Friday, May 10, 2013

The Prophetic Lifestyle

A post by Brian Harrison prompted me to begin thinking about the apostolic nature of our lives, and what it means to speak apostolically.  What does the Apostolic look like?

Brian mentions 4 things that are characteristics of apostolic statements/actions.
1. It's Heavenly and not Earthly
2. it is corporate and not personal
3. It is sacrificial and not self-serving and therein emits the aroma of Christ.
4. It is authentic and not fabricated

I was reminded of the close tie between speaking/living  prophetically and speaking/living apostolically.  Just a couple days previous to reading this article by Brian, I had read the preview for a book at that talks about what it means to live prophetically.  I love the way this guy writes.  I had stumbled across his web-site when looking at the forum.

Let your Light Shine - Ray Ashmore

Here is the the Amazon description for the book:
Jesus is The Prophet. Every word that comes from His lips is prophetic. Every expression of His will is prophetic. Every work of His Spirit is prophetic. The Holy Spirit is the conveyer of truth to the church both in words and deeds; and the church is to be a picture of that very truth to its community and world. Prophecy is far more than words or visions. Prophecy is a life lived individually and in a gathered community that bears testimony to God and His redemptive work. Prophecy isn't restricted to the simple understanding of the prophetic ministry that most charismatics espouse. True prophecy always, without exception and in every way, lifts up Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

and a profound excerpt from the book:
"By extension, as we steep ourselves in the word of God, we learn from Him, grow in Him, and become truly prophetic. It's not that we will be prophets, but we become prophetic in our living. How does this take place? It takes place by the Holy Spirit as He transforms our lives into Christ's likeness. As we grow into His image, The Prophet Jesus grows in us. He is put on display through us. His words and thoughts are expressed by us. Our words reveal Him and our lives display Him. Our actions, the events in our lives, and our responses to them are all symbolic of Christ's life and His will for us. We are prophetic in the truest sense of the word."
This got me thinking about how our lifestyle as Christians is to let the Life, Love, and Character of Jesus flow out of us in such a way that we become a prophetic statement to the world.  We become a testimony of what God and his Kingdom is really like.  The advancement of his Kingdom depends upon us entering into union with Jesus and living the life of the Spirit.  This is what living a prophetic life is all about!  I had always thought of prophecy as being prophetic utterances - but this has opened my eyes to the fact that there is much more.  Prophetic utterances flow out of our union with Christ and getting a hold of his heart of Love.  They do not flow out of our intellect, they flow out of deep communion and identification with Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. 

Old Testament prophets did not just pronounce "Thus saith the Lord", their lives also became prophetic statements of the Heart of God for his people.  They did not just pronounce judgment, their lives became so filled with God's heart of Love, Mercy, and righteous anger it drove them to do some fairly interesting things that looked quite ridiculous.

One of the problems with many Christians is this: We have a tendency to Know a lot of stuff, Say a lot of stuff, but are can be very deficient in the area of Doing much of the stuff.  Jesus said that we would be able to Do the same works he did, even greater works.  It is not enough to know what to do, even to talk a lot about what to do.  When we become Doers of the Word, and not hearers only, we enter into the true prophetic lifestyle.

I also believe that this strong disparity between what we Christians preach and what we practice has made us an object of scorn and ridicule from the world's perspective, and not in a good way.  Listen to this comment by Steve Crosby he posted on Facebook.

Many of you are not going to like this post because of how "broad a generalization" it is. I don't care, so please don't respond to me about how "every one is not that way." I won't post your comments if you go down that road. I am not talking about the EXCEPTIONS here. I am talking about the NORM. I am talking about the PUBLIC PERCEPTION of Christians and Christianity. My wife has worked for Sta...rbucks for 8 years. Her UNEQUIVOCAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE, REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE (not phony baloney-Sunday-morning-Wayne's world of Christianity) is that the customers who are the most vocal about their "Christianity," who come in for their "Bible studies," and their "fellowship groups," who "pass our their gospel tracts," are the nastiest, rudest, most inconsiderate, demanding, selfish, impolite, cheap, self-centered, and unthankful of all her customers. Nothing hinders the cause of Christ more than . . . "Christians." I understand why our culture despises "Christians and Christianity." I do too. I don't even use those terms any more when describing myself. They are hopelessly contaminated in the minds of the world. Lord, please deliver the world from your "followers."

I realized that if we focused more on letting our lives be so consumed with Jesus and his love, we would present a much different testimony to the world - the testimony of Jesus, the true spirit of Prophecy.  Didn't Jesus say they will know we are Christians by our love for one another?  They will not know we are Christians by our doctrines, how well we know our Bible intellectually, our ascetic lifestyle, faithful church attendance, good preaching, cutting-edge worship, or hyper-spiritual experiences.  They will know we are Christians by our LOVE. 

Sometimes, the Love of Jesus within us will compel us to say things that will offend people, but they will know we are speaking from Love - not self-interest, self-righteousness, or condemnation.  They may hate us, reject us, and kill us - but let it not be because we were too Religious.  Let it be because of our identification with Jesus Christ.  Let it be because "the" prophet Jesus is speaking through our life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't forget what you look like!

Why do we believers sometimes do the things we don't want to do?  Why do our children disobey us when they know better, even though we have taught them and trained them to do right?  When they get around other children and act like fools, we as parents sometimes ask: Why?  And then, why do we sometimes start to think we are bad parents because our children are disobedient?  The list could go on and on. 

When I was praying about this the other day, I realized that one of the roots goes back to forgetting who we are in Christ.

James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

2 Cor. 3:18
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
a. Or reflect

When we behold Christ in prayer - we are actually reflecting the Lord's glory, and being transformed into his image.  That means the glory of the Lord is in us and reflects from us!

When we start to get our identity from what anyone else says about us, or from what the enemy says about us - we have forgotten who we are in Christ.  When we allow others to tell us who we are instead of God, we have forgotten what we look like and have just raised them above what God says about us.  When we make what someone else, our self, or the enemy says about us more important than what God says about us, it is a form of idolatry!  Only God has the legitimate right to tell you who you are!

Here is what you look like in Christ.
1. God's dearly-loved child
2. Perfect, Righteous, Holy, Pure, spotless
3. A child of light, not a child of darkness
4. The light of the world
5. Inheritors of all God's great and precious promises
6. A new creation
7. Full of power and love from the Spirit of God
8. Overcoming, overwhelmingly-conquering saints
9. Blessed with abundance beyond compare.  Filled with life to the full and overflowing.

I believe the root of sin is forgetting who we are in Christ.  When we forget who we are in him, we begin to separate from him and function from the flesh.  When we know deep within who we are, we will not act independently of him. 

Along with Adam and Eve, Jesus faced the same temptations we do from the enemy and from others. For Adam and Eve, the temptations from the Devil were not only to get them to doubt God's nature and character, but to get them to believe Lies about themselves.  In Jesus' Temptation, notice the words Satan used in Matthew 4:3 & 6. "If you are the Son of God" The Devil wanted Jesus to take a shortcut and function independently of his nature and identity.  He wanted Jesus to function independently from God as his Father, and his identity as the Son of God to make things happen prematurely and illegally.

When other people wanted to make Jesus their King prematurely, he would have no part of that either.  The opinions of the masses did not sway him from who he was and what he was called to accomplish.

When we are secure in our identity, traps like shortcuts, sin, pride, and what others think about us will have no root.