron can use social or financial debt to manipulate, even cause people to desert their families.
Desertion is celebrated as a heroic value if it is done for financial reasons. However, the results reveal a wake of broken families and individuals.
When Jesus Christ entered the Philippines, He came to set the captives free. He commands His followers to study His ways and live Christ-like lives. He firmly instructs them to fear only God and be in debt to no person. Jesus Christ gives us His word, His Holy Spirit, and His authority. Christian parents are charged with the privilege of discipling their children and modeling Christ for them daily. As ambassadors for Christ, they are required to live free from the spirits of fear, debt and desertion.
How do Christ-followers attain this freedom in Christ? Most find it through discipleship, as they learn Christ's truth, reprogram their thinking and apply Christ's kingdom culture to their daily lives.
It takes patient, mature, loving, truthful Christians to teach Christ-followers to live out their victorious callings as ambassadors for Christ! The harvest is ripe! Bring the bondage-breaking liberty of Jesus Christ to those who are held captive.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus Christ
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.