BLESSINGS OF UNITY - THE CURSE OF DISUNITY
(Plus some sobering end-time issues)
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
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The issue for greater unity (cooperation in love for what God desires) in the Body of Christ, and the sad lack thereof ... is becoming of sobering concern. More and more of God's people are hearing from the Holy Spirit that God the Father's anger is growing white hot ... because to many Church leaders simply are more concerned about establishing their own little "empires" and maintaining control of those "empires" at the expense of what is more important to the heart of God. More about this a little further along in this writing ...
There have been moves by leaders in the Body of Christ at different times to move toward greater unity in working in harmony with the rest of the Body of Christ, but many of those efforts have fizzled simply because priorities were not clearly established at the very beginning and steadfastly followed as time went on. Let's examine those priorities.
If efforts by those in church leadership to work with other churches in the Body of Christ to move forward for the purpose of greater unity does not have as it's primary goal to win lost souls to Christ Jesus ... I can confidently tell you right now God won't move mountains out of the way for any "unity effort" to prosper very long. If the Body of Christ fails to realize that NOTHING takes greater priority with God than the winning of lost souls ... they have become spiritually blinded and are greatly and dangerously deceived.
Furthermore, I can also confidently say that the second most important priority of God is for the Body of Christ to walk in greater obedience to the Word of God in the area of holiness (admitting and conquering strongholds of sin in our life, in other words). Our heavenly Father forgives us for our sin when we ask Him to ... but how many of us want to actually take it a level higher, which is where God wants it taken, and walk in diligent repentance? Repentance means to do a 180 degree turn, and STOP SINNING!
Thus our priority always needs to be in this order: 1): Soul winning 2): Walking in greater holiness (allowing the Holy Spirit to conquer sin in our life; especially major strongholds of sin that keep us bound - repeating the same sin/s over and over) 3): Which includes: Discipleship of God's Word by it's proper understanding and application. 4): Deliverance and Healing, which makes for more healthy, effective disciples.
Fragmentation exists in the Body of Christ for several different reasons, but competition is the number one reason why. Here are some of the "weapons" Satan employs in breeding competition among the Army of our Lord Jesus Christ.
FEAR: Bishops and Pastors and Elders let fear rule their thinking if they are not careful. They fear losing control of their little "empire/s". Losing control means losing power.
TRADITION: "We've always done things this way. We're not going to change! Our denomination always does things this way. We're not going to change! We're doing what God wants and everybody else can change to the way we do things!
Our flesh absolutely hates change, and wouldn't you know ... Satan fully realizes that. Stubborn tradition will drive the Holy Spirit right out of your midst! The Holy Spirit likes freshness. The Holy Spirit likes creativity. The Holy Spirit likes doing spontaneous things in our midst simply because it brings Him great pleasure with springing delightful surprises on God's people (all for the ultimate purpose of accomplishing the Father's will however, not to just put on some "show"). Satan knows full well that the best way to stifle the Holy Spirit's delight in releasing creativity and spontaneity and ultimately power to do the miraculous in the midst of God's people when He desires is to slowly suck people into the cancer of tradition.
RELIGION: Once tradition has a hold over a group of God's people, then Satan can move God's people to an ever higher level of deception. What level might that be, you ask? Great question! To the level of RELIGION. To the cancer of RELIGION.
Here's Satan's number one victory when He is allowed to inject the cancer virus of religion into a group of God's people: It moves God's people away from vibrant, life-giving personal relationship with God to life-taking selfishness. Religion ends up twisting priorities in the mind's of God's people, and blinds Holy Spirit discernment and perception. Religion ultimately deceives God's people into being more concerned about what God can do for them ... rather than what is most important to God ... which happens to be lost souls, first and foremost, then secondly, discipling and equipping them as adequately as possible.
Religion unchecked pulls one into dimensions of spiritual pride. Religion will end up driving one to be more concerned about being "right" -- rather than admitting they may not have it all that much right afterall, but it doesn't require being so "right" to be used of the Holy Spirit to be fully engaged in helping win lost souls to Christ, does it?
Two of the primary reasons why the "religious" people of Jesus' day crucified Him was because they FEARED they would lose control of their little "empires", and Jesus kept exposing their hypocrisy - their spiritual pride - their selfishness - their burning desire to be more concerned about what they could get for themselves than what they could do to help the masses develop a more intimate and vibrant personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Saying it a little different way ... they did not care about being used of God to help establish God's Kingdom on this planet in governments nor in the individual lives of people. They allowed Satan to control them with the cancers of tradition and religion to build their OWN little kingdoms ... all for control and personal gain and outward show to have their ego's stroked.
Nothing has changed since Jesus was crucified and taken back to heaven regarding the strategy Satan has used to slow down God's plans for creating new heavens and a new earth, and Satan's sentence to the burning lake of fire. As long as the Body of Christ - and especially LEADERS in the Body of Christ - continues to allow Satan to inject them with the "religion cancer virus" ... the burning desire of God's heart keeps getting delayed. It is simply the nature of our sinful flesh to want to not lose control over our little "empire" once we have one. Our sinful flesh screams to be in control at all times!It is the very nature of Satan in micro form. Satan demanded his right to be in control of every "empire" he could steal away from God in times past. Absolutely nothing has changed about the burning desire of his heart. That burning desire is to STILL be in full control, and always STAY in full control. Our fallen, sinful fleshly nature is truly the very same as his. It never stops demanding its right to be fully in control -- to try to replace God's control, in fact!
Let's move to a different thought.
One of Satan's age-old strategies to conquer is by DIVIDING. Dividing breeds competition. Competition diminishes unity, rather than maintains it.
We've been doing things on a local level for so long in our own little church circles that we've just come to assume this must be the way God desires things to be. This should not be. Satan is the real culprit behind this fragmentation and his plan is to conquer or dilute by dividing. Dividing breeds competition. Competition diminishes unity, rather than maintains it. It's an age-old military strategy leaders have used since the beginning of time. Get people competing among themselves; competing so they can take over another's "empire" - ultimately ... and their army as a whole becomes weaker - less effective - less of a threat.
Let's go back in time, say nearly 2,000 years ago. If you were a "believer" back then, with an afflicted (sick) family member, you called for the elders of the church in that "city" or village, as James 5:14 said to do. You didn't have to go to a telephone directory and try to determine which local church you should call, hoping you could find just one local group of elders who still anointed with oil and prayed believing prayers over the afflicted, and fasted as needed to see God's power released by their efforts to deliver and heal. Rather, if you contacted one elder, you could expect him to contact the rest. One visible church existed in each city, represented by one group of recognized elders. With all that unity, no wonder James 5:14 is so matter-of-fact in getting results concerning the ill made well.
I simply can't hear God saying He wouldn't delight in seeing this happen again. Let your imagination run wild for the next several moments. Just imagine all of the Pastors (at least those who have been called by God to be Pastors, and not those who have been called of Satan to be "pastors" or their flesh did the calling, which is always useful for Satan as well) of a city of Church leaders coming together; say at least once a month, for the explicit purpose of being used of God to pray for the emotionally and physically sick of that city. Done by the Holy Spirit's leading with perseverance, trust, and expectancy and smothered in love for the desire's of God's heart . . . I know some incredible things would begin to happen. The eventual results would be that God would not only be delivering and healing many of the afflicted because of His compassion, many lost souls would come to Christ through it ... which would be the primary reason for coming together in the first place! (Spiritual wholeness always takes precedence over physical healing).
Many people in Christian circles don't realize the crippling effects all this fragmentation in the Body of Christ has even caused, simply because Satan has been so effective in deceiving people. Jesus made this incredible, insightful statement, found in Matthew 12:25: "A nation divided against itself cannot stand. A city or family divided against itself cannot stand."
A city divided against itself? Is it possible that the Body of Christ in our cities and communities has virtually become rendered powerless when it comes to the healing power of God being released, due primarily to our lack of unity, not to mention any degree of soul winning efforts being diluted and prayers over strongholds assigned to that city being rendered less effective?
Psalms 133 reads:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for the Lord commanded the blessing -- life forever.
Because the Body of Christ is more fragmented and disunited in most of our local communities than what many might realize, then wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that Psalms 133 might now read something close to this?"
Behold, how bad and how unpleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in disunity. It is like regurgitated sauerkraut upon the head, that ran down the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the hem of his stinky, holey designer jeans. It is like the oil slick of Hermon, and as the acid rain coming down upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord had to allow Satan to bring the cursing -- even great hindrance to the advancement of the Kingdom of God over communities and cities and individual people.
Great hindrance to the advancement of the Kingdom of God? Those are strong words, but I believe that is what is happening at large not only in our developed nations, but even lesser developed nations.
Regarding God's power to specifically deliver and heal -- what you are about to read is so important to grasp! Thank God He recorded this little tid-bit of information: Jesus went into His own hometown and could do only a few healings and no miracles, because of their unbelief (certainly not His!). (See Mark 6:5-6). Think of this: Unbelief shut down God Himself to do the supernatural. Because God honors self-will, God allows people to walk in doubt and unbelief. On a larger scale America and most nations of the world are now blanketed with virtually that same cloud of unbelief. Can the Spirit of God be expected to be able to do many miracles and healings with such strongholds of fear, doubt, and especially unbelief today? I perceive not.
I realize that in nations where there is such a small percentage of people who are true Christian believers that it is a lot more difficult for them to come together like it might be here in America and other nations where persecution has YET (as of 2007) to send most believers underground (into meeting secretly to worship together for great fear of their lives), so "one size does not fit all" in the preceding paragraph.
Once we begin to realize just how much doubt and unbelief, coupled with fear and ugly religion, covers our cities (which covers our local churches, which also covers you and I), and see that God is saying the best way we can reverse this is to come together as much as possible to a display of unity in the Body of Christ as the Holy Spirit leads. We can either do it willingly, or we can suffer the consequences if we refuse. I believe the Holy Spirit is saying the choice is ours.
Time is running out ...
Want to hear a sad fact? James 5:14 has almost become a lie in so many local churches across this country. Take a private poll in your city or community, and inquire as to how many churches anoint with oil by the elders on any regular basis for healing. Of the few that do, inquire about what kind of results they are getting. You'll be stunned. Now hear me please; that's not a put-down. It's just recognizing that once Satan can get people walking in a perpetual state of doubt and unbelief where a sufficient level of faith to see the power of God released to accomplish those healings has been stifled, it takes away the glory of God. Take away the glory of god for very long and you're walking on dangerous ground with God.
God's Word means what it says, but once Satan can make it of none effect through our unbelief of believing what it means it says, it becomes powerless. For most Christians, James 5:14 now comes across that way -- powerless, which is why they have to resort solely to the medical profession to seek healing (which can't do anything if one's problem is demonic in origin, which many times it is, by the way). This is not a put-down of the medical profession either. Thank God for dedicated doctors and nurses and professionals. They are instruments of God to bring about wholeness to people, for the betterment of mankind, but not the only instruments of God to bring about wholeness to people; especially God's people. God's chosen Elders were and still are the first group of people we (believers in Christ) are to be willing and eager to go to for relief from our afflictions. Once we've done that, God can direct from there, either through their counsel, or directly from the Holy Spirit to us if He so chooses.
Once again, how has Satan diminished God's supernatural ability to deliver and restore the afflicted? The same way he did it over the hometown of Jesus - primarily through doubt and unbelief. The end result has been that he has much of the Church disbelieving that James 5:14 means exactly what it says. For that same reason, those who do believe have a hard time getting into an atmosphere of faith where God can work. An atmosphere of faith will be built and maintained by Holy Spirit focused prayer and fasting, and helped be sustained by the sharing of fresh testimonies of others - especially those that have been delivered and/or healed.
You might want to tuck this away as something to pray and fast about regarding your own church leadership. Many Pastors and Bible teachers have become content to preach and teach people to death about healing and never seeing it happen much in their midst (though quietly they don't prefer it that way most likely). Sure there is need for wise, balanced teaching on deliverance and healing ... but the Holy Spirit wants to DO a whole lot more delivering and healing than what some of those Pastors and Teachers and Elders care to see, sadly. Jesus taught Truth, gave revelation and wisdom of Truth to his audiences ... all the while investing in His disciples to be fully engaged in being vessels for the Holy Spirit to use to pass along that Truth as well as bring about deliverance and healing in those they came in contact with in addition to preaching and teaching the Truth of the Word of God. Uhhhh ... somewhere along the line in these last 2,000 some years did God for some strange reason change that priority? Makes no sense to me why He would.
Let's say it another way. Did the Great Commission from Jesus Christ to His Church to go into all the world to make disciples change from kicking demonic strongholds out of people who were bound up in them to simply talk - talk -talk about it? The Kingdom of God is not just talk - talk - talk. Not just preach - preach - preach. Not just teach - teach - teach. It also pays whatever price must be paid to see the power of God released over demonic dominion in the lives of individual people who are destined to become Christ's disciples, and over rulers and those in authority who have the power to make and change laws as well as enforce them.
The Holy Spirit recorded in the Bible this prayer from Jesus: "Father, make them one, so the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17:21)
I feel the Holy Spirit wants me to leave readers with this thought. Suppose the Father will allow various forms of judgment to descend upon leaders, and many under those leaders, in the Body of Christ who simply refuse to give up some control of their little (or big) "empires" for the sake of working more in cooperation for the Father's good - not theirs - with the rest of the Body of Christ?
Suppose the Father may even start a grass-roots movement of the little "nobodies" in the Body of Christ to accomplish some things for God that leaders steadfastly refuse to do on God's behalf?
Suppose the Father may even return for those whose number one desire is to be more pleasing to God than anything else in this life and could care less whether they even HAVE an "empire" of their own ... and let a mass of "religious" folks suffer the pain of going through seven years of tribulation that they never really had to go through?
Suppose the Father might even let you be one of those five virgins who didn't have their lamp full of the holiness - obedient oil of God, and even after the tribulation when He returns for all the world to see, your eternity will be spent in hell rather than in heaven ... because your flesh demanded to control it's very own little selfish "empire" instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to have control of it?
We're talking here about matters of eternity, friend. Heaven and Hell. Favor and losing favor. Rewards and loss of rewards. Different degrees of punishment in hell.
The Holy Spirit is yelling: "WAKE UP CHURCH! THE FATHER'S ANGER IS GROWING!"
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If you would like to unite with God in what He is doing through this outreach and desires to keep on doing ... which is primarily to help reach lost souls ... your on-going Holy Spirit inspired prayers for us are the most important contribution to God you could make on behalf of this outreach. That's not just "religious hockem raw-raw sisboomba canned hype" saints -- we couldn't be more serious! The attacks upon us personally and against this ministry are not going to stop because Satan does NOT want ministries like this one encouraging born again believers to let God use their testimonies ... especially on the Internet. Video testimonies probably more than written, but God will use anything you give Him to use! You prayer warriors ... we believe our call is not just to publish testimonies as we've done in the past, but to help be a catalyst to motive OTHER believers to essentially duplicate what we are doing so that God has MANY outreach ministries publishing Jesus glorifying testimonies and keeping the gospel message of the cross ever before our audiences. Yet please realize something: PLEASE! Born again Christians are getting hammered by the devil to NOT write out and/or put their born again testimony on the Internet. We must NOT let Satan get away with this! So please, prayer warriors, keep praying that God motivates born again believers to write out and videotape their born again testimonies and get them up on the Internet for God to use. Appreciative born again testimonies glorifying Jesus Christ is the second most threatening thing to Satan there IS in reaching lost souls until Jesus returns. The first most threatening thing is that the Body of Christ would give themselves regularly to united CITY-WIDE PRAYER - bar none. When Jesus said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer"... he didn't say it was to be a house exclusively of preaching; teaching; testifying; praising, worshipping or anything else house, did He? We are God's house - God's living temple. His abode is inside born again believers. God unites with His saints through the intimacy of PRAYER (Conversation with our Creator) to accomplish His will on this planet, and when the Body of Christ begins to fully understand His wisdom of the Church placing UNIFED PRAYER at the very top of the weapons God has given us to battle evil, we will not fully grasp what God wants us understanding in regarding to: "Until we all come into the unity of the faith." Doctrinally agreeing on the same things is NOT going to happen, so that is not the "unity" God is talking about. If true Born Again believers can't agree that our individual prayer AND our united corporate prayer (not leaving this out of the battle equation as currently is on a global scale) is our primary weapon to fight Satan, then we've missed everything there is regarding coming "into the unity of the faith"!
This needs to be repeated to help it sink in: United - unselfish - Holy Spirit prompted, persistent prayer (not backing off until breakthrough is manifest) is the very most threating thing to Satan there IS. He KNOWS He is totally powerless against God when God decides to do something ... but Satan more than anyone else in the demonic spirit realm fully understands that if he can keep the Body of Christ from regularly being engaged in united CORPORATE PRAYER against his evil schemes ... he will continue to make advances and the Church will continue to diminish in influence and God may well delay the return of Christ BECAUSE of it with a great deal of unnecessary persecution of believers! God has sovereignly ordained the Body of Christ to work in united harmony with Him to execute His will on this planet, and Satan makes that his number one priority to try to keep from happening in any major way. Are we going to let him keep doing that, saints?!
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