Marketplace Ministers Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

Its been a couple a number of years since I have posted my blog – so I am up and running again and am reposting this blog as the starting place for our journey together.

Marketplace Ministers Memo

Most Christians spend upwards to 98% of their time each week away from their home church. What are they doing? They’re living life in the heart of their marketplace. The word “marketplace” is a word we use to describe the fact that every place that the Christian’s feet takes them each day – their home, neighborhood, school, grocery stores, workplace, ball field, everywhere – is where Jesus Christ wants to release His most significant ministry in and through their lives. It is their marketplace.

For too long, most Christians have believed that God’s most significant ministry in the world takes place in a church service. And, if a Christian really grows passionate about serving people, then they’re usually encouraged to leave their job and go into full-time ministry in a church. Recently I talked to a young woman who has been involved in the news media field. She is also…

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Give Thanks for Every Good Gift

How does a follower of Jesus respond to a message on the reality that the Holy Spirit sometimes reveals what Jesus is thinking about them or for them through dreams and visions? For some the idea of a dream being from the Lord to reveal what’s on His mind and heart for them is a bit off their spiritual radar. But the truth of God’s Word, from beginning to end is that He, the God of heaven, communicates at times and places with His people through dreams and visions, to capture their attention, to warn them, to change their direction or to let them in on what’s coming. As I said on Sunday, the Holy Spirit speaks to every believer through His written word, the Bible, but to some He also speaks in dreams and visions.

So how do we connect with that spiritual reality? One of the most important ways to respond, regardless of whether God ever speaks to you through a dream/vision or not, is to give thanks to Him for every gift of His goodness to us. There are two ways that people largely respond to the supernatural spiritual gifts of God to His people. The first is they give thanks to Him because He is the source (according to James 1:17) of every good and perfect gift. They may not be able to fully understand the gift, like the gift of tongues or prophesy, but they know that God is good and that His goodness is their greatest wealth, so they give thanks to God for His gifts to His people. In doing so they begin to move toward to a lifestyle of gratitude and open themselves to receiving what God has sacrificed His Son on the cross to give to us all – His Holy Spirit and His gifts. But a second way that people respond to the supernatural gifts of God is to minimize their value and then ignore them. The reason may be that they don’t understand the nature or purpose of the gift or they have heard others warn about the misuse of that gift by others. They may have even seen some of those misuses. The result is they draw the conclusion that they are not safe, and because they are not safe they aren’t really essential to their life and ministry in Christ.

How do we make the connection? By engaging in a lifestyle of thanksgiving. First, let’s give thanks to God for His Word, the Bible, which reveals this truth to us. Return to James 1:17, and meditate on the full measure of what James means when he wrote that every good and perfect gift comes to us from our Heavenly Father – every one. He tells us in His Word, that in the last days, He would pour out His Holy Spirit on His people and they would declare His Word, and speak words of prophesy, dream dreams and receive visions for the purpose of making disciples of all the nations. Second let’s give thanks to God for His magnificent gift of communicating through dreams and visions. We may not understand how it all works, but we know it is from our good God. Third, realize that as you give thanks you will at the same time be aligning your whole being with the truth of your identity as a child of God, and also with the ways God desires to reveal His goodness to you. Finally let’s be careful that we not, in our caution, push God’s gift away and in doing so dictate to Him how we will be spoken to by Him. Instead let’s magnify His goodness and faithfulness, and say with the young boy Samuel, I don’t understand it all, but you are good. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

May the Holy Spirit fill you through and through – so that Jesus Christ may live His life powerfully through you at all times, and in all things for the praise of His glory!

Too Familiar?

Rick Warren told a group of pastors he was training, “the day you stop learning, is the day you stop leading.” What was he implying by that statement is that many pastors, once they have been in ministry a while and feel like they have learned the ropes, stop investing in learning about leading and pastoring people. A root of familiarity has grown in their heart and mind and little room is given to that which is new and outside the framework of the familiar. That kind of root isn’t reserved for pastors. It’s that way for all of us, especially when we have grown accustomed to our personal perceptions about God and the ways He expresses His kingdom’s ministry on the earth.

As we begin a series on “The Holy Spirit, You and the Marketplace” it is imperative that we give the Holy Spirit access to the ways we think of Him and the ways He operates. You see in relationships, it can become easy to confuse intimacy with familiarity. Intimacy increases and reveals more of one’s heart and life to another. Familiarity slows, and even comes to a halt once a comfortable amount of knowledge and experience has been gained. It brings a sense of security, safety and predictability as well. This happens in a marriage relationship when two people become familiar with the way the other might think or act and they begin to operate within the realm of that knowledge. It doesn’t take too long before the personal discoveries, and fresh ways of love fade into familiarity. Even more, it doesn’t take too long before people defend their desire for familiarity and refuse to change what they find safe and predictable. They actually defend and protect what is draining the life out of what they share.

Intimacy is much different. Intimacy increases as two people reveal more and more of themselves to one another. Marriage is a lifelong journey, and along the way people’s perceptions about life, love and people grow deeper, richer and clearer. The journey is marked by life’s new beginnings, twists, turns, seasons and surprises. Intimacy seeks to know and love the other through each and every step of that journey in new ways, more personal ways and in different ways than before.

How do people break free of familiarity and grow in intimacy? They give access to their heart, soul and mind to the other. And, they discover new ways to cherish, nurture and love their spouse as they are growing and changing together.

I want to urge you to move in the ways of intimacy when it comes to knowing, loving and walking with the Holy Spirit of God. Allow Him to have access to your ideas, your perceptions, delights, fears and questions about Him. Let Him identify the things that are keeping you from knowing and loving Jesus more deeply, and from experiencing the revelation and release of His kingdom message and ministry through you. Examine God’s Word after each message that I preach on Sunday, and prayerfully think it through. Ask the Holy Spirit to take ownership of your every thought and to bring to birth His thoughts in your mind. Ask Him to put to death ways of thinking, ways of “being a Christian” that are rooted in the familiar, and to reveal more and more of His nature and His ways to you. He doesn’t need us to protect what is familiar to us, as He moves us into thoughts and ways that are new. His passion and purpose is to reveal and declare to you and to me all that the Father and Jesus Christ are, and are for us as we live in God’s present and available kingdom on earth.

We will see new beginnings and breakthroughs in fulfilling the mission the Holy Spirit has given to us as a local church, when we move with Him into the depths of increasing and transforming intimacy with Him. So give Him access to all that you are, all that you think, all that you perceive about Him and His ways as we move through the revelation of God’s Word about the Holy Spirit, You and the Marketplace. I am so glad to be taking the journey with you all.

Will You Follow Jesus in His Ways?

When the Holy Spirit leads a follower of Jesus in a new direction, He requires four things of them:  To hear from Him, to see that the change is also an invitation to move into greater intimacy and experience of Christ and His kingship; to make an all-inclusive decision to break from the present and finally, to move into the path that is before them.

I want to share an application that rises to the surface, one that has the capacity to move us deeper into Christ and our destiny while at the same time having the capacity to become an offense to us.

This was true of all Jesus’ teaching, and of every invitation He extended to His disciples and all who listened to Him.  The invitation moved people deeper into their destiny in God or else became an offense to them.  What makes the difference is how we respond to it.  Those who will go deeper are those who willingly surrender themselves to Jesus and His kingship.  Those who are offended see the implications and cost of what Jesus is saying, resist Him, and become offended.

I think about the potential for either as I ponder the nature of the invitation the Holy Spirit is extending to us as a church as we seek to be fully engaged in His ministry.  He is inviting us to follow Jesus not merely as an apprentice His teaching, but as an active participant in His ways.  Jesus said, (Luke 6:40) “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

The Holy Spirit is inviting us to willingly receive His reshaping and redefining our lives and their direction by constantly redirecting us to the kingship of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  And that will require us to hear from Him, see His invitation, choose to break away from the present, and move into what He is doing.

Are you willing to go that far – are you willing to follow Jesus in His ways no matter the cost to your position, reputation, or ministry paradigm?  Or will going that far become an offense?  Soon after Jesus feed over 5000 people with the bread and fish he supernaturally multiplied, some in the crowd saw an opportunity in Jesus’ power to make their lives easier.  But He told them, “You are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not labor for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  For on him God the Father has set his seal.” As they appealed to the fact that God had provided bread for them in the past through Moses, they challenged Jesus, was He providing the same thing?  Was He truly from heaven?

John 6:32-36 (ESV), Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” [34] They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” [35] Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. [36] But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”

In an instant He completely redefined their way of thinking and redirected them to find their life, satisfaction and every provision from willingly surrendering to Him. Later Jesus said, (John 6:57-58 (ESV), “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. [58] This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” At this point John tells us the people became offended by the truth of Jesus’ invitation. Even some of His disciples turned away. John 6:66-69 (ESV), “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. [67] So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” [68] Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, [69] and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

When the Holy Spirit invites us to follow Jesus in His ways, He invites us to walk into territory and experiences wherwe’ve not been before.  He is inviting us to live in deep intimacy with Jesus and in obedience to His directives and opportunities to release heaven on earth in the marketplace.  Will you follow Him – and will you follow Him in His ways?

May the Holy Spirit give us ears to hear what He is saying to the church – for the glory of Jesus Christ and the spreading of His kingship to the ends of the earth.

Follow Jesus to Intimacy and People

When Jesus came up to Levi the tax collector, He had in His mind a plan that would so radically change Levi’s destiny his story would never be forgotten in human history.  Indeed Levi the tax collector became Matthew the follower of Jesus, and Matthew the gospel writer!  Levi thought his destiny was in making as much money as possible, regardless of the means of getting it, by overcharging the citizens of Capernaum for their taxes.   He was a scoundrel, and lived his life having to constantly look over his shoulder for a disgruntled citizen.  If Matthew had a cell phone, his contact list would be made up of other scoundrel tax collectors.   The reason is, people don’t like to befriend someone who lives to cheat them and get the most out of them for their own personal gain.   That was Matthew’s life, until Jesus befriended him.

Let’s be careful not to sanitize Matthew’s character.  He was no honest person’s best friend nor an honest person’s acquaintance, especially after they met at the tax collector’s booth.  Jesus, however, knew that God’s purpose and destiny were radically opposite of what Matthew was going after.  Not just different, but completely opposite.  And, He knew that Matthew’s connection with that destiny was solely in his living in constant companionship and cooperation with Him and His wisdom and creative work in the world.  So Jesus walked up to Matthew and said, “Follow Me” – and he did!

In this encounter are two personal applications for each of us who have heard and responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow Me.  First, we must see that intimacy with Jesus is the beginning of everything that matter’s to Him and His Father. “Follow Me” means “be with Me, listen to Me, enjoy Me, worship Me first and foremost in everything.” You see Jesus demonstrated the kind of relationship we are to have with Him, through His relationship with His Father.  Jesus lived out of His relationship with His Father.  He listened, He meditated, He received, and He responded moment by moment and day by day to His Father.  His Father was present and available to Jesus, just as Jesus is present and available to us today through His Holy Spirit.  The key to discovering and living out God’s destiny for our lives is going after intimacy with Jesus himself.

As I have been reading books by various authors these past months I have discovered a recurring theme in each and every one of them.  These writers are seeing the works of Jesus being carried out through their ministry and the ministry of their people.  That recurring theme is that discovering everything Jesus wants to do to on earth here and now is revealed and released through relationship marked by increasing intimacy with Him.  Doesn’t matter the theological view, and they are different, they each say first and foremost that knowing our purpose and fulfilling Christ’s vision and destiny for our lives comes solely out of intimacy with Jesus.

So I want to urge you to examine your life and your relationship with Christ.  Is it a personal pursuit of the person of the Holy Spirit or is it a keeping in line with the expectations of what a Christian is supposed to be and do? Do you talk about what Jesus’ is saying, or that you have been reading your Bible and praying.  Both of those things by the way, are avenues of intimacy through which the Holy Spirit will speak.  However, are you hearing and receiving what He is saying or are you fulfilling the thing you know a Christian ought to do? Here’s a suggestion:  Write down 10 statements that describe the essence, character and actual happenings of your interaction with Jesus Himself. Be totally honest, what is He like?  What are you hearing?  Do you really sense that He is present?  What is He doing today in you?  Is the result a deeper and abiding love for Jesus and a desire for His ways – or something else?

This leads to the second application.  As we live in intimacy with Jesus we will find a new alertness to the people around us as well as a desire to bring the person and power of Christ into their present circumstances.  How do I know this?  Because out of the intimacy Jesus experienced with His Father, He was alert to what the Father want to do in the present circumstances of the people who were all around Him so that by the release of His power and truth they could see the love that the Father had for them.  He didn’t go to everyone – He went to those the Father led Him to.  Didn’t Jesus say, “I only do what I see the Father doing and say what I hear the Father saying?”  Sometimes great crowds received the healing power and message of the kingdom of God.  At other times it was just one or two or ten.  Jesus lived out of intimacy with His Father and so must we.

The point is this: only through intimacy with Jesus will we discover in greater ways the extent of His purpose for our lives.  Only through intimacy with Jesus will we learn to truly hear Him and understand what He wants to do in people’s present circumstances and life with a merciful invasion of the power and rule of His kingship.  And, He invades people and circumstance through you as you believe and obey Him.  And that’s why He will bring you to people.  If you are not interested in seeing the kingship of Jesus being revealed and released through you as a merciful invasion into the present circumstances and lives of people, then you need to go back to the first application and ask, “Am I truly living in and out of intimacy with Jesus?”  If the answer is yes, He’ll lead you to people.  Jesus said, (Luke 6:40) “A disciples is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” If we would be fully trained by Jesus, then we will be those who through whom He is revealing His merciful power and grace, as well as His invitation, “Come, follow Jesus.”

“Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth, just as it is in the heavens.”

Ambassadors of the Big Moment

Ephes. 1:9-10 (ESV) “… making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

The greatest unveiling from the heavens was when the Father unveiled His Son who came to the earth the first time to bring to pass all that was necessary to rescue humanity from the curse and authority of sin!  He lived and demonstrated what living life every moment under the kingship of the Father looked like, and then He lived and demonstrated what it is to fully trust Him with everything.  He laid down His life through His suffering and death on the cross as a sacrifice – as a substitute for us all.   And when His Father raised Him from the grave He demonstrated the wonder of what He will do for everyone who belongs to Him at the end of the ages – at yet a greater unveiling.

As we learned yesterday, there is another revelation,  a final revelation that will be made at the end of the ages.  This time Jesus will be revealed and worshiped as the eternal King of the Universe – uncontested and unhindered forever.  He will bring the end of the story, the big moment, or as one pastor likes to say, “the consummation of the ages.”  For now however, the Bible reveals what the Father is doing today.  He is moving all things in the heavens and on the earth toward this final revelation – the consummation of Christ’s supremacy when every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of His Father forever!

Someone has said that a story is only as good as its ending.  Well we not only know the story but we know how its going to end.  So what part do we, His rescued ones, play in this sweeping plan?  We are His ambassadors.  Our mission is to tell people about everything that He has revealed to us in knowledge and genuine experience with His Son.  We are ambassadors of this supreme unveiled person and plan.  Doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing, because we have been reconciled to Father through His Son we are now ambassadors of His message and ministry.  2 Cor. 5:17-20 (ESV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  [18] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  [19] that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  [20] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

People who are apart from God do not know the message and ministry of Jesus Christ – that God is reconciling the world to Himself through Him.  We are, through our intimacy with Him, the ones to testify of Him, explain the truth of what is happening in human history and release hope in where God is moving all things and then through loving service and prayer demonstrate His present kingship to people.  Just like an ambassador lives a “sent” life – a life of speaking and doing in behalf of the one who sends them – we are ambassadors of Christ, the present king toward whom all things, people and nations are being moved by His Father.  Be part of the process for which you’ve been made new in Christ.  Be His ambassador wherever your feet take you.

Ministry out of Intimacy

I Corinthians 14:3 says, “… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”  If there were three things that we received this weekend through the prophetic ministry of Jason Hooper and his team it was “upbuilding, encouragement and consolation.”  Do you recall the things that were revealed to you in the times of ministry?  I know that those of you who were healed by the Lord will always remember those precious words prayed over you.  I have to smile when I think of one of our ladies squeezing her healed wrist to try to see if it will hurt.  Oh how good the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is in His ministry to His people.

On Sunday morning Jason brought us to this passage in Mark 3:14-15 (ESV), “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons…” Jason told us that what’s first priority in bringing the ministry of Jesus to the marketplace is to know and embrace His calling to first be with Him… The weekend is barely over, but in my heart I have been crying out to the Lord to increase my sensitivity to what He is saying and wanting to do in people’s live as I go throughout my day.  I am asking Him to increase my sensitivity to the invitations of love and ministry that He wants to extend through me in order to bring heaven’s love to people, and people to Him.  As I have been praying the Holy Spirit reminded me of the first phrase in Mark 3:14, “… that they might be with him …” This is the first and foremost application that you and I must make in response to the weekend.

Ministry grows out of increasing intimacy with Jesus.  It doesn’t come through a new understanding of scripture only, but out of abiding in the Word and presence of Jesus.  Jesus said, (John 10:27 (ESV), “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Our ears are tuned to the Holy Spirit’s voice when we engage in practicing His presence.  Practicing His presence means we talk to Him, about everything.  We ask Him, inquire of Him, listen to Him, speak to Him and worship Him.  David said, “I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Here’s my suggestion – turn off the radio in the car and talk to the Holy Spirit.  Before you walk through the doors of your school or office, talk to the Holy Spirit.  As you see someone coming your way talk to the Holy Spirit about them; ask for a word of knowledge that will become a heavenly invitation.  Memorize a scripture and then ask Him to reveal its purpose and ministry for your life.  He is listening and ready to reveal the heart and mind of the Lord Jesus to you.  Why, because He loves you and reveals what is in the heart and mind of the Father and Son to those who love and trust Him.   Out of that loving interaction with the Holy Spirit will come the words, the invitations to share with people in the marketplace to receive healing, encouragement, and consolation.

Try this – whenever you come to a place where you normally turn the radio or TV on, leave them off instead and begin to speak to the Holy Spirit.  Tell Him about what’s at hand, ask Him to release His wisdom, creativity and divine solutions to you and through you.  Sing to Him, worship the Lord Jesus and speak your words of love to Him.  Brother Lawrence, who wrote a book entitled, Practicing the Presence of God, wrote that some of his most intimate times with the Holy Spirit took place while he was working in the kitchen of the monastery where he lived.

As we grow in intimacy with the Holy Spirit, our ears will be fine tuned to His revelations and invitations.  You and I know how good His ministry is.  Think of how full of joy it will be to release His ministry in the lives of the people in the marketplace.  Be with Him, receive His words and change the marketplace for the glory of Jesus.

By the way, let me encourage each of you who received a prophetic word to go back to my first Marketplace Ministry Memo from January 7th to learn about what you should do next with the word given to you.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (Message), “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.  [15] Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”