The promise of God is that He will dwell in us and walk among us. A company of believers as the Temple of God is the fulfillment of the promise of God and cost Calvary to make it possible. What should be taking place if the Holy Spirit is given His rightful place? Today we want to continue on the subject of our last program on what we should expect when God is dwelling in our midst and the Holy Spirit is given free control. It is so important that we carefully consider this lest we be caught in simply a religious form that has no meaning to God.
The ministry on our program today is by Gordon Gentry and was given in a small home setting in 1996. Our prayer is that you may find encouragement in this in your own situation and experience the riches of God dwelling in your midst.
(As a side note, the setting was with a few brothers and sisters where questions were encouraged, and one brother was struggling with sleep apnea.)
Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be in the midst of them. What does it mean to gather in His name? Why do we do that? What are the evidences that He is present? What should we expect? To gather in the name of Jesus is more than just having a meeting, singing some songs, and hearing an encouraging message. That activity can all be done without God’s presence or leading. God is looking for something more than that. I believe He is looking for us to meet with Him, commune with Him, worship Him, and hear Him speak to us. It is possible for us to just go through a form of meeting, but miss the real purpose of meeting together. Today we want to look at some of the key elements that need to be present in order for a meeting to be meaningful to God and us.
Paul says that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers of wickedness in heavenly places. But we are also told that Christ won the victory against the enemy at Calvary. If this is so then why is there still a war? To understand clearly what God did in Christ Jesus at Calvary is critical to being able to view the conflict that we face properly and live in the power of His endless life. We are called to live as overcomers, and the resources to do that are as we abide in Christ’s victory. If we try to live out of our resources, we will be defeated. We are no match for the devil on our own. But as we abide in Christ, we are more than overcomers. Is that our experience today? It should be, and if not it can be.
Probably the greatest war in the world today is the war between men and women. Yet God created the first man and woman and His creation was perfect. Why should there be such conflict, and why should it be such an issue among Christians? In the Genesis account of creation, we see that the enemy is his cunning way brought division between Adam and Eve and that division and conflict has continued down to our present day. What God intended to be the most beautiful and fulfilling relationship has become the subject of great conflict and confusion, even among Christians. There is an answer to this conflict, and the solution is to come back to God’s original design and let that control every relationship, especially in the church and family. Today we look at some of the key issues with the prayer that God will make the way clear for each one of us to walk in truth and glorify God.
Paul said that the message of the Cross is the power of God to those who are being saved. What is this message of the Cross? In what way is it the power of God? How do we avail of this power to be delivered from this world of sin and enter fully into what God is doing today? Many relegate the “message of the Cross” to our initial deliverance from sin. While that is included, the message of the Cross ( or logos of the Cross) is much more than that. God has provided much more for us at Calvary than just forgiveness of sin. We need that and we never want to diminish the significance of that in any way. But that is just the beginning. Today we want to explore some of the broader meaning of what Jesus did at Calvary and how we enter into that in our experience.
Jesus told the early apostles to go and make disciples. He also said that it is enough that a disciple be as his master. The goal of God is mature sons and daughters, able to bear responsibility in His family. How is this goal of God to be realized? I think that every sincere Christian believes that God wants maturity in His children, but there is not always agreement on how that maturity is to be accomplished. I believe the truth presented by Paul in Ephesians chapter 4 is the way in which God has designed for the maturity to be realized. We are not at liberty to design our own way, but rather we are to let the Holy Spirit reveal God’s way through the scriptures. There are reasons that God has structured His family this way. Today we seek to examine some of those reasons.
Paul said that God had commissioned him and the other apostles to make known the “mystery” which was hidden to the prophets of old but has now been revealed. What was that mystery? What is the practical meaning of that to us today? A mystery is something that is hidden. This mystery was hidden from the Old Testament prophets, but now has been revealed. The mystery that Paul was commissioned to reveal is that now the full grace of God has been made available to both Jews and Gentiles in one body. Full access into the riches of God’s grace was opened up to every person through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the administration (or fellowship) of this grace is experienced in what is known as the church. Today we want to focus on “the unsearchable riches of Christ” that we may avail fully of this grace for the purpose and glory of God.
In writing to the Ephesian Church, Paul said that God had reconciled Jews and Gentiles in one body. There was no more distinction, and in that context He is fitting us together as a Temple of God. What does that mean to you and me in practical terms? We refer to the church as “The Body of Christ” and “The Temple of God.” and rightly so. But the deeper meaning of those terms often escapes us. In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul seeks to give us some understanding of the significance of what God has done in Christ. An increasing comprehension (revelation) of what God has provided for us in Christ forms the vision that should control us as we work out the details of God’s purpose for us in everyday life.
Paul said he laid Christ as the foundation of God’s building. To build properly on that foundation we must also build according to Christ. To do this we must have supernatural revelation of Christ from God. How do we get this revelation? The building of God is all spiritual. It cannot be done with natural understanding. This leaves us on our knees before God for spiritual insight that only He can give. Within that revelation of Christ is the light we need to walk in to be effective in our labor for God’s purpose and glory.
When writing to the Corinthian church Paul said that he had laid a foundation as a wise master builder. What was the foundation that Paul laid? If we are going to build properly we need to have a clear revelation of that foundation. We are continuing today on the subject of “Building in God” and are using the account of the beginning and growth of the Ephesian assembly as our outline. We have in the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians the foundation of the gospel he preached and the revelation truth of the church as the structure within which God is building today. The foundation is Jesus Christ, but what does that mean? We want to try to answer that question in some degree.
The truth that we need is not always spelled out in the scriptures in a detailed outline. Many times it is given to us by the record of God’s working in the past. The foundation and growth of the Ephesian church is an example of that. Let us learn from this account. We continue today on the subject of “Building in God” by considering the beginning and growth of the Ephesian assembly. In many ways, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the most complete instruction that we have regarding the plan of God for achieving His eternal goal in our time. This letter was written from prison and is likely a summary of what he taught those believers for a period of three years when he laid the foundation. He had to condense three years into a relatively short letter, but our task is to “unpack” the truth in this letter and apply it to our situation by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
When writing to the Corinthians, Paul said that he had laid a foundation, and that those who followed him should be careful how they build. What does it mean to build in God? How do we know that we are building on the right foundation and that our building is approved by God? What it means to build in the natural is obvious, but spiritual building is more difficult to discern. There is much religious activity around us but not all of it is spiritual building according to God’s plan. Today we want to look at what it means to “build in God.” Building is more than just having meetings, preaching sermons, and associated religious activities. Spiritual building results in Christ being formed in each member and an expression of Christ in a gathering of believers.
The last two months I was in Kenya with another brother visiting a number of small churches and conducting some intensive leadership training. It was a very rich time of fellowship and ministry. Today I want to share some of what took place. This past two months was an amazing experience of God’s working and grace. The main focus of the trip was five weeks of leadership training for about 100 leaders from 50 different gatherings of various kinds. We normally met from 10am to 4pm with a one hour break for lunch and a couple of other shorter breaks. It was an intensive time of ministry and fellowship. Only God knows all that took place but we sought to leave brothers with Jesus and the word of His grace and pray that He will bring the increase as only He can.
Testimonies of brothers and sisters can be of great encouragement to us in our journey of faith. God is real and our experience of His grace is real. Today I want to share my personal testimony of God’s faithfulness to His praise and glory. Over the past two and half years that I have been doing this podcast I have tried to minimize sharing of my personal experiences and instead focus on the scriptures and general truth that forms the foundation of God’s building in our lives. Next week I am leaving for a two month trip to Kenya so will not be doing the podcast for a while. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little more about my journey in the Lord. I pray that you will find encouragement in your own walk with the Lord and rejoice with me in God’s faithfulness down through the years.
James speaks about the “Trial of our Faith.” At one point or another I believe all of us have found ourselves in that place. How is our faith tried? What do we do when we find ourselves being tested? What is God after in our lives in this testing? Someone has said that faith is the currency in God’s economy. Or in other words, without faith it is impossible to please God or draw upon His grace in our lives. I don’t think we can overemphasize the working of faith and what is happening in our lives as we move in faith. Today we share some ministry on this subject given by Gordon Gentry in a home meeting in June 1999. It is our prayer that you will find this challenging and helpful in your walk of faith before God and be built up in your relationship with Him.
What are the causes of spiritual blindness? Jesus had some strong things to say about blind leaders seeking to lead blind men. He also gave a strong rebuke to the church of Laodicea regarding blindness. Is it possible for us to be blind and not know it? Spiritual vision is a great miracle that comes to us by the mercy and grace of God. The scriptures teach us that we are all born into this world blind to spiritual things and God must open our eyes to see the unseen and see all things properly as God sees them. Jesus came as a great light into a world of spiritual darkness. Today we want to look again at the issues surrounding spiritual vision and the causes of spiritual blindness.
Some good ministry on this subject by T. Austin-Sparks:
We all want to be used by God for His purpose and glory according to His grace. For this to happen, we must be prepared. Our lives must be a living letter, written by the Spirit of God. What are the essential elements of this preparation? How does this take place? To be effective in our service in God’s Kingdom, the character of God must be manifested through our words and deeds. The resources for this to take place come from God Himself living in us by His Spirit. His life must take expression in our whole being so that our whole person is an expression of the character and nature of God. This does not happen overnight, but it does take place if we are diligent in our relationship with God and mature as sons of God as He has designed.
Today we share some ministry by Gordon Gentry on this subject. It was given in a home Bible study about 1995. His main text is 2 Peter 1:2-9. It is our prayer that God may use this teaching and exhortation in our lives to spur us on into the full purpose that God has for each one of us.
If our heart is to know God then we are looking for reality, not just words. Jesus came that we may have life and bring us into the reality of fellowship with God. To experience this fellowship we must be committed to this relationship in faith without compromise. So many times we are familiar with spiritual concepts but lack the reality of which the words speak. The gospel which so many of us have heard all of our lives leaves us with lofty spiritual ideas, but falls short of bringing us into the reality of the words. To stay in this condition is deception leading to disaster in one way or another. To be the spiritual men and women that we desire and God desires, God must be in control in all things.
Today we share a strong exhortation from Gordon Gentry on the way into the reality of God’s provision for us in Christ Jesus. The ministry was given in a small home fellowship in 1998. Our prayer is that God may use this in all of our lives to make the pathway clearer, be stimulated into active faith, and experience the riches of God’s grace for His purpose and glory.
When we first come to God the scripture describes the event as “being born again” whereby we are now alive with the life of God. Now the process of maturity begins as we abide in Christ. This requires a continual adjustment to His authority. Is this taking place in our lives? All of us need to be continually adjusted to the will of God. That is a life-long process. When we first come to God and are made alive in the Spirit it is a wonderful day. But that day is the beginning of a life of continual change “from glory to glory.” In other words, each new step into God and experiencing of His grace is glorious, and that prepares us for the next step. It is continual growth in experience of the grace of God.
Today I want to share with you a testimony and encouragement from Chip Brogden that recently came to me. I was very blessed and encouraged by this and I want to share it with you. I will put the link to the written article on the show notes so you can read it for yourself. Let us be encouraged today as we let the Lord have His way in all things.
Transcript of today’s program:
When we first came to the Lord, our focus was on our need of deliverance from sin. But God did not redeem us just so that we could live a better life. Rather He redeemed us for His eternal purpose. Have we let God shift our focus? So often we just think about our needs and how God can meet those needs. When we think about it carefully, we may start to see how selfish we really are. As we mature God wants to shift that focus so that we are here on this earth for Him and His purpose. His promise is that as we seek His kingdom first (His sovereign rule) and partake of His righteous in Christ Jesus, then He will take care of our needs. Have we let that truth sink into our hearts to the point that it controls our thoughts and very core of our actions?
Today we share some encouragement in that direction that was recently given in a small home fellowship in preparation for remembering the Lord. Our prayer is that God will work in all of our hearts to deliver us from a life of self-centeredness into a Christ centered life for His purpose and glory. It cost God the death of Christ at Calvary to make this possible. May the Lord reveal afresh to all of us the greatness of His love and mercy that has been extended to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is our greatest enemy? Is it Satan? The World? Those who say they hate Christians? While these may bring us afflictions and trials from time to time, I don’t think they are really our greatest enemy. I think our greatest enemy is ourselves separate from Christ. In order to see this, we must come back to Calvary and what Christ Jesus did on the cross. God judged the entire human race according to Adam at the cross and put it away from Him. It was infected with sin and beyond repair. Nothing in the old creation could be rescued, so God began a new race in Christ. This race would not fail because it is based on what God can do, not what man can do in himself. To enter into this new race we must be born again. In new birth we are joined with Christ and now all things are of God. To begin and continue in this new creation is God’s answer to sin, death, and the limitations of man separate from Him.
There is a battle going on today and eternal issues are at stake. It is a battle for life and within that battle is a battle for truth. On a casual look, the real issues are often not seen for what they are. We dare not be complacent in this battle lest we be deceived and brought down to death. These are the words that came to me as I rose up this last Sunday morning. I share them with the prayer that they may be of encouragement to each one of us in what we are facing today.
“We are in a battle for truth. The devil is a liar and the father of lies. He questions God and leads others to question God. If we listen to his lies, we will be brought down to the dust, defeated, and die. If we abide in Christ and listen to Him we will rise up in victory and live with Him forever.”
“The devil uses every means he can to deceive us. He appeals to logic, pride, and the desires of the flesh. His goal is that we will move separate from God and rely on our own strength. God wants us to move in union with Him and rely on His strength.”
“Each one of us today is facing a critical, life changing decision. Will we believe God and take a step of faith in truth, or will we listen to the lies of the enemy. One leads to life, the other to death. The significance of the choice is critical. It does not seem so important, but the issue is one of life and death.”
What are the manifestations of the Spirit of God? We read about divine manifestations of God in the early church. Can we expect similar manifestations today? If so, what does God expect from us for Him to reveal Himself through us for His purpose and glory? In I Corinthians chapters 12-14 we read Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church regarding the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. These manifestations are different from the fruit of the Spirit described in the letter to the Galatians. I believe the scriptures teach plainly that we need both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit to be able to function as a spiritual person and a spiritual expression of the Body of Christ in this world as God intends to meet pressing needs.
Today we share ministry by Gordon Gentry on this subject given in 1998 in a home fellowship. He concentrates on the difference between intellectual belief and faith that is originated and completed by Jesus. His message is that we need all of the manifestations of the Spirit to be able to meet the many demands that come our way in the ordinary affairs of life. We share this ministry with the prayer that God will use it to encourage all of us to be more hungry for these manifestations leading into a greater experience of God and the riches of His grace. Jesus opened the door for us. Let us press in to all that God has provided that His purpose would be fully realized in our lives and our locality.
Prayer is one of the great mysteries in the working of God. It defies human logic, but it is at the center of our warfare against the enemy. When all else fails, prayer connects us to the throne of God and releases His power for His purpose and glory. There are many aspects to prayer. Basically, prayer is two-way communication with God. The prayer that is effective is prayer that is initiated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit as He knows the mind of God and intercedes for us according to the will of God. His intercession is not only for us (we are the object of His intercession) but He intercedes through us (we are the vehicle through which He intercedes). Thus we become an integral part of this work of God. But this is not only a personal matter; it is also the ministry of the church as a whole.
Today we share some ministry on this subject by Harry Foster taken from a small booklet entitled The Essence of all Prayer (“That I May Know Him”). Harry labored with T. Austin-Sparks, and this was published in 1947. May the Lord enlarge our vision of our responsibility before God in corporate intercession in the church for His purpose and glory.
Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are to speak the truth one to another in love and that this is a very important key in growing up into Christ. What does this mean in practical terms? How do we do this without compromise and without breaking relationships? Right relationships are critical in the working of God, right relationship with God, and right relationships with others. To avoid conflicts, we often choose to be silent on important issues where God is not silent. Then sometimes we get stirred up on a particular issue and speak out in such a way that the main result is broken relationships which are very difficult to mend. Is there an answer to this dilemma?