How leaders can grow in apostolic grace

Supernatural signs confirm the message of the Kingdom of God.  So how does a leader grow in the demonstration of spirit and power?

Look at this short inspirational video by Andre Kruger who has seen tremendous growth in his personal life and congregation in the demonstration of spirit and power. Form more on his teachings regarding this visit his page http://heavensflow.org/

Scriptures

Matthew 4:17-24

17  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” … 23  And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24  So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

Matthew 10:1-8

1  And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction… 5  These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6  but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7  And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

Observations and Reflection

Note: Matthew, being a Jew, respectfully chose to use the euphoric phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” where the other evangelists used the phrase “Kingdom of God”.

  1. List the similarities between these two portions from the Gospel of Matthew.
  2. What was the message preached?
  3. To whom did they preach?
  4. What accompanied the preaching of this message?
  5. What is “the Kingdom of God”? What synonyms could you use for the phrase “Kingdom of God”?
  6. Why did these signs follow the pronouncement of the Kingdom of God? [hint: where does sickness, death, leprosy and demonic oppression come from?]
  7. What was the purpose of these accompanying signs?

Personal reflection and Application

Jesus and his disciples preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God, calling the Jews to repent of their rebellion and sin and submit to the reign of God – and signs of this good reign of God followed as the blind saw, deaf heard, lame walked, the sick was healed and the oppressed were delivered, even the dead raised! These signs testify of the good and powerful reign of God.

  1. Signs and wonders are more commonly observed during evangelic outreaches and gospel crusades. Have you witnessed this before? And why do you think it is so?
  2. Considering today’s scripture reading, how would one grow in the apostolic anointing or demonstration of the Spirit and Power? [hint: apostle means ‘sent one, messenger or emissary’]
  3. Jesus and his disciples preached ‘the Kingdom of God’ among their own people. Prayerfully prepare a 10minute message on the Kingdom of God and preach it to people you associate with. Then follow up with demonstration of the Kingdom of God by praying for sick or oppressed people. (Consider taking this message to hospitals or prisons in your area).
  4. If you have not been on a mission trip in the last year, plan to join one in the next 12 months.

Prayer

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,

Now and forever. Amen”

 

The Kingdom of God – not in religious observance

The Kingdom of God is a central theme in the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus. The aim of this devotional series is to prayerfully reflect on the Kingdom of God and its manifestation in and through my life.

Scripture

Romans 14:14-21

14  I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.  15  For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  16  So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.

17  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

18  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  19  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  20  Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.  21  It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Observation and reflection

Context: The congregation(s) in Rome were divided in their understanding of which holy days were to be observed and which foods were religiously acceptable.

Focus on verse 17.

  1. Rephrase the sentence “the reign of King Henry VI extended throughout the British Isles”.
    1. What is meant by “The Kingdom of God” in verse 17?
  2. Why (in this context) does Paul say “The Kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking
    1. Why is this an important distinction even today?
  3. Replace the following words with short phrases to describe what it means or implies in relation to “the Kingdom of God”:
    1. Eating and drinking
    2. Righteousness
    3. Peace
    4. Joy
  4. What does Paul mean by the qualifying phrase “…in the Holy Spirit”? [hint: where else does Paul write about “Holy Spirit… peace… joy”?]
  5. According to this verse:
    1. What is God’s reign like?
    2. Where does God reign?
    3. How is God’s reign extended in practice?

Application and prayer

Jesus did not come to enforce ceremonial religious observances.  He came to bring righteousness, peace and joy in our hearts and relationships.  Do you experience that?

Jesus taught us to pray God “Let Your kingdom come!”  (Matthew 6:10).

  1. In which relationship of yours do you not experience “righteousness, peace and joy”?
    1. Pray that God will work in your hearts to establish his “righteousness, peace and joy”.
    2. Make an appointment to discuss this with the other person so that there might be God’s reign may be evident in your relationship.
  2. Is there an aspect of your life that does not correspond to God’s “righteous” reign?
    1. Confess that to God and pray to God who is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
    2. Bring that area of your life to God in prayer, asking him to create his righteousness in your heart.
  3. Is there something about your nation or neighborhood or world which upsets you (i.e. violence, corruption, perversion, poverty, etc)?  Pray for God’s Kingdom to come in “righteousness, peace and joy!”

 

What is man 5 – Guarding your Spirit

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to reflect on the spiritual nature of man, and the effect of sin on it.

Scripture

Malachi 2:13-16

13  And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14  But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.” So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.

Observations and reflections

Context: the prophet Malachi calls for moral reform in Israel about 400BC, specifically focusing on the priests.

  1. In simple words try to define the problem (or sin) which the prophet addresses. [verse 14]
  2. How does God make a married couple one? [verse 15]
  3. What do you learn about the effect of sexual unfaithfulness on the human spirit?
    1. What does that suggest on the nature of sin in general?
    2. What does that suggest of the nature of sexual relationships?
  4. Malachi says the man who divorces his wife “covers his garment with violence” (verse 16) – what does he mean to say with this strong imagery? [hint: read the rest of the verse…]
    1. What effect does divorce have on the human spirit? [verse 16]
    2. Why do you think this happens?
  5. Malachi repeats the phrase “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
    1. From this context, what does “guard yourself in your spirit” mean?
    2. In a more general context, what does “guard yourself in your spirit” mean?

Personal reflection and prayer

“We are spirits having a human experience.”  Relationships are at their core spiritual, and sexual relationships so much more intense.  For more on the spiritual nature of our sexuality read “It’s not just sex

  1. When were you the most acutely aware of your spirit? Reflect on those moments. What made you so aware of your spirit?
  2. In response to Malachi’s this word, how will you “guard yourself in your spirit”? [don’t rush over this]
  3. Reflect on your innocence and joyfulness and hopefulness in your youth; how has your spirit been damaged over the years? Pray Paul’s prayer for restoration and preservation of your spirit: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What is man 3 – Body, Soul and Spirit

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the body, soul and spirit of man in the light of God’s ongoing work in us.

Scriptures

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Hebrews 4:9-13

9  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience [as the Hebrews who died in the desert before entering the Promised Land]. 12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Observation and reflection

Context: Remember that Hebrews were written to believers who considered walking away from faith in Jesus due to severe Roman persecution.

  1. Considering the context of the first readers, answer the following verses pertaining to Hebrews 4:12-13
    1. What would this verse mean for them?
    2. What is meant with “word”, “soul”, “spirit” and “division” in the verse above?
    3. Can you see the irony in the metaphor of “word of God” as a “double-edged sword”? [hint: what are the readers afraid of…?] What then is emphasized by the use of this metaphor?
    4. How does the Word active in “discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart”?
    5. How does “thoughts and intents of the heart” relate to “soul and spirit” in this context?
  2. From 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, what do you learn about the Lord’s work of salvation in a believer? [don’t rush your answer]

Personal reflection and prayer

  1. Sin results in destruction and death. Consider any particular destructive sin such as sexual perversion or substance abuse.  In which way can you observe persistent sinful behavior affecting
    1. The body;
    2. The soul;
    3. The spirit? [hint: relationships are inherently spiritual]
  2. Now prayerfully consider your life in the light of the Lord’s ongoing work of restoration; how are you still in need of the Lord’s work of sanctification in
    1. Your body;
    2. Your soul;
    3. Your spirit?
  3. Personalize Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, thanking the Lord that He is faithful and ask Him to restore and sanctify your body, soul and spirit as you have particular needs, and also ask him to preserve you wholly.
  4. What is your particular weakness or area where you are most frequently tempted? Confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to bring his Word to “pierce to the division of soul and of spirit… and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” that you may know and desire what is His will.

Salvation 14

The Aim of this devotional study is to learn about Jesus’ teaching of salvation to two very different people.

Scriptures

Today we compare two consecutive accounts in John to learn from the comparison.

John 3:1-12

1  Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  2  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

3  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9  Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

10  Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”

John 4:5-26

5  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6  Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7  A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  8  (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)

9  The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

10  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

11  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  12  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

13  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

14  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

17  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;  18  for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

19  The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  20  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

21  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  22  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  23  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  24  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25  The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

26  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Observations

The accounts in John 3 and 4 are placed next to each other very purposefully.

  1. It helps to sometimes make lists or columns to see the arguments clearly. Take the following list of descriptive nouns and place them in the right columns to note the deliberate oppositeness of the accounts:

late at night || at noonday; in city|| outside small town;  this one initiated the conversation with Jesus || Jesus initiated the conversation with this one; man || woman; very educated || simple; elite || outcast in town;  ruler || commoner; Jew || Samaritan;

In John 3                                             In John 4

  1. Notice how both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman had their own theories of salvation. How did each one reason about salvation?  Briefly summarize Jesus’ argument to both?
  2. What element of salvation did Jesus highlight in these two very different methaphors? (hint: 3:8 and 4:23-24)

Application

  1. Each of these two very different people had their own theories of salvation, but Jesus confronted both with the truth. What do you think John wanted to teach his readers by placing these two “opposite stories with the same lesson” ?
  2. Is there someone with his/her own theories who comes to mind when you read these accounts? What does that challenge you to do today?

Prayer

Jesus was loving, fearless and shameless to confront other theories of salvation with the truth of himself.  Pray for that love, fearlessness and shamelessness as you remember Paul’s words “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)