The Unexpected Path to Superpower

The Unexpected Path to Superpower

Handling the Keys of the Kingdom

by Chris Tiegreen

I can still remember my “season of discovery”—that time after someone becomes a Christian when everything is new, the whole Bible comes alive and waits to be explored, and every truth becomes deeply personal. (Not that those seasons have to fade, but they seem especially intense in the first few months of faith.) And I can still remember the thoughts that went through my mind when I read that I had authority over snakes, scorpions, and every power of the enemy (Luke 10:19); that as an abider in Christ, I could ask whatever I wish and it would be done for me (John 15:7); and that I have the power to move mountains with my words (Mark 11:23). I felt like a spiritual Superman.

Experience God’s power through prayer in your church or your small group. Learn how to cultivate a powerful prayer life and experience breakthroughs with 40 DAYS OF PRAYER – see more 

I tried out that authority, a few well-chosen prayers, and some choice words for the mountains in my life. Nothing. Well, nothing visible and immediate. Apparently there was more to being a spiritual Superman than putting on the cape of a few isolated verses.
I now understand these truths a little better than I used to. I realize how foolish it was to try out my newfound authority in Christ before trying out my newfound character, values, and priorities in Christ. Clearly, the kingdom agenda and abiding in Him involve a maturing process. Few of us receive the keys of the kingdom, stick them into God’s ignition switch, and immediately go for a spin on the highway. We need a little driver’s training first. We need to understand that we don’t grab for the perks of the gospel we most desire while ignoring the responsibilities that come with it. It’s a whole Person who lives inside of us, not just a power supply.

There was more to being a spiritual Superman than putting on the cape of a few isolated verses.

But I still wonder sometimes, in light of the extravagant promises of God, why divine power isn’t just oozing from my pores because of the Christ who lives within me. I’ve gotten clear glimpses of that power, of course—answered prayers, words that really did move mountains, and the unraveling of the enemy’s strategies. But I’ve also experienced painful contradictions to those truths. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced both extremes of that spectrum too. Undeniable miracles, irreconcilable contradictions. A clear “yes” right next to an apparent “no.” And a whole lot of theological gymnastics to try to explain the difference.

Experience God’s power through prayer in your church or your small group. Learn how to cultivate a powerful prayer life and experience breakthroughs with 40 DAYS OF PRAYER – see more 

The Fork in the Road
I’ve noticed two reactions—both in myself and in others—to the juxtaposition of those extremes. Some people are drawn to God in it, and others are driven away. Some see the “not yet” of promise and pursue Him more zealously and intentionally, while others see the “not yet,” ask a demanding “why not?” and throw up their hands and walk away. This dynamic of partial fulfillment is really a very accurate tester of faith. It reveals a lot about a person’s heart.

Those who press through the questions and even the doubts will discover an encouraging trend. When we grow in God’s presence—when we live as though we are thoroughly and constantly aware of Him—we find that healing flows from our prayers and our hands in increasing measure; that our vision of eternal truths and purposes comes to the screen of our minds much more often; and that the treasure within us burns brighter than all the circumstances around us.

This dynamic of partial fulfillment reveals a lot about a person’s heart.

In the process, we find that brokenness of the vessel reveals the glory inside it (2 Corinthians 4:7); that submission leads to authority (Mark 10:43-44); and that the deepest truths are the simplest (Luke 10:21). It’s an unexpected path to superpower, and it requires the eyes of the kingdom to see the way. But it’s an assured path for those who follow it in faith. Those who come to this fork in the road of faith and choose to pursue the promises will find them wholly true.

A Matter of Presence
Live with the awareness that Jesus is not only with you, He’s in you. Most Christians heartily affirm that great truth and then live each passing moment as though it isn’t true. The fact of Jesus’ presence then takes on all the power of an encouraging pat on the back rather than a living reality. That’s sad—and so much less than God intended.

The only way to experience His presence as a living reality is to talk to Him as though He’s in the room, make decisions as though He’s in your mind, let your feelings blend with His so that your heart coincides with the divine heartbeat, and remind yourself—constantly remind yourself—that He is really, truly, effectively there. As your awareness grows, your experience deepens; as your experience deepens, your inner life is gradually but radically transformed until you are shaped to be like Him; as your life is transformed, the power of the promises becomes more tangible; and as the power becomes more tangible, the outflow increases and bears more fruit.

That’s when authority can be wielded with a sense of maturity, that’s when answered prayers become an observable phenomenon, and that’s when mountains move. When the true spiritual Superman rises in our hearts, the unexpected power changes lives. Especially our own.

Experience God’s power through prayer in your church or your small group. Learn how to cultivate a powerful prayer life and experience breakthroughs with 40 DAYS OF PRAYER – see more 

Leaving a Godly Legacy

Leaving a Godly Legacy

A good workman knows that it takes time to build a home that will last for decades. He skillfully lays the groundwork and refuses to cut corners as he pieces together a solid frame. In the same way, we need to build a spiritual foundation in the next generation.

In Psalm 127, God’s Word gives us three word pictures that help us know how to build families that have a heart for God. We are to be workmen, watchmen, and warriors. The goal of all three of these roles is that we will leave a legacy of godliness to our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.

The first word picture is in Psalm 127:1: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We see here the image of a workman, someone who is building a house.

I once had the privilege of building a home. I knew nothing about building so I contracted a local builder. He came highly recommended, and he turned out to be a wonderful builder, a perfectionist who took everything seriously and saw with his experienced eyes things that I couldn’t see.

In Psalm 127, God’s Word gives us three word pictures that help us know how to build families that have a heart for God. We are to be workmen, watchmen, and warriors.

Some phases went by quickly, with progress almost hour-by-hour, and certainly day-by-day. More tedious parts of the process were much less exciting, but the builder knew that even these slow parts were important.

It was exciting to stand back at the end of the process, to look at this beautiful home that God had provided with the help of so many capable workmen, and say, “Mission accomplished!” Now that home is a place where I can live, and where others can be ministered to and blessed.

As we read Psalm 127, we realize that the “workman” in view is not simply building a physical house. He’s building a home, a heritage—a godly family line that will take the heart and ways and faith of God into the next generation. That kind of building is more demanding, exacting and, sometimes, exasperating than building a physical house.

There’s so much more at stake, and we can’t afford to not do well. We want to build lives, homes, churches, and a culture that will reflect God’s glory long after we are gone. We want to leave behind a model of godliness that people will choose to embrace in the next generation.

We want to build lives, homes, churches, and a culture that will reflect God’s glory long after we are gone.

Watchmen and Warriors
There’s another word picture used in this passage—that of a watchman. The Scripture says, “Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (v. 1).

We have here a picture of a sentinel or guard, someone who’s been assigned and has accepted the responsibility of standing guard over a city. He can’t go to sleep on his shift; he’s got to stay alert and awake. He needs discernment to recognize when an enemy is coming.

We have been given the assignment of being protectors, looking out over the city that God has entrusted to us.

The third picture in this passage is of a warrior: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth” (v. 4). The picture here is of a battlefield, and our sons and daughters are ammunition. They are arrows in battle, and God intends that we release and send them out into the culture.

Those arrows have to be prepared—carefully shaped and formed. They have to be shot in the right direction, toward the appropriate target. Our effectiveness as warriors, in many senses, determines the effectiveness of those arrows. If they’re not shaped correctly, or if they’re sent in the wrong direction, they’re not going to fulfill their purpose.

The psalmist tells us that there’s a house to be built, a city to be guarded, and a battle to be fought. If the workman cuts corners, if the watchman falls asleep or gets distracted while he’s on his shift, or if the warrior fails to show up for battle, we’re going to have problems. Lives can actually be endangered. These are strategic, vital roles.

When you think about your family, it’s not just a matter of “Will my kids make it?” or “Will we have a good family?” or “Will we have an intact home?” There’s a much bigger picture here.

The purpose of God for our families, homes, and relationships is that, through our little part of building, we are contributing to a much larger building of the kingdom of God. It’s through this means that we leave a legacy of godliness for the next generation.

Building His Kingdom
God is building His kingdom, and we are workmen with Him; we are watchmen with Him; we are warriors with Him. The purpose of God for our families, homes, and relationships is that, through our little part of building, we are contributing to a much larger building of the kingdom of God. It’s through this means that we leave a legacy of godliness for the next generation. If you lose sight of that vision, you’re going to get weary in well-doing. Lift your eyes upward and say, “What’s the bigger picture here? What is God up to?”

Our children are a sacred stewardship from the Lord. One day we will give account to God for the spiritual condition of the next generation. That does not diminish their responsibility, but we, as adult believers, will one day stand before God and give account for how we built, watched over the city, and fought the battle on behalf of the next generation.

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by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Adapted from the series “Leaving a Godly Legacy” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. © Revive Our Hearts. www.ReviveOurHearts.com. Used with permission. 

God Himself: Our Source of Hope

God Himself: Our Source of Hope

Experiencing God in the Midst of Fear
by Chip Ingram

God Himself: Our Source of Hope
(Psalm 46:1-3) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

The psalmist is very clear right from the start: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” To underscore this fact, the psalmist talks about the destruction of the two most stable and seemingly indestructible things he can think of. Even if, he proposes, the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea and are swallowed up, we will have no reason to fear because God will be with us.

God Wants to Be Your Refuge Today
God is a refuge, a place of protection from external threats, a place we can run to, shut the door, and know we’ll be okay. He will be our refuge. Rather than fleeing to a big steel building or tunneling underground for safety, we can turn to the God of the universe who says, “I personally will be your refuge. You can come to Me, and I will wrap My arms around you and I won’t let anything touch you. I will be a place of absolute safety for you.”

God alone can provide the security we need when the foundations of our life get ripped out from under us. God is our refuge, but He won’t take the job unless we let Him. Is He your refuge today?

God Wants to Be Your Strength Today
God promises more than just protection from the externals. He also wants to be our internal strength. He wants to provide us with the power to endure life’s hard times. But He only gives us that power and strength minute-by-minute, moment by moment. We all tend to focus on future fears (what if I lose my job-tomorrow? What if this relationship goes south in a month? What if I get sick?), and when we do, we get anxious, uptight, and fearful.

That fear comes because God doesn’t give grace for tomorrow. (We can’t be sure tomorrow will even come!) He gives grace for today, and our responsibility is to trust Him for today. He says He will be our strength. If we need a certain amount of His grace to make it through this hour, that’s how much grace we’ll get. If in the next hour, the going gets tougher and we need that much more grace, that’s how much more grace He’ll give us. Moment by moment, the Lord says, “I am for you, and I will be your strength.”

God Wants to Help You Today
And, third, God gives us His grace whenever we find ourselves in any kind of trouble. He is “for us,” and he is an ever-present help. He is readily available to us in times of trouble no matter how great, no matter how hard.

Martin Luther realized this truth as he sat imprisoned in a castle tower waiting to die. Betrayed by the church and waiting for morning and his execution, Luther prayed over Psalm 46, and God met him. That was why, as he was about to lose his life for his God, Luther was able to confidently proclaim, “A mighty fortress is our God!”

When morning came, Luther’s captors put him on a wagon to take him from the tower to the place of execution. On the way, a band of his followers came by on horseback, swooped him up, and took him to a German castle. There Luther was protected and hid for a year, during which he translated the New Testament into German. For the first time in history, the Bible was available in the language of the common man. Clearly, God was for Martin Luther. God showed up for him — and He will show up for you.

In like manner, Stephen (Acts 7:55-60) didn’t face his enemies and executioners alone. Even as he was being stoned to death for the “crime” of believing in Jesus Christ, Stephen was given the ability to see into heaven, where Christ was standing at the right hand of God the Father, ready to receive Stephen’s spirit. What a comfort that must have been for him!

Now Martin Luther and Stephen were not extraordinary people living extraordinary lives. They were ordinary people like you and me who faced persecution for their faith. But God’s presence, His “ever-present help,” sustained them. For one His grace meant deliverance from his adverse circumstances; for the other, it meant deliverance unto His Lord.

So what does this truth about God mean for you and me? It means that we can draw near to God and experience His hope in our times of need. And it means that . . . You don’t have to be afraid because God is “for” you.

So, do you long to Experience God today? In the Audio CD series I Am with You Always, Chip Ingram explores pivotal chapters in the Psalms, revealing how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Whether you’re struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear you heart’s cry and He will be there for you, time and again. Get this encouraging course today, contact Walk Thru the Bible at 011 782 4222 or email: info@wtb.co.za

God on the Floor

God on the Floor

When Power Isn’t His Purpose

~ Chris Tiegreen

My son Timothy and I like to wrestle with each other. We get down on the floor of his room at least a couple times a week and battle it out. We each try to pin the other’s shoulders to the ground for three seconds and declare victory. Then we lie on the floor exhausted for a while before getting up and saying, “We’ll have to do that again soon.”

These wrestling matches don’t really have anything to do with which one of us is stronger or has better moves. After all, I’m a lot bigger than my son. I could win every contest if I wanted to. I could prove my mastery and enforce my will at any moment in the match. I could show Timothy that I am stronger than he is and rebuke him for even doubting the fact. I could show him who’s boss.

Why don’t I? Because I’m a dad who enjoys the interaction with his son. I look forward to the wrestling—even the strained muscles, popping joints, and the mental exertion of constantly reformulating a strategy. That’s because there’s more a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling. There’s closeness and a lot of laughter along the way. We bond.

There’s more a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling.

So instead of proving my mastery over my son, I engage on his level. I certainly don’t make it easy for him, but I reward his really good moves or his audacious perseverance with success. I often choose to be put in a vulnerable position. Sometimes I even let him pin me. If I didn’t, he’d eventually lose heart and the wrestling matches would soon end. He has to get something out of them other than the knowledge that dad is stronger than he is. He has to enjoy the challenge. It’s all part of the interaction.

 

Engaging with God

I think that’s how God interacts with us a lot of times. Yes, He’s our Master and Lord. Sure, He’s sovereign. He could crush us with His presence. By all rights, we should fall at His feet and fear even a glance upward in His direction. But we were created in His image for a reason: to relate to Him. He didn’t make us so He could prove His lordship; He isn’t exactly insecure about that. He created us so we could bond with Him.

That’s why God comes down on our level so often in scripture—through one-to-one interactions with His people like a wrestling match with Jacob, or by incarnating Himself as a Son of man, and more. He gets down on His hands and knees and wrestles with us, practically inviting us to put Him in a vulnerable position.

A lot of people don’t know that. I’ve heard some Christians rebuke other Christians for their close interactions with God and their bold prayers with lots of very religious-sounding statements and questions: “God is your Master, not your friend.” “God doesn’t owe you anything.” “God isn’t obligated to fulfill your desires.” “Who are you to question God?” “God is centered on His glory, not your needs.” And on and on.

God got down on Jacob’s level and even made Himself vulnerable to Jacob’s persistence.

The problem with such statements is that even though they are often theologically correct—at least theoretically—they do not reflect how God has chosen to relate to us. They miss His heart completely, as though God’s greatest desire is for us to know how invincible He is. It’s true that God isn’t by nature obligated to answer our prayers, but He chooses to obligate Himself by giving us certain promises that bind Him to His Word. He doesn’t have to fulfill our desires, of course, but He does choose to put desires within us, and He promises quite often to fulfill the desires of those who seek Him and delight in Him. He could prove His majesty and glory by being a dictator in our lives, but He opts instead to make Himself vulnerable in His relationship with us. He invites us—practically begs us—to relate closely to Him, petition Him, ask our desires, make claims based on His promises, persist until we move Him to act, and so on.

 

Awe or Intimacy?

This is a common debate. On one hand, many people emphasize that God is so majestic and holy and “other” that we can’t grasp Him. On the other hand, many emphasize that God is so loving and intimate and familiar that He is always approachable and accepting of us. The commentaries on God’s wrestling match with Jacob in Genesis 32 give us a good sampling of this debate. Some say God wrestled with Jacob to break Jacob’s will and prove who the real boss in the relationship was. And though Jacob surely needed to learn to submit to God—don’t we all?—that’s hardly the point of this passage. If God simply wanted to demonstrate His lordship over Jacob or break Jacob’s will, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have taken all night. And I’m also pretty sure it wouldn’t have ended with a blessing, a name change, and a declaration that Jacob had “struggled with God and with men and [had] overcome” (Genesis 32:28). No, God got down on Jacob’s level and even made Himself vulnerable to Jacob’s persistence—not because God is weak or less than God, but because He wanted to.

Both the awesome “otherness” and the intimate personal sides of God are true. But without giving up His strength or His holiness, God chose to get down on the floor with us and wrestle. (After all, that’s what the cross was all about; it allowed a holy God to get up-close and personal with unholy human beings.) Why does He do that? Because there’s more than a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling. There’s closeness and some laughter along the way. And, in the process, we bond.

Training Your Children to Choose – Phil Tuttle

Training Your Children to Choose – Phil Tuttle

One of the most sobering moments in history came when the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. God had given them the law at Mount Sinai nearly 40 years earlier, and, because of their lack of faith, they had wandered the wilderness ever since. Now it was time for the next generation to enter the land.

So Moses led the people to reaffirm God’s law. Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, they were reminded of the commandments that were to set them apart as God’s people. And then in Deuteronomy 28-30, God spoke through Moses to make the stakes very, very clear. Obedience brings God’s favor and blessing in the land of promise; disobedience doesn’t. In fact, disobedience would lead to dire consequences.

In this pivotal moment, Moses summed up the situation:

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

The picture is really clear. He says, “You’re at a fork in the road. You have to choose one direction or the other. It’s not an option to just stay where you are. You’ve wandered in the wilderness for all of these years; you’re about to enter into the Promised Land. But how will you do it? Will you do it on your own strength? Will you fail to take a risk like the previous generation did? I’m setting before you a fork in the road, and these two roads lead to two very different destinations. One leads to life; one leads to death. One leads to blessing; one leads to suffering. And you have to make the choice.”

Choices are part of God’s plan. God parents us as children all through Scripture by giving us the freedom to make decisions. When you open your Bible and start at the beginning, you don’t have to read very far to see this. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. Were they robots? Were they controlled? No, God gave them free will. He did it willingly, knowing that it set Him up for all sorts of potential pain. He knew this perfect world He created could be devastated by the results of sin. But He realized love isn’t love at all if there’s no choice involved in it. So He took the risk of building choices right into the very fabric of creation.

The free will to choose between “life and death, blessings and curses” shaped the course of Israel’s history throughout the Old Testament and into the New. And the New Testament gives us the same dynamic: You can do what God says, or you can ignore what God says. One way leads to fellowship with Him and eternal life, the other doesn’t.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the good father allowed his son to make a choice. It was a bad choice, and I’m sure it grieved the father. But this model parent couldn’t make the decision for his son, even though the decision would hurt. That’s not how love works, and that’s not how children grow to maturity.

In our parenting, we have to allow our children to make choices, just as God allows us to make choices—even bad ones. We need to place age-appropriate boundaries around those choices—you don’t allow a five-year-old to squander his inheritance, for example—but the decision-making processes of a child have to be developed in real decision-making situations. That’s part of their training.

When children learn how to make wise choices under your supervision, they will be much more likely to make wise choices when they are out on their own. The decision-making skills they get from you will eventually translate into their relationship with God. And when they come to a fork in the road, they will be well-equipped to choose obedience and fully experience the promises God has put before them.

by Phil Tuttle

Raise Up A Child

No matter how good you are with children, we could all use some biblical instruction and solid skills when it comes to raising and guiding them. And although skills are good, it helps to have some encouragement, with a huge dose of patience, and a big helping of a sense of humor! You’ll find all of that with Raise Up a Child!

Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Ministries in Atlanta, GA.,–
“Phil Tuttle has tackled one of life’s most difficult topics: parenting. In Raise Up a Child, through humor and solid principles, Phil teaches us how to develop our heavenly Father’s perspective on raising godly children. Get this curriculum (or invite an instructor to teach it live). Learn it, live it, and give your children and grandchildren a gift that will last for generations.”

This series isn’t just for parents! Teachers, grandparents, caregivers, small group leaders, camp leaders and more will benefit significantly from this study!

Raise Up a Child conveys practical parenting wisdom through four easy-to-remember “compass points” uniquely taught from Luke 15’s Prodigal Son story. These principles offer much needed help and hope. With this resource, children will likely grow up to be more mature, responsible, loving, and secure.

Why the Resurrection Is Important

Why the Resurrection Is Important

As Easter approaches, I’d like to challenge you with a question: What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? Is it central to your faith? Perhaps you or someone you know claim to be a Christian, but you’re not quite sure about the evidence for the resurrection – could it be fact or could it be myth?

Regardless of where we stand on this issue, what I’ve learned is that both Christians and atheists agree that the resurrection is the central issue to Christianity. That’s because if the resurrection isn’t true then we’re still in our sins, and following Christ is meaningless! Both believers and non-believers agree that if Jesus rose from the dead then we have an intellectually feasible argument that the claims of Christianity are true. If he didn’t, then all of Christianity falls.

The Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote, If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:13-14, 16-17)

Believing in Jesus’ resurrection is not optional for us as Christians. There is no other name under heaven by which one can be saved, and no other method of salvation other than belief in and identification with Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

So how can we know if Jesus really rose from the dead? This has been the question for the last two millennia and continues today, especially in the past few centuries with the advent of progressive historical, archeological and textual fields of study. The Bible and its claim of resurrection continue to be under intense criticism and attack, yet the evidence of the resurrection is convincing.

And here’s I want you to know: You don’t have throw your “brains in the trash” to be a Christ follower. The fact is, we can know the truth. The reality is we most likely have all the information we’ll ever have about Jesus’ life, death and the subsequent events, contained in the Scriptures.

Consider for a moment just some of the most compelling evidence for Jesus’ resurrection:

  • Old Testament prophets predicted it.
  • Jesus predicted it openly and numerously.
  • After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared 12 different times to over 500 eyewitnesses in multiple locations and times over a 40-day period.
  • The transformation of the disciples was radical. They went from being fearful cowards to confident followers who weren’t afraid to die for their faith.  People don’t knowingly die for a lie.
  • The explosion of the church started in Jerusalem, the same place where we could document that the resurrection happened. For 25 years, right where Jesus did his teaching, people could ask questions and get answers from hundreds of eyewitnesses.

So what does this mean to us?  Here are three implications for examining the evidence of the resurrection:

  1. It validates Jesus’ claim that He is “the way the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
  2. It gives us a hope for the future. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:9)
  3. It offers spiritual life right now. “By the acceptance of this good news you are saved.” (1 Cor. 15:2)  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16-19)

In the end, rejecting or accepting the work of Jesus is not an intellectual issue – rather, it’s always a moral issue.  What matters, is not only what happened nearly 2,000 years ago, but also its implications for today. The good news is that those who are in Christ can expect their own resurrection from the dead and life with God for eternity.

Taken from the course Why I Believe by Chip Ingram.