Grace Versus Maturity
There are so many gifted people out there. God has anointed His people with various gifts, graces, abilities and talents. There is one question though? Are people with great gifts better than more seasoned Christians who might not be equally gifted but have been walking with the Lord a lot longer. For example, a young Christian of say 22, saved radically by God and called straight into a wonderful ministry and manifesting fruitfulness in souls being saved by their thousands, numerous signs, wonders and miracles taking place after the first few years might still not be as mature in the faith as an 80 year old who has been walking with the Lord for 50 years, faithfully serving the Lord and doing all God has called him to do. The young man can still learn from the 80 year old provided the older Christian is mature in the faith. Am I saying age determines Spiritual Maturity? Absolutely not!!! There are 50 year old Christians who are really 3 years old in the Spirit while there are 3 year old Christians who are 75 years in the Spirit. Spiritual Maturity is determined by many factors but the foremost are hunger, desire, passion and pursuit of the things of God. So the degree to which you pursue God, will be the degree to which you mature in Christ.
In getting back to the Grace Versus Maturity issue, it is important to note that the most gifted individual might not be the most mature. People with great gifts are put on a pedestal by man and highly praised at the height of their powers but severely criticized when they fall. People seem to forget they are only human!! Very much how the press treat celebrities. Massively Celebrated one day and harshly crucified the next. We need to understand highly gifted individuals are only human capable of the same weaknesses as everybody else and they must not be worshipped or unfairly expected to be perfect. When gifted men fall, could it be due to maturity (That’s not always the reason for a mistake) or some other weakness? What I really want to address in this blog has to do more with the fact that a gifted person being used mightily by God is simply functioning in the grace, destiny and purpose God has planned for them. This is a free gift (Grace). They haven’t worked for it, they haven’t earned it. It’s simply a divine endowment from Heaven. Maturity, however, takes time and effort. Maturity also needs to be attained by grace. For without the grace of God, we can’t grow in Christ. Maturity, does not just come on you as a gift. Indeed, when a baby is born, he or she is a baby first, then a young child, a young adult and then a full adult. The scripture gives us this outline too. When we are born-again, we are as new born babes (Jn.3:3, 1.Pet.2:2, 1.Cor.3:1) and then we must grow to be little children (1.Jn.2:12), then grow into young men (1.Jn.2:14b) and then fathers (1.Jn.2:14a, 1.Cor.4:14-15). It takes time for a person to grow from childhood to manhood. Grace, gifting and endowment comes from God from birth physically and spiritually. There are certain gifts and talents we are born with and there are some imparted at New Birth. It’s freely given and predetermined by God according to His Sovereign grace. Here are 5 factors highlighting some similarities and differences between Grace and Maturity:
- Grace is a free gift from God (Eph.2:8) while maturity needs to be cultivated (Phil.2:12)
- Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17), nothing to do with man. Man could never institute Grace but Maturity involves the co-operation of man. To mature we need to actively pursue, hunger, thirst and desire (Matt.5:6, 1.Pet.2:2).
- From Christ’s fullness, we receive Grace upon Grace (Jn.1:16). Nothing to do with the fullness of man, man is incapable of fullness because of imperfection anyway. Maturity comes line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (Isa.28:13) and it comes in stages, first the stalk, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear (Mark.4:28).
- By the Grace of God we are who we are according to the Apostle Paul – 1.Cor.15:10. We are saved by Grace but that Grace comes on us for a specific purpose. Paul was saying He was what he was by Grace but he had to develop that grace so that grace was not in Vain. By Grace he was saved and that grace was upon him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. That Grace then enabled him to labour more abundantly than the other Apostles. The fact that Paul had to labour in this verse means he had to cultivate, nurture and develop the grace that was upon him. In other words, he had to allow God to mature the grace upon his life. Here we see the need to bring Grace to Maturity.
- We Mature as we feed on the strong meat of the Word according to Heb.5:14 but we also need the Grace of God to grow and mature -2.Pet.3:18
In referring back to the initial point of gifted and charismatic (A word derived from the Greek for Grace – Charis/Charisma) individuals not necessarily being the most mature, it is important to note that gifted men can fall, we must be gracious, understanding and loving; knowing they are only human beings gifted by grace on the journey to maturity in Christ.
Since grace and maturity are so linked and inter-twined, one could conclude we need Grace to Mature and the more we mature in Christ, the more grace is multiplied to us (2.Pet.3:18).
As important as grace is to the Christian faith, after salvation, maturity should be our goal – Being conformed to the stature of the fullness of Christ is the end goal for the five-fold ministry of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (Eph.4:11). They are given for the perfecting of the saints (Maturity of Character), the work of the ministry (Maturity of Service) and for the edifying of the body of Christ (Corporate Maturity) – Eph.4:12. Until we come to the unity of the Faith, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Full Maturity -Eph.4:13). So we need the Grace working through the 5-fold Ministry to bring the Body of Christ to full Maturity.
In the light of all the above, a gifted young minister still needs a mature father or mother in the faith to provide counsel, mentorship and spiritual cover no matter how gifted he or she might be. In the same way, a mature father or mother in the faith should respect the grace and gifting on a young minister and be available to the young man or woman for support, encouragement and motivation. The older Christian must not be jealous, dismissive and judgemental while the young minister must not be proud, conceited, self-sufficient nor self-deceived. Both need each other for challenge and encouragement.
2017 is the Year of New Beginnings:
The new Super-Hero E.P is out now. Get your copy by clicking on the image below:
TIME TO SWIM DEEPER
God showed Ezekiel waters flowing out from under the House of God and the waters reached to the ankles first and he was led out 1750 feet and the water came up to his knees and another 1750 feet and the water came up to the waist and another 1750 feet and the water was deep enough to swim in (Ezek.47:1-5). God is calling us to take a dive into the River of His Spirit, into the River of Life. He does not want us wading in the shallow end, staying in the outer court or the fringe of the action, on the periphery of what God is doing today.
The places to which the waters come up are indeed symbolic. God wants His River to come and affect certain areas of our lives. Firstly, the River came up to the ankles. The ankles support the sandals of the gospel of peace (Eph.6:15). God wants to touch our evangelism with His River of living water. When people first get saved, they are usually on fire for God wanting to share the good news of the gospel with everything that moves. God wants us to re-capture that zeal, hunger and passion to tell others about Him. But we need a touch of His Spirit to take that message out afresh with renewed vigour for it’s not by power, not by might, it’s by His Spirit (Zech.4:6).
The next part the river comes up to is the knees. The knees speak of prayer (Ps.95:6, Eph.3:14, Acts.20:36). Remember, how much time you spent in prayer after you first came to Christ. If you are slumbering and flagging in prayer God wants to touch your prayer life with the Rivers of Living Water. He wants to make your prayer life vibrant, refreshing and alive by touching you by His spirit.
The River next came up to the waist. The waist speaks of what holds up the belt of truth (Eph.6:14). God desires truth, honesty and integrity in every area of our lives. That begins with knowing the truth of God’s word, standing for and upon the truth of the Word of God. From holding on and holding up the truth flows integrity and honesty. God desires truth in the inward parts according to Ps.51:6 which means we need to be utterly and totally transparent with God and we need to speak truth to our brothers and sisters in Christ (Eph.4:25). We need the Spirit to touch us afresh and infuse our hearts with passion for the truth of God’s word and speaking the truth to one another in Love (Eph.4:15)
Then the River was deep enough to swim in. God wants us to throw our whole being into the River of His Spirit. God wants all of us. He wants to use every part of our lives. Our head, our arms, our hands, our legs, our hands, our eyes, our mouths. God wants all of us, not just a part. God does not want a part of us, he does not want us to hold anything back, hang back in any way or refuse to throw all of us into the thick of the action. He is not satisfied with a little bit but he wants all of us.
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A SPECTACULAR MINISTRY VERSUS A SINCERE HEART
Paul wanted the Corinthians to be proud of him and his team so they can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than a sincere heart (2.Cor.5:12). What would you rather have? A Spectacular Ministry or a Sincere Heart? A Spectacular Ministry could mean thousands of souls being saved, people being healed, miracles and gifts of the Spirit breaking out, communities being transformed, people being delivered, marriages being restored and nations being impacted. These things aren’t necessarily bad, in fact they are quite good and should be desired. They should not be an end in themselves though. A Sincere Heart could mean serving God with all our hearts, soul, body, mind and strength. A Sincere Heart could also mean doing things to the glory of God, serving God out of humility, sincerity, love and gratitude. Serving God out of a Sincere Heart could also mean having a pure motive and not serving out of pride, vain-glory, glamour/lime-light seeking and showmanship.
Some individuals have the gifts to possess a Spectacular Ministry but lack the Sincere Heart to sustain the Ministry. It’s the common adage of your gift taking you where your character cannot keep you if you’ve got a bad attitude, the wrong motive and wrong heart despite being very gifted. The Spectacular Ministry could be seen as the gifts while the Sincere Heart could be seen as the Character. To achieve balance, we need a Sincere Heart and a Spectacular Ministry.
As human beings, we tend to focus more on the Spectacular Ministry rather than the heart but God says Man looks on the outside and God looks at the heart (1.Sam.16:7). God pays more attention to the heart than to the outside. This reminds us of why some people would say in the last day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied, have we not cast out devils and done many wonderful works in your name and the Lord would say to them – I never knew you, Depart from me you workers of iniquity (Matt.7:22-23). God is obviously interested in more than Prophecy, casting out devils and wonderful works. He wants to know us!!! The way He gets to know us is by searching our hearts as David prayed – search my heart and know me, search my heart and know my thoughts and see if there is any wicked way in me lead me in the way everlasting (Ps.139:23-24). Does that mean spiritual gifts and Spectacular Ministries are wrong? Of course not. God told us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts and not to forbid speaking in tongues (1.Cor.14:39). When the Lord sent His disciples out in Matt.10:7-8, He told them to go and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils. The same commission is still for us as Disciples of Today. All these were evident in the Ministry of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul and the Early Church and the Lord is still doing these things today.
God does not want us to go after a Spectacular Ministry at the expense of a Sincere Heart and He doesn’t want us to concentrate on a Sincere Heart at the expense of a Spectacular Ministry. The best combination would be to have a Sincere Heart coupled with a Spectacular Ministry. Amen
I have just been on a Mission to the Philippines from the 12th to the 20th of February. You can see a Video Summary in the Movie above. God caused it to rain after 3 months following the Prayer and Intercession of Faith. The Lord gave me the Word to preach from 2.Chron.7:1-3 about the Fire falling which was in line with the theme of the Conference – “Catch the Fire” – which was unknown to me. God touched many after I preached from 13th to the 15th as many were slain in the Spirit, the Pastor saw fire in my face through a Vision, there were prophecies, 42 people got saved as we engaged in Evangelistic Outreaches through me Preaching & rapping and the Go Gospel Go Rescue Band and the Bible School Students ministered in Koronadal City and Norala.
On the way back from the Mission, I thought my flight from General Santos Airport to Manila was going to be at 11.00 am but on getting there, I found out it was meant to be at 9.05 am to arrive at Manila for 11.00 am, hence the confusion. The Pastor and her team had already seen me off and said their good-byes so I was alone at the Airport by this time. I was told I had to get a replacement ticket as the previous one had been forfeited because of my mistake. I only had 1,400 Filipino Pesos on me as God had led me to give away the 5,000 Pesos I had on me during the trip to cater for different needs He had opened my eyes to while I was at Koronadal City. I started to pray in tongues fervently asking God to get me out of this sticky situation. While I was pacing up and down and praying, a Taxi Driver came up to me asking whether I needed a Taxi, I told him I was trying to get through to my Contact and friends but my mobile would not work for making phone calls in the Philippines. He offered me his phone and I was able to speak to the Pastor asking her to come as I had missed my flight. Before the Pastor got to me, the Taxi Driver asked me what I was doing in the Philippines and I told him I had been on a Mission. He asked me what denomination I was from and I told him. It turned out that the Taxi Driver was also a Pentecostal Pastor and heard me praying in tongues!!! Halleluyah!!. When the Contact Pastor arrived, I was told that when she hung up from taking my call, she got a text from her husband’s cousin who lives in Canada and he had sent 5,000 pesos so that effectively paid for my flight to Manila. My ticket from Manila back to the U.K was still valid as my flight back to the U.K was not until 10.30 pm in the evening. So there was enough time to catch my connecting flight from Manila to the U.K. Praise God for this miracle!!!
I WOULD RATHER BE KNOWN AS A MAN OF LOVE THAN A MAN OF KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge puffs up but Love edifies. It’s so easy to acquire knowledge by reading, studying, researching and comparing notes. Since the advent of the internet, it’s never been easier to acquire more knowledge through websites, social media, blogs and webinars. But all that knowledge will be of no use if it’s not applied in Love. We are told in 1.Cor.13:4 that Love is not puffed up or proud. Am I saying knowledge is wrong? By no means!!! The Bible admonishes us time and time again to acquire knowledge (Prov.1:1-7 & Prov.2:1-7). There’s nothing wrong in getting degrees, Masters or PHDs. The main thing here is not to get proud or puffed up by the knowledge that we disdain and despise others or think we are better or superior because of the mere fact we are knowledgeable. Such an attitude is against the life prescribed in 1.Cor.13. If we are walking in pride and arrogance, we are out of Love. The saying “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we actually care about them” comes to play here. People respond to Love first before they respond to knowledge. Let us acquire knowledge by all means but let love be the motivating factor behind the knowledge. Let Love be the fuel and vehicle through which the knowledge is used.
True Agape Love edifies according 1.Cor.8:1 but knowledge puffs up. Genuine, pure and undiluted Love according to 1.Cor.13 edifies and builds up while arrogant, boastful and displaying knowledge that puts people down is detrimental to the Body of Christ. Puffed up knowledge ascribes glory to self and the pride of life while edifying love brings Glory to God and encourages the Body. Amen
WORD FOR 2016
I believe 2016 will be a year for increased Boldness, Authority, Signs and Wonders in Jesus’ Name according to Acts.4:29-30
Currently embarking on Church-Planting for from my local church called Kimmel Bay Church into a place called Bodelwyddan. We just started a house group and we are looking to get into the Hospital, School, Town Council and local Pub. Please pray for open doors.
GOD’S ON THE MOVE AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE!!!
I had the privilege of being involved in evangelistic missions over the summer in Llangefni, Carmarthen, Llangoed, Sandycroft, Baja in Hungary and Gwalchmai over the summer serving on various Mission teams and we saw over 70 people saved of which 80% were young people . Praise God
Jesus was called upon to go and minister to Jairus’ daughter who was ill and close to death. On the way, the woman with the issue of blood grabbed the hem of Jesus’ garment and received her miracle. Jesus had time to ask who touched him and speak to the woman. Jesus was not too focused on going to minister to Jairus’ daughter that he didn’t have time for the woman with the issue of blood (Mark.5:21-43). We must be like Jesus. We must minister like Jesus and have compassion for the sick, the poor, the broken and hurting like Jesus. We must not let even legitimate things like prayer, Bible-study and fellowship prevent us from hearing what God is wanting to do right at that very moment. That is where the priest and levite missed looking after the Jew in the story of the good Samaritan (Luke.10:30-37). They were going to the temple to carry out legitimate service and duty but forgot to love their neighbour as themselves. Remember, God is after relationship rather than routine. God might choose to interrupt your routine so you can minister to someone in need. I call them Divine Interruptions. Don’t let routine prevent you from the blessing of Divine Interruptions.
2015 is the year for the Divine Turn-Around according to Ps.107:35, Ps.114:8 & Isa.32:15
Every time you have an encounter with God, you get a revelation of who He is like Abraham found God to be Jehovah Jireh on Mount Moriah (Gen.22:14), Moses found God to Be Jehovah Rapha at the waters of Marah (Exvy.15:26), Moses & Joshua found God to be Jehovah Nissi at Rephidim (Ex.17:15) and Gideon found God to be Jehovah Shalom at Ophrah (Judg.6:24)