"...I have this vague idea that we've mixed up the idea of "front line" ministry and I wonder if, just possibly, the prayer warriors are really the ones at the front line and those who "go" somewhere physically merely reap the visible fruit of those prayers. How we need the power and presence of God to go before us, and to pervade every inch of the place and the people we are going to.
I wondered for years why Peter’s famous proclamation of faith and his hasty rebuke regarding Jesus’ coming death were in the same chapter of the Bible. Did they somehow correlate with one another? One moment Jesus is calling Peter the foundation of the coming church and the next, he is telling him, “Get thee behind me satan!” Why so stark of a contrast?
I believe that in Matthew 16, Jesus laid out for the Christian the calling of genuine, hard-core faith, and contrasted this reality with the consequences of trusting one’s own emotions as the source of truth. Peter’s first statement, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” defied common sense. It took a bold step towards the supernatural. However, when Peter rebuked Jesus as He talked of His coming crucifixion, his words were based strictly on his own emotional desires. We have to imagine that Peter was thinking, “He can’t die! Not after all this! He came to rescue us, and now He’s leaving?”
Rationalization never leaves room for faith. As a matter o’ fact, rationalization chokes faith to its death.
I remember vividly seasons of rationalization in my own life. Crisis’ of faith that brought me to the end where I had to choose to look up or down. As a believer, if we do not stand on the rock called Faith, there is only one other place we can stand:
“…thou art an offense to me!” Mt. 16:23
Faithlessness makes us an offense to the Savior who was offended for our sakes. Why? Because in a lack of faith, the heart of man demonstrates a care for the things his own mind can explain over the things that can only be understood by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is never anything that has stood in the way of eternal life more quickly than mental reasoning. And so, I challenge you to ask yourself today, are your feet grounded on the rock, Faith?
Do you believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mt. 16:19
At the end of the last post, we left Peter standing before Jesus. Did he know the impact of the words he had just spoken, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”? Did he realize the blessing it would invoke on his life and all other Christian lives who chose to follow in his footsteps?
Biblical philosophers have argued for centuries about this little verse and they will continue to do so. But as I read these words, there was one, pure truth that warmed my heart and I know it is true: Friends, we are not at the mercy of satan and his host of evil ones. Praise the Lord!
To those of us who believe on the precious Name above all names, is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This means free access. When Peter proclaimed the truth in pure, unadulterated faith, Jesus announced with radiant joy that such a simple act had indeed opened up a real, glorious eternity to Peter. In fact, the very keys to the door were now his. Faith will fling us into realms we have never known. On that day, two became one. Peter’s faith collided with the eternal desire of the heart of God. The Holy of Holies that had once been erected as a stone fortress indwelt Peter because of his belief. He had access – 24/7 access. He owned faith and therefore, faith owned him.
Dear believer, have you owned faith? Because when you do – not just because mom or dad or pastor or neighbor or girlfriend do – you are no longer torn between life and death, obedience and disobedience, good and evil. You are arrested by holiness. You are empowered to open your mouth against evil – your words are backed up by the Final Word – by Jesus Christ.
Do you believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?
“God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him, He brings me into a relationship with Himself wherein I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love to Him. To serve God is a the deliberate love gift of the nature that has heard the call of God.” Oswald Chambers (taken from So Send I You)
Constrained by Love to be ambassadors
“…He died for all men…Therefore, we must not judge men by our standard, but rather be ambassadors of Christ to them” (paraphrase of II Cor. 5:14-15).
In part II of “Constrained”, we noted the fact that love – His love – holds us together! It compels, while supplying the strength to go on. Not only that, but His love (constraining love) demonstrates victory over death, indicating that we should not live selfish, me-centered lives of personal gain and judgmentalism towards others. Instead, we should live as ambassadors of Him, for Him. This is the third point we will be focusing on today.
So, what is an ambassador?
An ambassador is one who is officially recognized, authorized as a representative and sent out (commissioned). He or she is carefully observed, specifically chosen, and highly esteemed, appointed to carry out a great responsibility.
This is us! We are called by Constraining Love to be ambassadors of the Gospel: to see people as receivers of the truth we proclaim because of our Commissioner. It is Christ alone who compels and enables us to embrace others with a God-sized perspective simply because we are held together by His love.
Therefore, because we fear God (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive [give account] the things done in His body…whether it be good, or bad [II Cor. 5:10])”, we win men, answering to God for our actions. Love is the Christian’s power. Christ’s love constrains us and if we allow ourselves to be contained in such a way, then this very love can perfect us in its perfection! “But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected (I Jn. 2:5)”.
Therefore, receive not the grace of God in vain: constraining love holds us together when we choose the Lordship of Christ – when we die daily and live only to Grace and to God, letting Him DO, while we LEAN. “For we walk by faith, not by sight (see II Cor. 5:7)”.
Faith leads us to be held by the “chains” of love which, in turn, bind us together, supplying the strength to be Christ’s ambassador, that we might win men, answering to God.
“When people say they have had a call to foreign service, or to any particular sphere of work, they mean that their relationship to God has enabled them to realize what they can do for God. Their natural fitting for service and the call of God is identified as one in them.” Oswald Chambers (taken from )Allow His love to constrain you! ~Tiffany M. and Hannah S. Original 4/6/12 Updated 3/15/13
© 2012-2013 1Love for Christ
“…the love of Christ contraineth us…” II Cor. 5:14
Love Constrains. ”Let God do as He likes…”, a life constrained by Christ’s love will be stamped with His purpose to the end. Christ’s “Lordship” is not merely because He’s God and He can do as He pleases [though He can], but it is for our good, and His glory. Think of it this way:
“If you are ever to be wine to drink, you must be crushed. Grapes cannot be drunk, grapes are only wine when they have been crushed. I wonder what kind of coarse finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine that came out would have been remarkably bitter. Let God go on with His crushing, because it will work His purpose in the end.” Oswald Chambers
Constraining love demonstrates a life that is held together by Christ –compelled and urged on by Him; secure [in Him] and designed to keep us from falling away [from Him].
“Never debate about anything God is putting you through, and never try to find out why you are going through it. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes in your circumstances, and you will find He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will be a benefit to others.” Oswald Chambers
Despite our inability to understand circumstances and heavenly purposes, we are each given a life – a chance to abandon ourselves and deliberately choose trust in our relationship with God. This trust becomes evident as we allow His Lordship in our lives to determine “God’s best”, while all the while, being “o.k.” with it.
~Tiffany & Hannah
© 1loveforChrist, 2013
Orig. April 2012, Updated Mar. 2013
Dear Subscribers of 1LoveforChrist,
It has been a pleasure to share with you now –a little over a year– the wonderful truths that God has shared with each one of us. We are encouraged by your following of the blog as well as the many comments and emails we’ve received from many of you. However, due to insufficient time and long-term changes that are being made among our team members, we are making some big changes: mainly, teaming up with A Passion for Jesus Ministry.
Starting in August, we will no longer be updating the 1LoveforChrist blog. The blog will remain public for a period of time however, the for those who wish to go back and read through the archives. In an effort to fill the blogging hole that we’re creating, we’d like to invite you to visit and subscribe to the APJ blog. Similar content will be shared on there by familiar contributors that have posted for this site, as well as others that you will enjoy hearing from.
A Passion for Jesus is committed to reaching teenage girls with a counter-cultural message of truth. Through conferences, retreats and small group discipleship, APJ is bringing a message of hope to the lives of hundreds of young women, both here in the United States and internationally. God has opened the door for me to become a staff member of this ministry, and I will be serving under them as I head over to Russia this summer.
As a whole, our team would like to thank you again for your support and encouragement as we’ve desired to impact the world for Christ. Please keep each of us in your prayers as we “Go into all the world” in the various ways God has called us to. If you have any questions or personal comments, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to respond.
May God richly bless you all!
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “–Matthew 5:10
The closer we get to Christ the more often we’ll be faced with opposition on every level
Everyday we are forced to make choices; choices that can affect our own lives and the lives of those around us. The closer we get to Christ the more often we’ll be faced with opposition on every level. The closer we get to Him, the more we’ll hear from Him and become like Him, and the more we’ll act on what we receive from Him. The more we become like Him the more we’ll stand out, and the more opposition we’ll receive.
Last year, the church that my family and I had become a part of and had helped found in the previous years, went through a really “bumpy” period. The pastor, along with various members of the church, began to base the entirety of the church on man’s tradition and understanding, rather than the Bible and God’s leading. After a series of meetings, things got really messy. God’s Word was ignored and called “irrelevant”, and convictions that had been set in place by the church planters were thrown out the window. We were forced to do one of two things: accept the new form of leadership and new direction for the church (and the loss of conviction and morals required by God in His word) or leave what we had worked so hard to establish over the last few years along with our various friends and new converts, trusting God for the future – no matter what it might hold.
Be careful of those choices that at first seem small and insignificant…
Throughout the thickest and hardest periods of the whole struggle that the church went through, we were forced to make tough decision after tough decision; decisions that at that time did not seem to be so wrong, or didn’t seem like they would have lasting affects or serious consequences. However, if we are willing to give in on the things that appear small and insignificant, who is to say we will not cave in when it comes to the bigger and more crucial issues we face from day to day? Those were the hardest choices I’ve had to make, the hardest times for me as a believer, and the most trying times for my faith. It was during these struggles that I really began to better understand Christ, to see His hand even in the midst of difficulty. I began to better understand what prayer was really meant to be, and how without constant fellowship with the Father I would fail, and would begin to conform to man’s opinion. It took spending day after day on my knees taking each situation to Jesus, and trusting Him for everything, every step of the way.
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:18-20
Peter and John were faced with a choice; a choice similar to the various choices we are all faced with on a daily basis. As followers of Christ we are to be examples of Him. We cannot begin to falter on the convictions we may deem insignificant or inconsequential; “tiny compromises have big consequences”. Will we cave in to the desires of man, even when they go against the truths presented in the Word of God, against the desires of Christ Himself?
View every opposition to your morals as an opportunity to be a living example of Christ and not default to man’s opinion, but remain steadfast in your walk as a child of the King!
Dear Subscribers of 1LoveforChrist,
It has been a pleasure to share with you now --a little over a year-- the wonderful truths that God has shared with each one of us. We are encouraged by your following of the blog as well as the many comments and emails we've received from many of you. However, due to insufficient time and long-term changes that are being made among our team members, we are making some big changes: mainly, teaming up with…
Is the Gospel enough?
In one of our previous posts concerning the “missional” focus, we jumped right into the methodology of missions. However, in starting with the methodology, we have begged another question that needs to be answer: what is the central motivating focus of missional work and why does missions exist? This blog will only afford us to answer the first part of that question in regards to the gospel. Although both questions are so very closely related that they cannot be separated, we will build the foundation so as to strengthen our answer to the second part of the question when we visit again.
Christ is Preeminent
Understanding the gospel is pivotal to understanding the implications it has on mission work. To assume that everyone understands the gospel is unwise at best because of how the gospel has been marred in modern evangelicalism.
Paul gives us the essence of the gospel in Colossians 1 in its simplest form: Christ is preeminent. If Christ is not preeminent in your life, preaching, or any aspect of you then it’s a sure bet that you may not have a biblical grasp on the gospel. Christ has been and will always be the essence of all things. Verse 17 tells us, “And He is before all things, and by him all things consist.” This is the basis for which Christ, the son of the living God, could come and pay the price of redemption for His people. “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.”
Looking to anything else as “good news” [i.e. gospel] is to mar and dismantle the very person of Christ.
In Him all fullness dwells, and therefore as such, where else could the gospel come from? Christ is the essence of the gospel. He is the consistency. The all.
Christ came to earth and died a brutal death on the cross to reconcile His people who “were sometime alienated and enemies in [their] mind by wicked works [v.21].” Through “the body of His flesh through death [v.22]”, He not only has saved the sinner who looks to him but is working out the implications in His life “to present [Him] holy and blameless and unreproveable in His sight.”
My friends, this is what we had to look to in order to know and understand this grace in our lives, and it is what we continue to look to. It is what all of God’s people from every tribe, tongue, and nation must look to. This is what we must proclaim to every soul that our missional endeavors bring us in contact with. We must point them to Christ and none other. To quote a wonderful hymn, “In Christ Alone, my hope is found”.
Be not moved away
After clearly establishing that Christ is the essence of the gospel, Paul gives us a charge and a personal glimpse as to the implications this has made on his life. He charges the Colossian believers to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the gospel.” And what is it that Paul is so emphatically saying that they must be grounded in and never move away from? The text is clear: the gospel; Jesus Christ and Him crucified; everything that Paul has just finished establishing is to be our bedrock.
We are never to be moved away from this in any way, shape, or form. The implications are profoundly life changing for the believer because it is his life. Our faith was rooted at the beginning in the gospel and it continues to be rooted till Christ returns. Ephesians tells us, “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus, so walk ye in Him.” We received the gospel by faith and we must continue in the gospel by faith.
Therefore you are a minister
The personal glimpse that Paul gives us at the end of this charge sheds incredible light on the implications that the gospel is motivating the believer’s missional work. After driving home the solidity that the gospel gives our lives, he builds on this by sharing with us that the gospel is the very thing that has made him a minister. Let’s take a look at verse 23: “and be not moved away from the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”
Paul has just stated with all clarity that it is the gospel that motivates him, that drives him, that gives him vision to be the minister that God has called him to be. For Paul, there is no greater reason. Paul was missional because of the gospel and so should we.
Proclaiming the gospel and its implications
We have talked a lot about the gospel being our driving motivation as a person who does ministry, but you may be asking: So where in God’s Word do we find the implication of the gospel toward “missional work”? Or, where is the GO in the gospel?
Well, in case you have not seen it already, Matthew 28:16-20 is the most obvious but also, in many ways, the most profound place to turn in answering this question. It is here that we are commanded to, “Go ye therefore, teach all nations.” But what is it that we are to teach? The answer is found in verse 20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
The reason this is so profound is because of the context in which it is being said. Realize that Christ has just died for the sins of His people. Remember that Christ has just spent three years teaching His disciples what the gospel is and all the implications it holds. Christ has just lived the gospel before them both in life and in death and now He is telling them to go and tell all nations the things you have heard, seen, and believed. He is telling them to move from where they now stand and go be missional. He is inspiring them with the pure and fresh unadulterated gospel they have just experienced. He is motivating them to go into all the world for the sake of the glorious gospel. And, the motivation is no less true for us: Let us be missional because of the gospel.
In all honesty, we have been building up to one last question that I feel answers itself: is the gospel enough? Is the gospel the only thing that drives us to do missional work? Is it what makes us GO? My answer is simply, yes. And based upon God’s word, I will boldly say that any “missional work” that does not have the gospel as its core and sole motivation is not and will never be “missional work”.
The gospel is our life. It is the essence of who we are as believers and should always have profound implications for what we do. I leave you with this: eat, sleep, breath, and teach the gospel.
“God has no more precious gift to a church or an age than a man who lives as an embodiment of his will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.”