WHAT GOD WANTS !
As most of us realize, we are nearing the end of the age; TIME IS SHORT, and He wants us to deal with what is really important; THAT WHICH IS ETERNAL! That which is material (temporal) will soon pass away and be worthless. So we need to focus our concerns on the things of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
We are in the last days of this age and Jesus gave a stern and vital warning of what to be on the look out for:
Matthew 24:4 & 5 - "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
DECEPTION! Note that Jesus warns that many will come teaching and preaching God’s Word, but they mix error in with it. He goes on to say that many people will believe and follow such things that are false, and the result of embracing error in such doctrines will be destructive. One such popular teaching that is now corrupting the church is the prosperity doctrine. This deceptive teaching appeals to human desire but causes people to focus on possessions and the material things of creation rather then the eternal things of the creator and His Kingdom.
Matthew 6:19-21 – Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will be your heart (desires) also.
Luke 12:15 - And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
We will come back to this topic of deception later because of its importance to you.
Since the reformation, whose beginning we generally attribute to the work of Martin Luther, God has moved in different ways through the years in dealing with the saints for the purpose of bringing the church to full maturity. The last significant move of God was the restoration of things that have been missing since the early church was formed; one of which is the nine Gifts of the Spirit:
1 Corinthians 1:7 - "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 12:8 to 10 - "For to one is given by the Spirit the (1) word of wisdom; (2) to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another (3) faith by the same Spirit; (4) to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the (5) working of miracles; to another (6) prophecy; to another (7) discerning of spirits; to another (8) divers kinds of tongues; to another (9) the interpretation of tongues."
The restoration of the Gifts was then followed by the recognition and restoration of the five Gift ministries:
Ephesians 4:11-13 - "And he gave some, (1) apostles; and some, (2) prophets; and some, (3) evangelists; and some, (4) pastors and (5) teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
Unfortunately much of the institutionalized, denominational type church has rejected both the Gifts of the Spirit and the Gift ministries. They resist change and prefer to maintain the status quo, refusing to move on and deeper in the things of the Kingdom. Nevertheless, God continues to work with and through those who are willing and obedient to move on with Him. So what is the next move of God in and among His people? What does God want?
When you pray to God, what is the topic or substance of your prayers? Is it making requests and asking Him for help, things, provision, guidance, or something that will benefit you or someone you are praying for? This is all well and good – He wants you to come to him for such things:
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
But, have you ever asked God WHAT HE WANTS? …. I have; and here is what He laid on my heart. He is not only concerned about you individually, but He is also concerned about the condition of His people – His church; not the one man is building, but the one He is building. “God! ….what do you want?” I asked this question as we entered the new millennium in year 2000. What He spoke into my spirit was, "I'm not as much interested in what you can do, as I am in WHAT YOU CAN BECOME". This is important; write it down!
He is looking to see me, and you, and all believers, become the very likeness and image of Christ; not just having Christ on the inside, but that Christ is visibly seen by our life; Christ on the outside; as a visible child of God; in the image of our Heavely Father. A true and full witness is not what we say, or even what we do; it is WHAT WE ARE! He wants us to be a living testimony to the life changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 4:19 - "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."
Romans 8:29 - "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
How does this occur? A key is found in:
Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
The Lord allows all types of experiences in our life. Sometimes it’s wonderful blessings and experiences; but many times there are tests and trials that are meant to find out what is really inside us. You are like a tube of toothpaste; apply pressure to the outside like a squeeze, and what’s inside comes out. How do we respond to difficult situations or when things don't go your way. There are two ways to respond to life's situations and circumstances; your way, or His way.
Must of us who want to grow deeper in the Lord are subjected to a “wilderness experience”. It's in the wilderness that the excess baggage falls off; we discard those things that weigh us down; things God wants us to get rid of or to deal with in our lives. We need to come to the end of our "self"; cease doing our own thing and allow Him to work His purpose in our lives. The result is conforming to the image of Christ. (By the way, sometimes there is more than one wilderness experience in our lives.) We are blessed when we receive something from the Lord; a revelation; a gift or a manifestation of His power or loving kindness to us. However, usually following that will be a trial to see what we do with what He has given to us or shown to us. What He wants is to perfect His ways in our minds, hearts and lives.
In the ongoing process of the Reformation that began about 500 years ago, God has offered the restoration of the Gifts of the Spirit and the Gift Ministries to His church. The Gifts are for ministry, to allow the power and presence of God operating through us to lovingly touch the lives of others; giving demonstration of the Kingdom of God just as Jesus and his disciples did:
1 Corinthians 2:4 & 5 - "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
We've also had the gift ministries restored, (to those who accept it); these gift are for those that the Lord ordained to lead the saints into service for His Kingdom and bring each believer into the fullness of Christ - to full maturity so the very life (zoe) of Christ is seen in us. He gave us apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors who all work together:
Ephesians 4:13 – “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (complete) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.
Unfortunately, the church that man is building does not recognize or allow the Gift Ministries to properly operate. Those that do have mistakenly used those Gifts Ministries as hierarchical positions rather than servant functions; (this is another topic).
THE NEXT MOVE OF GOD - WHAT GOD WANTS NOW IS THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT RESTORED ! What is the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT? The list of this fruit is found in –
Galatians 5:22-23 –But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
LOVE - JOY - PEACE - LONGSUFFERING - GENTLENESS - GOODNESS - FAITH - MEEKNESS - TEMPERANCE
This fruit in us is the key to ministry as Jesus did it. He had the full power of the Holy Spirit with all the Gifts of the Spirit working in and through him. But he also had the Fruit of the Spirit – God’s character and nature, a motivation that determined his actions.
The FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is actually the very CHARACTER and NATURE OF GOD! This fruit is the very life (zoe) of the vine:
John 15:1-4 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”
It's the same nature that was in Jesus; and it was also the same nature that Adam had before sin entered. Both of these men came directly from God, and both had God’s character and nature because both were in His image and likeness.
In the Gospel of John Jesus said, "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father". He could say this because He is the very image and personhood of God. Every mature believer should be able to say the same type of thing; "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father"; this is what God wants. This is His goal for us; thus we will be recognized as the Sons of God by openly showing His character and nature:
Romans 8:18 & 19 - "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.".
It's His character and nature that is to be restored to the church because that is what was lost through sin:
Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.
The word "glory" (doxa) means dignity, and dignity refers to one's character and nature. We have all sinned because of the carnal sin nature (the likeness of Satan) in us from the original sin, and as a result, we all have lost His character and nature - His dignity. We “fall short” of His glory.
Adam and Eve were clothed in this dignity until sin entered; then they lost God's character and nature, the righteous garments of brilliant white that provided spiritual covering. It was replaced by the character and nature of the devil, to whom they yielded and submitted themselves to. Everyone born since then has that same character and nature of the devil – selfish, lustful and prideful; not at all like God's character and nature.
Jesus came to restore what was lost. What was lost? ...the life of God (zoe) which is His character and nature. He came to redeem us from our fallen state and restore us to
what God originally intended for man, (created in His likeness and image). That is “the glory which shall be revealed in us" - (Romans 8:18).
God is looking for this fruit – this is what the harvest is all about. Let's look at what Jesus told us about it. When does harvest occur? When the fruit is ready – when it is ripe; visually seen and recognized.
John 15:4 & 5 - "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
Many people believe that "fruit" refers to a person's works, what they have produced. But this is not what “fruit” really refers to here because Jesus says no one can produce this fruit without being intimately united (plugged in) with him. Yes, man can do all kinds of things without being intimate with Christ; he can do good and mighty works; he can even build large churches that outwardly appear successful and prosperous as mentioned in Revelation 3:14 to 20. The church at Laodicea was built by man and Jesus had nothing to do with it; he was left on the outside and wanted in, as stated in verse 20.
So clearly the fruit spoken of in John 15 is not man's works. This passage speaks specifically about the Fruit of the Spirit that can only come from Him. It is His life (zoe) that flows to the branches (his intimate people) and it flows out through them. His life actually becomes their life. It is His life that produces the Fruit of the Spirit - there is no other way.
Remember Jesus' warning about the deception that would be prevalent before his return? What is deception? Something that is false, untrue, counterfeit, something specifically designed to mislead. It’s important to recognize that the world does not deceive us unless we are driven by our lusts. Those who overcome the world must recognize who does the end-time deception come through ?
Matthew 7:15 - "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
These are ministers in all the outward appearances. They are easily recognized as such by they way they look, the things they do and the way they speak. Jesus said it was what was on the inside that really identifies them. What did Jesus say to look for?
Matthew 7: 16 & 20 - "Ye shall know them by their fruits....". Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
FRUIT! What kind of fruit? Not their works, which they gladly boast about. It is His character and nature, His dignity – the Fruit of the Spirit that should manifest in them!
Deception will come through those who already have been deceived - preachers and teachers who have accepted false doctrines and therefore repeat the lies of the devil and continue to promote false doctrines. They actually have come to believe such things, so they preach it to others.
Matthew 7:22 - "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Jesus said many of them will come in his name, they will preach his word, but lies and errors are mixed in what they teach and preach, making it false. They may be great, well known and popular preachers, prophets, teachers, etc. And they may do great works; and even have signs, wonders and healings. They will appear to operate in the supernatural, the Gifts of the Spirit.
Matthew 24:5 - "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
It is important to note that the word “Christ” is translated from the same word that means Messiah, and Messiah means "ANOINTED".
Matthew 24:5 actually says, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am anointed; and shall deceive many."
If someone were to come into your church and say they were Christ, would you believe them and follow after them? Not likely. But if someone were to come into your church and say they were anointed, and performed healings, signs or wonders, would you believe them and follow after them. Very likely; and this is happening right now.
Notice that MANY shall come like this. Have you seen or heard anything like this lately; how about on Christian Television programs? It also says MANY shall be deceived, not a few - so this is not a rare case. They will say, "I am anointed (as Christ)" and they openly demonstrate supernatural gifts, signs, wonders and healings, to prove their ministry.
Matthew 24:23 & 24 - "Then if any man shall say unto, Lo, here is Christ (an anointed one), or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs (anointed ones), and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Many will foolishly follow the signs and wonders. They fail to recognize that the devil can also do the same supernatural works. Yes Satan can counterfeit the Gifts of the Spirit. The gifts are simply supernatural workings. Satan's servants have done such things since early recorded history; remember Pharaoh's magicians how they opposed Moses.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles (sent ones) of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
In Luke 13:11-16 Jesus said the devil can put diseases and physical problems on people; the question is can the devil also remove them? When the devil removes diseases and maladies does it not look like healing? Yes, Satan can duplicate or counterfeit the supernatural gifts. He even has a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit whom the Apostle John identified it as the “spirit of antichrist”.
1 John 4:1-3 – “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
These false ministers have the appearance of being servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, but look at what Jesus has to say about them:
Matthew 7:22-23 - "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (rebellion - doing your own thing)."
Jesus said it is not by their Gifts that you shall know them but by their FRUIT. It is His character and nature that must be seen in them - WHY? Satan can't counterfeit the FRUIT of the SPIRIT - Why, because he has the opposite character and nature. That's the character and nature that entered Adam and Eve when they yielded to Satan's subtlety in the garden. That's the same character and nature we are all born with and have to be saved from. Salvation and repentance is only the beginning of the new life which is why the gift ministries were given - to take us on to perfection (which means completion), to the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
In these last days you must look for the Fruit of the Spirit in those who minister to you, or in your church. If you don't see the Fruit of the Spirit - run away; don't be deceived by the gifts, the lying signs and wonders – (Mathew 7:22). What is that Fruit? ….. LOVE - JOY - PEACE - LONGSUFFERING - GENTLENESS - GOODNESS - FAITH - MEEKNESS – TEMPERANCE.
Many will be deceived as they follow after the power, the gifts, the signs and wonders and to be dazzled by the spectacular. Satan has always loved to put on a show. God doesn't put on shows, He always has a purpose and that purpose is to change lives, here in this present lifetime, and have them conform to his image. His image is not only for those who teach and preach God‘s Word, but for all who believe. The apostle Paul also gave such a warning:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Don't be deceived! You don’t wait till you die and go to be with the Lord before you change and conform to his image; it’s to happen here, now, in this life. Can you imagine being in heaven and being with everyone else who is self-centered, prideful, lying, cheating, lusting and all the other works of the flesh (self). It would be no different than what we have now on earth. Look what God’s Word has to say about people who continue to live this way – even after claiming to become Christians.
Galatians 5:19-21 – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”.
God’s Word tells us that His character and nature is to be in everyone who believes in Him. This character and nature, also called the Fruit of the Spirit, is to be developed in each and every believer here, now, and in this life in order to be qualified to rule and reign with Him. We are to put off the worldly selfish life of the flesh and conform to his image; to look, act like and be the sons of God.
Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Allow the Lord to produce His fruit in you - His character and nature. I just gave you a seed. There is a great deal more to this lesson on what is required for this fruit to be produced in you. Here is a hint of what is required; you must remove from your life that which hinders the Fruit of the Spirit from coming forth in you. If you have the Spirit of Christ in you, His character and nature (zoe) is already there but cannot be seen until your fleshly self has been removed. “Self” hinders His nature from being seem in you.
Galatians 5:24 –“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:22-24 – “That ye put off concerning the former conversation (behavior) the old man (self), which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
I pray that you will seek more on this topic from the Lord as there are hindrances to the fruit being produced in your life. Study Matthew 13:18-23 which discusses the challenges to the production of fruit unto the harvest. This parable describes that the harvest will consist of some people that may only attain 30% of Christ-likeness, others 60%, and some others will reach 100%. However, some fail to mature at all.
Each level is able to be harvested while those who do not attain a level of Christ-likeness don’t make the harvest. They may or may not make it into the Kingdom; but if they do make it in, they will not be qualified to rule and reign with Christ. This could also be compared with the parable of the ten virgins. The five wise ones, who had the maintained their light and went in; but the five foolish ones, whose light went out, did not get to go in with the bridegroom. The light represents Christ, the light of the world that is to be seen in each believer. The foolish virgins let their light burn out. There are people today who call themselves Christians that are doing this same thing; letting their light burn out.
Remember, time is short, the harvest is coming; the harvest comes when the fruit is ripe. For the fruit to be ripe for harvest means it has matured. It’s the matured fruit God is looking for to harvest when believers begin to look and act like Christ, the sons of God.
Romans 8:28-29 – “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Our Lord is looking for the fruit of His fields to ripen - then comes the harvest. What God wants is for you to look like, act like and live like Sons of God. This is what God wants! – the life of Christ, His life (the zoe kind of life), His character and nature flowing through you.
Romans 8:14-19 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”