"According to your faith, be it unto you."
Life is the canvas and you are the painter. It is no more difficult to paint health than sickness. It is not harder to paint joy than to paint sadness. Painting prosperity is just as easy as painting poverty. So as long as God has given you the paintbrush and the canvas, why not paint what you DO want, instead of what you DON'T want?
Create a future filled with blessings.
Envision life working in your favor.
Don't set low expectations because you fear disappointment. Aim higher---you have no idea what you are capable of. If God has gifted you with desire, he has also gifted you with fulfillment. And that fulfillment comes from the same source as the desire: you!
So, see your desires fulfilled. By doing so, you are painting a good future on the canvas of life. The only thing that could hinder it is you. Be careful to only paint perfection. Don't just paint a picture of today, unless, of course, today is perfect, and you would like to experience more of today, tomorrow.
How do you paint? By focusing your attention. Whenever you focus on a subject in life---whether you are giving attention to the presence of it or the lack of it---that is a brush stroke. When you think about money, are you focused on abundance of it? If so, you are painting more and more abundance of money. But if you're focused on the lack of it, you are painting more lack of money.
Jesus told us to ask and to receive, so that our joy would be made full. The asking process isn't a verbal one. It isn't saying, "Dear God, would you please give me such-and-such." No, when you give birth to a desire, you are asking. When your car breaks down and you have a focused desire for a better car, you have just asked for a better car.
The beautiful thing is, as soon as you ask, it is given. Jesus promised us this. "Whatever you ask for, believe you have received, and it will be done unto you as you have believed."
The key here, is, of course, belief. When your car breaks down, it can be so easy to not only give birth to a strong desire for a better vehicle, but to also strongly focus on the lack of the thing you desire. This creates a tension in the realm of the unseen. You are juggling contradictory beliefs: One is that you strongly want and need the better car; the other is that you are strongly aware that you don't have it yet.
In this state of faith-tension, you will be prevented from actualizing the thing you desire. Yes, it is given. The fulfilled desire is literally yours, all around you, in your spiritual possession. But until you align yourself with the presence, rather than the absence, of it, your manifestation will stay in the realm of possibility rather than reality.
There are several radio stations transmitting frequencies all around you right now. If your eyes could perceive such fast wavelengths, you would see that these frequencies are everywhere. They are bouncing all around your face, even creeping inside your ears. Yet you can't hear the music. You have to be tuned into the frequency in order to hear the music that is theoretically there the whole time.
In the same way, your desires---all of them, every single one of them since you were born---are all around you. The frequencies of fulfillment are bouncing all around you, existing in a very real, but very unseen realm. All you have to do is tap into the frequency that matches your desire. All of a sudden you will be able to hear the music that has been playing all along.
So how can you tell if you are focused on the presence or the absence of any given desire?
The answer is, your emotions. Your emotions are a gauge that will always let you know the gap between the frequency of your desires and the frequency of your thoughts. The farther away your thoughts are from the fulfillment or the presence of the things desired, the more your emotions will scream in protest. You will feel emotional pain that lets you know, not that your circumstances are unwanted, but that your thoughts, your frequency, is quite distant from where your emotions know you need to be. All you have to do is slowly, carefully, gently, vigilantly move your thoughts in the direction of the presence of the things desired. The closer you reign in your thoughts and focus toward the wonderful and beautiful desires you've given birth to, the better your emotions will feel. They will tell you, "Yes, you're on the right track! Keep going in this direction!"
With enough practice, you will soon be able to taste and smell and hear the things you desire. You are literally drawing them to yourself and they are drawing you to themselves.
This is the creative process by which God created everything we see and know. We, who are created in the image and likeness of the Creator, have the same exact creative nature as our Father. We must learn to use the same creative process that He does. By doing so, we can take control of our lives. Rather than letting life happen to us, we begin to happen to life! This is the method of a powerful creator, a master artist.
Remember, it is "according to your faith," or "frequency" or "alignment." Your future is yours; it's up to you to paint your desires on the canvas of tomorrow!
by winston davenport, FEBRUARY 2016
One of the most adhered-to theological basics in today's Christianity is called "Dispensationalism." Dispensationalism is the segmenting of known human history into tidy partitions, used to categorize the way in which man and God interacted at a given period of time.
These eras have been labeled according to the key event of each subdivision. The Edenic dispensation. The Abrahamic dispensation. The Mosaic dispensation.
The short fragment of our race's history in which Jesus walked the earth as a man is called "The Messianic dispensation."
After Jesus ascended to Heaven, we were thrust into a new dispensation—the Apostolic dispensation. This is the time in which Paul, Peter, James, and other early apostles established and organized the Christian Church. Eventually, these guys died off, opening the door to a new division in time: the dispensation that most dispensationalist theologians believe we're still in today. This can be called the Dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age. They believe this fragment of time will conclude when the rapture occurs, taking all Christians to Heaven while the rest of the world suffers in the Age of Tribulation.
After that comes varying editions of the Millennium and the New Jerusalem. This dispensationalist mode of thinking is insufferably complicated, certainly not simple enough for a child to grasp. Interestingly, Jesus said that entrance to the Kingdom is only available to those who are willing to embrace it with the simplicity of a child (see Matthew 18:3).
I have nothing personal against dispensationalists. In fact, I don't really care how theologians choose to complicate Christianity; that's between themselves and God. However, I have noticed that certain concepts—categorizations such as dispensationalism—tend to lend themselves to the relegation of God.
To relegate means to reduce something in importance—to downgrade a thing until it is manageable, predictable, and bite-size. To limit the application of a certain reality. The facets of God are so vast, so infinite, that it's not surprising we humans try to shrink Him down to size. We want a God we can identify, control, and sum up as a caption beside His photo.
The Bible teaches that all Christians are called and empowered to perform miracles. The New Testament promises that, by placing faith in the completed work of Jesus at the Cross, physical healing is available to every single believer. Unfortunately, the notion of believing something, even though they cannot see it, flies in the face of most people's comfort zones. Faith is seen as irrational, unrealistic, and irresponsible.
So, to foil that inconvenient call to faith—the same faith that freed so many people in the first century—theology's finest philosophers found a way to conceal their fear of faith failure. I find that fascinating! It's expedient to explain away the call to miracles by relegating it to a certain "dispensation." Usually, miracles are relegated to either the past or the future. Excuses are made anything to absolve ourselves of personal responsibility:
"Jesus could perform miracles because He was God."
"The disciples could perform miracles because Jesus specifically gave them power."
"Paul performed miracles because he was an original author featured in the Bible."
"Those gifts passed away with the apostles."
This mentality relegates God to the past. It's common; but it's a cop-out. Jesus said, "I assure you (so don't question it), most solemnly I tell you (with an air of seriousness and literalness), if anyone (absolutely anyone) steadfastly believes in Me (is a Christian), he will himself be able to do the things that I do (heal, raise the dead, expel demons, preach with authority); and he will do even greater things than these (there are no limits to what he will accomplish), because I go to the Father (thus enabling Christians to have the Holy Spirit)" (John 14:12, exposition mine).
Jesus certainly didn't relegate this announcement to a certain period of time, a certain group of people, a certain level of holiness, or a specific set of qualifications. The reason the power-packed Christian lifestyle is the same today as it was back then and will be in the future is because Jesus Himself is unchanging. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus was with the disciples to empower them. His Spirit was with the apostles to empower them. His Spirit is with us today to empower us.
In the Spirit, there are no dispensations. No clever categorizations. No relegation.
Worship leader Jason Upton sings, "Dispensational lies leave us hypnotized, compromised, with one-dimensional lives that will never see the truth."
Interestingly, King David was not justified by temple sacrifices or by following the Law. Neither was Abraham. Both of them were made righteous by looking forward, seeing past the boundaries of time, and placing faith in Jesus. During the "dispensation" when men were justified by their actions, behavior, and law-keeping, Abraham was declared the father of the Christian faith, even though he was a scoundrel! (see Romans 4:16). Other people relegate supernatural power to the future. "When we go to Heaven, everything will be okay." "We do the best we can, waiting for Jesus to come back." "Christians won't reign on Earth until the millennium." But the Bible doesn't tell us to wait until we get to Heaven so that everything will be made right. No, we're told to pray that Heaven is accomplished here on Earth, right now (see Matthew 6:10).
Jesus said that the sign of the Kingdom among us is when the sick are healed, demons cast out. When Jesus's cousin Lazarus died, Jesus showed up to the funeral with His disciples. Martha was upset over the death of her brother, but in one fell swoop she relegated power to raise Lazarus from the dead to the past and to the future.
First, when she sees Jesus she says, "Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21). Seeing her hopelessness, Jesus lets her in on His plan: "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother shall rise again"' (11:23). He wanted to let her know that He had the same power to raise the dead today as He had if He had been there to heal Lazarus yesterday. But like many Christians today, Martha was afraid of getting her hopes up. She didn't take the hint.
Next she relegates God's power to a future "dispensation." She says, "I know that he will rise again at the last day" (11:24). Martha, Martha. The answer is staring you right in the face, but your dispensational mindset conceals the truth.
Jesus's response to her relegation is, "I Am the Resurrection and the Life!" (11:25). He quickly brings the conversation to the present. He will not be relegated to the past or the future. Power to heal, to cast out demons, to raise the dead, to move mountains, to quiet storms—that power is NOW because Jesus is NOW. After Martha leaves, others show up using their theology to grapple with the revelation of the NOW power of the NOW Jesus. Notice the past tenses: Mary: "If You had been here, my brother would not have died" (11:32). Jews: "Could not He Who opened a blind man's eyes have prevented this man from dying?" (11:37). In response, Jesus "again sighed repeatedly and was deeply disquieted" (11:38). Jesus said, "Take away the stone."
But Martha's theology insisted on complicating things: "But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days!" (11:39).
By this time, Jesus loses it: "Woman! Didn't I tell you that if you would just believe you would see the glory of God?" (11:40).
I admire Jesus's frustration! He is getting ready to perform an awesome miracle, but these weak-kneed know-it-alls seem intent on preventing, delaying, and compromising the simplicity of what He's about to do. "But what about...did you forget...but, but but—"
"Shut up and believe!" is Jesus's response. When Christians only see God theologically, they tend to know what God did in the past. They know that in the future He will set everything right. But they don't know the NOW Jesus. They see that He is history, that He is the future. But they don't see Him as present-day power.
Don't be like Martha, relegating God's power to a dispensation—the past, the future. Recognize that the unchanging God is empowering you today to manifest change in your heart and life. If your spiritual life is dead and throwing off an offensive odor, don't think that it's too late for a miracle. Don't explain away your personal call from Heaven to operate in signs and wonders on Earth today. Jesus called Lazarus forth from his grave, and He is calling you, too. Get up, receive to power of God in your life, not for yesterday, not for tomorrow, but for today!
by winston davenport, FEBRUARY 2016
by winston davenport, june 11 2014
Many people ask me my viewpoint on fasting. They want to know when I fast, what I fast, and how long I fast. My life is a constant demonstration of power, love, and redemption. Naturally, other Christians want to know my "secret." Many of them assume it's because I live a fasted lifestyle.
It is time to reveal to the world my "secret." I want to use this week's teaching blog to explain how important fasting is to me, and the extent to which it undergirds the supernatural lifestyle I live. If you will take note and start fasting the same number of days I do each year, you are certain to witness a similar breakthrough in your own life.
Ever since 2008, I began fasting ZERO days a year.
And if you will dedicate your life to fasting the same number of days that I do, I guarantee things will begin to improve for you!
The truth is, fasting is not the key to spiritual power. It is not the key to breakthrough. In fact, in this article, I will show you that fasting is spiritually irrelevant to a Kingdom believer in the 21st century.
That being said, I'd like to remind my readers that if you like fasting, if you feel that it is an important part of your life, don't let me stop you! Go for it! Who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn't do? This blog is simply an explanation of the conclusions that I have personally arrived at in regard to this subject.
The biggest problem with fasting is that it is works-based. The general idea of depriving oneself of (usually) food is that, if I fast, God will either be motivated to give me something or talk to me, or I will be positioning myself to better receive from God. Friends, let me state it simply: If God's voice, blessings, revival, or whatever is contingent upon me-doing-anything, grace is being amended by works. Either everything we have or could have is because of what Jesus already accomplished, or what He did wasn't enough and we need to supplement it with something as ridiculous as "not eating."
Is God really so persnickety that He is incapable of talking to me or giving me revelation on a full stomach?
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and they will turn away from the voice of a stranger."
Answer this: Why do we hear from God? Is it because we fast and deprive ourselves of sustenance? Or because we are His sheep? One is works-based, behavioral, and conditional, the other is a matter of identity.
If you study the Bible, you will see fasting in many places, especially in the Old Testament. Biblically, fasting is almost always a sign of mourning. When the Jews would get captured and their kids slaughtered, they would cover themselves with sackcloth and ash, and they would fast.
Yet fasting is taught in today's church in a different context. No one fasts because they are sad today; they fast as a means toward attaining spiritual breakthrough.
This concept is not Christian; it is pagan. Eastern religions and philosophies teach that fasting is the way to spiritual breakthrough. Native American tradition teaches the same thing.
If another Christian is teaching you to fast, or trying to encourage others to fast, they are subscribing to eastern philosophy. Just so you know.
Our breakthrough as Christians does not come by fasting, taking communion, tithing, submitting to authority, confessing our sins, or any other of the hot-button, Barnes & Noble bestseller shelf nonsense. Our breakthrough came once for all time because of the Cross and the Resurrection. Trying to add anything to the finality of Jesus's work is self-righteousness and vanity. Christian authors and pastors have been peddling superstitious periphery for centuries, whether Catholic indulgences, penances; or Protestant next-best-thing, Sid Roth-featured hype.
And none of it works.
The only thing required of us is, as Jesus said, "to believe."
In Matthew 9:14, John the Baptizer's disciples asked, "Jesus, how come everyone else fasts, but you nor your disciples fast?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the Bridegroom mourn while He is with them?"
If you believe Jesus is with you, right now, my question to you is the same as Jesus's: How can you fast?!
Biblically, fasting is a sign of mourning, not of spiritual seeking. Jesus Himself taught His disciples that this was the purpose of fasting. Before He ascended back to Heaven, here's what He said would happen:
"It's a good thing that I am leaving you, because after I go, another will come in my place, and He will teach you all things concerning me. For a time, the Bridegroom will be gone, and they will fast, but when He is returned to them, they will fast no more."
Jesus, in referencing the procession of a traditional Jewish wedding, explained that, when He was gone, everyone would be filled with longing, and they would fast because they missed him so much. But when He returned, there would be feasting and celebration.
We see that, for the next forty days after Jesus ascended, the disciples did indeed fast. They waited in the Upper Room for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit that He had promised. And as most of you know, forty days later, Jesus returned as the Holy Spirit, and He has never left since!
Friends, we are not without Jesus. We are filled up with Jesus. Ephesians says, "The fullness of the Godhead indwells us bodily." The only way you could make a case for being "without the Bridegroom" right now, is if you had absolutely no faith. Jesus could not be with us any more than He is right now. It would be inappropriate to fast.
Finally, people ask me about Jesus's saying in Mark 9:29. The disciples had a difficult time casting out a demon. Jesus said, "This kind will not come out except by prayer and fasting." Sound familiar? Well, read it in your Bible. Unless you are reading the KJV, the words "and fasting" won't be there. Perhaps in a footnote you will see that some manuscripts add those words in, but the earliest manuscripts say nothing about fasting. Those words were added in; Jesus did not say them.
In the majority of instances where fasting is mentioned in the Bible, it is with a negative connotation. The Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and the apostles all condemned those who fasted, because they were doing it for religious purposes, trying to get the attention of God or man.
I am not against fasting. In fact, I think educated fasts for nutritional or cleansing purposes can be a helpful process. But let's not confuse a helpful natural process with a Buddhist-Hindu philosophy that depriving oneself of food will lead to spiritual breakthrough. (It might be helpful to note that, if you deprive yourself of food for long enough, you will definitely have visions! However, LSD can produce the same results in less time.)
Jesus did it all. It is finished. You have been sozoed, meaning that all well-being has been restored to you! Jesus is with you one hundred percent, and you could never have more of Him than you do right now. You have the Holy Spirit of truth, and "you know all things." The Kingdom of Heaven, which is righteousness, peace, and joy has already come, and it is inside you. This is not a time for fasting; this is a time for feasting!
Faith (alignment with the truth of what Jesus has already accomplished) is the only secret you need. What Jesus did was enough. He doesn't also need your empty stomach.
by winston davenport, june 11 2014
BY WINSTON DAVENPORT, JUNE 8 2014
Research shows the the number-one reason we dislike others is because we think they dislike us. We decide whether or not we like an individual within the first two seconds of engaging them, either visually or conversationally. If we're introduced to someone who doesn't seem all that excited to meet us, we tend to dismiss them sub-consiously. We don't want to open our hearts to a potentially hurtful relationship. But, if, when introduced, the person says something such as, "Oh, Winston, I've been looking forward to meeting you!" it's a sure bet that we'll walk away thinking, I like him or her.
In light of this information, it's easy to see why so many people fell in love with Jesus when they first met Him, heard Him speak, or saw Him heal a sick person. When confronted with the true character and nature of God—who is, in fact, personified by Jesus (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15)—it would be very, very difficult not to like Him. After all, He loved us first!
And yet every day I am confronted by those who claim that God is a monster or sociopath. They hate "Jesus" and how He tries to make them feel guilty. They resist deity that tries to boss them around, condemn their behavior, and disapproves of them.
For whatever reason, their image of Jesus is distorted.
His beautiful Name has been associated with legalism, condemnation, racism, and inquisition. Interestingly, if I ask someone on a college campus, "Do you want to follow Jesus?" the response is usually negative. But if I say, "Do you support my values? I believe in giving to the poor, no matter what the cost; giving my life for what I believe in; accepting and loving everyone, no matter who they are or what they've done (except judgmental people); that we must all work together and live in unity," most everyone gladly embraces this message as revolutionary. People get excited, overjoyed! They may not know it, but I just described the values that Jesus came to enforce! People would love to follow that Jesus! This was the reaction in the Book of Acts whenever the unadulterated Gospel was announced. But is the Church's "gospel" today really bringing excitement, zeal, and joy? If not, we must examine how we've been representing the Son of God.
Several misconceptions about Jesus circulate among the human race. Many misconceptions are the result of ignorance: People haven't encountered the Bible or its true heralds. The remedy is to circulate a realistic perspective of who Jesus is among non-believers. To make the message of the Gospel loud and clear: That sins have been forgiven (yes, even your sins! (1 John 2:2)); that God is not mad, nor judging us; and that He's not responsible for the hurt and disappointment their lives have accumulated.
Other misconceptions have been propagated unknowingly by His followers, thinking they're doing the Kingdom of God a service. For instance, certain Catholic leaders thought that the preaching of purgatory, of penance, and even indulgences were helping to accomplish the Great Commission. Three hundred years ago, Puritans believed they were propagating God's holiness by condemning sinners, outcasting the imperfect, and burning witches or heretics at the stake. The solution to this problem lies in teaching Christians the truth about the Jesus they follow. To clarify misunderstandings. Aqulla and Pricilla took this measure with the zealous-but-confused Apollos (see Acts 18:26).
And sometimes, religious leaders have purposely twisted the truth about God in order to keep the masses under control. This problem can be traced all throughout history, all the way back to the Pharisees whom Jesus readily condemned. While He was trying to bring freedom to the masses, the religious elite fought tooth-and-nail to keep them bound. You might be surprised to hear that this dilemma reaches its clutches into today's Christianity as well. Wherever you hear preachers teaching that we must still give the Law its place, that, while grace saved us, the Law is still an important part of following God, welcome to twenty-first century Pharisee-ism. Or when Churches use their pulpits to guilt congregations into parting with as much money as possible—Jesus is being misrepresented. Whenever a street-corner sign-toting preacher yells threats of condemnation and apocalypse, the Gospel is being tampered with.
The cure? Confront the offenders. If they do not listen, we must expose them. Neither confrontation nor exposure needs to include malice or defamation, but we should emulate the apostle Paul's reaction to those who intentionally contaminated the very simplistic, wonderfully pure Good News of Jesus Christ. Gospel misrepresentation is not to be tolerated. With compassion we must correct the errors that are being espoused in the name of Christianity. This might mean taking uncomfortable stands.
When Christians preach condemnation of any kind, they are siding with the devil, the accuser of the brethren, rather than the Holy Spirit, who convicts of righteousness (John 16:10). When we see Christians condemning homosexuals, we must respond—and thus accurately represent—Jesus as He confronted the accusers of the adulterous woman: "Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone!" That makes us uncomfortable. After all, isn't it politically correct among Christians to condemn homosexuals? As the Gospel is misrepresented, we must be the ones who will take a stand for the real Jesus, who perfectly reflects the real Father. "You have no right to condemn a person involved in homosexual activity, adultery, divorce, scandal, etc. unless you yourself are sinless."
As long as people sustain the belief that God is disapproving of their behavior, has even more rules for them to follow, and is just a sigh away from sending the to hell, they will respond exactly as we do when we meet someone who appears to not like us: They shun Him.
Another area that the Gospel is misrepresented is when it comes to undeniable goodness of God. When people are taught that God makes them sick, allows them to get sick, or withholds healing, they develop a distorted perspective of the Father. Walls go up. Deep-rooted bitterness germinates. When God is credited for allowing the poverty that afflicts billions of starving men, women, and children, it's no wonder some people are perfectly content to reject Him! By teaching that God is in control of every earthly occurrence—and thereby attributing disaster, heartache, and preventable tragedy to His "sovereignty"—we fan the flame of a distorted Jesus, a distorted Christianity. That's why some individuals aren't open to hearing the Gospel—they believe they've heard it before, and they're not only uninterested, they're appalled. Wouldn't you be?
When we as ambassadors, represent God as love, demonstrated by Jesus's every word and action, we will not only see the nations flocking to the revival of the restored Gospel, we will begin to witness greater signs and wonders accompanying the (finally) accurate word of Truth. As it has been stated, it's time to put the good back in "Good News." The reason that there are relatively few willing to repent (reminder: repent means "change your way of thinking") is because we're not majoring on God's overwhelming nature of love. The Bible says, "God is love." "Perfect love casts out all fear." It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, not the fear of judgment (Romans 2:4).
Scripture says that the reason we're able to love God is because He loved us first. That means that until a person understands that God loves them—and that His love isn't just a word; it's a practical state of adoration that extends into our spiritual, physical, mental, relational, and financial states of being—of course they're going to immediately decide they don't like Him, just as you, within a few seconds of meeting someone who clearly doesn't like you, determine that you don't like them either.
Let's adjust our misrepresented Gospel and make sure that people are getting to know the real Jesus within seconds after we introduce them.
by winston davenport, june 8 2014
BY WINSTON DAVENPORT, APRIL 16 2014
Human beings don't like being responsible for things. When something goes wrong, we notoriously try and blame someone or something outside of ourselves. A woman spills hot coffee on herself and sues McDonald's. A child falls in a swimming pool and drowns, and there is sure to be a trigger-happy prosecutor close by. We are a litigious society, and our tendency to dissuade acceptance of responsibility goes all the way back to Adam, who blamed Eve for making him eat the fruit.
So it's no surprise that we act this way when it comes to spiritual matters as well. You will always find Christians blaming their hard times and tragedies on either God or Satan. They say, "Well it must have been the Lord's will," or perhaps, "Well, the devil has just really been after me lately."
But why is it that no one ever says, "That one's my own fault!"
Jesus encouraged us to understand that both the good and the bad is a result of our own doing. He said, "Cultivate a good tree and you'll get good fruit, or cultivate a bad tree and you'll get bad fruit."
And when it came to healing, never, not a single time, did He direct the credit of healing to the will of God. He said that it was the Father's power that enabled the healing, but Jesus always said, "Your faith has made you well."
He didn't say, "Nothing is impossible when it's God's will."
He said, "Nothing is impossible to him who believes."
When it comes to creating something in your own life, Jesus explains clearly what defines the outcome. He said, "According to your faith be it unto you."
Stated another way, "Your life will produce results according to your faith" (Matthew 9:29).
Not according to God's will.
Not according to Satan's attacks.
According to your faith.
Faith is whatever you train your mind to be in agreement with. If you renew your mind into alignment with well-being, your life will begin to reflect well-being. If you allow your mind to align with fear, then the very things you're afraid of will become manifest in your life.
Whatever has come against you...whatever has you defeated...whatever mountain stands in your way...you must realize that "according to your faith it is unto you." In other words, the mountain is there because you put it there. Hard to believe?
Jesus said it.
Time and time again.
But this is good news. If you will accept that you are the one who has created the unwanted elements in your life, that lets you know that you are the one who can create something different.
In essence, your present reality is the result of your past thoughts and beliefs. And your future reality will be the results of your thoughts and beliefs today. That is encouraging!
Life is the canvas and you are the painter. It is no more difficult to paint health than sickness. It is not harder to paint joy instead of sadness. And painting prosperity is just as easy as painting poverty. So as long as God has given you the paintbrush and the easel, why not paint what you do want instead of what you don't want?
Create a future filled with blessings.
Envision life working in your favor.
Don't set low expectations because you fear disappointment. Aim higher—you have no idea what you are capable of. If God has gifted you with desires, He has also gifted you with fulfillment. And that fulfillment comes from the same source as the desire: you!
So see your desires fulfilled. By doing so, you are painting a good future on the canvas of your life. The only thing that could hinder it is you. Be careful to only paint perfection. Don't just paint a picture of today; unless, of course, today is perfect, and you would like more of today tomorrow.
The more you think about the aspects of life that you don't want, the more those aspects will manifest in your future. Don't think that by resisting the unwanted you'll become free of it. No, the focus and energy you exert toward resisting is only that: focus and energy toward the unwanted. What you're really doing is painting pictures on your canvas of the things you don't want. This only exacerbates your dilemmas. Instead, let go. Don't give your problems the time of day. Don't allow yourself to feel discouraged—that just means you're painting the wrong picture.
Created in the Father's image, you have been equipped to be a painter. Adam and Eve were told to "paint" the Garden of Eden throughout the whole world. Don't allow your problems, the "serpent," to distract you from your calling. Take five minutes each day to quiet your mind, put a smile on your face, and envision life as you want it to be—life as you know it should be. Don't be shy about your desires. Embrace them to the point where you feel such joy in your spirit that you know that you know that your desires are already fulfilled!
I promise you that "according to your faith it will be done unto you."
BY WINSTON DAVENPORT, APRIL 16 2014
by winston davenport, april 2 2014
Jesus spoke some grave words in Matthew 7:1. Many Christians use His words to perpetuate the idea that we should be afraid of God. Jesus said, "Judge not, that you may not be judged."
But hold on a second. If this statement causes fear of God, then we know that we are not understanding it correctly. John said, "Perfect love casts out all fear, for those who fear have not been made perfect in love." He says, "Fear carries with it the idea that you are going to be punished."
So, let me get this straight: Punishment sounds a lot like judgment, and if we should not fear punishment from God, that means we should not fear God's judgment. This makes sense, I suppose, because any Christian who understands the basic Gospel message knows that any and all judgment was poured out at the Cross, "once for all time." We can, as John said, firmly know that God has not, is not, and will never judge us.
Jesus Himself assured us that this is the case. He said, "The Father judges no one" (John 5:22). That's a relief.
But that still leaves the original question. We will be judged if we judge others, Jesus says. Who will be judging us, then?
The answer is: ourselves.
Paul said that it is our own conscience that condemns us. The word conscience is made up of two words. "Con" (meaning bad or evil) and "Science" (meaning knowledge). In essence, Paul was saying that it is your own bad or evil knowledge that condemns you.
That is a revolutionary idea! It is actually the knowledge of evil that points the accusing finger!
The Greek word behind this translation is syneídēsis, which means "joint knowing" or "a persistent notion." While many correctly teach that this words means "knowing good from evil," most resources say that this knowledge is God-given, and that all men possess it. I would say that the knowledge of good and evil is most certainly not God-given; in fact God specifically tried to prevent us from having this knowledge. God told Adam to freely eat from the multitude of trees in the garden, but there was a single tree He forbade. This knowledge, this conscience, was the one thing God didn't want us to have! The knowledge of good and evil has wrecked humanity and caused man to separate themselves from the Creator. Thank God that Jesus did away with this separation by cleansing us from sin, so that, as Hebrews says, "the worshiper, now completely clean, can be totally free from the consciousness of sin."
If you are free from sin consciousness, not only will you be incapable of judging others, you will be incapable of reaping the result of that judgmental stance: self-judgment.
We cannot gain peace of mind as long as we have not forgiven others. We will be judged by the same standards by which we judge others. Not by God, of course, because Jesus said, "The Father judges no one" (John 5:22).
The judgment which comes upon ourselves when we judge others originates from us, not God. When you judge those around you, you are actually judging yourself.
Isn't that an alarming thought?
Furthermore, when you harbor unforgiveness toward another, you are spiritually binding yourself to the negativity that initiated your judgment in the first place. Think of the ministers who vehemently judge divorce or homosexuality, and later are exposed as hypocrites. Their judgment (their sin-consciousness) of others actually became the activation of the very behaviors they scorned.
Let go of bitterness. Let go of judgment. In doing so, you set yourself free. Additionally, your forgiveness has the potential to set others free as well. Think of Stephen in the Book of Acts. As the would-be apostle Paul stood by and commanded Stephen's life to be taken through stoning, Stephen could have judged Paul, pronounced condemnation on his assailants the way that Peter cursed Ananias and Sapphira. But instead of holding the sin against Paul, he specifically released them from their debt to him, and their debt to God. This violent act of forgiveness not only released Stephen from his bondage to judgment, but also opened the door for Paul to encounter God. It all began with a radical act of forgiveness.
Didn't Jesus do the same thing? Hanging on the cross, surrounded by soldiers and Jews and others who had unjustly championed His death, He had every right in the world to pronounce a curse upon His murderers and betrayers. But instead of judging, He took a page out of His Father's book and withheld His judgment. He said, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing." What sin could possibly be worse than betraying and murdering God Himself? If Jesus could withhold judgment toward such an evil crime, what little injustices that have been done to you could you, in the fashion of Jesus, let go of?
Remember, withholding your judgment not only releases others from debts they can' t pay, it also releases you. And that's the type of life you want to live, as you know: a life of freedom.
by winston davenport, april 2 2014
by winston davenport, march 27 2014
Paul flirts with most Christians' notions of blasphemy while writing to the Ephesians. He says, "Be imitators of God, just as earthly children imitate their fathers."
Imitating God? That sounds crazy, right? Perhaps it is. But it is possible. God instructs us to imitate Him because He knows that we can. Imitating God will be an impossible feat if you are caught up in your earthly imperfection, thinking of yourself as fallen man, or a sinner.
But remember: God made you in His image and likeness. He made you to be like Him—to think how He thinks, talk how He talks, and acts how He acts.
Paul explains exactly how we are supposed to imitate God. Not through effort. Not through striving. Not through modeling a personality. We are to become imitators of God in the same way little boys end up imitating their fathers. They don't try to do it. They don't carefully study behavior and then try their best to emulate it. This is not a What-Would-Jesus-Do situation. A child cannot help but imitate his father, because especially in our developmental stages of life, we always become what we behold.
The Greek word Paul uses here for the word "imitate" means "to take on the image of."
I used to drive my sisters crazy by "imitating" them, mocking them, repeating what they were saying. This is not the understanding Paul meant us to have.
Think of a chameleon. This fascinating creature is skilled at "taking on the image of" its surroundings. A chameleon is an excellent imitator, in the sense that Paul utilized the word. A chameleon assimilates the identity of whatever it spends the most time around. If you spend time with God, you will begin to look like Him. You can't help it.
Furthermore, spending time with God doesn't just mean reading the Bible, going to church, and doing daily devotionals. If you are a Christian, you can't possibly spend more time with God than you already are, because the "fullness of the Godhead [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) dwells in you" right now! You have the nature of Christ Jesus, and you no longer life, because Jesus lives in you! You are already surrounded by and fully indwelt by the presence of God. It is in your nature to demonstrate His character and personality. And this is perfect alignment—this is the Kingdom.
Remove from your mind the notion that you cannot be a successful imitator of God. The first step toward living in this wonderful reality is to accept the possibility. Then, believe. You will automatically emulate the individuals you admire. So dwell on God, and think to yourself, I can do that!
And if you suspect that it might be prideful to want to be like God, remember, He's the One who made you "in His likeness." The desire to be like your heavenly Father was given to you by Him in the first place! To resist that desire is prideful. To embrace it is humility.
After a while you'll begin to see His nature creeping through your personality. You'll do things and say things and think thoughts that will astound you. You'll say, That wasn't like me! Normally I'd get so upset about that! But it's change, coming straight from the Spirit inside you, transforming you from the inside out. That way you don't have to try and curb your behavior through external rules and regulations. Change won't come just because you want it bad enough, or try hard enough. No, it will be natural change. It won't involve your willpower, but your nature. When Jesus commanded holiness, He wasn't talking about changing your behavior, He was talking about changing your nature.
Inward transformation always leads to external change. This is the only change that is authentic, the only change that lasts. So think about God. Align with Him. Feel gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of Himself that make Him who He is. And you'll automatically see yourslef following in His footsteps, in the same way Jesus did as He walked the earth two thousand years ago.
A final note: Whenever I have taught this message, I'm inevitably confronted by someone who says that this was the original deception of the devil, trying to convince man that he could be like God. This perspective is based on what the serpent said in the Garden: "If you eat this fruit, you will surely be like God." First of all, it's important to remember the the devil is a liar and "the father of lies." To quote Satan as part of your argument is simply stupid. The original lie wasn't that if Adam ate the fruit he would be like God; the lie was actually that Adam wasn't already like God. The serpent convinced Adam that God was withholding something that Adam already possessed. This is at the root of every lie of Satan, from then till now. If the Liar can convince you that you are lacking something, that you don't already have it all, that Jesus's work wasn't actually complete, then he can convince you into powerlessness. He can extinguish your light through this deception. No, friends, Adam was made exactly like God, and the fruit didn't make Adam like God, it shoved a wedge between God and man—a wedge that existed solely in Adam's mind. Man forgot that he was like God, and Jesus came to restore that revelation, not only that we are like God, but that we are "partakers of the divine nature." We are just as much God as Jesus is, for our natures have been fused with the nature of the Father through the blood of Christ.
Satan's attempts are not to convince us that we are like God. Satan's strategy is to convince us that we are not like G
by winston davenport, march 27 2014
BY WINSTON DAVENPORT, MARCH 19 2014
I have spent the past several weeks reading only the Gospels. Tackling a single chapter a day, I've felt an emphasis on the importance of meditation rather than intellectual study, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the Father's heart behind each word. The experience has been nothing less than exhilarating. The revelation that has impacted me the most is how clearly Jesus demonstrated the true Gospel in His ministry.
The Bible is full of history, rules, poetry, prophecy, personal instruction, and wisdom. Written over the course of thousands of years, much of it seems difficult to reconcile. Theologians have pored over the Scriptures endlessly, and will continue to do so for the rest of time. Myriad disagreements and disputes have arisen regarding almost every issue in the Bible. From baptism to the Trinity, from Original Sin to who wrote the Book of Hebrews, quarrels are congregant around the pages of Scripture. So how can we make sense of it all? How do we know who is right or wrong? Should we become trained scholars ourselves, dissecting the Holy Book like a biology assignment? Perhaps we shouldn't even try—leave it to the professionals, instead.
Ever since Adam and Eve's Eden exile, mankind has sought to understand the Divine, sweating out their theories and speculations. Who is God? Why is God? How is God? Protestant denominations are still being formed as a result of these disagreements, while Catholics are encouraged to simply believe what is taught by "the Mother Church" in Rome. From all around the world, through all the pages of history, people are trying to figure out God.
If you've ever spent time in the Old Testament, you can easily see that the Jewish faith was slackened with error. These people, God's chosen race, were continually at odds with the Creator. Idol-making, covenant-breaking, Law-obsessed descendants of Abraham were certainly sure of their religion, as evidenced by the arrogance of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. Yet even their own sects were heavily divided, scattered and confused—organized disorganization. Strangely enough, the same can be said about the Church today.
So amidst all of their wanderings, suppositions, and hypotheses, God sent them a depiction of Himself, transcending all the ambiguous words of their Scriptures. And in doing so, He gave a clear picture of His nature, not to the Jews alone, but to all of us. What God was unable to communicate through words, He plainly communicated through the Word--Jesus Christ.
You see, words are futile. Every language in the world—Hebrew, Greek, English—has its limitations, is ripe for misapprehension. It's difficult to "figure out God" when all one has to work with are the same languages that were deliberately confused by God Himself in an admitted attempt to divide, not unite. God scattered the children of men from the Tower of Babel by segregating their languages, preventing all occasion for inter-correspondence. The Bible says He "confused the language of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:9 NASB). So with humanity's muddled lingual abilities, is it any wonder that the Old Testament Scripture became so convoluted, so ineffective at drawing men to the Father, at revealing His love for them?
But what was unclear through the Law and the Prophets was forever clarified by the coming of the Son of God—Jesus made flesh. He came to set right the misunderstandings, to illuminate the darkness, and most of all, to reveal the character and nature of the unseen God. Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 NASB). He didn't claim that "He who has read the Bible has seen the Father." In fact, Jesus never even claimed the Old Testament as His own word. He frequently said, "It is written in your Law.... You have heard it said.... You have heard that the ancients were told...but I say..." (see Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32). Remember, Jesus told the Jews, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (John 5:39-40 NASB). I've heard many teachers claim that "time spent in the Word is time spent with Jesus." But Jesus's own words here clearly invalidate that assertion. You can know the Book inside-out and still miss Him entirely. The scriptures teach us about God ("they testify about me"), but the apostle Paul said, "[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15 NASB, emphasis added).
Interestingly, the Book of John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14 NASB). The "Word" of which John speaks is not referring to the Bible. He is speaking of Jesus, who "became flesh." Nowhere are we instructed to believe that the Bible is God or that it is the perfect expression of Him—the "image of the invisible." I am not minimizing the Bible, not in the least. But I am suggesting that for a completely accurate, inerrant understanding of the Father, we go straight to Jesus, God incarnate, rather than a book that Jesus Himself only claimed was "about" Him. In this way we can avoid making the same mistake as the Jews.
What the Scriptures were unable to accomplish due to the frailty of human language—as well as men's inability to discern and believe them in the first place—God did by sending His Son. Any uncertainty or conflict in our understanding of the Bible can be easily resolved by looking at the Word incarnate: Jesus. As Bill Johnson says, Jesus Christ is perfect theology. Any notion you have of God that cannot be clearly seen in the life and ministry of Christ should be scrutinized. There are times when I simply cannot understand certain scriptures, cannot reconcile what the Book says with who I know my Father to be. In these moments, I take my confusion to the throne, to Jesus. I say, "Jesus, I may not understand this event, these words, this story. Though I could explain it theologically, I still don't understand how God-Who-Is-Love could have acted this way in the Old Testament." Then my intellectual uncertainty becomes swallowed up in the beautiful revelation of Jesus. Jesus the man. Jesus, the image of the invisible.
We are not called to piece God together using various Bible verses. For many years, archeologists have been unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils, assembling the bones in an attempt to replicate the creature as it was during its life. Recently, the authenticity of many of these replicas has been challenged. They have discovered that bones attached as teeth were actually talons, that jaw bones should have been fastened to the shoulder, and other misunderstandings. Finding the fossils is one thing; assembling them to accurately replicate the real dinosaurs can be educated guesswork. Sometimes I believe that Christians try and use the verses of the bible, attempting to assemble God, to replicate who He was in Bible days.
However the best replica of God is Jesus, His Son. The books of the Law and the prophets are not written for us to have a better understanding of God. In fact, though we can glean many things from these ancient texts, they were not written for us at all! Listen to what the Bible says:
In many separate revelations [each of which set forth a portion of the Truth] and in different ways God spoke to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets, [but] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son.... He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God's] nature.... (Hebrews 1:1-3 AMP)
Notice the contrast the writer makes: The prophets spoke to our forefathers, but to us, in the last days, God has spoken differently. His revelation to us is through the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. The scripture goes on to say that Jesus is the sole (only) expression of God's glory and nature. What this means is that, if all you had to go on was the Gospels, the stories of Jesus, you would have a pure understanding and depiction of the Father. "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 NASB). I believe that though the Old Testament paints some clear and difficult pictures of God's nature, if they are not also seen in the person of Jesus, you're misunderstanding them. Let me put it this way: You are not obligated to believe anything about God that isn't seen in Jesus. If you want to see the invisible, look at the visible. Jesus is God, made perfectly visible. His life was the ultimate demonstration of the Father's heart. Not only that, His life isn't over! He is still living today!
Let me encourage you to spend time in the Gospels this year. Read them over and over again. Meditate on them. Visualize the stories and recollections. Picture yourself there, in Galilee. Allow yourself to see Jesus speaking His words. Interact with Him. See Him healing the sick and teaching you to do the same. Envision him forgiving the adulterous woman, feeding the multitudes, and spending time with little children. If you want to know God, start here. By filling your mind and fixing your eyes on Jesus, the character and nature of the Father will become fully actualized inside you. Seeing Jesus as He really is will cause you to imitate Him. "We will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (1 John 3:2 NASB). God doesn't want to be studied; He wants to be known. Jesus is the only way for us to truly know the Father.
BY WINSTON DAVENPORT, MARCH 19 2014
by winston davenport, march 13 2014
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom? The word Gospel is haphazard in today's world, describing everything from the basic message of Christianity to a certain style of music. I recently heard a pop-artist announce that she was going to sing a "gospel song." She proceeded to croon, Aretha Franklin-style, how she met a guy at the club, they were drinkin' and dancin' it up, and he was going to take her home toniiiiight. And this was marketed as "Gospel."
But the true Gospel Jesus came to demonstrate wasn't a doctrine, a theological concept, or a style of music. He came preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom." The word Gospel means "good news." Jesus came to Earth to tell everyone the good news, and to teach them to go around preaching this same good news. The good news—the Gospel—is stated in conjunction with the words the Kingdom (see Matthew 4:23). Jesus's good news has to do with God's Kingdom, or to use a word relevant to our culture, God's government.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah talked about Jesus's future arrival, saying, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders.... There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace" (Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB). Much later, Isaiah articulated the details of this government:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:1-2a NASB).
At the beginning of Jesus's ministry, He opened to this scripture and read it aloud: "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord'" (Luke 4:18-19 NASB). This passage clearly shows us what Jesus's anointing, or calling, was. This is the true good news. It consists most faithfully of good news!
We have been told that the Gospel message sounds like this: "Repent! You are going to hell if you don't turn from your wicked ways and accept the Lord!" But this cannot be the true Gospel message because it is not good news! Good news is not that you're going to hell, unless! This common interpretation violates the very definition of the word gospel. We have been preaching bad news and calling it good news. We must stop doing this.
The word repent literally means, "Change your mind." Indeed, this word has been misconstrued to mean, "Weep and cry out to God, declaring that you are a sinner, asking for His forgiveness." But the true message of repentance is simple: Think different. This is a word that today's Church must start heeding. We must begin to think differently about the message Jesus came to preach. In addition, the Gospel has nothing to do with telling people to stop sinning. This instruction is moot. They can't stop sinning! That's why God had to show up in the first place!
The true good news sounds like this: Your behavior is not separating you from God, unless you believe it is. God is not angry with you. You aren't on His bad side. Change your way of thinking, of believing, of relating to the Father.
As you read this, you might be thinking, But our sin does separate us from God.
This couldn't be further from the truth. Jesus came to show us the way—relationship, not behavior—is the substance of salvation. All throughout the Bible we see that sin wasn't able to keep man and God apart. This notion was developed by hierarchical Church leaders in order to try and control society; it was never God's heart. From Adam to Enoch to Abraham to Moses to David to Jesus to Saul of Tarsis, sin couldn't separate humans from divinity! Even before Jesus died on the Cross, God made it crystal clear that "He wasn't counting sins against you," and "He remembers your sins no more." He even removes them from you, "Casting them as far as the east is from the west."
Friends, if this was the good news proclaimed in the Old Testament, how much more GOOD must the GOOD NEWS of the New Covenant be? I COULD GET UP AND DANCE JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!
Even those people who aren't Christians, who haven't accepted Jesus yet, are just as forgiven as you and I are! The Bible says, "[Jesus] Himself is the propitiation (satisfaction and removal) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (1 John 2:2 NASB). It couldn't be any plainer than this. Jesus's forgiveness was not only for those who would receive Him, but for every single person on Earth!
The apostle Paul teaches this exact same Gospel. He wrote, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB). Paul tells us that our job of preaching the Gospel, which he calls the ministry or word of reconciliation, is to tell people this good news: "World: God, through Jesus, has reconciled you to Himself. He is not counting your trespasses against you!"
It doesn't matter who it is—a prostitute, drug dealer, or thief—God is not counting their sins against them. Are you bold enough to tell them that message? The real good news? This Gospel has rarely been preached. All you have to do is try to talk to a stranger about Jesus. Their perspective is always the same: They know that they're going to hell because they're a sinner, and they will never be able to be good enough to merit Heaven. What this response demonstrates is that few people actually understand the message of the Gospel. If an unbeliever still believes that his or her sins are keeping her out of Heaven, they have not heard the good news, the word of reconciliation.
Now, if everyone on Earth is forgiven and reconciled to God, does that mean that everyone is going to Heaven? Unfortunately, no. You see, having your sins forgiven is not what gives you access to Heaven. Hell will be filled with forgiven people. The Bible teaches that because of sin, unbelievers suffer from spiritual death. While sin itself has been forgiven, unless a person accepts Jesus and is born again (see John 3:3), they remain spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people cannot enter the Kingdom of God. They must receive new life in order to partake of the Kingdom. They are reconciled to God even without accepting Jesus. His death purchased forgiveness for absolutely everyone. However, forgiveness is not salvation. You can be totally forgiven and still dead—it doesn't do you much good. Paul said it well: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10 NASB).
Do you see what Paul is saying here? Clearly, in the mind of the greatest preacher of the Gospel ever recorded, reconciliation is separate from salvation. Whether or not someone receives Jesus, becoming born again and receiving new life, all people everywhere are reconciled!
Think of it this way: Because of Adam's transgression, all men were brought into this world spiritually dead—sinners. Jesus, the last Adam, reversed Adam's sin, resulting in the opposite effect: The same all men have been reconciled, sin reversed. The only thing left to do is receive this forgiveness. This results in new life, salvation. If we would quit preaching condemnation and fear to the unsaved, if we would begin preaching the true Gospel of the Kingdom—"Good news, everyone: You are all set right with the Father!"—we would start seeing the monumental results that Jesus promised. In addition, the signs and wonders that accompany the Gospel would be far more frequent because we would be preaching the real Gospel! Miracles endorse the Good News, and it's no wonder we haven't seen very many miracles. The Church has failed to preach Good News! Jesus's ministry was clear. Let's examine how He presented the Gospel, and use that as our model. When we do the same things He does, we'll get the same results He gets!
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:35-37 NASB)
When Jesus saw all these broken, sick, sinners, He did not warn them, commanding them to weep and cry out for God's forgiveness! This so-called gospel was unknown to Him. Rather, He preached the message of reconciliation. He told them that their sin were forgiven. To prove it, to demonstrate God's good will and compassion, He healed their physical ailments as well. He didn't feel angry at them; He wasn't giving ultimatums; He had compassion. He wanted to shepherd them. Jesus recognized this key reality: The harvest was plentiful—people were ripe for salvation, eager and ready to hear the Good News. But sadly, those who were willing to preach actual good news, were few.
Friends, I believe we are in this same place today. There are billions of people who simply do not know the Good News, that they have already been reconciled to the Father. They still feel like they have to do something to be forgiven. But Christianity isn't about what we do, it's about what God did! When we preach this true Gospel, the word of Christ, faith will blossom in people's hearts (see Romans 10:17). Unfortunately, the workers are few. There are few people willing to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom today. Will you be one of them?
by winston davenport, march 13 2014
by winston davenport, march 3 2014
In the book of Luke, we see Jesus sending out His twelve disciples, giving them "power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases" (Luke 9:1). Then, a chapter later, He "chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out" (Luke 10:1). A while later, "the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!" (Luke 10:17). And to these same seventy, Jesus confirmed, "Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you" (Luke 10:19). Remember, these seventy people weren't even apostles. Yet Jesus still empowered and sent them with full authority! Perhaps this point was spoken most concisely in John 14:12:
"I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father."
Jesus isn't talking about His twelve apostles, not even the seventy! He isn't referring to Catholic saints. He is clearly talking about "anyone" who believes in Him! That means that no believer is off the hook! No one, including the minister with whom I was having this discussion, has a right to live a supernaturally powerless lifestyle.
Before He went to the Cross, Jesus prayed "for all those who will ever come to believe." He told His Father, "Just as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17:18). And after His resurrection He again confirmed, "[Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you" (John 20:21). He couldn't have made Himself any clearer. Right before His ascension, He promised that "these attesting signs will accompany those who believe; in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well" (Mark 16:17-18).
Jesus did not say that signs might accompany, or will sometimes accompany. He said—without mincing words—that these signs will accompany those who believe. What this tells us is that if signs and wonders aren't accompanying your ministry, you're not believing. Now, a lack of miracles is no reason to feel condemned—your personal value and worth isn't tied to your works, and the Father loves you and treasures you even if you never performed a single miracle!—but there is no escaping the fact that Jesus didn't leave room in His theology for powerless Christians. Perhaps you didn't know any better until now, but God wants to use your hands to heal the sick! To cast out demons! To perform unusual miracles! Jesus didn't have anything on a child of God, surrendered to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to operate freely in his or her life!
Look at it this way: Miracles were not brought on the scene when Jesus showed up. Many of God's people lived supernaturally in the Old Testament. Moses, Aaron, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel and others performed incredible miracles! And they were not God, either. To say that Jesus had power because He was God is ignorant. Men from Genesis to Revelation have performed miracles—imperfect, sinful, unqualified men who had nothing going for them except the power of the Holy Spirit. That's the same power that has been given to you and me.
When you read about Peter and Stephen and Paul performing miracles, don't be a spectator. Dive head-first into the supernatural potential of your inner man! Those men were no greater, no more qualified than today's Christian. Whether you're a pastor, doctor, or plumber, you're greater than Moses, Elijah, and Elisha! Jesus said it Himself: "Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matthew 11:11). John was greater than any of the Old Covenant prophets, but even if you're the least of all Christians, you're even greater than John the Baptizer! However, Paul himself identified himself as the least of the saints (see Ephesians 3:8), which obviously makes each one of us greater than Paul.
Now it's not really about who is greater than whom; my point is simply to say that no matter how you slice it, you can't escape the truth: We are just as capable, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to do everything that Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul did—and even more! Next time you hear someone use the lame excuse, "Oh, but that was Jesus," Tell them the truth. His miraculous humanity proves that we were not intended to sit on the sidelines, impressed by non-participatory. Ask you heavenly Father to reveal this truth to you in a fresh way, and then be willing—make yourself available—to be used in a miraculous fashion!
To conclude, I'd like to share a portion from the popular bestseller, The Shack. In this novel, a man is given the opportunity to speak face to face with God, who is explaining the humanity of Jesus Christ:
Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just the first to do it to the uttermost—the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and my goodness without regard for appearance or consequence. (Wm. Paul Young, The Shack (Newbury Park: Windblown Media, 2007), pp.99-100)
by winston davenport, march3 2014
by winston davenport, february 24 2014
I recently had a discussion with an ordained minister that clearly articulated one of the greatest misunderstandings in the Church today. We were sparring, challenging each others' beliefs and spiritual mindsets, when he made a statement that clued me in to his general error. I was insisting that believers should be operating in the miraculous more often, and that the reason people listened to what Jesus had to say was because of the presence of the supernatural in His ministry (see John 5:36; 12:18). This man strongly disagreed, saying, "That was Jesus, and you're not Jesus." When I argued that the apostles weren't Jesus, yet they operated in the same level of power as He did, I was again reprimanded. He explained that the apostles were "special," and we shouldn't expect to perform the same miracles that they did.
His confusion boils down to this common error: assuming that Jesus had special powers because He was God. I would speculate that most Christians probably agree—that Jesus set the bar so high that we were never meant to attain it. But this isn't theology—you can't even find a premise for this belief in the Bible! Plain and simple, it's just an excuse to justify our powerlessness. This is nothing new. For hundreds of years, Catholics have relegated the term saints to a special group of people, those who were especially charitable or had performed a certain number of confirmed miracles. By generating this doctrine, they effectively eliminated any personal accountability as far as living by faith is concerned. By saying, "Only certain people—saints—can perform miracles," it always leaves room to explain powerlessness by claiming that "I'm not one of the chosen."
However, if you are in Christ, you are one of the chosen! As far as I'm concerned, the greatest miracle in history was the miraculous incarnation of God. After thousands of years of God-separation, His people weren't doing so well. They were enslaved to sin, enslaved to their enemies, and enslaved to religion. They were very good at missing the point, missing out on God entirely. Who He really is, what He really wants—these things were relatively unknown to the Jews. Oh, they tried, alright. But no amount of sacrifice, self-degradation, or strict adherence to the Law was pleasing to God. Not only do numerous Scriptures from the Old Testament confirm this, it's one of the basic messages Jesus came to bring.
Rather than sending prophet after prophet, pleading, crying, and wrestling with His people, God finally decided to send His Son. Jesus explained this in the parable of the vineyard and the tenants (see Matthew 21:33-41). Jesus came, living, breathing, and eating just like we do. He set aside His divinity, choosing to live with the same limitations as the rest of us. He slept in a bed, He drank water and wine, He had to bathe and care for His health and hygiene just like you and me. He was one with His Father, yes, but not once did He draw from His "fully God" nature to accomplish anything that He didn't intend us to do as well. After all, He didn't even perform a miracle until He had the Holy Spirit. Without that divine empowerment, given at His baptism (see Matthew 3:16), He was human just like the rest of us:
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself.... I am able to do nothing from Myself.... I have not come on My own authority.... I do nothing of myself.... I did not even come on My own authority or of My own accord.... The very works that I do by the power of My Father.... My Father has enabled me to do many good deeds.... the Father Who lives continually in Me does the works.... (John 5:19, 30; 7:28; 8:28, 42; 10:25, 32; 14:10)
These are just a few of the statements that Jesus made to specifically explain that His power did not come from the fact that He was God incarnate, but that He was fully man, with a revelation of His oneness with the Father, full of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that "it is evident that it was essential that he be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people's sins" (Hebrews 2:17).
This reality opens up a whole new realm of Christianity. All of a sudden we cannot be comfortable as mere spectators. Jesus didn't intend us to sit around and talk about the good old days, how Jesus did this sign and this wonder, as if we're incapable of doing the same. Jesus wants us to get in on the action. To mimic His supernatural lifestyle. The healing and resurrections and food multiplications—those didn't pass away with the apostles. It is and has always been the presence of the Spirit that has enabled these wonders. The Bible says that if you're saved, you possess the same Spirit as Jesus did. The same fuel that propelled His miraculous standard of living is in you today if you are a Christian. In fact, God expects us to live like Jesus lived. That's why the Scripture says, "...as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).
Next week, I will continue to explain that Jesus's full humanity proves, inspires, and requires that we assume His identity as we perpetuate His ministry on this earth!
by winston davenport, february 24 2014
by winston davenport, february 17 2014
Jesus is operating on Earth right now in exactly the same way He was in the New Testament. Why do we applaud His unpredictability and unprecedented spiritual behavior during His three-year tour, but now assume that He will strictly move inside our prescribed, religious matrix? Let me ask you this: Did Jesus's actions range beyond the written Scripture of His day? Did He do things and present ideas that were beyond the scope of the Old Testament? Absolutely! Were the religious elite upset about this? Absolutely! John even stated that the spectrum of Jesus's supernatural demonstrations was so vast that all the books in the world would be unable to contain it (see John 21:25).
Yet today if there is a miracle or a manifestation that we can't see clearly in Scripture, it is quickly condemned by our very own religious elite: self-appointed watchdogs. We're repeating the great Pharisaical blunder of the ages: opposing what God is doing because it doesn't make sense to us. But what if it really is God? What if the holy laughter, dancing in the Spirit, gold dust, and other unusual phenomena really are the Holy Ghost at work in the Church? Who are we to judge or condemn these things simply because they breach our personal margins? Who are we to say that someone else's spiritual encounter was at best unfounded, and at worst demonic, just because it looked different than our expectations?
The Bible does make something clear: Giving God credit for something, even if it's not from Him, is not the end of the world (see Luke 9:49-50; Philippians 1:17-18). However, attributing God's works to the demonic realm is called "an eternal sin" (see Mark 3:22-30). Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to call signs and wonders "demonic" just because we don't understand them.
Many of the unusual spiritual manifestations over the years have been inspired by the flesh, while some truly demonic. Nevertheless, this doesn't negate those experiences that truly are from God. In addition, Jesus did warn about false prophets in the last days who would deceive many with signs and wonders. However, our gauge of what's real and what's counterfeit has nothing to do with what makes intellectual sense. Using our current and limited understanding of the Bible to fence out what might be spiritually illegitimate is not acceptable. After all, when Peter's shadow started healing the sick in Acts 5:15, what was the Biblical proof text for this sign? In addition, God did "unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out" (Acts 19:11-12 NASB). At that time, what was their scriptural validation for that supernatural operation? There wasn't one! Yet they did not challenge what the Spirit was doing because they couldn't find it in the Bible. That attitude was unheard of.
How about this one: Did you know that even though Jesus told the disciples to preach the Gospel to all creatures, Paul was "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia"? (Acts 16:6). Whoa! How is this possible? Today's Pharisees would say, "If what the Holy Spirit is telling you contradicts the clear instruction of Scripture, you're not hearing the Holy Spirit." But maybe, just maybe, God is bigger than the book!
People have often asked me, "Why would the Spirit cause people to laugh uncontrollably? What's the point?"
First of all, why does there have to be a point? And who says that this "point" must be intelligible to the masses? Last time I checked, God could do whatever He wanted. Besides, if you are an earthly parent, don't you get joy from tickling your children, or teasing them, playing games and making them laugh? I loved to receive that kind of love and attention growing up! Is it really that obscure to suggest that our Heavenly Father—"a Father to the fatherless" (see Psalm 68:5)—might just find enjoyment in making His children laugh? After all, if you can't see the scriptural emphasis on joy, you're blind! Guess what? Laughter is a significant part of joy! So next time you see a fellow believer rolling on the floor with "holy laughter," restrain your judgment. In fact, it might do you some good to yield your dignity and join them!
People question, "Why would God send gold dust or jewels from Heaven? Why would He inspire people to bark like a dog or roar like a lion?"
My response is, "Why don't you ask Him?" I honestly don't feel the need to try and justify what my Heavenly Father decides to do. But I have a suspicion that sometimes His motivation is to deliberately violate what certain Christians deem acceptable. And really, you might not be able to find these things in the Bible, but consider some of the things God inspired His prophets to do. He suspended Ezekiel in midair by the hair (See 8:3). He stuck his tongue to the roof of his mouth (see 3:26). He made him lie on his side for over a year (see 4:4). Then He told him to bake a cake over human dung! (see 4:12). In light of these occurances, gold dust or angel feathers from Heaven doesn't seem that ridiculous.
In the New Testament, when John encountered Jesus, he "fell at His feet like a dead man" (Revelation 1:17). Yet many Christians are ridiculed today because they are "slain in the Spirit." Can you see how that same spirit of the Pharisees is still active in the Church?
Another Pharisaical ax to grind is being "drunk in the Spirit." Zechariah 9:15 prophesies, "And they will drink and be boisterous as with wine.... And the Lord their God will save them in that day." Is this the day in which we have been saved? Yes! And along with salvation comes a celebration. Drink up! The day the Church was born, people got drunk in the Spirit. They must have been carrying on extravagantly as they spoke in unknown tongues, because the crowd said, "They are full of sweet wine" (Acts 2:13 NASB). Notice that this is exactly what Zechariah prophesied. They were drunk as with wine.
Next, Peter stood up and said, "These men are not drunk, as you suppose...." Now, pay attention to this verse. The actual order of the Greek sentence (minus the punctuation that isn't included in the original manuscripts) says, "These men are become drunk not as you suppose...." I believe that Peter was saying, "Yeah, we're drunk, but not in the way that you think!" There's a reason Jesus talked about putting "new wine into fresh wineskins" (Matthew 9:17 NASB). Even Paul used this example, saying, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18 NASB). The word "but" means "instead," or "in its stead," or "as an alternative." In the stead of natural wine and its mind-altering effects, Paul commands us to become mind-altered by the Holy Spirit!
Finally, I'd like to point out that the true gauge to identify a legitimate sign or wonder is the discernment of the Holy Spirit. We are never instructed to measure what we see against the Bible, but rather against what the Spirit is telling us. Indeed, false signs will be performed. But the issue isn't the sign itself. A sign points to something, remember? The question we should be asking is, "Who is the source of this sign, and where does it point?" That answer can't be found in Scripture. That's why we were given the living, active Holy Spirit to live in us. He is the One who will expose the counterfeit prophets and their false miracles.
If you are guilty of judging spiritual experiences based on what you think God might or might not do, ask Him to show you a better way. Ask Him to teach you how to follow the discernment of the Holy Spirit. It's possible that a leader could come looking, sounding, and acting exactly how you think He should. He could seem very Bible-based. But the Holy Spirit might tell you otherwise. Be sensitive to that inward peace, and never use the Scriptures to hold God hostage. Whenever we attempt to control or limit His work, He will intentionally violate our expectations. It's so much better to just stay in the flow. Don't be held back by your denomination, either. The Kingdom of God is advancing, and we must advance with it!
by winston davenport, february 17 2014
by winston davenport, february 9 2014
The church I led worship at for many years may not have always been doctrinally correct on every issue, but they were open to the Holy Spirit, something far more commendable. I would much rather attend an immature church that possesses and appetite for spiritual growth than a church I agree with on every issue, that fails to demonstrate a willingness to move past the current level of revelation.
The reason for this is simple: The true Church is a kinetic entity. In other words, the Holy Spirit, in His task of bringing us into perfect alignment with God, is always advancing. He is always doing something new (see Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 43:19). "His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church)" (Ephesians 4:12 AMP).
Many congregations are content to stay fixed at the revelation where their denomination has dropped the anchor. Because of this, many churches are stuck in stagnant waters. The place of expectation where they stopped was probably a powerful location at one time. But when the ship departed the next day, headed for the next destination, they somehow failed to board. This has caused so much confusion and disunity in the Church because the denominations that were once on the cutting edge of what the Holy Spirit was doing at the time have relegated God's entire work to their single experience.
Most of the mainstream Protestant denominations were birthed out of some type of revival or renewal. At one time, they were alive and powerful because they were congruent to the current move of God. But for some reason, each of them has assumed that their move of God is the only move of God. Every time God enacts a restoration movement, there is always a crowd that resists the transformation.
Martin Luther began the Lutheran Church, a once revolutionary assembly of believers who walked in a robust sense of grace and faith. But there they remain. They got comfortable in the present and lost their vision for the future. Their eyes became fixed on what God had done rather than on what He was doing. Thus, when the Spirit moved to the next item on the agenda of "the full equipping of the saints," they stayed behind at an incomplete---good, yes, but only partial---revelation. What once were the fresh flowing waters of the Spirit is now stagnant and useless.
And so it has gone with many such moves of the Spirit. Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals---you name it. Bishop T. D. Jakes says, "Denomonations don't tell you who you are, they tell you what truth you stopped at." That doesn't mean it's too late for those folks to catch up, or that every church body within these denominations is outdated. The necessary transformation will require an undignified abandonment of comfort and convenience in exchange for a real and vibrant spiritual experience. It can happen. This is one of the passions of my calling: waking up a sleeping Church to the fullness that God has planned.
God even provided spiritual gifts to the body so "[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him" (Ephesians 4:13). As a body, we are being built up, from the foundation to the capstone.
However, sometimes these gifts don't look like we think they should look. This is a clever method God uses to weed out the mere intellectual Christians from those who are genuinely hungry for something real. To those who know God personally, these sometimes out-of-the-ordinary manifestations are welcome. True heart-believers recognize what is genuinely heavenly and what is not.
But to those who only know about God, learning Christianity on a mere cerebral plane, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is simply foolish. Their established and unyielding expectations of how a meeting should look become easily violated, leading them to offense. This is unfortunate, but nonetheless necessary.
Jesus conducted His earthly ministry in precisely this same manner. Everything He said and did was crafted in such a way as to deliberately bypass the intellectual grasp of the Pharisees while apprehending an entire generation of those who were spiritually hungry. Those who recognized their need for a spiritual awakening were the first to embrace everything Jesus said, did, and taught. The religiously established of that day hated Him with a vengeance. in fact, they killed Him.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3 NKJV). In doing this, He made it clear that the current move of God was not available to those who were firmly rooted in their religious paradigms. It was to the hungry---those willing to risk their dignity and comfort---that Jesus made His appeal. Remember, the Kingdom of God isn't stationary; it's advancing, increasing (see Isaiah 9:7).
Next week, we will talk more about the kinetic Church, the Church on the move. We will discuss some of the peculiar signs and wonders that occur in the Body of Christ and discuss whether or not they are acceptable.
by winston davenport, february 9 2014
by winston davenport, january 23 2014
I've been meditating on King David's words in Psalm 73:75. "There's nothing on Earth that I desire besides you."
That is a very devoted statement. Can we claim the same thing? Can we say with David that God is our only desire? Does this mean that we're supposed to stop desiring good friendships, a productive work environment, enjoyable vacations, or even a powerful ministry?
That seems extreme.
After all, I believe that God wants us to experience desire. He promises to give us the desires of our hearts (see Psalm 37:4), and that Scripture was also penned by David.
As I released my preconceived notions of this verse, opening my mind to the Holy Spirit's interpretation, here's what he told me:
"Winston, when you're in love with me as David was, any desire you have is automatically godly. To desire things like a healthy marriage, a nice vehicle, a successful ministry, or other earthly blessings, is to desire the Father."
These were fascinating words, and as I pondered them, it became clearer and clearer what God was revealing. Even the earthly things I desire are not separate from, apart from, or "besides" God. Of course I desire to prosper financially so I can provide for myself and my family, as well as give generously to others. But the revolutionary concept of David's devoted lyricism is this: I desire abundance because I desire God, for God is abundance!
You cannot truly know God without knowing abundance---He is Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. He is El Shaddai, God of more-than-enough. If you know God then you know His Word. And if you know and adhere to His Word, you will automatically make your way prosperous (see Joshua 1:8).
If you love God, your soul will prosper. And if your soul prospers, so will your health and finances (see 3 John 2). I have a desire to drive a Cadillac STS. At first, that may seem like I desire something on Earth besides God. But for the Christian, there is no separation between sacred and secular. My delight in my ideal vehicle stems from my delight in my Father, and His delight in me!
God does not and never has needed my worship, nor does He have any need to be served by huan hands, as though He doesn't already have everything (see Acts 17:25). On the contrary, His glory is displayed in my life when I have a need or desire, and look to my Father for its fulfillment. This, I believe, is why Jesus placed such an emphasis on asking and receiving from God---He mentions it over a dozen times in the Gospels.
In John 14:13, Jesus ascribes the purpose behind asking and receiving to the end of glorifying God: "Ask and you will receive, so that the Father may be glorified." Then, two chapters later, Jesus again exhorts us to ask and receive, but this time He says that its purpose is "so that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). This is a clear illustration that our joy being full brings glory to God!
The very basis and perfection of God's glorification in my life is when I allow Him to provide for me, give to me, and help me. He wants to be needed by His children. This characteristic can be clearly seen in earthly fathers who have an innate desire to fulfill their children, to give them a headstart.
To not ask God for things that we need or want is to deprive Him of His greatest glory. Jesus recognized that as God's children are glorified, so does He receive greater glory (see John 17:1). Denying this principle is to suggest self-sufficiency---to doubt His willingness and ability to provide. It is pride in a most subtle and dangerous form.
This pride was the sin of the older son in Jesus's Luke 15 parable of the prodigal. The father found such joy in giving and providing that not only did he grant the younger son's premature request for his inheritance, but he also gave a rightful portion of the inheritance to his older son. Then, in spite of the younger son's lasciviousness, the father joyfully celebrated the boy's homecoming by giving him even more wealth! Undoubtedly, this father was driven to give!
This allegoric father---a picture of God---is perfect and loving. And this love is defined by his joy in giving to his children, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Furthermore, he attributed the older son's bitterness to his unwillingness to ask for what was rightfully his (see Luke 15:31).
Yesterday, after lunch, I lay down on my bed and was greeted by a supernatural sense of God's presence and peace. He spoke these words to my mind: "Just allow Me to serve you today."
To some, that might sound like heresy, but Jesus's attitude was always one of servitude. He said, "The Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve." And He promised that one of the things He'd do at His return was recline us at His table and wait on us (see Matthew 20:28; Luke 12:37).
The Father's words to me yesterday reminded me of a hostess's pleasure in providing her guests with an evening of enjoyment, at no expense to them. It brings tribute to the hostess to receive gratitude for her hard work and effort ("The table looks wonderful! The food smells delicious!").
Or what if a loving husband wants to treat his wife to a day of relaxation and shameless pampering, attempting to serve her, relieving her of obligations and duties? But she won't cooperate. She is constantly jumping up, insisting on helping, worrying about this and that. it would be true humility for her to simply stop striving and receive her husband's goodness to her, even though it might make her feel vulnerable or not in control.
In the same way, it would be frustrating for the husband to ask, "Where do you want me to take you for a nice dinner?" and have her respond, "Oh, it doesn't matter---I'll go wherever you want." Her response deprives him of the joy of fulfilling her request and meeting her desires Likewise, it would be insulting for her to say, "Oh, Wendy's or Taco Bell would be fine." This pseudo-selflessness is an affront to the husband's generosity and emotional need to provide an delight his wife. His glory, his joy as a godly husband, is to take her out to the best place in town!
If it is known that I am wealthy, and yet people see my children wearing tattered clothing from a thrift store, or driving a rusted out 1985 Corolla, it brings me no glory as a father, even if---and listen to this!---the reason is that I reserved the money to give to poor people. It is understood that my primary responsibility and desire is to see that my own children are abundantly provided for.
Perhaps this is a difficult concept for some people to grasp. It can be challenging to see God in this light, to make yourself vulnerable to Him to this extent. But instead of viewing your desire for God as something separate from your other godly desires, recognize that in the light of a heart that's truly after God, like King David's, God's glory, love, and selfless generosity can oftentimes be expressed the clearest through His willingness and paternal need to satisfy your desires. After all, "The Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you" (Isaiah 30:18a, AMP).
by winston davenport, January 23 2014
by winston davenport, jaunary 15 2014
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These three words sound wonderful. No talk of judgment, sin, or repentance. The Kingdom of God means we live above all our frail efforts to earn something that was freely given to us.
Jesus told the disciples that "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
At hand means "within reach," or "readily available." That means that we should not be waiting for the Kingdom of Heaven in any sense. Not waiting to die in order to go there. Not waiting for Jesus to come back to bring Heaven here. Not waiting for God to approve some sort of revival. The Kingdom is here and has been here all along.
Jesus also said, "The Kingdom of God is within you."
Doesn't get much clearer than that, does it? The Kingdom is quite literally the presence of the Father. And His presence dwells in you and me right now. No wonder the Bible says, "In the presence of God is fullness of joy." Because the Kingdom is His presence, and joy is one of the three components of the Kingdom, it's easy to see the connection.
So why these three words? Righteousness. Peace. Joy.
Sometimes Christian words get tossed about arbitrarily, and they lose their significance. I have read many a devotional that sounds something like this: "His glorious love will rain upon you with his mercy and presence in the grace of His abundant lovingkindness." These are just religious sounding words scattered on meaningless sentences to create a sense of piety. But not with the New Testament. These words, righteousness, peace, and joy were deliberate. Let's discover what they mean.
Righteousness means "right standing," and in biblical context is referring to our right standing with the Father. A revelation of righteousness causes us to know where we stand in relation to the Father. That seems awfully important. You probably have some understanding of this fact: Jesus came to deliver a new gospel. A message of good news. That nothing is separating you from the Father. That because of a revelation of Jesus, you have become aware of your intrinsic connection, your latent oneness with the creator from whom you came. Righteousness means that it doesn't matter where you've been, what you've done---you are in right standing with God. You came from Him, are an extension of Him. If you are living in a revelation of righteousness, you are experiencing the first facet of life in the Kingdom.
Next we have the word Peace. Ahhh...peace. Makes you think of tall grasses blowing in the breeze, ocean beaches and pina coladas, or perhaps a cozy fireplace setting with a hearth, good book, and cup of cocoa. While these notions seem peaceful, peace is so much more than a setting or a feeling. Peace, especially biblically, has to do with a state of being, not a state of circumstance. Jesus gives us peace, not as the world gives. Peace is a state of being. Peace has to do with what realm of existence you are living in. If you are allowing life to happen to you, you cannot live in the realm of peace. If you realize that you came to this earth to create your own experience, to subject life around you to the obedience of the Kingdom, you will walk in a supernatural confidence and authority that is described as peace. This is most clearly seen in the story when the disciples are desperately bailing water out of the boat in the storm. Eventually they wake Jesus up and He calms the storm. The disciples were living in the world's peace, which was clearly disrupted as soon as the storm started trying to kill them off. Jesus was in the same set of circumstances, but He was operating from another realm---a realm where a storm wasn't a threat at all. He was asleep! No wonder he possessed the authority to stop the storm. Because peace is a state of being, not a state of circumstance, it cannot be disturbed. If you have a revelation of peace, you are experiencing the second facet of life in the Kingdom.
Finally the Bible mentions Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy is an emotion. While we usually relate it to excitement or running wildly around the room, it can be much deeper. Joy is a product of righteousness, because when you are aware that you are an uninhibited extension of the Creator of the universe, it's difficult to not experience positive emotion. When you are operating in peace, aware that there is no circumstance that can threaten you because you are a creator of circumstances rather than a victim, you will experience positive emotion. Positive emotion is nothing more than this: thinking thoughts that are in alignment with who you really are. If you are thinking thoughts that are congruent to the Kingdom, you will feel joy. If you are sick and you are thinking thoughts of being sick, you will feel sadness, because your thoughts are out of alignment with the Kingdom of Heaven (sickness doesn't exist in the Kingdom of Heaven). If you are sick and you are thinking thoughts of being well, you will feel joy, because your thoughts are in alignment with the Kingdom of Heaven (well-being exists in the Kingdom of Heaven). Basically, emotions are a gauge to tell you how near or far your thoughts are from Truth. If you have a revelation of joy, you are experiencing the third facet of life in the Kingdom.
Righteousness is who you are in relation to God.
Peace is who you are in relation to the world around you.
Joy is who you are in relation to yourself.
That pretty much covers it! The Kingdom of Heaven is awesome, it is here, and your only pursuit should be to live in a perpetual revelation of this Kingdom, this government, this "God's method of existence." It is who you really are and it is why you came to this world: to live in the Kingdom and to infect everyone around you with it. If this is what you seek, two things will happen. You will find it ("Those who seek, find"). And everything else you desire will manifest ("Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you").
by winston davenport, january 15, 2014