ROCK THE BOAT – DON’T ROCK THE BOAT BABY

In the times, we are in, with such economic upheaval, fear and anxiety can easily set in.  Each presidential candidate promises that if elected, they have the solution to fix our economic woes.  All of this holds merit for those living under the system of the world.  The world’s system is based on man’s efforts to solve man’s problems.  It is humanism at its finest.  However, for those of us that have been bought by the blood of Jesus the Christ, we are called out of the world and are alive to God’s sovereign Kingdom limited only to the limitations of God Himself.  We are in pretty good shape.  Consequently though, we are in pretty good shape only to the degree that we are surrendered to God and the authority of His Kingdom.

Money is necessary.  We all need it to live and do.  Jesus was aware of this.  Jesus never lacked.  When He needed, He had.  Extra fish and bread, gold coins from a fishes mouth, and people opening their homes to Him.  Jesus always had enough.  He came to teach us the reality and assuredness of His Father’s Kingdom.

Jesus spoke continuously about His Kingdom; its coming and reigning.  In the bible, the word KINGDOM, did not primarily mean a physical place or boundary, it meant the rule or reign a king or monarch held.  Who was ruled over carried more weight than the area ruled over.  When the bible speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, it is not talking about a place, it is talking about the sovereign rule and reign heaven now carries on earth.  Satan’s kingdom was usurped and a new rulership was in charge.  Those that trust in Christ and believe in Him are transferred from hell’s dominion to heavens.  The instability of the fallen world’s system is now replaced with the unfaltering, unwavering Kingship of God through Christ.  The worlds system is based on man, thus prone to failure, sin, and lawlessness.  God’s Kingdom is based on God; Good, Holy, Pure, Unchallenged, Unstoppable, and Bountiful God.  With this being the case, as we live in the rule of God, whatever happens in the system of the world does not have a direct bearing on us.  We are now top of the food chain, the whole light and salt thing.  We are God’s agents, His children called to rule this world without fear or trepidation.

I want to make clear on this.  Being saved and being surrendered are two different things.  You can ask God for forgiveness and be granted forgiveness and still find yourself living under the system and ways of the world.  God is wanting our surrender; our giving ourselves to His ways and His system.  You need more than a Sunday relationship with Jesus.  You come to the place were you say to God, Your will be done.  I will work where you tell me to work, I will live where you tell me to live, and I will spend what you tell me to spend.  You are MY Lord, my Master, my King and I live longing for your dominion and authority over my life.  When we get to this place, the power of the world no longer has a hold on us.  This is why you are so often unstable and filled with fear and out of control thinking.  He is Savior, but not yet Lord.  A great portion of our misery as Christians is we are born anew of a new King and reign, yet live and function out of the old system.  God opposes the proud.  Do you know much of our opposition is not satan, but God.  We come to Him but only half-heartedly yield ourselves.  The un-yielded areas are areas where WE try to live with our own agendas, our own desires, and our own ways of doing things.  These people are only partial Christians.  God is opposing their pride.  God is after more than just saving, He is after those that want Him as Lord.  When we live in His Kingdom, or rulership, we become as stable as He is.  This is why so many Christians live with such fear and anxiety.  They live by the ebbs and flows of the fallen world’s system instead of living in the righteousness, peace and joy of God’s Kingdom.  The Kingdom will always resemble its King.

So simply put, having Jesus as Savior will get you into heaven but will not do much for you until then.  You need more than just a savior, you need a Lord.  He is King, whether acknowledged or not.  When we do let Him have control of our lives, our lives take on a divine dynamic that the world cannot explain.  How much of your internal upheaval is from you being lord and not Him?

Jesus’ remedy for finances was simple.  Trust Me.

Matthew 6:33
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

In this verse, Jesus lays it out for us.

Seek is an imperative verb in continuous ongoing action.  Imperatives are commands.  Jesus commands us to focus our attention in a permanent on-going fashion.

First This word means primarily, foremost or leading.

His Kingdom Jesus specifies whose rule we are to continuously and primarily focus and pursue… HIS rule and reign.

His Righteousness Righteousness means the right or correct way to live.  We are not to pursue and seek our own “right way of living” but rather His.  We need to live the way He lives and this is done through imputation by faith.

And All These Things Everything you will ever need like food, clothes, jobs, extra money for vacation, and on and on.

Shall Be Added To You God will provide what you need.  The ways He provides are as vast as He Himself is.  The God who has all and knows all will ADD to you in ways beyond our current ability to understand (Jer. 33:3)

Bottom line is if you and I will purse and go after God’s rule in all aspects of life, if we put God and our relationship with Him first and above all things, God will hand us all that we need.  It will come in ways to numerous to try to define, but it will come nonetheless.  It all boils down to our focus.  Focus on money and you will get neither God nor money.  Focus in on God and you will get more than you can think or ask.  This is His promise to us.   He is a Father who wants to give good gifts to His children.  It is up to us to allow God to sift out the world in each of us.  When this happens, we will not live in fear of the future, WE WILL DECLARE IT! We are sons and daughters of GOD!

Blessings and peace,

Joe Brock

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Discernment II

August 27, 2009

Discernment II

DISCERNMENT IS KNOWING TRUTH
In the passage in Hebrews (5:14), it stated the mature could differentiate between good and evil.  There are many forms of evil in this world, but only one thing that is truly Good (Mark 10:18).  We can spend a lifetime attempting to study and know what is evil and then live trying to avoid it.  This causes us to live in the mind and use self to figure out and solve life.  OR, we can seek to know the only ONE that is good.  Since there is only one that is good, knowing God gives us both the perfect standard of goodness and a measuring rod against what is not good.  By knowing Jesus, when you see something that resembles Him, your discernment will let you know it.  The Truth existing in your heart will agree with the goodness you encounter in this life.  When you encounter something that is evil or bad, the same Truth inside you will react to the badness in this life and an internal disruption will take place. When this happens, the discernment triggers you to know to keep a distance or avoid completely the darkness you encounter.   Therefore, the choice comes down to trying to know all the bad and avoiding it, or knowing the single Good and following Him.

This works with what is truly good as well.  Have you ever entered your church on a Sunday and said something like, “it feels really good in here.”  There was a joy and lightness, and you could sense it or feel it.  Where in you did you “feel” this?   How did you arrive at the notion that it “felt” good?  In addition, have you ever met someone for the first time, and had an immediate positive reaction.  You were drawn to them with a good feeling and cannot understand why.  When the Jesus in you senses the Jesus in something or someone else, your discernment lets you know this is a good thing.  As much as we are repelled from the darkness, we are drawn to the light.

Our problem is we are still so bound to interpreting reality with our physical senses; we often fail to see the Truth; good or bad.  We meet someone that is physically unattractive and we reject them based only on what our eyes see.  Someone comes to church and has not bathed in a while and we distance ourselves from them.  Someone is overweight, we think poorly of him or her, and we avoid.  This is what happens when you live out of your soul and try to discern based on self alone.  When you let Jesus be your interpreter, you have the capacity to see so much more of the person then your physical eyes will allow.  Spiritual eyes let you see the person with no physical beauty as a prince or princess in God’s eyes.  A spiritual nose will allow you to smell beyond body odor and allow you to smell the fragrance of Christ in that person (2 Corinthians 2:15).  A heart of love that comes from knowing Jesus will allow you to see the overweight person can become healthy through your prayers and encouragement.   You see through Jesus’ eyes, feel through His fingers, hear through His ears, and smell through His nose.  This is more than just a possibility, it is how Jesus lived and how He expects us to live.  I want to share two examples to help you see that this really does work.  One personal and one I read.

EXAMPLES
Shortly before moving to Virginia to pastor, the Lord touched my heart and let me know I was to go to a local coffee shop.  I was not sure why, but I got my computer and went.  As I walked in, I had a neat experience.  There was a very attractive young woman working there.  In the natural, she was very pretty.  Yet when I walked in and saw her, the discernment kicked in and Jesus did something.  Instead of only seeing her physical beauty, I received a picture of her in my heart as a yellow flower whose petals were closed off.  I also “knew” she had a very hard life and because of this, she closed herself off from people not wanting to get hurt again.  I sat down and prayed about this asking the Lord what I should do.  I knew I was to share this with her.  She came by my table and politely made small talk.  When she did, I asked her if she could sit down a minute.  I went on to tell her that God wanted me at that coffee shop and I came not knowing why.  I explained to her that when I saw her, God shared some things with me about her.  I proceeded to tell her that I saw her as this beautiful yellow flower.  I then told her the flower was closed off because it had been hurt before and did not want to be hurt again.  I shared with her that I felt she had, had a very hard life and from the hurts and pain; she closed herself off from letting others get close to her.  By now, her eyes were beginning to well-up.  I then told her that Jesus made her beautiful, not just physically, but in all ways, and that this beauty was a gift God gave her.  When the hurts came and she closed herself off, the world was no longer blessed by this wonderful gift.  I then told her that Jesus was going to begin healing her and I saw that as this happened, the flower would reopen.  She would be able to open herself up again after Jesus took the pain away.  By now, she was balling.  I consoled her and reassured her that Jesus loved her and had never given up on her.  As this was happening, another young woman working there saw all this.   We spoke before I left and I realized I knew her from previous camp I spoke at.  As we remained in touch, she shared with me the difference in this young ladies life I had the discernment about and that she was changed and even witnessing to people at the coffee shop.

The Jesus inside of me saw this woman for all that she was.  Instead of only looking at her in the natural, I opened my heart to the Lord and was able to see her true condition.  By seeing this, I was able to minister the love and tenderness Jesus had for her with the conclusion being, her whole life was put back on track.  This is the heart of our God.

The second example I want to share is from a book I read.  The author was sharing how at one point in his life, he worked in a business office.  His company hired a new woman manager, and this woman became his new supervisor.  He said this woman was somewhat rigid and very, very professional.  She wore business suits and kept her hair in a tight bun.  He also said she was not mean, just not very personable.  It was a business and she seemed to want to keep it just that way.  He said one afternoon he had something he needed to share with her.  Her office door was slightly open where he could look in and see her.  When he looked into her office, her head was lying on her arms and she was crying at her desk.  He said he was shocked to see such an emotional display from this type of woman.  All of a sudden, he realized she was not at all sitting like this, rather, his discernment kicked in and he was seeing her true condition, not her facade.  When he realized this, he tapped on the door and she had him come in.  He shared in the book that this was a very big thing for him.  So often, he (and all of us) only see people the way they want to be seen.  When we open ourselves to the all-seeing God inside of us, we see what He sees.  From this, this man was able to pray for this woman realizing she was not at all callous, just hurting and in need of Jesus.

I hope that these examples serve to illustrate what our life can become when we graduate from living out of just our physical senses and let the Lord of all things have His way in us.  Let me conclude by making this personal.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If you are saved, and have been filled by the Spirit, you have an unlimited source of power and knowledge coursing through your veins.  The life you are capable of living is something the world is waiting to behold.  You cannot fabricate or create this out of your own person.  You are limited; God is not.  You can only offer the world as much as you are.  When you hit your limit as a person, this is where your personal giving ceases.  When you surrender to the life of Jesus inside you, you are now able to offer the world Jesus Himself, living through you.  Listen to your heart.  Jesus really does live in there.  He has you as His “house” to live His life through.  When you let go trying to always be in control or know everything, and allow the flow of Jesus’ life to simply be Itself, you will see, think, feel, and know things that transcend your physical senses.

The passage we looked at earlier in Hebrews said the mature, by training their senses, have arrived at a place to discern between good and evil.  They practiced discerning.  Go through your day purposely and intentionally listening to what your heart says about the things you encounter.  When you walk into a store, stop for a second and allow yourself to feel the environment.  How does it feel?   When you visit a church, or even attend the one you call home, do not look at what you see in the natural, disconnect from this and listen to what your inner person is feeling.  This is the truth.  It may look chaotic, but if it feels peaceful, listen to your heart.  When you listen to your heart, God will not let you down.  This is His home and He loves it when we listen to what He is saying.  I leave you with a scripture:

Colossians 3:15 and let the peace of Christ rule (act as in internal umpire) in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

God bless you in your journey of living out of discernment.

Joe

Discernment I

August 24, 2009

DISCERNMENT I

Jesus was amazing.  The way He lived and functioned in everyday life was so amazing that at the close of the book of John, the Apostle wrote these words: and there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written. (John 21:25).  Planet earth itself is not big enough to house all the recorded things Jesus did during just a three and a half year ministry.  This is more than a profound statement.  This is one of those statements that if you really ponder it, it will stop you dead in your tracks.  A question arises from this though.  How did Jesus do it?  How did Jesus accomplish the things that He did?  More specific for this writing, how did Jesus KNOW the things He knew in order to do the things He did?

Philippians chapter 2 says that Jesus laid aside His godly attributes and became like one of us.  We are limited, powerless, and weak.  The bible says Jesus became like this.  He was still God, but in order to redeem us from our spiritual death, He allowed Himself to be like us; limited as in our earthly state.

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus was shown being baptized in water and immediately after this, in the Holy Spirit.  This is the place where Jesus’ ability lay.  He was God, yet became limited like humankind.  He was only limited though, until He received the Holy Spirit.  Through this, Jesus was now empowered and able to live a life not bound by time and space.

John prophesied that Jesus would baptize man in the Holy Spirit and Jesus resonated with this promise in Acts 1:4, 5.  Jesus told His disciples that in a short time the Holy Spirit would baptize them as well.  Acts 2 shows this amazing event.  God’s Spirit came upon His disciples and changed them into humans that were now more than just human.  The power of Almighty God now indwelt the disciples through the Holy Spirit; we could now minister like Jesus did.

I have always been fascinated how Jesus always knew how to answer people, even when the answer had nothing to do with the question they asked.  I also have been amazed reading how Jesus knew things that were beyond his physical sense’s ability to determine.  The Samaritan at the well in John 4 is just such an event.  He had information about this woman that transcended what normal human senses would allow.  Over the years, I have sought to know God the way Jesus knew Him, and to do the things Jesus did.  I am a biblical literalist.  I literally believe that when Jesus said I could do the “stuff” He did, that through God’s power I would.

Over the years of my walk with the Lord, I noticed that I would often “know” things and did not know how I knew them.  I would meet someone and by just being around them, I would begin to formulate feelings and impressions about this person, their life, and history.  Occasionally, I was led to ask them questions based on what I felt and sure enough, I was right.  They would ask how I could have known this, and I all I could tell them is God knew, and just filled me in.  This knowing, is what the bible calls DISCERNMENT.

The dictionary defines discernment as to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend.  A lexicon I have defines discernment as the ability to evaluate and decide.  Simply put, discernment is the ability to look at something, an event, a person, a happening, and KNOW, based what you perceive.  By using discernment, you can dramatically alter your decisions because you now have a lot more information to work with.

Let us say all of a sudden you are not bound by just your physical senses and intellect.  Let us say you have a new, unlimited capacity of knowledge that transcends your earthly existence.  Now when you look at a person, or event, or situation, you have unlimited access to seeing the whole picture.  This is what biblical discernment is and this is a part of how Jesus lived and functioned while He walked and ministered throughout Israel.  Remember Jesus operated out of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is all knowing, all seeing and all-powerful.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to be His eyes and ears, Jesus entered into a realm of knowing that was limited to the Holy Spirit.  Moreover, since the Holy Spirit had no limits, now neither did Jesus.

Jesus, His life and ministry, is the ONLY valid example we are given biblically to teach us how we are suppose to live and function.  What we see Jesus doing is what we as believers are able and capable of doing.  A part of this is the ability to discern.  Like Jesus, when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we have God’s power via the Holy Spirit.  We now have the same power and spiritual capacity Jesus did.  Jesus told you and Jesus told me,

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.

Jesus has expectations for us; good, amazing, awesome expectations.  He expects us to live as He lived and know as He knew.

This writing is about discernment.  It is about awakening you to the fact that, you have more than just five senses.  By learning to live in the reality of the God inside you, you have the capacity to know more than you should know.  Listen to your heart, Jesus lives there.  When you live by this “inside information”, you live at a higher plane of reality.

DISCERNMENT AND PEOPLE

In Second Corinthians 5:16 the apostle Paul says:

Therefore, from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

When you meet or encounter a person, you are interacting with more than just a physical frame.  That person has a past (healthy or unhealthy), a belief system, and an outlook on life.  When you only seek to know someone after their flesh or their physical being, you will only make conclusions by what you see, hear, or even smell.  When you seek to live by the Spirit and use discernment or that “inner knowing”, you evaluate that person by a deeper level of Truth.  Jesus knows everything there is to know about that person.  He knows if they are safe or potentially harmful.  He knows the motives and intentions they have for you.  He knows all there is to know.  When you seek to live this way, you are much better equipped to interact with this person in a safe and Godly manner.  Simply put, there are some people Jesus does not want you getting to close to.  When you let discernment guide you, you are allowing the Truth of whom Jesus is to make your decisions.  You will avoid many pitfalls and setbacks.

Churches can and should be places where we, as brothers and sister in Christ, meet and corporately enjoy our salvation.  Truth is though; there are many people in church that can potentially hurt us.  The reason I am putting this in is that often, people put their defenses down when they come to church.  There is an assumption that, since it is church, everything is safe.  I wish this were the case.  However, most of the biggest problems I have encountered have been by Christians, in church settings.  When I have allowed my heart to inform me of what the person is about, I have been saved from many problems, multiple times.

Jesus was always cautious around the Pharisees and religions leaders.  Religious people live pretending.  They try to persuade others they are something they are not.  The best thing you offer a religions person is to not be trapped by their illusion.  When you live by discernment, you can see them for what they are, and act in a way that will help liberate them.  If you see the truth about a person, and behave towards them accordingly, you have a chance to save them from their façade.  Please do not let fancy clothes, big bibles, or loud hallelujah’s trick you into believing someone is safe.  Many Christians have been led into problems and falsehood because they simply did not listen to the voice of Truth inside them.

HEBREWS 5:14

I want to share a verse that gives a wonderful, specific definition of discernment.  The verse reads

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

The verse gives us the cause and effect of discernment.  The writer of Hebrews says that the outcome of discerning is the ability to know good and evil.  The way this comes about is by training your spiritual senses.  This is something that can grow and develop.  We are supposed to practice using our spiritual faculties seeking to develop them so we can know good and evil.  Those that have achieved this are called mature.  Let us think of the benefits of this.

BENEFITS

Earlier I wrote about using discernment to protect us from people.  What other benefits come from discernment?   Suppose you wanted to buy a used car.  You go to a lot full of used cars that look nice and shiny on the outside.  Some are good and some are bad, but how do you know?  Jesus knows.  Jesus sees every nut and bolt of every car.  He knows its prior owner.  He knows what problems already exist in the cars and what problems are looming just ahead.  If you do not believe Jesus cares enough about you to want to lead you to the right choice, you are mistaken.  I have felt the joy God feels time and again, when I have to make a decision and let God guide me into the Truth.  He wants us to have good things and when it comes to making a choice we only have limited information on, He will let us know which way to go.

How about what college to attend, or what restaurant to eat at, or what gift to buy your spouse that will bring them great joy.  Discernment is really an easy thing.  God knows infinitely more than we do and when we let His reality guide our hearts; we will find ourselves more successful and have lot less headaches.

There are bad things, good things, and great things.  We can develop ourselves in the natural to make decently wise decisions.  No matter how much we know though, Jesus knows more.  We can avoid the bad and even avoid the good.  By listening to God and letting Him be our eyes and ears, we can find ourselves discovering the great.

….Discernment II coming soon

The Old Rugged Cross

July 24, 2009

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In all of global history, there is one icon that when acknowledged, holds the remedy for all of life’s problems.  Of course I am referring to the cross.  The Roman cross, the most brutal and heinous means of death and torture was the place Jesus exhaled His last earthly breath.  We have seen the movies and paintings of the mutilated body of Jesus hanging there.  We have read the doctor’s analysis of what happened to Jesus physically over the time of His beating and death.  We have read the theologian teach on the implications of how your sin and shame were placed on the body of Jesus and how as He bled and died, your reconciliation to God was made whole.  We have heard the preacher exhort us with thundering hope that the blood of Jesus will wash away any sin that is placed under its eternal flow.

We know what the cross means to us; hope, heaven, and happiness.  The cross however, holds a dualistic perspective.  On one side of the cross is humanity, finding the bridge to salvation.  On the other side of the cross though, is God.  The Creator, the Almighty, the Uncreated One.  The cross was also the answer for God.  The problem it seems that evades humanity is the question the cross answered.  For God, the cross  was the solution to get you back to Him. We almost exclusively think about how the cross benefited us, but in all truth, the cross carried a mutual benefit to God.  Through the cross you could be reunited to God, but never forgot that through the cross God could be reunited to you.

The cross was about sin, shame, hell, brokenness.  More than all of this though was God looking past the cross, to the potential world that would exist once the door to relationship was reopened.  The cross was not just about you.  It was also about God.  It was about God doing what had to be done so that you could not just be with Him, but He could be with you.  This is God’s perspective of the cross.  It was His means to get back to you.  At the fall you lost Him, but at the Fall He lost you.  The greatest love story ever told was the God who loved His creation more than all else only to have them choose self over Him.  His love, not being based on anything else than His love, chose death for Himself over the eternity of not being with them.  You think of the cross as your way out, He sees the cross as His way in.  The cross will forever be more precious to God than it will us because the cross demonstrated the length God would go to, to get you back.  The cross, this icon we wear on necklaces and hang on walls, this icon should scream at you how much you mean to God.  He looked past the cross and saw a restored creation walking once again with Him in the cool of the eve.  This is what the cross meant to God, you get to come home.

Each time you bow to pray, each time you call on the name of Jesus, each time you remember what you use to be and now are, you do so because of the cross.  Please remember though, it’s not just about you.  Each time you come to God in prayer, He gets excited in your presence – this is what the cross means to Him.  Each time you call on the name of Jesus, He gets to respond to you – this is what the cross means to Him.  Each time you recall what you once were, and now are, God gets to smile– this is what the cross means to Him.  The cross to God means all His kids get to come Home.  Your sins were forgiven, your heart was mended, and your shame was removed, but you were only fixed after you came Home.  The cross, the old rugged cross, will always mean more to our Father than it will for us.  The old rugged cross brought you back to the Father’s lap.

You are God’s Favorite and so am I
Pastor Joe Brock

DISCIPLINED BY LOVE

July 23, 2009

John 4:16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Matt 7:20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

There are numerous characteristics in the Bible to describe God – merciful, compassionate, faithful, longsuffering, kind, forgiving, and on. The list is as infinite as God Himself. There is one attribute where all others stem from – LOVE. In the above verse, it says very clearly that God is love. God defines love, love does not define God. It is here, God’s love, where our discussion begins.

Discipleship in the church is the equivalent to raising a child in the home. Having a baby is not parenting, raising the baby is. Having someone find Jesus in your church is not discipleship, caring for them into Christ-likeness is. In order to disciple, you yourself have to have a level of maturity. We have an epidemic in America of babies raising babies. I say with painful honesty this too is the condition of the church. The lack of mature Christians in the church is heart-wrenching. We have put too much on people too early with the result of them never getting to mature. It takes time, a long time, for the nature of Jesus to work itself into the human heart. It is when we see instinctive love flowing out of us that we begin to see the maturity that Jesus desires us to have. When we are discipled by someone that has been disciplined by Christ, we see love. So what is love?

Let me begin by saying that love is not a feeling. Love will generate a thousand feelings, but love itself is not a feeling. It’s more than a feeling. Love is the constant inner desire to do what is best for others above our own selves. God is love. God puts us before Himself. Do you believe it was easy for God to sacrifice His Son for your sins? In doing so, God put you before He put Himself. To have eternal life, you needed the death of Jesus. This was the only way for salvation. When God chose you over the life of His Son, He demonstrated love. It is this same heart, or inner attitude of God that when disciplined by it, produces fruit that looks like Jesus.

Those that are disciplined by law are self-righteous, condemning and unloving. The law is the standard of God’s perfection. Religion is the attempt to live up to this law in human effort. Religious people have a self-perception of themselves being holy by their efforts which they believe qualifies them to judge others by this same standard. They may have big black Bibles, sound biblical vernacular and impeccable dress, but the one thing they do not have is love. When you have love you will see humanity not as a miserable failure, but a species in need of a Savior. You may weep, travail, and pray, but you will not judge. If it matters to you what bible translation someone reads over the fact their hearts are broken and in need of a loving God’s touch, you are religious and love not.

The second passage at the beginning of the writing states that we will be known by our fruits. This means that what comes instinctively out of us demonstrates what is working at our deepest level. To know whether you have been disciplined by Jesus you must look at your love. God is love and will discipline you in love. All children grow to be like their parents. When God deals with you, He will ALWAYS deal with you in love. Seeing how He responds to your sinfulness and wretchedness shows you His heart. This is what changes us.

Look at your spiritual life. Do you see instinctive love coming out of you or do you see quick judgment and cynicism? Do you find yourself immediately praying for someone else’s failure, or do you shake your head not believing they could do such a thing. Could you? The only way to be loving is to be disciplined by love. When God deals with you it changes you and shows you what love looks like. We cannot fake it, but we can certainly ask for it. Let God have say over your life and you will grow in love and when others speak of you, they will say the fruit you bear looks an awful lot like Christ.

Blessings to you— Pastor Joe Brock

I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.

Humility is an attribute we should all strive for. Being humble is simply the self-recognition of our true state before Almighty God. He is perfect, we are fallen. He is good, we are evil. He is all knowing, we are limited. Seeing ourselves for exactly what we are in the context of God’s perfect grace is the essence of humility. Humble people rely on God, not self. A humble person will be exalted by God, but not desirous of the status or preeminence. And, a humble person is protected from the powers of hell, learning to abide in the Shadow of the Almighty.

It is too this end we seek. In this passage in Peter, the Apostle encourages humility by telling his readers to cast or “throw on” their anxieties onto God. In verse 7, the word “casting” in the Greek is in the imperative mood. Like in English, the imperative is a command. There is a force behind Peter’s words we don’t see in the English Bibles. Peter is commanding the church to cast their cares on God… and the reason Peter can do this is because he knows God cares for them.

At the end of verse 5 of Peter chapter 1 – Peter says that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Pride and humility are opposites. I am convinced that many of our trials are not the devil, but God’s opposition to us directly – against our pride. I personally do not want God opposed to me. This is one we cannot win. By honoring God, learning to cast our cares on Him, we grow in our humility and instead of God’s opposition, we gain His favor.

God is big enough to take care of you and all that your personal world entails. If you depend on Him, you are displaying humility. He will take care of you, fully and lovingly. If we find within ourselves a grumbling, complaining attitude, we are not trusting Him and will often try to remedy our problems through our own effort. This is pride and brings God’s resistance. Confession to God of your true inner condition is a true sign of humility and God gives grace to the humble. Be quick to tell God what is happening inside of you. Don’t try to hide it or pretend. When we are honest with God, He will provide us the grace to overcome. It all comes down to learning to let Him be God in all areas of our existence. In every place you are humble; you draw from God’s heart His power and love. In every place stubbornness and self-reliance exist, we repel God’s grace and draw His opposition. Pray and ask for humility. We do not have the spiritual things we desire quite simply because we have not asked God for them. By praying for humility, you are being humble, and God loves to answer those prayers. If you ask for humility, God will give it (often in a process) and your life will improve in every possible way.

You are loved by God. His love to you and your submission to Him produces a life not humanly possible to create. We must accept Him on His terms, knowing it is His way only that will work. I close with repeating I Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. Blessing to you-

Pastor Joe Brock

Repentance

I cannot stress the importance of grasping what it means to repent.  Repentance holds the key to living as is, or living as Christ.

When Jesus’ public ministry began, it did was a simple, yet clear message. Taking up where His cousin John left off, Jesus said to His listeners, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” When God the Father released Jesus into His public ministry, Jesus brought within Himself the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. This Kingdom was not so much a place as it was a rulership. In essence, Jesus was saying, the rule or reign of heaven is at hand. The magnitude of this statement cannot be overemphasized. From the time of the fall of man until the coming of Jesus, the world was under the power of satan and his rule. Jesus declared a new way is here, a “new sheriff is in town.” This new sheriff came with an authority and jurisdiction that superseded the current evil regime by as much as light supersedes darkness. Moreover, through the authority of God Himself, this new sheriff was going to put things back in its proper order.

Every ruler rules a certain way. As a ruler governs his kingdom, he demonstrates to his subjects what they can expect from him. The people under the reign of a cruel dictator know fear, terror, oppression and poverty. They come to think about themselves and life itself is a negative, painful way. Their mindset is trained and conditioned to believe life will be lived out a certain way, and this way can be traced back to the way the ruler rules. This was the state of planet earth until Christ came. Satan held the world in pain, fear, and isolation. He governed out of his essence which was death and decadence. He sought to pervert and destroy all that was of God. This led the world and its inhabitants to look at life as a series of wars, murders, financial depressions, and disasters. We believed based on the reign of the lord. Satan was evil and his rule followed suit.

When Jesus began preaching, His message carried in it the hope of a brighter future. Since God was good, His rulership and all that would flow from it would be good as well. Humanity had been conditioned to think of life in terms of pain and misery. With Jesus now on the scene, this would change. This is precisely why Jesus preached His message of a new kingdom in the context of repentance. Repent, for a new kingdom and a new rulership is at hand. In order to gain the freedom this message advocated, we must look at what repentance actually means.

Repent
The word repent comes from the Greek word metanaeo (pronounced meta na ea o). The first part of the word meta, is a preposition that means afterwards. The latter part of the word is naeo and is the word for mind, or to think. When you put them together, they carry the idea of thinking afterwards or to think differently. So we see when someone repents, they are engaging in the act of thinking differently. Let us take this back to Jesus’ message.

When Jesus announced the inauguration of His Kingdom, He knew the condition of the world, especially in the realm of how people thought. Whether you recognize it or not, your life is lived out of how you believe (See Proverbs 23:7a). What you believe deep inside you is the determining factor of how you live and what you have come to expect about life. This is why Jesus told the people they needed to repent. A new kingdom ruled by a new King was at hand. A completely new way of living was here. These kingdoms were as diametrically opposed to each other as any two kingdoms could be. One kingdom was evil and dark, the other was Goodness and Light. Having spent centuries under the evil regime, humanity believed a certain way. In order for us to accept a new way, an entire mental transitioning must take place. Repentance was the way this would happen.

In Matthew 3:2 Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This is what we see in the English translations of the bible. There is something vitally important though, that is missed in the English translations. When Jesus said repent, the way this is constructed in the Greek language is a command. This was not just a simple, idle plea Jesus made. When Jesus said repent, He was commanding His listeners too actively and purposefully do something. Repentance begins when we recognize our thinking patterns do not line up with God’s thinking patterns. God is free and God thinks free. In order to be like God, we grow in our ability to think like God. Therefore, when we repent, we are taking thinking patterns that we now realize are in odds with God’s thinking patterns and we verbally confess them to God. We acknowledge to God that we do not think as He does. As we give our un-Christ like thinking patterns to Him, His divine influence presses in on us and we begin to see changes. We begin to think as He thinks, reason as He reasons, and live freely as He lives freely. God’s will for us in Christ is to experience the liberating power of Jesus’ life and out of this to live free. Let me quote a verse:

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not
be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Do you notice the beautiful redundancy is this verse? It was for freedom Christ set us free. Christ came to liberate us. It is the greatest of travesties when someone comes into the saving Life of Jesus and is liberated but continues to live in bondage. It could be likened to being in a jail cell and having someone open the door but choosing to remain in the jail cell. Do you want to repay God for sending Jesus to die your death? Live free! This is how we honor God. I must stress again, this goes back to how we think.

If a jail cell is all you have ever known, and the door to that cell is opened, you will find leaving can be a scary thing. Your mind has only known the immediate boundaries of bondage and because of this; thinking in terms of freedom is a near impossibility. If someone were to take you by the hand and lovingly and patiently lead you out of your prison and guide you through the ways of freedom, would you go? This is what Jesus does and will do. Jesus’ death opened all your prison doors. Yet, Jesus does not leave you there to walk out of your prison alone, He will guide you by His Spirit if you would but allow Him. He will do this by challenging your prison mentality with the thoughts of freedom. He will show you that though He lives in you, your mind still keeps you in the prison. When your mind believes the freedom your spirit and heart already know, then you will be free. No more fears, no more worry or anxiety. No questioning in your heart as to your future. You are saved and an heir to the promises of God through Christ. God’s reliable Guide is able to lead you to places you never dreamed possible.

It all begins with how you think. I hope you can now see the importance and value of repentance. Your mind needs an overhaul. I have heard it said we need a six-inch drop. By this, I mean I have heard people say we need what is in our mind to drop into our hearts. This is simply incorrect. Your heart is already free; it is your mind that needs this revelation of freedom to penetrate it. When you repent, you are actively participating in the process of God removing mindsets of bondage and replacing them with the way He thinks. This is how we access His Kingdom and live freely. Now go and repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

Word from the Lord

April 27, 2009

Friends,
This afternoon as I was sitting in the school parking lot picking up my oldest daughter, the Lord gave me a word that I know is for a wider audience.   Isaiah and Jeremiah both had words for the entire nation of Israel.  Where I do not believe this word is for the entire church, I do feel is intended for a number of people.

What I felt the Lord say:

Just as Israel was freed from their oppressors and experienced the joy of liberty, they were filled with fear when they saw their oppressors pursuing them.  Their obedience to Me drove them to stop looking back and keep looking forward and when there was no where else to go, I opened a way.  To you my child, I have taken you into new places of freedom, but you fear your freedom will be taken away.  I will not allow this to happen if you keep looking forward and not look back.  I am committed to your freedom and will make a way for you as long as you continue to move forward and obey.  You need not fear losing what I have been giving you, it is yours and nothing can take it  from you if you but obey Me and keep moving forward.  The new levels you are walking in will not be met without conflict.  The conflict will be for you to not look back and give up –  DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE MY COMMITMENT TO KEEP YOU THERE.  I will stop your pursuers and make a way for you.  Do not underestimate my commitment to your freedom.  Move forward – My peace is looking ahead, not back.  What is behind you is My responsibility, do not stop moving ahead.

My prayer for you (from Joe)
Father, I vanquish the fears in Jesus name that pursue those that are moving into new and higher dimensions of Your life and liberty.  I pray that you would give a resolve and faith to not look back but to look ahead, seeing You and all Your goodness.  I cast down fears and every lofty thought that fights against the pure and holy knowledge of You and ask your promises be taken at face value and know You will make a way for us.  We are free because of what you did, now let us move ahead putting our confidence in what You can do and not what we fear the enemy might.  You are God!

Amen.

The Only Way to Succeed

April 15, 2009

As a pastor and leader, I truly long to see God’s people grow and discover the smile and love of the Father.  Getting to know God is the highest purpose we share as believers.  Because of our limited-ness, God has provided for us What we need to grow into the likeness of His Son. 

John 1:18 reads:
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Jesus came to explain the Father.  Every word, miracle, healing, hug, smile, deliverance and on and on was purposed to explain to the world Who and What God the Father is.  To see Jesus is to see the fulness of authentic truth and the definition of what true reality is.  Needless to say then, to grow as a Christ-follower, we need an on-going, daily expanding revelation of the Lord Jesus.  As our vision of Christ grows, our love and personal maturity should grow as well.  So the question is, how do was see more of Jesus?  I have had this question posed to me many, many times over the years.  If our goal is to know God (Jn. 17:3) and we do this by having an increasing revelation of Jesus, how then do we receive this increasing revelation?  God gave us a Helper.

John the Baptist was perhaps the greatest Old Testament prophet.  I know John shows up in the New Testament, but being the forerunner to Christ, John functioned much like the prophets of old.  He was the one, God raised up to point his generation to repentance and preparation for the coming Messiah.  John was faithful to all God called him to, but John himself was blind to who Jesus was until the Father revealed it to Him.   Look at these scriptures:

John 1:31 “And I did not recognize Him, but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 And John bore witness saying, “I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.  33 “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’

John knew Jesus as His cousin; I am sure they played together as children.  God chose not to reveal who Jesus was to his cousin all their growing up years.  John was compelled to the River Jordan to call Israel into repentance and to make ready their hearts to their coming King.  Yet in all this, John did not know who this One was.  As Jesus approached the river, the Dove descended on Him.  It was this manifestation that opened John’s eyes to who Jesus was.  Just as John needed the revelation of God’s Spirit to open his eyes, so to do we; we become what we behold (II Cor 3:18).  To become like Jesus we must behold Jesus.  To see Jesus as He truly is, we need the Spirit to open our eyes.  John knew Jesus as a cousin, but could not recognize Him as His King apart from the Spirit.  

Each day we need a fresh revelation of who Jesus is.  There is no end or limit to the fullness of God.  Jesus told His disciples the night of the Last Supper, that He would send them the Spirit, to teach them, empower them, and guide them in all truth.  John needed the Spirit to accomplish his task; Jesus the Son of God needed the Spirit to accomplish His task, as we today desperately need the Spirit to finish ours.  Our first task is to see Jesus; from this place alone will everything else fall into focus. 

 

                                                                                               Know that you are loved by God

                                                                                                         

The foundation of all that God does is love. God is love. Love is not God.  God’s existence defines what love is.  God desires, no, demands that our view of Him grows and expands. Our paradigms of what the life called Christian is should always be in a state of growth and redefinition. What is worship, what is prayer, what is evangelism? There is no one single denomination or creed to define Christianity. I grew up with the hymns. Later I was opened to basic praise and worship. As time went on, I began to see and experience amazing spontaneous music where the worship leaders were caught up in the flow of God’s Spirit and what came out of them was otherworldly. In all the transition I have witnessed over the last 17 years, one underlining, guaranteed promise that has never wavered is God’s love.

 

When transition comes, it is a scary thing. Moving from familiar to unknown can be unsettling. God is always moving forward. His commission to us was to follow Him. This has never changed. When you follow God, you will be lead into places and encounters that are often brand new. The only way to remain determined to keep moving forward is to remain steadfast in God’s love. Knowing God’s love births true faith and true faith enables you to accept what is coming, even if it is veiled in a cloud. The issue will never be what is about to come or happen, the issue is that your God is your Father and is fully sovereign and good. This will allow you to move from glory to glory with excitement and anticipation instead of fear and dread.

 

As they walked through the desert, the sons of Israel saw new things daily.  Yet each day began with Jehovah’s faithfulness in bringing quail and manna.  The scenery of your walk with God will change, but the love and faithfulness of God will not.  Embrace today as it unfolds into tomorrow and do so knowing God loves you and is in control.  If you live a boring Christianity, ask yourself why.  Throughout the gospels, Jesus lived the life of the Father; healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead.  We are given the call and commission to carry this on.  Remember, each time God leads you, or maybe pushes you, into new vistas of the Christian experience, find peace in knowing God is in control  He will lead you where you can follow. 

THE FRUIT OF RESTING

March 16, 2009

*This was something I wrote a while back*

If you are reading this, you must realize that Jesus did not die to give you a ministry, He died to give you a relationship. Your relationship with Christ does not flow out of your purpose, your purpose flows out of your relationship. If you try to fulfill a purpose without first having intimacy with Christ, you will attempt to fulfill that purpose in your strength, not His. God’s will is we abide in Him. The word abides means to remain or to not depart. Our union with Christ is what makes bearing fruit possible. We seek to know Him and in this pursuit, the result will be twofold. First, we will grow in the knowledge of the Trinity and second, we will see fruit bore from our lives.
In John 15 Jesus said the fruit we will bear glorifies the Father. This proves we are His disciples. The word “bear” in John 15:8 is phero (phair-o). It means to yield or bring forth. The fruit on a tree is the result of the work of the rest of the tree. The fruit is the consequence of the tree’s labor. The roots draw water and nutrients up through the trunk into the branches. The branches bud and from these buds fruit comes forth. The fruit is the result of nothing it did. It is the end product of all that preceded it. Jesus said that we are to remain attached or united to Him. He does all the work, supplies all the spiritual nutrients and power. This is passed through us and from us fruit comes forth. We did not work to make the fruit come forth; the fruit came because of our union with the branch.
If Christians would slow down and actually do less, they would produce more. If more time was spent simply being with Christ and less trying to do something, we would actually bear more fruit. We are deceived. The system of the world says you must work hard to get ahead and succeed. Busy schedules and long hours is what are needed for success. We don’t eat right or get enough sleep and feel righteous because of our willingness to sacrifice to get ahead. As Christians we look at how the world operates and allow this mindset to be our primary influencer. As Christians we live in a different Kingdom ruled by the one True King. The system of His reign is the one True system and the only system that produces True fruit.
To try to fulfill a call or purpose without first having intimacy with Christ will doom you to accomplish your doings in your strength, not His. His primary desire is intimacy. You have a purpose. Your purpose is He and He alone. Only when you know Him, as He desires to be known, will you be able to fulfill your calling. If we truly abide in Christ we will find that He is our Call. In John 15 Jesus said it was the Father’s will for us to bear fruit. We bear fruit by abiding or remaining in Jesus. This is the relationship, abiding in Christ. When the greatest emphasis of our life is to never leave Christ, we will by virtue of divine attachment, bear fruit. You and I are not called to bear fruit; we are called to abide. When we abide we will see fruit produced from our lives. We will also see that we did not produce the fruit; Christ produced it and did so through us. My proclamation to you today is slow down, enjoy Jesus more, and you will discover fruit coming in places you never imagined. He is your call and intimacy is your purpose. When we accomplish this, everything else simply falls into place.

Slow down and enjoy Jesus, He would really appreciate that!