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Difficult Verses 2: Hebrews 12.14

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Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12.14)

This verse is one of the verses that is used to condemn people all the time.  If you are not holy, you will not see the Lord.  It’s often taken two ways: firstly, if you are not holy you will not see the Lord (come through for you).  In other words, you will stay poor and sick, stay broken, stay a mess because God isn’t happy with you and doesn’t want to bless you until you reach a certain standard of holiness.  That brings so much condemnation.  The second way people add to this verse is even worse, they think: if you are not holy, you will not see the Lord (when you die).  In other words, you lose your salvation because you are not good enough to be saved.

Let’s refute both of these.  Firstly, you are not going to fail to get blessed because you are not good enough.  You are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1.3) so you are not going to fail to be blessed because you are blessed.  In Galatians 3.1-5 Paul is clear that miracles happen because you believed the Word not because of you obeying the Law.  Your goodness is not a currency that you can exchange for blessings.  The good news of the gospel is that you are blessed independent of your behaviour.

Secondly, you are not going to heaven if you are good enough.  You are not good enough – entry into heaven is through faith in Christ alone.  All you have to do is believe and receive.  You are saved from hell by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing with your heart that He is risen from the dead.  Again, goodness has nothing to do with it.

So what does the verse mean?  The context is clear from the first part of the verse (and the surrounding verses) that Paul (or whoever you think the writer to Hebrews is) is talking about how we relate to other people.  It’s to do with peace with all people.  You see this verse is about following holiness because without that holiness no man (i.e. other people) will see the Lord.

You are holy already (Ephesians 1.5).  Your spirit has been made in true holiness and righteousness.  Deep down you are holy – your salvation and you being blessed is secure in Him and His work.  But unless you follow that holiness other people will not see the Lord in you.  You have all the love of God in your spirit, but if you steal from your boss, are mean to your co-workers and are known as the office flirt, no one will ever see that love and that holiness in you.  You have to follow holiness – not to get saved, you are; not to get blessed, you are – but so that the world will see our light and come to the light.

So go and live holy.  Not to impress God – He loves you to bits.  Not to get blessed – everything is yours in Christ already.  But so the world may know.  So you have credibility when you ask people to church.  So you can impact the world with the love of God.

Yongii Cho Quotes…

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David Yongii Cho is the pastor of the world’s largest church.  Here are some wonderful quotes to build you up spiritually…

To Grow Out You Must Grow In


Growing in means the development of inner resources. When you build a tall building, the crucial aspect that determines success is the building’s foundation. To build high, you must dig deep.

A building’s foundation is not tested until the exact stress for which its foundation was designed comes to bear upon it. The foundation’s strength is then tested and the soundness of its construction is most crucial at this time.

Changing Your Attitude


The first place that God needs to work is in your heart. The heart is the major battle ground.

John 14:1-4 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Prov 4:20-23 “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

How does one become successful as spiritual leader, as a businessman, or in any other profession? You first must change your heart attitude. How can you change your heart attitude? You must inspect your vision. If you have the wrong vision or if your vision is too small for the ability God has granted you, your heart attitude is also going to be wrong and you’ll find yourself discouraged, bewildered, and depressed.

Some cover up their failures by using catch phrases that sound spiritual. God wants us to grow and to grow in a big way. Being satisfied with smallness may reveal a lack of spiritual insight of God’s kingdom purposes. Or perhaps it is a lack of compassion for a world that doesn’t know the Lord or for believers that are struggling. How else can we serve God and help others unless we ourselves are successful. This is no time to be satisfied with the status quo in your life. This is the time that God will work in your heart for great growth both spiritually and materially. Don’t be fearful when you consider the possibility that God has great things for you. God has called you for special purpose. You must work on your heart to find His purpose for your life.

A Man’s Vision Will Also Limited His Behavior.

We can never be any more than we dream of being. As we set our eyes on God’s holy word and develop a deep fellowship with the Holy Spirit, our vision is changed. How can you change your vision? You can’t, but the Holy spirit can and will.

I had to be delivered from the concept that the Holy Spirit was just an experience and come to the realization that the Holy Spirit was a real, divine person.

As I began to wait upon him and talk to him, he then became very real to me and began to change my vision. In fact, as we set our gaze upon the Holy Spirit, he takes the brush of faith, dips into the ink of the Word of God and draws beautiful pictures upon the canvas of our hearts. After he gives us a new picture to strive for, we find a new internal motivation.

…there is no obstacle that can discourage a man who’s been given a vision by the Holy Spirit. One of the main obstacles to overcome is the opinion of those who say, “It’s impossible. It has never been done before.” What is their problem? They have never seen what God has shown you. Once God has granted you a vision, then you must learn to spend time dreaming over that vision.

Visions and Dreams


This is the essence of my philosophy. It covers all of the principles of congregational growth work. I call it “visions and dreams.” As I travel throughout the world, I’ve seen evidences of the fact that the application of vision and dreams really works in changing one’s heart attitude.

Most men I’ve seen are satisfied with the status quo. They have congregations of 30 to 50 members and since most tithed, they could live comfortably without expanding. So their congregations become exclusive little clubs. When this happens, the desire for growth will not develop.

Expand Your Vision


Sometimes our actions limit our vision. At times we find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose the level of money we’re going to spend for something. Perhaps you’re visiting a place and need to stay in a hotel. What kind of a room should you stay in? Does God really want us to stay in a nice place? Does he want us to stay in spartan surroundings so as to conserve money? This a difficult question, which only you can you answer. Yet sometimes, I’ve found that people don’t believe God for great things, especially when it comes to themselves. This may come from a sense of inferiority, or a false humility or spirituality.

That week I spent much time teaching the leaders to begin to expand their vision and dreams. As amazing as it sounds, it seems that our heavenly Father allows his representatives on earth to limit his activity through a lack of vision. I believe the same thing applies to prayer. God voluntarily limits Himself by our prayers. He can do anything, but He chooses to limit the scope of His authority by vesting it in us.

So here is how it works. Our heart attitude is changed by catching a fresh vision from the Holy Spirit. Once the vision is imparted, we must dwell upon it and dream about it until the vision comes into reality.

The Language of the Holy Spirit


Rom 4:16-18 “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed– God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

Abraham was a man who was not willing to stay in the status quo. He was able to leave the known and enter into a new place, the one shown to him by God. If Abraham looked only upon the circumstances he would not have listened to God. He would have stayed in Haran. Abraham possessed the quality of obedience which caused him to move forward despite every obstacle. He went through difficult times, when everything he did seemed to fail. Abraham was first obedient to God as evidenced by his leaving the known and being willing to enter into the unknown. Although he believed that God could do what he promised, Abraham had to “see” the promise come to pass in his spirit before he could actually set foot upon it. He first saw the reality in the dreams and by Holy Spirit-given vision. Cho believes that vision comes after a person has proven themselves to be obedient. Then once the vision comes, a person needs to dream about the fulfillment to the vision. That process of dreaming, thinking, and meditating about the vision, he calls incubation. We should incubate on the vision until it becomes reality–until God calls those things which are not as though they were.

God is Interested in Our Success


We must always remember that God is more interested in our success and church growth than we are. After all, it is his church. Our problem is that our hearts have not had the proper attitude because our vision has not been correct. We have not have the proper vision because we have not entered into a deep and loving fellowship with the Holy Spirit. All vision is revealed to us by God through the Holy Spirit.

What is our goal? Is it growth of God’s kingdom? Are we looking for increased numbers? Are we looking for increased spiritual maturity in people? If so, that we can be assured in our spirits that this is certainly God’s will.

Remember, you can listen to this talk or read a book on spiritual growth yet never see a change in yourself or the situation you find yourself in. Why? Perhaps it’s because your heart has not really changed. Nothing much will happen unless there’s been a heart change.

We are Spirit Beings


We are essentially spiritual beings, using intellect and emotion, all housed in a physical body. Our spirits are revived at the new birth, but they need nourishment and development. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as the comforter to lead us and guide us. He has the mind of God, even for your church. Once you receive his direction and vision, you change your heart attitude from failure to success. Now you begin to be motivated by a greater force than you have never known and you will begin to see results as you follow proper church growth principles.

You Need Vision


The greatest hindrance to the fulfillment of God’s desire to see growth is a lack of vision within the leadership. “It can’t happen here. This is too hard a field.” These negative statements must be put out of our vocabulary, once and for all. We are to begin using the language of the Holy Spirit and building a new success consciousness in the minds of all our people.

This kind of negative talk kills vision. Once you get a vision from God go with it. Put to death any negative statements. Of course, your vision must not contradict the Word of God and it must be in His will.

I’ve found that the safest course is to take counsel with those in leadership above you. They have been given by God to guard you from getting out of his will. Any true vision of God will stand the test of being brought before leadership. Even if those above you don’t understand or comprehend the vision God has given you, they’ll recognize that the Holy Spirit has indeed planted something within your spirit. you see, efficient is implanted spiritually and its communicated spiritually. You don’t have to fear that your explanation will not convey the divine nature of what you’ve received. Our spirits are commended to another’s spirit by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes a failure to take counsel indicates a lack of trust in God. God works through leadership not in spite of leadership. Leadership is not an obstacle to get around. Fear that the leadership which God has entrusted to care for your soul will prevent you from walking out your vision is a terrible deception of the Enemy.

People can be deceived in regard to vision. This isn’t meant to discourage you, but vision is so powerful a tool from God that the Enemy can use false or distorted vision to get believers out of God’s will.

Have an Attitude of Success


To motivate others to succeed, we must have an attitude of success not only in our speaking but also in our lives. Many congregations have a non-growth attitude because the leader does not possess a high enough self esteem. This is a key in leadership.

The reason for your poor self-image may be one of the following: poor appearance, education, discipline, family status, ability, and health. This list is far from exhaustive but representative of the excuses given for poor self image.

Another thing that Cho is saying is that personal appearance is important. When he meets ambassadors of the world’s leading nations, one of the common traits they seem to possess is general good looks. They may not be young or handsome, but they seem to be in good shape. After all, are they not representing their particular country? Should they not try to present their best image? Yet, the kingdom of God also has ambassadors. They represent the king of kings and the Lord of the Lords. It is Cho’s opinion that a leader can change his self image by watching his diet and doing the best that he can with what God has given him. Are you doing the best with what God has given you–as Messiah’s ambassador? Are you presenting an image that other should follow? If not, it’s never too late to change. Once you start feeling good about yourself, you will find others will feel better about you too. People will first look at you before they listen to you. What they see affects how they hear.

Another important concept is learning. Success for people spend their whole lives aboard this is not limited by formal education. He has called us to a life of continual improvement. Educate yourself understand what you’re asking and go out and prove yourself.

Have Discipline


A lack of discipline is another reason why people have a poor self image. I’ve had appointments with leaders who show up one to 2 hours late. Traffic, business pressures and unexpected circumstances are poor excuses for tardiness. Make your plans with the provision for the unexpected.

Sin

Sin is one of the chief causes of poor self image. It is therefore, imperative for every person who God wishes to use in the building of his congregation to live a holy life. What you watch and dwell upon will affect what you become. If there is sin in your life, confess that sin quickly to God, repenting from it and asking for his Grace to live morally clean. Little success leads to great victories and soon you will find your self image has changed. God is a loving and forgiving God. If he expects you to forgive your brother, why should he not forgive you?

Change is Possible


I don’t care how low your family station is, God can change your self image. Remember that Yeshua was born into a very poor family circumstance and He is a son of God. As you get a fresh vision of God’s will for your life and ministry, you can overcome all of society’s barriers and succeed. Abilities may differ but success is for all. Our problem begins when we compare ourselves with other people. Some of you haven’t succeeded in school or in the job market and as a result you have poor self image. The way to overcome these past obstacles is to compare ourselves with the goal that God has set before us. He never leads us to do anything that He has not given us the grace and the strength to accomplish successfully.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly or too quickly. Even Einstein failed over and over again before he had success. Just because you’ve failed doesn’t mean you are a failure.

All successful ministries and leaders that I know have made mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you’re God’s mistake. Learn valuable lessons from your mistakes.

Health and Handicaps


You must cooperate with God in keeping your body fit. Exercise regularly, watch what you eat, rest as much as possible. Stress is one the greatest problems to keeping healthy. Oftentimes leaders collapse from exhaustion. Learn the secret of trusting other people. Realize that the kingdom of God works by others combining with one another. Trust other people. Trust that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Maybe you have a handicap–a physical or mental limitation. We should take any handicaps that we have and turn them into assets. Believe God for your healing and restoration, yet move forward. Don’t wait for your healing to move forward.

Our Associations


Watch out for the type of people to associate with. Are they negative? Do they negatively affect our self image? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be set free from the disabling effects of negative people and surroundings. Read the Word of God. Find out what God says about yourself. If God did not believe we were of value, He would not have sent His son to die for us. We are called to special works. We have great value in the Lord. We’re able to do all that God has called us to do, by his Grace.

Pray and Do

Sometimes we pray that God would do something and then we stand back to see what God does. This is a great mistake. God will work through us. He works through you and me. This is why our personal resources are of utmost importance. What would we be like if we had the success we’re believing for? The answer to that question is very important. Our character is now being prepared for revival. We are being tested and we are finding grace to overcome the test. Why? Because God wants to use us.

Three Waves – The Second Wave, a Wave of Financial Integrity

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As the people cast out demons, healed the sick and had the most phenomenally accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom, two things happened

Firstly, there was a backlash of persecution from cessationist Christians.  Not from the world, not really – much more from Christians who denied the Scriptures and the power of God.  This persecution took the form of exclusion from meetings, people were forced to stand down from leadership positions.  Some pastors were removed from their churches, other pastors virtually expelled their entire churches for speaking in tongues and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  This caused a few people to back off and stop their new life of faith and miracles and joy.  However, far more people were galvanised by this and it caused them to dig into the Word to understand the Biblical basis for seeing miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It caused them to spend much more time with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and friend, and the wave of miracles grew more intense.
In the places where the persecution was strongest, often involving creative miracles of limbs re-growing and organs being restored.

The second thing that happened is that some people who had been involved in the most religious, non-charismatic churches realized that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit was free and completely by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  At the same time, many of the people moving in the gifts were very young Christians, some only being Christians for a few weeks or even days.

Some of these people started – or continued – in some of the vilest sins.  Some of these started to be exposed and revealed.  It threatened to derail the revival spreading through London and at this stage had started to affect churches in the home counties and in some areas in north England, Wales, France and eastern Europe.

Just at this time, several Christian ministers started to preach on purity and integrity in a powerful way.  Thousands flocked to hear sermons on holiness and purity throughout London.  People started to learn how to think on what is right, how to form pure and wise relationships and how to be honest in all their dealings.  It was a beautiful move and it dovetailed into the healing wave that had just past.  People started to learn how to live their life on the Word, not just on their gifting or anointing.  A small group went into an excess and said they could live how they like and started swapping partners, but this group stopped almost as soon as it started.

I have referred to this wave as a wave of financial integrity because that is how I saw it.  All the things I described above happened in my vision, but the crest of the wave was this: churches started to deal with money in an open and honest way.  I saw Christian leaders weeping before their churches because they had operated the church finances as an extension of their own bank accounts.  I saw elders apologize for manipulating people into giving to their causes.  Some people were repenting of making up causes to raise offerings and this was revealed.

Now, I know for a fact that there is excesses like this inside the charismatic church, but what surprised me when I saw this happen was that it was as much the traditional churches that had leaders repenting and making restitution as the charismatic churches.  Several pastors had raised money for an orphanage that did not even exist, and they were getting right with God and returning double the money to everyone who had given.

It was wonderful to watch.  And as it happened, as people – especially leaders – were honest, were owning up – there was a new level of trust across the body of Christ.  A Pentecostal minister would admit his folly, and instead of shooting him down, the local Anglican church would love him and reach out to him and restore him.  The Baptists were praying for the Assemblies of God, and the URC were praying for the Elim, and this opened up a number of joint meetings which led to many people being saved, healed and delivered.

The irony was that when this was dealt with, people actually became more generous with their money.  People who had never given more than a token amount to the church were giving 30-40% of their income into offerings for their churches.  Money was being distributed to the poor in London like never before.  A number of churches were getting together in different localities and buying buildings to use as shelters for the homeless and as soup kitchens, and places where people could be cared for and supported.  In many areas, one church was organising the whole project but would be amazed when other churches in the area would just send huge offerings with no strings attached.

As this wave started to subside – and I don’t mean that the integrity had ended, any more than the healings and miracles had ceased at this stage, but rather that this as a focus was ending – there were so many Christians who were fellowshipping with people they never thought they would fellowship with.
This is when the third wave I saw hit.

Strange Fire in the House of the Lord (J. Lee Grady)

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We need to be careful. Current fads involving angels, ecstatic worship and necromancy could push us off the edge of spiritual sanity.

No one fully understands what Nadab and Abihu did to prompt God to strike them dead in the sanctuary of Israel. The Bible says they loaded their firepans with incense, ignited the substance and “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1, NASB). As a result of their careless and irreverent behavior, fire came from God’s presence and consumed them.

Zap. In an instant they were ashes.

 

When Moses had to explain to Aaron what happened to the two men, he said: “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near to Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'” (v. 3). Although we don’t know the details of what Nadab and his brother did with the holy incense, we know they were careless and irreverent about the things of God.

“We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.”

This ancient story has relevant application for us today. We don’t use incense or firepans in our worship, but we are expected to handle God’s Word with care and minister to His people in the fear of the Lord. In other words: No funny business allowed. We aren’t allowed to mix God’s Word with foreign concepts or mix our worship with pagan practices.

Yet as I minister in various churches around this country I am finding that strange fire is spreading in our midst-even in churches that call themselves “Spirit-filled.” Pastors and leaders need to be aware of these trends:

1. Deadly visitations. In some charismatic circles today, people are claiming to have spiritual experiences that involve communication with the dead. One Michigan pastor told me last week that some church leaders he knows promote this bizarre practice and base it on Jesus’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. The logic is that since Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah on the day He was glorified, this gives us permission to talk to dead Christians and our dead relatives.

Although little is said about these experiences from the pulpit (since the average believer is not ready to handle this “new revelation”), people in some streams of the prophetic movement are claiming to have visitations from Aimee Semple McPherson, William Branham, John Wimber or various Bible characters. And we are expected to say, “Ooooooo, that’s so deep”-and then go looking for our own mystical, beyond-the-grave epiphany.

That is creepy. Communication with the dead was strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (see Deut. 18:11), and there is nothing in the New that indicates the rules were changed. Those who seek counsel from the dead-whether through mediums and séances or in “prophetic visions”-are taking a dangerous step toward demonization.

2. Ecstatic rapture. Not long after ecstasy became known as a recreational drug, someone in our movement got the bright idea to promote spiritual ecstasy as a form of legitimate worship. The concept evolved from “spiritual drunkenness” to the current fad in which people gather at church altars and pretend to shoot needles in their arms for a “spiritual high.” Some preachers today are encouraging people to “toke the Holy Ghost”-a reference to smoking marijuana.

I hate to be a party pooper, but the Bible warns us to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit” (1 Pet. 4:7). There is plenty of freedom and joy in the Holy Spirit; we don’t have to quench it by introducing people to pagan revelry. Christian worship is not about losing control. Those who worship Jesus do it “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), and our love for God is not measured by how violently we shake or how many times we fall on the floor.

Recently I told a friend in Pennsylvania that when people get tired of this drug imagery it won’t be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar. “It’s already happening,” my friend said. He described a recent “worship concert” in which one of the musicians simulated sex while stroking a microphone and whispering sensual phrases to Jesus. What is next-orgasmic worship? God help us.

3. Angels among us. Angels have always played a vital role in the life of the church. They are “ministering spirits” sent to protect, guide and strengthen believers (Heb. 1:14). But suddenly angels have become the rage in some segments of our movement. People are claiming to see them everywhere, and often the stories don’t line up with the Word of God.

During the Lakeland Revival last year in Florida, a man from Germany took the stage and claimed that an angel walked into a restaurant while he was eating a hamburger, took his intestines out and replaced them with a gold substance. Others have testified that angels took them to heaven and operated on them. And many are claiming that angels are dropping feathers, gold dust and precious gems on worshippers.

I know God can do anything. He can make an iron axe head float, hide a coin in a fish’s mouth and use a little boy’s lunch to feed a multitude. Those were genuine miracles that He can still do today. But we still have to use caution here. There are counterfeits. If we promote a false miracle or a false angel in the Lord’s house, we are participating in strange fire.

I know of a case where a man was caught planting fake jewels on the floor of a church. He told his friends he was “seeding the room” to lift the people’s faith. I know of others who have been caught putting gold glitter on themselves in a restroom and then running back in a church service, only to claim that God was blessing them with this special favor. Where is the fear of God when Christians would actually fabricate a miracle?

This is a time for all true believers with backbones to draw clear lines between what is godly worship and what is pagan practice. We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. He will be ministering from Feb. 17-27 in England. If this article was forwarded to you, we encourage you to sign up to receive “Fire in My Bones” weekly in your own mailbox. Click here.

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