Summary of Leadership

The Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit.
Growth.
Alone.
Spiritual Leadership.
Prayers of the Bible.
Prayer.
Maturity.
Marriage.
Leadership.
Discipleship.
Prayer.
Personal Growth.

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Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit

THE GIFTS AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

At conversion of a man, certain things happen to him. Sometimes it is quite specific and dramatic. In other ways things happen quietly and over a period of time. There are times when believers are forced to cry out: “What is happening to me?” Usually this is as a result of adverse spiritual activity on the part of the enemy, when the enemy is out to destroy the witness or shake the believer’s faith to the core. There are other occasions to reflect quietly: “What is happening to me? I am no longer the person I was. I have new desires, new attitudes. I used to think differently.”

The Bible says that there are two activities, which take place in relation to the life of a believer. These are known as the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. What do they really mean? Are they the same thing? How is the believer’s life being affected?

God’s work in a believer enables him to be like God. Everything a believer does is recorded in his past. John the Baptist said: “Come and let your past be washed away.” But he could not do anything about the future. John said that Jesus would deal with the future. Pardon for the past and power for the future. A man would keep reverting to his past behaviour, unless new power comes into his life. But a break from the past is not enough. Christianity is not a do it yourself religion. God wants to do it in each believer. The Holy Spirit is given to enable a believer to become complete. The Holy Spirit wants to give gifts to enable a believer to do what Jesus did and He wants each believer to be like Jesus. Gifts are given for the first objective and fruit for the second objective. 1 Cor Ch 12 v 7. The work of the Spirit is for the good of the whole Church. Jesus said: “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Only the Holy Spirit enables a believer to do this. 1 Cor Ch 12. v 4. The Holy Spirit is the source of all spiritual gifts.

Gifts of the Spirit. 1 Cor chs 12, 13 and 14. It is said that someone has a gift of music, or that he is a gifted speaker. Every good gift comes from God in the first place. There are natural gifts. Most people are good at something. Often these gifts seem to pass down the family line, but not always. God has designed man so that some are good with their minds, others with their hands and some are artistic. When men pull their natural gifts for the benefit of others, society is in harmony. The teachers teach, the mechanics fix the mechanical things, the nurses care for the sick, the scientists invent new benefits for mankind, the musicians create music to enrich society and so on. It would be a dull World if all were alike. When a man develops his natural potential, he has a sense of achievement. Sadly many never bother to develop the natural gifts, which God has given them.

No one should dismiss the natural gifts of another person, because God the Holy Spirit gave that gift to that person. There are special supernatural gifts, which God gives to His children. These are given for two special purposes. 1. To glorify Jesus. 2. To build up the body of Christ. John ch 14 v 12. Jesus really meant it when He said those words. But He knew that His words would be met with unbelief. There is nothing, which suggests that one person is limited to one gift. Gifts are given for a purpose.
1. To reveal God – wisdom, knowledge and discernment.
2. To demonstrate God’s power – healing, miracles and faith.
3. To build up the body – prophecy tongues and interpretation of tongues.

Paul gives the illustration of the parts of the body. 1 Cor ch 12 v 27. “Here is what I am trying to say. You are all part of the body of Christ and the gifts, which are given are all to benefit the body as a whole.” Then he adds a further list of gifts given to build up the body. There are several references to gifts of the Spirit.
Ephesians ch 4 11. 1. Apostles. 2. Inspired preaching. 3. Ability to bring others to Christ. 4. Caring for others – like pastoring. 5. Teachers.
Romans ch 12 v 6. 1. Prophecy. 2. Service of others. 3. Teacher. 4. Preacher. 5. Distributor of money. 6. Administrative ability. 7. Comforter.
1 Cor ch 1 v 7. The Corinthian Church had all the gifts but did not have the wisdom how to use them well.
Romans ch 3 v 3. Service. Teaching. Preaching. Exhortation. Giving. Administrative ability.
1 Pet ch 4 v 10. Preaching and helping others.
Ephesians ch 4 v 11. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
1 Cor ch 12 v 7-11. Wisdom. Knowledge. Faith. Healing. Miracles. Prophecy. Tongues. Interpretation of tongues. Ability to distinguish between spirits.

1. Wisdom. How badly the believer needs the wisdom of God when he is brainwashed by the World and leaders face insurmountable problems. Wisdom enables believers to see a way out of a maze when, humanly speaking, there is no way out. Eph ch 1 v 17 refers to a spirit of wisdom. 1 Cor ch 1 v 30. Jesus whom God made man’s wisdom. When Jesus taught in parables the people cried out: “Where did this man get this wisdom?” Mat ch 13 v 54. 1 Kings ch 3 v 16 Solomon’s wisdom in deciding between two women. Jesus referring to the face on the coin as Caesar’s.

2. Knowledge. John ch 2 v 23-25. John ch 6 v 61. Jesus knew that His Disciples murmured at the saying. He just knew. Mat ch 12 v 25. “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them.” A word of knowledge opens a person up. How did he know that? Only God knew. It is God speaking. Peter’s speaking to Annanias and Jesus speaking to the woman at the well.

3. Miraculous works. “That was a miracle” is such a cheap phrase today. Real miracles are supernatural. God needs people who will demonstrate the power of God to a sceptical World. Miracles happen when God is at work. When He is at work the supernatural God bursts through the natural laws of nature, which He has set for mankind.

4. Faith is a spiritual certainty within a believer. He cannot prove it but he knows. A believer cannot prove how he came to be saved, but he knows that he is. When the Lord speaks and he knows in his spirit that God has spoken, he acts upon it. But he cannot prove it. If he could, it would not be faith. Others will probably not believe him. Jesus always did what He saw His Father doing. Daniel was saved from the lions by faith in hearing and believing the word by David that God saved him from the paw of the lion.

5. Healing. How does it work? James ch 5 v 13. “Is anyone sick? The prayer of faith will heal him.” God speaks into the spirit of a believer and he knows that the Lord will heal the person and prays the healing believing.

6. The ability to prophesy. A word of prophecy starts a new work of God, if it is coupled with faith to believe the prophecy. The prophets of old spoke a word from God into their situation. How does a believer know if the prophet is speaking the truth? Only if what he says comes to pass. It could take a long time. It did for Ezekiel and Isaiah and others. The prophecy needs to be tested by others or else it may be just wishful thinking.

7. The ability to distinguish between the spirits. This is important. If a surgeon is to operate, it is essential that his diagnosis is correct. If he gets it wrong, it could kill the patient. Likewise if a Fellowship is to move forward in spiritual warfare, it is necessary to have someone to be gifted by the Lord to diagnose the spiritual problem. If there is no physical solution, the problem is often spiritual. Discernment may be from God, from man or from the Devil. The word has to be consistent with the Word of God.

8. Tongues. Different kinds of tongues. These are not for showing off how clever or special a believer is but to improve the quality of his worship of God.

9. The ability to interpret what is said in tongues.

10. Apostles. People who go out and start up Churches.

11. Helpers. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. There is no word retirement in the Bible, nor any reference to redundancy. These are words of the World to do with profitability at the expense of people.

12. Administrators or organisers. Efficient organisation is not exclusive to non-believers. Believers need organisers and efficiency.

13. Teachers. Believers need to be taught the Scriptures.

1 Cor ch 12 v 11. It is the Holy Spirit who decides which gifts should be given and to whom. It is not the decision of the leaders of the Church or the members but the Holy Spirit Himself. This does not prevent anyone from asking for himself or for others. Often, God, being desirous of doing something, puts it on the heart of the believer to pray the thing into being.

1 Cor Ch 13 puts the gifts in perspective. Even if believers had all the gifts but did not really care for others what use would they be?
1 Cor ch 13 v 8. The gifts are all temporary, until the time when Jesus comes back and believers see Him face to face. Then they will all disappear. Therefore the gifts must be kept in perspective.

1 Cor Ch 14. The worth and use of spiritual gifts.
v 1. Love is to be the greatest aim, but do not stop at that. Prophecy seems to be the ideal gift to ask for from the Holy Spirit. v 3. Those who prophesy will be helping others to grow in the Lord, encouraging them. That is true. What a privilege and encouragement for a believer to know that the Lord has spoken to him personally.
v 5. Paul wishes that everyone could be given the gift of prophecy.
v 12. Ask God for the gifts, which will be the most help to others in the Church. Tongues seems to be the least important, since it only builds up the person himself.
v 20. Grow up and get down to seeking the gifts to help others.
v 22. Tongues is a sign for unbelievers. Prophecy is a sign for believers. A religious spirit is hostile to prophecy.
v 26. Paul sums up.
v 33. God likes harmony and not disorder.

Believers are encouraged to ask for the gifts but their motive must be right. They are not to seek personal glory. This is a real danger either that they think they are someone special or that others think they are special and praise them for the gifts. God takes a risk by giving His children His gifts.

The gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are really dealt with together. Charismatics tend to focus on the gifts of the Spirit. Evangelicals tend to focus on the fruit of the Spirit. Extroverts tend to focus on outgoing aspects of life. Introverts tend to focus in inward aspects. But a balanced view of Scripture demands that believers are open to what God wants to do in their lives. Gifts given to show the power of God. Believers serve a supernatural God. Ch 12 v 1. God does not want His children to remain ignorant. God will speak plainly to us through His Word.

Gifts without fruit are restricted as is fruit without gifts. Within a Fellowship, both fruit and gifts should be at work. Then the Fellowship will be able to do the acts of the risen Lord Jesus, as recorded in the Book of Acts. Fellowships are designed to be a new family within the Kingdom of God. The family is the place where believers find their needs met – the need to belong – the need to be loved and the need to achieve. If God gives individuals special supernatural gifts, that assists the need to achieve. So God is helping believers to be fulfilled as human beings. But they will do what Jesus did, only if their attitude is correct. The gifts are not given for the purpose of self-glory.

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

Ecclesiastes ch 7 v 29. “I made things simple but you have made them very complicated.” When God wants to teach a lesson He makes it simple. He has no desire to exclude the less intelligent people. When Jesus spoke, what He said was clearly understood by fishermen and children. He uses simple everyday illustrations, such as sheep and a shepherd, birds building a nest, seeds being scattered in the fields, building a house on rock or sand. Here God wants to explain what should happen in the life of a believer and He uses the illustration of fruit. Apart form Eskimos, all men know about fruit. At the appropriate time there is a flower, which falls away and there, behind it, is a tiny bud, often no more than a speck. Gradually it grows, until something is formed where the flower once was. As time goes by it becomes recognisable as a strawberry or whatever kind of fruit it is. Then there come a time when it is ripe and ready to be eaten. God uses this simple illustration to explain what He is seeking to do in the life of a believer. He wants His children to grow into maturity to be like Jesus. He is in the process of changing their character to be like that of His Son. The Son of God became man, so that the sons of man might become sons of God.

There are nine flavours of the fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Words are constantly changing their meaning and value. Many words have several meanings. It is necessary to take time to understand the true Biblical meaning of the word in order to understand what the work of the Holy Spirit is doing. The nine flavours should be growing or developing at the same time. Believers should be growing like Jesus in all nine aspects of their life at the same time. It is not a question of one at a time, and then another one. The nine aspects fall into three categories.

1. Godward fruit. 2. Menward fruit. 3. Selfward fruit.
1. Love – care i.e. agape.
2. Joy – deep happiness. It cannot be taken away.
3. Peace or quiet harmony. Shalom. Total harmony with all.
These three relate believers to God.

4. Endless patience – slow tempered. Jesus was slow to anger.
5. Practical kindness. A feeling for people. Mellow.
6. Goodness – unstinted generosity. The word goodness means generosity.
These three relate believers to others.

7. Steady reliability. “Yours faithfully.” Faithfulness.
8. Meekness or gentle humility. Tamed. Moses was meek because he had been tamed.
9. Firm self-control. The ability to say “no” to self.
These three are for believers.

1. Love. The word “love” in Greek was agape which meant:
“Whatever you do to me, and even though I am not attracted to you, I care for you so deeply that I shall always seek your good, whatever it may cost me.” The word is “agape”. It is more “care” than “love”. Does a believer care more for people than he once did? Is this aspect growing in the character of a believer?

2. Joy – deep happiness. It cannot be taken away. A believer can be joyful despite his circumstances. Paul says rejoice in all circumstances. 1 Thes ch 5 v 16. A believer may find that even when circumstances are inclined to get him down, he can rejoice in God? Believers should not rely on feelings but they will rejoice. People like Richard Wurmbrand could rejoice in prison. He knew that God had a purpose for his being there and could set him free at any time He chose to do so. It did not stop him experiencing joy. Joy is a taste of Heaven. It is deep-seated.

3. Peace or quiet harmony. Shalom. Total harmony with all. It is not just a cessation from hostility. Peace at last! It is being at peace with God and with oneself – no inner conflict or turmoil, and peace with the neighbours. Blessed is the peacemaker, is what Jesus said. To make peace brings peace of mind and quiet harmony within. Jesus promised that peace in John ch 14 v 27.

These three aspects relate believers to God.

4. Patience. Endless patience – slow tempered. Like His Father, Jesus was slow to anger. He could bear all things. There is a time to be angry but it is a dangerous thing. It can give the enemy a foothold. A believer should not let the enemy in to stir him up. Never go to sleep angry. If a believer finds that he is less easily angered than he was then patience is at work within him.

5. Kindness. Practical kindness. A feeling for people. Mellow. Thoughtful. Many leave customers waiting without ever giving a thought to the fact that they are busy people too. Do children think how much extra work they give teachers by disrupting the class? It is the practical outworking of the Spirit to regard others as more important than self. Is a believer more sensitive to others than he used to be?

6. Goodness – unstinted generosity. The word goodness means generosity. Only two men in the Bible are called good. Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph Barnabus. Jesus said to the rich young ruler: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” God did not spare His only Son. That was an act of sheer unstinted generosity to rebellious mankind. Whilst believers were His enemies Christ died for them. What generosity. Are believers more generous than they once were?

These three enable believers to relate to others.

7. Faithfulness. Steady reliability. “Yours faithfully” at the end of a letter means: “You can rely on me. My word is my bond.” Can people depend on a believer, if he says he will do something or does he make excuses if the circumstances change? Customers like dealing with someone who will not let them down and will come when they say. Are believers more reliable than they were?

8. Gentleness. Meekness or gentle humility. Tamed. Moses was meek because he had been tamed over 40 years. Meekness is not to be confused with weakness. It is a person who does not stand on his rights. It is the mark of a servant, who has no rights. He just wants to do the right thing regardless of the cost and is not interested in scoring points off others and showing himself in a better light. Is a believer becoming more humble?

9. Self-control. The ability of a believer to say “no” to the fallen nature. Cutting out all the indulgences a believer knows are harmful to himself. It is the ability to act in response to what he knows to be right rather than acting on the basis of how he feels. “I’m too tired to pray.”

These 3 are to enable believers to be more in control of their lives.

In considering these 9 fruits it is painting a picture of Jesus. There is only one fruit, which has 9 flavours. They will all appear simultaneously in one go, but it comes gradually. A believer will be a little more caring, a little more patient, a little more reliable, etc

There are 4 major temperaments.
1. Sanguine. 2. Choleric. 3. Melancholic. 4. Phlegmatic.
Each person has some of each of these temperaments.
1. The Sanguine has joy, patience, kindness and generosity. He lacks meekness, faithfulness,
self-control and love.
2. The Choleric has joy, faithfulness (stickability) and self-control. He lacks patience.
kindness and love.
3. The Melancholic has patience, kindness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. He lacks
love, joy and peace.
4. The Phlegmatic has joy, peace, patience and kindness. He lacks generosity, meekness, self-control
and faithfulness.

There is a little bit of good in all people, but not Christlikeness i.e. not a complete character. Kindness does not mean a sign of the fruit of the Spirit. It may be that the particular man has it. Jesus has them all and He is the image of God, who has all the fruit of the Spirit. If man is made in the image of God, his temperament cannot be perfect but reflects something of the image of God. When Jesus said: “Be complete (perfect)” as your Father in Heaven is perfect, He knew that he had come to restore the image of God to fallen mankind to make us complete characters.

Unless Christians are prepared to grow the fruit of the Spirit, certain things will happen:
1. The leaders can only hold the Church together so that they do not get too close together. There is no deep unity.
2. The leaders can develop cliques to get on together, centred round a particular leader of a given temperament. “I am of Appollus.” Temperamental cliques.
3. The leaders will see people changing Church to suit their temperament.

There is a reverse of the process of growing fruit. Sometimes fruit shrivles on the branch, if there is a drought or if the plant is diseased. A Christian who is backsliding or has fallen away into apostasy will reflect the shrinking of the fruit of the Spirit. He will fall back into the ways of the World and in time will demonstrate the works of the flesh – impurity, idolatry, anger, strife etc. “I used to be able to rely on John!” A man cannot stand still in life. He is either becoming more like Jesus or less like Jesus.

Unless the fruit of the Spirit is growing, it is difficult for a believer to find the will of God for his life. God wants all believers to have all the fruit of the Spirit. If believers do not grow fruit, they will exhaust their limited temperaments.

Does the fruit grow by itself? Is it all the work of the Holy Spirit or does the believer have a part to play? How to grow fruit. There is no short cut. It cannot be given but has to grow. There are two rules.

1. Abide in Christ. John ch 15 v 1-17. Does the believer love the Lord Jesus as much as he did before and spend as much time with Him as he did earlier? Has he given up reading the Bible every day, like he used to? A man becomes like those with whom he spends time and he is influenced by them.

2. Walk in the Spirit. Every step with the Spirit swells the fruit. Be led by the Spirit. As soon as a believer goes against the Spirit, the fruit dries up. A believer must go where the Spirit leads. Step out in faith. Watch another fill out and become an all- round person – a complete person. Respond to Him. The same believer can receive a gift and grow fruit.

Neither gifts nor fruit are automatic. They are available to be appropriated. Gifts are more spectacular than fruit. No guidance is given to grow fruit. There are no laws or regulations telling believers how to handle them. Fruit and gifts are both supernatural. They enable believers to relate to others to build up the body of Christ. Both produce Christlikeness. Both can be imitated by Satan and man. It is essential to discern if the gift and fruit are genuine.

There are certain differences between gifts and fruit.
1. Gifts are outward things. Fruit is inward.
2. Gifts appear suddenly. Fruit grows gradually.
3. Gifts are temporary. They come and go. Fruit tends to stay.
4. Gifts appear earlier in the new life – often very early. Fruit tends to come later.
5. Gifts are many and may be given to different people in different numbers. “How many do you
have?” Fruit is one. A believer cannot have it in parts. It is impossible to find all 9 in an unbeliever. They appear simultaneously in each person who has them.

Believers all have different experiences, but they do not necessarily grow fruit. One may have gifts but shows no fruit. Some may have a narrow experience but be growing fruit. All have to look to those who have grown fruit. Those who have grown the fruit need to look to those who have had experiences of the Lord. God wants those with experiences, gifts and fruit.

Galatians ch 6. Sponges absorb. Believers are like sponges and absorb from the World around them. When a sponge is under pressure, it gives out what it had absorbed. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. The same illustration is used by Paul when he speaks of reaping what has been sown. Habits develop and are difficult to break. What a man watches is absorbed into his personality – violence, greed and gossip on television. Sins are like weeds growing in the garden. Gal ch 6 v 10 is a challenge for believers to build into their life the habit of doing good to others. Child minders feed into the child the values of the minder. How does a believer sow? By watching, reading and listening to others. If a believer follows the supreme example of Jesus, he learns to live like Him. Bad company corrupts morals. People who live together grow like one another.

Growth

PERSONAL CHRISTIAN GROWTH.

Natural growth. For physical growth a child needs food, protection and education. A plant needs soil, water and light. Given these factors a child or a plant will grow.

Spiritual growth is as natural as physical growth. When the Holy Spirit is given a person is born again and receives the ability to communicate with God the Father. The person is adopted into the family of God. Provided the correct conditions are present, spiritual growth should occur. Salvation is only the beginning of the process. Believers are to go on being saved as they go on exercising faith and go on repenting. Jesus spoke of those who persevere to the end being saved. Paul speaks of believers working out their salvation. Spiritual growth has to be nurtured or tended.

The Bible outlines the normal Christian birth. If there is something wrong with a physical birth a child may grow up handicapped. A bad physical birth can affect a baby physically and psychologically for the rest of its life. Many believers are badly birthed and do not grow properly. This is the responsibility of the leadership of the Church or the evangelist. The real question facing man is this: “If you live tomorrow are you living out of your sins or in your sins?”

There are four spiritual doors to go through in the process of being born again.
First. Repentance. Second. Faith. Third. Baptism in water. Fourth. Receiving the Holy Spirit.

FIRST. Repentance.
Man is not responsible for what has been done to him in his life, but he is responsible for the way in which he responds. Repentance is concerned primarily with the mind. Man changes his mind about his actions. He agrees with God about what He thinks about man’s actions.

Regret is what man feels about the consequences to himself. He regrets what he has done to another person. He is sorry about what he has done. But it focuses on himself.

Remorse is what he feels about the consequences to other people. A criminal often says that he feels remorse. He is sorry for the other person affected by the crime. The focus is on the other person.

Repentance is what man feels about the consequences to God. He has broken God’s law and spoilt His pleasure in man’s life. He has insulted and offended God. He has changed his mind and now sees it as sin and not a weakness. Repentance is accepting personal responsibility for what he has done and not blaming others. Repentance is always specific. It is not enough to say ” Save me God. I am a sinner.” It is necessary to name the sins – “I have stolen from my employer etc.” John the Baptist called for people to repent and told them what they should do specifically. The Holy Spirit will bring to the conscience those particular sins, which have been offending God and these are the ones, which need to be repented of by the person. Then after conversion as the believer grows and learns more about the word of God, he becomes aware of other things, which has been doing which also insult God and he realises that he needs to repent of these also.

FAITH. Faith is given by God. It is His gift. Repentance and faith go together like the blades of a pair of scissors. One without the other is useless. Faith enables man to realise the need to repent and when he repents he is exercising faith. So they go together.

BAPTISM in water. There is much debate as to whether this is total immersion or sprinkling. Mark ch 1 v 10. Jesus was baptised by John. When Jesus came up out of the water. This implies full immersion. Baptism in water is a public step to confirm to the World that the new believer has fully committed his life to Jesus.

BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit. Without receiving the Holy Spirit there is no birth. Jesus made this clear to Nicodemus in John ch 3 v 5. He said: “Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Paul says in 1 Cor ch 12 v 13. “By one Spirit we were all baptised into one body.”

The Biblical teaching clearly presents a picture of all four elements being present at one time. The individual is convicted of sin and drawn to repent, believing in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, at which point he is born again and receives the Holy Spirit. The water baptism then follows as the outward and public evidence of conversion and commitment to follow Jesus and it should take place as closely in time as possible.

The consequences of birth. When a believer is converted there should be 7 natural consequences.
1. At conversion the angels rejoice. Is there a guardian angel appointed for each person? Maybe.
Psalm 91 v 11. “God will give angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” Hebrews ch 1 v 14. “They are sent forth for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.”
2. An awareness of sin. Man is constantly aware of the standards, which God seeks, as he studies His model – Jesus. Sins are like weeds in the ground. They must be pulled up regularly or they will choke the life out of the plants. Repentance is specific and not general.
3. A hunger for the Word of God as spiritual food. Has man a healthy appetite? Something is wrong if he has no appetite. A spiritual man does not grow unless he feeds on the word of God by regular Bible study. Sardis had a name for being alive but was dead. A Church may seem to do all the right things but there is no real spiritual life.
4. A desire for a changed life. A concern to be rid of sin, which caused his being destined for Hell. This may involve a change of work, leaving ungodly friends or destroying an idol.
5. A love for brothers and sisters in Christ, as members of the new family into which he has been born. This is as natural as a love between brothers and sisters in a natural family. “By your love for one another people will know that you are my disciples.”
6. A degree of testing in life. Jesus warned His followers to expect it. Count the cost. Royal children are expected to undergo special training and discipline, which other children escape, in order to prepare them for their high destiny. They have a special responsibility. So it is for all children of the King of kings. All man can take with him into eternity is his character or integrity. That is the number one goal in life. The great promise of Jesus in the messages to the seven Churches in Revelation is that there is a prize for those who overcome.
7. A strong desire to share the news of Christ with others. When man has good news – a job, a child on the way a grand child – he longs to share it. It is natural for the believer to tell others.

If these areas of life are not present in the life of a person who has received the gift of eternal life, it raises the question of whether or not that person has been born again. No one would give a live baby to a dead mother. Likewise a new spiritual baby should not be entrusted to a dead Church.

John ch 14 v 12. Jesus said that believers would do what He did and greater things still, but only if they live as He lived. Are believers prepared to put in the effort to grow? The purpose for any fellowship is that believers should be trained to grow in knowledge, holiness and experience as they serve the Lord. It should be no surprise that God wants them to be useful to His business. That is just what Jesus said to His parents. ” I must be about my Father’s business.” Luke ch 2 v 49.

Conditions for growth.
(a) Three basic needs. To be loved. To belong. To achieve. A new believer needs a Church – with good leadership and good teaching, where their basic needs are met. Heb ch 5. They are still on milk and have never progressed to solid food. There are two dangers for believers. Some are very good on doctrine. Others are very caring. But in order to be a mature believer it is necessary to hold both doctrine and love or care together. Doctrine is to the believer what bones are to the body. A person needs to be bones and flesh. To grow they need love and the Word. Teaching of the Bible must be a balanced diet. The challenge is to teach the whole counsel of God.
(b) Encouragement. This is a command to all believers to encourage one another 1 Thes ch 5 v11.

The purpose of Growth. God wants believers to grow to be like Jesus. Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. Paul recognised that and said that everything else was rubbish and was not to get in the road of his being like Jesus. What is God’s eternal purpose? Eph ch 3 v 11.God’s purpose in eternity to give everything He has to His Son as His inheritance. Jesus alone was found worthy to open the scroll – which represents the history of the World. Believers are joint heirs with Christ. As the Son of God Jesus has received His inheritance. He is ruler of the Universe. His brothers are to share that task with Him. God intends believers to share the government of the Universe with His Son. Jesus has received his inheritance. Those who are His brothers are to rule with Him. God wants mature men and women to rule the Universe.

Fruit of the Spirit. This grows naturally and quietly unless it is disturbed.
The Gifts of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is given to enable believers to become complete. The Holy Spirit wants to give gifts to do what Jesus did and to be what Jesus is. Gifts are given to build up the body.

The word “love” in Greek meant: “Whatever you do to me, and even though I am not attracted to you, I care for you so deeply that I shall always seek your good, whatever it may cost me.”
The word is “agape”. It is more “care” than “love”. The fruit can be defined as follows:
Love – care i.e. agape.
Joy – deep happiness. It cannot be taken away from you.
Peace or quiet harmony. Shalom. Total harmony with all.
These three relate believers to God.
Endless patience – slow tempered. Jesus was slow to anger.
Practical kindness. A feeling for people. Mellow.
Goodness – unstinted generosity. The word goodness means generosity. Only 2 men in the Bible are called good. Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph Barnabus.
These three relate to others.
Steady reliability. ” Yours faithfully.” Faithfulness.
Meekness or gentle humility. Tamed. Moses was meek because he had been tamed.
Firm self control. The ability to say ” no ” to ourselves.
These three are for believers.
In mentioning these 9 fruits there is a picture of Jesus. There is only one fruit, which has 9 flavours. They will all appear simultaneously in one go, but it comes gradually.

How to grow fruit. There is no short cut. It cannot be given but has to grow. There are 2 rules.
FIRST. Abide in Christ. “Do you love the Lord Jesus as much as you did before and spend as much time with Him as you did earlier?” A man is influenced by those with whom he spends time.
SECOND. Walk in the Spirit. Every step with the Spirit swells the fruit. Be led by the Spirit. As soon as believers go against the Spirit, the fruit dries up. They must go where the Spirit leads. Step out in faith. Watch another fill out and become an all- round person – a complete person. The same believer can receive a gift and grow fruit. All have different experiences, but do not necessarily grow fruit. One person may have gifts but shows no fruit. Some may have a narrow experience but be growing fruit. All believers have to look to those who have grown fruit. Those who have grown the fruit need to look to those who have had experiences of the Lord. God wants those with experience, gifts and fruit.

GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT. Supernatural gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for two purposes (a) to enable God’s children to be able to achieve something within the Church and to do the things Jesus did. Jesus did them by the power of the Holy Spirit as His followers are enabled to do and (b) to build up the body of believers. The gifts are not for showing off but to be used to help the brothers and sisters grow and to be a blessing to the non-believers. It is natural to want to have a gift. When a man sees others with gifts he wants one too. Paul encourages believers to seek the gifts. 1 Cor ch 14 v 1.

Men who know their God.
What is God looking for in His children? Man was created to know God. “I desire the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hos ch 6 v 6. There is no moment when God’s eye is off His children or His attention distracted from them and no moment when His care falters.
Boys who appreciate their father usually want to imitate their father. They learn by watching.
(A) Those who know God as their Father have energy for the things of God. Dan ch 11 v 32. People who know their God shall be strong and do exploits. Their concern for the good name of God drives them to defend the honour of His name. They are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honour are being directly attacked.
(B) Those who know their God have great thoughts about God. They know that God rules over the whole of the Universe. They long to understand John’s Revelation and see into Heaven.
(C) Men who know God show great boldness for God. Many men have uttered the words. “Here am I send me.” They thrill to the words of Jesus when he said in John ch 14 v 12 “You will do what I have done” and long to see that come to pass.
(D) Men who know their God are content with life and are not striving for material success or praise of men.

Alone

LONELINESS. Mark ch 10 v 46-52. 1 Sam ch 17 v 31-40. Mark ch 1 v 35-39.

It is important to have a message, which is relevant to everyone.
There are three kinds of loneliness. One is good. One is bad. One is inevitable.

A. Isolation of choice. Isolation of space. A student, deeply engrossed in his books, preparing for an exam. A traveller on his way to a meeting. A fisherman all alone, concentrating on his fishing on the bank or in a boat. A tradesman concentrating on his work. A preacher needs to be alone so that the Holy Spirit can guide his preparations for the message he seeks to deliver. All choose to be alone for a time for a specific purpose without disturbance from people and noise. Indeed they appreciate being alone. They are not unhappy or anxious about being alone. When the purpose is complete the individual is glad to enjoy company again with family or friends. Mat ch 14 v 13. Jesus withdrew to a lonely place when He had difficult decisions to make. He had just heard about the death of John the Baptist and wanted to be alone to think through the future course of His actions. A missionary going overseas will almost certainly face loneliness as he lives in a foreign culture where people do not live as he has lived at home. That is a choice he will make before he sets off from home.

B. Physical loneliness. Those who are alone and desperately in need of company. This is the loneliness of exclusion. Loneliness is an emotional pain, which a man feels when he is unable to experience an intimate relationship with another person. Selwyn Hughes said: “Loneliness is capable of hurling the heaviest weight the human heart can endure.” Only those who have really been lonely will know the anguish it can cause. Karl Yung, the philosopher said: “Loneliness is the central neurosis of the twentieth century, although men and women are unprepared to face the fact of loneliness.”

God knew the problem of loneliness before the creation of the World. Gen ch 2 v 18. God has said that it is not good for a man to be alone. “I shall make a suitable companion for him.” God created a wife for Adam and then directed that men and women should live in families and communities and nations where there are strong bonds of loyalty to the other. After that sin ravaged the human race and many families broke up. However, God chose to adopt people into His family and He continued to build a family – so that believers call one another “brothers and sisters.”

Loneliness is not limited to living in a lonely spot. A man can be lonely in a city, lonely in a crowd, lonely in a prison and lonely in an office, surrounded by people. There can be ample communication of a superficial nature, but yet no meaningful relationship. Human beings are designed with certain basic needs and unless those basic needs are met there is emptiness within. This World is teeming with people but is also full of lonely people. If a man goes to a concert on his own he may look around during the interval and see others laughing and sharing conversation with their family or friends. The pang of loneliness may strike home. An elderly lady once said: “When I shut the curtains at 4 p.m. in the winter I do not see another living soul until the following morning.” There may be children at school who are lonely – who have no friends – and have to hide themselves, pretending to be busy, so that their loneliness does not show. Perhaps when they go home on a Friday, it is simply to continue their lonely life, busying themselves with their video games and hidden away in their rooms, wishing that there was some way out of their lonely existence. James the brother of Jesus highlights the problem. Ch 1 v 27. “Genuine religion is looking after the widows and orphans.” People can even feel lonely in a Church. There may be powerful preaching, excellent teaching and wonderful praise but no meaningful relationships. How often have people gone to a new Church and said: “No one spoke to me in that place.” Laurence Crabb said: “There are times when we warmly shake hands with people at the Church door, not aware that they are crying inside and falling apart – until they do.”

On one occasion at a funeral there were only three people present – the minister, the lawyer and the undertaker. After 70 years there was not a single friend to say farewell – just three people doing their duty. Jesus saw the present day. Mat ch 24 v 12. “In the last days the love of many will grow cold.” They just will not care. Some self-confident people rise to the top of their profession by their own efforts but do not earn the respect of their colleagues and have no friends. Others live with broken relationships – whether marriage or a partnership. Rejection is perhaps Satan’s sharpest tool. Those with an inferiority complex find it difficult to make friends. Loneliness is no respecter of persons.

Jesus delighted to meet lonely people. The woman at the well – Zaccheaus – Bartimeaus. Who better to speak about loneliness than Jesus? Jesus is competent to meet a man at the point of his need because He has experienced it all. Jesus faced loneliness in the wilderness. At the age of 12 He was misunderstood by His parents and family. They did not comprehend the decisions, which He had to make. Later He was misunderstood by His Disciples who were slow to realise that He had come to die for their sins. Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders and political leaders. Jealousy and wilful ignorance did that. No one could go with Him to His destiny on the cross. One of the reasons Jesus came to live on Earth was to restore the relationship between sinful, fallen man and a holy God. However, in His humanity Jesus needed human company. So do all men. For a short time on the Cross Jesus experienced separation from God. He had never known a time when He was not in His Father’s presence, but for a short time Heaven turned its back on Him. He knew that by the power of the Holy Spirit He would rise but that did not take away the awful pangs of loneliness as He hung on the Cross. It was the culmination of many moments of rejection, being despised, mistrusted, misunderstood, having lies told about Him and now the crucifixion.

Bartimaeus. Mark ch 10 v 46-52. Bar is the same as Mac and means son of – Son of Timaeus. He was a blind beggar. What else could he do? There was no social security in these days. This is a story of a blind man. Bartimaeus was not only blind. He was also lonely. There cannot be anything lonelier than being blind. Blindness is still quite common in some parts of the World. There was no prospect of a job for him. With no family to support him and no social security, begging was his only option. Then he met Jesus. He could hear and there was nothing wrong with his legs. He knew that he was in a state of helplessness and hopelessness. He needed a power out-with himself. Bartimaeus is a helpful picture of the state of man outside of God – helpless to change himself and hopeless as to the future. Bartimaeus knew that only Jesus could help him. He cried out: “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Pause for a moment to consider the reaction of the crowd. They told him to be quiet. Maybe their concern was that Jesus should not be disturbed and heard in silence. Maybe they were having such a good time with Jesus that they did not want to be disturbed. The cries of a lonely and blind man were upsetting the meeting. How awkward if someone called out in a Church meeting: “I am lonely – help me.” What would happen? What would the preacher do? Who would invite the person for lunch? Everyone needs friends and yet many find it hard to make friends. Some people have no one to whom they can pour out their disappointments, hurts and worries. Some go to the doctor or a solicitor. In former days they would have gone to the minister or priest but now they have no connection with a Church. Jesus was not too busy, even if the Disciples were. He stopped the proceedings. God is never too busy for someone who genuinely seeks Him. He longs for fellowship with man. He created man for that very purpose. “Every night I turn all my worries over to God. He is going to be up all night anyway.” He neither slumbers nor sleeps. A man might ask why, if God already knows what he wants, does He want the man to ask. Why does God not just act on His own? Well, mostly He does just that. Consider all the blessings each man has received without asking. It is because God longs for fellowship. He longs that the man has the best and enjoys life to the full. If a lonely person cried out to God for a friend, would He refuse? Jesus removed the obstacle to Bartimaeus having a friend – his blindness. Jesus delights to hear a cry made in faith, believing that He hears.

It is easy to talk about a subject but harder to assimilate from the Word of God some practical steps to solve the problem.

1. The first step is always to face up to the problem. The Bible says that so far as sin is concerned, human beings must first face it. No doctor can help, if the patient will not admit that there is a problem.

2. The second step is to pray about it. A believer should tell God just what the problem is and how he sees it. Often when a man talks about a problem with a friend the first result is that it does not seem as big as it was. It may be necessary to ask someone else to pray. How embarrassing. It is a straight choice – the pain of loneliness or the embarrassment. If an operation is needed, it will involve some pain but it is the only hope of improvement in the condition. Without prayer God cannot work. If the painfulness of loneliness is to be cured, some difficult decisions need to be made. Often the pain involved is not nearly as bad as had been expected. It builds up in the mind. Wishful thinking or hope will not tackle the problem. Only faith releases the power to tackle the problem.

3. To have friends a man must be friendly. Proverbs ch 18 v 24. Anyone who is always grumbling and complaining and talking about others will kill off attempts by others to be friends. But a friendly person will attract others.

4. The quickest way to make friends is to be involved in service to others. It is really true that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Doors open when a man gives, which do not open, if he is waiting to receive. After conversion it is as if a new driver (Jesus) now drives the car and the new believer goes down different roads from before. God said at the beginning of time on this Earth: “It is not good for a man to be alone. I shall make a suitable companion for him.” Gen ch 2 v 18. Psalm 142. Ask God for a friend.

Loneliness is a plague on the land but it has to be said that many are lonely because they are self-centred and selfish and they drive their friends away. For most, loneliness is self-inflicted. Every self-centred person is an unhappy person.

If a believer sees another lonely person, he should ask the Lord: “How can I co-operate with you to help that person and befriend him or her.” Gal ch 6 v 10. In that way he can be a servant of the Lord and an instrument of blessing to others.

C. Loneliness of the soul. There are times when a man longs to touch another person soul to soul and to have a deeper communication than just social intercourse. There are two types of people in the World. Some people – often those in professions – the lawyer or doctor or politician – who are confident in their ability and sure of their decisions and opinion and who respect their own views, command the respect of others. Everyone admires a politician who does not flinch from his policies even when things are not looking good. John the Baptist was a professional preacher. He had a certain rude, rugged goodness in his character and the World largely accepted him. Pharisees and Sadducees came to his preaching to be baptised. If he had not crossed the path of a weak prince and a revengeful woman, he might have lived out his natural life. But self-dependence does not meet the inner needs of the souls of such people. They need to meet another person soul to soul.

There is another type of man who trembles at the thought of being alone. They need the affection of other people. Jesus not only gave sympathy to others but wanted it also from them. Jesus was not the self-dependent character like John the Baptist. Fellowship with other human beings was essential to Jesus. He had come for such a purpose to reveal the desire of His Father to have fellowship with men and women. It is not that God needs such fellowship but He desires it deeply.

How was it that Jesus was not accepted as John was? His infinite superiority kept Him apart from other men. It was this, which caused His loneliness. It is not difficult to master the constitution of another country. But when a man tries to understand the Universe he finds the task too immense. There are apparent contradictions. The complex character of Jesus in relation to the souls of other men was too great to comprehend. There were apparent contradictions in Jesus. The Pharisees could not understand how a holy teacher could eat with publicans and tax collectors. His own family could not reconcile His assumption of a public office with the privacy He aimed to keep. Even His own Disciples could not fully comprehend His purpose until that moment when John looking into the empty tomb saw the folded grave clothes and believed in Him. How does a man today reconcile the baby born in a manger with the Lord of the Universe?

In all His decisions Jesus knew what it was as a human being to be alone in his soul. Jesus felt that loneliness when He was 12 years old, discussing the teachings of the Scriptures with much older men. The authority of His Earthly father was superseded by that of His Heavenly Father. Although Jesus had human company, those with Him did not comprehend the decisions, which He had to make. He stood alone in His soul when He set out for Jerusalem, knowing that He intended to die there. Peter blurted out that He should not go there and Jesus had to rebuke him. Mat ch 16 v 22. Peter did not understand the decision, which Jesus had made. As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Disciples could not even keep awake and provide Jesus with company. He was alone in His soul. He was alone before Caiaphas and He stood alone before Pilate. It was the elevation of His character and His integrity, which made Jesus stand alone on those occasions. He would not conform to the World or the opinions of men, because He was under instruction from a higher authority.

It is that same instruction from a higher authority, which causes the believer to stand alone at times in his soul. When he finds that the World has no understanding of divine goodness, then his is the loneliness of Christ. As Jesus was alone before Pilate carrying out the instructions of His Father, so each individual soul stands alone when he responds to the instructions of the Father. No one can predict what may be his duties and purpose in life. Each soul must find out his own life-plan and follow it. Each man’s temptations are his alone, which no other person can understand and may never know. He spends his time in the desert alone, and alone he faces the enemy. A believer may enjoy great fellowship with other believers but in the central depths of his being he is alone.

All the great men of the Bible were alone.
Moses was alone when he was directed by God to go to Pharaoh. Exodus ch 3 v 10.
Joseph was alone when Pharaoh called for him to interpret his dream. Gen ch 41 v 14.
Joshua was alone when he challenged the Israelites in Joshua ch 24 v 15.
Daniel was alone as he walked towards the lions’ den. Dan ch 6 v 16.
God provided fellowship on many occasions for those He called into service. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan, Daniel had his three friends. But ultimately the decisions, which they each reached, they reached alone. They were alone called to obedience and alone responsible for what happened.

The captain of a sinking ship is disgraced, if he is not the last to leave the ship after supervising the evacuation of the passengers and crew. That is what is expected of a captain. That is the kind of character God wants to build in the life of each believer. Someone who is looking out for the interests of others and loves not his own life. It is the picture of Jesus standing alone facing the last enemy of mankind – death. By His humility even unto death on the cross, Jesus defeated the pride of Satan and disarmed him forever. He knew what He had to do and He did it. God informs each believer what He wants him to do and waits to see if he will do it.

What a man can do in conjunction with others does not really test him. It is what he can do when alone, which tells what the man is capable of doing. God tests His children to refine their character. Jesus had to be tested in the wilderness at the start of His public ministry to see if in His humanity God could rely on Him for the really important work, which lay ahead. So it is that, if a man is to reign with Christ and rule the Universe, he must be tested to see what character he has to stand alone and make godly decisions. Will he crumble under pressure? Will he fall to temptation? Temptation is the training ground for believers. God allows Satan to tempt believers to see if they can handle the matter. Depending on a man’s self-control to deal with temptation will depend his role in the service of the government of Jesus. The government is upon the shoulders of Jesus. He is looking for people to share the load and share fellowship with Him.

For each soul to live and act on the inner convictions of the soul is what is required to follow Jesus. To live in the World but not be part of it, living out fearlessly the dictates of the conscience is to be a Christian. The true servant seeks the master’s will and diligently serves His purposes, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. A believer dare not go about timidly enquiring what others think, believe and say. It is what the master says which matters. There is an unknown light within the soul, which will awake when a man commands it. How does the believer find the will of God for his life? Look for a burden on the heart, a set of circumstances making it possible to discharge that burden and a word from God to confirm the instruction to proceed.

Each soul will stand alone before the judgement seat of Christ. It will matter nothing what anyone else suggested or said or did. All that will be taken into account is the response of an obedient servant to the instructions of his master.

Spiritual leadership

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP.

When God finds people willing to serve as He leads them, the possibilities are limitless. People will always follow leaders who know how to lead them according to God’s agenda. Spiritual leadership is not an occupation; it is a calling.

The moment someone sends an electronic message, they know that within seconds they could (and probably should) receive a reply. Technology makes today’s leaders constantly and instantly accessible. It becomes almost impossible to reflect or to think deeply on a matter due to constant notifications of incoming messages. Parishioners can now have more information on their laptops than the most studious leaders used to house in their libraries.

Morally society has deteriorated to the point like those in Jeremiah’s day when the people have forgotten how to blush. Jer ch 6 v 15 and ch 8 v 12. Society longs for statesmen but usually gets politicians. Atheists and those adamantly opposed to Christianity have become increasingly vocal and belligerent. The trend among many Christian leaders has been toward an almost indiscriminate and uncritical acceptance of secular leadership theory without measuring it against the timeless precepts of Scripture.

If the purpose of a leader is to invest one life as wisely as possible for the advancement of God’s purposes on Earth, then ambition is a good and useful force in a leader’s life.

The central task of leadership is to influence God’s people toward God’s purposes. Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda. The leader’s task is to move people. This implies journeying to a destination. It involves leaving where they are and relocating to a new position. It is taking people from where they are to where God wants them to be. The leader cannot produce spiritual change. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Leadership also requires “followership.” Leadership is basically about people. It may also influence other than God’s people, e.g. Wilberforce. Spiritual leaders must give an account to God for their leadership. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10-11.

Spiritual leaders work from God’s agenda to advance God’s kingdom, drawing people into a relationship with Himself. The key to spiritual leadership is for leaders to understand God’s will for them and for their organisation. They need to hear from God. The temptations in the wilderness were Satan’s attempts to prevent Jesus from obeying the Father. Whenever and wherever Jesus saw His father at work, he immediately joined Him. Satan tried to entice Jesus into using the methods of the World to accomplish God’s will. “Provide free food and you will attract a large following.” “ Perform dramatic miracles and you will win followers.” “Worship me and you will provide Christianity without a cross.” Satan was trying to persuade Jesus to draw a crowd rather than to build a Church. Choosing the 12 Disciples was not Jesus’ idea but His Father’s idea. God chose business people – people who understood how the World operated and who were not afraid of working in the middle of it. 12 is the number His Father gave Jesus. The teaching Jesus gave His Disciples was from the Father. Jesus came to fulfil His Father’s plan of salvation – not His own plan. “I can do nothing of my own.” John ch 5 v 30. Jesus rejected human reasoning in favour of God’s wisdom.

The greatness of an organisation is directly proportional to the greatness of the leaders. Some people display an aptitude for leadership in their lives. A man’s life experiences can dramatically affect the calibre of the leader he becomes. The influence of early childhood whether for good or bad, cannot be underrated as a major force in leadership. Some leaders are so insecure that they cannot tolerate disagreement from anyone. Otherwise, desperate for approval, they surround themselves with sycophants who shower them with steady, uncensored praise.

Events beyond a man’s control can produce the same effect as a failure. Good times bland a man. Bad times reveal truth to a man. In times of hardship some become bitter or fearful. Others choose to learn and grow stronger from the experience. Failure to learn and grow from his mistakes and hardships may prevent a man from developing into the leader God intended him to become. Continued success tends to cause a man to lose his humility and to become less teachable. A servant wholly submitted to God’s will is an awesome instrument in God’s hand. A man, who yields his will to God, will be shaped by Him, according to His purposes.

A man does not apply for spiritual leadership. A man is assigned by God to a task. God saw something in the heart of a man that led Him to assign a particular task to the man of His choice. God builds into a leader over time wisdom, integrity, honesty and moral purity.

Whenever Abraham made decisions without consulting God the results were disastrous. God seldom intervened when a man was about to make a mistake. Rather God allowed the man to fail but stood ready to redeem him. Character flaws left unchecked in the life of a man can reappear in subsequent generations. Attaining spiritual maturity is a lifelong process. When a man gives everything to God, God will provide all he needs.

It is one thing to call God your friend. It is another thing for God to call you His friend. God appoints leaders. God will first build a character, which is capable of handling a significant assignment. God uses every day events both good and bad to shape a leader.

Any organisation, which lacks a vision, risks becoming sidetracked and failing to accomplish its purpose. There is much more to determining God’s will than merely assuming every open door is a divine invitation. God rarely works the same way twice.

Many leaders are motivated by vanity. Many who challenge such a leader are edged out of the Church. Is a Church member glorifying God or furthering the leader’s career? Some Churches seek only to meet the needs of their community. Need-based visions allow unregenerate people to set the agenda for the Church. This can take the eyes of the believers off the Lord. Jesus did not base His ministry on what people needed but on what His Father wanted to do. Mark ch 1 v 23-29.

Leaders should understand that God will provide whatever resource is required to accomplish the tasks He assigns. Every time a leader develops his own vision instead of seeking God’s will, he is giving the people his best thinking instead of God’s thinking.

Spiritual leaders are driven by God and not by their passions and talents. God’s people live by revelation. “Without revelation the people run wild.” Prov ch 29 v 18. The vision driving a spiritual leader must originate from God. Noah’s vision of the Flood came from God. People want to be part of something significant. Spiritual leaders do not see a vision; they share what God has revealed to them and trust the Holy Spirit to confirm the vision in the hearts of the people. God will support what he authors. Leaders should remain with their people and walk alongside them to help them fully respond to what God has revealed. Often Christian leaders develop a vision and then demand that the members either get on board or find another organisation.

The leader cannot convince people that a particular direction is from God. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. The key to spiritual leadership is to encourage followers to grow in their relationship with the Lord. People are willing to dramatically adjust their lives when they see God at work. There are three misguided goals – achieving results – perfectionism – size. God enjoys seeing people become what He intended they become. Church attendance may grow but the people do not necessarily grow to become the people God intended them to become.

There are worthy goals.
1. Developing people. The task is to take people from where they are to where God wants them to be. God’s primary concern is not results but relationships. The leader will never move people beyond where they have gone themselves.
2. Glorifying God. Leaders should be able to tell when an opportunity has the mark of God upon it.
3. Equip others to lead.

A leader must never be indispensable. Insecurity can drive a leader so immersed in his own work that he fails to develop other leaders. The leaders may covet the limelight and thereby fail to develop the leaders needed for the organisation. Can the organisation function after the leader departs? There are four things a leader must practise, if he is to produce emerging leaders.
1. Delegate. If the leader makes all the decisions he impedes the growth of emerging leaders. Nothing demoralises staff more than if a leader constantly meddles in their work. A sure way to stifle staff initiative is to take credit for something a subordinate did. Leaders can steal the credit due to others. A leader cannot relentlessly pursue his own goals and glorify God at the same time.
2. Give people freedom to fail. People must know that their leader will stand by them if they fail.
3. Recognise the success of others.
4. Provide encouragement and support.

The character of the leader must be one that will move others to follow. There are three sources of power, which are not relevant – position, power and personality. Spiritual dictatorship is one of the most oppressive forms of tyranny. Often committees seeking a new Church leader will look for a striking and charismatic man who will attract new members. The new leader may make a great first impression but rarely makes a lasting impression.

The legitimate sources of influence are:-
1. Evidence of God’s hand upon the leader. God affirms them before others. Moses, Joshua, Samuel and Jesus are examples. Leaders influence their people in two ways – by who they are and by what they do. God bestowed such wisdom on Deborah that people travelled great distances to seek her counsel.
2. A vibrant intimate relationship with God. Jesus never promoted Himself. When God exalts one of His servants the World notices.
3. Integrity and honesty. Integrity is best demonstrated during adversity. Followers cannot expect their leaders to be perfect but they want them to be honest. God expects a return on His investment in our lives. When God sees that a man has been faithful in a little he will entrust him with more.
4. A successful track record. Leaders cannot demand respect. They can only earn it. God gauges success in terms of faithfulness, obedience and growth.
5. Preparation through education and training. A good education is an important means of preparation.
6. Humility.
7. Courage.

The ability to influence others is an essential requirement of leadership. If no one follows, the leader has not led. Leaders pray. Without the activity of the Holy Spirit a man may lead but he is not a spiritual leader. God reveals His agenda through prayer. Prayer life determines the effectiveness of the leader.
Prayer is essential.
Prayer brings the Spirit’s filling.
Prayer brings God’s wisdom.
Prayer accesses God’s power.
Prayer relieves stress.
Prayer reveals God’s agenda.

Leaders work hard. Jesus had a very hard schedule during His three years of public ministry. Leaders need to set a good example in this area of their life. Punctuality, dress and hard work are important in order to gain respect. Leaders serve. Jesus set the example by washing the feet of the Disciples.
Leaders maintain a positive attitude and encourage others. Leaders need to focus on the important issues. Leaders who are unable to love their people and unwilling to consider their needs are insecure in their identity. In secure people worry about how others perceive them. A good sense of humour is essential to effective leadership because leaders set the tone for their organisations. People need to be recognised and commended for their contributions. Leaders encourage their people through personal concern for their welfare.

Decision-making is a fundamental responsibility of leadership. People who are unwilling or unable to make decision are incapable of leadership. Leaders who refuse to make decisions are abdicating their leadership responsibility. People rely on leaders to make wise, timely decisions. God does not want people attempting to do what they think is best but what He knows is best. In making decisions:
1. The Holy Spirit guides through prayer. Daniel prayer three times a day.
2. The Holy Spirit guides through God’s Word.
3. The Holy Spirit guides through other believers. It is a danger for leaders to listen only to those who tell them what they want to hear.
4. The Holy Spirit guides through circumstances. They should evaluate coincidences to see if these are answers to prayer.

A major aspect of a leader’s decision-making is maintaining a teachable spirit.
Leaders master their history and learn lessons from the history of the organisation they lead.

Leaders plan. Long-range planning is an essential role of leaders. What role does God play in the plans? God only obliges Himself to bless, sustain and bring to completion that which he initiated. Isaiah ch 46 v 9-11.
One day in the future leaders will give account to God for everything they have done.
When leaders make a decision they accept the consequences and admit their mistakes and stand by their decisions.

The leader should have a full schedule. He needs to use the time wisely. There are times when it is essential to say “No”. Jesus had a very busy schedule during His three years of public ministry. It is also essential to delegate. Jethro advised Moses to do that. Exodus ch 18 v 21. Leaders must make time for the most important matters. They must also look after their health. It is good to have times to relax. Leaders have to avoid timewasters. Technology, while a wonderful tool, can also be a time waster.

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. People are reluctant to make personal changes and move out of their comfort zones. Some hope that things will get better and there will be no need to change. Some fail to see the need for change. Leaders may need to provide ongoing encouragement for the changes to take place. Good leaders love their people. Effective leaders create an environment of trust and concern for those they work with. Leaders help their people to grow spiritually.

There are certain pitfalls for leaders.
1. Pride. It is subversive. It blinds leaders to reality and causes them to view themselves in distorted proportions. Leaders can be tempted to monopolise the credit for their organisation’s success as they seek the limelight. Pride is repugnant in spiritual leaders. The leaders may seek to direct attention to themselves rather than to God. God abhors the haughty. Prov ch 6 v 16-17. Pride closes minds and renders leaders un-teachable. They become impervious to wise counsel. Pride leads to self-sufficiency. A spirit of pride will target a successful leader to bring him down. Pride leads to a loss of compassion. Ezekiel ch 34 v 1-11.
2. Sexual sin. To avoid falling to temptation leaders need to
A. Make themselves accountable to someone.
B. Listen to their own counsel. A leader often commits the very sin he preaches against.
C. Consider the consequences.
D. Develop healthy habits, such as not to be alone with a woman other than his wife.
E. Maintain a close walk with God.
3. Cynicism. When leaders have no faith in their people they prevent them from reaching their potential.
4. Greed. The relentless pursuit of a sizeable income is a sin.
5. Mental laziness.
6. Over-sensitivity to criticism. Constructive criticism is helpful.
7. Spiritual lethargy. Leaders need to spend time with God. Leaders who allow their daily commitments to crowd out their devotional life are in danger of severing their lifeline.
8. Domestic neglect. Leaders need to have a strong family life.
9. Administrative carelessness. The ultimate task for a leader is to ensure that the organisation is capable of reaching its destination.
10. Prolonged position holding. Wise leaders recognise the time to retire and let another take over leadership. The original leader must stand back and not interfere with the role of the new leader.

This life affords each person an opportunity to make his mark on the World. God is looking to development and women into His divinely empowered instruments to impact today’s culture. With modern technology today there are unprecedented opportunities to extend God’s kingdom. A man should not limit what God can do through him.

God in the Old Testament set the example of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, buying the dead, etc. Jesus based His teaching on the examples set by God. Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to speak to Him from the Old Testament to guide His application, e.g. feeding the people before He taught them.
There is a danger of spoiling the new in an attempt to patch up the old system. It is difficult if not impossible to move a Church forward when it is set in its old ways. Many want a quick repair or fix without dealing radically with what is wrong.

Prayers

PRAYER.

Why should believers pray? They should pray for one another, because they are in relationship with their Father and their brothers and sisters. God invited believers to join His family. When others are in trouble, they have a responsibility to pray for them. God knows their situation but believers need to remind Him. God is responsible for them. It is normal for believers to experience suffering. Darkness attacks them. Prayer releases angels to help them with the suffering.
1. Distress is inevitable. Believers are destined for problems. God allows them for His purpose.
2. Temptation. Believers need only lose concentration for a moment and the enemy is in there. It is harder for young people today than before. Pray for young people who are tempted to fall into sin.
3. Frustration. Not knowing what God wants believers to do in the future can be very frustrating. Prayer leads them out of frustration.

2. What should believers pray for?
( a ) Grace and peace. They need this because they live in turmoil, stress and difficulties.
( b) The power of the Holy Spirit. The preacher needs the Holy Spirit. The people need power to receive the preacher’s words.
(c) Pray that the Spirit will be welcomed with joy to bring about changed lives. Welcome the word first. Turn from idols to God. Pray for a turning to God. Pray that they will serve the Lord – not a popular word. A servant has no rights. Pray for servants. Pray that they will be imitators of Christ -that they become models and people who will wait upon the Lord – waiting for Christ to return.
1. Guidance. Sometimes believers just have to decide and get on with it. God gives them wisdom to make the right decision. Weigh up the pros and cons and go for it. Make a mature decision.
2. Encouragement. Believers must be careful how they encourage others. They may be casual or over talkative. A list of new ideas could give the impression that they have not been doing well. Preachers and missionaries need encouragement. It is a command of God.
3. Faith. Hab ch 2 v 4. The righteous shall live by going on being faithful. Faith and love are two things, which are in constant demand. Faith in others can encourage believers to go on and stand firm.
4. Perseverance. This is especially so in countries like Japan. Believers need to persevere in a land where the light of the Gospel is going out.

3. How should believers pray? Thankfully and continually with remembrance.
With thanksgiving and with joy. Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Earnestly. This means thinking and being serious.
Strategically. Be specific. Believers do not receive because they do not ask. Pray for what their faith lacks.

A. What is prayer? Prayer is talking to God. Man does do not need special language or to face in a certain direction. Speak to Him as a very special person. He knows each one personally. He knit man together while in his mother’s womb. To get to know someone it is necessary to spend time with that person. God speaks to man in the Bible and prayer is his response. Man gets to know His likes and dislikes and learns to like and dislike the same things. Learning from the Lord is like a tutorial group. Man listens in while He deals with others in their situation and he comes to understand His thoughts on the matter. The tutor may take one essay and discuss its good points and shortcomings, while the others listen in to him. Man learns how Peter and Moses etc pleased God and how they disappointed Him. Man learns how to respond in the same situation.

Some prayers are prayers of thanksgiving. Hannah was expecting a baby in response to her prayer. Moses in Ex ch 15 thanked God for His goodness and mercy.
Some are prayers of confession. Ezra publicly confessed the sins of the people. Isaiah confessed that he was a man of unclean lips.
Some are petitions for others. Abraham pleaded for Sodom. Moses pleaded for the people not to destroy them. With almost His last breath Jesus pleaded for the people asking God to forgive them, since they did not know what they were doing.
Some prayers are for gifts to serve God. Solomon asked for wisdom.
Some prayers are questions to the Lord. Habakkuk cried out to God: “Why; what is going on, Lord? ”
Some are prayers of distress. Hannah cried out that she was childless: “Please can I have a child?”
One thing is clear. Be honest. Tell God what is on the mind. Paul tells us to be bold in prayer.
If joyful, tell God. If sad, confused or hurt and disappointed, tell the Lord. There should be no pretence.
Time. It takes time to tell it all out. It can take an hour to talk over a legal problem. It might take an hour to sort out a personal problem. Talk it out and wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit in response. Give the Lord a chance to speak.

Pattern for prayer. 1. Praise. Count the blessings one by one. 2. Confession. Clear the deck of barriers.
3. Petitions for others in need. 4 Take the big problems to God.

B. Prayer is essential. Exodus ch 17 v 8-14.
When the people prayed, they raised their hands. As long as the hands were raised, Israel won. When they were lowered, Israel lost. When man stops praying he ties God’s hands. Prayers influence what happens to man. If a man stops speaking to his friend he will no longer be his friend. It is the same with God. Man needs God who is all-wise to guide him through life.

C. Prayer is dangerous.
Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night He was arrested. He knew that He had come to die and face crucifixion – the worst death ever devised by man. He knew what lay ahead and yet asked:
“Not what I want, but what You want.” If man asks God a question, He will answer it in His own time. If he asks God to help a friend who is short of money, He is likely to ask that man to put his hand in his pocket first. If man asks God to help a lonely person He will probably ask that man to visit the person. Do not pray, if you not prepared to do what can be done first. Man ought not to sing: “Make me a channel of your peace, if he is not prepared to be used by the Lord to help those in need. Start each day by asking –“How can I co-operate with you, Lord to help those in need whom I meet this day?” Gal ch 6 v 10.

D. How does God answer prayer?
(a) Through His word, as when a word jumps out at man as he reads the Bible. Exodus ch 18. Jethro advised Moses to delegate. The Holy Spirit may make it clear that man should delegate since he is too busy. There is not a situation in life not covered in the Bible. There are blessings for those who obey the Word of God and problems for those who disobey.
(b) Where there are two clear choices, expect God to give peace of mind for the right choice. What would Jesus do?
(c) Through the preaching. Man realises that the sermon was written for him. How did God know?
(d) By the advice of a reliable Christian friend, who has a deeper understanding of the mind of God. Always test the advice against the Bible.
Satan is very determined to sever the prayer life of the Christian. He knows how important it is to both the believer and to the Lord. Do not rely on feelings. The time to pray is when a man does not feel like it.

Principles of prayer. Col ch 4 v 12.
Spiritual ministry depends on prayer. If man is too busy for prayer, he is too busy.
Blockages in the system.
1. Prayer and a pure heart go hand in hand. Psalm 66 v 18 speaks of un-confessed sin in the heart. Mark ch 11 v 25 – a lack of forgiveness. Does man have a grudge against anyone? Is he unforgiving and always bringing it up?
2. Ask in specific terms. “You do not believe, because you do not ask.” James ch 4. Prayer should not be the last resort. Why should a man pray when he can worry? If it is big enough to worry about, it is big enough to pray about. Man needs to guard against sin getting a lodging place in the heart. Good will not listen, if there is un-confessed sin.
3. If the motive is wrong – not doing the will of God but going man’s own way.
4. Expectation. God works in the realm of man’s expectations. Acts ch 12 v 5-11.
5. Unbelief. James ch 1 v 6. Doubts blow a fuse.
6. Yielding. Rom ch 12. Offer the body as a living sacrifice. It is costly to do God’s will.

There are 5 barriers to effective prayer.
1. Prayers are not measured by length, although sometimes it is necessary to spend time teasing out a problem with the Lord, as man would with an adviser. They are measured by touching God in reality. Consistency matters more than length. Mat ch 6. The heathen spend much time in public prayer.
2. Do not let guilt be a barrier to praying. Satan tempts man to sin and then accuses him telling him that he is not worthy of speaking to his Father.
3. Do not rely on feelings or spiritual works as a basis for prayer. Be bold.
4. There is a danger of praying to create an impression with others. Go to the closet alone.
5. Doctrinal correctness does not guarantee success in prayer. It is not necessary to know all about the theology of healing in order to be effective. Often the greatest results are from young believers who are fairly ignorant but who by their concern touch the heart of God. Jesus taught the Disciples how to pray and the key to the lesson was to understand that they were praying to their Father in Heaven.

Prayers of the Bible.
Pslam 122 v 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Prayer is specific.
Jer ch 7 v 16. Do not waste time praying for those who will not do justice.
Jer ch 11 v 14. The people were deliberately going away from God. Sin is a barrier to prayer.
Jer ch 29 v 12. If man genuinely seeks God, then He will answer the prayer.
Jer ch 33 v 3. The king asked a holy man Jeremiah to pray.
Deut ch 9 v 26. Moses prayed for others – petition for others.
Job ch 42 v 8. Man cannot expect God to answer when he does not speak the truth.
Is ch 16 v 12. The Moabites wasted their time praying.
1 Sam ch 1 v 10. Hannah cried in her distress and prayed.
1 Sam ch 8 v 6. People wanted a king. Samuel was unhappy and took it to God in prayer.
2 Kings ch 4 v 33. Elijah prayed in difficulty before healing the boy.
1 Kings ch 6 v 33. Elijah’s prayer opened their eyes to see, literally and spiritually.
2 Kings ch 19 v 15. Hezekiah was in trouble and prayed for help.
2 Kings ch 20 v 2. Hezekiah in distress prayed in tears and God answered.
2 Chr ch 33 v 12. Manasseh defeated and humbled, prayed for help. God answered.
Neh ch 1 v 4. Nehemiah prayed in his distress.
Job ch 42 v 10. Job prayed for his friends.
Dan ch 6 v 10. Daniel always prayed three times a day.
Jon ch 2 v 1. Jonah prayed inside the belly of the whale.
2 Chr ch 6 v 19. Be bold in prayer. If God has asked man to talk – then talk and do not whisper.
Prov ch 15 v 8. The Lord is pleased when good people pray.
Prov ch 15 v 29. When good people pray, the Lord listens.
Dan ch 9 v 3. “I prayed earnestly to God pleading with Him.”
Mat ch 5 v 44. “I tell you – love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Mat ch 14 v 23. Jesus took time to pray alone.
Luke ch 6 v 12. Jesus prayed all night.
Luke ch 9 v 28. Jesus took 3 Disciples to pray – the transfiguration.
John ch 17. Jesus prayed for His Disciples.
Eph ch 6 v 18. Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. Pray for God’s people.

Prayers of Jesus.
Mat ch 11 v 25-6. Jesus thanked His Father for what He had done.
John ch 11 v 42. Jesus thanked His Father for raising Lazarus.
Mat ch 26 v 39. “Not what I want but what you want.”
Mat ch 27 v 46. “My God, why did you abandon me?”
John ch 12 v 27. Request. Father, bring glory to your name.
Acts ch 4 v 24. The Church prayed for boldness and power. Ask in order to receive.
Rom ch 1 v 8-10. Thankfulness by Paul – a recurring theme.
Rom ch 10 v 1. For Israel. Petition for others.
Eph ch 1 v 3-14. Thankfulness for God’s blessings.
1 Thes ch 1 v 2. Recollection of facts of God’s blessings.

Specific prayers in the Bible.
Pleading. Gen ch 18 v 22-33. Abraham pleaded for Sodom and put questions to the Lord. “Come let us reason together.” Ask expecting an answer. Ex ch 32. Num ch 14. Moses pleaded for the people who had just built the golden bull. “Please change your mind and forgive them. They do not deserve it but be gracious to them.”

Guidance. Gen ch 24 v 12-14. Asking for a sign. Make it clear which way to go from here.

Desperation. Joseph, before he met Esau, sent an S. O. S. “You promised” – hanging onto a promise in the Word of God. Hold onto His promises.

Request for revelation. Ask God to show what He is going to do. It is a very special request.

Concern for believers. Demand a miraculous event, if it is for God’s Kingdom, in order to advance His purposes. When Peter was in prison the other members of the Church prayed for his release to serve the Lord.

Gideon’s fleece. Judges ch 6. Gideon knew exactly what he had to do. It was such an enormous task that he could hardly believe it and asked for a sign for conformation. “Why me? I cannot really take it in. Tell me again.”

Hannah’s prayer. 1 Sam ch 1. Hannah cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord for a child. She was desperate and God answered her prayer. It is the Lord who gives life.

Prayer of praise. 1 Sam ch 2. As soon as the child is born, Hannah prayed in thanksgiving.

Wisdom. 1 Kings ch 3 v 9. Solomon prayed for wisdom to rule the people. Only ask for gifts, which will be helpful to God to advance His Kingdom.

Call for proof. 1 Kings ch 18. Elijah called on God to prove Himself to unbelievers for His glory.

Prayer for others. David prayed for Solomon and gave thanks to God in public for His goodness.

Public confession. Ezra ch 9. Ezra confessed the sins of the people in public.
Stating the facts. Neh ch 1. Nehemiah narrated the facts in public and asked: “Where now?” Prayer was used to focus the immediate problem. Isaiah confessed that he was a man of unclean lips. Ch 2.

Show me. Job. Job asked where things had gone wrong. “Show me. I am confused as to what life is all about.”

Prayers for Direction. Abraham’s servant when looking for a wife for his master.

Plead the case. Job ch 13 – 14. “What more do you expect of me? I have done this and that and you have not acted – why not? Your demands are too much. I cannot cope – you know that. Speak!”

Questions. Hab ch 1. Why, why, why? Why do evil men get away with it and good men suffer?

Lament. Lam ch 1. Cry for the lost and hurt. Rejoice with the happy ones.

Act. Hab ch 3. Do it again. What was done in the past, do it again.
Complaint. Jer ch 20. Man should let God know how he feels – disappointed, unfair. “Nobody cares for me. I have tried to honour you and what good does it do?” Man should be honest and tell the Lord what is on his heart and where it hurts.

Acknowledge God’s works. Tell the Lord about the wonders of His creation. Admire His handiwork. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Remind Him of His promises and that He can do anything. Talk to Him as a person sitting in the same room and not as a distant figure.

Help. Is chs 63 and 64. “We are in a mess. Show us the way out.” Leaving prison? “I need help on the outside.” Man should ask the Lord to take him on board as a special project.

Sin plays havoc with prayer life. It negates the power. A critical spirit is a blockage.

Private prayer enables a person to speak in a more personal way and the person is more likely to hear the Lord speak. He is also able to speak about others in a way he could not do if others were present.

Prayer is work and not relaxation. Expect it to be hard. Eph ch 6 v 10. Prayer is against devilish opposition. Avoid measuring success by numbers. Prayer meetings are for prayer and not talk. Mention brief points and then pray. Certain principles:
1. It is easier to pray for people who are known. Identify individuals.
2. Avoid swamping people with too much information before prayer.
3. Audio visual aids are useful for those who do not know the people or the country.
4. Maps and magazines are helpful but avoid information overkill.
5. Distribute missionary letters in advance. Avoid repetition.
6. Tapes are usually too long.
7. Avoid books and literature since they are too heavy,
8. Prayer is not a Bible Study. Watch and pray. It is good and encouraging to see the results of prayer. Give each person a topic. Believers should be aware of one another – it is not a personal quiet time. Allow those who have never prayed before to use a written prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. He knows – but wants to hear from man. The content of the prayers in the

PUBLIC PRAYER.
1. Encourages man to be bold.
2. It binds people together in purpose.
3. It enables them to pray through others when an individual finds it difficult to pray.
4. Prayer leads to action.
5. Prayer helps people share personal concerns with others.
6. Prayer tests man’s sincerity to speak to God before others, e.g. like a confession.
7. Power is reinforced when the partners are at one.
8. An answer to a common prayer avoids one feeling superior.
9. It forces man to be specific and committed.
10. If one man asks why? God may answer through another.
11. Praise by one can lift the spirits of others to look afresh to God.

“No” is as much an answer as “Yes.” God’s timing is essential. Sometimes it is necessary to wait. Attitudes may be wrong at the time or other decisions may require to be made first.
Lack of forgiveness may be a barrier. Prayer is a command and to omit to pray is a sin.

People need to be in touch or they drift apart. It is the same with God.
Prayer helps man to bring his will into line with God’s will.
Prayer trims the trivial out of lives and helps man to get our priorities right.
Prayer calls for perseverance, energy and sincerity. God delights to answer prayer.
A regular time helps aid discipline in prayer. It becomes a good habit.
Take a pen and write down what comes to mind in a time of prayer. Record God’s word.
The purpose is to hear the small still voice of God and to know that the Lord has spoken.
What man asks for must be in line with the character of God.
Ask – seek – knock – it is a question of perseverance.
Expect distractions from Satan who seeks to sever the link with God.
Do not rely on feelings. Prayer is a matter of the will.
Consider how much time is spent watching television in relation to the time spent in prayer.
Expect no glory or reward in material terms. Treasure is laid up in Heaven.
Prayer is spiritual warfare when man fights with Satan.
Without prayer, the balance of love would swing to evil. Prayer moves God to pour out His grace. That is why Satan is active.

We cannot say “our” if we live only for ourselves.
We cannot say “Father” if we do not try to act like His children.
We cannot say “who art in Heaven” if we are laying up no treasure there.
We cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if we are not striving for holiness.
We cannot say “Thy Kingdom come” if we are not doing all in our power to hasten that event.
We cannot say “give us our day our daily bread” if we are dishonest or seeking something for nothing.
We cannot say “forgive us our debts” if we bear a grudge against another.
We cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if we deliberately place ourselves in its path.
We cannot say “deliver us from evil” if we do not put on the whole armour of God.
We cannot say “Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory” if we do not give the King the loyalty due to Him from faithful subjects.
And we cannot say “forever” if the horizon of our lives is bounded completely by time.

The Lord’s Prayer. Luke ch 11 v 1-13. Matthew ch 6 v 1-14.

Prayer has been described as the umbilical chord of the Christian life. If the prayer life is severed, the life of a believer dries up. Perhaps that was the experience of the Disciples. They saw in Jesus a person who seemed to draw tremendous strength from His prayer life with His Father. Perhaps it was that, which prompted them to ask Jesus this question – Lord, will you teach us to pray?

Prayer is the target of enemy activity. If the enemy can stop a man praying, he will destroy his relationship with his Father. Strength will ebb away and the direction of life will be affected. Satan would like man to be too busy to pray, too tired to pray, too upset to pray, full of self-pity and disappointment. Anything, which prevents man praying – he is at it. He will remind man of his sin. He tempts man to sin and then has the audacity to say to him: “You are too sinful to pray. God will not listen to you.” One of his names is the accuser. He will accuse a man of sins, which God has forgiven. It is vital to recognise his activity and pray despite him.

Did Jesus really mean man to recite this prayer as a sort of chant or recitation. There is little evidence that Jesus wanted His followers to take part in ritual. After all He used His harshest words of condemnation against the Pharisees for their formalism. They had turned a living relationship with God into a religious activity. Jesus was determined to reverse the process. The only special activities, which Jesus introduced, were baptism and communion. Baptism was meant to identify with Jesus, a symbol that the follower had died to the old selfish life and had risen to a new type of life – serving the Lord and his fellow human beings. Communion was a time, which was set aside during fellowship to remember the death of Jesus as the means of salvation. So did Jesus mean man to recite some special words as a prayer?

The Living Bible gives a clue. “Do not recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think that prayers are answered, if they are repeated over and over again. Remember your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him. Pray along these lines.” It seems that the words of Jesus are more like a framework – a guide to what shape the prayer should take. The teaching is like the cover of a jigsaw puzzle. A man should keep the picture in mind as he prays.

Luke records the words of Jesus – ask – seek – knock. It sounds like a progression. First decide what is wanted. Search out an answer. Persist and knock on the door of Heaven until an answer is given. Request an open Heaven and do business with God. There is one prerequisite. Psalm 24 v 3-6. Holiness.

What guidance does Jesus give?

1. Our Father. Not my Father – or your Father – but our Father. If a man is honest, he is selfish, even to the point of keeping his relationship with God to himself. The prophets received a word from the Lord and they shared it, even though they were often misunderstood and criticised. Man is jointly responsible to the Father. No one can act in a way, which is hurtful to another member of the family. A man can choose his friends but he cannot choose his relatives. He is our Father. He gave each believer spiritual life and in that way each was born into the family of God. Believers should share their spiritual life together in the same way as members of a physical family share together. It is one of the blessings of family life that the members of the family can take off their outdoor masks and share with each other on a personal basis.

2. Father. A man may have had a poor father on Earth. There are millions of orphans all over the World, who have a very limited idea of the role of a father. In Britain there are 1½ million children, whose father has walked out on them. However, the best concept of the role of God in relation to man is that of a father – one who brings man into being and who is responsible for him in every way. It becomes difficult for those whose Earthly father has walked out on them and will not even pay maintenance for them. But it is the best idea there is about our Heavenly Father. He will not let His children down. He is all-powerful. He has the best interests of His children at heart. He is personally responsible for each one of them. He has legions of angels at His disposal to minister to them.

3. Who art in Heaven. There is a time to be very practical but when it comes to prayer it is important to concentrate on Heaven. Everything, which happens physically on this Earth is a manifestation of what is happening in the unseen spiritual World. Get your eyes off the events around and about and look into Heaven. Read and use the pictures of Heaven, which John has passed on in Revelation. Imagine entering the operations room in Heaven. God operates in the realm of man’s expectation. Expect nothing and that is what happens – nothing. Picture the angels worshipping the Lord and join with them. Prayer begins with adoration and praise and not with “me and my problems.” Actually problems fade away, when man enters into praise of Almighty God and sees His mighty power. It might be helpful to take a trip to the Moon to look down on planet Earth and see it with God’s eyes. Maybe climbing a mountain would be sufficient help. That is where Genesis ch 11 v 5 is helpful. The Lord came down to see what was what was going on in Babel. Exodus ch 3 v 7. ” I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt. And I have come down to deliver them.” Before man can get down to real prayer he has to be in Heaven in the spirit and then come back down to Earth to start the work here. Let the mind of Christ get to work, so that man might catch something of His concerns and then he will know what He wants man to do for Him.

4. The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of men and women. Man must be prepared to let God have His way. If he has a will of his own and simply wants God to bless his plans, he is wasting his time. Man may have thoughts and ideas, which are quite reasonable and not in themselves bad, but he must be open to allow the Lord to change his thinking and plans, so that he is in step with His plans. “Not my will but Thy will be done,” said Jesus. Man may ask only what is revealed within the purposes of God. “I only do what I see my Father doing.” Man may ask for salvation for anyone, because he knows from the Word of God, that He does not want anyone to perish. Man cannot ask for a second wife or to win a lottery. God is opposed to these things. Man cannot ask God to help him pass an exam, if he has not worked hard for it. If he has, then he may ask for help.

5. Thy will be done. This supposes that man is actually prepared to do what the Lord asks him, however difficult. What does God want man to do? It takes time to think and pray it through. Has He made it clear? God called Gideon to fight to set His people free from the Midianites. Gideon knew exactly what the Lord wanted him to do. He gasped at the situation and the orders. He had free choice. Would he serve the Lord or back off? It was his choice.

Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. How does man find the will of God? God plans in Heaven what He wants to do on Earth. Man can bring to pass what He has purposed in Heaven. If God plans to bless a person or a situation, man has to get into line with His purpose and seek to co-operate with His purpose. Gal ch 6 v 10. “How can I co-operate with God to bless everyone I meet this day?” The challenge is – to be filled with the Spirit and overflowing with desire to serve God in all man does, regardless of personal cost. Thy will be done this day, Lord.

6. “Give us this day our daily bread.” For most people that is meaningless. Yet for the majority of people in the World it is very relevant. They live from day to day. John ch 6 v 27 – 40 gives one clue. There is a clue in John ch 4 v 34. “My food is to do the will of God.” Could it mean spiritual food? Man is so much limited by physical needs. Is it that he should be looking to the Lord to see what He wants him to do that day. “Our daily duties?” Prov ch 30 v 8 gives another clue. What can man do for you today, Lord? For so many life is about enjoying self. For others it is about passing the time – not just those in prison.

7. “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” Forgiveness is a real key to a successful prayer life. This is a specific condition. Man cannot ask for forgiveness for his sins, if he holds a grudge against another person. Man cannot afford to be in a state of un-forgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is one of the barriers to healing. It also acts as a barrier to God. By not forgiving, man shuts the door of blessing from God in his own face. Those who do not forgive, demonstrate that they will not show mercy and therefore that they do not want mercy. All want to be forgiven when they do wrong. If man makes a mistake, the most exciting words are: “It does not matter.” It is all summed up in the words – “Do unto others as you want them to do to you.” Does man want to be forgiven? Then forgive. Man can only ask God to forgive his sins, if and when he has forgiven others their sins.

8. Temptation. “Lead us not into temptation.” God does not tempt anyone. James ch 1 v 13-14. Therefore it cannot mean that. What does it mean? “Do not bring us to hard testing.” Temptation is the work of the enemy as he tries to lead man into sin – to do what he knows to be wrong. Since God sent Jesus to die to enable man to stop sinning it is totally out of character for God to tempt man. 2 Thes ch 3 v 3. The Lord will strengthen man and guard him from evil. The Lord will not ask man to do anything, which is too difficult for him to do. It may seem impossible but He will provide the grace to enable man to do it.

9. “Deliver us from evil or the evil one.” John ch 17 v 15. When He prayed to his Father for His Disciples and for believers, Jesus said this to His Father: “I do not pray that you should take them out of the World, but that you should keep them from the evil one.” Evil is not a thing or a state but a person. There is a personal Satan and his demons. They are real and have certain power. Humanism speaks of evil as a consequence of conditions in the World. Solve the problems and evil disappears. This is not so. The enemy has to be resisted. Satan has been allowed by God to have certain power. Levitation enables Satan to move things physically. Satan struck Job with boils. In Luke ch 13 v 10 Jesus cast out a spirit of infirmity from a woman who had been crippled for 18 years. The power of Principalities in a nation can set former friends against one another and cause countless deaths and misery.

Like every other teaching of Jesus it is challenging and upsets a man’s own ideas on what is acceptable to God. Effective prayer involves sincerity – a desire to serve the Lord – a willingness to do His will – and simple belief in God.

Prayer

PRAYER. Exodus ch 17 v 8 – 16. Mat ch 26 v 36 – 46. Luke ch 11 v 1 – 13.

Prayer involves faith. Heb ch 11 v 1. Faith is described as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. If Jesus were to return and live physically on Earth again for 1,000 years, there would be no faith, because He could be seen. Prayer involves faith because man is speaking to the unseen God. There is no point in a man speaking to a person he cannot see, if he does not believe that he exists or even, if he does believe that He exists, if he does not believe that He hears what is said and is prepared to respond to it. If a man does not actually believe that God will act, then he is wasting his time and energy. He might as well just go on being anxious about the situation. Faith and anxiety are opposites. “Do not be anxious” is a command. Being anxious is believing that God is unable to change the situation and is not even interested to do so. If a problem is big enough to worry about, it is big enough to pray about.

Strangely, modern technological development acts against belief in the unseen God in one way and yet helps man to believe in Him in another way. Science is forever trying to explain away the unseen and mysterious in life and casting doubt on belief in God. Yet in two ways scientific advance helps to understand how God operates. It is established by science that, if a man is standing outside reading a newspaper held horizontal to the Earth and a satellite is passing directly overhead, it is possible for a camera attached to the satellite to photograph what is being read, to blow it up and for another human being on the other side of the World to phone up and say what was being read. Previously that would have been considered a miracle or a supernatural event. Now it is a scientific fact. It helps man to realise what the Scriptures teach, that God sees everything man does and indeed even knows every thought, which he has. God is watching man from a distance.

Secondly, the answer phone also helps. The idea that a man can speak into a handset and leave a message thousands of miles away after the tone, which another person can listen to at a later date and to which he can respond, enables the man to realise that God may take the call, as it were, through prayer, not answer immediately but digest the message and at a later date send a reply in some form or another. There is of course no need for God to delay and sometimes He answers immediately, but it gives man a concept of how prayers sent into the operations room in Heaven are mixed with the incense of Jesus as He ever intercedes for man and the result is a reply. Man has faith in the machine that the message will be picked up by the recipient and dealt with by that person.

Is prayer necessary or can man live without actually praying – by just obeying the conscience within him and obeying the Word of God as it has been revealed to him? Prayer denotes the difference between the religious person and the child of God. The religious man of whatever religion, including the Christian religion, is attempting to earn his way to Heaven by his own efforts and on his own terms. He has no assurance that God will respond. The child of God has a relationship with the Lord and, when he prays, he prays believing that God will respond, sooner or later. He also recognises that an answer “No” is as valid as “Yes.” Prayer is bound up with being a man of faith – one who believes in God rather than one who believes about God.

Unlike the religious person, the child of God knows that there is no one place, where God is more available, no one time, when it is more suitable for God – for He neither slumbers nor sleeps – and no one form of words or kind of speech, which needs to be used. Prayer is simply talking to God. Of course, God knows the situation, because He is the all-knowing God. But He longs for His children to share with Him and to identify with Him. God has made that clear from the Scriptures. It is the way in which He has chosen to operate for His own purposes. He invites man to share in and play a part in His vast plan of salvation. For a new believer there is nothing wrong with a written prayer – writing it out beforehand to help to express what he wants to say.

Does God in His Word encourage men to pray? The Bible records many different kinds of prayer by people in very different situations as the following examples demonstrate.

Abraham pleaded for Sodom when he knew God intended to destroy it and asked the Lord a series of questions about its future. He debated with God. Gen ch 18 v 22 -33.

Before he met his brother Esau, Joseph prayed in desperation, holding God to a promise, which God had made to him.

Moses pleaded for the Hebrew people at Mount Sinai, asking God to change His mind concerning the people. Moses knew that they deserved to die for their great sins. Even so, Moses begged God to change His mind concerning them.

Gideon knew what he had to do and was aghast at the awesome situation in which he found himself. He asked for confirmation before he set out on the course of action. Judges ch 6.

Hannah – childless – cried bitterly in her distress, beseeching God for a child. 1 Sam ch 1.
As soon as the child was born, Hannah prayed to God in thanksgiving. 1 Sam ch 2.

Elijah challenged God and called on God to prove Himself before the people. 1 Kings ch 18.

Solomon, when he became King, prayed for a specific gift – that of wisdom. 1 Kings ch 3 v 9.

Ezra prayed and confessed the sins of the people in public. Ezra ch 9.

Job asked God to show him where he had gone wrong.

Habakkuk challenged God to do again what He had done before. Hab ch 3.

Jeremiah expressed to God his disappointment and sense of injustice. Jer ch 20.

Job pleaded his case before the Lord. “What more do you expect of me?” Job ch 13 – 14.

Prayer ought to be specific. Psalm 122 v 6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The specific thing, which God wants Jerusalem to have, is peace – shalom – wholeness – salvation. Jesus often chided the Disciples for not being specific. He often asked the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Be specific. If a man goes to the Doctor and says: “I do no feel very well. Make me better.” what is the doctor supposed to do? Tell the doctor where the pain is. Give him a clue! So it is with God. Often people pray for others, without stating what they want God to do for them. When people say; “I pray for …., is God perhaps asking: “What exactly do you want me to do?” When a lawyer appears in court for an accused and asks the court for leniency, it is quite common for the judge to ask: “What specifically are you asking me to do Mr …?” Tell God specifically. “Heal him. Save him. Chastise him. Give him a wife.” Be specific.

Why is it often difficult to pray?
1. Perhaps because of a wrong understanding. Prayer is a matter of the will and not of the emotions. A man does not pray because he feels like it, but because he will pray. One of the reasons man prays so little is that he relies on his feelings. So when he does not feel like it, he does not pray.

2. It may take time, which man is not prepared to give. If a person consults a solicitor with a complicated problem, it may take as long as an hour to tease out all the irrelevant facts and get to the heart of the matter. It is the same with a complicated medical problem. Why should it take any less time to talk over a problem with the Lord?

3. A man may not be prepared to play his part in the answer. If a man prays for a person in dire financial circumstances, God may ask him to be the first to put his hand in his pocket. There is no point in a man asking God to help someone, if he has the means to do it. Deep down people may be well aware of that and be afraid to pray, because they have counted the cost. Prayer should lead to action. If a man prays for a lonely person, then he should visit the person, if it is possible. Jesus prayed to His Father in Gethsemane. Mat ch 26 v 36 – 46. It cost Him His life. Prayer can very dangerous. Often people are afraid of the answer, which they suspect. They are afraid to ask God to send them into the situation, because that is what they fear He might just do. So they do not ask. That is their privilege. Perhaps the motive is wrong. Does a man really want to serve others or are his prayers self-centred? Is he prepared to do what the Lord asks, regardless of the costs to himself?

4. Any unforgiveness or grudge towards another person will act as a specific blockage. Sin negates the power of prayer. Jonah grudged the Ninevites their salvation. They did not deserve it but God had chosen to be gracious. Is the prayer in line with the heart and mind of God?

5. Unbelief. James ch 1 v 6. Doubts blow a fuse. A double-minded man will not receive anything from the Lord. Praying to God, with anxiety in the heart, will achieve nothing.

6. What a man asks for must be within the character of God. A man cannot expect God to act in response in a way, which is out of character or out-with His declared will.

7. Ask, seek and knock. Luke ch 11 v 1 – 13. This paints a picture of perseverance and determined seeking for an answer. It is not enough to throw up a simple request and walk away before God has time to answer. Wait for the answer. Hab ch 2 v 1.

It is true that private prayer can be a very personal experience and the person who prays is likely to hear the Lord speak into his spirit in a very special way. He may be able to express feelings, which it would not be helpful for others to hear. Nonetheless, what about praying in public? Many find this difficult. Often people by way of excuse try to argue that it is not necessary or helpful. Is it necessary and /or helpful? There are certain benefits.

1. Prayer binds people together with a common purpose or vision. That is true of groups of all kinds. Praying together allows the Holy Spirit to give the people a unity of purpose for a particular person or situation. Acts ch 4 v 31. There was an earthquake after they prayed. The real miracle was that they were of one mind. v 32.

2. Prayer should lead to joint action to do something about the situation. It is a sort of catalyst for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prays through a man and motivates him to do physically on Earth what He wants done. Acts ch 4 v 34 – 35. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

3. Praying together enables people to share their personal concerns for each other. It may release them from a particular pressure, which has been bottled up within them and relieve the tension.

4. If there is an answer to a prayer shared in public, it not only encourages the whole group but it prevents any one person boasting that it was his prayer, which moved God to answer. It avoids pride.

5. It enables man to be specific and articulate the request. It is part of the maturing process. God wants a man to be able to pray for and with others in difficulty. Establishing a regular practice of praying in public helps a man to grow spiritually in this respect. It is a spiritual exercise to build up spiritual strength, just as physical exercise builds up physical strength. It encourages a man to be bold and ask for things, which, on his own, he might hesitate about asking. It also shapes a man to be honest before others. Praying in public weans a man away from the “me oriented” prayers. It takes his mind off himself and his little problems and helps him to forget about himself and focus on wider issues. God the Holy Spirit enlarges man’s mind through public prayer.

It is important to remember that public prayer is not relaxation or meditation but work. It is a business meeting, with an agenda. Just as Jesus said that He must be about His Father’s business, praying together is being about the Father’s business. It is not good enough to sit back and expect God to do everything Himself. He could but this is a family matter, with family concerns. If God, the Holy Spirit is living within a man, then he ought to share some of the burdens of God, the Holy Spirit. Man should spend 5 minutes making up the agenda and then praying for 25 minutes and not spend 25 minutes making up the agenda and praying for 5 minutes. It is important not to let it be an occasion for repetition or telling God what is wrong – He already knows – or preaching mini sermons about what others should be doing. It is a business meeting. Many of the prophets were told quite specifically to write down the answers to their prayers and to tell others. The message might be for a future time. Who is going to take the minutes of the meeting? It is useful to look back and remember occasions, when if God had not spoken, a man might have been in a real difficulty. A man should remember the Lord’s words to him by writing them down.

Praise by one of the group can lift the spirits of the group and encourage others to be more determined to see things happen. Praying in the presence of a more mature believer might lead to a real question of the heart: “Lord, I should like to pray like that person.” In the same way as listening to a great speaker may challenge a person to want to speak with more purpose.

The Scriptures provide man with certain principles concerning prayer. There is no formula given in the Scriptures or set form of words. What can be learned from the Scriptures to help a man in his prayer life?

1. Be honest with God. A man should tell God exactly how he feels. Man is an emotional being and is entitled to have feelings. Many of the prophets expressed themselves very honestly to God. Like Jeremiah, who on one occasion said he wished he had never been born. It was a terrible thing to say but it was the truth because it was just how he felt. It had been eating away at him.

2. If there is any pattern to be found it is this – praise – followed by confession – followed by petitions – followed by the larger problems.

3. Prayer is essential – nothing happens without it. Exodus ch 17 v 8 – 14. God only operates in the realm of a man’s expectation. So if he does not pray, expecting God to do something, nothing will happen. It has been said that prayer is the umbilical chord of the believer. Sever it and the spiritual life dies away. Now Satan knows that and that is why it is one of his chief objectives to prevent a believer praying. He puts up every kind of excuse and delaying tactic to encourage a man to put it off until a later time. Two people need to be in touch with one another or else they will drift apart. So it is with a believer and the Lord. “Abide in me,” simply means – “keep in touch.”

4. There are occasions when God has declared that He has had enough. In Ezekiel’s day the exiles asked Ezekiel to pray for them. God told them he was wasting his time. He, God, had no intention of listening to them after such a long time of neglect by the Jewish people.

5. Man is encouraged to watch and pray. Observe what is going on around and bring the matter to God’s attention. A prophet should have the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.

6. Timing is important to God. Sometimes God delays His answer for a specific purpose. The time is not right, until something else happens. It is rather like a giant railway station – each, train has to be fitted into a timetable. One may be late in arriving, because it is waiting for another to pass through the station first. Be patient and await the timetable of God.

7. Prayer helps keep man in line with the Will of God for his own life if he is available to God.

8. Prayer – speaking to God – trims the trivial out of life. So much is trivial and of no significance. Speaking to the Lord almighty puts a new perspective on life and its problems.

9. Consider how much time is spent watching useless television or chatting to others and how little real prayer to the Lord there is. Perhaps that is why the results are so poor.

10. Prayer is spiritual warfare. Believers are entitled to command an angel to go into battle for a situation or a person in trouble? Eh ch 6 v 12. Man is to be contending with principalities and powers in prayer. v 18. “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

Without prayer the balance of love would swing to evil. Prayer moves the heart of God to pour out His grace. That is why Satan is so active against prayer. Prayer is a spiritual exercise and the battle is very real. As long as Moses prayed, the battle went for the Israelites. But when he stopped praying, the battle swung round to the Amalekites. God hammers out His message on the anvil of history. That is the message of God hammered out on the anvil of the historical battle in the wilderness – nothing happens without prayer.

Maturity

Maturity. Eph ch 4 v 13. Heb ch 6 v 1. 1 Cor ch 14 v 20. Col ch 4 v 12.
Col ch 1 v 28. Heb ch 5 v 14. 1 Cor ch 2 v 6. 1 Cor ch 13 v 11.

Wine matures with age. There is a right time to drink it in order to get the best taste. Fruit matures. The right time to pick it is when it has reached maturity. People also mature. In the eyes of the World people say that John is maturing into a fine young person. Perhaps he has married and has settled down. A person may be holding down a responsible position and showing sings of maturing into a reliable employee. At the same time he may be swearing and living out of wedlock but that does not matter to modern man. That is not a criterion, which is applied by the World. The Christian idea of maturity is based on different principles. What are these principles? How does man recognise that a believer is maturing? Luke ch 2 v 52. Jesus matured in wisdom and in favour with God and men. The comments of others are the best yardstick. 1 Tim ch 3 v 7. A leader must be well thought of by those outside the Church. He must be a godly man or a man of God. Others may not like his message but must respect his integrity. This is vital, since all that a man can take into eternity is his integrity. It is good to have a spiritual check up from time to time. Some may feel challenged to realise how little they have matured and what a long way they have to go. Others may be able to tick off the questions and feel encouraged. Any who look smug and can answer all the questions in the positive have clearly matured – except for an attack of pride. A man should beware that pride blocks the way to understanding the truth and letting him see the effect pride is having on him. Those who have become affected by pride have fallen off the tight rope and better climb back on quickly. Look at some of the guiding principles, which test the maturity or otherwise as believers. Leaders look for it in those whom they appoint to carry out functions within the Church. Members look for it in their leaders. Believers show maturity in the following ways:-

1. When a man’s concern for others outweighs his concern for himself.
Gal ch 6 v 10. Is a man’s life directed by his own thoughts as to his comfort and happiness? Jesus did not come to Earth to make a man happy. He came to make the man holy. He gave man His Holy Spirit – not a Happy Spirit – in order that he might join with Him in the task of defeating the enemy and setting people free.1 John ch 3 v 8. Believers were not chosen for anything of merit in themselves but were commissioned for a purpose. Leaders are not chosen because they are better than anyone else, morally or in ability. Rights as members of God’s family depend on obedience to their Father and their willingness to serve Him. That purpose was to do with helping others. In choosing a career or work, it is best to choose one where a man can be of service to others. Does he think more about the plight of others or is his first and only thought for his own safety and security? God promised to meet a man’s needs and not his wants, provided he puts God’s interests first. Mat ch 6 v 33. There are many things, which a man does not need, although he may think that he needs them. Yesterday’s luxuries soon become today’s necessities.

Jesus advises that, if a man wants to find life, and live it to the full, the first step is to forget about himself. Mat ch 16 v 24-25. This is a key verse for all kinds of situations, e.g. inferiority complex, illness, problems etc. Focus on the interests of God and the other matters fall into insignificance. Every self-centred person is an unhappy person – without exception. A man really does not have much choice in the matter. The reason why people become mentally ill is that they become immersed in themselves. It is the way people become cut off from God and cut off from other people, withdrawing into a small World of their own. Satan became Satan by putting his own interests before those of God. “I’m tired of praising God.” Out! There was no debate or discussion. Jesus said that He saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. It was as fast as that. The believer is a servant – delighted to do the bidding of his Master. Whether being a servant is a matter for shame or pride depends on whose servant a man is. Satan is interested in encouraging man to focus on himself. He knows that the end result will be a self-centred life.

Pressing on to the goal. Phil ch 3 v 14. The first step for a believer is to dethrone “me” from the centre of his life and to replace “me” with Jesus. A new driver takes over the wheel of the car and unusual things happen. It is no longer what “I “ want – but what God wants. Mat ch 16 v 25 is the key to losing one’s self-life. Teenagers tend to be particularly self-centred. It is a time when they want to break free from parental influence and be their own masters. After conversion they can come to appreciate that the restrictions placed on them by their parents were for their good.
A sign of maturity is therefore when a man’s concern for others outweighs his concern for himself.

2. When a man detects the presence of evil or danger before it is obvious.

God chose believers to join the fight against evil – not to be morally good. He meant man to be morally good. The people of the World do not believe in evil spirits. They have been deceived into thinking that they are gods and that they do not have an enemy. They cannot see the dangers of alcohol, drugs, dangerous activities and sexual activity outside of marriage. “It could never happen to me.” This thought permeates the thinking of the people in the World.

The spiritual man is aware of danger, because he knows that he has an enemy who hates him. The enemy used to hate him before he became a believer. Now he hates him all the more. The man of the World sees no danger in alternative medicine. The spiritually aware person knows that there are risks in taking alternative roads to healing. Some work but most, if not all, are based on demonic activities and carry a real risk. Is a man prepared to have healing at any price? Many parents are allowing their children to play with matches, not caring if they get burned. Jesus saw the dangers of Satan. He knew that although Judas was close to Him, the heart of Judas was far from Jesus. Jesus knew that when Peter said that He should not go to Jerusalem, it was Satan speaking through Peter. Peter must have been most surprised when Jesus spoke as He did. When things are abnormal, the mature believer sees the hand of the enemy at work. Just because a person quotes from the Bible it does not mean that he is a believer. Satan quoted the Scriptures to Jesus and he would not wish to be called a follower of Jesus. An interest in spiritual warfare is a sign that a believer is taking meat and is no longer restricted to milk.

Eph ch 6 v 10-20. The purpose of the Church is to enter into spiritual warfare. The World is not aware of its enemy. They have been blinded by the god of this age. Mature believers see the difference between religious activity and the work of the Holy Spirit. In order to be a counsellor it is necessary to spend time studying the Bible. Man will spend time studying anything – gardening – rocks – insects – stamps – but not God. A mature believer wants to study God in order to get to know Him better. It is a sign of maturity that the believer is aware of the Second Coming of Jesus and is preparing for it. He knows the urgency of the days in which he lives.

3. When a man has wisdom and understanding as well as knowledge.

There is a World of difference between knowledge about God and knowing Him personally. The religious man knows a lot about God but pride in that knowledge prevents him from entering into a relationship with the Lord. To know God needs reverence for Him. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. The foolish man follows his own thoughts and instincts. The wise man has sufficient fear of ignoring the Lord to want to follow His Word and trust God for guidance. There are certain things the wise man would not dare do. Proverbs ch 7 warns the young man against keeping company with loose women – and older men too. These loose women could be a snare to him. A man needs knowledge about God but that is only the foundation on which he should build his relationship with Him. Who ever was comfortable living in a house with only foundations and no walls or roof? Add reverence to knowledge – and wisdom is the result. A man’s mind is like a bank vault. He can only take out what he deposits. If he deposits positive encouraging and uplifting thoughts, then he can make a withdrawal and it will be worthwhile. If one man wants to borrow money from another, he wants to know that the other man has money in his bank account. If one man needs advice he wants to know what mature advice that man has stored up for his benefit. Sadly mostly the World deposits little of value and when the difficult times come, they have nothing at the credit of their account on which to withdraw. They encourage their children to make up their own minds when they are old enough. Some children never reach that age. Many believers end up in a mess, morally, financially or spiritually, which should have been avoided with wisdom – by distancing themselves from the ways of the World. Solomon had plenty wisdom but lost it as a result of sin.

4. When a man has more than high ideals but also the discipline to carry them out.
That word “discipline” keeps arising. All the real followers of Jesus were disciples. It was not a case that there were followers and that some were really keen and became disciples. Jesus warns believers that only those who persevere to the end shall be saved. Many people have lofty ideals. They are very sincere. Many listened to Jesus – and still do – and realise that this is someone different, but they lack the discipline to do anything about it. That is why Jesus spoke about true followers being doers of His word and not just hearers.

It is not enough to hear or read or admire or discuss the Words of Jesus. A man has to do them in the form of obedience. That involves commitment regardless of the consequences. Ignoring the pressures of the World to conform to the standards of the World a man has to press on to the goal of being like Jesus by doing the things He did. Gal ch 5 v 23. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control – making time for the Word of God when other temptations beckon. It involves the necessity to say: “No” to self. When the old self life says: “Would it not be good to do this or watch that or go there,” the new man within says: “I shall deny myself on this occasion and do what I know Jesus is calling me to do.” That is why Jesus taught his Disciples when they prayed to start off with “Thy will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Success in life is being obedient to the call of God on a man’s life, even when there seems to be no result on the horizon. That is a sign of maturity. Some believers never take a stand against the leadership of the Church, where it is in error. It is too serious to keep quiet. Others will be misled. There is a time to stand up and be counted.

5. When a man’s emotions are tempered by responsibility and thoroughness.

Man is an emotional being. When he is insulted, he hurts emotionally. When people criticise him, especially unfairly, he hurts. People are genuinely offended, when others make defamatory remarks about them. But a believer should have learned from the Scriptures that it is not what happens to a man, which is important, but how he responds to it. A man is not responsible for the events, which overtake him in life, but he is responsible for the way in which he responds. A man is not responsible for his face for the first forty years but after that he is responsible for the lines and scowls, which indicate what is going on within his personality. C. S. Lewis says “you do not really know a man, until you stand on his toes. One man will apologise for having his foot in the road and another will kick you in the shins.” Many friendly people become quite hostile, when they cannot have their own way. “Road rage” is the new name for utter selfishness, brought to the boil by frustration at delays on the road – when drivers cannot get their own way. How does a man respond when circumstances seem to conspire against him? A man’s disappointments are God’s appointments. The Most High rules in the Kingdom of men. God will have the last word, both in World history and in the destiny of every man. Neither angels nor men shall be able to thwart His purposes. Those who fail to get the house they are after are genuinely disappointed but usually end up with a better house. In the long run they are glad they failed to get the first house but at the time it was a real disappointment. Believers should understand that the Lord holds their future in His hands and if they do not get what they want, He may well have something better in store. As Father, God is personally responsible for the wellbeing of His children. God is in control and His children do not need to let their disappointments destroy their joy. Paul says to rejoice in every circumstance. 1 Thes ch 5 v 18. Peter advises man to welcome trials and difficulties. 1 Peter ch 1 v 6. Why? Because a man needs them in order to forge his character. The people of the World have a nasty expletive when a disappointment or trial rears its head. It is a sign of maturity that a man pauses and recognises that this disappointment or difficulty has been allowed by the Lord to further His purpose for the life of that man.

Consider just how disappointed the Lord must have been when Satan rebelled and a good number of the angels created by God out of nothing rebelled with Satan. God could have destroyed Satan and the rebel angels there and then. The thoughts of God can be imagined, when He realised that He could use the situation to His advantage. He allowed Satan some measure of power to challenge human beings and use their response to forge their characters.
2 Cor ch 12 v 7. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a demonic spirit, which saved him from pride. Those who are single minded for the Lord will use every set back to grow spiritually.

Often other believers will not support one of their brothers. If God says to do a certain thing, others may not see it that way. Only Daniel saw Jesus. Dan ch 10 v 7. The others, who were with him, did not see Jesus. This makes it hard to go on. Believers should encourage others to go on, when they have had a word from the Lord. Sometimes jealousy rises up in their heart? Others will never understand fully where a believer stands with the Lord. But God does.

6. When a man’s awareness of needs is matched by his compassion and involvement.

Jesus was full of compassion. He could see beyond what people deserved. He saw that they had been blinded by the Devil and He determined to set them free. That involved Him in a battle with the Devil and his minions. Many of the people for whom Jesus was filled with compassion were more than just indifferent to Him. Some were actually hostile towards Him. Jesus knew the meaning of the phrase – “You never touch the ocean of God’s love so much as when you love your enemies.” When man can see past what people deserve – to see people with God’s eyes, he is beginning to demonstrate a degree of maturity. He is beginning to understand that the Gospel is not about justice but about mercy and he is learning to show mercy to others, quite regardless of their deserts, because God has shown mercy to him – a sinner. “It is not sacrifice I demand but mercy.” If a man demands justice, Hell is his reward. If mercy is what he requests, Heaven awaits him.

It is hard to give to those who humanly speaking do not deserve help – to help those who wasted all their money and will probably do so again. To do good to enemies, when there are decent people in need, if it means restricting resources only to the enemies. If God asks a man to help, then it is worthwhile, regardless of the results. Who is man to disobey God’s command? The woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well both received compassion from Jesus. God is the God of the second, third or fourth opportunity. There is a difference between a servant and a fool. A servant does what the master tells him to do. A fool does what everyone else tells him to do.

7. When a man not only understands a task but also has the fortitude to stay at it until it is done.

So often a man gives up on prayer. Who said that it would be easy? It is a real sign of immaturity and a lack of understanding, when a person finds it hard. Jesus warns man very clearly about counting the cost before he sets out on a task. If a man accepts Israel as “you and me on a national scale,” consider how Israel went into the Promised Land. Did they walk in and settle down on nodding acquaintance with the neighbours? Not at all! They fought their way in – inch by inch. As soon as they set foot on the land west of the Jordan the five local kings ganged up on the Israelites to wage war on them. Joshua ch 10 v 5. So it has been from that day to the present day when the Arab nations rage against the Lord’s people – Israel – determined to exterminate them and wipe the name Israel off the atlas. If a man is going to be a soldier in Christ’s army he should not be surprised if he is shot at, criticised, humiliated and placed in some terrifying circumstances. There will be times when he will stand utterly alone, deserted by family and friends. It was that way for Jesus and it will be that way for those who truly serve the Lord. Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem. He knew what lay ahead. Jesus warns His would-be followers to count the cost. Luke ch 14 v 27-33. A building partially completed is no use. Neither is a defeated army. Jesus warns against looking foolish. The mature one recognises that that is where he is at and will sit and talk it over with the Lord. He will not buckle under pressure to give up. He may hear the Devil whisper the words into his mind: “That is the last time I bother. It is not worth it” and he will answer back: “Not true. It is worth it.”

“I’ll never do that again.” When a great deal of effort is met with little response, it is natural to give up. But if the effort was as a result of faith – only faith pleases God – then it was worthwhile. Eph ch 3 v 10. Man never knows who is watching, even if there is no result. There are principalities watching, even if no human being seems to care.

8. When a man has a willingness to change, once he is convinced that correction is necessary.

If a man is honest, he does not like change in his life. There is a certain degree of change which is acceptable but beyond that the stress factor gets too high and burn out starts to manifest itself in lives. A man needs time to adapt to new circumstances. He certainly needs space to cope with persecution, whether it is bullying, domination, infirmity or oppression. Jesus says that man is blessed when people persecute him. Really? Does a man really believe that? Whatever it is that is holding a man back from growing, he has to identify it and then be willing to give it up. Some sins have a strong grip – confess the sins to another and it unleashes the power to break it. The Word of God says so. Jas ch 5 v 16. This is not just the sin a man has against another believer but any sin. How badly does he want rid of it and how badly does he want to grow as a believer?

Perhaps God is shaking a man to let go of the sin. He must first be willing and then God Himself will supply the power. If a man takes just one step God takes the other ninety nine steps. If a man recognises that what he is doing is displeasing to the Lord, in the secret recesses of his heart, he must decide to let it go. God will not force him. He may shake the man to pieces but that is as far as He will go. Love and force are opposites. When the Bible refers to a “fool” it is not referring to a stupid person or one lacking in intelligence but to one who will not understand what God is saying to him. He is perfectly able to understand with his mind but will not pay attention to what God is saying. God says that He will personally deal with anyone who will not heed the messages of Jesus to the World. Deut ch 18 v 19.

So many arguments amongst believers are because believers have had false teaching and will not lose face and admit that they are wrong. The denominations are a disgrace to the Lord and present a bad image to the World. “If they cannot agree amongst themselves, why should we believe any of the message?”

9. When a man has the ability to grow spiritually by an intake of God’s Word.

The ability to work without supervision. Does a man need to be chased up to read the Bible and apply it to his life or does he want to be spoon-fed? School should prepare the students to be ready for University, where the tutors expect the students to work for themselves and they do not have time to spoon feed them. Employers advertise “able to work without supervision.” If a man believes that God has spoken to him through His word, he cannot prove it and may not find anyone agreeing with him. The enemy will be quick to discourage him, if it is truly of God. There are things a man must do and obedience to the Word of God, regardless of the consequences, all of which are not evident at the time, is one of these things. Heb ch 6 v 1-2. It may be time for meat and not milk. Grow up. Do not wait for others. 1 Tim ch 3 v 1. “Anyone who aspires to be a leader.” A leader is not appointed by men but by God, who recognises the degree of maturity. Many run away from the hard teachings of Jesus. Verily, verily. Grasp them and work them out. They are also true. God can operate through one man – Moses – Gideon – Paul. He never uses a committee. When a man decides to follow the Lord although no one else will go with him, it is a sign of maturity.

10. When a man is able to forgive others and not want to get even with others.

Genesis ch 4 v 24. Lamech threatened vengeance against Cain. “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord. The offence is against God as much as against the individual. So far as the believer is concerned, people can no longer throw stones at Jesus, so they throw them at His Disciples.

Sometimes it is difficult to see why people are so hostile to believers, without any apparent reason. Perhaps it is some remark they have made, which has touched their conscience and hatred has reared up within them. The Gospel is a message of forgiveness. “Whilst we were yet His enemies, Christ died for us.” Micah ch 7 v 18. Jonah ch 4 v 2. Jesus did not threaten to get even.
1 Pet ch 2 v 23. How often should man forgive? Seventy times seven. “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke ch 27 v 34. When a man is unjustly criticised or defamed, when lies are told about him, when gossip runs him down, when it is hard to cope with relatives, it helps to realise that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. People can be used by Satan to get at a man and to destroy his character. If he loses self-control and responds in anger, he loses his integrity in the eyes of others. In such times maturity enables a man to cope. God wants His children to display something of His gracious forgiveness to others. If a man makes a mistake, he wants to be forgiven e. g. running his car into someone else’s car. The words, which the man wants to hear, are: “I forgive you.” The heart of the Gospel is to do unto others as a man wants them to do to him. Luke ch 11 v 4. The measure by which a man will be forgiven is determined by the extent to which he forgives others. The word for sin is the same as the word for debt in Aramaic. A man cannot ask God for forgiveness for his sins, if he will not forgive others. Mat ch 6 v 14-15. Eph ch 4 v 32. Luke ch 7 v 36-50. The one who has been forgiven much knows what the mercy of God really means. There is awareness that he deserved nothing but condemnation.

Maturity is the ability to do a job, whether supervised or not; the ability to finish the job once started; the ability to carry money without spending it; the ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even. Each believer ought to ask himself if he is showing signs of maturity. Jesus is coming back for His bride – the Church. No man wants to marry an immature bride. Jesus is looking for mature believers to assist Him in running the Universe.

Marriage

MARRIAGE.
Marriage was ordained by God. Gen ch 2 v 18. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a companion for him.” The woman was also to be a helper to man. Ch 1 v 28. “Multiply and fill the Earth.” In these two verses are the declared purposes of God for marriage.
1. Companionship. 2. Procreation. 3. The secure environment for the raising of children. One man and one woman for life is the plan of God for marriage. Mat ch 19 v 3 – 9.
There are several aspects to marriage.
1. The physical. There ought to be a physical attraction. Arranged marriages omit this aspect. The physical attraction may not last the length of the marriage but must be there at some time.
2. The emotional aspect. Men and women are emotional beings. It is helpful if the parties are emotionally compatible. Some are highly strung. This puts an added strain on the marriage. Not only do women talk more than men, but they are more emotional beings than men. They also have different thought patterns. They are not inferior – just different. Women experience a greater range of emotions than men. Highs and lows follow one another quickly, while the man is on more of an even keel. One minute the woman is up tight and the next she is quite down. The man does not understand the reason for the sudden change. There may not be a reason to find.
3. The social aspect. This includes the racial aspect. The best person to marry is the girl next door. The more differences there are in social standing, the greater the tension on the marriage. These tensions can be increased, if the marriage is between people of different races. The couple may have no problem marrying someone they love, regardless of colour or nationality, but the families and friends might have prejudicies of their own. The children of mixed marriages have problems of their own, not usually with other children but with adults.
4. The financial aspect. If there are great differences in the wealth of the two families, it will put an added strain on the marriage. The parents of a wealthy bride might well be suspicious of the intentions of her husband. The same could be said the other way round.
5. The intellectual aspect. The more the couple have in common in intellectual interest as well as intelligence the better.
6. The age aspect. Couples whose ages differ greatly have added problems. Interests vary with age. An older man and a younger woman will have different interests. If one is much older, it increases the likelihood of the younger one being left a widow or widower. Marriage is for companionship. Death brings companionship to an end.
7. The sexual aspect. Some partners are sexually incompatible. One may have a strong sexual drive and another a weak drive. The woman may have no desire for sexual contact after the completion of the family, seeing her sexual function as at an end. The man may have strong sexual desire and find it unfulfilled by his partner. It is essential that this aspect of marriage be discussed before marriage. The sexual act is like oil to a working part. It eases the tension between the couple and re-affirms that they belong to each other. A marriage without sexual participation is like a house with woodworm. It gradually eats away at the foundation of the relationship. 1 Cor ch 7 v 5. “Do not refuse one another except by agreement for a while.” Satan can get a foothold and tempt the willing partner to look for satisfaction with another.
8. The spiritual aspect. The Bible makes it clear that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. The two will pull in opposite directions.
9. A common vision regarding life together. How many children do they want? Do they both want to work full time? Is the husband the head of the family?
These are all practical matters which need not be too important in themselves but which have a place in the difficulties of married couples. These cannot be ignored because marriages are ongoing. If the parties are not compatible on most of these aspects there will be greater strain on the marriage.
Just as salvation is a process of moving from one degree of glory to another, so marriage is a process. It is not so much as having been married – past tense – but being married – present tense continuing. Those who persevere to the end shall be saved. Those who continue to work out their marriage shall remain married. God put the strongest injunction against the termination of marriage. Mark ch 10 v 9. “Let no man break asunder what God has joined together.” Malachi ch v 2 v 16. “I hate divorce.”
Breaking the commitment of one man to one woman is like breaking the oath of one man or woman to the Lord. Marriage is a symbol of the permanent relationship between man and God – between Christ and the Church. Life is not about acquiring possessions and status but is all about relationships. The relationship between man and God and between man and man and man and woman. Even Jesus needed human company. A man is only as rich as his relationships. Marriages do not usually collapse overnight. They become bankrupt gradually, because they lack deposits of love, communication and purpose.
A man may have a garden, but it will not be a garden for long, unless he looks after it, by weeding it, fertilising it and tending to the plants. So it is with marriage. It is necessary to grow a healthy marriage. This is a positive doing word, which means action. Marriage does not grow by itself without attention. Satan as the enemy of mankind is interested in destroying marriages. If he can destroy the marriages in a nation, he can destroy the nation. Marriage is the cradle of family life and family life is the building block of society. Even when sin ruined the life of people in the World and God started again, He built His Kingdom on family life. Believers call themselves brothers and sisters and the principles, which are applicable for a good human family life, also apply equally to a good spiritual family life. Satan is as interested in destroying God’s new spiritual family life as he is in destroying normal human family life.
The fundamental principles of family life?
1. It should be centred on Christ. “Do not be yoked with unbelievers.” A marriage between an unbeliever and a believer is flawed from the start. There is built in tension, which will usually destroy it, unless the unbeliever is converted or the believer falls away and loses his love for the Lord. Scripture warns man not to give the Devil a foothold. A flawed marriage is a large foothold. Never rule out grace. God may be gracious and allow the unconverted partner to be converted. There are added problems and tensions about the training of the children of mixed marriages.
2. Couples who pray together, stay together. This is good advice. By praying together couples open their hearts to God and to one another. In real prayer there should be no pretence. Then a degree of spiritual bonding takes place.
3. Communication between the parties. Men and women are different in more than physical ways. They have different emotional needs. Simply stated the woman talks more than the man does. A wife can be frustrated, if her husband does not wish to talk when she does. The inability of husbands to reveal their feelings to their wives is one of the common complaints of women. There is a paradox. Often a highly emotional verbal woman is drawn to the strong, silent type. It is essential to make time for meaningful conversations. One of the difficulties faced by single people is that of taking decisions. Many people consult professional people for guidance. Really they know what they should do but lack confidence. They use the professional as a sounding board to confirm what they have already decided they want to do. The professional may feel embarrassed about charging, since he has not really done anything other than confirm what had already been decided. That is one of the areas of difficulty for the surviving spouse. Women must realise that some men cannot be what they want them to be. They are used to forging the characters of their children and try to do the same to the husband. He does not want to change, he may not see any need to change and he may not have the capacity to change.
4. Married people need other people to fulfil all their needs in life. Seldom does one human being satisfy the longing and hope in the breast of another. Several people may bring a person into the fullness of life. A woman needs a female friend to share with. Her husband is not usually enough. Without the additional support, loneliness and low self-esteem can choke the marriage to death. Not realising this can put pressure on a woman to look for another man who will give her what her husband cannot give. This is especially true where husbands are forced to work away from home for a while due to pressures of economic well-being or being away on military service. There is a danger in the two being so together that there are no other meaningful relationships for either of them. As a result, if one dies, the other has no one with whom there can be a meaningful relationship. A good marriage is not one where perfection reigns. It is a relationship where a healthy perspective overlooks a multitude of situations, which cannot be resolved.
5. There is a need to be open to be corrected. Proverbs ch 15 v 31. “God has not finished with me yet.” No man or woman is perfect. It is essential to listen and to learn from mistakes. “We never have failures – only learning experiences.” Instead of a man stating what he believes, he should learn to express himself in this way: ” This is how I see it and the reasons why I see it this way.” That leaves room for discussion and the possibility that a compromise can be reached. Some people have mouths in motion before their minds are in gear. It is essential to think before speaking. Women tend to speak as they think, while men generally think and then sometimes speak. Blaming others usually stems from a low self-image. Man feels that he must win in order to establish his worth. Sometimes he transfers his guilt onto others to avoid facing up to his responsibilities.
6. Without a vision the people perish. Proverbs 29 v 18. This simple Biblical principle applies to every aspect of life. It is essential that the couple share a similar vision for their marriage. For example do they both want children? Do they both agree that the wife should go out to work? What direction should their Christian service take?
7. What if couples do not work at their marriage? Isolation is when somebody excludes a man. When a person is excluded, he experiences a feeling of distance. A lack of closeness and little real intimacy. Each marriage naturally moves towards a state of isolation, because of the fallen nature of mankind. Everything moves from order to disorder. Unless a couple lovingly and energetically nurture the marriage, it will begin to drift apart. God may allow a storm in life to clear away the deadwood so that new life can grow. But He is in favour of marriage. It was His idea.
8. The Church has been reluctant to talk about sexual matters – everybody else does. As a result the Church has left this area to others, like doctors and social workers, who probably have views different from the Bible. God created the sexual act and He has a lot to say about it. Man cannot afford to regard the matter as unmentionable. The sexual drive is a powerful force within a human being. It must be under the control of the Holy Spirit to be effective. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control – the ability of a man to say “No” to himself or to his fallen nature. When the Holy Spirit is not in control, the drive belt is out of control and is under the control of man’s fallen bodily desires. Unregenerate man is driving his body like a car without brakes and cannot control his sexual urges. Satan looks for fertile ground to divert the sexual drive away from the married partner. Marriage is under attack all over the World. In many countries it is aids, which is destroying so many marriages. In Western society feminism is being used. Watch out for television brainwashing the people who watch it too much.
9. Where two people have sexual intercourse out-with marriage God looks upon that as a union. 1 Cor ch 6 v 16. There was no clergyman when Adam and Eve married in the sight of God. Evidence or witnesses are a part of protecting the social order. Such a union must be broken by repentance and prayer. If not, the soul tie between the parties will be used to undermine the subsequent marriage. It operates in the form of fear, guilt and suspicion. This should be done before the marriage. If not, it should be done as soon as the parties are aware of the necessity for doing it. If a man has had a sexual relationship before marriage, he should deal with the situation as soon as possible. He should repent and confess it and God will break the bond with the other party. It is simple – but difficult. It is essential, or else the couple have a potentially fatal flaw within the marriage.
10. Welcome trials and difficulties. 1 Pet ch 1 v 7. Families fail to respond positively to difficulties in two ways. Firstly, they fail to anticipate the difficulties. Somehow they think that they should not happen to them and they become resentful. Secondly, when troubles strike many do not know how to respond. It is how man responds to events in life, which determines his character. Some couples have no conception of life together beyond romance. God allows difficulties in order to forge character. All man can take into eternity is his integrity or character. 1 Thes ch 5 v 18 says; “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Faith is the refusal to panic. Faith needs a crisis to walk on. God is in total control of everything, which happens to a believer. He is personally responsible for each person as His child. His ultimate purpose for the life of His children is their holiness. He will use any situation to achieve that objective.
11. The Biblical term “one flesh” refers to the mystical bond of friendship, commitment and understanding, which almost defies explanation. It occurs when two people are married and are fused into a separate single unit. The key to a healthy marriage is for the parties to keep their eyes open wide before they are married and half-closed thereafter.
12. Distancing from parents. A frequent source of conflict is the continuation of parental dependency on one or both partners. There can only be one head of a household. In marrying a woman leaves the protection of her father as head of his household and comes under the protection of her husband. The father must therefore relinquish his role as head of the house so far as his daughter is concerned. That is why he gives her away to the protection of her husband. Eph ch 5 v 22 – 25. Parental overprotection can be a marriage killer, if not recognised and handled properly. Mothers likewise have been in the habit of arranging the life of their children for as long as they have been alive. It is essential that the role of the mother must change. Mother-in-law jokes are well founded.
How to nurture the relationship.
1. Spoil each other.
2. Express appreciation. “Thank you” is important. “It means a lot to me.”
3. Know when to apologise. The one who makes the move to apologise after a row shows the greater maturity and love.
4. Make time for each other. Marriage is a worthwhile investment.
5. Develop a sense of humour. Laughter is good for a man physically. It releases endorfins, which the body holds as pain-killers. It makes a man feel good.
6. Gifts matter. They speak in body language about being worth something special.
The 5 basic needs of men are
1. Sexual fulfilment.
2. Recreational companionship.
3. An attractive spouse.
4. Domestic support.
5. Admiration.
The 5 basic needs of women are
1. Affection.
2. Conversation.
3. Honesty and openness. Intuition tells her when it is not open.
4. Financial support.
5. Family commitment.
MAINTAINING MORAL PURITY.
1 Thes ch 4 v 3-7. “God wants you to be pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin. For God has not called us to be dirty-minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.”
Steps to be taken to stay pure in a polluted World.
1. Make a commitment to God’s standards. Ps 119 v 9. “How can a person keep his way pure? By living it according to your Word.”
Sex is a gift from God, brilliantly designed but it should be operated only within the restrictions of the maker’s recommendations. Like any gift, it is successful only if correctly used. Man has to agree with God with what He says about it. After agreeing with God, man should draw the line and agree that he will not cross it. Others will then know where he stands and peer pressure will be less likely to blow him off course. Nail the colours to the mast by taking a stand in public. The man will know where he is and others will know also.
2. Manage the mind. Pr ch 4 v 23. “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
A man allows the enemy to infiltrate his mind with thoughts and fantasies. Gen ch 6 v 5. “The thoughts and imaginations were evil continuously.” With any behaviour it is necessary to say: “Do not do that – do this instead.” “Fix your minds on what is good and worthy.” Prov ch 23 v 19. “Keep your mind on what is right.” Keep the mind on track. Immorality is a process. It does not just happen. Man chooses to let it happen.
How does immorality happen?
(a) By accepting sinful thoughts in the mind. The battle starts in the mind. What a man feeds into the mind will come out in due course in actions.
(b) A man can become emotionally involved with another person, who shows sympathy and interest in his situation. He can develop an emotional affair just by talking to another person.
(c) Fantasies can infiltrate the mind to meet a man’s basic needs to be loved, to achieve and to belong.
(d) Physical involvement. There is power in an adulterous association. Sin is powerful. It is not easy to say: “I’ll just do it once.” All sinful areas have power from evil spirits.
(e) The mind soon tries to justify the decision to commit adultery. The World endorses the decision and confirms that it was the right thing to do.
2 Tim ch 2 v 22. “Turn your back on lustful thoughts and give your positive attention to goodness, integrity, love and peace.”
3. Monitor the media intake.
Pr 15 v 14. “The fool feeds on trash.”
Ps 119 v 37. “Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.”
Ps 101 v 3. “I will refuse to look at anything vile or vulgar.”
A man becomes dirty, if he wallows in dirt. His mind will become dirty, if he feeds it on trash and immoral thoughts. Television is the most powerful instrument to alter behaviour.
4. Minimise the opportunity for temptation.
1 Cor ch 10 v 12. “Be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that – let this be a warning to you.’ For you, too, may fall into sin.”
1 Cor ch 15 v 33. “Bad companions ruin good character.”
Eph ch 5 v 3. “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality.”
Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife and fled immorality. No one is beyond temptation. It could happen to anyone. Most affairs are between friends. Are a man’s friends as committed to their marriage as he is to his own? There are real dangers in an office situation, where everyone looks smart.
Do not listen to the relational problems of another person. Do not go fishing for compliments. Men – watch what you say to women.
5. Maintain the marriage.
Ecc ch 9 v 9. “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.”
1 Cor ch 7 v 3-5. “A husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. Do not cheat each other of normal sexual relations or you will expose yourselves to the obvious temptation of Satan.”
6. Magnify the consequences. Think it through.
Pr ch 6 v 32. “Anyone who commits adultery does not have any sense. He is just destroying himself.”
Pr ch 6 v 26. “Immorality may cost you your life.”
Heb ch 13 v 4. “God will judge the sexually immoral.”
A man should realise just how serious it will be, if he falls to temptation. There are consequences for himself, his spouse, his family and the Lord. 2 Sam ch 13 v 15. He may well come to hate the one with whom he had sexual relations. It is common to transfer guilt to another person.
7. The path back to purity.
1. Repent. It is wrong. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. Ps 51 v 1-10.
2. Confess the sin and receive forgiveness. Resist or confess are the only two choices. Ps 32 v 1-5.
3. Refocus and replace. Rom ch 13 v 13-14.
4. Request help daily. 1 Cor ch 10 v 13. Bad habits are difficult to give up. Sinful ones are even harder.
It is important to grow a marriage, since marriage is a process. It is essential not to be apart for too long and especially during the first two years of marriage in order to cement the relationship.
8. If you want a healthy body you have to guard against disease. If you want a healthy marriage, you have to guard against certain marriage killers.
1. A man should not permit the possibility of divorce to enter into his thinking. It may have happened to others in the family but it WILL not happen to him. Divorce is no solution. Man cannot avoid the consequence of divorce. There is no other fact than to regard it as a failure. Watch for Satan’s whispers and doubts. “Does she really love you?” “What was she doing so long in town?” “If it happened to him, it could happen to you.” Recognise the wiles of the enemy as he sows doubts in the mind.
2. Beware of over commitment and physical exhaustion. The Devil is smart. He attacks a man most effectively when he is tired.
3. Excessive credit can put a strain on the finances of the marriage. This is a concentrated attack on all people and especially families. When people fail to discipline their desires, they place unbearable demands on a marriage. The god of materialism creeps up on a couple. It puts pressure on the principle of tithing. Some are so much in debt that they cannot afford to tithe, and therefore lose all the blessings of obedience to the Word of God in this respect. A heart, which finds it hard to accept its position in life, is easily in the hands of the powers of darkness. Advertising is designed to lower the resistance of people and encourages them to buy what they desire rather than what they need. Mat ch 6 v 33. God will meet man’s needs and not his desires. A vast sum of money is spent by businessmen on advertising. It works, or else they would not do it. Coveting has a lot of nasty friends – envy, jealousy, lust and greed. It produces a craving for things, which are even harmful for man.
4. Interference from in-laws. Gen ch 2 v 24. A man shall leave his parents and be joined to his wife in such a way that the two become one flesh.
5. Unrealistic expectations. Bring the expectations of both parties into reality. The truth is seeing things as they really are. Do not expect too much of the other spouse. God is not finished with either party yet. Give the Lord an opportunity to finish the task.
6. Alcohol can be a killer both financially and socially.
7. Pornography, gambling or other addictions have as their objective isolation. They isolate the party from his spouse. They bring about dishonesty and secrecy.
8. Business failure or success. Proverbs ch 30 v 8. “Give me neither poverty or riches.” A man is always in danger of being married to his job and not his wife. Workaholics are a threat to a healthy marriage. That also applies to wives. It not only affects the marriage and the time spent together. It affects physical health. The idolatry of work must be seen for what it is – a sustained attack on the family.
9. Getting married too young or to a person much older or younger – or a foreigner. This puts an added strain on the relationship. There are enough strains in being married and adjusting to one another as it is.
10. Paying attention to the ways of the World. The Biblical basis for marriage is being attacked on all sides. Feminism is rampant. The ability of the wife to earn more than the husband and the pressure on the wife to put the children to a baby-minder in order to carry on working, puts pressure on the Biblical roles of man and woman. There is even talk in Britain of 10 year contracts of marriage – like a business partnership.
11. Listening to the Devil and his “if only”. There are disappointments in life. The media give the impression that everything should go well. Holiness is not one of their goals. Too many people are dissatisfied with where they are in life, because they do not like the path they took to get there. Often the path to the present was not of their choosing. Saul, when confronted by Goliath said: “This is not a situation of my choosing nor to my liking.” Sometimes man fails to meet the expectations of others and feels pressured to meet these expectations. Man’s disappointments are God’s appointments. It is essential to ensure that man’s disappointments do not deflect him from his goal in life of doing the will of God for his life. Contentment is hard to find in this World. If man puts God first, He will give man his needs and not his necessities. Matthew ch 6 v 33.
12. A good diet is essential. If man persists in eating a poor diet, his body will function poorly and deteriorate. It is better for a woman to feed her husband than to rush off to the Church meeting.
If a man wants a useful task in this World, he should choose to get married. Success in this area of life serves the God who designed marriage for mankind.
Marriage in Genesis. True humanity needs fellowship with another human being. There are no soloists. When God created Eve, He was involved with cloning and genetic engineering. Every cell has a taped message for the whole body. God could have produced a clone, altered a little by genetic engineering. He took a cell from Adam and adjusted the chromosomes and created woman. Adam came round and burst into song. With Mary God took the female ovum and adjusted the chromosomes to make a male child. It is not difficult for the original scientist. There are pointers in Genesis. (beginnings)
1. Sex is good. The parties were meant to enjoy it.
2. Sex is for partnership mainly and for parenthood.
3. Man is incomplete. He needs another half.
4. Man was prior to but not superior to woman.
5. Monogamy is the pattern for life – not polygamy- either at one time or serial – one after another.
6. There is a call to leave parents. The break up of one unit to form another.
7. Man cleaves to his wife.
8. Marriage takes precedence over all other relationships.
9. Divorce is out. Jesus quoted Genesis chapter 2.
10. The husband is the leader. There is no democracy. Man gave the woman her name.
11. The primary function of the wife is to help the husband.
12. There should be nothing hidden from each other. That allows the enemy to gain a foothold. They were naked and had nothing to hide.
Marriage needs to be understood before divorce is discussed. Marriage is not a commodity to be set aside at will. Anybody who seeks to destroy the link turns deliberately against God. Each person must recognise that to have any part in causing the break-up of a marriage, whether their own or somebody else’s, is to spoil deliberately God’s own handiwork. The Bible starts with marriage between Adam and Eve and ends with the marriage of the bride with the Lamb. Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding, as if to emphasise the importance of marriage.
Marriage gives stability. It is an asset to society when so much is unstable. It is God’s ideal. Gen ch 2 v 24. Mark ch 10 v 9. Romans ch 7 v 2. Mal ch 2 v 16. Mat ch 19 v 8. Mat ch 19 v 9. 1 Cor ch 7 v 12, 13 and 15.Easy divorce is a temptation to avoid facing responsibilities. Marriage should be for life. There are times when in sin the situation is so bad that Jesus allowed an exception when sexual unfaithfulness was involved. But it is the only concession.

Leadership in the church

LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH.

 

There are four aspects to keep in mind when considering this topic. 1. The necessity for leadership.

The purpose of leadership. 3. The requirements of leadership. 4. The dangers for leaders.

If a man is filling in an application form there might be several questions asked. 1. “Why do you want the job?” 2. “What qualifications do you think you have for the job” 3. “Are you prepared to work alongside others, who may be quite different from you in a team leadership?” 4. “Are you totally committed to the job?” These are relevant questions in an application for leadership in the Church.

 

Jesus washed the feet of the Disciples. It was the ultimate example to show them. In Israel when guests visited another home they had to pass through streets covered with camel and donkey dung. It was the job of the lowest servant to wash the feet of the guests when they arrived. It was smelly and disgusting. The equivalent today might be to clean out a badly blocked toilet. The house where the Last Supper was held was hired for the occasion and there was no servant in the house to perform this task. Jesus undertook the task and set the example for Church leaders to be willing to do the dirtiest task. Yet despite that there was an argument amongst the Disciples as to who should be the greatest. Luke ch 22 v 24-27. After three years of teaching they had not grasped the point. The leader is to be the servant. This goes against the whole teaching of the World in which man lives. If a leader is not prepared to accept this fact from the teaching of Jesus he is unlikely to succeed as a leader.

 

In the World political leaders, who in their private lives, cannot keep their wives faithful or their children free from drugs are expected to find solutions to the most complex international problems.

 

1. Every group of people needs a leader. The Church as a group of people needs leaders. God does not necessarily overturn the natural order of things. When sin ruined the human race, God created a new Heavenly family. He still used the family as His building block of social order. A group of believers also needs leaders. But the Church is special. God has said that it needs leaders in the plural. Paul went about setting up Churches and he appointed leaders or elders. There are advantages in having two or more leaders. If one falls into sin, the other or others can continue. The one in sin would have to stand down but that would not mean a defeat for the Church. Also leaders are able to share and carry one another’s burdens and weaknesses. It is inconceivable that any one person would have all the gifts of leadership. God shares them out. In any battle situation the leader is the vulnerable one. If the enemy can defeat the leader, he will have a big advantage in the battle. It is the same thing in spiritual warfare. Church leaders need prayer. They are especially vulnerable. A bus needs a driver. There is no point in passengers getting on board, if there is no driver. The genius of leadership is to bring the best out of all the people, who are being led and to lead them in the right direction.

 

2. The Church. J.I. Packer: “The Church is a divinely created fellowship of sinners who trust a common Saviour and are one with each other, because they are one with Him in a union realised by the Holy Spirit.” It is vital for leaders to know what they are called to lead. The word “Ecclesia “ means called out by God to be a holy nation before Him.

 

3. How does a person become a leader? 1 Tim ch 3 v 1. He is not appointed by men but responds to an aspiration within his spirit, put there by the Holy Spirit. In 1 Tim and Titus Paul spells out the requirements for a leader. If it is a true aspiration of the Holy Spirit, then there should be no selfish motive in the aspiration. It is God who anoints the person for leadership. If a person is not anointed for leadership he should get out of the road. God may well have other purposes for the person. Status seekers keep out! In African culture the Chief is respected and there is a danger of the pastor seeking to fulfil the role of chief in the Church. “It is not so with you!“ Luke ch 22 v 26. A Church leader holds the eternal destiny of the members in his hands. It is an awesome responsibility.

 

4. Vision. Without a vision the people perish. Proverbs ch 29 v 18. Many Churches do not hold people

together because they do not know where they are going. It does not matter too much what the vision

is as long as there is an objective to which all agree. Those who join should know the vision and know where the leadership is going. “This is our vision. Join us if you agree with it.” So many join a Church and have no idea where the leadership is going. Then they find that what they would like to do is not within the purposes of the Church. Frustration results and people move from Church to Church. A new member should be told what the vision is. If he does not agree with it, it is better that he goes to another Church than that he stirs up trouble in the one where he disagrees with the vision.

 

5. Businesses have a business plan. When Jesus was only 12, He said that He must be about His Father’s business. At the age of 12 a Jewish boy went into partnership with his father. God – not Joseph – was the real Father of Jesus. What is the Father’s business? Jesus said that He would build His Church. What are the purposes of the Church? John ch 17. An Earthly business will pass away but a spiritual business will last forever and in the process believers are laying up treasures in Heaven. All the different aspects are held together under the framework of a business. A bus needs a destination or else it becomes a mystery trip. A vision is a word from the Lord, which is designed to hold the people together.

 

6. There is a strange balance to be struck. Jesus said: “I shall build my Church.” Contrast with the statement – “the Church is the number one obstacle to personal faith in Christ.” When the institutional Church gains the upper hand, the Lord is squeezed out. That is a difficult balance to maintain. Wisdom is required. It is a personal relationship between the individual and the Lord. The Church must never get in the way. Only faith pleases the Lord. “Do not neglect to meet together.” Heb ch 10 v 25.

 

7. The purpose of the leadership is to build up the body to the point when they can say: “We do not require you to lead us any more. We have grown up and can manage without you. The Lord has a new task for you.” The leaders should have in mind the need to train and build up the members so that they grow into maturity, leading them to enjoy meat and no longer milk. The danger is for the leader to hold on to his position of security and the salary for fear of losing it and being no longer required. That involves faith that the Lord has another job waiting for him. Only faith pleases God.

 

8. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of man.

Daniel was given the privilege of seeing visions of the World to come. There would be 4 empires. The Babylon Empire – the Empire of the Medes and Persians – the Greek Empire – the Romans Empire. All four still exist. Babylon – a military Empire. Persia – Iran. Religious empire – built on oil wealth. Greeks – Humanism. Roman – Economic.

 

God would establish His Kingdom. Ch 2 v 44. Man has to step out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Light. God wants to run a Kingdom and needs taxes to make it work. The Scriptures call them tithes. It is not in the same way as the World taxes. It is a tenth for everyone. The more believers give the better job God can make of His Kingdom. It is not just a token but is very practical approach. The Church needs teachers, pastors, evangelists, carers etc. It is a test of the commitment of the believers to the Lord.

 

This Kingdom will last forever. It will be in force alongside the other empires. The trouble is that believers are members of two Kingdoms in that they have to render their taxes to the rulers of their land and a tenth to the work of the Lord. It is the responsibility of the leaders to administer the funds and to take the instructions from the Lord as to how He wants the funds distributed.

 

The task of being a Church leader is a huge responsibility. Moses was one of the great leaders in the Scriptures and in history. He did not enter the Promised Land. Why not? Numbers ch 20 v 10. He misrepresented God to the people. He told a lie and involved God in that lie. That was a serious sin. It is an awesome responsibility to be a leader of God’s people. The leadership is responsible for the picture of Jesus, which emerges to the World at large. Jonah ch 1 v 12. “The World is in a crisis and I am responsible.” This is a key verse. The World is in a mess and God holds the Church responsible. The World does not know how to get out of the mess because it does not recognise that the mess is caused by sin. It is a privilege to be a member of the family of God but it is also a responsibility.

 

Should a leader be full time or part time? Dangers of being full time are that others expect too much and themselves do too little. A leader should set targets and deadlines so as not to fall into lethargy. Life is not just one day at a time. Jesus showed what a schedule was like. He was busy about His Father’s business. Yet Jesus never lost sight of the day in Jerusalem when He would lay down His life. That in itself did not take His mind off the duties and tasks of each day.

 

Vision. John ch 17. 12 purposes. Hold onto your vision. A Church without a vision is like a bus, which never leaves the bus station.

 

1. To worship – to give God His worth.

2. To keep God’s Word and fight for the truth. To be upholders of the truth. Teaching and learning.

3. To honour and raise the name of Jesus.

4. To love one another in fellowship.

5. To establish the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in the hearts of men.

6. To make Disciples. All believers are disciples – not the really keen.

7. To do the things Jesus did – dispensers of grace by caring for others. Jesus was full of grace and truth.

8. To be a moral light to the World. Salt and light.

9. To have fellowship with the Father.

10. To build up the body.

11. To do the will of God. What does God want the Church to do? Find out!

12. Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. The body of Christ is to finish the task. Ephesians ch 6 teaches about the spiritual warfare of the Church.

 

In His wisdom God has set out the requirements for being a Church leader. To ignore these is asking for trouble. If a man aspires to being a leader, he is inspired by God and is not appointed by men. He must want it and be prepared for opposition from the enemy, who will not be pleased. A leader cannot afford to be too nice. He must be prepared to discipline and if necessary put a member out of the Church in exceptional circumstances. He needs confirmation of the appointment from the Lord by a Word from the Lord. A leader is likely to be under the most severe attack. Enemy strategy is to get the leader out of the way and the group will falter. That is why Paul appointed leaders in the plural. This provided company in the physical sense and moral direction and accountability for each of them. It provided spiritual cover. It spread the attack from the enemy – not just one to pick off. There are leaders in every walk of life. When the leader falls, the whole group suffers from a lack of credibility. It is essential for a leader to think through the consequences of his actions and how they will affect others.

 

It is essential to recognise the sources of division in the Church.

(a) Water baptism – infant or adult?

(b) Gifts of the Spirit – are they for the present age or not?

(c) Tongues – are they biblical or demonic?

(d) The role of Israel today. It is a special burden for some members but not all members. The

Church is not the new Israel. Is present day Israel a fulfilment of prophecy or a political accident?

(e) Rapture. Is there to be a secret rapture before Jesus returns or is the rapture at His coming?

(f) Baptism of the Spirit. The difference between baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit.

Is there a second experience of the Holy Spirit or do all believers receive the Spirit at conversion?

 

Feed my sheep. John ch 21 v 15-22. Mark ch 14 v 29. Jesus was testing Peter. Peter had made big claims and denied Jesus. Was he ready for total commitment now? Is the leader totally committed? He is no use to the Lord, if he is not. Never mind anyone else. Each must do as the Lord leads him. Each one is unique. “Be yourself.” If it takes seven years to train a doctor or dentist, who is entrusted with physical life, how long ought it to take to train a person entrusted with eternal life? Should someone entrusted with spiritual – eternal life be less well trained? A Church leader has the eternal destiny of people in his hands. Scripture warns against a new Christian being a leader. Sometimes it is necessary, because there is no one else, but it is a dangerous business. There is so much trouble if the Scriptures are wrongly interpreted. Schisms are the history of the Church. It should not be, if the Holy Spirit is there to lead man into all truth. Even senior scholars disagree on basic doctrine. What chance do new believers have? There are 3 danger areas set out in Deut ch 17 v 14-20.

1. Love of money. With money comes power and independence from God.

2. Sexual attraction. There is a danger of seduction and pride.

3. Pressure to conform to the ways of the World. Marrying unbelievers. Burying unbelievers. Seeking a respectable position in public life. Single-mindedness is essential. Only a regular study of the Word of God will keep a leader in that situation, or else he will be drawn back into the ways of the World.

Solomon proved the dangers. Here again shared leadership will share the knowledge of Scriptures.

 

Leadership is functional and not a question of status. Leadership means leading in a direction. Jesus entrusted His Church to twelve Disciples. It was a risky business for God. Ezekiel ch 34. God had some harsh words to say to the leaders of Israel. They were not looking after the people. v 11. God would come Himself to do the task.

 

In His wisdom God has set out His requirements for a Church leader. The Bible sets out the basic qualifications in Titus and 1 Tim ch 3. To ignore these is asking for trouble. Anyone who aspires to be a leader desires a noble task. 1 Tim ch 3 v 1.

 

1. Male. Plural. (Titus ch 1 v 5) Strength in numbers. One is less likely to go off course, if he has colleagues alongside. God established a male-oriented society in Judaism. It was His purpose to do so. Feminism is a new phenomenon. All the patriarchs were male. All the prophets were male. All the Disciples were male. They were chosen by Jesus. All the principal people in the Old Testament were male. One is less likely to fall away, if he is supported by others. A leader is likely to be under the most severe attack. The enemy strategy is always to put the leader out of the way and then the group will falter. That is why Paul appointed leaders in the plural. If one is away or incapacitated for one reason or another, then the other leader or leaders will be in control. This applies in particular to teaching. False teaching is the chief line of attack by the enemy against believers. Consider the damage, which has been caused to the Church by false teaching. The leader must be prepared to work alongside others, who may be quite different from him in a team leadership situation. Deborah was the only female leader. Was this because there were no men suitable at the time? The word “elder” means a Church leader. The word is always used in the plural.

 

2. No adultery. This is acceptable to the World but not to God. Only one wife – ever. No polygamy or serial polygamy – several wives – one after another.

 

3. A sober, self-controlled life. Not addicted to drink or temper. Drink liberates the tongue and loose talk follows. People speak more freely under the influence of alcohol. Secret confidences may well get out under drink.

 

4. Without fault. Humility is an essential quality. Solomon realised what an awesome task it was to lead his people.

 

5. Above reproach. It is essential that the leader is respected by people outside of the Church and is above reproach. The press are without mercy, if they can expose any immorality in a public figure. The whole Church is affected if a leader is guilty of immorality. Few men have been able to ask: “Of what sin do you convict me?” There are private sins as well as public sins.

 

5. Not quarrelsome. Are members ashamed of their leader? If so, he ought to stand down.

 

6. Prepared to welcome strangers into his home. It is basic that the basic human needs are met.

 

7. Able to teach. False teaching is so dangerous. A new convert still has so much to learn. A leader must have a reasonable knowledge of the Scriptures. If not, false teaching will come in. Paul warned Timothy about doctrines of demons and division amongst believers. This is one reason why the Scriptures teach leaders in the plural. The leader must be able to defend the Word of God. There is a time to tell the lambs to grow up and start being sheep and stop looking for their weekly bottle of milk. Heb ch 6. Milk or meat? What is the regular diet at the Church? Are they being taught the whole counsel of God? Some Churches have a simple Gospel service and never teach matters of relevance to the everyday life of the members. Are the people growing and showing signs of maturity? Does the leader know the normal process of Christian growth and the many obstacles to growth?

 

8. Not a lover of money. A leader must be able to handle money. Some think that it is very worldly to discuss money. The Kingdom of God needs taxes to develop.

 

9. Mature – not a recent convert. A priest had to be 30 before he could practise as a priest. Ezekiel was 30 when he began his priesthood. Then the Temple was destroyed. Jesus was 30 when as the High Priest He began to teach. Immaturity and inexperience lead to mistakes, which while made in all sincerity can be costly. A leader must have proved himself in previous service and have experience of spiritual warfare. The enemy uses wiles and will attack the achiles heel of a leader.

 

10. The children of a leader must be a credit to him. His children should be believers or at least respected by others as under the control of their father. If he cannot control his own children, he loses the respect of the World to speak on moral matters.

 

11. The leader has a responsibility to protect the members from attack by Satan.

 

12. The leader must have a passion for the task. He may have to take risks and be able to explain his vision and purpose to the members. There is a need to deal with specific demonic activity, division, gossip and criticism. The leader must be able to keep a secret and a confidence.

 

13. The leader must be someone who can be trusted to stand in the face of difficulties. The leader must be aware of the dangers of the job? The leaders are the most likely to be under the most severe attack.

 

14. If anyone aspires to be a Church leader. He must want it and be prepared for opposition from the enemy, who will not be pleased. A leader cannot afford to be too nice. He must be prepared to discipline and if necessary put a member out of the Church in exceptional circumstances. He needs confirmation of the appointment from the Lord by a Word from the Lord.

 

15. The leader must have an understanding of the basic needs of the members of the Church? Jesus always made time for the most important matters and people – such as Bartimaeus.

 

16. Whenever Jesus taught, He healed the people who came to Him. The leader must be open to the gifts of the Spirit.

 

Deacons.

1. Able to speak boldly about his faith.

2. Full of the spirit and wisdom.

3. Of good repute.

4. Only one wife – ever.

5. He should be blameless.

6. His wife must not be a gossip.

7. Tested first, before ordination.

8. No women to have authority over men.

9. Sincere and not greedy for gain.

10. Able to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

11. Able to manage his children and household well.

12. Not addicted to much wine.

13. Serious and not double-tongued.

Deacons are trained for promotion as people are in the workplace in the World. However not all deacons are anointed as leaders. There is no automatic promotion.

1 Cor ch 2 v 1-5. Isaiah ch 60 v 1.

 

Pitfalls for a leader. 1 Tim ch 3 v 1-7. Titus ch 1 v 5-9.

1. Isolation. 2 better than one. 3 stranded chord.

2. Pride. The only disease, which makes everyone sick, except the one who has it.

3. Gifts are functional and not conditional.

4. A leader should know his limitations. People will respect him, if he admits that he has never met this situation before. Prov ch 18 v 16. He should not try to do more than he is capable of. It is important to learn to say “No.” It is a rule that if a man wants something done in a Church he asks the busy people. But it is easy to become too busy. Burn out is a real problem. Exhaustion can happen easily. When a leader pastors others with problems, it is inevitable that he will take on part of their problem. If not, he is not much good as a pastor. But he cannot afford to take on all the burdens. Moses learned to delegate. Jethro – a non-believer – gave him that advice. Do not despise the advice of non-believers. It may be part of the common grace of God.

5. Do not try to copy others. God will give a leader his own gift and his own personality. A man can only speak from his own experience and not from the experiences of others.

6. Sexual temptation. Jesus has to be Lord in the secret places. Finance and sexuality are the two most powerful temptations and forces for evil. 2 Sam ch 11. David was in the wrong place. Be in the right place at the right time. It is often a lonely position to be a leader. This is why there should be plural leaders. There is a danger of seduction and pride.

7. The leader should keep the vision clearly before him.

8. The leader should lead with confidence. Phil ch 2 v 3 – 11. Servants lead the people as a shepherd leads the flock. Shepherds in the Middle East led the sheep from the front and did not drive them from the rear. Some may well hold back and decide not to follow. The leader cannot always be going slowly to help the slowest or else the others lose heart. Often the leaders are so involved with the weakest sheep that the strong ones lose heart. They long to go on but are held back until the weakest ones catch up.

9. The leader should not try to do more than he is capable of doing.

10. Press on to the goal.

 

Purposes of leadership.

1. To train others to lead.

2. Multiply – 60 is a good optimum number.

3. Find natural and supernatural gifts and use them for the benefit of all the members.

4. Worship should be meaningful for all and involve others.

5. Teach the members at different levels.

6. Avoid an institution and make time for personal intimacy with Jesus.

7. Care. Is there a programme of care for others?

8. Joyful place. Serious business but also a place for joy to attract others who lack joy in their lives.

9. Defeat Satan. Military attack. Is there a planned offensive? There may be casualties.

10. Involved with people at work – that is where the cutting edge is. The world is not at the services of believers but they are watching individual believers at work to see how they cope with the pressures of work and difficult situations. The Hebrew word for “work” and the Hebrew word for “worship“ is the same word.

11. Outreach – to develop gift of evangelism.

12. Prayer meeting to build up others in their prayer life.

13. Family life is under attack. Defend it.

14. Healing – physical, emotional and spiritual.

15. Encourage growth

16. Encourage faith.

17. Discipline. May need to exclude others for serious sin.

18. Meet personal needs – to be loved – to belong – to achieve.

19. If there is a prophecy – write it down to remember it.

20. Team ministry is essential to avoid burnout and ensure enthusiasm.

 

It is essential for the leaders to keep the vision for the Church and their purposes in front of them and to have regular check ups to see what is being neglected and why people are no longer actively involved. It is easy for Satan to deflect the leadership unless this is done. “This is not the Church I joined.”

 

There is an atmosphere against leadership. A leader should document his experiences to pass onto others. Isaiah ch 58 v 6. The leaders must break the bonds and lift the oppression. There are certain spiritual powers are arrayed against the Church and opposed to the spread of the Word of God. The enemy holds back the growth of a Church in a box. When the Church is in unity there is a blessing from God. 2 Sam ch 18 – 26. Enquire of the Lord what the problem is. If the leader does not feel like it, he should do it and go aggressively against the spirits – taking the opposite spirit. Fight apathy with action. Use an opposite spirit. If the enemy says: “Don’t do it.” then do it twice as long. Use a contrary spirit. Overcome meanness by giving. Overcome apathy by enthusiasm and action. The way to fight hate, is to show love. It is time to embarrass the Devil. If believers are not in the battle, they might as well be out of it.

 

The mind may speak negatively. Do not be ruled by the mind but by the Spirit. Do not rely on the same strategy each time. Wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Do not react but respond. The spirits are stirred up when they are exposed. Obedience is paramount to victory. It may involve a new strategy. The challenge is to let the oppressed go free and undo heavy burdens. 2 Sam ch 5 v 18. Steps to be taken to make a break through. The enemy seeks to bring a depression on a leader.

 

Continual pounding of the enemy in prayer is essential or there will be no angelic support. The angels go to work when the saints pray. Take territory back. It is God’s World and He wants it back. Warfare is deadly. Spiritual and physical death is a possibility at any time. The enemy has been let loose and is making a last ditch stand. Victory has been won. This is the mopping up operation. All power is given to the followers of Jesus. It is time to embarrass the enemy. Leaders need to live lives, which are transparent. The Church grows as a result of persecution. Move with the Spirit. Jesus said: “I only do what I see my Father doing.” Dan ch 10 v 13. The angel took thirteen days to get through to Daniel because of opposition. Be persistent. Psalm 18 v 37. Pursue the enemies until they are destroyed. Psalm 18 v 44-46. David did that until the enemies were crushed. This is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. Enemies tremble. Ezekiel ch 18 v 30. Repentance. Leaders have allowed into the Churches things, which should not be there. New believers bring in their own pagan ideas. The Jewish Church lost its Jewish roots when the Gentile believers joined.

 

Wake up. If there is no battle – start one. How can victory be won, if the leaders are not engaged in a battle? Walk in total honesty. Angels are there to help them, if believers call on them. Angels are there to minister salvation. Heb ch 1 v 14. There is more about angels than demons in the Bible. Make decisions. The demons delight, if leaders discuss and never reach a decision. The message should have the thumbprint of God on it – “it is just for you, and you know it.”

 

Identify the power by its symptoms. 1 Kings. ch 19. Demonic powers have no gender. The Jezebel spirit is not restricted to women. There was also an intimidating spirit in Jezebel. Do not be intimidated by the spirit. Enjoy trouble. It is a battle. 1 Kings ch 19 v 3. The Jezebel spirit opposed Elijah. Fear comes upon man. Elijah ran for his life. Leaders ought to offend people than God. The Jezebel spirit drove Elijah to isolation and he wished he was dead. “I’ve had it. Never again.” “Arise and eat,” was what the angel told him. Arise and feed on the Word of God. He obeyed and went on. John the Baptist in prison fell to the wiles of a Jezebel spirit, when he spoke against Herod. Then he lost his confidence in Jesus. Come into the presence of God every day. Leaders need to grow up and not let the enemy hold them back.

 

When a leader feels the controlling power on him, he should praise God. An intimidating spirit tries to have the leader stop speaking. Well-intentioned dragons hide in the seats and murmur against him. Stir it up so that it will manifest itself and then it can be dealt with. Bring the enemy out into the open. Love trouble and bring it out. This was followed by a death threat. “The Church is not like it used to be.” This is a death threat. Do not allow roast preacher for lunch. This was followed by fear. It is better to fear people than the living God. The spirit will drive a leader to isolation and discouragement. The one-man ministry is especially vulnerable to this kind of attack. It may even lead to a feeling of suicide.

 

Tell the Church – Stop acting like a baby and grow up. Some believers who are twenty year old still need their nappies changed. The milk is too hot or too cold. “I haven’t been well.” It is time to grow up. Others are so mature that they have died. They have retired as believers and are still learning the same old things again and again, always waiting for the new ones to catch up. It is time they restarted or dropped dead. Older people have so much wisdom to share with young people. They should be at a youth meeting to impart it to the young ones. It is a sin to separate the young believers from the older ones. It is good for both to share. Age is only relative. The young think that the old are old. The old do not think that they are old. In terms of eternity all are only babies.

 

Mat ch 11 v 1-6. John in prison was oppressed by the spirit of Jezebel and needed to hear again about Jesus. Attack the stronghold and kick some doors down. The physical battle in scripture is a picture of the spiritual battle. Everything, which happens in the physical, seen World is a manifestation of what is happening in the spiritual, unseen World. Moses prayed and the battle raged backwards and forwards. The people pledged their loyalty to help David be king. Isaiah ch 54 v 1. Victory comes at the height of the battle. David’s zeal for God overcame the giant Goliath. He stood against intimidation. Stop being so nice. 2 Sam ch 16. Turn up the heat. It is only when the heat is turned up that the rubbish is seen coming to the surface where it can be skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Deborah. Judges ch 5 v 6 and v 18. A leader should encourage himself and make sure that the gift of God is not going mouldy.

 

The enemy attack is in stages. Phase A.

1. He questions. Did God really say that?

2. He tells half-truths and coloured stories.

3. He spreads twisted and unclear communications.

4. He spreads confusion and uncertainty.

5. There are rising insecurities. Fear. Depression. Despair. Desperation.

Phase B.

6. He tells lies.

7. He makes accusations.
8. He suggests a refocusing of the vision.
9. He claims a loss of the vision.

10. He claims uncertainty regarding the future.

11. He says that the Church is collapsing.

Phase C.

12. Women lose confidence in their husbands, in their leadership, in the home and in the Church.

13. Gossip starts.

14. There is separation of friends.

15. There is condemnation of the new things.

16. There is condemnation of the old things.

17. Whatever was done was wrong.

18. Collapse of the Church – “you have no future.”

 

Avoid those who cause division and have no fellowship with them. Only Samson, Saul and Solomon did not have a wilderness experience before they started. Wilderness is a place a believer passes through on the way to achievement. Welcome the opportunity to spend time with the Lord, knowing that He is preparing the believer for the next mission. A believer cannot grasp what God has for him, if his hands are full of other things. Is he hanging on to his own preconceived ideas of God? Ph ch 3 v 7. The members must support the leadership and trust that God will direct them. Believers spend half their ammunition on one another. They are the only people who shoot their wounded.

 

Isaiah ch 6. Isaiah said: “Woe to them” until he had a vision of the Lord and then he said: “Woe is me.” Leaders must stop criticising others. Spectators always become critics. Get into the action and find out that it is hard. God wants to know what leaders have done with what He entrusted to them. How hungry is the leader for God? How much time does he spend in the presence of God? He has no right to challenge people unless he prays for them.

 

Signs and wonders will follow those who follow Jesus. Faith is spelt “RISK.” Those who are depressed are probably depressed as a result of disobedience. There is no point in waiting for God to do something. He has done it all. He has given man everything He has to give – Heaven itself – His own Holy Spirit. The word “witness” means martyr. Believers should be obsessed with Jesus and addicted to Him. They cannot live without Him. Dead people do not have any rights. They are servants. Life and death is in the power of the tongue.

 

Acts ch 6. Religious spirits will dispute with those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. They knew it was God. Pride would not let them admit it. There is unity in division and unbelief. The ecumenical movement will be unified against faith. The people murmured against the leadership of Moses. There are too many nice people. Be different from the World.

 

What guidance is found in the Scriptures?

1. Intimacy with the Lord. Prayer. God does not always use the same strategy. There are intricate spiritual powers. God will tell believers how to attack them. Listen to the movement of God. Do not react to a problem in the natural but respond to a problem.

2. Obedience is paramount to victory. God gave David a new strategy each time.

3. God is looking for people of purity. There is nothing the enemy can do to a person who is walking in the light. The enemy can only go as far as God allows him. The Church grows when there is persecution. The enemy does not like it. Keep in step with the Holy Spirit and join in with Him. Joshua ch 2 v 7.

4. Repentance. Ezekiel ch 18 v 30. Leaders have allowed things into the nation and Church, which should not have allowed. A word of prophecy, which is not of God, may be a spirit of divination. Do not accept such prophecies. Put them out of the building. Love a good fight. Welcome trials and difficulties. 1 Pet ch 1 v 6. They are allowed to forge the character of the believers.

5. Walk in total honesty. Satan is alive but not well. Do not colour the truth.

6. Make decisions. The enemy hates leaders who make decisions. It is easy to talk and not decide. Leaders should hold onto the decisions once made and should not lightly reconsider them. There may be a curse placed on the life of a leader by a false prophet. Look for the thumbprint of God on a prophecy. A thumbprint is the inclusion of something only known personally to the person and God. No one else could have known about it, so it must come from God.

7. Do not be afraid of discipline. Have nothing to do with the false prophet. The false prophecy is designed to stop leaders going on. Do not listen and cower before them.

8. Be in constant fellowship with Jesus.

9. Pray against the enemy in a united group. Do not allow a breaking of the ranks. Break out of apathy into growth. Travail in birth for the new believers. Isaiah ch 54. The enemy will hold back the new births. Break his power to do this.