Thoughts from Ryan’s Message August 26, 2016

Ministers of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 4:20 says that the kingdom of God does not consist of talk, but of power. What is it that divides churches? Is it talk or the power of God? Idle speaking and gossip will divide the hearts of men. Therefore, according to Ecclesiastes, let thy words be few. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. The key to activating the power of God is wisdom: believing action according to his Word. When we were born again of the spirit of the living God, we became citizens of heaven. Heaven is the country of our new birth. Not only are we citizens of heaven. Our sovereign Lord has also made us his ambassadors. An ambassador is the highest ranking government official sent by his sovereign Lord to represent his homeland in a foreign country. We are ambassadors for Christ. As ambassadors we are committed to represent our homeland, the kingdom of our heavenly King, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in a world of darkness. God has called us as missionaries to his mission. Our mission is to be ambassadors, wholly dependent upon God. We shall tear down everything that exalts itself against the truth of the Word of God. We shall love our enemies and our neighbors as ourselves. We shall lovingly plead with all people to be reconciled with God. We are empowered with the righteousness of Christ himself, for he who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him.

To come to the cross of Christ, the crossroads of life, we must give up the rights to ourselves. He who approaches the Lord must do so with a broken and a contrite heart. Pride cannot approach the throne of grace. To come to our Father through the cross of Christ we must offer our “declaration of dependence” on him alone. For he alone is our sufficiency…not that we are sufficient in ourselves, but our sufficiency is in him.

2 Corinthians chapters 3 through 5 says we are Ambassadors for Christ. What is it that makes us ambassadors? What restores our Christian character? What are our credentials as ambassadors? According to chapters three and four, The letter of the Old Testament law of sin and death kills, but the spirit of life in Christ in us gives life. Therefore we are ministers, not of the letter (of the law of Moses) for the letter of the law kills… It convicts of sin resulting in death. Rather, we are ministers of the law of the spirit that gives life. The law of the spirit of life in Christ is more glorious than the glory of the Ten Commandments, the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Everyone who witnessed the giving of the Old Testament law trembled at the glory of the Lord… the earth itself shook when God spoke to Moses. The children of Israel said, “Lord speak through Moses and we’ll obey.” The glory of the spirit of life in Christ is even more glorious than the power of God manifested at Mount Sinai. In Isaiah 30:15 who’s waiting? The people are not waiting for God, rather God is waiting on the people. He’s waiting for his people to repent…to turn from their wicked ways and unto him. God gave them his great and precious promises. Their choice was to follow the Lord and be blessed or follow the way of the world and suffer the consequences. The choice is truth or consequences.

Jesus said, “I am not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” The reason that Jews do not follow the New Testament law of the spirit of life in Christ is because they do not believe that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Old Testament law. They still believe that they are God’s “chosen people.” The “veil” was over their eyes in the Old Testament and they could not perceive the truth of the word of God. They believed that they could achieve righteousness and perfect themselves by following the letter of the law. They did not realize that they needed a redeemer who would shed his sinless blood on their behalf so that they would become the righteousness of God in him. They expected that the first coming of the Messiah would be as king of kings and Lord of lords to deliver Israel from the oppression of the unbelieving nations. They did not expect Jesus Christ to be born in a lowly stable of a peasant girl. Many of today’s Jews think that Christians are included with the world’s unbelievers who will not come to the aid of Israel when the world turns against them.

God has called us as his ambassadors to love the whole world. However, the whole world hates Israel in the midst of the spiritual battle. In order to love Israel we must love the law of God. According to the Old Testament, the nation that blesses Israel will be blessed. Those who curse Israel will be cursed.

God has called Christians who have been born again to fulfill the law of the Old Testament by living the law of the spirit of God in Christ in us. Therefore love God and love your neighbor. On these two laws hang all the laws and the prophets. God said, if you turn unto me with all your heart and all your soul, you will fulfill the law. Therefore there is now no condemnation who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. For the spirit of the life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.

As ambassadors, our homes are embassies. An embassy is a part of the ambassador’s homeland in a foreign country. In our embassies, we have diplomatic immunity from laws of the fallen world…the law of sin and death. The embassies of our homes are outposts for the Kingdom of Heaven in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom we shine as lights in a world of darkness.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

As ambassadors for Christ, ministers of the spirit, and representatives of our heavenly homeland, our mission is this: Give ’em heaven!

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Ryan Van Deusen’s Message August 19, 2016

Ambassadors and Embassies

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3: Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

Sometimes, you say it best when you say nothing at all. God has called us not only to deliver the message, but also to be the message: According to 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

God has called us to be Ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is the highest ranking government official sent from his homeland to a foreign nation to represent his homeland. As ambassadors, our homes should be embassies: outposts for God’s kingdom of heaven in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom we shine as lights in the world. Our credentials as ambassadors begin with 2 Corinthians chapter 3. Because of the credentials given us by our sovereign Lord, 2 Corinthians 5, says that we are ambassadors for Christ. He has given us the Word of reconciliation and has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. To reconcile is to put back together that which has been separated. We are not called to convince unbelievers about the Truth of the word of God with the right answers. As ambassadors, how do we communicate the message of Jesus Christ on his behalf? 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “we pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God.” Our message is to declare against the adversary and the powers of darkness what God has declared us to be: For he who who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God inn him.

The message of the gospel goes far beyond the self-fulfillment of the “prosperity gospel”. A prideful heart cannot approach God. To come before the throne of grace requires that we approach him with a heart of humility and meekness.

As Christ’s ambassadors we are ministers not of the letter but of the spirit which gives life. We shall tear down every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We shall walk by faith and not by sight. We shall love our neighbors as ourselves and we shall love others not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

As his ambassadors we must give up all rights to self sufficiency and independence. 2 Corinthians 3:5 says Not that we are sufficient in anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. Not of the letter for the letter kills but the spirit gives life through Christ. According to Jeremiah 17: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and maketh flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Therefore, trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path.

Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear any fruit. God through Jesus Christ has called us to die to self in order to live for him. Until you surrender your life to him, you cannot be his disciple. Those who approach God for forgiveness must leave their egos at the foot of the cross. If you value the things of the earth, you will not be blessed when you read the book of Ecclesiastes. The theme of Ecclesiastes is that the things of earth are vanity of vanities… Everything that is done in the flesh is worthless, it will come to naught. At the end of Eccleastes the conclusion of the book is that the whole duty of man is to fear, love, honor and respect God and to serve him and keep his commandments.

The gospel of prosperity in the flesh is contrary to approaching the throne of grace with a humble, broken and contrite heart. Salvation is about making me a captive Lord and then I shall be free. Salvation is to change lordships: I am no longer master of my own life, He is. According to Isaiah, in repentance is rest and my salvation. Repentance in the Greek means to turn around, it literally means to “change your mind” from the things of the world to the things of the Lord. Rest and peace with God is waiting for your repentance. Who’s doing the waiting? You’re not waiting on the Lord, He’s waiting on you. God is longing to be gracious to you…his nature is loving kindness and tender mercy. When we turn from ourselves and unto him, when we get out of the way of our selfish selves, God will grant reconciliation. Reconciliation means to put back together that which has been separated. Our selfish self sufficiency will separate us from the grace of God. Until we proclaim our “Declaration of Dependence” God cannot reconcile us back to himself. The greatest victory is the greatest surrender. I surrender all…God works best with nothing.

Like Gideon’s men who broke their pitchers so that the light of God could shine forth, Lord break our earthen vessels so that the excellency of the power may be of you and not of us. May we die to self in order to live for you… Thank you lord for your words in Romans 12: I beseech ye therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and wholly acceptable unto God, our reasonable act of worship.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message August 12, 2016

The Greatest Weapon

God doesn’t expect us to just receive his truth and revelation…he expects us to obey it. The word of God is to be lived “in shoe leather.” However, God does not ask for “blind obedience.” We must examine our heart for the motive behind the action. According to Ephesians 6, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. What is the greatest weapon in the battle? Love Wins. This concept is foreign to our sinful nature of the flesh and our personal sense of “justice.” Often we have difficulty finding where sin ends and love begins. The enemy hides in the darkness. He camouflages himself as an “Angel of light.” To target the enemy we must identify the enemy. The adversary’s goal is to turn our hearts to the “dark side.” If our motivation to fight the enemy is vengeance, retaliation, and retribution we have joined the “dark side” in the spiritual battle. Romans 12 says, “be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.” These are the “rules of engagement” in the spiritual battle.

According to John 1:4-5, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” The light is come into the world but the darkness resisted it because the heart of darkness was evil. The light Jesus Christ, shined in darkness and the darkness did not understand, perceive, or recognize him. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t even understand him. They deserted him in his darkest hour. He said to Peter, “before the rooster crows twice you shall deny me three times.” Jesus didn’t condemn Peter…He loved Peter with unconditional love, for Jesus understood Peter’s fallen nature.

Jesus had many harsh words for his disciples…he said that anyone who does not forsake his mother and his father and leave everything to follow me, he cannot be my true disciple. Jesus said that you should not only go one mile, but that you should go beyond the call of duty and go the second mile.

The adversary wants us to compromise…to settle for second best. However, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Where’s your heart? Why do you do what you do? What’s the motive behind your actions? To answer these tough questions God orchestrates situations where we must forsake our shame and our comfort zone in order to follow him. As Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Do you love me more than your fishing business, your fishing buddies, your money, your property, your family, and your worldly reputation? God has called us a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. He called us to reflect his mercy, grace and love. The greatest weapon in the spiritual arsenal is love. Righteous thoughts and righteous actions motivated by a heart of love are the things that matter to our Commander in Chief. God doesn’t want your stuff or your money, rather he wants your heart. You cannot win the spiritual battle apart from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, apart from me you can do nothing. To wield the sword of the spirit and to be a prayer warrior, our hearts must be transformed by connecting our hearts with his heart. He is the vine and we are the branches.

The sinful flesh of man cannot be “converted.” Conversion starts with the best weapon that convicts men’s heart. John 14-16 gave Christ’s disciples a new commandment: Love one another. Jesus’ standard of love is “even as I have loved you.” How did he love them? He didn’t love them because they were good. He didn’t love them because they deserved love. The new commandment meant that we are to love one another like he loved: unconditionally. Love others even though they are sinners like we are. Love them even though they violated my “human rights.” Love them even though they were unlovable and unforgivable. Our flesh may be angered. We may be overcome with so-called righteous indignation. However, be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.

When you wrong someone, ask forgiveness and make restitution. Love one another as Christ loved us. You’ll never tap into the power of God by reading and meditating. The power of God is manifest only by action according to His word. Believing works by love. Love energizes believing that appropriates the blessings of God.

Don’t get discouraged when the rooster crows. Don’t be surprised when you fall short of the glory of God. Discouragement is losing heart. However, from the heart of Christ in you, God will work in you and within you to will and to do of his good pleasure. When we walk in love we align our hearts with God’s heart. Jesus Christ came so that we may have peace with God. According to John 14:27 Jesus said, “peace I leave with you my peace I give unto you not as the world give the give unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.” Because we have peace with God, we can love one another as Christ has loved us. Love is the secret weapon… Love wins.

My God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message August 5, 2016

Let Love Win

Let Love Win. Submit yourself… Relinquish yourself to the power of the love of God. This is not a message, but rather a life. The weapon that Jesus Christ used to fight the darkness of a fallen world is Love. The world cannot comprehend unconditional love. Men of this world can only understand reciprocal love. Oswald Chambers said that men would make promises that they couldn’t keep. Therefore never expect men to be your friend but always be their friend. Never expect others to respect your time, but always respect theirs. The question is always, what would Jesus think and what would Jesus do? We need to unleash the love of God on a culture that is divided, angry and frustrated. If love wins, we have to allow the love of God to win, not our own selfish pride.

A man of God is not a man who never sins, rather he is a man who asks forgiveness when he stumbles and falls. Humility is to pray that God will send men into our life to correct us… to restore us to an upright position when we fall. According to Hebrews 12, whom the lord loves, he “chastises.” To chastise is to train with instruction in righteousness. Chastisement counteracts superficiality. We must confront our deep seated issues that turn our hearts away from the love of God. The “easy-believing” superficiality of “churchinanity” is counter to the pruning of our sinful natures that God requires of men of God. When Jesus asked Peter if he would desert him, Peter said “even if I have to die with you, I will never desert you.” Jesus didn’t say to Peter that he was an unfaithful man. However he knew Peter’s weakness, and said to Peter, “before the rooster crows twice you shall deny me three times.”

The problem with the church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation is that they had “left their first love.” What was the first love of the church at Ephesus? According to Ephesians 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Although they had good intentions the Ephesians’ priority was no longer in the right place…they had lost the intimate, abiding, and deep rooted experiential knowledge of the love of Christ. Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” They had lost their desire to keep in close proximity with Jesus Christ and be joined to the vine.

To walk in close proximity with our Lord, we must give up our right to “get even.” Human rights are often spiritual wrongs. Jesus asked Peter three times “do you love me unconditionally with the love of God?” Peter responded, “I’m your friend, I’m fond of you.” The third time Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me like a brother?” Peter said I love you with brotherly love.” Until the day of Pentecost, Peter was not able to die to his own pride and to love Jesus unconditionally.

To walk in fellowship with Christ, we cannot make excuses. It’s easy to blame others. However, we need to find our identity not in ourselves, but only in Him. If our heart’s desire is to spend the rest of our lives journeying to become just like Him, this is a prayer that God yearns to answer. Everything else will not matter, it will come to naught. If the whole world hates you, will you still follow him? The one who endures to the end will be saved. If you’re willing to compromise with the the world, you cannot be a faithful servant of Christ. Unless a man is willing to forsake his earthly family, he cannot be a true follower of Christ.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the first message to the Christian church in Acts chapter 2. What changed Peter? Peter had changed Lords. He was no longer lord of his own life. He had been born again of the spirit of the living God. He had received power from on high and had been baptized within the power of the Holy Spirit.

The point of decision is to let love win. According to Colossians 3:14, above all things put on charity, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, for this is the bond of perfection.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Mike Ryan’s Message July 29, 2016

Perfecting Power, Surpassing Power, and Abundant Power

Hebrews 12 says that everything that can be shaken will be shaken. We’re entering a period of shaking in the United States that we have not seen before. According to the Word, only the things that are eternal will last. How do we hold on to the things of eternity? We must allow the power of God to work within us by aligning our actions with His Word.

Jesus addressed the Sadducee’s who created a scenario to trap Jesus in a legal question about marriage in heaven. Jesus said, “you are mistaken, for you do not understand the scriptures or the power of God.” We do not lack for scriptural knowledge. However, we are lacking in the power of God in our lives. According to 1 Corinthians 4:20, For the scripture does not consist in words alone, but in the power of God. Luke 4:36 says “And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

How well does the generator work if the power goes out? First you have to flip the switch to turn on the generator. Likewise Christianity does not work until you tap into the power of God. The solution to the problem of the sin that binds you is an encounter with the power of God. Deliverance from life’s problems is not going to meetings or attending church. It is not listening to sermons and thinking about the bible. The deliverance is in the power of God. According to Thessalonians, the gospel came not to you in word only but in power and in full conviction of the Holy Spirit.

To remember how to tap into the power of God, remember the acronym PSA: Perfecting power, Surpassing power, and Abundant power.

Perfected Power: power is perfected in weakness. The world says to get the weakness out. However the Word says that the strength of God is perfected in my weakness. God brings us to the place that we are weakest so that he can say, “my grace is perfected (nothing lacking and complete) in your weakness.” Paul said this by revelation in the midst of his persecution and humiliation.

Surpassing power: 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency (surpassing greatness) of the power may be of God and not of us.” This is because Jesus said that whosoever loses his life for my sake shall find it. If any man comes to me he must take up his cross daily and follow me. The surpassing greatness of the power of God empowers us only when we die to self so that we can live for him. We receive the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead when we confess Jesus as lord of our lives. By confessing Jesus as lord and believing that God has raised him from the dead we are born again into the life of the spirit of God in Christ in us.

The superhighway to intimacy with God is humility and generosity. Don’t say no, say yes to his holy spirit to tap into the power of God.

Abundant power. A generator’s power has a limited capacity. However, according to Ephesians 3:20, God’s power is exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think. “Think” in this context means to ponder. His power is beyond what we can even ponder. This is the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to overcome anything that stands against us.

Paul said, “for this purpose I also labor striving (to contend in a contest to struggle strenuously) according to the power of God which mightily works within me. According to Philippians 2:13, For it is God who works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

In Mark 4, Jesus said “if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” With God, all things are possible. There is nothing too difficult for God… difficulty is inversely proportional to the power used to overcome the difficulty. How big is your God? Remember PSA: God’s Perfected power, His Surpassing power, and His Abundant power. Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,