We may try to fool ourselves that we like change, but statistically that’s really not the case. In a book by Alan Deutschman, Change or Die, a study found only one of nine people will make lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.) even after they are told they could prolong their life, restore their health, and even reverse diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Get that? Only 11 percent of people choose life over death.
Yet, change isn’t only inevitable—it’s good and it’s part of God’s plan!
Last Saturday I talked about a paradigm shift that the Church around the world is going through— a massive change that needs to happen. You can hear my message here:
In a nutshell, instead of embracing the excitement of being chosen by God to take part in a global redevelopment program (ushering in the Kingdom of Light as heaven invades earth!), we’ve been duped over the centuries to believe we are passive consumers who look to a few paid clergy to help us make it through another week.
Much of this paradigm shift has to do with embracing who Jesus says we are as the Ekklesia.
“I will build myEekklesia, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Ekklesia is the Greek word most bibles mistranslate as “church” yet the word means “an assembly of called out ones” who’ve been given all authority by Jesus to usher God’s Kingdom and be change agents on the earth.
Lou Engle teaches that “when Jesus said He was going to build His Ekklesia, He meant He was going to build His governmental center. He was going to establish His ruling body with the revelation that He is the Messiah and the supreme ruler of the earth. The gates of hell would not prevail against the kind of assembly Jesus intended to build. A change of mindset is needed in the Body of Christ. We are not just going to a building on Sunday [or Saturday night!]. We are joining an assembly, a spiritual body governing our cities, states, and nations, with Christ as our Head. We are not just leading a prayer session in our houses of prayer. We are gathering an assembly around the throne of God, and releasing leadership. We are binding principalities and powers. We are part of an Ekklesia. Understood properly, an Ekklesia is a threat to every corrupt government, drug lord, rebellious king, and demonic principality.”
This Saturday I’m so excited to announce that Greg Simas, a pastor from Convergence House of Prayer in Fremont, will be preaching at Blazing Fire Church and sharing a life-giving message about the Ekklesia. You’re going to hear a bit about what happened in history to get us off course, why most translations mistranslate this word (starting with the King James Version) and what God is doing on the earth to bring His bride back into proper alignment with the purposes of His Kingdom of love, grace and power. You are going to be brilliantly challenged and sufficiently fired up to live as the world changers you’ve been created to be!
God is jealous for our whole heart. His number one desire in your life is a heart that is fully His.
DEUTERONOMY 4:24 For the Lord, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
2 CHRONICLES 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
DEUTERONOMY 33:21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. (Speaking of the Israelites in the desert)
God’s jealousy is stirred up when we run to other things for comfort besides Him. Often God’s judgement towards the Israelites was withholding His Presence and allowing them to run to their own devices for comfort and strength. As shown in the Old Testament, this inevitably led to their destruction, leading them to place low enough to realize their need for Him again. My first thought when I read this for the first time was, "wow, isn’t this manipulative?" Obviously the answer is no, but Let’s look at why:
1. God knows we absolutely need Him to survive
2. God Loves us beyond our comprehension. The amount of pain He can feel when we reject him is proportionate to the incomprehensible Love He feels towards us.
3. God doesn’t want to violate our free will. When we choose anything else other than Him, He allows us to follow our own choices, devices and comfort mechanisms. Even if this causes him incredible pain and rejection sometimes resulting in jealousy and anger.
4. God sees our absolute dire need for Him in the greatest detail, and knows that we will perish without Him. He also knows that withholding His Presence might as well be the same thing as Him bringing a curse upon us because it has the same result (referring to God's judgement over the Israelites).
5. One of the only ways for Him to draw us back to Him, without violating our free will, is to allow us to sink to a place of realization that our own devices do not satisfy our hearts. We enter into a place of desperation where we re-realize our dire need for Him and turn our hearts back to Him again.
The question to ask is, when you love someone intensely but they choose to be with someone else, do you feel jealous? Would that jealousy be more intense because you love the person so intensely? Yet when we do not choose Him, God still allows us, His most cherished sons and daughters to choose our own path despite the anguish it causes Him. What does this say about God's desire to control us (or lack thereof)? What does it say about His Love?
How this applies in the new covenant we enjoy Jesus knows we are incapable of coping with our condition in our own strength and power (He doesn’t expect us to). If Jesus saw us the way we sometimes negatively see ourselves, He wouldn’t have willingly left His throne to come to Earth to die on a cross. His Love towards us is so intense, that even though He is God, He willingly came to Earth as a weak, feeble, human being to be tortured, beaten, and nailed to a cross. We have heard it many times, but do we really get it? He wants us to come as we are, truly. The Israelites were no where near perfect, yet God's greatest desire was to have them as His treasured people (Deut 14:2). If this was under the Old Covenant, how much more so now under the New Covenant where our sins, weaknesses and imperfections were nailed to the cross? Jesus made sure that there was nothing on His side to separate you from Him and prevent you from having a relationship with Him. So what is stopping or hindering us?
Have you ever been frustrated when you try to encounter Him? I've found that sometimes I want or need God to fix me, heal me, meet my needs more than I want Him. Have you ever come to Him with an agenda? Yes, God absolutely will meet us where we are at. He cares about our needs more than we do. And, if our hearts cry is to go deeper in intimacy with Him, we have to leave agendas at the door. See, intimacy can only happen when both parties simply just want to be with each other--without an agenda. Is it perhaps that we want Him to transform or heal us more than we desire Him. We often come to Him with an agenda, or list of what we want. It is true that He will meet us where we are at. However, if we truly desire to go to a deeper place with Him, our agenda has to be left at the door. When we come to Him we can even put what we perceive to be His goals above the simple fellowship He desires.
Have you ever desired to be close to Him, but feel far from Him because you feel you have fallen or failed? The most effective way back to intimacy with Him is to position ourselves in humility at His feet. Wait upon Him, knowing that He will show up. With great expectation comes great encounters. Your expectation will increase every time as you encounter Him. After all, being with Him was the purpose to begin with (Garden of Eden).
Even in my weakness now, I have great expectation of Him showing up because the more of His closeness I have experienced the more I know His eagerness and desire to be with me. The more I know His eagerness and desire to be with me, the more I trust Him. The more I trust Him the more my soul and spirit are filled with faith in Him. The more I am filled with faith in Him, the more I know Who He is. The more I know Who He is, the more my faith compels me to go tell people about Him and to be a conduit for His Presence to encounter them.
It is the simplicity of just being with Him (His closeness) that we start living the life He created us for. Anything else, ultimately leads us to a spiritual life void of His Presence and riddled by human effort and accomplishment. Human effort and accomplishment fall short of His intended purpose and rarely have any eternal value. But when God does things with you in relationship, it is He that performs most of the work with you. Everything He does is eternal. And because we did it with Him, He gives us the credit for it.
Jesus is after a bride that can be a true partner with Him. For too long the church has operated as the servant girl. She is obedient, serves out of obligation, working so hard to please the Master and to keep the appearance of righteousness by her own strength. Jesus is looking for a bride that is naturally obedient simply because of the Love relationship they share with Him. This only comes through intimacy with Him.
Jesus desires a two-way relationship where He feels safe sharing His needs with us. We have the honor of ministering to His needs and desires. When you have an intimate relationship with Jesus, you get to share in the greatest honor of all: to share in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). This is when He starts coming to you and shares His pains, anguishes, and even anger with you and seeks your friendship to minister to His heart. There is no greater purpose, no greater goal, and no greater honor than to be trusted by the Master with His own heart. It is this that brings the highest honor and esteem in heaven. The angels are always ministering to Jesus, but nobody can bring greater comfort or joy to His heart like we can. We are by far His greatest desire. We are the source of His greatest joy.
Do you get it yet? We have the absolute greatest, esteemed honor and privilege, which He has given no other in all of creation, to minister to His heart and to be His best friend. To be the one who comforts Him and is with Him in all that He does. Why else would He want to make Himself One with us, to make His home in us, to go to the greatest lengths to conquer sin and death and remove all separation between us and Him on the cross? Do you get it yet? The good news isn’t just that we are saved from our sin, it is that we have the highest honor in heaven to be the closest companion to Jesus. There is no higher calling than to be the one that God holds in highest esteem as His best friend and closest companion.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
Take a Step with Jesus
This year the Lokkers enjoyed an early family Christmas celebration two days early because that’s when it worked on everyone’s calendar to share a leisurely, fun day together. So when December 25th came around, Suzanne and I experienced the first Christmas Day in our 31 years of marriage where we had nowhere in particular we had to be and nothing in particular we had to do. Surreal!
On this most unusual Christmas Day afternoon, I decided to tackle some of the many projects in our yard: the rain gutters needed cleaning, the leaves blown off of our back patio, the front lawn mowed and trimmed and the leaves in the street in front of our house swept up, to name a few.
After trading my PJ’s for some sweats, I headed outside only to find myself stopping dead in my tracks several steps outside my back patio door. What do I do first? It sounds like a simple enough question, but what ended up happening is I would decide on a certain project and take a few steps in that direction only to stop again in my tracks a few steps later to rethink my decision. I repeated this process several more times heading in several different directions before I realized I’d been outside for several minutes without being any closer to accomplishing any of the projects I’d set out to do.
Finally I said to myself, ”If I would just blow the leaves off the back patio and see it clean, I would be a happy camper.” Good! I made a decision, retrieved the blower, unwound the extension cord and witnessed the transformation of 600 square feet of concrete from a chaotic mess to a blissful clean canvas.
When I made a choice to complete one project, it lead to a handful of others getting done as well (I’d need to double the size of this article to tell you all about it). I didn’t check every single thing off my to-do list, but I did happen to get a few things done I hadn’t planned on because they just came up as I made my way around the house. And what I did accomplish felt great! Even better yet, I enjoyed the presence of Jesus throughout the course of what I was doing. Does Jesus even like yardwork? If it’s with you or me, of course he does!
So what’s the point of this story? As I thought back on the day, Papa God began communicating an important truth that I want to share with you as you are heading into a new year with a mixture of some disappointments of what didn’t happen this past year as well as some hopes as to what lies ahead for you. This is what my spirit heard from God…
“I’ve placed dreams and desires within you to do good things (Eph. 2:10) and I’ve put my own Spirit within you to accomplish them (Phil. 2:13). Of the good dreams and ideas I’ve placed within you, I want you to choose something. I want you to choose something. This is the free will—the ability to choose—that I’ve intentionally fashioned you to walk in and enjoy with Me. When you choose from the dreams and ideas I’ve placed within you to expand My Kingdom, it will lead to more and more good. You won’t get everything on your list checked off, but that’s not the point. The point is you and Me enjoying life together and in that journey blessing a whole lot of people along the way and letting them see glimpses of a Father who loves them. Are you good with that? Make a choice from the dreams and passions I’ve placed within you. Take a step with me and see where it leads…”
That's your direction for this new year from the Lord. On your marks...get set...
So do not consume your selves with questions: what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make them selves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithful he is a large enough to ask for today. Matthew 6:31-34
There’s a word in the Hebrew language that, like many Hebrew words, is more than just a word. It’s a way of life that is assumed and lived out. That word is MOED. It means, “Appointed Time”. More in depth the literal meaning is, “You are at your God-appointed time, right this minute...and in the next minute, day, week, year and so on.”
The understanding that there is no questioning that we are at the age we should be and in the place we should be does away with fear and worry. No getting upset that we are ageing. No allowing circumstances to become larger than the fact that God’s got this. Even if we royally screw up some of our moments, or even years of time, God is still in this very Moed, waiting for us to walk it out with Him. He certainly has the best answer, the greatest solution, and He’s the only one who can take all those screw ups and make things right in this moment. He is always standing in our appointed time, willing...no, desiring to be involved.
My own translation of this word, Moed, is “A Constant Appointment With Jesus”. When something or someone attempts to rob from us (our joy, our peace, our time with our Maker...) we have every right to say, “No, I have an appointment I need to keep.”
Believing that we are in our God-appointed time will also crush the lie that our life is simply a statistic or mistake. Friends, if that lie has hung around you, it’s time to tell it, “Nope, I’m in my appointed time that God, Himself, has placed me in. There is an abundance of purpose here!”
Eventually, as we understand that we are always in our Moed, we will become more aware of how we steward our time.
Let’s change things and allow this word, Moed, to be another standard for our lives...along with that ever-present banner over us that says, “This Is The One I Love”.
P.S. I shared in detail about this last Saturday night. While speaking, a couple songs came up. Here's the link to the message and links to those songs:
This past Saturday at Blazing Fire Church, Pastor Brent spoke of the Inward Journey to connecting with Jesus for the third straight week as more and more people were finding the heartbeat of the One they have been seeking.
I believe the Church around the world is in the midst of a significant shift. As we connect more deeply with the heart of Jesus, he is giving us His heart to BE His presence wherever we go.
I feel like the Lord is saying that this next move of His Spirit across the world will be unlike any other move in history. We’ve learned so much in the last few moves of His Spirit and I feel like He is saying that even the wisdom of the wisest among us will be surprised by How the Lord puts a new spin on what we think we understand. I feel like He is going to bring in a new hack for how to do Kingdom in surprising ways. It’s all geared not so much for them that believe, but for them that do not. It’s for them. He is coming for them that don’t believe and He is going to use us mightily. When we call down heaven to bring healing in impossible illnesses, He will act to the astonishment of the world. The most important aspect of this next move will be great acts of compassion, kindness and miracles regardless of whether or not it is received, regardless of whether or not hearts are changed. The bottom line for us all is that we are called to love without conditions and that we generously pour out love. In this outpouring the Lord will send miracles and works of power, not only to touch mind, body and spirit, but also the physical earth.
I heard Rodney Howard Browne once say that the church is the one that gets revival and not the world. What the world needs needs is to be “vivaled.” I believe this next move of God will be a great “vival”, a great awakening for the lost.
“I will be overturning notions about how I move and what I do. Any wisdom about how I do things will be turned around in unexpected ways. I will put a new spin on how I act and how I touch everyone. I am coming with a compassion so deeply understood that even them that don’t follow Me will take notice and see that I’m truly real and that the Kingdom is a real thing. Hearts will be turned to Me in droves. Waves of converts will turn to Me and My ways as they see that I’m a God who acts and does great things. I’m pushing back the dark veil over people’s eyes to see the Kingdom in their midst. I’m granting them that don’t believe the ability to see and by seeing, being given the opportunity to chose. There will be power and anointing backing up compassion and kindness. It will be nearly impossible not to notice. Some will chose Me and some will not, but I will continue to pour out works of power among you and the world. There is a great wave coming, a wave of newborn believers and I will flood every fellowship with disciples who know My ways and My presence and My words.”
John 12:46-48 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
For the past two Saturday nights at Blazing Fire we’ve given extra space and time to connect more deeply with the heart of Jesus and we plan to go there again this coming Saturday night.
Because Jesus is our life. Jesus is the source of our joy. Jesus is the hope that floods us. Jesus is the brilliance within us. Jesus is our very dear elder Brother who always has our backs. Jesus is a devoted Friend and Companion through every step of our journey. Jesus is our Savior who sets us free to be the best version of our real selves. Jesus is our Creator who marvels at us, His living works of art. Jesus is our Risen King who forever conquered death and sin and anything that could ever separate us from the perfect love of our heavenly Father.
When you're asking, What am I going to do? Be with Jesus. When you're feeling aimless, be with Jesus. When it appears you're stuck in life, be with Jesus. When disappointments seem to rise up around you like a prison cell, be with Jesus. When fear rears it’s ugly head, be with Jesus. When life seems mundane, be with Jesus. When you’re happy, be with Jesus. When you’re feeling adventurous, be with Jesus. You get the idea.
What does this deeper connection with Jesus look like? It could look something like this story from a woman from our Blazing Fire family. She was there Saturday night when we marinated in the truth that Jesus is our good, good shepherd…
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. (Psalm 23:1, TPT)
And this woman’s spirit continued to connect inward with Jesus the following morning…
This morning I spent time on the word Always. I always have more than enough. The Lord kept repeating to me always, always, always. I will always love you, I will always provide for you, I will always take care of you, I will always be there for you. I will always give you more than enough!! I heard the Lord call my name personally and say, "My word for you today is ALWAYS." So I responded, "Yes Lord! I choose to believe in the Always."
I grew up in a house of fear. I was told that something bad is just around the corner and so I need to do a-b-c to get ready for the bad thing. I break that lie in the name of Jesus. The truth is that God will ALWAYS be there for me no matter what, no matter what my circumstance looks like. God will always love and take care of me! Always!!! God will love me on Monday, Tuesday and forever. It's silly to think that he would only love me on Monday and forget about me the next day. The same thing is true for providing for me!!!! He will provide for me ALWAYS!!!! He will not abandon me. He loves me ALWAYS! So I choose to believe in ALWAYS!!!
Jesus is loving you now and always from within. You are never apart, never distant. He’s ready right now to tenderly touch your heart in a meaningful way. Make a choice to take some time as soon as you possibly can to quiet your mind and allow your spirit to go there with Him. Right now would be a perfect time!
The Kingdom of Heaven is within ~Jesus (Luke 17:21)
The love you long for is within The joy you seek is within The hope you need is within The faith you desire is within The peace you crave is within
Why? Because Jesus is within you and all that He is belongs to you.
The riches of the glory of God's mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)
Last Saturday I gave a message about the Inward Journey to connect more deeply with Jesus. I didn’t just talk about it, but we took time to try it. I must have hit a nerve—a good one. I received more positive feedback than I can remember from one message in a very long time, so I’ve decided to continue the message this Saturday, The Inward Journey—Part 2. . I’ve also asked several of those who were impacted last Saturday to share a testimony about their ongoing inward journey as we gather this Saturday. (You can hear last week’s message here and you can skip to the part of my message about the Inward Journey at 24:24)
The good nerve I hit upon is the longing for the Lord within each one of you that He's placed right inside of you. Even the longing is found within! But remember Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled!”
So what is the key to connecting more deeply with Jesus? It begins by knowing by faith He is within you and never far away. You are not trying to do somethingto get him to come from somewhere out there, but you are becoming more and more aware of the One who has made his home inside of you. Then, there is a process of learning how to quiet your mind so you can enjoy unhindered intimacy with Him. One thing we practiced was "Praying the Scripture." We practiced slowly meditating and digesting word-by-word a passage of Scripture with the purpose of quieting your mind and focusing on Christ within you. Try it now...
Live in the holy awe of God—which brings you trembling into His presence. God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to accomplish the good things you desire to do. Philippians 3:12-13 (TPT)
(with each "..." below, take time to be aware of His indwelling presence and love, pause and linger often, especially when you are feeling his presence)
Live in the holy awe of God...Live...I am alive right now in the holy awe of my God...the holy awe of God...I am in awe in your presence God...trembling...trembling into your glorious presence...Your presence within me...your holy presence within me...your holy presence within me at this very moment...God, you will continually revitalize me...God, you will revitalize me...You continually breath fresh life in me...this is what you do...you implant within me passion...I have passion for life...you infuse me with that passion...passion to accomplish good things...good things I desire to do...good things I desire to do because you have placed them within me...
Our good and very dear Savior is making himself known to everyone who wants him. Never give up this inward journey. The continual pay-off of his very real presence is what you were born for more than any other pursuit.