LESSON #1: God’s Desire for Us IS to Become Like Jesus
It is crucial to understand that for our lives to fulfill the purpose for which we are created, is to know Jesus and make Him known by bearing fruit. Remaining in His Word and Spirit is how we receive His power and His life manifest in witness through us – as we surrender to Him.
- Genesis 1:26, NIV: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
- Ephesians 4:13, NIV: Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
- John 3:30, KJV: He must increase, but I must decrease.
In the coming days of deception, any focus other then Christ himself will be a source of deception. Our greatest need is to be trained in the knowledge and ways of God through His Word and Spirit. The Church is His bride – His fullness needs to dwell in us individually to be measured corporately.
To share in the fellowship of His sufferings perfects His love and demonstrates unity. Any troubles, difficulties, spiritual warfare or afflictions are opportunity to attain Christlikeness. Only Christ can be Christ. Ours is to know His provision and transformation and be compelled to Him. Where His presence, there His glory!
LESSON #2: An Unoffendable Heart
It is important to be aware and to confront and discipline the things that bother us, not minimizing our offences. It is a choice to repent and to humble ourselves. If we refuse to remain unchanged we will not obtain Christlikeness. Wisdom invites the Holy Spirit’s search. Christ’s heart is the truly unoffendable heart, so that is why we seek Him.
- Matthew 24:10-12 lists the dangers of betrayal, hatred and cold love if we allow offence to remain in our hearts, so how can we obtain an unoffendable heart? “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (NIV).”
When criticized it is best to listen and consider the truth component instead of reacting or defending. “Rescue the truth within the criticism.” Again the goal and aim is to become more and more like Christ. This is how we experience growth and progress. We are to pray for those who maltreat us and bless those who speak evil of us.
Life WILL have troubles and wounds. It is what we do with that hurt that is transformational or not. The opportunity of intercession increases with each offence, and knowing that His goal in everything is to fashion Christ’s likeness in us sets us up that no weapon formed against us will prosper. The Lord is the one who gives us an unoffendable heart.
LESSON #3: Agree With Our Adversary
Satan is our adversary – the one who opposes us, who desires to judge, condemn and imprison us. He is our enemy pointing accusation our way, seeking to judge us in all matters that will highlight our guilt. To agree with any of his accusations is to admit the truth, that we have no righteousness of our own and that, in fact, we do fall short.
- Matthew 5:25-26, NIV: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Agreeing with our adversary in this way is an act of faith based on God’s provision, enabling us to stand, unashamed, before the throne of God as we acknowledge and admit our very real and desperate need of Christ’s righteousness. We have no merit, no self-righteousness, or favour of our own, that could ever enable us to escape the pointing finger of the evil one.
Therefore, it is far more beneficial and advantageous to agree with our adversary regarding any unrighteousness he highlights in our lives, or what others point out that is true. Accusation is opportunity. Opportunity to remember we do not stand before a “throne of judgement but a throne of grace.” By humbling ourselves and admitting our need of Christ’s righteousness, is to acknowledge our desperate need of God as well as our limitations. This very act enables us to not have to defend ourselves, but to draw near to God and rely upon His provision of grace and mercy. It is by faith we receive the righteousness of Christ.
There is freedom knowing we do not have to defend our image and that we can overcome the devil by humbling ourselves. Humility invites the tender love of Christ to attend us and it also disarms the schemes of Satan on many fronts, including our relationships with others.
To receive abundant grace as a result of our humility is to truly know the values of God’s heart of love. This is why there is great value in agreeing with our adversary.
LESSON #4: Delight In Being Hidden
Our tendency, need, and nature to be appreciated as humans can turn into a mistaken basis that drives us to futile actions and failure. These wrong motives also serve to highlight our desperate need for God’s grace and mercy, and for our need of hiddeness in all our intentions. Knowing there is a solution to this inclination is reason for delight!
- James 3:15, NIV: For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
- Zecheriah 1:3, NIV: Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord
It is crucial that we set our hearts and will high above our own human desire for recognition and the affinity to seek praise to seeing “Jesus glorified and the Father’s will accomplished on earth.” This aligns with what consumes the Holy Spirit. This hidden place of rest and maturity is determined by our ongoing obedience to God’s Word and Holy Spirit. It is the only means of escaping the trap and damage that pride, selfish ambition, and jealousy bring.
There is a powerful revelation when we consider the model of the Holy Spirit who seeks no focus or attention of Himself. In the same manner, it is our role to direct all praise toward Christ and God the Father with that willing heart that abandons recognition for our service. This is the act and delight of hiddeness.
LESSON #5: Disarm the Accuser
Satan wants to stop our growth! Many churches and ministries have been destroyed by the accuser of the brethren with a faultfinding assignment to assault relationships at all levels. Masquerading as discernment, this spirit will slip into our opinions of others and leave us critical and judgemental. We all need to evaluate our attitude toward others. If our thoughts are other than “faith working through love,” we need to be aware that we may be under spiritual attack. In truth, criticisms are a smoke screen for a prayerless heart and an unwillingness to serve.
- Galatians 5:6, NIV: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
In exposing the activity of the accuser of the brethren, our goal is to see the living church delivered from the stronghold of faultfinding and respond with prayer when we see a need. Remember the intent of Satan’s assault of faultfinding demons against the body of Christ is to hinder the next move of God; to entice us away from the perfection of Jesus; and, to get us to focus on the imperfections of one another.
The measure of our Christlike maturity is revealed in what we do with what we see. We disarm the accuser’s weapons as we: create an atmosphere of grace among and between us with love, redemptively covering over a multitude of sins; repent when the Holy Spirit desires to correct us; and, “pray for one another instead of preying on one another.” Let us encourage one another to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is praying for His body to become one.
LESSON #6: The Battle
There is a war being waged for our souls and the soul of our nations. We can see people and cultures entering this open revolt and outright rebellion against Gods’ standards. God is seeking to raise up His servants with increased power and authority. So what should we do and why?
The Scriptures alert and require us to pay attention to the times in which we live. We are forewarned of an “apostasy” – an outright large scale rebellion against God’s standards, which must be fulfilled before Christ’s return. We should not be surprised but rather assured that God’s kingdom will ultimately “crush the demonic influences in our world.”
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3, NIV: Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
- Daniel 2:44-45, NIV: In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
As we consider our Great God as the One who laughs and scoffs at the foolishness of those who mock Him in rebellion (Psalm 37:13), and in view of this current “great rebellion”, we are compelled to exercise precise discernment in prayer and compassion toward those ensnared. We can rest assured that God is aware of the nonstandard set against Him; and, we can share in His confidence.
The opportunity for grace to flourish in and through us will ultimately manifest Christlikeness and bring glory to God through the church, as we pray. The goal of our prayers is that He will reign. We are invited and commanded to ask of Him that He would give us the nations as our inheritance.
As we unite our voices with boldness, confidence, and faith in prayer; and we ask God for the Church to be one to manifest His kingdom on earth, we are becoming that bride without spot or wrinkle. We take our rightful place in the completeness of His purposes as we deal with unbelief and repentance, and can live without fear as we pray for the very nations that defy him. If we ask Him, He will give!
LESSON #7: An Ideal Relationship
An ideal relationship between a Pastor/Mission and Intercessors is ultimately a relationship that is demonstrated by a senior leader who appreciates, communicates, and supports his intercessors and esteems their contribution; and, by intercessors who set their prayer focus to first seek the spiritual fulfilment of their front line champion’s vision.
When both pastor/missionary and intercessor recognize the operating principles of a Jezebel war (a self appointed spiritual authority that undermines the authority of the senior leader or leadership team), which includes temptation, confusion, witchcraft, fear and discouragement, they must understand that the ultimate purpose of this spirit is to divide, diminish, and displace in order to disable any God given spiritual authority of those in leadership. Without defending this war a church/mission can not function, and confusion, ambition and chaos will reign.
When senior leadership provides the church/mission with the structure the Lord brings to him, intercessors will honor authority by accepting this order as coming from the Lord, without challenge, manipulation, pressure, or control. Intercessors will pray into the vision of the front line champion. They will humbly submit any witness from prayer to the senior leader, without being offended by implementation or not.
The outcome of this kind of relationship will be victory and reveal God’s ultimate purposes and plans and see the furtherance of His Kingdom established on earth! Yea God!
LESSON #8: The Goal of Unity
If we look at the DNA of the early disciples, both men and women, we see that they were devoted to Jesus and His teachings, they were humble, and they were devoted to intercessory prayer. The result was their Christ-centered unity became a landing strip for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
- Acts 1:14, NKJV: These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
- Psalm 133:1, NKJV: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! For there the LORD commanded the blessing – LIFE forevermore.
Unity is the fragrance that arises from humble, prayerful, Christ-centered people. It enables us to become the habitation of God. Healthy families and healthy churches are what bring lasting transformation to cities and nations.
However, if you have ever been through a church split, you are all too familiar with Christians pitted against one another, who participate in slander, anger, deception, fear, bitterness, hatred, gossip, unforgiveness, strife, rebellion and pride. Divisions and splits remind God of when hell began – a consequence of a heavenly division when the cunning Lucifer was able to actually convince angels, that they could win a war against their Creator!
Regardless of divisions that may originate from confusion concerning church governments, misguided ambition in one or more associate leaders, or the issue of spiritual warfare; Jesus warned that when a house is divided against itself, it “shall not stand” (Matt 12:24). It is imperative to be on guard and examine any entry for the spirits of division and strife to manipulate through religious ambition or immature sinful attitudes of the heart! Our goal is unity, and focus is Jesus!
“Lord, help me to see and understand my role in your Kingdom. Master, grant me the meekness of the Holy Spirit, that I might serve without manipulation, and intercede without trying to control. Lord, help me to walk in discernment. Free me from any influence other than the ministry of the Holy Spirit Himself. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!”
© 2013 Summary by Dr. Karen Braun – based upon In Christ’s Image Training by Francis Frangipane http://www.icitc.org/