Chapter 7. Worship

Chapter 7.  Worship

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #32

Worship is an important part of our lives as believers.  Each Sunday around the globe finds multitudes coming together in praise to our Lord.

But what if worship is more than singing and dancing before God?  What if worship is intertwined throughout our lives and the manner of our hearts?

I propose that worship is much more than what we think it is; lets take a look and see.

1.  The Work of our Hands

In Colossians we find, 

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:17 ESV

The work of a craftsman, an artist, a gardener, a builder, is also a way to worship.  There is no work that is more pious or sacred than any other work.  All that we put our minds and efforts to accomplish is holy unto the Lord as we commit it to him and invite him into it.

Today, be grateful for the work of your hands and give it the honour it deserves, and allow it to usher you into the presence of God as worship.

Today, honour and celebrate the work of other’s hands.  In this way we also worship our Lord who has equipped each of us for beauty and excellence in everything we do.

2.  Trusting God

The Psalmist writes,

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!  You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”  Psalm 40: 4-5 ESV

I suggest you read all of Psalm 40. It is a chapter thick with the presence of God when we remain in trust of him.  This is of course always the challenge.  How do we continue in trusting God when circumstances appear that we must do things on our own?

To remain steadfast and in trust of our God is also worship.  It is the refusal to give up on the character and goodness of God in our lives.  This will be tested time and again for trust is not easy to have.  But for those who remain in him, these ones prove their worship.

3.  Leaving Revenge to the Lord

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”  Psalm 34:15-22 ESV

When we are under attack from others we often want to cry out and

• defend our reputation

• declare our innocence

• hurt those who are hurting us

But none of these things are the way of the Lord.  In fact, God calls us to a different way. God says, ‘leave it with me, trust me.’  And when we put our reputation, our innocence and our hurt into the Lord’s hands, trusting Him, we are worshipping.

Proving by our actions and our restraint to go after others we enter into another deep layer of trust and rest in the Lord, here our worship is pure and sweet.

4.  Treating Our Enemies Well 

In Matthew we read this one sentence, 

“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  Matthew 5:41 ESV

Jesus was talking in this passage about how we are to treat our enemies.  He was speaking to the jewish people who were under Roman rule.  Their very lives were always under scrutiny and oppression.  The Romans were present in the land and a law at the time was this: If you are on the road and a Roman soldier is going the same way as you, that soldier can make you carry his pack (his bag) for one mile.

The people obviously hated this.  It would have been like having dust and dirt ground in your face by the one you hate.  It would have been humiliating and degrading to carry the pack of your enemy.

So Jesus speaks of a better way.  A way above humiliation and degradation, and that way was to bless over and above the required amount.  If one mile is required then carry it for two.

As we overcome evil with good we step out of ought and should and law and we enter into love and good deeds that again prove our understanding of God and his ways and in this we enter into profound worship.

5.  Being an Honourable Person

Proverbs says, 

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  Proverbs 4:23 ESV

It is up to us to choose what we see and bear in our hearts.  We are commanded to keep our hearts with vigilance.  This means to take great care about what we put into our hearts and the thoughts and attitudes that come out of our hearts.

We are to be:

• honest and truthful

• patient and gracious

• holy and with a clean heart

• prayerful and trusting

• keeping our word

• gentle and kind

The manner in which we care for our hearts can also be worship.  Make good choices without excuses and here we also worship our Lord.

Honour him today and you will be honourable and your worship will be honourable.

6.  Being a Peace Keeper

In James we are admonished, 

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” 

 James 3:18 ESV

I suggest you read all of James 3.  This entire chapter is speaking about our language, the things we say and the spirit in which we say them.

It is a chapter about being careful with our tongues and our words.  The passage finishes off with this verse that speaks of peace.  We are told that righteousness is sown by peace.

This is important to know and to remember.  Righteousness does not come about by violence or under compulsion.  Rather, peace is our method if we are to be in the Lord.  Here too, as we seek peace and lead with peace we are worshippers.  In peace we honour the heart and ways of the Lord and here we also worship.

7.  Enjoying Ordinary People

Romans tell us, 

“Live in harmony with each other.  Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.  And don’t think you know it all!”  Romans 12:16 NLT 

As leaders and pastors we must leave our importance behind if we are to please the heart of our God. 

There is nothing more offensive than Christians who think they are better than everyone else.

In fact, arrogance and pride make filthy our worship.  When we think we know it all we leave no room for God or others to give us a hand, and this is offensive to the ways of the Lord where we are to be receiving from each other.

As we leave our importance behind, only then can we truly enter into worship. Enjoying ordinary people is our worship.

8.  Honouring People

And in Romans we read, 

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” 

Romans 12:10 ESV

The love of our God is people.  It is for people that Christ came to earth.  It is for people that our Holy Spirit remains with us.  God is for us and as we are for others we come alongside the Lord.  This too is worship.

To be concerned with what concerns God is worship.  To take action and advocacy on behalf of others is exactly what Christ did for us and this too is our worship.  In fact, all of our lives can be summarized by how we have loved people.  This in fact proves our worship. 

We may very well come each and every Sunday to worship, but if our treatment of others is ill-kempt the rest of the week our worship is nullified.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24 ESV

And there is more.  Basically, in any way that we agree in words and heart and action with our God, this is worship.  For in the heart of worship is acknowledgment and due respect and honour proven by our actions and choices, by words and deeds.

Worship the Lord today and every day.

Prayer

“God we bring you our very lives and ask that worship would become a part of every day.  As we interact with our children, our spouses, our families, our neighbours, remind us that our kindness and care reveals our hearts of worship, or not. 

We want to express you through every part of our day.  Enable our actions to speak of you.  May the work I must do today be unto your glory and honour.  I worship you with my work. 

Teach us patience, trust, faithfulness, and peace that in all things my manner may worship you.  Renew my heart and my attitudes so that you are honoured in all things by my life and mind. 

Thank-you God for worship and adoration.  May my outer worship on a Sunday morning be supported and proven true by my actions and words and love the rest of the week.  With all honour to you Lord,  Amen.” 

Application

Our worship is proven, or disproven, by our integrity in all things.  Scripture gives us standards by which we can check ourselves to see how we are doing. 

  • Are we honest?  Leviticus 19:35
  • Do we honor others?   Romans 12:10
  • Are we kind and patient?  Colossians 3:12
  • How is your speech?  James 4:11-12
  • Do we respect our elders?  Leviticus 13:92
  • Are we gentle with children?  Ephesians 6:4
  • Do we work with diligence?  Luke 16:10
  • Do we make excuses or blame others?  Hebrews 12:15
  • Are we taking responsibility for our lives?  Luke 12:48b
  • Are we considerate of our co-workers?  James 3:17
  • Do we receive from each other?  Ephesians 5:21
  • Are we holding grudges?  Matthew 15:18
  • Are we people of peace?  Proverbs 14:30
  • Do you lead well?  1 Peter 5:3

These are just some of the questions we can ask ourselves. (15)

Again, in our walk with God we can bring all parts of our heart to him.  This kind of honest and authentic relationship is what he desires to have with us.  There is nothing too big for God and this includes every part of our hearts. 

And again, conviction and revelation of our hearts sin is a gift from the Lord; we cannot see our own sin without the Holy Spirit showing us our hearts.  So begin by inviting God to show you the sins of your heart and life, that you might be transformed by his power. 

1.  Invite the Lord to convict you and to bring to mind where you may be violating the heart of God. Write down what the Lord reveals to you. (16)

2.  Use the prayer process  to confess and repent of any areas of your life that do not reveal a true heart of worship to our Lord. 

3.  Take the time to pray through each thing the Lord reveals to you.  Do not rush this. Allow your heart to come into true repentance and a turning from the sins of your heart and life. 

4.  Become conscious of how you might change your habits.  For instance, if you have had a habit of holding grudges consider how you might come to God on a regular basis, confessing your hurt and leaving justice in his hands. 

5.  Ask the Lord to guide you as you continue to seek him on a daily basis.  Be consistent and diligent in your relationship with God.  Come to him each day and he will transform your life.  

Summary – worship 

Worship is much more than singing and dancing to God.  Colossians 3:14-17

Worship is how we: 

Live our lives.  Romans 12:1-2

Treat other people.  1 Peter 4:8

Go about our work.  Colossians 3:16

The Bible tells us to take care of things before we come to church.  Matthew 5:23-24

Worship is: 

Heart attitude.  Proverbs 4:23

Taking action to make things right.  Isaiah 1:17

This life-hearted worship pleases the Lord.  John 4:23-24

 

Footnotes: 

15. Note: We ask ourselves these questions. Do not take these questions and use them for your congregation this next Sunday. Begin with yourself and the Lord! Only in time, after you have done business with the Lord for yourself, are you free to take these things to those you serve. 

16. Remember to first set the space with the Lord, “I come before you God in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I desire your revelation God. I declare that all lying, deceiving, and confusing spirits must be silent in the name and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you God, to speak to me.”

17. From the Freedom Chapter (in the course found on Pages 31 – 34). Linked HERE

Chapter 6. Freedom

Chapter 6.  Freedom

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #6 

Today I share what I have found to be a simple yet profound process of bringing the freedom of the Lord into very specific areas of our lives.

Receiving Jesus Christ as Saviour is the first step towards this freedom.  And then as we continue to walk with Him we can begin to bring His freedom into very specific areas of our life, increasing His light within our own hearts and lives, experiencing freedom and the lightness of the Lord in increasing measure.

Freedom in any area of life comes about through a process before the Lord.  (10)

1.  CONFESSION.  Confession is where we say “I did it”.  Confession admits to something that has gone wrong, and by our own heart and hand.

The ability to confess comes when we see clearly our sin.  Those things that offend, deny, or outright attack the character of God.

“I did it”

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”  James 5:16a ESV

The next part of freedom comes when we are repentant.  When our hearts find remorse and sorrow for our sin.  Repentance comes as a gift from the Father.  The Bible is pretty clear that without the revelation of the Holy Spirit over our hearts we will not understand or even see a need for repentance.

2.  REPENTANCE is the place where we declare our sorrow over actions, thoughts, words, whatever it may be, that contradicts the glory and nature of God.

“I am so sorry”

It is quite possible to have confession, “I did it”, without repentance, “I am so sorry”.  But to have full freedom we must have both.  First the acknowledgment of wrong-doing, and then the grief and sorrow regarding that.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret”                             2 Corinthians 7:10a ESV

3.  RENOUNCING.  This is where we declare, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I say NO to this in my life.”

“I renounce (the name of the specific sin) in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is where we hold our hand out so to speak, against the sin, against the stronghold, and declare “No More!”

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and wordly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”  Titus 2:11-12 ESV

4.  BREAK the hold of the sin upon us.

This, all of this, can only be accomplished in our lives because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross some 2000 years ago.  He did the work, we merely bring it specifically into and over our lives.  Breaking the hold of the sins over us goes something like this:

“I (name of self), stand in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ and I declare the stronghold of (the specific sin) broken off of my life.  Where it has woven itself into my life, today I say ‘no more’ in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I remove its grip from my life, I break its hold, I sever its grasp, all in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

Breaking the sin, using whatever picture the Holy Spirit gives us, can only be done through the authority of Jesus.  It is why we keep saying His name so many times.  ONLY the name of Jesus Christ has any power to break us free from sin’s death grip.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”  Isaiah 58:6 ESV 

5. CANCEL the accompanying things of the enemy, that most likely have come along because of the sin.

For instance, when we sin we agree with the enemies plans over our life.  When we sin we enter into an agreement with Satan.  This is like a legal document in the spirit realm, that then plays out in life-debilitating ways.  Cancelling the assignments and curses and authority of the enemy is as simple as declaring it so.

“I (insert your own name) stand in the name of my Living Lord Jesus Christ declaring that all assignments, authority and curses of the enemy be cancelled this day.  I declare all things of the enemy in relation to this sin silenced and bound to ineffectiveness, No More!  Today I declare a new contract written, this one unto the Lord with all glory and honour to him, all in the name and the blood of my Living Lord Jesus Christ.”

“God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.   This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:13b -14 ESV

6.  CLAIMING comes next.  It is the place where we receive from God’s heart and hand that which replaces the sin.

*If there were something to replace the sin in your life, what might it be? (remember, forgiveness is already a given based on the work of Jesus Christ).  Here we receive into our lives all that is beneficial, to replace the stronghold of sin that is now cancelled.  We then give God the thanks.

“In the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, I receive _______________ from the heart of the Father. Thank-you God for this gift. I press it through my whole being, heart, mind, spirit and body in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank-you for making a way for me to glorify You God.”

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant,”  2 Corinthians 3:4-6a ESV

7.  SEAL this work.  Covering it and protecting it with the presence of the Lord, sealing ensures that the enemy cannot muck about with the work done.  It claims the work as part of the Glory of God and not anyone else.

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I declare this work sealed and kept for the glory of God and God alone.”

Language is powerful, and speaking God’s heart into our lives is powerful.  Speaking and declaring in the Name and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is powerful.

It is because of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ that we can stand in the same authority and declare freedom.  We do this verbally, out loud for ourselves.

“Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9 ESV

This has been but a short summary of the process of bringing specific freedom into specific areas of our lives. We can do this because of the authority given us in Jesus Christ when we believe on Him.   And when we do this for ourselves, out loud with our own mouths, we participate in the power of the Kingdom of God come to earth.

Application

1.  Memorize these steps to freedom: 

    1. Confession
    2. Repentance
    3. Renouncing
    4. Breaking
    5. Cancelling
    6. Claiming
    7. Sealing 

2.  Write a short summary of each step and why it is necessary.  Memorize this also. 

3.  Practice praying these steps once every day until you are fluent in them. Use the following script. Notice the shift in your heart and spirit as you bring specific things to the Lord in this way. 

*Note: each day you want to ask the Lord to reveal to you something that he wants you to bring to the cross of Jesus, that you may be free. 

“God, I come before you in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I set this time and space for your glory and honour.   To any lying, deceiving, or confusing spirits I say ‘silence’ in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. (11)

Jesus, what would you have me bring to you today?  (12)

( Wait and listen for the Holy Spirit to direct you.  You will get a sense of what to bring to Jesus and to the cross. Let’s pretend that the Holy Spirit is directing you to bring your anger to the cross.  James 1:20)

Jesus, today I confess to my anger (step 1).  I realize that my anger is not compatible with your work or spirit.  In fact, many times I am damaging others with my anger.  I am sorry (step 2).  Today I renounce anger in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. I say ‘No more!’ to anger today (step 3). (13)

With the strong arm of my Lord Jesus Christ I reach back into my past where anger first took root in my life and I remove it, leaving nothing behind.  I unwind the chains and stronghold of anger from my life in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  And I declare every link of that chain severed (step 4). 

In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ (14) I cancel all assignments, curses, and authority, of the enemy that has been over and through my life because of this anger, and I send all things to do with this anger to the place where the true Lord Jesus Christ chooses to send them (step 5). 

Jesus, what would you have for me in place of this anger? 

(now, wait and listen to see what the Holy Spirit might like to give you in place of anger — or, alternately, you can ask for something, such as patience)

Jesus, today I receive from you a new patience for life and people and all things.  Please soak your patience into my heart, mind, spirit, and body.  May I be a new creature in you (step 6). 

Thank you Lord for your work in my life today.  I wrap myself in the love of the Father, I declare myself covered in the name and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I breathe the Holy Spirit through me in a new way today.  

I seal this work in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  To any messing of the enemy in this work, 

I say “No, back off’.  I reserve and preserve all the glory for God alone, in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank you Lord.  Amen and amen. (step 7)”   

Summary – freedom

When we sin we create agreements with Satan.  1 John 3:4,  Isaiah 59:1-2

Sins are: 

    • Physical actions of our flesh.   Galatians 5:19-21
    • Words spoken carelessly.   Matthew 12:36
    • Attitudes not in accord with God’s heart.   2 Timothy 3:1-7
    • Judgments (contempt) against others.   Matthew 7:1-5

All sins invite bad fruit.  Matthew 7:18-19

To be transformed we enter into confession and repentance.  1 John 1:9,  Proverbs 28:13

We break agreements with Satan and declare new agreements with God.  James 4:8-10,  Joel 2:13

Footnotes: 

10. The prayer ministry processes in this course are heavily influenced by elijahhouse.org  prayer ministry model.  

*  NOTE: Further in the course we will be teaching more about inner healing prayer.  Please use the healing prayer process for yourself only, until you have completed the teaching in the later parts of this course.

11. We include this pre-step. We always begin listening prayer by inviting God to speak to us, and by silencing the lies of the enemy. We want to only hear from God and so it is important to set this expectation and to declare the space and time set for God’s heart and covered by Jesus. 

12. In the same way, unless the Holy Spirit directs us we may not know our strongholds. We take the time to ask Jesus to reveal to us what he would have us free from, and we take the time to become silent in our inner spirit and to listen to the Lord. ALSO it is very important that we ask very simple questions with very few words. This is hard to do as our natural habit is to speak many words, but when we speak many words we become unable to hear the Holy Spirit’s whisper back into our hearts. Therefore, as you ask Jesus a question, use no more than 4-6 words. 

13. Do not add extra words to this prayer process – simple is best.

14. We use ‘in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ’ because it is only in the power of Jesus that we can be free from anything. Only his name has the power to free us. It is suggested that in specific spiritual warfare work we speak his complete title ‘Lord Jesus Christ’.

Chapter 5. Agreements

5.  Agreements

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #29

The basis for all of our spiritual work and authority is the principle of agreement.

The foundation of all our spiritual work and authority is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 ESV

In his death, burial, and resurrection, we have been given the keys to life in Christ, relationship with Father God, and the Kingdom of God on earth.

The key is agreement.

When we agree with the work done by Christ we come under the gifts of the cross and of his resurrection.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  John 10:28 ESV

Without agreement we have nothing.  The power of agreement is laid out time and again throughout scripture.

Initially we are introduced to the principle of agreement through the Jewish laws that declared there must be two or more witnesses before a charge could be laid.

“This will be my third visit to you.  “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  2 Corinthians 13:1 NIV 

Agreement amongst a few was necessary, and all that was needed, to go forward in matters of business, family, and village life.

Jesus Christ affirmed this and added to it the instruction of agreement in his name as that which would accomplish anything.

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 18:19 ESV

Jesus could say this because he represented God the Father in his life and work on earth.

It is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all heaven and hell is moved.

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9 ESV 

Acknowledging this, working under this, agreeing with this, is our only work.  Everything of any value flows from the work of Jesus Christ.

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.  Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”                     2 John 1:9 ESV

As believers and ministers of the gospel our agreement begins with the work of Jesus Christ, and then continues on out and over others.

Agreeing with Jesus regarding our own being is powerful.

Agreeing with Jesus regarding others is world changing.

So we must ask, what does Jesus say about you and I?

To what are we agreeing?

1.  First we agree that we need a Saviour, that there is waywardness and sin in our lives and that we cannot be rid of these things on our own.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9 ESV

2.  Second we agree to the character and goodness of God.  That no matter how it might seem to our natural eyes, that God is indeed good and worthy of our praise and allegiance.

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.”               Psalm 33:4 ESV

3.  Third we agree to God’s creation of us as sons and daughters of The King.  Agreeing with this we embark on a journey of discovery, finding once more our place within the Kingdom.

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”         Romans 8:16 ESV

4.  Fourth we agree to our value and worth and purpose within the Kingdom of God.  All people are invaluable and esteemed by God and created for good things.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 ESV

5.  Fifth we agree to the Father’s heart over humanity.  We agree to the spirit of God that seeks all mankind and loves all people.

“Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”                1 Timothy 2:4 ESV

6.  Sixth we agree, and give our lives over as a testimony to the goodness and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Father God.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:17 ESV

And as we work out our lives in agreement with the heart of God we find peace and joy, purpose and celebration, belonging and deep gladness.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Romans 15:13 ESV

Regardless of our life circumstances we find God’s presence burrowing deep into our hearts and thoughts and understandings.   And even in the midst of difficulty we find that God’s presence makes all the difference.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 ESV

We are strengthened, given wisdom, made glad.

Agreeing to the heart of God, the work of Jesus Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is powerful.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.   And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20 ESV

Our lives are not the same.

We are transformed.

Prayer

“Dear God, thank-you for sending your son Jesus Christ to be our salvation.  We receive fully and completely the work of the cross into my life this day.  We agree in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Kingdom of God in our lives.  We say yes and amen to the love of the Father, the encouragement of the Spirit, and the covering of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

We ask this day for your favour and grace.  Bless us with your peace, make our hearts glad, remove from us worry and strain, we give our whole hearts to you this day.  Jesus Christ please come and live in every nook and cranny of our lives. 

We thank-you, we love you, we worship you.  We agree to your goodness, we agree to your salvation, we agree to your plan over our lives, we agree to life and we disagree with death from this day forward. 

We welcome you Lord Jesus, Thank-you.” 

Application

Our agreements with the enemy show up as bad fruits in our lives.  We see all that is wrong and bad in our communities and we may put much effort and strategy to ending the bad fruit.  There is nothing wrong with this of course, for we must invest in freeing our nations unto good things in the Lord. 

Yet, we may not know that the bad roots are the reason for the bad fruit.  We may not realize that our agreements with the enemy allow, and in fact invite, the power of satan to be at work in our lives, communities, and nations.  As this diagram shows, the roots of our lives create the fruit, and in the case of bad fruit there are always sins of the heart below the surface of our lives.   

CCIM at the roots - Version 2

These agreements with the enemy are hard to see for they are in the realm of our hearts.  Our hearts carry attitudes and judgments that do not reflect the heart and manner of God.  Our inner beliefs and perspectives participate in either the love and blessing of the Lord, or participate with the lies and condemnations of the enemy.   And our lives and communities reflect this.

Therefore, it is important to humbly go before the Lord and to begin to ask what is at the root of our problems and difficulties.  We must ask for the revelation of the Holy Spirit to our part in the problem, that we may repent, turn from our agreements with satan and make new agreements with God.  As we do this, our lives, communities and nations will be transformed by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is, in fact, the call of the body of Christ and part of being salt in the world.   Add a little bit of salt to the pot and all the food tastes better.  In the same way, as we live out Christ on this earth the whole world is blessed and made a little more glad and whole.  We are the ones to bless earth and it’s inhabitants.  We are the ones to bring Christ’s healing to our nations. 

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT

We, therefore, require great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so that we might hear and understand how we might repent.  The Lord will lead us as we draw close to him and as we listen with an intent to hear and respond. 

1.  Gather with two or three others from your church.  Set aside an hour or two for listening prayer. 

2.  Welcome the Holy Spirit and set the space: 

“God we gather together in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We want to hear from you.  We declare this space and time covered and kept in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We stand against all lying, deceiving or confusing spirits, binding them to silence in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We invite you Holy Spirit, to speak to us, to guide us.  Thank you for meeting with us.  Amen”

3.  Ask the Holy Spirit simple questions and wait for an answer: 

“Jesus, what is hindering your spirit from moving in this place?” 

4. Once you hear an answer, respond by taking responsibility for this hinderance and come in confession and repentance.  Confess the hindrance to the Lord, take responsibility for it.  Admit that it is there. 

*Use the prayer steps to freedom that begin on the next page. 

Summary – agreements

Our agreements establish the work of God or the destruction of Satan. 

Matthew 18:19,  2 Corinthians 7:14

  • Agreement with God equals life.   John 6:35 
  • Agreement with Satan equals death.   Ephesians 4:27

Our Agreements show up as: 

    • WORDS:  our words matter (for they create agreements).   Matthew 12:36-37, Ephesians 4:29
    • ACTIONS:  what we do matters.   Romans 8:13, Romans 8:6
    • ATTITUDES:  the attitudes of our hearts.   Ezekiel 18:32, Pro verbs 6:16-19
    • JUDGMENTS:  our condemnations of others reap bad things in our own lives. 

Romans 14:10-13, Matthew 7:1-2

To change our agreements we confess and repent, breaking agreements with satan and making new agreements with God.  NOTE:  the process for this is taught in the next lesson. 

Chapter 4. Repentance

Chapter 4.  Repentance

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #28

There is a time for celebration and rejoicing and for worshiping God, and then there is a time for mourning and grieving and laying bare our deeds before the Lord.

Consider what James says,

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”  James 4:8-10 ESV

Admitting that we have done wrong is one of the most freeing experiences.  Repentance is deep intimacy with The Father.

Yet it is not a normal human response to admit wrongdoing.  In fact, our natural response is to cover up and to hide our sins.

But think about it, when we cover up our sins we still have them with us.

They bury into our hearts and minds with the memory and emotions.  We are never free of our sin when we harbour it in our selves.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13 ESV 

At the very beginning when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden we see this propensity to cover over our sin.  We read,

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  Genesis 3:8  NIV

We have been hiding ourselves ever since.

“But the LORD God called to the man,  “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Genesis 3:9-12 NIV 

Do you notice the excuses, the blaming, the rationalizations?  Don’t we all continue in sins of avoidance and fear, of shame and covering over?

The man blamed the woman (9), the woman blamed the serpent, and ever since we have been making excuses and blaming others.  We have been unable to admit our wrong and have carried death as a result.

God saw this and understood the depths of the problem.  Shame was coiled around us, guilt was heaped on our heads, and we were emotionally and psychologically unable to admit wrong.  We are fearful of the exposure that confession requires.

Then in verse 21 we read,  “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 NIV

In one amazing act of grace, God, who made all things unto life, now kills an animal/s in order to provide a covering and to remove shame.

In a powerful prophetic act looking ahead to the cross, God takes on our sin and death so that we might be all that God originally intended.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV 

God was committed to our covering and our keeping right from the start, and has since played that out through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.  Our sin is buried with Christ when we accept his salvation and turn from our wrongs.

In fact, the blood covering of Christ is the only thing that truly covers our sin and washes it away.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24 ESV 

Imagine in your mind’s eye the cross of Jesus Christ.  And imagine the blood that fell from Christ onto the ground at the foot of that cross.

Imagine that you bring your sins and lay them down at the foot of the cross, and imagine that Christ’s blood, as it soaks into the ground, takes your sin with it.

Burying the sin, washing the sin away, covering over the sin.

This is the work of Christ, not us.  We cannot bury our own sin.  We cannot cover over our own sin.  Only Christ can do this.

When we try to cover over our own sin we simply become hardened of heart.  In trying to keep our sin secret we build a wall between ourself and God.

READ all of Psalm 32

If you think that you are above sin, consider this verse,  “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:32 NIV

It is imperative that all of us, no matter our station or influence, allow repentance.  The leaders amongst us should be the first on our knees before the Lord, the first to repent and to enter into a contrition of spirit before the Lord.

Let us never forget that,  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:18 ESV

And that,  “As the scripture says,  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ”  James 4:6b NLT

We are given a conscience, a knowledge built into us, of right and wrong.  And when we violate this sense of right and wrong we have only two choices.

One, we labor under the sin, trying to get free, cover it over ourselves, hide it, but then like anything that goes bad we are simply left with a poison in our hearts and minds.  We are not free, we are caught.  And there is a deep divide between ourselves and God.

There is a better way.  Our second option is to confess our sins to God and each other.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,  “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2: 12-13 ESV 

Bringing our sin out into the open allows the light of Christ to come upon it and us.  And in the shift deep within our being as we bring our wrongs into the light, we find that we are given the gift of sorrow and grief and mourning.  We come near to God in humility and repentance.

We grieve over our sin.  We acknowledge it.  We say, “I did this.”  And without excuse or blame we simply stand before the living God.

“As for me, I said,  “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”  Psalm 41:4 ESV

Instead of trying to cover over our own wrongs, we find that God then covers over our wrong. Jesus (who already took it over 2000 years ago) takes our sin and washes us clean with his blood.  Our wrongdoing is buried along with Christ’s sacrificial death and we are free.

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said,  “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.  Selah” 

Psalm 32:5 ESV

And in our acknowledgement we experience and really come to know that God is for us.

The Psalmist put it this way,  “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.”  Psalms 3:3 NIV

God surrounds us and lifts us up.  We come broken on our knees before him, and we find ourselves standing beside the Lord.

Repentance is the key to this sort of freedom.  Repentance enables us to receive God’s grace.

Nothing else can do this.  Without repentance we are simply stuck in our sin.

But with repentance we find life.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;  he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” 

Isaiah 61:1 ESV

With repentance we are rich in heart and mind.  We find ourselves, as this verse declares the Living Christ, with our broken hearts bound up, our captivity to sin is turned into liberty of life, and the prisons and bondage of guilt are opened and freed off of us.

As we accept and agree with the sacrifice of Christ the forgiveness established on the cross over 2000 years ago becomes our own.  Repentance is our hearts position to receive all the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without repentance we are merely in contempt of the cross, and against the work of the Lord. But with repentance we find the habitation of God in our very lives and we receive his gladness throughout our whole life.

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:  “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  Isaiah 57:15 ESV 

Prayer 

”God I come before you today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, bringing my sins (they are…. ) to the foot of your cross.  These sins, my guilt, and my shame have weighed us down and crippled our hearts and minds. 

We are tired of our sin and wrongdoing, and today we say,  “No more” in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Today I declare enough is enough and I release my sins unto you God.   We enter into a contrite heart and we ask for a deep repentance before you. 

Leaving our sins at the foot of your cross, declaring them covered by the blood of the Lamb, they are washed away and cancelled by the power of our Living Lord Jesus Christ. I take unto myself your salvation to every part of my being.  We receive your grace and give praise, declaring all glory to you God.  Amen” 

Application

We cannot know our sin without the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  While repentance may feel bad to us we come to find that it is a gift from God.  In this, our response turns from one of avoiding our sin and our need of repentance to coming before God eager to know how we might be free. 

Repentance, after all, is the path of healing and freedom for all of us.  In Psalm we read,  “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17 NLT

We can therefore take courage to come before the Lord with a broken and repentant heart.  As leaders we want to lead the way in this.  The people we serve need to know that it is always okay to bring our sins out into the open before the Lord.  As leaders we set the tone. 

Part of making repentance normal amongst us, is creating a culture of safety in our churches.  We must normalize our growth processes and in this we must normalize the fact that we are sinners before a holy God, that God has covered over our sin, and that we are invited to enter into his covering.  There is no shame in this — only cause for celebration. 

This means, that we remove shame and condemnation as part of our ministry to each other.  Shame and condemnation are of the enemy, not the Lord.  Shame and condemnation keep us from bringing our sin to God — and this keeps us bound.  God’s heart is for the exact opposite. 

God’s heart wants us free to bring our sin, failures and regrets to him.  This is, in many ways, the ministry of the body of Christ on this earth.  We are to participate and lead people to the grace of God.  We do this as we create emotional safety for each other as we refuse to condemn, blame, or bring shame. 

1.  Begin to listen to your language and the words, and the unspoken messages beneath your words, and see how much shame and condemnation is in your church. 

2.  Repent and allow your heart to be broken over the amount of shame and condemnation that is in your fellowship of believers — it should not be there. 

3.  Ask the Lord to show you a new way.  Invite the grace of the Lord to penetrate your own heart and mind first, and then to penetrate the culture of your church body.  We must be changed by the grace of God or all we have is religion, and religion kills; we want the life of Christ. 

As a church leadership team and as a body of believers it is important to come together and into agreement with the grace of the Lord, and to break our agreements with the enemy’s shame and condemnations. 

We do this as we gather together and as we talk about shame and how damaging it is to our hearts in the Lord.  When we are bound up in shame we cannot see the love of God.  And where we are bound up in condemnations we are unable to know the love of God. 

We desperately need freedom from shame and condemnation and into the love of Jesus Christ.  We must cry out to God for this freedom for only the work of Jesus is powerful enough to reach into our deepest hearts with a touch that heals us and restores us and makes us glad. 

I suggest that as a family, as a leadership team, and even as a congregation that you confess to your agreements to shame and condemnation (remember, these are agreements with satan), and make a new agreement with the Lord for mutual blessing and honouring of each other. 

We are called to be healing agents of Jesus in this world.  To do this we must renounce shame and condemnation and we must take on the grace of our Lord.  In this we become safe people and safe churches so that repentance comes naturally and easily to us, and in this repentance we are transformed into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Prayer

“We come before you God in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We confess that we have been under the shame and condemnation of the enemy.  We have even been participants of shame and condemnation, even bringing these things to those around us.  We are sorry. 

Today, in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ we renounce shame and condemnation.  We refuse to use them any longer to control or manipulate each other.  We realize that shame and condemnation are of the enemy and not God. 

Please alert our spirits to these things of the enemy.  Help our ears and our understanding to hear when we are speaking shame or condemnation, help our hearts to know when we are carrying shame or condemnation deep inside ourselves.  Heal us, help us, restore us. 

Today we make new agreements unto the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We recognize that the grace of Jesus is powerful to make us new creatures and to free us unto all holiness and godliness.  We receive your grace today God.  Thank you for making us new.” 

Summary – repentance

Repentance is key to our healing and freedom.   Joel 2:12-13, Psalm 57:17

Hiding our sin never bears good fruit.   Psalm 32:3-5, Proverbs 28:13

God is understanding.   Isaiah 1:18, Exodus 34:6

We can come to Him with everything.   James 4:6, Psalm 34:18

 

Footnote: 

9. Adam was really blaming God for giving him the woman

Chapter 3. Honest Prayers

3.  Honest Prayers

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #25

We find intimacy with our Lord through prayer, and yet for many of us we are unsure how to pray.  We worry that we are not saying the right words. We may think that the burden of prayer lies with us.  We may not understand how conversational prayer works.

While we do not have time for a full study of prayer here, we will look at a primary principle of prayer:   – Come before the Lord with a commitment to honesty —

“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”  Psalm 51:6 ESV

Opening our inner being before the Lord is much of what prayer is about.  How can we expect intimacy with God if we are pretending deep within ourselves?

Admitting to our own thoughts and desires in quiet before the Lord, breaks down the barriers between us and him.

We need not worry about having our lives in good order first, for God knows more than us how unholy our inner person is.  Our part is to admit and acknowledge all that is not okay.

Jeremiah asked,  “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?”  Jeremiah 17:9 NLT and the answer is, God knows.

It is therefore best to come before the Lord without pretence.  In fact, we find some pretty strong language about how God feels about pretence and hypocrisy.

“I hate all your show and pretence —
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.”  Amos 5:21 NLT

Pretence and hypocrisy are the difference between our outer lives before the Lord (and others) and our inner hearts.  To walk with God we must put aside our pretending and simply come in honesty and truth before the Lord.

King David, who wrote many of the Psalms, is our master teacher in coming before the Lord in all honesty of heart and mind.  Consider this passage,

“O Lord, how long will you forget me?  Forever?  How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?  how long will my enemy have the upper hand?”  Psalm 13:1-2 NLT

Haven’t we all wondered at times where God is?  Well, David wasn’t afraid to say this to God.  He knew that God was big enough for his doubts and his fears and he brought his whole heart to the Lord.  He refused pretence (pretending) and chose honesty.

David later gave this advice to his son Solomon,

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately.  Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind.  For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.  If you seek him, you will find him.  But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”  1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT

Every relationship is built on honesty and trust.  It is no different with God and us.  In fact, God also works at intimacy with his people. In John we find Jesus telling us this very thing,

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.  Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”  

John 15:15 NLT

In fact, in Amos we find this amazing statement,

“Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7 NLT

God reveals himself to us, and invites us to reveal ourselves to him.

In the midst of our honesty before God, when we take courage to speak what we are thinking and feeling, we come to find the peace of God stealing into our hearts.

David’s cry to God in Psalm 13 concludes this way,

“But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.”  Psalm 13:5-6 NLT

And as we read many of the Psalms we find this same progression again and again.

1. God I’m really having trouble here

2. Where are you?

3. Help me!

4. I commit to your goodness

5. Thank-you for being my God

We start out blaming God and throwing our hurts and accusations before him, and then, once we have spoken our minds we find the Spirit of God softly coming alongside, validating and putting an arm so to speak around our hearts; we know we have been heard.

In fact, we are told,

“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”  Romans 8:26 NLT

Not only does God hear our prayers, but he joins in with our prayers and in fact intercedes for us in an even deeper way than what we can do ourselves.  Our Holy Spirit advocates on our behalf as we cry out to God.

We become partners with the God-head as we pray.  Jesus himself has entered into our struggles and has experienced all of what it is to be human,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16  NIV 

Amen and amen.

Come to the Lord in the honesty of your heart today.  Speak your mind and heart. 

Welcome dialogue. Listen for what the Spirit is saying to you.  Allow validation.  Release anger. Accept grace and peace and comfort.

Your life will be infused with greater courage and trust as you go forward with the Lord in this way, day by day.  Be blessed.

Prayer

“God I come to you in the honesty of my heart.  I am a little afraid to be honest with you, for I have somehow believed that you want me to be happy all the time.  But of course, I am not happy all the time.   And so I bring you my troubles, I bring you my worries, I bring you my doubts.  I invite you into all of these things. And all of these things I give to you, declaring them for your glory and honour. 

Show me in a new way Father, that you are big enough for all the parts of my life.  The parts that are working well and the parts that are not working well.  Teach me, guide me, heal me, refresh me.   Thank you for loving me and for loving my honest prayers.  Teach me to become increasingly honest with you and with myself.  I desire intimacy in our relationship, I desire to bring you my whole heart.  Bless you Lord.  Amen”

Application

As we dialogue with God in prayer it is vital to come before him quietly.  If we are doing all the talking it is impossible to hear what God may be saying to us. (8)  To hear the Holy Spirit requires a heart that is quiet before him. It is good, therefore, to each day take some time to sit in the presence of God and learn to listen to him. 

1.  Make a plan to be quiet before God for a time each day.  It is hard to quiet our hearts before him, but it is a key part of growing in intimate relationship with God. 

2.  For one month keep a small journal of your times in silence before God.  Make note of how you did. Was it easy to be quiet before God or was it hard? 

3.  You may want to make note of the things that you sense God is saying to you. 

4.  After a few weeks look back on your notes and see how being silent before God has become easier and more natural. 

5.  The next time you meet as a class, share how you are growing in silence before God and share what God has been saying to you and how he is leading you. 

“God, I come before you in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Today I bring myself quietly before you.  I invite you to speak to me.  I want to hear from you.  To any lying, deceiving, or confusing spirits, I say to these to be quiet in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to hear from God only, I invite your wisdom.  Thank you Lord.  Amen” 

Summary – honest prayers

Our hearts are deceitful.  Proverbs 21:2,  Jeremiah 17:9

We must be honest before god and others.  Ephesians 4:25,  Hebrews 4:12

This builds intimacy with God.  Matthew 5:8,  Proverbs 3:5

We take time each day with God.   Psalm 51:10,  1 Timothy 1:5

He woos us and draws us into continued honesty and increased relationship. 

2 Corinthians 5:19,  2 Samuel 22:31

 

Footnotes: 

8. The Bible warns us against praying as the pagans do. We read in Matthew 6:7-8 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayer are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” NLT

And in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, “As you enter the house of God, keep you ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.” NLT

The power of prayer is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and as we agree with God (coming out of agreement with Satan). There is no power in repetition of words and there is no power through the volume of our voice. Shouting will not affect the enemy. In fact, shouting out at the gods is what the pagans do. It is those who practice witchcraft and demonism that shout and make a big show. We do not want our Christian prayer practices to look like pagan prayer practices. 

We are called to be different and our prayer practices will reveal what we believe about God. For instance, are we confident that he will heal us? Then we simply say, “In the name of Jesus I command all pain to go right now” and it does. Jesus wants to heal us, we simply release this healing simply yet powerfully. In all things the power of prayer is based on the work and name of Jesus Christ. 

“That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil sports with a simple command and he healed all the sick.” Matthew 8:16 NLT

Chapter 2. Faith (Whole Hearts)

Chapter 2.  Faith  (Whole Hearts) — Capturing God’s Heart #Volume 22

When I think about faith I think about our hearts.  The core of our lives comes from our hearts. Our hearts experience many things. It is with our hearts that we feel and decide and go forward in life.

It is also in our hearts that we find darkness and lies and fear.

In essence life springs from our hearts. In Proverbs 4:23 we read,  “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  ESV

Every part of our lives is an outworking of our hearts.  It is why it is so important that we get our hearts right with God and that we align our hearts with God’s heart.

The Psalmist says it well,  “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.”  Psalm 119:2  ESV

It is in pretence that we come to God with only part of our hearts.  For we are told over and over that to really walk with God we must do so with our Whole Hearts.

In fact, in Mark we are told that even when we make sacrifice and offerings, if these things are not done in whole-hearted love for the Lord they mean nothing. (5)

“And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Mark 12:33  NKJV

Earlier in this same chapter of Mark we read that the greatest commandment of all is, 

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30 ESV 

Sometimes when we have known about God for a long time, we can think that to bring a part of ourselves is okay and that we can get away with a half-hearted life.  But this doesn’t work.

And so we also find in the Bible many promises of God to help us with our hearts.  For instance in Jeremiah we read this,  

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”  Jeremiah 24:7  ESV

Faith then is simply giving over our whole hearts to God, accepting the love of Jesus Christ to change our hearts, and then living out the truths about God through our hearts and lives.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  ESV

In Ezekiel we read a great verse and another amazing promise from God,

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”  Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV  (6)

What we find is that we give God our whole heart and then God takes care of our whole heart.

We ourselves cannot change our own hearts.  There are parts of our own hearts that we cannot even access and do not even know about.  But God does.  And so it is God who takes on the care of our hearts when we invite and accept and live in the life of Jesus Christ given over for us.

And in Romans we find more of God’s promise for us,

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:26-28 ESV

Because God can take all of our lives, the good and the bad, we offer up to the Lord all of our lives.  Even the bad things, even the sad things, even our broken places and our failures are used by God for good when we give them over to the Lord. (7)

So we simply bring God all of us.  We do not hide any parts of our hearts.  We do not need to hide in fear or pretend that we are something we are not. Rather we come in honesty and openness and with our whole hearts.

And when we do this we will find that God is big enough for all of our lives and our hearts.

“God we come to you today in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We acknowledge you as Lord and Saviour of our lives. We say yes and amen to your work in our hearts.  We thank-you.

Today we bring to you the things we have been afraid to bring to you.  We bring you our bitterness, we bring you our hatreds, we bring you our fears and our worries.

We declare our trust in you God and declare your love for our hearts.  Thank-you Jesus for dying for our hearts, for our lives, and being the one who carries all our darkness and the evil in our hearts.  We give you our whole hearts today.  Amen”

May you be encouraged today to not keep any parts of your hearts from God.  For God passionately loves you and will make you whole and strong from the depths of your heart.

“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise.” Psalm 138:1  ESV

Application

As leaders in the Kingdom of God we want to come to an understanding and faith that God is working in the hearts of people at all times.  We may have those in our congregations that concern us with how they are living their lives but regardless of other people’s choices we want to deal carefully with people at all times. 

In all situations the best first thing to do is to go to prayer regarding those we are concerned about.  In prayer we can take our own frustrations to the Lord regarding those ones we are trying to lead.  In prayer we can, for example, forgive people (general or specific) for being difficult.  It is important to go before the Lord in prayer in this way.  As leaders you carry a lot of responsibility and it is easy to become weighed down and bitter about the problems and the problem people around you. 

Therefore, take the time to empty your heart to God.  Bring Him all of your concerns and confess to him your own hearts responses as you are trying to lead.  As you bring your anger and frustrations to God he refreshes you and enables you to lead in a new way. 

It does no good to lead out of a heart of bitterness, envy, anger, frustration — when we do this our leading becomes a weighty thing upon people; instead of blessing we become part of the enemies plans for condemnation.  We don’t want this. We want to be a blessing to those we serve and lead. 

And so, in prayer and time spent with God, we pour out our concerns and our heart for his people, and we agree with God for their good futures.  We set aside our frustrations and we take on his good heart for others.  To lead well we need to bring our whole hearts to God in this way so that we may lead even better. 

“God, today I come with my frustrations and my anger about the state of the people in my church.  God I often do not know what to do.  But you do.  And so first I leave my frustration, anger, and bitterness at the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I take on your gentle spirit and I ask that you would increase my confidence and my faith that you are working in all of our lives.  I commit my own life to your heart once more, and I say yes and amen to your continued good working in the lives of those you have called me to serve and to lead.  May we all find your good grace together. In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen” 

Summary – faith (whole hearts) 

We come to God with our whole hearts.   Mark 12:30

A divided heart and mind gains nothing.   James 1:8,  James 4:8,  Isaiah 29:13

God is the one who gives us a new heart.   Jeremiah 24:7,  Ezekiel 11:19

We must be faithful to bring him our whole hearts. 

Jeremiah 17:10,  Proverbs 3:5-6,  Matthew 22:37 

 

Footnotes:

(note, footnotes run concurrent through the entire course. in other words, footnotes 1-4 were in last months chapter)

5. A divided heart bears no fruit. James 4:3, James 1:8

6. Our justification is in Christ, but so too our sanctification. We are freed unto God’s ways because of and through the work of Jesus Christ. 

 7. Remember that there is no shame or condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1. As we bring our entire hearts to him we find this true and that he is the lifter of our heads. Psalm 3:3

 

Chapter 1. The Great Expectation

CCIM College Course: Chapter 1.  The Great Expectation

( per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #19 )

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 NLT 

The story of Christ is a simple one. 

Long years back God created heaven and earth, land and sea, animals, fish, birds, and human kind. Men and women, male and female, we were created in the image of God. 

God, being love, orchestrated a great multiplication of love as the Spirit of God was breathed into and through us and as humans were mandated with filling the earth and taking great care of this world. These first humans were Adam and Eve.  Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:7

There was though, one injunction, one command,  “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:17 ESV

But, as we know, Adam and Eve did eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  The Bible tells us that immediately they became aware of their sin in crushing self-consciousness; they lost their innocence and ability to live life freely as children of God.  We are told they hid themselves, ashamed and broken. 

Yet, we then read the most amazing thing.  God came walking in the cool of the evening as was his habit. God came toward Adam and Eve, seeking them out to fellowship and walk together as in the days before. 

We then read that God, the creator of heaven and earth and everything in it, the one who birthed every good thing we know, killed one of his creations in order to cover over the shame and nakedness and embarrassment, the self-consciousness and sense of condemnation that Adam and Eve were experiencing. 

And God has been coming toward us ever since.  Even though our sin may seem offensive to God, he takes no offence. It is impossible to offend God because offence lies in the heart of the offended. 

Proverbs 19:11,  Ephesians 4:1-16,  Proverbs 17:9

God emulates his scriptures where we read in Ephesians, 

“.. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT 

And we must not forget this amazing passage in Romans, 

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Romans 8:38-39 NLT

We know that we all have sin as the Apostle Paul testified, 

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.” Romans 7:18

But, God says, 

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ Says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ “   Jeremiah 29:11 NLT 

The heart of God is for us.  God is for you!  God is your solution.  God is the solution to our dying, chaotic, broken, weary, world.  Matthew 11:28;  Jeremiah 31:25;  Revelation 22:17 

As we read in Romans, 

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Romans 5:17-21 ESV

You see, God is bigger than your sin.  God’s love washes away a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

God took care of the sin problem some 2000 years ago.  

“He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”  1 John 2:2 NLT 

And so, we remain in expectation of God’s heart for us, over us, in us.  Jesus has done a great work for  us!  The gospel is NOT about what we do for God, but the gospel is about what God has done for us!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”  Ephesians 2:8 ESV

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”  Romans 5:11 NLT 

All through time God has continued to come toward us.  The Bible is the story of God intersecting our human experience, meeting us as people in all our various contexts and cultures.  

God is always communicating to you and to I.  Jesus is our priest and Holy Spirit is our leader and guide.  Look to the Lord. Cry out to God.  Call on the name of the Lord and things will go well with you.  

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:6-8 ESV

God is on for you.  God loves you.  God is restoring you.  Call on the name of the Lord. 

Application

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (really, love and light and life) spilled out for us on the cross of Calvary, is the investment of God in our freedom, healing, transformation, and protection in this world and in the spirit realm. 

We can choose to come under the blood covering of Christ, or we can refuse.  All this means, is to accept that Jesus Christ has taken care of the death requirement that sin always demands (and mightily overcame it with life!).

Within the covering of Christ we are saved and kept in God. Outside of the covering of Christ we are on our own and without the protection of the Lord and without new life. 

When we accept Jesus as Saviour we accept his covering.  To accept his covering we put down our own best efforts, our striving, and our law-based thinking and behaviour.  To receive Christ is to turn from our own keeping of law and religion. 

Jesus Christ came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  We must get this. 

Religion says, “You must sacrifice” — Jesus says, “I am the sacrifice”  Hebrews 9:11-15

Religion says, “You must try harder” — Jesus says, “Rest in me”  Matthew 11:28-30

Religion says, “You have failed” — Jesus says, “I am making all things new”  Rev. 21:5

Religion says, “You must obey your pastor” (1) — Jesus says, “I am your priest”  Hebrews 7:15-28

Our part is to stop trying to make ourselves right with God.  We cannot.  Galatians 2:18-19. 

Instead, we enter into His rest.  We truly accept and receive deep into our inner being the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  Galatians 5:4

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you answer these next questions:

“Holy Spirit I come in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I ask that you would reveal to me where I am still trying to keep the law and to make things right on my own.  Show me my errors of self-effort and of refusing to come into your grace.  Amen”  (2)

Find a quiet place to sit before God.  Ask these questions one at a time, waiting to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to show you.  Then write down your response to each question. 

1.  Holy Spirit, where am I still trying to make things right with God? (3)

2.  Holy Spirit, is there something in my life that I think is too big for the grace of God? 

3.  Holy Spirit, what area of my life am I holding back from God? 

The answers to each of these things must be brought to the cross of Jesus Christ and left there. 

We bring our self efforts, we bring our striving, we bring our pride that would want to be good and right, and we enter into Christ, for he alone has made (and is making) all things right. 

Galatians 5:1 (4)

“Jesus I enter into the blood covering that you provide for me.  I put down my striving and my self efforts. I am sorry.  I move from law and religion to your salvation which has paid the price for me.  I am free and I ask that you bring your freedom and life to my heart in a new way today.  I enter into your rest in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Summary – the great expectation 

The gospel is the story of God loving and making away for the restoration of all people. 

Isaiah 42:1-4,  Jeremiah 29:11,  Luke 4:18

We are caught in sin and brokenness.    Romans 3:23,  Proverbs 6:16-19,  Romans 1:28-31

God comes toward us in forgiveness.   Isaiah 1:18,  1 John 1:9,  Isaiah 53:5

God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Romans 5:8,  Isaiah 40:28-31,  John 1:1-5

God offers himself as our sacrifice.   John 3:16,  1 John 2:2,  Revelation 1:5

When we accept Jesus we accept his help.   2 Corinthians 5:17,  John 5:24,  Psalm 23:3

In Jesus, and Jesus alone, we are renewed. 1 Corinthians 15:22,  Galatians 5:1,  

Ephesians 2:8-9

We stop trying to make our lives good.   Acts 13:39,  Romans 5:1-5,  Titus 3:5-7

We stop trying to keep the law.   Proverbs 3:5-6,  Galatians 3:3-10,  Ephesians 2:8

We live unto God.   Jeremiah 24:7,  Romans 10:4,  2 Peter 3:18

 

Footnotes:

  1. We must take the passage about obeying our leaders and weigh it against all other scripture. The primary heart of this passage is about receiving what our leaders have for us. It is encouraging us to have a heart that is eager to hear their perspective and to take their wisdom into account. Do our leaders have good stuff for us? Certainly. Do our leaders have our best in mind? Of course. But this does not mean that we are to obey them as children obey their parents. It is not this kind of relationship. Acts 5:29 And good leaders will not demand obedience from their people. They know that each person is accountable to the Lord for their unique calling and gifting and to weigh-in too heavily in matters that do not belong to them is to risk touching the glory of the Lord as it is revealed in each other. We take great care in telling others what to do or not to do for we know that when we are working with people we are on Holy ground before the Lord. At the same time, for those increasing in the things of the Lord you must have a mentor or mentors. Learn from those older than you, those more advanced in the things of the Kingdom of God. Your humility and ability to receive from others is part of your protection in the Lord. Do not rush ahead of those who have wisdoms to extend to your life and spiritual growth and ministry.
  2. Note: this is very important as you cannot know this yourself. 
  3. NOTE: there are right things to do, but we cannot make ourselves right with God, only he makes us right with him
  4. Take the time to read the entire book of Galatians