Jesus said that in the world we will have trouble (John 16:33). Job said, “Man born of woman will have trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). See also Psalm 34:19. Sometimes the challenges are so intense we can be severely distressed.
I have been a pastor almost thirty-four years and have been involved in initiating or participated in many local, citywide and national prayer gatherings. God has made it very clear that our first priority as leaders is to spend time with Him before we are sent out to minister (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul also implores all believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In spite of all this, there are many denominational and non-denominational churches that do not have a regular prayer meeting. Consequently, in spite of the many good programs they may have, there is a huge gap in the church.
There are some believers who falsely believe that if they have a lot of faith they will not undergo any suffering, severe tests or satanic attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth! Actually, the opposite is true. For example, in the Book of Job chapters 1 and 2, God actually asks Satan if he considered His servant Job. Hence, God brought Job to Satan’s attention, not because Job was in sin, but because Job was the greatest servant of God on the earth at that time (read Job 1:6-12; 2:3-6).
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were able to reflect God’s image because they fellowshipped with Him in the Garden of Eden. After the Fall, the redemption story regarding Christ’s death on the cross is all about trying to restore the image of God in humanity. Without being connected to God again and hearing His voice, it is impossible for us to understand what He wants to restore back to us.
Seven ways to live 2018 in the fullness of God:
1. Commit to acknowledge God in all your ways (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Many times we make decisions and then ask God to bless them: this year start off by bringing God’s Word and God’s Spirit into every major decision and give Him opportunity to speak to you and guide you.
2. Don’t live in anxiety ( Philippians 4:6,7)
Make a commitment to give all your fears and burdens to the Lord instead of holding onto them and worrying. Jesus said by your worrying you cannot accomplish anything positive (Mt. 6:27) Fret not – it only leads to evil (Psalm 37:8).
3. Give thanks in everything (not for everything – 1 Thes. 5:18)
People who live in thankfulness to God appreciate Him and release Him to multiply blessings in their life! Whatever you are thankful for multiplies and is attracted to you; grumbling and complaining poisons a good atmosphere and hinders the release of your faith.
4. Live first and foremost for Jesus / not for yourself (Colossians 1:16-19)
We were created for Jesus and God’s glory — not to fulfill our own self-centered desires.
5. Live in continual hunger for God
It’s not enough merely to be loyal, faithful, and committed to God– God is pleased when we desire and seek after Him (John 4:23,24). Only those who hunger and thirst for Him will be filled (Mt. 5:6).
6. Strive to help others fulfill their calling
Jesus said the greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves others ( John 14:14). If you live to serve others you will never lack others serving and loving you!
7. Be committed to the life and flow of a bible-centered local congregation
When we become children of God we immediately are baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians12:12,13). If we are not functioning with and for other members of a local community of faith, we are like a finger who tries to function without a hand, wrist, or arm! There is no such thing as individual destiny or purpose — we are all individual members who need a body to fulfill our purpose.
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Nowadays, with the flat-world reality of technology, it is easier than ever for key apostolic leaders to connect the world over. This incredible new ability to communicate should be done strategically and with wisdom, lest a leader fail because of a lack of focus. The following principles are important to follow for all global leaders.
We are presently witnessing a transition in ministry across this country. There are many senior pastors who are about to leave the scene and many, if not most, are not ready to pass the baton to someone else! Some of the larger megachurches have an even bigger issue on their hands when their senior leader steps down or retires because they have to find a leader with the gifts and charisma to fill huge auditoriums. (If their successors cannot fill them, it will be interesting to see how they will be able to pay their utility bills with half-empty sanctuaries!)
My wife Joyce and I planted our local church over thirty years ago (on January 29, 1984) in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, New York. We were not sent out with any money and with only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
I. Be sent from your local church
Through the years, I have been very interested in applying the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to culture. Hence, I have been involved closely and have studied many different models regarding this subject. The concepts regarding how the church should engage culture vary from merely affecting the quality of life of a community to full-blown revival that results in transformation. The following five models summarize my observations and opinions regarding these various approaches.
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