Issues of Life Archive 91-100

Issues of Life #91

Life at the Next Level

 

“I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey” “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light”

Ex 13:21/Ex 3:17

 

    It may not be correct terminology but I have seen, in my time of walking with the Lord, that there seem to be levels of growth as we travel along with Him. In some ways it parallels the travels and journeys of the children of Israel as they left Egypt and started their trek toward the Promised Land. A trip that should have taken about twelve days ended up taking forty years! God got His people out of Egypt but it took years to get Egypt out of them. Throughout those forty years there were stopping places for the band of Israelites. When the cloud and the pillar of fire stopped, the travel stopped. And the two or three million people did not move from there again until the cloud or the fire moved. When the cloud or the pillar of fire moved, without hesitation, the people packed up their belongings and readied for the next leg of the journey.

    Our Christian lives are much like that. Through our salvation experience the Father got us out of the world, so to speak. But it takes a lifetime for Him to get the ‘world’ out of us! Our lives, if we are trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, are somewhat like the Israelites. We move as He moves. There are seasons of movement and there are seasons of stillness it seems. Spiritual growth can absolutely take place in both these seasons. So, a stationary season does not necessarily mean zero growth. Much to the contrary, when we trust in, and ‘wait on’ the Lord, those seasons can bring phenomenal spiritual growth. Then there are those seasons when we begin to move. It’s hard to explain but it is something that one can definitely perceive in the Spirit. We can sense the moving of the Father to take us to another level spiritually.

    There are things that one experiences during these ‘moving’ times which, incidentally, may also bring incredible spiritual growth. We are tested in all facets of our lives by the Father. It is not so much so He can find out where we are spiritually, it’s so we can find out ourselves! If you think about it, God is all knowing. He knows how you are going to respond to the tests of life. When we go through these inevitable tests we are able to see whether or not, for our own selves, if we’re ready for life at the next level.

 


Issues of Life #92

Life at the Next Level

Part 2

 

“I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey” “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light”

Ex 13:21/Ex 3:17

 

    As we travel along with the Lord in our lives there are times when we can sense the activity of the Lord as He moves us to the ‘next level’. “The testing of our faith produces patience”, His Word says. We are tested in all areas of our lives. It is a good thing. The testing of the Father has a maturing effect on our lives. The ideal response, and certainly the Father’s hope, is that we will exhaust our own abilities and resources and turn wholeheartedly to Him. He wants our dependency to be placed in Him. It is so He can show us how much He actually loves us and how able He really is to meet all of our needs.

    As we move to the next level spiritually, things change. Those who are in a casual, superficial relationship with the Father may not notice at all. It is only as we are deepening in our relationship with Him that we really notice the moving of God. It is for those who are ‘pressing in’ that also notice the adversity that the devil is surely to provide against us. For the serious follower of God life at the next level is rewarded with a greater manifestation of God’s presence. That, in Itself, is what I believe to be the greatest thing that we can experience in this life! The greater manifestation of His presence is part of our reward for being obedient to Him and His plans for our lives. But life at the next level and the greater manifestation of His presence requires more from us. There is greater responsibility required from us at the next level. God desires to bestow a greater anointing (His empowerment to do His will) on us as we ‘infect’ the world around us. We become more aware at the next level that the plans that God has set before us can, in no way, be accomplished without Him! Our dependency upon Him increases. Our intimacy with Him deepens. We should set our hearts on Him….and approach with great zeal and excitement, life at the next level.

 


Issues of Life #93

Life at the Next Level Part 3

 

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.”  Hebrews 6:1

 

    Life at the next level involves a number of new and deeper experiences with the Lord. God’s desire is to bless us with a greater manifestation of His holy presence. The reward of His presence comes as a result of our obedience and devotion to Him. Of course God wants us to experience the fullness of His presence but he cannot, by His own nature, bless pride, laziness, rebellion, disobedience and the like. By indulging in those things we rob ourselves of the best that He has for us.

    We must move on to perfection, or maturity, as the verse above encourages. It’s frightfully amazing to me of how many born again believers are not actually in a mode of personal spiritual growth. Many seem to be satisfied with the fact that they are saved and there’s no real effort to mature in the things of the Lord or to ‘go on to perfection’. In fact they have found that to press in to the Lord means experiencing extreme adversity from our enemy, the devil. And it is true; the genuine follower of God will definitely encounter the forces of darkness on the spiritual battlefield. But it’s part of the adventure of this life. It is said that, “we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus”. If that’s true, and we know that it is, then we must have situations, circumstances and problems to overcome in the normal course of our life.

    To ‘go on to perfection’ requires that we be in charge of our own spiritual lives. We should take the initiative to get on a path of personal growth. It’s a co-op thing! We cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit as He leads us into genuine spiritual maturity. There are plenty of practical things that we can do to cooperate. One of the key ‘practical’ things is prayer, of course. Without prayer we forfeit the opportunity of true intimacy. Without prayer our needs may go unmet as, “we have not because we ask not”. Without prayer we miss the opportunity for our faith to grow. It is through prayer that we ask those impossible things of the Lord and see Him move in a supernatural way. Watchman Nee, one of the great leaders of the underground church in China a generation ago said it this way, “If we fail in prayer, we fail in everything”. I tend to agree. If we’re to go on to perfection we must discipline ourselves in prayer. Prayer sets the stage for everything else! It is top priority! There are other things we must focus on if we’re to succeed at life at the next level.

 


Issues of Life #94

Life at the Next Level #4

Responsibility

 

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;” 1 Tim 1:12

 

    As the Father moves us away from immaturity and into maturity there are many characteristics that mark the road. One of those characteristics is, responsibility. How we handle responsibility will, in part, determine how successful we are at the next level. The Bible says that, “God does not tempt any man”. But He doesn’t mind testing us to the very core of our existence. He tests our faith and His Word says that, “the testing of our faith produces patience”. He tests our commitment in the things that we have heard from Him. He tests our faithfulness in areas of importance in our lives. And remember, He doesn’t take us through these tests so He will know where we stand on them. No, much to the contrary; He tests us so that we can see where we are! He even loves us enough to allow us to fail when we try to do it under our own steam. The tests in our lives are designed to teach us to place our trust in Him. We will find quickly that our destiny cannot be lived out successfully unless we learn to put total dependence on Him. It’s not about our ability, it’s about His!

    When we move to another level, spiritually, we are tested in our responsibility to the things that God has put before us. We must learn to be trustworthy in the day to day opportunities and trials that come our way. We must be responsible in the relationships that we are involved in. We must learn to be responsible with our finances. Even the little things become very important in live at the next level. How we handle our family duties becomes even more important. Whether or not we ‘fudge’ on our income taxes and how we handle ourselves when nobody is looking becomes even more important. Yes, life at the next level brings a much greater focus on responsibility. Our anointing, the God given ability to operate in the supernatural, will never exceed our level of responsibility. They are directly connected. We should not be lax in the area of responsibility and trustworthiness. We make known to a lost and dying world the faithfulness of our Father by our own faithfulness in the affairs of life. Make no mistake about it…they are watching. The world is watching how we handle our lives and the challenges that confront us all. We must learn to be responsible if we’re to succeed at life at the next level.

 


Issues of Life #95

Life at the Next Level #5

Adversity!

 

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

 

    Life at the next level has many defining characteristics. There is not a textbook, a roadmap or a lesson plan for the changes that will surely come. He must have our heart! And when He has our heart…and our ear, He will show us and tell us everything that we need to know as we move ahead on the road to spiritual maturity. We’re on a need-to-know basis with the Father. His desire is to talk to us about every facet of our lives. He is reprogramming our minds away from the dangerous position of thinking that we know it all and teaching us that He can be trusted in every area of our life. He is quick to show us the folly of attempting to make it through life without His provision and empowerment. As the Father moves us to the next level we notice immediately that there is definitely greater opposition and adversity.

    I think that we can look at this from at least two different perspectives. One perspective, which we have already talked about, is God’s perspective. God allows adversity in our lives to test us. That testing produces patience and teaches us to depend on Him. Secondly, the Bible is clear that we have “an adversary, the devil who walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. I really never realized that the devil was real until I learned that God was real. Then the adversity became a reality. If you try to look at your life from the enemy’s standpoint then it makes perfect sense. When you are progressing in your relationship with the Father and learning to overcome in the affairs of life, it’s bad news for the devil. The Word declares that, “he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy”. He doesn’t have that many tricks but he’s very good at the ones he does have! Paul said in one of his letters that, “we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices”. As we mature, we recognize that much of our opposition comes from the hands of the devil and his cohorts. We are in a spiritual war! “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” It’s clear from those biblical words that we are definitely in a battle! If you should say, “I don’t feel like I’m in a battle”, could it be that you are not progressing in the things of God? For every one of us that has made it a priority to be obedient to the Father, the attack is real. It is something that we must learn to overcome if we’re to be successful in life at the next level.

 


Issues of Life #96

Life at the Next Level #6

Planning for Personal Growth

 

 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true;” 1 John 5:20

 

    As we move to the next level in our walk with the Father, everything changes. God moves us from level to level as we prove ourselves faithful in the circumstances that He has sovereignly placed before us. Life at the next level is much more intense than what we have experienced before. We need to have much more spiritual savvy if we’re to make the transition from level to level. The question then arises of how we are to gain that spiritual savvy that’s so important. It comes in a variety of ways and all of them very important.

    Spiritual growth first comes from our experience in relationship with the Father. I believe that this is the single most important component of true spiritual growth. It is through our relationship with the Father that we actually get to know Him. I believe that one thing puts everything else in proper perspective. In fact, in my early days of learning to walk with the Father, I had very little Biblical orientation. I didn’t grow up in church and didn’t know much of anything about God’s Word. And my life was in such a state of disrepair, spiritually, that when I really came to the Lord I had no other choice than to depend on Him. There was no one else who could help me in my life. It was at that time that I began the process of getting to know Him. What seemed at the time to be the worst time in my life has proven to be, over time, the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it was through those trying times that the Father drew me ever so close to Him. It is a process that has not stopped in over twenty years. In fact the process has only gained momentum over that period of time. I had the great blessing of getting to know the Father before I was exposed to church doctrine, church politics and denominational mindsets. It has proven to be an incredible blessing for me.

    If we are to delve deeper into our relationship with the Father then we must devote more of our time to do so. Any meaningful relationship requires time and attention from both parties. You wouldn’t have a very significant relationship with your wife or husband if you never spent any time with them. True spiritual growth requires that we go deeper in relationship with Him. It is, by the way, the very reason that we were created….to be in relationship with Him! There are other essentials to consider when we are planning for personal spiritual growth.


 

Issues of Life #97

Life at the Next Level #7

Planning for Personal Growth

 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever."

Isaiah 40:8

 

    It’s true that giving ourselves in abandonment to the relationship with the Father is the single most important component in the quest for genuine spiritual growth. But there are other things that are also important if we’re serious about our own growth in the Lord. Another of the essentials, as I see it, is the study, examination and understanding of the written Word of God, the Bible. His Word contains His commandments, His precepts, His principles and His instructions for our lives. The Word is full of mysteries that come alive as He reveals the Truth contained in the Book. His Word is the ‘owners manual’ for our life. As we read and apply ourselves to the serious study of the Word, the Holy Spirit makes the written Word understandable and relevant to our own lives. The Word serves to guide our lives and give us a clear gauge of what ultimate Truth is. The writer of Psalms says it this way, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

    If we’re serious about our own plan for personal spiritual growth then we must consider growing in the Word. Beginning a systematic study of the Bible would be a viable discipline to help in the process. “His Word is a light unto my feet, and a lamp unto my path.” As we look into the perfect law of God, His Word serves as a mirror for us. In the light of His Word we begin to see ourselves like we really are. We begin to get a better understanding of the relationship that He has called us into and a verbal, written record of how much He loves us! That, added to an ever growing level of intimacy with the Lord, brings us into proper balance in our life. Our life begins to actually take on the importance that God has placed on it.

    When we’re talking about our own spiritual growth, one thing stands clear. We can’t accomplish it without the Word of God. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” There are an innumerable number of blessings and benefits that come from reading and studying the Book. And in its purest essence, the Book is given unto us to define and to enhance our relationship with Him. Life at the next level requires us to get in a growing mode. And true spiritual growth cannot happen without the written Word of God!


 

Issues of Life #98

Life at the Next Level #8

Overcoming Oppression!

 

    Of all the deceptive and underhanded tactics of the devil, the web of oppression can be the most intimidating. “We have an adversary, the devil, who walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The enemy and his cohorts know when….and how to attack! He knows just what buttons to push to spark fear, confusion, anxiety, distraction and depression. Oppression is the relentless attack and pressure exerted by the enemy. No born-again believer is immune from this plot of the devil. His plan is to divert us from the perfect plan of God for our lives and stall us out in our walk with the Father. He would ultimately like to totally seduce us out of the life-giving relationship with the Father and get our focus on other things. The God-given Biblical mandate is for us to “walk by faith and not by sight”. And as long as he can keep us distracted by our own problems and circumstances (and always blown out of proportion), he can keep us out of the walk of faith. And, the Word declares that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Another day of delay is another day further from our destiny!

    Dealing with oppression is a pertinent and timely subject for all believers. Moving to the next level spiritually is a guarantee that the enemy will ramp up the negative pressure against us. It’s part of the deal! He mounts his assault against us in direct proportion to the glory of God that’s to be revealed in us. God’s Word is clear that we are to be “more than conquerors, through Christ”. The road to ultimate personal victory, and one of the great ‘keys’ to our spiritual success, is how we deal with adversity and oppression.

    The solution is simple! I didn’t say it was easy….I said it was simple. Here’s how we do it. First, we must not allow ourselves to be distracted from our quest of intimacy with the Father. That is our lifeline! Second, we need to stay the course! As we pray for God to further reveal our destiny, we must keep walking in that direction, being obedient to Him, by faith, every step of the way. Third, don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Fourth, we need one another. Whatever you do, don’t get separated from the family! Lean on your brothers and sisters. When you need help… ask for it. If you feel like you’re surrounded, call in the troops! The ‘spell’ of oppression is the enemy’s last ditch effort to hold you back. The glory of God is coming! The kingdom of heaven is at hand!


 

Issues of Life #99

Life at the Next Level #9

The Anointing

 

    As the Lord moves us to another level of maturity there are many things that take on an added measure of importance. One of the things that He wants to do is to endow us with a greater measure of anointing to do His will. The anointing is the empowerment of God, by His Spirit, that enables us to operate under His power in the supernatural. That’s how the Father intends for us to live our lives, depending not on our own ability, but on His! There are secrets to the greater anointing. Obedience to the plan and will of God in our lives is definitely a prerequisite to more power in ministry. And, of course, we must walk the walk of faith. His Word says that, “it is impossible to please God without faith”. It is by faith that we ‘lay hold’ of those unseen things that are necessary for us to live a glorious life that brings honor to the Father. Another component that is important in the quest for a greater anointing is diligence. We must persevere in the walk of obedience and faith. We mustn’t give up. There will be plenty of times of discouragement and uncertainty; plenty of times when our faith is under fire. There will be plenty of times when we feel like we’ve lost our way or that our vision has died. So, at the advent and activation of true and genuine diligence, we are able to make it through those tough times, and in doing so our lives actually serve to bring honor to the Father.

    Another thing that is extremely important is the issue of ‘responsibility’. The anointing follows, and is in proportion to, our level of responsibility to the tasks that God has put before us. And in that respect it doesn’t matter how grand the plan of God is for us because if we are not responsible then there’s no anointing. It’s that simple. Our anointing never exceeds our level of responsibility! But then on the other hand when we are obedient to God and walking by faith, we are in position to receive from the Father all our provisions, all our needs and the supernatural empowerment to bring God’s glory on Earth!

    So, we must make it a priority to be responsible to all that God says to us! We must repent in those areas where we have fallen short. We must repent of compromising the perfect will of God. There is absolutely no excuse. We must be responsible stewards. And when we are….the anointing will come. And all the world will know, He’s God!!


 

Issues of Life #100

Life at the Next Level #10

Unresolved Issues

 

            In our quest for more meaningful and deeper spiritual life at the next level there are things that must be addressed. God is conforming us into the image of Jesus. He is patient and ‘longsuffering’, which means that He puts up with a lot from us. At any rate He is in for the long haul and He is determined to make us like Himself.

            What might be a small problem in our life at the current level can become a very large problem at the next level. A compromise of what’s right or wrong here will become a huge character wreck somewhere down the line. All of us have been hurt, offended and wounded through circumstances in our lives. We have all been damaged by some other person at one time or another. Some of the things that must be addressed at the next level are ‘unresolved issues’. When those hurts that we all experience are not adequately dealt with they remain in our psyche. Depending on the depth of the hurt and the extent of the pain inflicted many people close themselves off to others. That’s in itself is tragic enough but the greater problem is that the issue is never dealt with. When those issues are not dealt with there’s always a protected area of one’s life. Unresolved issues have the dangerous potential of changing us into someone that God never intended for us to be. For instance, when a person who is very compassionate, softhearted and sensitive toward people is hurt deeply, it can cause the person to avoid connecting with others at a ‘heart’ level and thereby hardening his/her heart. I am convinced that there are literally thousands out there who come across as angry or mean spirited, but down deep inside there is a very compassionate, softhearted person who can’t get out. And the very act of protecting the area of pain prohibits others from penetrating the ‘shell’. Healing and restoration rarely takes place and the person lives his/her life being someone vastly different than God intended them to be. One thing leads to another when talking about unresolved issues. This kind of ‘baggage’ keeping one from their true identity can cause even greater problems. When we’re not being who we are designed to be then we take a huge chance of not doing what we’re supposed to do with our life. Missing our destiny is a tragic thing indeed! Unresolved issues must be faced…..and dealt with. It’s another reason we need God. He will help!!

 

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