We close out 2011 having seen the Kingdom of God advance in the hearts of many people. As pastor and apostle I witnessed the evidence of His advancing kingdom. The advance of His kingdom in 2011 was preceded by the Truth of His Word, the unconditional Love of His Son, and the good news of Grace toward all who believe.
People who embraced the advance of His kingdom had to make room for that kingdom in their hearts. They released offenses and judgments, discarded wrong belief systems, disengaged from co-dependent relationships. In their place came the kingdom character of pure hearts, truthful beliefs, and healthy interdependent relationships. This was often painful individually and corporately, but those who endured entered a new place of freedom and faith. Every advance of the Kingdom of God starts in the hearts of His people, before it extends to the hearts and minds of governments, educational institutions, denominations, and nations.
As we transition into 2012, the Holy Spirit is leading each of us in the context of a bigger picture. 2012 will be a pivotal year for the church world-wide. Each person in the Body of Christ has a role in the kingdom beginning at the most basic level of the local fellowship of believers. As each person allows the Kingdom to expand in their hearts, the local fellowship expands its corporate heart. As each local fellowship fulfills its call and purpose, His kingdom advances to the pre-Christian, to denominations, and to governments and nations. 2012 will be a pivotal year for each believer to continue their personal expansion of the kingdom at the expense of leaving behind circumstantial distractions, the cares of this world, and the desires for other things(Mark 4:18,19). Personal decisions will affect the destiny of churches, of elections, and of nations. Advance truth. Accept His unconditional love. Embrace the good news of grace!
As we enter the season celebrating the birth of Jesus, we must remind ourselves that we’ve been given a gift to be competent. We are ministers of a new covenant of grace and peace: the gift from Jesus. 2 Cor. 3:6 says “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Scripture declares that our competence as ministers comes from the new covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the law. What does that mean? It simply means that the Father has made us competent, i.e. skillful in method and effective in action, through the undeserved favor, blessing and love birthed at Christmas 2000 years ago.
Our methods and actions must only come from the new covenant of grace and peace. It is through this Christmas gift that we minister transformation in people’s lives leading them into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). When we try to influence people by the letter of the law we employ wrong methods and actions, thereby undermining the gift of Christmas and rendering ineffective our leadership in the Kingdom. Leading by the letter of the law always stifles, diminishes and even kills. The letter of the law is no longer our supervisor! (Gal. 3:25)
What is the ‘letter’ versus the ‘Spirit’? The letter is the literal content of 3000 dos and don’ts of the 10 commandments, the feasts, the sacrifices, in short, rules of religious living. The letter of the law can only bring death. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit’s intent and ultimate goal. By the Spirit, we love God and love people through our righteous relationship with the Father with whom we have peace through the abundant grace given by Jesus. Leading by the Spirit brings life to those around us. Leading by the law kills joy and brings death to those around us. Paul challenged the Galatian believers who had succumbed to the ‘letter’ when he said 'what has happened to your joy’? (Gal. 4:15)
You are a competent minister….. competent when ministering through the gift Jesus, the competent minister, brought at Christmas. We now minister by the Spirit, through the grace, love and hope, of the Christmas gift. Rejoice in what He has done to make possible what you can do!
Your words have power to delight. James 3:1-12 says that our words carry great power. Our Father’s desire is that our words powerfully influence people for the Kingdom of God, bringing life and hope into a world of death and despair. Verses 9 and 10 declare the power of our words to praise God and bless people. This is the power to delight; delighting our Father and His people. He loves the praises that come from the lips of His people. He relishes words of love and faith we offer to Him whether in a church meeting, in our devotion time, or during our daily routine of life. We live and declare a life filled with words of praise. We’re like the Psalmist who said ‘My life is an example to many, because You have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising You; I declare Your glory all day long’ (Ps. 71:7,8). The Father accomplished everything for YOU and strengthens your life through the grace of Jesus every day. We offer words to delight Him in response to what He has done in us and for us.
But what about words to delight people? We can speak words of destruction or delight toward people. We have a choice based upon what’s in our heart. The words of James say that it is not right that we praise God then speak curses toward people. To do so is to be double-minded. We are to praise God and bless people, in spite of what people may say about us. In fact Jesus said that even when people speak words of destruction, we are to speak words of blessing (Luke 6:28). The word ‘bless’ literally means ‘to speak well of’. When we speak well of someone we delight their heart. There will be people who do NOT speak well of you in leadership. Not everyone is going to like you or speak well of you. In spite of their words you can offer words that delight.
Now some of you may ask ‘how do I speak words of correction that may not seem like a blessing at the time they are spoken’? Parents certainly know what I am talking about relative to raising children. We know that Paul and the Apostles brought words of correction to the church to straighten things out that had gone awry. Words of correction will be a delight when spoken from a Father’s heart for the good of the person and the church. Words of correction undergirded by grace can bring people, churches, and ministries into alignment with the Father’s word and His Kingdom. Such words, when received by grace, are a blessing and delight to the Father and to people. While not all people may receive them as a blessing, they are still offered as a blessing.
Leaders; consider the words you speak. Remember that your words carry power. They have power to direct, to destroy and to delight. Allow the grace of God, the undeserved power of transformation and blessing, to transform the well of your heart into a source of words that glorify the Father, reveal the Son, and carry the presence of the Holy Spirit. You will direct people toward the Kingdom of Jesus; delighting the Father and His people.