216. Twelve Steps to an Orphan Heart

Mike Parsons – 

We are coming into a revelation of who we are as sons of God, and learning how to live out of that revelation. But if instead we listen to the whisperers, the familiar spirits which empower demonic strongholds and mind-sets, then we can find ourselves on a downward spiral.

12 steps to an orphan heart

Humans are designed to be survivors. We develop coping mechanisms and protection mechanisms – layers, walls or skins that we believe keep us safe. But they quickly become behavioural blind-self prisons, and they are stumbling blocks to our destiny.

How does a slavery mentality or an orphan heart form?

  • Nature – we can inherit it genetically from previous generations.
  • Nurture – upbringing, parental and relational influences. Words, attitudes and treatment can have a powerful effect on how we see and think about ourselves.
  • Traumatic events.

And we too can pass it on in our DNA to future generations. In the field of epigenetics, scientists are showing that genetic material can change, even within a single generation.

Here are the 12 steps:

  1. We are affected by faults in parental activity.
  2. We receive parental faults as disappointments, discouragement, grief, rejection or insecurity.
  3. We develop unmet needs and coping mechanisms.
  4. We move into the fear of receiving love, comfort and admonition from others.
  5. We develop a closed heart.
  6. We take on an independent, self-reliant attitude.
  7. We start controlling our relationships.
  8. Our relationships become superficial.
  9. We develop an ungodly belief that says no-one will be there to meet our needs.
  10. We begin to live life like a spiritual orphan.
  11. We begin chasing after counterfeit affections.
  12. We begin to daily battle a stronghold of oppression.

Counterfeit affections

Depending on individual circumstances we may have extreme or mild symptoms. But we are all born separated from God and our souls have unmet needs and an emptiness that must be filled. Until we come to a full revelation of being truly loved and accepted in God, the counterfeit affections we seek include:

  • Passions – addictions – food, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, escapism etc. – comforts for our needy hearts.
  • Possessions – security in materialism.
  • Performance – perfectionism, doing things to prove or feel better about ourselves.
  • People – looking to people to meet our needs as substitutes for God – whether being people-pleasers or abusers.
  • Places – needing somewhere better to be happy – wanderlust looking for home.
  • Position – striving for acceptance and approval, especially from significant others: praise of man.
  • Power – seeking to control life and our own destiny by controlling emotions, people, or circumstances so as never to be hurt or disappointed.

We have all tried these things, and we know they do not work. Only God can truly meet our needs. So how can we get free of this bondage?

We have a 20-part series on Transformation which will certainly help!

We need healing from our wounds. We need to surrender our defences and be willing for those coping and defence mechanisms to fall away. We need to be redeemed, reconciled and restored to our relationship with God. We need to open our hearts to God as our Father and receive His adoption, acceptance and affirmation. Nothing and no-one can replace Father God, He wants us to receive our security and acceptance from Him.

We need to desire an intimate relationship with God where trust develops; to pursue Him – to ask, seek, knock, as Jesus taught (and it takes persistence to overcome the obstacles). Let’s give Him our first love, give Him our priority time, and then we will know Him and feel His great love for us.

Love languages

God desires to father us in such a way that we know we are truly loved as individuals. We are not just a ‘job lot’. We all have different love languages – the way we feel love is different. Our particular love languages may correspond to our different gift types or unmet needs. We need to find out which is ours:

  • Gift-giving
  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Physical affection
  • Acts of service

Our love language with God may be different from the one we have in our natural relationships. It took me a long time to realise it, but quality time is my spiritual love language. Father God sharing revelation with me of His heart, mind, purpose, and word is what makes me feel loved, valued and appreciated. I am unique, special, and He fathers me uniquely, according to my destiny.

Our spirits all start out separated and orphaned from God, and separated from our souls and bodies, and from our heavenly home too. The spirit is orphaned and the soul therefore has a slave mentality.  Satan was the first orphan spirit, and therefore disunity, disharmony and division is always his goal.

Meeting our soul’s needs

We have seen this diagram before:

orphan1

Our soul has natural needs, but is separated from God and from our spirit. Our body (flesh) reaches out to the world looking for love, acceptance, security, significance and purpose – it has nowhere else to look. That causes damage (including hurt, pain, rejection, insecurity, fear, disappointment, guilt and shame).

When we are born again and our spirit is brought back to life, we then have access to the fountain of living water that is within us, and find love, acceptance, security, significance and purpose in God orphan2and in our relationship with Him. We are connected back to the source of life. So when we go through a process of transformation, in which we are restored and renewed to God’s original intended condition, we have this tension between how we have learned to meet our needs when disconnected from God and how we can now get those needs met in Him. After years and years of following the flesh, this is a battle we must persevere in and win. Once we learn to be cut off from the world, then we can be healed, restored and ultimately transfigured, so that the flow of life from heaven goes through our spirit, soul and body out to the world. We will begin to manifest God’s glory, His presence and His power to change the world in which we live.

We are supposed to be world-changers. It was always our destiny to bring God’s dominion and His blessing to the earth. But to fulfil that destiny we need to be willing to persevere and go through this process.

In Genesis 2 God said that it is not good for man to be alone, and that is because relationship is key to reflecting heaven on earth. God’s desire is for man to be joined, reunited, reconciled, and restored to Him in relationship. That is why unity is so important, as we see the early church of one mind, one heart, in one accord. They were together in their love for and pursuit of God, and they changed and transformed their world.

Centre of our being

Here is another familiar diagram, representing the gateways in our spirit, soul and body.orphan3

But we have a black hole on the inside which absorbs everything, lets nothing in and nothing out, until we enter into a relationship with God through Jesus.Then God’s glory and His Presence come to live in the very centre of our being (see the next two images), so we can engage with God in our spirit. However for far too many believers God is locked away in there.

orphan5

‘Gateways’ by Adam Butterick (Vimeo video). Click the image above to play (opens in new tab).

One spirit with Him

“But the person who is united (joined) to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him” (1 Cor 6:17).

That is God’s intention, that we become one spirit with Him by being joined or united to God. We do that by opening up our first love gate, because that establishes a reconnection between our spirit and the Father and heaven. It also reconnects our spirit to our soul and body, so that we become one, holistic, unified piece. God’s desire is for us to be whole, that we would be completely reconnected to everything, to have the relationship with the Father and the Son that our spirit was designed to have in eternity.

Our spirit will be orphaned unless it finds its home with the Father and in heaven and God finds a home in us, which connects it all back together.

I encourage you to look at this picture right now, at the First Love door in the centre. Behind that door is the presence of God, the glory of God, God Himself. This is in the midst of your spirit.

orphan6

‘Gateways’ by Adam Butterick (Vimeo video). Click the image above to play (opens in new tab).

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).

That is an invitation to relationship, fellowship and intimacy. Maybe you have never opened that door. The handle is on our side, so we have to open the door. Will you open that door today? Will you become joined and reconnected to God today?

Open the door

Close your eyes and imagine this picture in your mind’s eye. There is a door, and behind it is God: His love, His acceptance, His affirmation. If you have never opened it before, you can do so now. You can say, in your heart, “I open that door to you, God. I choose to let you into my life. I choose to receive Your love. I choose to follow you and become Your disciple. I choose You.”

I encourage you, open up the door of your life to God. He is knocking, wanting relationship with you so that you can begin this journey from slavery to sonship, this journey of intimacy with God.

Now for those who have done this before, maybe you are feeling separated, distanced from God? Again, just open up that door right now, because Jesus is the source of life, and start drinking from the river of life that begins to flow. Get into that river of living water, allow it to envelop you. As you open the door, feel His love, feel His embrace, feel the joy that comes from His heart to you. Jump in the river. Let the energy of that source of life begin to flow in you, becoming rivers of living water to flow out of you. Just spend some time there, if you just need that refreshing, enjoy the feel of His arms around you.

Perhaps you are used to opening this door, and you want to go further, then you can follow that river back into heaven – you can walk through the open door and access the realm of heaven. You can get into the river of life there and follow it back to its source at the throne of grace, back to the Tree of Life, back to the garden of God. The atmosphere of heaven is the breath of life, the glory of God is the oxygen of heaven. You can experience Him in the realms of heaven, because you have opened that door and it becomes a two-way flow of life.

Meet the Father today.

Wherever you are in your journey, just spend a few minutes today in the presence of God, in your own heart or in heaven, experiencing His presence and receiving His love and affirmation. Receive His acceptance. Hear these words of affirmation from your heavenly Father.

I love you, my child. Receive My words of affirmation.
I accept you. I affirm you. I embrace you.
Receive My peace. Receive My love.
Return to me. Return to your heavenly home. Return to the intimacy of relationship.
I love you.

Related articles from Freedom ARC

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We developed this just for you:

Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

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Note: all the ‘Gateways’ images are based on an original by Ian Clayton and used with his permission.

215. Revealing the Sons of God

Mike Parsons

RevealingWe are all on a journey from slavery to sonship, and those two conditions are very different. Slavery breeds a poverty spirit, fear and lack of identity; sonship breeds faith, identity, resources and responsibility.

Empower a slave and it leads to rebellion, betrayal and treason, as with Israel in the wilderness. They were given freedom and responsibility, but they showed no loyalty to God or to Moses because they still had a mindset of slavery (see Exodus 15-17, 32, Numbers 21). On the other hand, restrict a son and it will hinder creativity. When someone knows who they are, God can inspire them to release their own creativity into His creation.

So we have to be careful not to empower people who don’t know who they are nor to restrict those who do. We need to put things in place which will help sons come into the fullness of sonship and to deal with any slavery mentality they may have.

The spirit of slavery vs the spirit of sonship.

The root issues of how we think are in our hearts, not our heads. To use a computer analogy, the heart is like the hard drive and the head is like the Random Access Memory (RAM): things get loaded from our heart into our conscious thinking and then we act out of them.

Our characteristics and behaviour will help us identify to what extent we are acting out of a spirit of slavery and to what extent out of a spirit of sonship. Almost none of us will fall completely into one category or the other. A spirit of slavery is often the product of poor nurture, unhealed wounds and brokenness in our own lives, but it can also be generational: particular ways of thinking handed down to us from previous generations.

We are going to look at a number of areas. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, not asking ‘how ought I to think?’ but ‘how do I in fact think?’ And please, let’s use this as a tool to assess our own condition, not to label or judge anyone else!

In the tables below, you will see a category in the centre column, and on either side of it, the characteristics typical of slaves and sons. You can download these tables as a PDF file to save or print if you wish.

slavery #1 Slavery #2 Slavery #3 Slavery #4

An opportunity to be transformed

Spend some time working through this. Use these checklists to ask yourself: “do I have more thinking on the left side as a slave or more on the right side as a son?” Then you will get an idea of where you are on this journey. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, so that you can change.

If you recognise demonic strongholds in your thinking, see it not as a criticism but as an opportunity to be transformed. Those strongholds are defended and empowered by familiar spirits – spirits that are familiar with your mindsets, your patterns and ways of thinking – and they constantly seek to ensure that you continue to think that way. Continuing in that way of thinking only results in continuing to demonstrate the same patterns of behaviour, or worse, a downward spiral that leads to an orphan heart, shaping us and blocking our destiny.

But God wants to do something about it. He is only showing you any slave-mentality you may have so that He can free you from it and enable you to think and act more and more like a son. Access to heaven and heaven’s blessing, heaven’s authority and heaven’s power all come from knowing who we are as sons.

In the heavenly realms we have places of authority that God has destined for us: mountains with thrones that God is calling us to possess. We can only possess them when we come into maturity (see Gal 4).

What do we do?

When we recognise that our mindset is not right, we:

  • forgive and release those whose words and deeds have resulted in us being the way we are. We don’t rationalise it away. We see that it happened and had an effect on us, and forgive and release them.
  • own the way of thinking or the behaviour. We don’t make excuses for it, it is sin to think like a slave when God has said you are a son, and if you don’t treat it as sin you will most likely carry on and be comfortable with thinking that way. Confess it, renounce it, repent of it (turn from it and turn to the truth). Take it to the courts, if you know how to do that, and get divorce papers which enforce separation from that way of thinking and behaviour.
  • meditate on the truth of God’s love for us and his acceptance of us. Meditate on the destiny He has for us. Get these things into our spirit by experience and encounter so that they become the basis of how we live. This is not an instant fix – it takes time.
  • attack the familiar spirits. Don’t let them lie to us and whisper into our minds. Take captive every thought. Deal with the thoughts that come, don’t entertain them and allow them to take root. Challenge them! We must be very careful about what is coming out of our mouth, not saying negative things that line up with the spirit of slavery. Speak out the truth.
  • get help if we need to. If we cannot deal with familiar spirits ourselves, we enlist the help of someone else who can minister deliverance to us. We may need healing from a wounded heart, and someone to minister that healing if we are not receiving it on our own.

Then we can be restored, and come back into a place of peace and rest, knowing who we are as children of God, knowing God’s love.

He really wants us to know our identity as His sons, and to renounce our slavery and orphan mentalities. He wants us to receive our security and acceptance from Him. Then we will be manifested as sons on the earth, to bring the whole of creation back into alignment with God’s eternal intentions before Satan fell.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

That’s us!

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Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

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To find out more about the Engaging God programme, click here…

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214. The Hearts of the Children

Mike Parsons

heartsOur fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt (Acts 7:39).

A whole generation saw their home as Egypt and not the Promised Land, because they saw themselves as slaves, not sons. How do we see ourselves? Are we looking to our past to define us, or are we believing what God says about us and looking to our future? The fact is, we tend to look the way we’re going.

Generations of slaves

They were generations of slaves. They had no understanding of freedom, and no understanding of godly leadership – they had to do what the taskmasters told them to do. They had no connection to God as Father, and had lost sight of their covenant family identity from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had no sense of belonging, no sense of heritage, no sense of purpose. They had riches, because they came out with the gold of Egypt, and yet they had no wealth. Money does not bring happiness or fulfilment, and it does nothing to root out an underlying poverty mentality or an orphan spirit.

They had no loyalty either to God or to Moses, no faith or trust in God, and as a result they all died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb – including Moses himself. Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit, and a different relationship with God. They knew him as Father and were able to enter in, taking the next generation in with them.

Turn our hearts

He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse (Mal 4:6).

God’s desire is to turn our hearts back to our Father in heaven, and to see that His heart is for us. This is a fatherless generation, a strategy of the enemy to steal destiny by separating and removing fathers from their families, but we do not have to be part of it. We do not need to have an orphan spirit.

  • Orphans have no parents
  • Orphans have no inheritance
  • Orphans have no home
  • Orphans have no connection to heritage
  • Orphans think like slaves

A son or a slave?

Let’s ask ourselves, do we think and act like a son or a slave? It may not be black-and-white: perhaps sometimes we think and act like sons but then slip back into thinking and acting as slaves. De we identify with slavery or sonship? Do we know our identity as a son, our royal identity as a son of the king?

God wants to heal your father- (or mother-, or other relationship-) wounds. He wants to remove the scars that are on your life. He wants you to have a home in Him. He wants you to know you are adopted, accepted, and loved. He wants you to know and fulfil your destiny.

Will you allow God to be your Father? Or will you allow your relationship with your earthly father to rob you of that intimacy?

Will you trust Him with your heart? If your heart has been damaged, if you have been betrayed, disappointed, let down and hurt, then it is no small thing to trust someone with your heart again (even if that someone is God). It is a choice, and a choice that comes with risk attached.

Will you allow him to deliver you from an orphan spirit? Will you lay down your old natural identity? Will you pick up your new supernatural identity?

Stand and speak

If you will, then stand and speak these declarations out loud (if you can’t do that now, please be sure to come back and do it later, because speaking these things out carries power). When we have made these declarations, God is going to minister to us and speak to us in our hearts.

I choose to lay down my old identity as an orphan and slave
I choose to turn away from my past
I choose to forgive and release my earthly father for not representing true fatherhood to me
I choose to look to my heavenly Father for my acceptance

I choose to let go of rejection, fear and insecurity
I choose to embrace my destiny
I choose to give my heart to You, Father, afresh today
I choose to allow you to heal, deliver and restore me.

Now receive what God is going to do for you.

In the authority you have released I loose each person who made those declarations from an orphan spirit and a spirit of slavery and a spirit of rejection. I pray for the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit to break those yokes, destroy those burdens and loose them from the control of their mind, their emotion and their will, from that orphan spirit and that spirit of slavery.

I loose them from it in Jesus’ name, in the power that Jesus is releasing today under an open heaven.
I bind each of them to their full destinies in heaven and on earth as sons of God

Now I want you to close your eyes for a few moments and see with the eyes of your heart the scars that may be over your heart from the past. You may picture them, you may feel them, or just sense that they are there.

Now hear the voice of Father God speaking to you and to those wounded areas of your heart. And this is what God says to you:

‘I love you my child – I love you, I love you.
I love you my child – I love you, I love you.
I love you my child – I love you, I love you’.

Over and over, hear Him repeat those words. Allow His words of love and acceptance and affirmation to heal the wounds and remove the scar tissue from your heart.

I release the angels, release the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, to bring that healing oil to heal the wounded hearts. Receive the love of God, receive the Father’s embrace, as He says:

‘I accept you as my child
I affirm who you truly are
I call out your spiritual identity as my son
I invest you with the authority as a prince (or princess) to subdue, rule, and manifest My kingdom on earth as it is in heaven’.

Receive that into your spirit. Let your spirit embrace and begin to expand and grow and mature. Let it bring God’s blessing into your life.

Receive a revelation of who you truly are as a son of God, and allow Him to continue that process of conforming you into His image, into the image He always had of you from eternity, into the image of Jesus. A son of God, taking up the full responsibility of who you are in the heavens and on earth.

God’s desire is for you to truly know that you have a home, that you have a family, that you are accepted, that you are loved.

Related articles from Freedom ARC
Other resources from Freedom ARC

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

Get started today!*

To find out more about the Engaging God programme, click here…

*Technology permitting: automated process on receipt of payment and completion of online registration form. Terms and conditions apply.

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211. The Father’s Hug

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

FATHERLESSBehold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite their land with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6).

There is a curse, in the world, and the curse is fatherlessness: for some, not even knowing that they have a father. For others, that the father they do know does not match up to the fullness of God’s intention. God wants us to know Him as a real Father and wants us to feel loved and accepted as His real children. He is releasing His Spirit to turn the world back to Him, in an outpouring that embraces who we are as God’s children and releases that out to the world in an experiential and practical way, so that everyone can experience His love.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Abide in My love (John 15:9).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

This is Jesus’ call to us to live in His love, and it has to be practical. It has to work: as God loves us then we love each other.

My testimony

I want to share briefly from my testimony, from my journey in which I have come to know something deeper about the heart of God.

With my natural dad, I didn’t know love, affection, affirmation, approval, encouragement: really no fathering at all. Even while he was there physically, emotionally he wasn’t; and then he physically left too, leaving a big hole on the inside of me. Not knowing what a father should be, I just thought that was what fathers were like, because I didn’t know any better.

So when I became a Christian I didn’t have a relationship with God as Father. I knew Jesus, because Jesus died on the cross for me. And I know He was supposed to be my Lord. So I knew Him as Lord, but ‘Father’? – it didn’t even compute. It wasn’t that I struggled with it. I didn’t even know that God could be my Father: it was such an alien concept to me. When I was baptised in the Spirit it was like liquid love poured into me. It was an amazing experience. Yet although I felt called to something because I felt love, I still didn’t know where it was from.

The Father’s hug

My first real encounter of the love of God as Father was in a time of worship. It was like God came and put His arms around me and hugged me. I knew that was the Father’s hug. I just felt it in my spirit. Now that really challenged me: how could that be a father? And I suddenly started to realise more about fatherhood. I had a revelation of the truth that God was not like my earthly father. Now you might think that’s really simple but actually you don’t know it, until you know it.

And I had a revelation of that. God started to work that in me, but I needed ministry, I needed help,  because I could not break through into this whole area. So I had some ministry sessions, and God gave me a picture. It was a picture of a photograph, a real photograph that was in our kitchen when I was growing up. It was a photograph of me sat on my dad’s knee. It just hit me like a ton of bricks that this was a posed picture, a sham that never actually happened in reality. And it really, really got to me emotionally. In fact my whole relationship with my earthly father was a total sham.

Forgive and Release

Emotionally it was a really hard thing to do, and I had to really choose to do it as an act of will, but it caused me to choose to forgive him and release him from not being a real dad to me.

It was hard, because I didn’t want to do it: it suddenly hit me that he didn’t deserve it, that he had screwed me over for years – that’s literally how I felt. It really hit me hard. I didn’t let those emotions out right then, but I chose to forgive and release him, and God enabled me to go and see him and give him a hug. He did not know what to do, he stood there frozen as I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. He didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t have a problem with that because I knew the reason was that he’d never been loved by his own father. But when I chose to forgive him, it opened up a whole different relationship with God for me.

Now that was back in the early 1990’s. Then, just before we moved here in 1994, we had a series of meetings in the Castle Centre in the town. One evening I had come up and I was doing some teaching as a prelude to setting up the church. We had a time of worship and all the emotion I hadn’t been able to let out from this whole thing with my dad all of a sudden just spilled out like a torrent. I wailed and I wailed and I wailed on the floor, and all the emotions flooded out. I realised it had all been stored up inside me, and at the end of it I was glad it was gone. That was a powerful experience.

Encounter

Then about a year or so later, I had what I now know was my first encounter in heaven. Again, it was in a time of worship, and this one long note on the saxophone just took me into heaven. God took me on his knee, just like in that sham photograph with my earthly father, but this time gave me a real experience of what it was to be bounced on a father’s knee and played with. It restored something deeper again of the relationship I had missed with my father. God is a great God and wants to restore us.

A father-wound

But in spite of all this, years later when I was on a 40-day fast, going into heaven and seeing God and meeting with Him for 2 weeks, it was Jesus and the Holy Spirit I was meeting with, not the Father. Then Jesus came to me and said: “You need to meet with the Father”. I knew in my own heart I needed to meet with the Father, and yet I couldn’t. Then Jesus showed me a big scar that went right over my heart. I was looking down at this wound and He said, “you have a father-wound.”

And I started to argue: “I’ve forgiven my father. I’ve done everything I can.” He said again, “You have a father-wound.” He spoke to me in that encounter and told me He loved me over and over and over again. And each time He said loved me and I received it, that wound began to disappear bit by bit until it was completely gone. It took about 45 minutes in earthly time (I don’t know how long it took in heavenly time) but it just went on and on, because He just would not relent until that wound was gone. And it went.

Back to zero

Since then my whole intimacy with my heavenly Father has been restored. I hang out with Him in His garden, He hangs out with me in the garden of my own heart. Now that was just the wounds being healed. You see, I might have been minus 60 on a woundedness scale, and some people are a lot worse than that, if they have experienced real abuse from their earthly fathers and others. But although all my wounds were healed, that just brought me back to zero on the scale. I didn’t want to be zero. Zero is better than being minus 60, but I wanted to be on the plus side!

Intimacy

I still needed to be fathered. What was it to be fathered? I did not know because I had never been fathered. So then I had to learn, how does God father me? I had an encounter with Him one morning and I was talking to Him, but I felt something was missing: I didn’t feel intimate. And He spoke to me and asked me “Why do you feel that?”

I struggled to explain, “Because I don’t feel it felt intimate”. He said “Well, what is intimacy?” Now I was looking for the kind of experiences that other people had described. I was looking for intimacy to have all the ‘warm and fuzzies’, and to feel lovely (and actually, sometimes you do get that, which is great).

But God said “When is it you really feel alive? When do you really feel close to me?” So I thought about it. “When You are talking to me and You’re sharing Your heart with me and when You are revealing the Word to me”. He said “That’s me fathering you.” It totally freaked me out to think that I didn’t have to have a relationship like anybody else’s or experience what other people said intimacy was. I could just be me.

And for me, with my redemptive gift, God’s love language to me is sharing with me and just having quality time with Him, quality time in which we just get to hang out together. It doesn’t matter if I feel all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I just spend an hour with Him and come out of that time with pages of notes, because He has talked to me about stuff. I know He loves me. That is for me what has brought me into a place of freedom. We all need to find the love languages of our Father: how does God love you? What is (or would be) intimacy with Him to you?

Lavished on us

Do you feel like you don’t belong? Do you feel you don’t fit anywhere? Do you still feel like an orphan? Do you feel that no one loves you? Do you still feel rejected? If you do feel any of those things (and others), God wants you to feel His love and acceptance today.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us... (1 John 3:1 NIV)

He wants to lavish His love on you today, so that you will know you’re His child. ‘Lavish’: He wants His love to just overflow, so that it almost seems wasteful, He’s giving us so much love. Another version says:

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown us, bestowed on us, that we should be given, and named and called and counted the children of God (1 John 3:1 AMP).

prodigal

We are called children of God, and that is who we really are. God’s desire for us is intimacy with Him. The story of the prodigal son is a story of reconciliation back to the Father, and He wants us to experience that reconciliation and restoration of relationship today; not as a slave, or a servant, but as a son, with the full rights of sonship.

I believe that just like the father in that story, God wants to meet you with a hug. If you need a hug from the Father today, come to Him. If maybe you have never embraced the Father in a personal way, take that step today. He wants to hug you, and tell you how much He loves you, as His child. And allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, to shed that love abroad in your heart, so that you feel accepted, valued and appreciated; so that you feel loved.

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SoundTrack (also from 1994)

We are the Fatherless – Brian Doerksen

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209. The Right to Become Children of God

Royal Coat of Arms of the United KingdomMike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

God the Father sent Jesus to ‘redeem those who were in bondage to sin’, to buy us back from slavery. He set us free, but it does not stop there – we are then adopted into His royal family, and become His heirs. In that family relationship we find acceptance, affection, affirmation, approval – and unlimited access to our Father, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.

The right to become children of God

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Everyone reading this has the right to become a child of God if they believe and accept Jesus. That is astonishing! Everything we have done in our past can be overcome because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1)

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).

That word ‘know’ means ‘experience’. If God is love, and God is in us, then love is in us, and we can experience it for ourselves. In fact we can live in it, every moment of every day.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children (Rom 8:14).

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal 4:7).

An inheritance for you

You have become a son of a Father who has an inheritance for you. Not only that, but He has released that inheritance to you so that you can experience the fullness of that relationship. That relationship of intimacy in sonship is something He has always wanted and planned for each of us:

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph 1:5).

Slaves and orphans struggle with the fear of trusting, and therefore live a life of independence. If we cannot trust anyone else, we will feel we are on their own. God does not want us to feel alone. If, because of that fear, we fail to fully grasp that we are sons, then there is no way we will act like sons either.

We may find it hard to trust because of past experience. We have all been hurt, all been damaged, all been let down by people. We may be afraid of being hurt, rejected, or disappointed.  We may suffer from fear of failure, or fear of losing control.

But losing control is the very thing we need to do. We need to surrender control to God, and trust Him to have our best interests at heart. We have to stop being independent, and learn to trust Him as our Father. When we do, we embrace everything He has for us, because he will cause our destiny to be outworked in our lives.

A loving, affectionate Father

You see, salvation does not make us slaves (servile followers of a tyrannical God). That is what religion presents, and it is the lie the devil uses to lead astray so many people who would otherwise escape his clutches and turn to God. No, this great salvation makes us sons (grateful children of a loving, affectionate Father). That is the difference between religion and relationship. Religion will always put us into bondage (the word ‘religion’ even comes from a Latin word meaning ‘bound up’), but relationship will bring us freedom.

To be liberated from slavery is wonderful. But then to be adopted as a son and made a co-heir of the Father’s entire estate is absolutely astounding! If we were to fully understand what it is to have access to the wealth of our Father (and I’m really not talking about money), it would totally transform our lives. Because of our adoption, the nature of our whole relationship with God has radically changed. We are set free from that religious perception of God as a hard taskmaster just looking for every opportunity to punish us, a God we have to somehow try to appease by doing our good works (only to find that nothing we can do is ever quite good enough).

There is no punishment in store for us as His children, just love and acceptance, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Reserved in heaven for you

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

I hope we all understand by now that ‘reserved in heaven for you’ does not mean that you have to wait until you die to go and enjoy it. Jesus has opened up heaven for us and we are seated there with Him: everything there is for us to discover, and we can walk in that inheritance as sons right now. And God is looking to reveal more and more of what it means to be saved, what it means to be part of His family, what it means to have a relationship with Him.

In the past I have ministered to people who had been adopted, and naturally they can struggle. In spite of much love from the adoptive parents, they can still have a sense of not belonging, of not fitting in (and especially if they come from a different country, race or colour). But when we are adopted by God it is like we have found our eternal home, as if we have come back to how things should always have been. Because that is the reality of it.

Steal and kill and destroy

But (and it is a big ‘but’)…

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10a AMP).

The enemy, the father of lies, wants to remind us of our past and our history in order to rob us of our present and our future. He wants to rob us of our adoptive inheritance and destroy our relationship with God. Yet Jesus said,

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10b AMP).

Who are we going to listen to? If we are smart, we will listen to Jesus and embrace the fullness of what the Father has destined and provided for us.

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208. Whose Slave Are You?

sMike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are on a quest, and in a battle, to lay hold of and possess all that God destined for us (and destined us to be). That quest and that battle will lead us into deeper intimacy with God.

Jesus is the firstborn Son, but the Father always desired a larger family.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29).

It is my destiny and yours to be His son (this is not about male or female but about our relationship with our Father and our position as heir). Now, it is all very well knowing as a piece of factual information that we are sons, and even knowing in our head that God sees it that way, but the question we must ask ourselves is, do I feel, think, and act like His son? Am I experiencing that, and living it out? And if not why not? If I am not fully embracing everything God says about me and thinks about me, then I need to know what is preventing me so that I can overcome it, and enter in.

A heritage of slavery

We all started out as slaves. Mankind was in slavery because of what our ancestors, Adam and Eve, did in the Garden. Therefore we are all born into slavery, and we are all spiritual orphans, separated from God. Adam and Eve became spiritual orphans because they were ejected and expelled from the Garden, sold into slavery because they chose to follow the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than the pathway of the tree of life that God had designed for them. God wants us to turn away from following the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil, to come back and embrace the tree of life. Even good things, if we do not get them from God, can still lead us into slavery.

So because of Adam and Eve’s sin, naturally speaking slavery is our heritage. It affects how we feel and think about ourselves and about God. Keep going that way and we end up with a wounded soul as a result of trying to meet our own needs in the only way we know how – from the world – and our spirit is separated from God and dead to Him. That is what is in our natural family line, and ‘sons of disobedience’ carry on the family tradition.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Eph 2:1-3).

People who do not know God as Father, and do not have a relationship with Him, will carry on in the pattern set up by Adam and Eve. All of us either have lived or do live like that. Yet He never intended any of us to be ‘children of wrath’, and that is why He has made a way for us to live differently.

Whose slave are you?

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Rom 6:16).

Adam and Eve chose to present themselves as slaves to sin, and the result was death, both physical and spiritual. But Jesus has given us a choice now: we can present ourselves to God.

So, whose slave are you? Who is your master?

One master brings life; the other brings death. We have a choice about who we serve, and it is a choice offered to every one of us. I choose to serve the perfect God of love rather than a fallen being who wants only to destroy me.

God so loved

This is how God made that choice possible for us:.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Take out ‘the world’ and substitute ‘me’. It is too easy to read the words ‘the world’ and think it means other people, everybody else, but not ourselves. No, it means ‘God so loved me’. It means that by believing in Jesus I can enter into life rather than continuing in death.

The Amplified version says that ‘God so dearly loved and prized…’ You are a prize, to God. He deeply desires intimacy and relationship with you. As a result of that, He was willing to give His Son so that you could become His child.

Paul puts it this way:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Eph 2:4-5).

And,

God sent him [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children (Gal 4:4).

It is by God’s grace and God’s power, through the victory of Jesus on the cross, that we can be saved from the path we were going down and be brought into this relationship with Him: from death to life, from slavery into freedom, from separation to intimacy.

We are royalty

God has paid the price, and bought us back so that he could adopt us as His own children, just like Jesus. Awesome! How would we feel if the Queen of England adopted us, gave us the run of the palace and access to all the people she has advising her and looking after her? If she said to us, ‘I want you to inherit all that I have’? How special would we feel? That is what the God who made the whole universe and keeps it all together has done for us!

We have been redeemed, bought back from slavery by Jesus, given a new home and a family. We are adopted as sons into the family of the King. We are royalty: princes and princesses, regardless of our history or background. What we have done, what has been done to us, none of that has any effect whatsoever on how God sees us. We look just like Jesus to Him, holy and perfect and righteous. God does not hold our past against us, unlike the devil who constantly accuses us and tries to cause us to remember our past. Since God chooses not to remember it, neither should we!

We have been born again into a new family with a new identity. We have a new heavenly home (which we can engage with now, not only when we die) and are ourselves a home of God. We have a new, heavenly citizenship, and a new (yet eternal) identity and purpose. We have come into sonship, into a relationship with our Father.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you (John 14:18-20).

…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5:5).

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).

So let’s fully embrace all that God has done for us in His love, so that nothing, nothing, nothing will ever remove us or separate us from the fullness of all that He has for us as His dearly loved children.

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Soundtrack: Jake Hamilton – The Anthem

207. Restored to Original Condition

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Isaiah_scroll

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favourable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes, 
The oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness.
(Isaiah 61:1-3).

Every 50 years in the Jewish calendar there was to be a Year of Jubilee (or freedom), when everyone had their inheritance restored to them. That is the ‘favourable year of the Lord’ that we are called to proclaim. God wants all his people to have everything restored to them.

We will receive liberty in exchange for captivity, healing instead of brokenness, beauty for ashes, double honour for shame, the oil of joy instead of mourning. The time for mourning is over. It is time to know the fullness of joy in our salvation. God is looking to restore us to original condition: not the condition we were born in, but His original intention for us, all those wonderful plans He has had for us from eternity past.

He wants us to know our identity – who we really are. He wants us to know how He designed us, to know how we were made to be. And He wants us to grasp our destiny, our birthright, all that we are called to do.

Picture yourself

I encourage you to take some time out now.

Imagine that Father God is standing before You.
He is calling you to your destiny.
Picture yourself walking towards Him.

Come in repentance, with your head bowed, as a servant, because that is how we all come at first.

Now look up. See the Father waiting with His arms wide open, with love in His eyes for you.
Look into His eyes of love.

Run to Him.

Feel His loving embrace.

Just like in the story of the Prodigal Son,
Feel the ring of sonship He puts on your finger,
A seal, a signet ring you can use as His representative, with His authority.

Feel the clean robes He puts on you
All the dirt of the past has been completely removed
These are robes of righteousness
How clean and fresh they feel!

You have been declared righteous, made right with Him.

Enjoy the joy and celebration of His heart
Feel His acceptance and restoring love
Feel His affirmation.

Listen with your spirit

Just as God opened up the heavens to speak over Jesus, he has opened the heavens over you and is declaring this over you. I would urge you to listen with your spirit to what he is declaring. This is your Father speaking directly to your spirit, calling forth that eternal destiny He has placed within you.

I declare you are my beloved son and I am well pleased with you.

I call you My child
I am your Father
You are mine and I am yours.

I legitimise you as my child
I call forth your spiritual destiny.

I call your spirit to attention
Listen with your spirit to the words that I, your heavenly Father, have for you.

The Spirit of your Father gives witness to your spirit that you are My son
I bless your spirit with the spirit of sonship and the mindset of sonship
I bless you with a deep heart identity as My very own child, securely loved in My family
I bless you with the settled assurance that I have a future and a hope for you
And I have written all your days in My book with love
For your best interest and for My ultimate glory.

I bless you with the deep knowledge that I know what you need
And I have all the resources of the universe to meet that need.

Listen with your spirit to My words for you
My Spirit testifies to your spirit that you are My child
Feel your spirit pulsating with My life, My love, My acceptance.

I bless you with the ears to hear the testimony of the spirit of the Lord,
The spirit of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel, power and fear of the Lord
To hear what they say about you.

I bless you with being tuned into Me
With eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, and a mind for understanding
I bless you with being led by the fullness of My Spirit of Truth
To see things as I see them in the heavenly realms.

I bless you with the deep knowledge that you are an heir with your brother Jesus
To all of My treasuries
I bless you with the confidence that you lack for nothing you need
Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and practically.

I bless you with the sure understanding that I want you to have My blessings and My glory
To possess your birthright
I bless you with the desire to press forward to see the glory that I am revealing.

I bless you with a heart that does not rebel or shrink back
From the opportunities I put before you daily
I bless you with a hunger for the manifestation of My glory day by day
In you and through your life.

I declare that you are no longer a slave, an orphan or a victim
I declare that you are mine and I am yours:
I am your inheritance and you are My inheritance.

I declare that I am your Father and you are My son
And I give you access to your heavenly home
I give you access to the river and tree of life in your heavenly home.

I call you to be a gateway of heaven on the earth
You are my child and I call you to be displayed as a mature son on the earth.

Soak

Let your spirit receive those words. Go over them again and again, day after day if you need to. Receive them as affirmation of who you are as a son of God, as a child of your heavenly Father, as one who has a destiny in Him. Allow your spirit to just soak in it. Soak in the words of God to you. He approves of you, blesses you.

He wants you to know your identity, and outwork it.

He wants you to know your destiny, and fulfil it.

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Soundtrack: Beauty For Ashes – Chris McClarney

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199. Attitude Determines Altitude


Mike Parsons

with Jeremy Westcott – 

attitudeWhen we accept Jesus as Lord, ask God to forgive us, and become born again, the Spirit of God comes to live in us. That is, God Himself comes to dwell within us. We become a house of God; a dwelling, a habitation of God. Heaven can manifest through our lives. We become a gateway of heaven on earth. Wherever we are, we are ambassadors for God and the embassy of heaven on earth.

Not only should people see that we are healing the sick, doing miracles, casting out demons, doing the things Jesus did (and some even greater things that He didn’t), they should also notice that our whole attitude to life is different to theirs. We are to be recognisable by our love for one another, our readiness to forgive, not judging others’ motives, going the extra mile. The world is watching. Every problem, every crisis we face, is an opportunity to overcome and demonstrate heaven on earth.

Attitude determines altitude

There is a principle in aviation, ‘attitude determines altitude’. The angle on the back of the wings determines how high the plane goes. The attitudes we have in our heart and thinking will determine our life and how high it goes with God. The standards of heaven are higher than the standards of earth; they are based in love, in giving rather than receiving. We represent heaven’s superior authority, values, ideas, principles and wisdom, which are all higher.

God wants us to have a positive attitude that is dependent on what He says, not on our circumstances. Whatever our attitude, it will always be reflected in our behaviour.

‘Beautiful Attitudes’

In Matthew’s gospel (see Matt 5:1-11) we find what are traditionally
called the ‘Beatitudes’ (from the Latin word for ‘blessed’). It’s a well-used play on words, but the fact is that they are about beautiful attitudes, the kingdom attitudes God is looking for in us.

square wordleEvery verse starts with the word ‘blessed’, meaning ‘empowered to prosper and succeed at the highest level’. The Amplified version says, ‘blessed, happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous with a life, joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of outward conditions… with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of his matchless grace…’

If we believe ‘God loves me, He has forgiven me, and He wants the best for me. He is not there to punish me and take things away from me. He is there to bless me, give me all things, and bring me into abundant life’, then our relationship with God brings real satisfaction for us, regardless of outward conditions. Having the right attitude will enable us to live in that favour of God and take us to the highest level of blessing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (v3).

The Message version translates this as ‘Blessed when you are at the end of your rope’. God gives the kingdom resources to those who know they can do nothing profitable in their own flesh or their own strength.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (v4).

You can interpret this as feeling compassion.  But really it is about losing the most important thing in your life, which is you. ‘Me, myself and I’ must die. That is what mourning is about. I give up my life to gain His life.

Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth (v5).

Gentleness is strength, but surrendered, like a wild stallion with a bit in its mouth being directed by its rider. God wants us to be directed by Him. The inheritance we receive as a result is everything God desires for us. We know who we are, our identity in God (no more, no less), but we surrender that for His purposes just as Jesus did.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied (v6).

The world will never be able to satisfy us. When we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we finally discover what true satisfaction is. He will satisfy us. The Message again: ‘…work up a good appetite for God. His food and drink is the best meal you will ever eat’.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (v7).

What we have received, we freely give. We have received mercy. When we treat people the same way God has treated us, it means we cannot seek revenge or retaliation: we show mercy. When we put other people’s good before our own, then God looks after us. That is His desire.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (v8).

Pure means without mixture. We have to be willing to allow God to deal with our hearts at the deepest level (as we have seen in Transformation) and get rid of all the rubbish which distorts our view of Him. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing.  If we want to be good ambassadors, we have to be able to see God as He did.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (v9).

It is our desire and God’s to bring shalom, which really means wholeness, completeness and fullness.  Bringing shalom does not mean we never argue with anyone.  It means we bring truth that will set people free. God wants us to restore creation to its original condition. And creation itself is groaning, longing for us to be revealed as sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (vv10-11).

No one likes to be persecuted, especially for doing good things, or maligned or wrongly blamed. When it happens, our attitude should not be one of retaliation or wanting revenge.  We can bless our enemies and love them, as Jesus commanded (and modelled for us under extreme provocation). The flesh will always try to get revenge, but the spirit alive to God will always look to sow blessings and peace.

When everything is going well, it is easy to be a nice, smiley person. When things are not going great, what are we like then? Are we a grump and miserable? Let’s cultivate an attitude that reflects God’s promises and blessings, rather than the circumstances we live in. We represent a different kingdom, and we have the authority to change the circumstances.

We expect good things to happen. We expect God’s favour wherever we are. We expect, when we enter a room (or how about a city, or a nation?), that we bring the power, the light and the life of God to change it. We can establish Cities of Refuge, which the world will stream to when its own systems are failing. We do not have to come under the circumstances and situations of the world. We are ambassadors of a higher kingdom.

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165. Mercy: God’s Covenant Love

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).

God wants us to be ready for His glory to come in increasing measure. If we are not ready, we would be foolish to venture anywhere near His glory, but God is looking for a people who can stand in that glory and reflect it to the world. We need to be transformed.

Discipline, not punishment

Transformation requires discipline, but let’s not confuse discipline with punishment. We may have been brought up by parents or teachers who punished rather than disciplined, and we will have to overcome that if we are to allow God to discipline us. He is not there threatening us with a big stick. If that is our view of God, then we need to repent and deal with that mindset. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4), not fear of the consequences. There are consequences of sin, but Jesus has already paid the price for them.

Discipline is done in love, for the benefit of the person being disciplined.

The Hebrew word muwcar and the Greek word paideia both mean ‘reprove, correct, train, warn, educate, instruct. Punishment is about payback, about the imposition of a penalty. Jesus took all our punishment and paid every penalty. God does not punish people, but He does discipline us in order to train us and help us live right.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

Discipline is a good thing, because it corrects and trains and transforms us. When we face up to looking honestly at the reality of our life, it can be uncomfortable, even painful in the short term. But if we allow God to work in us, it will produce fruit in us, and bring us into a place of peace and joy as we persevere

Covenant love

The Lord’s mercies [lovingkindnesses] indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23).

The word ‘mercy’ is checed, traditionally translated ‘lovingkindness’, but it actually means ‘covenant love’. And it is by God’s mercies that we present ourselves as a living sacrifice to be transformed, as the passage from Romans 12 at the head of this post tells us.

Covenant is a commitment, agreement or contract only ended by death, and often sealed in blood by walking through the pieces of an animal sacrifice. It is a total commitment to each other. It binds each party to love one another and do good to one another, to share all they have and to support one another to the death when attacked by an outsider. It carries stipulations and terms which both parties know about before entering into it, and it is ratified by exchange, for example of coats or weapons.

God has always dealt with men through covenant (you can see this with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus). God’s covenant with Abraham was actually with his seed; and Jesus is the Seed, as Paul explains (Gal 3:16). Since we are in Him, we also benefit from that covenant.

And if you belong to Christ [are in Him Who is Abraham’s Seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and heirs according to promise (Gal 3:29 AMP).

Heir of the world

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world… (Rom 4:13).

This was not about possession of a little piece of land in the Middle East. This covenant is for the whole world. It is not restricted to one group of people: it is for everybody. In His death on the cross, Christ made the promises available to us. The gospel goes to the ends of the earth, bringing blessing to everyone.

We did not make this covenant, so we cannot break it. The New Covenant is God’s fulfilment of His promises to Abraham, through Jesus. It is totally reliable. God will never break a covenant He has made in the blood of His own Son. And this is the basis on which we can be saved, healed, and transformed.

Mercy (covenant love) applies the covenant power and the victory of the cross to our lives.

  • Jesus was my substitute. He traded places with me to deal with the penalty or wages of sin. He died for me.
  • When Jesus died, I died. He was my representative to deal with the power of sin: He died as me.

Covenant exchange

This is the covenant exchange that took place at the cross. We can come to the cross every minute of every day and enter into that life which is ours in eternity. His mercy, His covenant love, is new every morning.

Grace

…through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand (Rom 5:2).

We now stand in the grace of God, His divine enabling power, to be transformed. It is not something we can do ourselves by our own power or ability, but only by willing submission and surrender to Him. Because of His grace, we have an opportunity to turn away from our old way of life and follow a different path, turning to the way God has called us to live.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:15).

The Father and the Son

God is a covenant-making God. Covenant expresses his inexhaustible and supreme love. The love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is covenant love, and we are brought into that family of love.

In giving his life for the sins of the world, Jesus entered a New Covenant in His blood with the Father. It was total commitment and self-giving without reservation on behalf of both parties. The Father and the Son entered covenant for us.so that we could come into the fullness of relationship with God. That covenant is stronger than death; it cannot be broken or annulled: it sustains our salvation, and enables our transformation.

That New Covenant means that everything belonging to the Father now belongs to Jesus. And since we are in Christ, everything belonging to the Father now belongs to us. We have access to everything of God. We have access to the omnipotence of God, the omnipresence of God, the omniscience of God: surely that will enable us to fulfil our destiny and our purpose.

Come to the cross

I would encourage you to meditate on scriptures about God’s mercies, His lovingkindness and covenant love, because they are the basis of our transformation. God’s mercies are motivated by His love, and His love motivates us to change.

Is there anything of the old that you need to exchange? Anything which is death to you that you want to exchange for life? Come to the cross. If you have a mindset that is fearful of what God might do if you were to surrender and allow Him to transform you, then come to the cross. If you think God punishes you, then you really need to come to the cross.

You can do this in a practical way. Just as the parties in a covenant would walk through and around the split pieces of the sacrificed animal in a figure-of-eight or eternity symbol, you can walk a path the same shape, and come to the intersection, the crossover point, the point of exchange. At that point you can break bread, and exchange the old for the new. You can be set free from bondage and from everything that is holding you back, because you walk through the victory that Jesus secured for you.

You can come to the cross today.

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144. Stepping Stones To Change

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

While we are building up our reborn spirit by opening that first love gate inside us, praying continually, and waiting on the Lord, we also need to allow God to work on our soul so that it comes into proper submission to our spirit.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I (Christ in me) now live in the flesh, I (Christ in me) live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).

The whole relationship changes when I recognise that I have been crucified, and when I die to self, because God is then able to join Himself to me in manifesting Himself to the world around me.

Search me, try me

Search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
(Ps 139:23-24).

When we pray a prayer like that, God takes us at our word: He takes us up on what we have prayed. If we are willing to pray that prayer, He will search our heart. And He will also enable us to know what is going on in our heart. This is part of the process of change: we have to be prepared to allow God to search our hearts and show us what is there. We have to be willing to look at ourselves and see what is going on on the inside.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor 11:31 NKJV)

In judging ourselves, though, we do not compare ourselves to anyone but Jesus. God wants us to be transformed into the image of Jesus, and if we compare ourselves to Him we can see how far we have come, and how much more God still has to do in our hearts.

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil… (Matt 13:18-23)

The word of the kingdom gets sown into our heart. There are four kinds of soil mentioned here. Because of the past there may be areas in our hearts which are trampled down, compacted and hard, like a path, and the seed cannot grow there. Or it may be the rocks and stones in our heart, the things that have happened to us, that make it hard for the word to take root. We may get distracted by allowing our flesh to direct our thinking and our behaviour. Our hearts need to be changed, transformed into good soil, so that the word of the kingdom of God can grow in us and flourish, and bear fruit.

Consider it joy

But there is a process we need to go through in order to deal with the things that are in our hearts.

…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, – this sounds really good so far – and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).

How is that ‘encouraging’? Because when we are in the middle of the troubles, trials, or tribulations, we need to know that it is all part of the process of God bringing transformation. I am not talking about sickness or things like that (God does not bring any sickness on us) but about situations and circumstances in our lives that highlight for us the condition of our heart in a particular area.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

Stepping_stones,_Hebden,_bench

Alethe at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

How many of us actually consider our trials as joy? But it is the attitude we have to the trials that will determine their outcome. And if we consider that God uses trials to transform us, then we will have a different approach to the situations we face. We can allow those trials to be stepping stones to change, transformation and growth; or we can resist those trials and then nothing in us will change. We have to welcome them with thanksgiving and joy. We can thank God for the trials He brings, because we know that we are being perfected, becoming complete, and will lack in nothing – just like Jesus.

If that is the outcome we are looking for, then we have to be willing to look within our lives so that we can learn, overcome, grow; so that we can see what is on the inside transformed.

Exult in tribulations

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5:3-5).

Exulting in tribulations is exactly the opposite of what our flesh wants to do. Gifts are given, but fruit grows. We want to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and be more like Jesus. It is great to receive things as a gift; but we do not get character that way: it is a fruit of dealing with the trials and troubles in our lives. How we deal with them is what shapes our character and causes us to act like Jesus.

And everything operates through love. The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and it enables us to deal with every situation, every trial, every trouble that we face. The love of God is in us.

It is not that He is disciplining us because He does not love us. Quite the opposite: He disciplines us because He does love us, He cares for us, and He wants us to be transformed and changed. Then He can reveal us on the earth as the manifest sons of God, shining with His light, displaying His character and the fruit that comes from a life transformed by the situations that we have faced.

He Won’t Relent

The process itself may not sound too pleasant. But it will be less painful if we surrender to the process rather than struggling against it. Jesus said:

And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder (Matt 21:44 NKJV).

Our soul can be broken, and then restored; or it can be crushed. Which would you rather? As I allow brokenness in my soul, the fragrance of God’s presence comes from me. The other way fragrance can be released from something is by grinding it to powder. God wants us to be changed. He won’t relent (as we have been singing again recently) until He has it all, all of us.

God loves us too much to let us go. Time and time again He will give us opportunities to grow and be transformed. We can give Him our heart, and surrender to the process, and be filled with joy, peace and love; or we can fight, struggle, and resist what He is wanting to do. Then all that happens is that we get to go around the mountain one more time, until He gives us another opportunity to deal with the same issue. I am sure there have been times when most of us have been around the same mountain more than once, until we learnt this truth.

He wants us to look at the mountain and say, ‘This is not going to stop me. I am going to deal with this and overcome it. I am going to climb this mountain’.

When we do, that mountain is going to elevate us higher into the purposes of God for our lives.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFdeOT3lzqc

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