221. “Does This Apply To Me?” – Redemptive Gifts (5)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are going to look at some of the behavioural characteristics again in each of the redemptive gifts found in Romans 12:6-8. However, just because you have a particular gift that does not necessarily mean you will have all of the strengths and weaknesses associated with it. As we saw a couple of posts ago, there are all kinds of reasons why the way each of us expresses a particular gift will be different from how others express it. And if you are more mature in the faith, you may well be developing some of the strengths and overcoming some of the weaknesses already.

So as you consider these things, I suggest you just ask God ‘does this apply to me?’

Prophet – black and white

The prophet sees things in terms of black and white, right and wrong: a simplistic worldview in which it is imperative to make sense of everything. As a result, the prophet is able to assess situations quickly and discern whether they are good or bad. Prophets will seize the initiative quickly, and like new things, especially those that threaten the status quo. They are quick to form an opinion, and have no qualms about expressing it without reservation.

But prophets are likely to be moody and to experience emotional highs and lows. They may tend to be impatient or find difficulty with timing in other ways. They are quite hard on themselves, so may struggle to forgive themselves. If an organisation is running well, don’t ask a prophet to maintain it – he or she will try to change it, ‘improve’ it, or quit. Because they don’t do ‘maintaining’ or the ‘status quo’, they can find it hard to maintain excellence, and need vision to see the next ‘new thing’. They can also be poor at maintaining relationships with others.

Servant – meeting needs

Servants are very practical, adept at seeing needs and meeting them. They are committed to the present moment, to meet present needs. They are disposed towards saving things that they or others might need in the future, but not always in an organised way. They have very few enemies, and are considered ‘safe’ people. They extend honour readily to others, because they always see the best (or the potential) in them. They rarely get angry, but when they do it usually revolves around questions of loyalty, and then watch out! They have a purity of motive like no other gift, never counting up what’s owed to them or holding a grudge.

The servant is a team player, relatively free from the desire to build his own kingdom.

But in thinking the best of others, servants may make excuses for them (especially their own children) and conversely struggle with their own self-worth, apologising for themselves while serving others. They struggle to see their innate value and don’t readily believe God’s truth about themselves or their calling. They may be unable to affirm themselves or accept affirmation from other people, especially around excellence in work.

Their desire to help may draw them into enabling others’ neediness by doing things for them instead of teaching them and empowering them to act for themselves. They will often become anxious by taking on other people’s problems and worries, and be disproportionately affected by disappointment. Because they have a strong desire to please, they can find it hard to say ‘no’ (even to mutually exclusive demands), so are often both overcommitted and taken for granted. They risk being easily victimised and exploited and may attract dishonour (especially at home) which they fail to resist even as they honour others.

Teacher – validating truth

The teacher typically has a need to validate truth. Teachers usually do not normally receive or reject new ideas – or people – right away. They tend not to overreact or jump the gun but make new decisions slowly and carefully. They like to save things.

Teachers are highly relational, with a great sense of humour, and may have a reputation as emotionally safe individuals because they can listen to someone’s brokenness and sin without rejecting them. Very patient and slow-tempered, they will usually be the last to speak in a group.

They are unwilling to begin a process until they can see how it’s going to turn out, and can be indecisive, impractical and theoretical. They are self or ministry focused and often unwilling to confront or challenge others. They find it hard to return phone calls and are typically late, not good with handling money and poor at returning borrowed items. They usually resist using human illustrations.

Exhorter – a party waiting to happen

Highly relational, the exhorter has the ability to understand and relate well to others, often forming an instant rapport with strangers. The exhorter is able to avoid alienation and maintain relationship even though solidly disagreeing (and even arguing loudly) with the other party. Family is very important, and the exhorter will always seek to nurture and facilitate family members.

A high energy person, natural leader, dramatic (often melodramatic), an obsessive-compulsive verbal expressive master communicator who governs (and is governed) by persuasion rather than principle. May have a tendency to seek the approval of others, and their flexibility allows them to abandon a plan easily.

The exhorter is finely attuned to feelings, which may lead them into prioritising people over God. In fact, exhorters can struggle to spend time with God, partly because of their time management issues. They do not always prioritise their best abilities and may spend (waste) their time doing things which would be better left to others.

They can seek to rule by relationship, leading them to be manipulative and controlling (though with the best possible intentions). Non-confrontational by nature, they will wait for an opportunity to get the best out of any situation rather than knocking down hurdles and making things happen. Exhorters often have an immense heart for evangelism but stop short of actually sharing the gospel overtly.

Giver – flexible, adaptable

This is the most diverse, adaptable and flexible of all gifts.

The giver is designed not to be needy, so is very independent, not looking to others for help. Insightful and intuitive, the giver can look at a problem and see a solution without anyone else’s input. A good listener, for the other person’s sake not their own.

The giver is not a big risk-taker, cannot be hustled and accepts the need to accrue money before giving. Givers tend to be cautious and concerned about safety and can look at themselves objectively, without shame.

But their independence can include independence from God. Faith, being a risk issue, is hard for a giver who needs a sure thing and whose security is likely in money or family. Caution can lead to overprotective behaviour and to giving mental assent rather than heart agreement.

The giver may lack holiness, and find it hard to receive from God and others.

Ruler – thriving under pressure

The ruler is skilled at time management, thrives under pressure, and expects the same of others!

Rulers readily own their problems, but will be their own solution and do not have a welfare mentality. They are not interested in apportioning blame, only in how to fix a problem and move on. Empire builders, they are designed to look at things and want to make them bigger, so are really not into details. But they are implementors, who will take a vision, break it down into pieces, and make it happen. If necessary, rulers are able to stand alone on an issue of principle or integrity.

It is difficult for a ruler to partner with others unless loyalty is built. They are big on loyalty, which they see as far more important than competence in their colleagues and co-workers, and will draw the best out of imperfect people. They are expert in dealing with people in projects, but will not choose to place themselves on a team unless they know they are really wanted and have the loyalty of others.

Rulers have an innate ability to measure character. They don’t micro-manage, and hate to be micro-managed themselves, but do tend to be task oriented and neglect to nurture team members.

Empire building can quickly turn into self-aggrandisement. They may overlook the faults of others, lack moral authority and exhibit casual ethics: ‘the end justifies the means’. They can be overly independent and unwilling to volunteer.

Mercy – non-confrontational

The mercy gift finds common ground with just about everyone, so has few enemies (or none at all). Conversely, the mercy may have only 1 or 2 close intimate friends but many acquaintances with whom they are on friendly terms.

Easily confided in, non-judgmental, the mercy provides a safe place for wounded people and is able to pick out those who are troubled and to see through facades.

Mercies connect readily with the heart of God, very intuitive when it comes to following God’s leading, but may have difficulty explaining why they feel God is directing in a certain way. Their fierce anger usually only surfaces around issues of loyalty, and they have been known to take up offence on behalf of others. They can be drawn into spiritual warfare when someone they care for is being spiritually attacked.

They find it easy to blame themselves but difficult to express their own feelings. Stubborn in the nicest sort of way, they can be slow in making life transitions because it takes a while to disengage emotionally and move on.

The mercy gift loves beauty, and has a strong predisposition to worship, moving more easily into the presence of God than the other gifts.

The mercy hates confrontation, avoids issues, is indecisive on matters of right and wrong and unwilling to step on other people’s toes, so may allow injustice to continue and tolerate abuse and exploitation. The mercy may even have a tendency to be exploited and become a victim because of unwillingness to confront even a predator.

Being non-confrontational can lead into compromise, accepting a mixture of holy and unholy without calling people to do what is right. The mercy can be enabling rather than empowering, wanting to nurture and protect others from pain, but needs to learn that expressing love alone will not suffice. Seeing all pain as bad, mercies will tend to flee their own pain and unwittingly keep themselves and others from the discipline of God when God intends to use that discipline to build maturity and wholeness. This can be because of unresolved fathering issues in their own lives.

Mercies can choose to be life-giving when they want to, how they want to, and where they want to, but can stubbornly resist doing all the other things that God has called them to do.

The mercy gift craves intimacy and needs physical touch – the danger is that this can lead to sexual impurity.

Kingdom benefit

Please remember, this is not about looking at anyone else and pointing the finger. Our aim in all of this is to look at ourselves and see what God wants to do in us. And let’s look not only at the gift we think we have – if we show some of the tendencies of other gifts, not only can we embrace transformation there too, but also it may indicate that we have been given a portion of those gifts in addition to any we had previously recognised. So if you skipped over any of the sections above, thinking ‘I don’t have that gift’, I would encourage you to go back and read them again!

Above all, let’s seek first His kingdom, pursuing understanding of how God has made us and looking to mature and develop in our gifting, for the benefit of His kingdom purposes.

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Attribution of main image at the head of this post: Flickr image ‘Golden Spiral’ by Ian Muttoo, used as a background under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence. The original photograph is of the underneath of the staircase in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. We used a mirror image.

191. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

neuronsOur inheritance is to walk with God, to experientially encounter Him and live in a daily intimate relationship with Him; one heart, one mind, one will, one purpose.

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17).

Since relationship is built on communication, how do we communicate with God? God is a spirit, God is light, God is love. How do we interact with Him, engage with Him? How do we see, hear and know?

When we see with our natural eyes, light is reflected from an object, focused through the lens to form an upside down image on the retina. Electrical signals travel along the optic nerve and are interpreted by our brain. When we hear with our natural ear, pressure waves from air cause the ear drum to vibrate, and that vibration is passed by bones in fluid to be interpreted by the brain. We ‘know’ by electrical impulses in synapses passing along neural pathways which the brain interprets as thoughts. That’s amazing!

But it’s not only physically that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Ps139:14).

Active or passive

We have the eyes of our heart, our imagination. Images form directly in our mind as if on a screen, an expression of our creative ability derived from a creative God. Then there are the eyes of our spirit: our brain interprets and understands what our spirit – and the Holy Spirit – shows us. Every aspect of how God created us works together in this. He created us to be able to engage both with the universe we live in and with our Creator.

He wants us to be active rather than passive: not just hoping He might break in and interrupt, but eagerly seeking and pursuing Him. He is looking for those who will do whatever it takes to develop their relationship with Him.

Seeing in the spirit

Our world is filled with vibrations which can only be picked up if we have the right equipment, such as a TV or radio tuned in to the correct frequency. Our natural eyes and ears can see and hear just a tiny portion of all the frequencies that exist. When we are in tune with God, our spirit is capable of detecting wavelengths which our natural senses are not, and can interpret and describe what it perceives. Just as our natural body does, our spirit passes signals to the brain, so that we are able to understand and distinguish between spirits and realms. We can train our spirit to become sensitive to what God is saying and doing in the dimensions around us, and to recognise what is God and what is not.

When we talk about ‘seeing in the spirit’, what we really mean is that our spirit is tuning into a spiritual frequency and communicating information to our brain so that we begin to understand what is going on.

We know that our natural senses and abilities develop with practice: so too do our spiritual ones (Heb 5:14). The more we train, the more we practise, the more readily our spiritual senses will engage with God. Our spirit was dead to God: now that we are born again we need to get it up to speed. Here at Freedom we do what we call ‘activations’ in order to encourage our spirit to learn how to hear, see, feel and experience in the realms of heaven. Meditation, too, will help us to develop our spiritual senses.

Harmony

Sound and colour have an effect on the natural and spiritual dimensions. We have experienced this with the colours and movement of flags together with the sound of music in worship: something shifts in the spiritual atmosphere, portals open, it draws the presence of God and the angelic.

There are healing frequencies. Fragrant oils have healing properties. Our bodies have a frequency, in fact the whole of creation has a frequency. I have experienced the sound of harmony in heaven, and it is calling us to join it and bring it to earth.

Spiritual sonar

Most of us have known occasions when we could feel or sense the atmosphere in a room. There is a saying, ‘you could cut the atmosphere with a knife’. We feel cold chill shivers in certain places, and peace in others. It is as if our spirit is sending out a ‘ping’ like spiritual sonar, and forming an impression based on how that signal comes back.

I asked God to open up the eyes of my spirit, and with practice I have learned how to turn this on and off at will. I can sense the atmosphere around people and places if I choose to do so. I can discern angels, and even describe them in terms of size, colour, shape and activity, even though I am not physically ‘seeing’ them. There is no reason you cannot ask for and receive the same.

Visions

If we want to hear and recognise the voice of God, we need to develop a lifestyle of the supernatural. He created us to be able to receive  from Him and to engage with Him in this way:

‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams (Acts 2:17).

Here are some examples from scripture:

As he [Saul] was travelling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”… The men who travelled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (Acts 9:3-4, 7).

Saul saw the light and heard the voice of Jesus, whilst the others only heard the voice but did not see the light. That light caused blindness in Saul, but the others were not affected. We might wonder what sort of wavelength of light it was, whether it was actual light, or whether it was Jesus himself manifesting as light. Was the veil of heaven opened around Paul so that he could see into a dimension the others could not? And the voice that they all heard, was it an actual voice? As they all heard it, does that mean it is easier to hear than to see spiritual frequencies?

Later on (Acts 9:10-12) we read that Ananias heard God speak to him in a vision (without actual process of eyes, ears, light and sound waves), telling him that Saul has also had a vision, of him (Ananias) laying his hands on him.

Again, Cornelius had a vision of an angel, and Peter fell into a trance (Acts 10:3-15). Even if all these things happened in Saul’s, Ananias’, Cornelius’ and Peter’s heads, that does not make them any less real. God communicated with them, and as a result, the church was completely transformed.

Four kinds of wisdom

Jesus said:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).

With practice we can learn to identify when something is God communicating with us rather than coming from our own or other sources. Most people will tell you that knowing the word of God is the key, but I would suggest that knowing the God of the word is actually more important. If we have taken the time and trouble to get to know Him, His character, His ways, His heart, His mind and His purposes, then we will have a pretty clear idea whether we are hearing Him or not.

This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:15-17)

James gives a strong clue here too: do we see something characterised by jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder and evil or pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy?

A place of rest

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28-29).

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

No matter the situations or circumstances going on around us, we need to come from a place of rest and peace in relationship with God, not worrying, being anxious or fearful (see also Matt 6:25-34). Let’s also practice the conscious presence of God, who promises never to leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5), and cast all our burdens on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). All these things will make us far less likely to be deceived by things which are not coming from Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight (Prov 3:5).

Everything needs to flow from the rest and peace of our relationship with God, from the inside out. Let’s learn to live in a state of rest, peace and intimacy.

My prayer for you

Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).

From a natural perspective, the circumstances were dire. But Elisha could see into the spiritual realm, and he prayed for his servant so that he would also.

I want to pray the same for you.

Father, as You opened Elisha’s servant’s eyes
to see angelic beings and activity in the spiritual realm,
bringing peace and rest to his life in spite of the circumstances,
I pray that you will open the eyes of each person reading or hearing this.

Open the eyes of their spirit to see, to perceive, to receive;
To be a receiver of the frequency that comes from that realm
And that their brains will be able to interpret it,
So that they are able to see, to feel, to hear, to taste, to touch the things of God
And to know You through personal encounter, day by day.

Show them what you are doing,
Not only today, but as they practise and train their senses,
Bring them into maturity,
So that they are able to do Your works
As Jesus did, because He saw what You were doing.

Amen.

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155. A Plumbline, a Doorway and an Anchor

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Not in the Bible

This may seem really obvious, but it is a fact that not everything is actually specifically mentioned in the Bible. For example, Jesus said we should do greater works than He did, without being specific about what they might be. We have experiences in daily life which are not mentioned in the Bible – there are no computers or glasses or cars or mobile phones – but it is OK for us to use them.  In just the same way, we may have some experiences of heaven which are not in the Bible.

A plumbline

plumb lineThe word of God is a plumbline for us though. A plumbline is a string with a lead weight (or plumb-bob) hanging from it, which builders use to check that vertical surfaces are true. So does our experience line up with God’s principles, His character and His nature? That is a safeguard for us, so that we do not go off into flights of fancy which have no basis in God. The enemy will do all he can to cause us to go astray, but we do not have to be frightened of that if we keep true to a clear revelation of who God is. He will never do anything in a vision or a dream which goes counter to His word.

Using our imagination

In this way the word of God becomes our starting point for future experience. When we meditate on it we can picture what it talks about and use our imagination. We ought not to be scared to use our imagination: God has given it to us so that we can see things, picture them, and visualise them. Now some Christians are wary of concepts like ‘visualisation’ because they have been adopted by New Age and occult people. Even meditation is viewed with suspicion in some circles. But these things are not wrong in themselves. It is simply that we have to approach them afresh and learn how to use them in a godly way.

A doorway

If we read Revelation chapters 4 and 5, they tell us about God’s throne, thunder and lightning, the seven spirits of God, four living creatures, angels, 24 elders and so on. Ezekiel 1 and 10 speak of a similar scene. There are pictures in these passages which we can visualise, and the word then becomes something we can engage with. It can open a door to encounter and experience.

An anchor

As well as a doorway, the word can be an anchor for further heavenly experiences. I have had many encounters with God in the heavenly realms, following which I went back to the word to find a foundation and an anchor for those experiences. That meant I could return to those experiences again, using the word to ensure that I was standing on a good biblical foundation.

So sometimes our experience comes directly out of meditating on the word of God. At other times, our experience comes in a different way, but we can still go back to the word and make sure that what we have experienced is in line with what it reveals of God. In either case, if it is firmly rooted in the word we can pick up our experience again another time and go further with it.

For example, I had encounters where God took me and opened up scrolls relating to my life, and showed me what was written there. I was not expecting that. I did not know if it was biblical. But then I read in Revelation that there was a scroll written on the front and the back which Jesus would open, and realised I had found the truth of God’s word that anchored those experiences solidly for me. As a result I am able to go back there and make sure my life lines up with what is written on my scroll.

Left brain, right brain

To meditate you have to learn to use the right side of the brain, the creative/intuitive area. I used to be a very left-brained person, a scientist, who naturally tended towards the cognitive, logical, and mathematical. But speaking in tongues or meditating, because it comes from a flow of the spirit, uses the right side of the brain. So we need to learn to activate that part of the brain so that we can see, and visualise, and experience spiritual realities, and especially the heavenly realms.

That flow of the spirit is revelation from the inside which comes as spontaneous thoughts and pictures and feelings. If we are not used to tuning in to them, they can slip past and we can miss them. It works like this. The air around us is full of radio and television signals of which we are not normally aware. But if we were to have a radio, turned on and tuned in, we would be able to hear whatever was playing on that particular station. If we had a TV set tuned in we would be able to see what was on that channel. And it is just the same with tuning in to God.

Meditation, imagination

God is sending out signals all the time. They flow through our spirit and are projected into the right side of our brain, so that we can hear His voice, see visions and pictures, and receive revelation from Him. We tune in to that through meditation.

Our imagination is the screen on which God projects things. But it can also receive images from our soul, from our subconscious, and we need to know the difference. Our imagination can play back experiences we have had in life. There may be a song, or a smell or a taste which can transport us instantly back to an experience we had many years previously. We can imagine it, recall it even feel the same feelings we had at the time (whether positive or negative).

We do not want to be led from our soul, and especiallly not from our past negative experience, but we want to be led by the Spirit of God. We need to learn to let those spirit projections rule over the soulish ones, so that we are tuned in to a flow of revelation which enables us to follow God and do what He has called us to do. We have to learn how to open ourselves up to these things, just as most of us actually learned to shut them out.

Retuning

Every child, up to the age of about three or four, is creative and intuitive. Children of that age can see the angelic much more readily than adults, and have the ability to function in that intuitive way.

By the age of 7, only 10% of children retain that spiritual and creative ability. Our western educational system is very effective at training us to use the left side of our brain. It does not value the right side at all. Because the spiritual is not reinforced and encouraged, but rather dismissed and ignored (or at best, humoured) by our elders and teachers, we learn to focus almost exclusively on the natural realm instead.

But now, born again by the Spirit of God, we have an opportunity to re-learn how to engage our spirit; how to retune and see things from God’s perspective.

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14, my emphasis).

It only comes by practice.

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133. From The Inside Out

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

I have written before about how God gave me four words: investiture, succession, enthronement and coronation. You will notice that once you have been invested with authority, then before you have an enthronement there is succession.

If we are invested with the power of the kingdom, then we have to dethrone the things that are ruling in our lives: our self, our soul; me, myself, and I. If I want to see the kingdom of God flowing through my life there is no place on the throne for ‘me, myself and I’,. ‘I’ will only get in the way of it. ‘I’ will spoil it, ‘I’ will block it. ‘I’ need to be dethroned.

Nature, which has programmed me, programmed my DNA from past generations, needs to be restored and renewed. Nurture, environmental programming in my life: my upbringing, what has gone on around me, needs to be restored and renewed. Trauma, which is experiential programming, things I have experienced that cause me to respond in particular ways, needs reprogramming. I need to be transformed, restored to my original eternal condition. That is what God wants to happen here, in this realm; not just in eternity, because what happens here will determine what I do in eternity once time is finished.

This is a picture which came from heaven. It was on a scroll given to Ian Clayton, and it describes how we can start operating in the kingdom of God.

It starts with the glory of God, His presence on the inside of us. In our spirit, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have come to make their home as Jesus promised. They want to occupy the seat of government in our lives. As we open that inner door of first love, the glory of God first flows out into our spirit and develops our spiritual senses. Then it flows out through our soul and transforms our soul. God comes into our heart, where our scroll of destiny is seated, and begins to transform us. Eventually His glory flows out through our body, a manifestation of transfiguration, where the light of God’s glory will shine through us.

Notice how the flow is always from the inside. Everything happens in the kingdom from the inside out. It is no good us trying change ourselves from the outside in. We need to learn to surrender ourselves to the presence of God on the inside, so that the presence of God flows through our whole being, and transforms us.

We begin by opening the First Love gate. That is where Jesus is knocking in Revelation 3:20.  He wants us to enjoy intimacy with Him, and He wants access to the whole of our lives, spirit, soul and body. The door handle is on our side.

Here is an animated version of that diagram, created by Adam Butterick for Son Of Thunder (click here or on the image below to play the video in a new tab/window).

gateways animated .jpg

We will look some more at this diagram over the next few posts. There are gateways between each of these parts of our lives, and they have been blocked, often by things that have come in from the outside.

The things we have seen, smelt, heard, tasted and touched will have affected our soul. If we try to change them by the things we can see, smell, hear, taste and touch on the outside, it will not be effective because all we do is reinforce the operations of the self.

But if we allow the Spirit of God to flow through us, we allow His presence to change and transform us – from the inside.

128. Building A Strong Spirit

newcolours

This diagram is based on one by Ian Clayton (sonofthunder.org)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

God wants us to come into that place of relationship and responsibility into which Adam would have matured if he had not sinned.

For that to happen, we have to build our spirit. If we are not strong in spirit, we will not be able to overcome and dethrone the soul.

We were created to be spirit, soul and body, with the spirit taking the lead. But because our spirit was dead to God, our soul has become accustomed to having its own way. When we are born again and our spirit comes alive, that has to change. The soul must submit to the spirit, but it will not do so willingly.

How to build our spirit

There are a number of things we can do to build our spirit. We will look at them in more detail later on in this series, but I will just list some of them for now:

1. Make sure we give God first place, first love, first priority.
2. Pray and sing in tongues.
3. Wait on the Lord and be still.
4. Meditate on the Word of God.
5. Praise and adoration, soaking in the presence of God.
6. Come to God and ask Him to build our spirit. Often we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).
7. Confess and call things into being. Call forth our spirit. Speak it out.
8. Persevere. You don’t build your spirit in a day.

abdominal-1203880_1280If you want to get fit and have rippling muscles in the natural, you have to go to the gym and train, session by session, week after week, until you build muscles. It is the same with your spirit. Your spirit grows stronger through exercise; spiritual exercises train and equip your spirit to connect with God, to flow in revelation, and to rule in your life. You have to persevere.

Desire, discipline, delight

If we give up on exercise, it is usually because we don’t enjoy the discipline. Discipline itself is not very pleasant. I would love to have a real six-pack, and the body of Mr Universe, but I have not got the discipline to go in and train myself to do it. It would take a lot of training, and I do not want it enough to submit to the discipline.

But what I do want enough is a strong spirit, and therefore I am willing to do whatever it takes to train it. I spend a lot of time training my spirit. Hours, every day, training my spirit to discern the words of God, to flow, and to build up my spiritual senses. You can do the same. There is nothing in the list above that you cannot do. It just takes practice and perseverance.

It starts with a desire, it takes discipline, and then it becomes a delight.

113. Two Resonating Testimonies

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

For the flesh sets its desire against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please
(Galatians 5:17).

Battle on the inside

As soon as we get born again, there is a battle on the inside.

The flesh and the spirit start wrestling for control. The soul and body have been calling the shots for our whole life, and they do not want to submit. All of a sudden, our spirit is alive and connected with God, God lives on the inside of us. So now we face choices, every day, every moment. Surrender our life to our spirit, or to our soul.

vibrations-545138_640Two resonating testimonies start to compete, and will create destructive interference patterns unless we consistently decide to choose one over the other.

The flesh does not want what our spirit wants, and vice versa. If we end up doing the things our flesh wants, our spirit is not happy (and God is not pleased either). Let’s be honest with ourselves: which is winning the contest? How much of each day are we living according to God’s purposes and plans for our lives, and how much are we just drifting through it, living according to the whims of our flesh? We need daily to surrender to the purposes of God for us.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23).

Living sacrifices

I have posted before about how we surrender ourselves as a living sacrifice, daily. As we do, we are transformed, so that we can come into our destiny.

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).

Our mind is not our brain. It is our subconscious, which is in our heart.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).

As we line up with the word of God, both with the scripture and with what He has written on our scroll of destiny, that will have an effect on the thoughts and intentions of our heart. Will those thoughts come from our spirit or from our flesh?

The choice is ours to make.

We’re taking part in #NaBloPoMo, a blog post every day for 30 days.

110. The Heart, the Blood and the Brain

Mike Parsons 
with Jeremy Westcott

heart-29328_640Our destiny was settled in God before we were born. But our soul and body grew around our scroll of destiny and it became lost, unable to be recognised. Our flesh is programmed by what it inherits naturally from our parents, and by its environment.

Today, our heart carries the record of our past. All those experiences and inherited characteristics which have shaped the way we think about ourselves are carried in the heart. If we are allowing that to affect us now, we need to get rid of it, see it healed, forgiven, be restored and transformed.

As a man thinks within his heart, so is he (Prov 23:7).

It is how we think about ourselves that will decide how we live. So when we allow God to purify our heart so that we can start thinking about ourselves the way He thinks about us, it will change the way we live.

The heart programs the blood, and the blood goes to the brain, and programs our thinking.

FreedomARC is taking part in NaBloPoMo – posting every day for 30 days during November 2013.

83. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#26-30)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott  

Joshua led the children of Israel into their inheritance. If we want to do the same, what kind of people should we be?

26 The Joshua generation will start to be known and get public attention.

news-426893_640Before the revival we experienced here in 2011, virtually no-one outside of North Devon knew we even existed. Suddenly, because of what God began to do here, all kinds of people noticed us, from all over the country, and began to look to build relationship with us.

And some of the other things which have happened since – not least Ian Clayton coming here, and then mentioning us wherever he went – have made us known in countries all over the world. This blog gets hits from the UK and Europe, but also from Africa, America, Australia, Russia and the Far East. Hundreds worldwide have joined our Engaging God programme, and thousands subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Who would have expected that? It certainly was not of our own devising. God has a reason for it. He wants us to help other people come into the revelation we have received, and He wants us to equip and enable them to enter into their own inheritance.

So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land (Joshua 6:27).

Now, ultimately none of this is really about our fame – it is about God’s fame. We are here to make God known in all the earth. But we will have public recognition along the way, and that will bring public battles. Those battles will happen because what we are bringing will cause a reaction both in the spiritual realm and in this one.

All sorts of criticism and all sorts of accusations will be made because of what we are doing. A lot of people do not understand, yet. They will say we are doing things by New Age or occult power. They said that about Jesus, too, and we need to be ready for it. We need to be confident in our identity and in the revelation God has given us. We will be in the public eye, one way or another. So we have to make sure there is absolutely no pride in what we do. We need to be humble. It is about what God is doing, not about what we are doing. It is all about Him, but he uses us. Therefore we must rule our house, and deal with anything of sin or iniquity in us, deal with any stumbling blocks in our own lives.

If we have a need for affirmation or recognition from men, we are going to have to deal with that, because it is affirmation from God that we really need. And if we do receive affirmation and recognition from people, let us receive it with thanks, but then go and trade with it on the trading floors of heaven. Go and cast your crowns before Him.

27 The Joshua generation will take a radical stand against sin.

Sin is going to get exposed. It is already happening, always has. But the whole angelic realm are going to become active in exposing sin.

Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.” … It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel (Joshua 7:13, 15).

We cannot have things in our midst which stop us standing in victory against the enemy. We need to see those things removed. That is part of the function of those gathering angels, who are removing stumbling blocks from among us. Purification, refining: the heat of God’s furnace is being turned up, in order to bring all the impurities in the gold to the surface. Then, when they are skimmed off, the surface of gold is an absolute mirror which is reflecting the glory of God. That is what our lives are there to do: to reflect the glory of God – to reflect what is in heaven – on earth.

We are coming into a time when the story of Ananias and Sapphira is going to become very important to understand. They lied to the Holy Spirit and dropped down dead. When we start to enter into these things which God is revealing, suddenly the levels of responsibility go up. And with more responsibility, certainly there is more authority and power – but the level of purity and holiness required to operate in that dimension also is greatly increased.

I am responsible to enter into the fire of God myself. And I am putting it out there for you too, but it is up to you what you do with it. I have discharged my responsibility, you must decide how you will respond. Are you going to enter the fire? Either way, the consequences are yours.

28 The Joshua generation will be careful to always seek counsel from God before making decisions.

It is dangerous for us to do things here on earth (going to and fro) without first having been in heaven. We must not do it.

So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them (Joshua 9:14-15).

They made a covenant with a people who tricked them, who pretended not to be inhabitants of the land, but to have come from a long way off. And Joshua did not lift up his eyes into the heavens to see. This covenant with the Gibeonites was a problem for Israel for generations to come. They made a covenant with the enemy, because they did not seek God first.

We must not make decisions based on what looks right. Looks can be deceiving. We cannot trust our natural eyes: we need to see in the realms of the spirit if we are to make right decisions. That will keep us safe.

29 The Joshua generation will put the enemy under their feet.

The enemy here is not people. We do not put people under our feet. We do not tread all over people. We do not tread people down. We honour and respect people. We bring people from captivity into freedom. That means we do cast out demons, we do demolish strongholds, we deal with a spiritual reality which is beyond what we see in the natural. We need to see the giants defeated, and the dragons, and all the other principalities and powers and rulers in those dark realms. So we have to put the enemy under our feet.

In this passage, the kings represent those rulers in the heavenly realms:

When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight” (Joshua 10:24-25).

Through the power and victory of the cross, Jesus made a public spectacle of all the demonic realms, and they are no longer in authority. We have authority over them. We may not yet have taken proper hold of that authority, but we are beginning to do so.

We have to rule over them, and put the rulers in those realms under our feet.

30 The Joshua generation will operate in great signs and wonders.

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar?  (Joshua 10:12-13a).

A supernatural event: time stood still. It gave them opportunity to defeat their enemy.

(The book of Jashar mentioned here, by the way, was excluded from the canon of scripture by the Nicene Council, operating under the authority of the Emperor Constantine. He did not want any of this stuff to be known, because he did not want ordinary believers to know they could rule. He wanted to rule, through the pastors in the church whom he paid; and that gave rise to the institutional structure that we still have to see dismantled today. Get the CD, as Ian Clayton says – he did a whole session on that. They tried and failed to get 1 and 2 Peter thrown out too, and the book of Jude (which says some very interesting things you don’t find elsewhere in scripture). Those books talk about entering these realms, about operating in authority and power in the heavenlies. But there are a whole lot of books that used to be regarded as scripture which did not make it into our canon because the enemy did not want them there).

And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel (Joshua 10:13b-14).

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

eg-homepage-crop

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.

80. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#16-20)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

God is raising up a Joshua Generation in our day: a generation who will enter into their inheritance and enable others to do the same. We have been looking at some of the defining characteristics of such a generation and considering to what extent those characteristics can be seen in our own lives.

16. The Joshua Generation will be obedient to God’s direction.

fear-441402_640Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).

We know our God, and love Him; and because of that we want to serve Him. We want to do everything He is calling us to do, and to do it out of our love, our passion and our desire for Him.

But we do need to be careful: with greater revelation comes greater responsibility. We cannot mess around with what God shows us. Ananias and Sapphira situations will take place again, and we should not be surprised if people who lie to the Holy Spirit drop dead as a result. If we are to operate in the fullness of God’s power in the coming days, then the level of holiness required of us is going to go up, off the scale. That is both because of the level of revelation we are beginning to enter into and because of the kind of people we need to be.

For those who hear, but turn back (rather than being ‘careful to do’), there is a danger – and we need to be aware of it. To avoid the danger, we must be ready to do all that God is calling us to do.

Yet not out of fear, but out of love.

17. The Joshua Generation will be prosperous and successful.

You see, if we are able to meditate and obtain that revelation from God, and if we are careful to do the things that God reveals to us, it will give us success. This generation are willing to press in and receive. We will learn to overcome and we will learn to prosper.

Prospering is not just about financial things: the word means ‘to succeed to the highest level’. And we need to succeed to the highest level in the spiritual as well as in the natural realm. If we are receiving wisdom and revelation to the highest level, then as a result of that we will be prosperous and successful. Everything around us may be falling apart, and it will do so when the world’s systems crash, but we need to be able to operate in God’s systems, in God’s kingdom.

The financial system is just one example of this, in which we may well need to learn to do miracles and to multiply things as Jesus did. Jesus told Peter to find a coin in a fish’s mouth to pay their taxes. There may be occasions when we too can do something like that and supernaturally find finance. And we must stop saying, ‘Oh, but that was Jesus’. Everything Jesus did, He did as a model for what we should do. He said we would do the things He did, and greater things (John 14:12).

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).

18. The Joshua Generation will know that they walk with God.

We need to walk with God as our daily lifestyle.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).

When we are walking on the path that God has prepared for us, when we are walking in our destiny, then we know God is with us. And we need to know what is our destiny, what is written on our scroll: and if we do not know, then we can ask God to show us.

Psalm 23 is a key to this lifestyle of walking with God. We need to know that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death – and to be honest, that is just daily life, really – that God is with us all the way. His rod and His staff (the word and the Spirit), they comfort us. He anoints us; our cup overflows. I want to encourage you to get hold of this psalm, to meditate on it and draw out the truth from it; because God is with us, and His goodness and mercy and lovingkindness will follow us, and will be identifying features of the way we live our lives.

19. The Joshua Generation will be equipped to prepare provisions, to live by faith.

Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it” (Joshua 1:11).

We have to be able to teach people to live under the provision of God. Each one of us is responsible to possess our own inheritance. We each need to be equipped with the weapons we will need, the revelation we need, the lifestyle we need. God will provide everything we need to take the land, to take possession of all that He intends for us and has promised to us. We need to know how to access that provision, to take hold of it for ourselves, and to teach others to do the same.

20. The Joshua Generation will equip the people to be consecrated (or sanctified) –  set apart, dedicated and holy.

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5).

This is where many of us are in the process. When Israel were at Gilgal they dealt with the things from the past, embraced fresh revelation of the truths they had lost sight of, and were set apart for the purposes of God for their generation.

Do you want to hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’? Do you want it said of you that, like David, you served the purpose of God in your generation? I do. I want to serve the purpose of God in this generation that I am called to be part of, and I believe that God wants to raise up a whole people who desire to do the same.

Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.

We are halfway through this mini-series on the Joshua Generation.
Let’s remember the questions we are asking:

  • Are you ready to be part of the Joshua generation?
  • Are you ready to be equipped by the Joshua generation?

If so, I urge you to get hold of these things and press in.
And over the next few weeks, we will look at the next 20 characteristics and begin to press into those too.

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

eg-homepage-crop

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.

53. Breaking off the Greek Mindset

Mike Parsons

Last time I shared with you a couple of PowerPoint slides relating to the Greek (Western) and Hebrew (Eastern) mindsets. This week I want to look just a little more closely at the contrast between them, and then I would like to pray for God to reveal where we are being robbed by our Western way of looking at things, and break it off us.

Separation vs unity

Here is the first of those slides again.


Let’s take these a line at a time.
In our Greek understanding, the goal of salvation is to escape this world and go to God’s dwelling place in heaven. So everything is focussed on what will be: very little about what is now. In Hebrew thought, the goal of salvation is to prepare a place fit for God’s dwelling here, among His people. He wants His kingdom to come on earth.
Linked with that, where does the kingdom of God exist? The Greek view says it is in heaven, not on the earth, whereas the Hebrew view is that the kingdom of God is God’s reign among people here upon the earth.
So is Jesus coming in order to take us away from this world? No, Jesus is coming to reign over and through us in this world. We need to focus on God’s kingdom being ‘now’, not separating it out. “Get your ticket now or you might miss the train”: that is, if we are honest, how many of us had the gospel presented to us.

And then: “Now you have your ticket, just hold on tight. In the end Jesus will come and rescue you”, rather than what Jesus preached: “The Kingdom of God is coming! It’s right here, right now! Get ready to serve the King and manifest the kingdom”.

Do you see how each misunderstanding arises from the previous one? Once you begin to go down the route prescribed by Western thought, you find there is more and more separation becoming entrenched in your thinking, and less and less of an understanding of the unity of God’s purpose.

Form vs purpose

If we look at the second slide, we can see how this works out in practice:

The Greek mindset looks at the form of something. For example, let’s take a tree. It has roots, a trunk, branches, leaves – that is what I mean by looking at its form. In the Hebrew way of thinking, it is more about what it is for. What is the purpose of a tree? To bear fruit. They are really not interested in the fact that it might have roots, a trunk, branches and leaves. Does it bear fruit? If not, it is of no value at all. Remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree that was not producing any fruit? It is the difference between an actual, practical outworking and just a mental, theoretical understanding.

So: Greek: what I do; Hebrew: how I do it. We can do lots of things from the wrong motive – but we know that God looks on the heart.

Greek thinking separates out our religious life from our secular life. Family, work, school, friendships on the one hand; and church on the other. But God wants His kingdom to be flowing through all of our lives, with no separation. There is no secular for us. Our lives are a whole, they are unified, and we bring the kingdom of God into everything.

In Greek thinking, the heavenly was separated from the earthly. There was no overlap. Bill Johnson wrote a book called ‘When Heaven Invades Earth’. Bottom line is, that is impossible in Greek thinking. But for us, we can live in both places: we live in the realms of heaven, and we bring that spiritual realm into our lives on earth, at the same time: not in the future but now.

‘Knowledge’ to the Greek mind is information. But to the Hebrew, you cannot know anything without experiencing it. It is all about knowledge through spiritual encounter. If all I am doing in this blog is imparting information to you, we are missing the mark. That is why from time to time I also include praying for you, which gives you the opportunity to encounter Him through the Holy Spirit and experience the reality of His truth for yourself (of course you can always pray these things through even when I don’t specifically include a prayer).

It’s not what you know, but who you know! We know God, but it is perfectly possible to read the Bible from cover to cover and have all the information, but never actually know Him. We need to encounter everything in the Word of God for ourselves.

Works, or grace. A creed or the deed. Stating what you believe, or actually living that way? Faith without works is absolutely dead. Jesus said, “If I do not do the works that my Father does, don’t believe me” (John 10:37). You don’t hear too many sermons on that verse.

We don’t analyse: we live. It is about who we are and what we do. God Himself says He is the I AM.

I want to pray now. If you think you may have any mindsets, any of the Greek way of thinking, we want to break that off right now.

[If you would like to hear an audio version of this prayer, click here.]

Father, I pray that the power of Your Holy Spirit will come.
Break any deception off our mindsets
Any way in which we have come under false doctrines,
False teachings, mindsets of the enemy,
Greek thinking that would cause us to separate our lives out.

I come, Lord, with the sword of Your Spirit,
To break that off our mindsets right now
In Jesus’ Name.
To be loosed from any control that the enemy has had over us
Through traditions of men and demonic doctrines
That put things into the future instead of the present;
That put things into heaven instead of on earth;
That have separated us out;
That have caused us to believe and not do.

I break those mindsets right now.

I break any doctrines over us that would hinder Your church
From pursuing and seeing the kingdom of God fill the earth
As it is in heaven.
Holy Spirit, come and reveal to anyone reading this
Anything which is a hindrance, an obstacle, a stumbling block
To our being able to fulfil our destiny as God’s people.
I pray that You would send gathering angels into our lives
To gather any stumbling blocks from us.
Gather them from our mind, gather them from our heart,
So that we believe and stand on the truth of Your Word
That through kingdom and covenant,
You are going to fill the earth with Your kingdom.
You are going to come back for a victorious, overcoming church
That has risen above every other thing.
Because ‘of the increase of Your kingdom there is no end’.

Empower us with the power of Your Holy Spirit
To take Your kingdom
And manifest Your kingdom through our lives,
Every day of our lives:
In work, in home, in our neighbourhood.
That we would manifest Your kingdom in power and authority
Doing the works that Jesus did.

I loose us from everything that would hinder us
From that fulfilment of Your purposes for our lives
In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Next time we are going to look at the end of the Old Covenant, and then we will move on to see what Jesus taught about the age to come.

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