Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why is Koinonia So Important for The Great Commission?

Rick Joyner:

Rick JoynerWhy is koinonia [fellowship] so important when we are talking about The Great Commission? One reason we have failed to fulfill The Great Commission has been our tendency of making converts rather than disciples. The Great Commission is to make disciples. If disciples are not being made, then we are failing in our commission.

What a disciple is has been clearly defined by the Lord. True discipleship is rarely found among Christians today. One reason for this is that true discipleship is not possible without koinonia, as we read in 1 John 1:7"But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship (koinonia) with one another, and the Blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

As we have covered, this Scripture makes it clear that we simply cannot abide in the light without having koinonia. This is also essential for our cleansing.

I often say jokingly, but truthfully, that we simply cannot mature in Christ the way we are called to without all of the frustrations and irritations of Church life. The frustrations and irritations, the hurts and disappointments, are only a small part of what this experience is meant to be, but they are essential to our development. There are certainly far more positives to experiencing koinonia than negatives, but the challenges help us to mature.
The True Church Life
In Yeshua's Presency by Jennifer PageEither idealism about Church life or rejecting the Church will lead us far from the path of life. True Church life, koinonia, can be one of the most wonderful things we ever experience and one of the most difficult, as is true of any relationship, including marriage. As the Lord taught in the Parable of the Sower, many will depart when testing comes. Many depart from Church, and many are now even departing from marriage when the tests come. You can never pass a test by quitting.

The breakdown of marriage is related to the breakdown in Church life and vice versa. The same thing that heals one will heal the other as well. The Cross is a vertical post that represents our connection to God and a horizontal one that represents our connection to one another. One thing that taking up our cross means is that we must have both of these in our lives. Of course, our connection to God eclipses the importance of our connection to one another and must always be kept first. But if we have this and keep it first, we will also have the other. As John also wrote, we cannot love God who we do not see if we do not love our brother who we can see (see I John 4:20-21).

So, what can we do to promote koinonia in Church life? First and foremost, we must seek the presence of the Lord above all things. What good is the most glorious temple if God is not in it? Then we need to pursue relationships, not just wait to be pursued. Barnabas had to go and get Paul. Then they needed to get in the right place before either of them could get released into their own ultimate calling.

In those days, this was a supreme effort. It must have taken months for Barnabas to travel to Tarsus and then back to Antioch. Today it is hard to find those who will drive more than thirty minutes to church. What makes something a treasure is that it is either rare or difficult to obtain. Koinonia is one of the greatest treasures we can have in this life. It is not cheap or easy to find, but it will be found by those who value it enough not to give up on its pursuit. The city that God is building, that which Abraham sought, and all true sojourners seek, is built on Jesus with koinonia.

Assembled togetherSeeking the presence of the Lord is far more than seeking His blessings, which so much of the present emphasis of church teaching is based on today. He will bless many things He will not inhabit. When He says that wherever two or more are gathered in His name He will be in their midst (see Matthew 18:20), the word "gathered" does not mean merely occupying the same room or space. It is where they have been "assembled together" like the parts of a bicycle have been assembled together. This is why we are told to "not to forsake the assembling together" (see Hebrews 10:25). This is not just a warning not to miss meetings, but to not fail to be assembled together as we are called to be. (Photo via Stock.xchange by Timo Balk, edited by Tawny Nelson)

To build a Church where there is actually Church life, koinonia, we must do things to intentionally promote interchange between members. This can include small groups, church fellowship dinners, mission trips, and various other activities. However, gatherings that really lead to koinonia will center on the presence of the Lord. All others can be helpful in getting to this, but just gathering together for activities can fall far short by themselves.

In every spiritual pursuit, we must keep in mind this principle: Between the place where we receive the promise of God and the promised land, or the fulfillment of the promise, there is almost always a wilderness that is the exact opposite of what we have been promised. This wilderness is meant to prepare us for the promised land. Do not be shaken when you start to pursue koinonia and the opposite seems to happen with relationship challenges breaking out everywhere. This is just a sign that you are indeed on the path.

Rick Joyner
MorningStar Ministries

Email: info@morningstarministries.org
Website: morningstarministries.org
Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Final QuestA Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be. Rick and his wife, Julie, have five children: Anna, Aaryn, Amber, Ben, and Sam.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

To Lean Or Not To Lean?

Tiffany Ann Lewis:

Tiffany Ann LewisI would like to talk about Sampson and something that is seldom brought up: his natural strength. Generally, when we think about Sampson, we think about his supernatural strength or his fall to temptation resulting from dabbling with Delilah; however, I believe there is something else to be revealed here that we can all benefit from. I believe Sampson's greatest folly was not leaning on God because of his natural strength.

You see, I don't picture Sampson as a wimpy lad wandering around waiting for the Spirit of the Lord to come upon him, empowering him. The Bible says he was a warrior, so I believe he had plenty of natural strength of his own. He had to be ready to battle 24/7, in season and out.

Beloved, I believe that each of us has some natural strength that makes it possible to walk out what God has called us to do. Let me explain. There is a call, there are gifts, and there are talents – three different things. Each of us has received a call from God to be the light to the world around us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit empower us to reflect that light through the talents God has given us.
His Anointing
Key To a New Sound by Jennifer PageHow that glorious Light is expressed through us will be uniquely different for everyone. A talent represents any kind of natural resource we are given. For example, a worship leader isn't a worship leader just because they can play an instrument or sing. A worship leader is called by God to lead others into His presence.

Furthermore, God may give that leader a supernatural gift of being able to hear His voice through the music so he/she can prophesy. Nevertheless, that individual has a natural talent of making music; there is skill that he/she needs to utilize in order to make that joyful sound to the Lord. With all that said, natural talent/strength can make beautiful music, but it can only touch the soul realm of the listener. Only the anointing of His Spirit will touch the heart.

The problem arises when we begin to gain confidence in our natural skill. I used that example because I was a worship leader long before I was a pastor, and it taught me a lesson I pray I never forget. When I began leading worship, I was scared to death. I would spend days praying and fasting in hopes that I could get all the way through a song without falling on my face.

Thankfully, over the years, I grew more confident and I didn't feel sick to my stomach every time I led worship. Unfortunately, as I gained confidence, I wasn't praying with the same intensity to make it through a service as I did in the beginning. Now, there is nothing wrong with confidence, but so often, as our confidence grows in that area, our prayer life diminishes in it.
Our Own Strength
Prayer Is The Key by Jennifer PageIn the Bible, prayerlessness is symbolized by sleep. It's no coincidence that Sampson was sleeping on Delilah's lap when his hair was cut. When he woke up, he just assumed that he could operate once again as he had always done before. Beloved, please hear this: Just because God anointed what you did yesterday, doesn't mean that He's anointing it today.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Evidently it was worth repeating, because it's quoted twice: both in Proverbs 14:12 and in Proverbs 16:25. So often we run out and do something assuming it will work just because it's worked for us in the past. Sampson ran out in the way that seemed right to him, and his enemies captured him. His greatest deception was not Delilah; it was his own strength. The deception comes when our natural talent causes us to lose sight of our utter dependency on God.

It would be very easy for me to lean on my experience or a good song list in order to lead worship "well," but then I wouldn't be leaning on Him anymore – I'd be leaning on my knowledge. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Sampson woke up finding himself once again in a situation where he needed to use his strength, and he said, "'I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!' But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him" (Judges 16:20).

Sampson got up and ran out as he had many times before, but notice, this time he didn't even know that the presence of the Lord had left him. O' God, how sad...how is this possible that he didn't even know? He must have been doing things for a long time in his own strength if he couldn't even discern the difference between when God was with him and when He wasn't.
Remember to Lean!
The Secret Place by Donna SmallenbergTears sting my eyes and I tremble deep inside because I know firsthand what it's like to run out apart from the presence of the Lord. I know what it feels like to have turned left when God has turned right, only to find myself standing in my own strength and not His. I read this Bible passage and an alarm goes off in my spirit as if the Lord is shouting,"Warning, warning, please remember to lean!" What will it take us to get there? Does God have to cut our hair, or can we realize it through this glimpse into Sampson's life?

We have an opportunity right now to learn from Sampson's mistake. My calling today as a pastor is different than it was as a worship leader, and it's very different from Sampson's, and your calling is probably quite different from mine. However, one thing that we all have in common is our total dependency on Jesus Christ to help us walk it out.

The Lord wants us leaning on Him in all things, always!Seriously, think about it: all things, always – in raising our children, in doing our job, in all day-to-day affairs. He wants us leaning on Him emotionally, physically, and spiritually. He wants us leaning on Him for our next meal, our next promotion, and our next breath, in all things, always.

The Lord is inviting us today to take this leaning position. May we respond and choose to lean. Amen and Amen.

Tiffany Ann Lewis
Dancing With the Flame of the LORD Ministries

Email: tiffanyann@tiffanyannlewis.com
Website: tiffanyannlewis.com
Tiffany Ann Lewis is a prophetic worship leader and Bible teacher with a unique focus on Biblical Hebrew, and whose heart has been passionately awakened by a God who sees us in our shortcomings, loves us in spite of it all, and calls out to us so we can live (Ezekiel 16). Her vision is to create an atmosphere in worship where we can meet with God face-to-face, where the Spirit of God moves freely, releasing emotional, spiritual, and physical healing, and igniting a passion for our Heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus. Tiffany Ann has been ministering for over 15 years in the Body of Christ through worship and the Word. Her newest opportunity will be to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Hebrew at the Quest Bible Institute in Georgia where she is also a fully matriculated student enrolled in a graduate level Biblical/theological studies program at Quest Bible Institute and Seminary. Upon completion of her studies she will be awarded a Master's degree in Biblical Studies.
Tiffany and her husband Rodney have been married for more than twenty years and have one darling daughter, Ashley, a glorious granddaughter, Gloriana, and two precious pups that are also a part of their family.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Awaken Your Dreams!

Joey LeTourneau"Now Joseph had a dream…" Genesis 37:5
We all have a dream! Somewhere inside us there is something that makes our heart burn with passion and burst with joy! It may be an old dream, or it may be fresh. It may be lying dormant waiting to be revived, or it might be on the verge of breathing new life into others. No matter what stage your dreaming heart is in, it is time to prepare for an awakening of your dreams!
Can They Live?
"And He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?'" Ezekiel 37:3
We stand with the Lord looking upon the dry bones of our dreams that the enemy has tried to steal, kill and destroy. And God asks us, "Can these dreams live?" He is awaiting our answer. We must not speak out of hope deferred, but rather – we are to speak out into creation that which has already been conceived inside us and that which the Lord is waiting to partner with you to bring to life!
Much more than a word for you, I believe the Father is calling out the word from within you. He is asking you to begin speaking out your dream once more, and living it to His fullest; one step at a time with Him. Come back to the joy you knew before hope was deferred.
Old, dying or dormant dreams are more alive than you think, and you have more within you to live them out than you realize. There is a child inside you who knows not only how to dream, but how to live them in simple trust and belief.
"Talitha, Cumi"
Before we moved from Ethiopia, I had a very intense dream that felt as real on the outside as it was on the inside. The Lord took me into what seemed to be a mausoleum of sorts, where there were six coffins. He took me over to one specific coffin and said, "Stretch out your hand and prophesy life." I was still dreaming, but literally felt and heard my body and voice join the Lord on the outside as well. As I stretched out my hand and spoke, a child rose, sitting straight up.
I believe this child is a key picture for the time at hand. Almost two years later, having let go of that dream, God brought me a word that sparked its possibilities back to life from Mark 5:41-42:"Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha, cumi,' which is translated, 'Little girl, I say to you arise.' Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement."
It is a child such as this that is key to our dreams coming to life and being lived out in the world. To live out the dream inside us and see its Kingdom reality revealed, we must learn to walk with the Father like little children again.
That is how the Israelites crossed the Jordan into their Promise Land, they took one step at a time, living into their dream and promise. The first step came before there was any breakthrough in the waters – they just stepped, and lived it before it was there to be lived. That's what a child would do!
I believe the Father is birthing a youth-filled revival. It's the child inside you, AND the young person next to you. Both are being raised up for such a time as this. God has so frequently moved through unlikely people and strategies, and is now looking for those "empty vessels" (2 Kings 4) of the world who have room for His best rather than our own perception of such.
It's time to let the childlike faith inside you come to life and strengthen you in speaking forth the dreams of your heart. It's time to find the youth around you and empower them with permission to dream! Together, it's time to dream, again!
Not One Purpose Falling to the Ground
One of my dreams and promises I had put down has been coming back to life, and stronger than ever! It originates from the story of Samuel. Samuel was so young when he became the prophetic voice of his time, even during a time when the voice of the Lord was not being heard. He began to live this purpose with God at such a young age, a child co-laboring with his Father, not because of his qualifications or understanding, but because of his yielded nature – which began with Hannah.
So here we have a prophet of God, speaking on behalf of the Lord from such a young age and yet he had this testimony, "So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground" (1 Samuel 3:19).
This blows me away! How can someone speak for God for a living and still not have one word fall to the ground? We can speak words so frivolously, and yet, here is someone charged with speaking on behalf of the Lord, beginning as a boy, and still not one word fell to the ground unused. It makes me dream for each of us.
If not one word could fall to the ground between God and Samuel, how much more possible is it for not one purpose from any life to fall to the ground?
Our purpose is so uniquely God-given and specially placed. If not one of Samuel's words fell to the ground, than why should any purpose of any of God's children ever fall to the ground? That's why we must dream!
You have a unique purpose within you that no one else has. You have value simply because of who you are to the Father. His love for you is unconditional, and He believes in you. So do I! He is calling you into your unique and special purpose.
It's time to speak forth the dreams that are in you. It's time to walk with Him with childlike trust, live your dreams rather than the world's version, and see your purpose come to life. I pray not one purpose God has put within you will fall to the ground. It's time to dream, and we're not talking "pipe dreams" either. We're talking about the real deal, the dreams that will unveil your purpose to those in the world who need it the most.
Imagine nations changed because you lived your purpose and dream!Hope breathes through those who choose to be awakened.
Joey LeTourneau
M.A.R.K. 10:14 Family/Heavenly Hope Ministries

Email: joey.letourneau@gmail.com
Website: bringhishope.org / uncommonvision.org
Together, Joey LeTourneau and his wife, Destiny, have co-founded their new mission, Imagi-Nations LLC, and live with their five children near Denver, CO. They have lived and traveled across the nations and find such joy in empowering God's children to walk in their unique purpose and calling. Joey is a visionary and pioneer with contagious passion when he speaks, empowering each person to see differently, live differently and love differently; imparting the Father's blessing to be who God made you to be. He has authored five books, most recently: "Dream, Again: Re-Interpreting the American Dream: Through Founder's Eyes."