Leadership 101: Holding On To The Prophetic Word Given To You

I believe life to be a struggle. And I think its that way because that is the way God designed it. He wants us to struggle so as to encourage us to put our trust in Him. When things go smoothly, its much more difficult to admit your need for Him. But when things are falling apart, you are forced into His arms confessing your need for Him.

In leadership, there are points in your journey that God purposely puts there to reawaken the leader to his need for God. Sometimes a leader can become so reliant on their giftings that they will rely more on themselves than they do on God.

Godly leadership must always come from a heart of knowing that we are utterly dependent on God to accomplish his calling in our lives. When we take the calling that He has given to us and try to accomplish it in our own strength it will always fail.

Think about the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Abraham was given a prophetic promise from God – a calling. God had given Abraham and Sarah the promise of a son and truly more than that, a promise of offspring that would be innumerable.

But after years of believing for that promise, they began to doubt. It was not a lot of doubt, but they began to doubt. And when doubt creeps in, one of the tendencies in leadership is to try to “help God out” and in our strength try to bring about the promises of God rather than waiting for God to fulfill what He has promised us.

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What Does It Mean to Work Out Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling?

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

The Bible is filled with tough verses to interpret. Many verses are tough even for seasoned Biblical scholars. If you have been a Christian for any length of time you know that we believe that salvation is not works based. Meaning that no matter how hard you try, you cannot work your way into right standing before God. Your good works are as dung before God. He accounts them as nothing. We need the perfect work of Jesus Christ to be counted as holy, so as Christians we put all of our faith in Him and his finished work on the cross of Calvary.

In light of that, this verse in Philippians can be a tough one to figure out. At first it seems to imply that our salvation is based upon what we do. But this is not what Paul is saying at all. If you have read Paul’s letters, he clearly states that salvation is not based on works, but on faith alone in Christ alone.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

So Paul is not saying that we need to work for our salvation. What he is saying is that our salvation is working in us and it is our responsibility to let that process work through us. It’s not a completed process. So Paul is encouraging us to work out our salvation.

In one sense our salvation is complete. Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross. He died for our sins. That is complete. But in the sense Paul is speaking of here, our salvation has not worked out completely in us. Salvation is a process. Once the process is started in our lives, salvation links up with sanctification. The reason these two link up is to work in us and to make us more like Jesus. The goal of salvation is not simply to save us, but with the process of sanctification, it is to conform us into the image of Jesus.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” – Romans 8:29

Now the question is how are we to work out our salvation? Paul says “with fear and trembling.” Now why do you suppose he uses these two words to describe this process? I believe it is because that is how we enter into the kingdom in the first place. Remember, God does not give grace to the proud. The fear of the Lord produces humility in us and that holy fear is what Paul is referring to in this passage.

Once we are saved, we can become so comfortable with God, that we forget to have reverence toward Him. While the Bible encourages us to approach his throne with confidence, that doesn’t mean that we throw out any reverence for His name and who He is. We must always remember that we are drawing near to a holy and perfect God. He has grace and love towards us, but we show our love toward Him by showing Him respect. So Paul encourages us to work out our salvation with this fear in mind.

The Fear of God Produces Change

Some people fear change. They love the normalcy of life. They look at life and hope that everything will always stay the same. They do not embrace the many changes in life. After all, if things are good, why would you want things to change?

I heard a wise person say once that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. Or another way of looking at that is that the only thing in life that stays the same is change. Change always happens around us. We grow older, we get married, we have children, our children grow up, we retire — things change.

Change is a healthy part of life. We enjoy the benefits of new seasons in our life because of change. For example, when my wife and I first got married, I wasn’t sure it could get any better than those first few years! We lived in a condo on the water and we spent our evenings taking walks down by the water with our little dog. It was very picturesque. And even though we both worked a lot, when I was home, it felt like we were on vacation together.

But change is inevitable. We knew we couldn’t stay in the place forever. We wanted to own a house and have children. So we moved and had four wonderful children and they brought us even more joy than we could have imagined. So things changed around us, but God was good to us in the change.

Now external change is one thing, but internal change is another. Internal change, or change in the heart, is much harder to come by. I’ve known people will a lot of self-inflicted problems get fed up and decide to move to a different city. What they soon find is that their problems have followed them to their new destination! They never addressed the internal issues, so the change in external situations didn’t result in the happiness they were seeking.

Now in church, we are no different. Many people hop from church to church and are full of complaints. They leave one church because of some minor issue that they have blown out of proportion when in reality, the real problem is not in the church, it’s inside themselves.

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What is the Fear of the Lord?

After writing on the spirit of fear for the past few posts, I wanted to spend some time discussing a holy fear – The Fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is mentioned throughout the Bible and many people get confused about it.

We live in an age when it’s popular to tell others that “you have a friend in Jesus.” And while, this is absolutely correct, its still incomplete. We do have a friend in Jesus, but we should also have a deep holy respect for who He is – the Lord of all creation.

It’s an easy pitfall to become too casual with God. While we are his friend and through prayer we can talk to him as Moses did – like a man talks to his friend (Exodus 33:11), we are also supposed to fear Him. The Bible is quite clear about how important this is, yet we typically ignore these passages.

“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.” Proverbs 19:23

In Church, we hear pastors preach on the fact that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly, but most of the time, we don’t hear them connect it to this verse. In order to find that life that they are speaking of, we must embrace a holy fear. The fear of the Lord leads to life. That means in order to get to that abundant life, we must first walk down a path of fear, but this isn’t your ordinary fear.

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The Fear of Man

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25

There are many fears, but the fear of man, is one in which everyone has to do battle with on some level. Fear is a spirit and one of its key elements is distrust. Fear seeks to sow seeds of distrust into your heart. These seeds, when they are allowed to grow, form into a fruit known as the fear of man.

When we read the Book of Acts, one of the things that strikes me the most is that the disciples prayed for boldness constantly. They even prayed for boldness immediately after showing great amounts of boldness by preaching in a certain place and getting arrested. In Acts 4, we read about the arrest of Peter and John after preaching with boldness in Solomon’s Portico. The inspiring part of this story is that while they showed great amounts of boldness in front of the Sadducees, the first thing they did when they got released was to pray for more boldness.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” – Acts 4:29. The disciples knew that boldness was something that ebbed and flowed. It is a constant battle to fight against fear. The fear of man seeks to silence you. We know this to be incredibly dangerous because this is one area in which the gospel is spread. We spread the gospel by speaking it, by preaching it, by teaching it and by singing it.

As we look across our culture today, the fear of man permeates everything. We have cancel culture, we have people who are being deplatformed and we have people who are simply ostracized for speaking an opposing point of view. And while most of this in the US is centered around politics, it has certainly affected the mindset of all people and kept them from sharing their opinions openly.

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Fear Is a Liar…

Fear is a liar.

It should come as no surprise to us that fear, which is a spirit, would partner with other spirits when attacking us. The spirit of fear loves to partner with a lying spirit when trying to attack the children of God.

Fear’s power comes from it’s ability to control you. What better way to control someone than to lie to them? Fear wants to control you. And it does that through deception.

There are a couple of interesting things about lying. The first is that lies typically have some element of truth in them. In order for a lie to be believable, they must at least appear real. If someone says the sky is green, you simply dismiss whoever said it. The lie must have an appearance of truth.

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Return To Your First Love: An Overview of Ephesians

Personal update: For those that do not know, starting December 1, I was named pastor of a local church here in North Carolina. And it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve not had time to devote to the blog or podcast because of this process. I am currently serving as pastor and working full time and that leaves very little time for everything else. I’m going to continue to update this as much as possible and may just be posting mainly portions of my sermon notes for the foreseeable future. I appreciate your prayers and understanding. Much love – Brian.

The city of Ephesus is located in Modern day Turkey. It was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and it was home to one of the seven wonders of the world – the Temple of Artemis. Rather than looking in Ephesians, we are going to start our study in the book of Acts, chapter 18.

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,[d] he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c] 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Here we see what happens in Ephesians…Apollos starts preaching there and winning converts. Aquilla and Priscilla explain things to him a little more. Later he takes off to Corinth and the Apostle Paul shows up and starts baptizing people in the Holy Spirt. The Apostle Paul stays there for two more years preaching the word to Jews and Greeks.

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Spiritual Gifts: Word of Knowledge

You are Amazing! (1)

In this episode, we are continuing our study on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This week we discuss the gift – words of knowledge. This gift is a spiritually empowered gift where the Holy Spirit reveals knowledge to an individual to edify the person and the church. In our good news segment we discuss an NFL star who is calling people to stand up to abortion. The Jat of India are our Unreached People Group. And Today’s Word is about Jesus being the Bread of Life.
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The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy

More Than I ShouldIn this episode of the Everyday Jesus podcast, we look at the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is scary for a lot of people and this week I look to calm your fears on this important gift. Our Good News is about a survey that says regularly attending church makes people happier. Our Unreached People Group is the Dhobi of India. And in Today’s Word, we look at the testimony of Jesus Christ.

“20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.” 1st Thess. 5:20-22 Continue reading “The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy”