Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Authority Who Has It?

Authority Who Has It?

“Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth”
(Matt 28:18 - Young's Literal Translation)


Welcome once again to Truth for the Journey. Today we are looking at the role of authority and who has it! We all know that we have been given authority; inherited through Jesus Christ to overcome in this life; to lay hands on the sick and to cast out demons etc. Spiritually speaking this means we reign in life and have dominion. Nevertheless we are all part of the Body of Christ, which has a specific “structure” with leadership – called “Church” and whether we perceive we are individually gifted or not – this gives no “automatic-right” for any of us to become a leader within the local church. (Qualification for leadership - authoritative office if God appoints - takes a number of years).

So today I would like to begin by speaking about the apostolic and apostles in general. Which means this article is not a written “spot-light” based upon the believer’s authority but more specifically in regard to “5-fold-governmental-authority.” (Note: successive articles will touch on elders and deacons including whether the title “Bishop” is just another word for “Elder” currently mistaken as the “supreme-title” of the Church, replacing that of the apostle!)

First and foremost, authority begins and ends with Christ but the question is; who else has authority? To help answer this we are going to look at the 5 fold ministry gifts, ordained by none other than Christ Himself and known as the “resurrection apostles.” The one that we will focus on the most in this article is the apostle but before we continue let me make this statement; “authority and responsibility can only be given by those who have it.” Our opening scripture reveals very clearly that ALL authority - both in heaven and on the earth belongs Christ. That is a lot of authority! And it’s not a power sharing scheme either… all means all. Jesus will never SHARE authority power with anyone, but He does GIVE it to those He delegates (chief components in this of course are the ascension or 5 fold ministry gifts). Lets see this again briefly in the following verses: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me...”(Matt 28:18) “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up...”(Eph 4:11,12).

“Ministry Gifts” then, exist primarily for the building up and preparing of God’s people for works of service. It could be said like this: principally they have “earthly” authority and receive their ordination directly from the Lord Himself, without human involvement. Such was the case with the original disciples who lived with Jesus during His “earthly” ministry. Equally so, however, was the case with Paul who was “...one born out of due time...” (I Cor l5: 8 KJV). “The things that mark an apostle - signs, wonders and miracles - were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Cor 12:12 - emphasis added).

Therefore it is true to say that the original New Testament apostles literally had “ultimate authority” on this earth, which was no small thing! (Something that we will clarify as we go along in successive articles, so stick around!) For instance if there was a dispute regarding doctrine, then the apostles were the final adjudicators; they had the last say. Some of the apostles by their very nature also fulfilled the offices of elder (bishop) and overseer. The reverse however does not necessarily apply. A person recognised as an elder is not automatically an apostle or other ministry gift to the Church. The apostle is perhaps the most difficult of the five ministry gifts to explain.

Known to us then in more familiar terms as the “Fivefold Ministries” these are perhaps better called the “Five Ascension Gifts” as we already saw revealed in Eph 4:11 above: “Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.” Let me point out however, these are not just gifts of the Holy Spirit per se, they are Office and Gifting combined, an extension of Christ’s headship ministry to the Church. Their primary ministry and function is to teach, train, activate and mature the saints for work of service (Eph 4:12-13).

As one of the five and concerning the apostle in particular - the apostle is a “foundation-laying” ministry (Eph 2: 20) that we see in the New Testament, establishing new churches (i.e. Paul’s missionary journeys), correcting error by establishing proper order and structure (first epistle to the Corinthians), and acting as an oversight ministry that fathers other ministries (see 1 Cor 4:15; 2 Cor 11:28).

The New Testament Apostle has a “revelatory-anointing” (Eph 3:5). Some major characteristics are great patience and manifestations of signs, wonders and miracles. However we will know more and see greater manifestations surrounding the ministry of the “apostle” during the peak of the Apostolic Movement to come.

A keynote to point out here of course is that no person ever went or ever will walk straight into an apostolic ministry! There is always a process just as we saw with Paul: “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod tetrarch) and Saul” (Acts 13:1). Evidently Paul was recognised operating in other ministry gifting (Teacher) before he was commissioned by the Holy Spirit and then “sent-out” as an apostle by (his) the leaders. This is a good point to remember. In other words, no one is born an apostle. It takes serious preparation and maturity to walk in that office plus it is not chosen by the individual – rather it is bestowed upon them, at God’s bidding – not their own. Paul was no volunteer! God had to throw him down off his high horse first and that was just to get his attention. Rather Jesus “informed” Paul of his selection; he was not “consulted!”

It is a sovereign act of God. Entirely for His choosing and while many are called – few are chosen; few can walk in such an office. Therefore “self-assigned” or “self-appointed” apostles are real glutens for punishment, as scripture clearly reveals that it is no walk in the park to be a genuine apostle! Its not a title for glory, its an office of government; spiritually weighty and generally unpopular! As spearheads and pioneers, they take the brunt of onslaught, while at the same time as they faithfully lead others to victory! Not everyone has what it takes! Remembering that part of the calibre and proof of leadership is generally that other people naturally “follow!” It’s self-explanatory then that if no one is “following,” those claiming “leadership” status are clearly just in wishful thinking! The gift will speak for itself.

Generally if an apostle walks in a room, his presence fills the room and is felt by everyone! They possess such “weight” in the spirit that rarely goes unnoticed. They become recognised quickly as well as targeted and spoken about quickly! (A lot!) These are the true joys of apostle-hood (with its inherent and unrelenting passion). No one in their right mind would sign up for a role like this, rather the Lord Himself confers it on man simply because there are no volunteers!

However to continue, the apostle will usually have one or more of the other five-fold ministry gifts - as his major gifting as well; this is called his “gift-mixture.” For example; Apostle Paul was a Teacher. Apostle Peter was a Pastor. Apostle Barnabas was a Prophet. We need to look at scripture to see what kind of men these were and what they did to discover their ministries as true apostles of Christ. The most important is shown in the listing found here: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues” (1 Cor 12:27-28).

So does this “apostolic ministry” merely exist to “bless” or to “build?” To bless is one thing, to build is quite another. We could say it like this: to “bless” and just “excite” people all the time, requires humanism, stamina and lots of charisma! This usually results in human appreciation, generally large love-gifts and popular return bookings (invited back!) Yet for God this will never be enough! A true apostle cannot be bought or sold. He is not a crowd pleaser. Even if he does please the crowd, that’s not his primary intention. Why? Because Jesus is not just interested in “exciting crowds” but in “building His Church” and building with this “Master Builder” (Jesus) is genuinely “hard work!” It takes dedication on an unprecedented scale and life-long commitment (the apostolic ministry is not for the faint of heart!)

We can say it like this: all apostles are in it for the long haul. They don’t need convincing. They don’t even “sprint!” Rather they plod, even when everyone else is having a spiritual sugar rush; running here and there on nervous human energy! In fact by the time others collapse from weariness, the apostle just keeps on keeping on, steady and undeterred. Mature with lengthy “staying-power” - because he has had to learn to “suffer-LONG!” Apostles generally show no interest for time wasting activities and are notoriously “stable.” They bring order and Godly discipline wherever they go and exude an admirable “stature.” People are drawn to them, for all sorts of reasons, both good and for bad. In other words they can attract trouble like bees to honey, or moth to a flame simply because they have been dispatched as God’s “voice” in the earth; anything and everything wants to shut them up!

Going back to building. In order to “build” a master plan is required and the master designer is not haphazard. The builders need insight into God’s plan and strategy for the Church. The apostle in close collaboration with his prophetic teammates seeks always to build according to the patterns shown on the “mountain” of revelation. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Heb 8:5 - emphasis added).

As it was in Nehemiah’s day, there must be a “clearing-away” of accumulated rubbish! Today there exists, to a very large extent; wrong thinking in regards to the actual role of the local Church. Many see it as a place to attend only when needing a blessing. A cavalier “easy-come-easy-go” attitude prevails. In addition there are such individuals who perceive that they can justifiably manipulate the Church in order to serve their own ends (personal-gain - financial, sexual or otherwise) or simply fill a vast ego! Either way Christ is not usually “front-and-centre” in those types of churches!

Then there are those churches who try to embody new ideas and structures within their services and mingle it in with the “old-way.” Generally this effects no real or worthwhile change, but instead introduces “competition” into their churches - where the old now has to compete with the new! We see this featured in Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:21-22).

With all intents and purposes an apostle is a prolific “builder” and will always have that desire to BUILD. He will establish new churches and/or re-establish existing ones, but his ministry will always be the same. In fact restoration and pioneering go hand in hand for the apostle – “building” or “re-building” are the same to him – it’s all “building” and is precisely what he will be found doing. It is his calling card. To bring into order “…to build and to establish” (see Jer 1:10; 18:9; 31:28; 33:2).

Philip Mohabir in his book “Hands of Jesus,” (Pages 24, 28-29, Published by Power House, Thisted Denmark 2003) says that; Paul sets forth in Ephesians 4 the core values and essential virtues that form the kernel from which local church life and practice flow. They are unity expressed in diversity, maturity, stability and corporeity. The ascended Lord gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the Church to build these characteristics in the very fibre of local church life. He has given five gifts for this purpose. We cannot do it with three or even four. In His infinite wisdom, He knew we need five. God is generous but not superfluous. Any other structure, system, strategy, or man-made method will fail to produce the kind of Church that Jesus wants and for which He died.

But now is the time when the Lord is restoring the apostolic and apostles to the Church. Now is the time for the whole Body of Christ to experience the authority and anointing of apostles just as it was in the book of Acts. To see the Church rise to its full potential and built according to New Testament pattern, we must rise in vision and faith. To see the Church become all that the Lamb died to make it, we need another apostolic reformation.

In these days the Lord is preparing the Church, His Bride, for glory, equipping her to reap a final gigantic harvest and at the same time preparing the world for judgement.
As Dr. Sam Matthews said, let us allow the Holy Spirit to orchestrate us into a worldwide penetration of the gospel. It is time to become part of the second apostolic reformation. As mentioned before “The vision is rushing to completion” (Dr. Sam Matthews). The five ascension gifts are not optional extras, but essential imperatives, ordained by God for the Church. Their importance and role to the body are a divine arrangement by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cannot fulfil the apostolic mission of the Church without their active presence. If the Church 2000 years ago needed them, how much more do we need them today when the days are so much more evil? Oh, how we need them!

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father I value all of the ascension gifts that You have placed within the Body. Open the eyes of my understanding so that I can properly comprehend their function and to flow with and appreciate how You use still want to use them today in order to equip the rest of the Body. Help me cooperate with all that You are doing in the Church right now, especially the part that You need me to play and to flow with Your dealings for the sake of the whole and not just my own interests. Amen.

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
God has given five gifts - we cannot get by with three or even four – but FIVE! In His infinite wisdom, He knows that we need five. He is generous but not superfluous. Any other structure, system, strategy, or man-made method will fail to produce the kind of Church that Jesus wants and for which He died. All five of the gifts are potent parts of the overall structure. All five must be recognised to nurture growth and stability as God planned it. The ascension gifts are not optional extras, but essential imperatives, ordained by God for the Church. Their importance and role to the body are a divine arrangement by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

Friday, 11 February 2011

Spiritual Gifts Vs Governing Authority

Spiritual Gifts Vs Governing Authority

“Has the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses?
Has He not spoken also by us?” (Numbers 12: 2)

Welcome back dear reader to today’s Truth for the Journey! We enjoy meeting like this and trust that today’s article will continue to stimulate your thinking and enlighten your understanding according to Ephesians 1:18! In our last article we looked at grace in terms of “gift-discernment” and today we will resume our look at grace, but this time we look at grace in terms of “gift vs. authority.”

So lets jump straight in by saying that being “gifted” does not automatically make you “autonomous” (independent). In other words, none of us are an end in ourselves nor can we have authority in ourselves! None of us can function independently from the rest of the “Body” and thrive or survive! In actual fact our gift only operates and functions in its fullest degree and glory when it is functioning with the rest of the Body and “submitted-to-the-correct-authorities” within the Body. There is some confusion at large in the Body of Christ today, over this very issue, because immaturity and misunderstanding say that because a person operates in a “gifting” (albeit genuine) this automatically gives him or her “governing-authority.” Absolutely Not!

Lets look at it like this: it is a grave mistake to confuse mere “spiritual-gifting” with “governing-office.” All of us as believers have a measure of authority but this amounts to the general believer’s authority and does not include governing-authority or being in an office of authority within the Body. Therefore having a “gift” does not give anyone of us an automatic “position-of-authority,” just a general authority, which is the right of “every” believer. In fact we all have been given “significant-authority” in order to lay hands on the sick and to raise the dead!

Along with general authority as a believer we have general gifts that have been distributed amongst us – but none of this gives us an automatic “office-of-authority.” To help explain this further, scripture tells us clearly that it is the Holy Spirit who is the giver of the gifts but that Jesus Himself is the One who places certain individuals into positions of “governing-authority” (called Offices.) An ordinary believer’s authority is something we can gain overnight! But to have a “governing-authority” in the Body of Christ is something else altogether. Irreparable damage has been done because of the lack of adequate understanding in this very area. (See 1 Cor 12: 4-31 & Eph 4: 11-12).

If a person begins to operate in a legitimate “gift” but after some time refuses to yield them selves over to an established authority structure, then that gifting will become distorted and perverted; warped and void of purity because of its false agenda. It’s far too easy for a person to become disillusioned when they have no real accountability. Distortion develops with misuse and lack of submission to God’s governing authorities.

The same person, who is gifted now, is not automatically ready to have “governing-authority” NOW! Mere “gifting” never gave any man “governing-authority,” this only comes via divine appointment and preparation; being made ready through testing and faithful serving!

For illustration purposes let us refer to Miriam and Aaron who spoke against Moses in the Bible. Whether they did this openly or privately is not made clear but nonetheless God heard their conversation and was not too happy about it. We must consider that although both Aaron and Miriam were “genuinely-gifted” and already had some “position-of-authority,” it was Moses nonetheless who was God’s “governing-authority” at that time. Their “supernatural-gifting” (whether legitimate or not) – afforded neither of them any room whatsoever to usurp Moses “governmental-office.”

This was a direct insult to God. So serious in fact was this offence before God that Miriam became leprous because of it. However both were forgiven and restored, nevertheless it reveals the “dangers” of “usurping” God given and “appointed-authority.” It illustrates perfectly the difference between mere “spiritual-gifting” and “governing-authority.”

It might be true to say that false prophets don’t always set out “false” – rather they “become” that way. Just like Miriam and Aaron would have become, if they had continued trying to use their “gifting” to “rank-themselves” above their elder brother [Moses]. It must be understood therefore that no man or woman can “assume” the kind of authority that Moses had been given by God – certainly not on the grounds of “spiritual-gifting!” God alone “appoints” individuals to such positions and we can see just how vehemently God defends it!

We must never forget that none of us can successfully operate outside of God’s “authority-structure,” as our human ability to remain authentic, trustworthy, faithful, reliable, genuine, dependable or accurate – outside of His boundaries of authority - is zero! In fact to remain “true” rather than “false” within our gift capacity, we must remain continuously submitted to God given, ordained and appointed authority. No human reasoning or logic can add anything to or take away from this concept.

Conclusion: In short, we must learn not to hold our own opinions too highly or be threatened by the credentials of others. We must work hard to show ourselves and approved and be diligent to get genuine instruction and guidance from the Holy Spirit; who will never lead us to usurp authority. For our gifts to flourish and to live peaceful lives we must not violate the boundaries of God’s authoritative structure and governing authority. We can only enjoy the true benefits of authority, whilst we cooperate with it!

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Thank you Father for all of the gifts that You have given to the Body. We are deficient for nothing. If we abide in Christ we lack no good thing. Thank You for the authority that You have given to me as a believer and according to the specific call upon my life - also for the authority that you have called me to cooperation with. Help me to submit myself to Your governing authority. Amen.

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
“God ascended on high, He led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” These gifts are to function as God purposed them. In my life He will find His gifts in operation just as He planned. He will also find me walking in willing submission to His governing authorities.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Discernment of Gifting

Discernment of Gifting

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (NIV).


Welcome back as we continue this theme about grace. In our last article we discussed grace in three major contexts: “authority,” “ability” and “responsibility.” By nature these articles of necessity are relatively brief, especially when it comes to particularly vast subject matter. And while the topic of grace is much wider than we can study here in just a select few articles; consolidation of such subjects nonetheless, can go a long way in helping us understand their true nature and function in our lives. However I am not attempting to over simplify this subject of grace; yet in just a few articles we can establish the grace’s role in our lives.

So far and chiefly, we have looked at grace in terms of “stewardship” (essentially our divine purpose for living and being here in this world!) where we are given (graced with) the “ability,” “authority” and “responsibility” necessary in order to “manage” God’s affairs on this earth; in His behalf! However this is in accordance with what He has chosen and decided. The old adage is true: God uses who He chooses and chooses who He uses! The call on our lives is not dependent on any choice of ours. We only choose to be willing and to yield, while the mandate originates with God alone.

However let us continue and move on to today’s concept of “gift discernment.” Exactly what has God graced our lives with? Just like Paul, we must be able to “recognise” who we are in Christ and what we have been called to “do,” without this, it is inevitable that we will both be “unfruitful” and “ineffective” – (regardless of any good intentions!) Therefore we must discover what God’s plan for our individual lives really is and more importantly what His plan is to benefit other people’s lives through ours? Gifting is “always” for others and not for self! So along with the gift we must also recognise who is going to “benefit” and what exactly is He looking to “influence” with His Kingdom? God always has a strategy plan!

Evidently it becomes a major necessity for us to have clarity on this issue. We must begin by accepting the fact that “divine distinction” does exist and that we must work together with it not against it. Quite simply, there are many folks today who are failing to see this “divine distinction” not only in their own lives but also in the lives of others; as a result many are “struggling” and “staining” themselves to be something that God has not called them to be. We often succumb to the peer pressure of becoming what others perceive for us rather than what God has “appointed” for us.

Today it would be true to say that there exists much confusion between “Body gifting” and “ministry calling,” something that has caused pain, heartache and much “disillusionment.” To help clear this up lets look at four major factors that need to be considered when it comes to ministry gifting:

1] The Sense of Call: Today I believe that we often mix up “desire” with “call.” Of course, the scripture tells us to “desire” the best gifts (see 1 Cor. 12: 31). However “desire” can never override “call.” First and foremost any “desires” must line up with the will of God for our lives.

2] The Desire for the Work: The call always comes first from God’s point of view as we see here in Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before you were formed in the womb I called you” (appointed, sanctified, set apart, separated, consecrated and dedicated!) However this was news to Jeremiah! Who was less than ecstatic about the proposal! Rather he went into an immediate verbal inventory of all the excuses and reasons why the opposite was in fact true! Not unlike the rest of us do! Inadequacy often rears its ugly head in the face of stepping up to the call. Nevertheless in the midst of trauma we can discover the “desire” to serve the Lord.

With all this in mind we need to distinguish what “desire” in this context actually means. It goes beyond just a human sense of looking to “enjoy” something. Rather in this context it is more of an “inner yearning,” a “knowing” that we must “face” this call or we are going to die! (It can feel this intense; like your whole life depends on it, even before you really understand why).

And while it might be possible to “enjoy” serving God, desire from the inner man is something quite different; that inward yearning we spoke of, goes much deeper; according to the Strong’s it is akin to “jealousy” or being “zealous” (see Grk No. 2206).

3] Exercise the Gift: A man’s ministry makes room for itself. A genuine call from God will manifest itself - if it is exercised properly. God does not appoint us to a position of “spiritual inertia” (inactivity, lethargy, disinterest, inaction or unwillingness). Rather He appoints and anoints for ACTION (…faith without works is dead!) So there is a built-in dynamic to this “call” of God that we all face and it only finds expression through continual “practice” and not “theory!”

4] Fruitfulness: So many people lay claim to ministries in advance of “fruitfulness” and “appointment,” when in fact fruitfulness is the real sign of ministry. “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Tim 4:14); “…fan into flame the gift of God,” (2 Tim 1:6); “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet 4:10).

There is a distinction in kind, between a talent, which we were born with and a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit. It is noticeable in Paul’s ministry that he was not averse to using his natural talents in his service for the Lord. For example he was obviously intellectually gifted but also practically so and at times used his natural abilities to support his own ministry (see Acts 18:3 for tent making).

But it is also important to see how Paul laid such talents aside when it came to operating in revelation (see 1 Cor 2:1-3). God uses both in the leader but in fact, it is dedication of all that we have and are which removes the clear distinction between natural talent and divine gift in the leader.

Every Called Person has a Handicap: The great heroes of the Bible had handicaps even those with mighty signs and wonders; they were mere humans with many limitations and flaws. Moses committed murder and had a terrible speech impediment. Miriam fueled a conspiracy against Moses during the wilderness journey of the Israelites. David committed adultery and murder. A harmless little old lady intimidated Elijah. And when the chips were down, Peter denied even knowing Jesus! Saul of Tarsus rounded up Christians and threw them in jail or had them stoned and it goes on.

“I don’t know about you, but I like the fact that none of these heroes were larger than life on their own. That gives me hope, because I was anything but a success before I met the Lord. If anything, God specialises in taking people who are self-willed, arrogant, or just plain ordinary, and making them into successful human beings. By successful, I don’t mean rich and famous. I mean humble, loving, and generous. People who are becoming the best they can be in Christ.” (Dick Bernal).

What seems to be our tragedy becomes our triumph. We learn how to turn the “messes” of our lives into “messages” and how to change the “tests” into “testimonies,” and as my wife often says turn our “cares” into “prayers;” our “worry” into “worship” and last but not least how to find “peace” in the “pain.” Our strength is always in God.

What is our biggest hindrance to success - is it failure? – No! We are our own hindrance! Making mistakes is not a hindrance for victory! We see in scripture when Elijah went straight from a great victory into a great flop! Jonah: everything God told him to do – he did the exact opposite! We have all come to that place where we have found our “problems” were not really the issue; instead we discovered that our “problems” where actually God given “opportunities!”

This transpires simply because problems can help make us people who reach out “past” and “beyond” our natural abilities. Whereas a person who reaches out to God without any problems or challenges whatsoever, sees little if any change, growth or increase etc.

In reality who needs to look for problems? Problems exist and God has called every one of us to be problem solvers. Problems represent NEEDS! Problems are not wrong. They are not negatives if we look at them positively. They are needs that God has called us and given us the ability and anointing to meet and solve. For sake of illustration there were two salesmen who came back from Africa, one was down and the other was up – thrilled to bits. One said, “They don’t wear shoes in Africa – it’s hopeless.” The other said, “No one has shoes in Africa, they all need our shoes!”

God told us that we are to get a harvest, to multiply and reproduce. That means we must see and experience “increase” because God has said. In other words, blessing is not a “feeling” but a “condition” therefore it is important to consider this vital fact: God’s expression for our lives is an expression of His promises.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father thank You for the call and the distinction that You have placed in my life. I am at Your bidding no my own. I am available to Your plans and not my own. I trust Your strategies for the future and for my part in that overall scheme of events. Thank You for the desire that You placed in my heart to serve You. That inner passion that yields to You and not to circumstance.

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
I fan up the gift of God inside of me today. I make myself available to be used by Him. I have the grace: authority and the ability to meet that responsibility – in Jesus name.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

Friday, 4 February 2011

A Work of Sovereign Grace

A Work of Sovereign Grace

“Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them…” (Rom 12:6-8 AMP)


In the previous Truth for the Journey we looked at the difference between being called and appointed. Today we are going to be looking at the “grace” needed for that “appointment.” Chiefly looking at the life of Paul the Apostle, we see that he too needed grace to do what He was appointed to do. So to begin with the most important fact to remember is that the “call-of-God” is actually a working of His “sovereign-grace” (sovereign – because it is His choice to make and His alone!) In other words, God does not always call the most likely or the most naturally talented! In fact His choosing is rarely ever popular and all mystery concerning His “calling” or “election,” can only be answered within the very heart of God! (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29).

However as our opening scripture sates and as the NIV continues it says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).

A major weakness concerning our “gift-discernment” tends to have been our lack of understanding concerning the “responsibility” that is involved in our election. In this respect then, natural talents don’t add up to much when answering the specific “call of God!” This is where stewardship comes into it, as we see Paul mentioning here in 1 Peter 4: 10 “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favour].” Granted this is a bit of a mouthful in the Amplified and is perhaps better when more simply put, as here in the Authorised Version, “…as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (KJV).

Nevertheless we see in both these respected versions of the bible the use of the word “steward.” God has simply called us to be “good-stewards” of His grace (authority and ability). Notice we are not stewards of just “anything” - but specifically of His “grace.” To help us define this word “steward” a little better, let me say the following: the biblical doctrine of stewardship defines a man’s relationship to God. It identifies God as owner and man as manager. God makes man His “co-worker” in “administering” all aspects of our life. The apostle Paul explains it best by saying, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9). This helps us to better evaluate our position in this life.

In essence then, stewardship defines our purpose in this world - as assigned to us by God himself. It is our divinely given opportunity to join with God in His worldwide and eternal redemptive movement (Matt 28:19-20). In truth stewardship is not God “taking” something from us; rather it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people.

In addition to this, I suggest that the following words best describe this concept of “stewardship” as seen in scripture: manager, foreman, guardian, governor, procurator and administrator (see Gal 4:1-2 AMP). In fact we see this more contemporary word of “manager” specifically in the “God’s Word Translation” of the Bible where it says, “Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others” (1 Peter 4:10). Clearly then, our faithfulness in managing God’s affairs exceeds the traditional boundaries of just managing finances correctly or faithfully paying our tithes and offerings! Paul likens his own calling to that of an “administrator” or “steward” of God’s grace. He viewed God like the master of a great household who wisely administrated His affairs through Paul - an obedient servant of Jesus Christ (see Eph 3:2 & 1 Cor 9:17).

To continue with our focus on “grace” however it is important to notice how often this word “grace” is actually used by Paul in the scriptures: “…the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus” (Rom 15:15); “They recognised the grace given to me” (Gal 2:9); “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me…” (Eph 3:7); “Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace (His unmerited favour) that was entrusted to me [to dispense to you] for your benefit” (Eph 3:2 AMP).

I believe that Paul constantly referred to “the-grace-given-to-me,” simply because he was overcome by the fact that God had not only put “grace” into his life, but more specifically “a-grace” into his life. There is a difference! And the specific “grace” that God had given to Paul literally controlled and directed his entire life. We see this clearly in Romans 12:3 where he says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you…”

Incidentally - speaking by the grace God had given to him – did not refer to a special eloquence of speech! No! But something far more potent – which was the very “authority” of God! Gracious speech had nothing to do with it; but the “authority-by-which-he-spoke” was the key. The grace of God (refers also to the gift of God) which was given to Paul for his life and ministry – that also warranted him the authority he needed to administrate on God’s behalf. Therefore grace can quite simply be seen as the “authority” and the “ability” of God in our lives. Given to us to benefit others and to “manage” God’s affairs on His behalf...

Finally, this was Paul’s motivation. He knew what the grace was. He identified the grace within his own life. He understood that he was both called “by-grace” and called “into-grace.” The authority and the ability of God were with him, to achieve God’s purpose through him. And it is with this in mind that we must also refer this to our own lives. The grace of God and the gift of God go hand in hand. His authority and His ability work together. Continually through scripture we witness this as the words “gift” and “grace” are always closely linked throughout the New Testament, as seen in the following scriptures:

• Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms (1 Pet 4:10).

• To each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it (Eph 4:7).

• And gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will (Heb 2:4).

• Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Cor 12:7).

• There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Cor 12:4).

In closing most of the spiritual “gifts” are for the Body and this is why they can be referred to as the Body gifts. Examples of these are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. However while there are general gifts for the Body, there are also specifically gifted individuals to the Body (See 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31, or Ephesians 4:7-13). In other words there are callings and gifting and then there are specific “offices” that hold a specific governing authority and ability. All as God wills it according to His Master plan and His glory!

In the next “Truth for the Journey” we will continue our look into the proper function of grace. I trust you will be back here with me shortly - to complete this journey together.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father I thank You that You have equipped Your Body well. We have Your authority and we have Your ability to do what You have called us to do. Father continue to equip my life, teach me Your ways that I may always be found faithfully serving You. Let my life fit within Your purposes and plans. Help me constantly yield myself to You, in and through Jesus Name. Amen.

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
Father I am assured and know that [You being a partner in my labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for me who loves You and is called according to [Your] design and purpose. I am confident in Your ability in me. I rest in Your authority and power. I lean not upon my own understanding. I trust Your ways in and through my life. I understand that Your purposes don’t just benefit me, but others also. My life is at Your disposal. I am available for You to use as You will. Hallelujah! (Rom 8:28)

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Establishing Leadership

Establishing Leadership

"...I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have and exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him." (Romans 12:3)

It is my desire in this Truth for the Journey to help people understand whether they are 'called' or 'appointed' by God to whatever position or realm He has decided. We are not looking here to discover the depths of how a ministry operates in its function, but simply how to be prepared in the positioning of ourselves within the Body of Christ. Only then will those in Authority be able to recognise that which God has imparted within us; which in turn releases us into our destiny.

The Difference between Called and Appointed:
The democratic society we live in is far removed from the definition of a kingdom, where a king rules because he inherited the throne! Democracy differs in that her leaders are elected and not inherited. A system where leadership roles are open to the talented and asserted, but as for the Kingdom of God, it operates on an entirely different premise.

"...I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him. (Romans 12: 3)

Jesus himself appointed offices of service, found in Ephesians 4:11, only Jesus himself through the Holy Spirit gives this authority to men. When we assume authority rather than receive authority we are on dangerous ground. Self-exaltation, is the promotion of self-purposes rather than seeking first the kingdom of God. Consider those who have been called but not yet appointed, who then commission themselves and who end up serving themselves; our commission can only come from the Lord.

Spiritual leaders, "...Chosen from among men" and are "...appointed to act on behalf of men in things relating to God..." Furthermore, "...One does not appropriate for himself the honour...but he is called by God..." Just as Jesus, "...did not exalt Himself...but was appointed..." (Hebrews 5:1,4,5 Amp)

Appointment comes from God alone, even Jesus did not assume his place, but was appointed by the Father. We may be called, but we also require appointment. Consider Paul who in Romans 1:1 in the NIV states that he was both "called" and "separated."

The call comes first then the appointment! You may have been called before the earth began or while you were still in the womb but that was not when you stepped into your "office!" You step into your call [salvation] before you ever step into your office.

Note: Paul went through years of testing once he submitted himself to the leaders at Antioch. "They must first be tested; and then... let them serve..." (1 Timothy 3:10)

Separated actually means chosen, Jesus said "Many are called, but few are chosen..." (Matt. 22:14). Meaning that not many make it through those 'testing' periods, but the few who make it are those who have been successfully 'separated' unto the Lord! All ministries must go through a period of testing and preparation (this preparation varies from gift to gift) before we go through or move through into our assigned assignment, our appointed time!

There are 'offices' and 'positions of service,' mentioned in the bible, (1Corinthians 12: 28) "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that ... helps...." Paul during those first years in Antioch did not occupy a fivefold office (Ephesians 4:11) in fact he served in the ministry of helps, then was promoted to the office of a teacher (2Timothy 1:11; Acts 13:1).

John Bevere in his book "Thus saith the Lord", (p120, Published by Creation House) says, 'Not only would Paul be tested in the realm of helps but in the office of teacher as well. When Paul was promoted from teacher to apostle we again see how God chooses and separates those that He wants to fill certain offices or positions.'

In Acts 13:1-2 we can see how Paul is listed along with other teachers in Antioch and how the Holy Spirit wanted them to be separated unto Him. The appointed time had finally come, the one who had been called to be an apostle all those years earlier on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:15 had finally, after many years of testing and loyal service now been separated unto God to be an apostle. First he was 'Called', then he served in 'Helps', later in the 'office of a Teacher' and then lastly in that of an 'Apostle'. Why? Because Paul was faithful, to promote the Lord and not himself (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Note: God used the established leadership whom Paul had faithfully served...

"Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, THEY SENT THEM away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went..." (Acts 13:3-4)

God did not use anyone Paul was not already in submission to; instead he used an established authority that had already been set up in Antioch. God will not undermine the leadership in the Body of Christ in order to raise someone up into a position of leadership. Why, because your character is far more important than your gifting.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
God help me to rate my abilities with sober judgment, according to the faith You have given me, as directed in your Word in Romans 12:3. I want to walk out the destiny that You have mapped out for me in and don't want to walk by self assertion or ambition. I take my rightful place legitimately, with a humble spirit. Give me courage to continue in times of testing, so that I may serve You faithfully (1 Timothy 3:10). Father it is you alone who has called and separated me, therefore I seek not to be 'self appointed' but to submit to Your ways. Amen

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
True leadership positions are positions of serving. Jesus said that to be the greatest amongst others is to be the servant of all. This is the route I choose, not that of self attained austerity but of God given authority. In all things I submit to God and resist the devil; who flees ONLY from those who have the power to resist him. True submission has that power! Neither heaven or hell must listen to rebellion! Therefore I confess my submission to God's divine order of authority in and through leadership... today! (James 4:7).

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries