(C) 2016 LLG MINISTRIES 

VOLUME I MEN'S MINISTRY NEWSLETTERS - MICHAEL MCPHERSON

SAINT OR SINNER


Today was a great session as some brothers finally got a breakthrough. I want to recap
what happened. For the past two weeks we had been discussing the conflict between the
new man in Christ and the old man. The battle Paul summarizes in Romans 7:25. The
question was then asked, "Do you see yourself as a saint or a sinner?"


The men present either saw themselves as both or more sinner than saint. The
breakthrough happened, for some, when we focused on the fact that a saint is a born
again, Holy Ghost sanctified believer in Jesus Christ, operating under the authority of
God, who has been given the power in His name to do His will on earth.


We are saints in the eyes of God. It is our own minds, religion and the devil that continue
to bind us with the deception that we are still weak, pitiful creatures – at the mercy of
the uncertainties of life.


The "aha!" moment occurred for some when they realized they have continued to
approach God, in prayer, as a sinner needing forgiveness and as one without any rights
in the Kingdom. When in fact, they had been washed clean by the blood of our Lord and
could approach our Father with boldness, calling on His name for victory in all matters, to
bring both blessing and curse, to bind and loose spirits in the name of our Lord.


It was the revelation of what it means to "renew our minds." A star athlete visualizes
himself winning, and all his preparations carry him through to realize that vision. If you
see yourself as a saint of the Lord, that is sometimes afflicted with this thorn called sin, it
is a totally different place than continuing to see yourself as a sinner, just glad to be alive
by the grace of God.


This is extremely important if you are to experience ever increasing faith. If you have
been coming to Men’s Ministry for some period of time, ask yourself has your faith and
belief in the Lord increased? Is your walk with God closer than it had been? Is the
Kingdom of God being revealed to you? If not then you have to ask the question why
not?


What we discovered today was that for some men, they had not renewed their mind and
did not see themselves they way the Lord sees them; as saints in the Kingdom of God. 

 

As a saint, the more authority (yielding, sanctifying, submitting, etc.) you give to the
Holy Spirit, the more the Kingdom of God will be revealed to you.
Men it is remarkable to see things through the eyes of the Spirit. It is as Elisha described
in 2 Kings 6:17. You will start to see the Lord moving and shaking; hear His voice more
clearly, understand how the Kingdom operates, and finally perceive the angels of God
that surround you; the invisible will become visible.


You no longer depend on your eyes and ears, but trust the Spirit to guide you in all
matters. You finally know in the depths of your heart, without any doubt, that God
causes all things to work together for your good. All praise and glory to God.
Oh men of God I pray you see your true selves, the Spirit of Christ that is in you. There
is great power within you, identify with Him and the old man will fade and fade, until he
becomes insignificant.


DISPUTABLE MATTERS


We asked the question today, "What is sin or sinful in the eyes of each man?" We found
both consensus and differences between the brothers. For the born again believer
(versus the Jews who were still under the Law), the consensus was sin was whatever we
did outside the will of God, things we did not motivated in the Spirit of God or for the
glory of God, things that pained the conscience or transgressed the laws of God. The
apostle Paul stated it this way, "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
(Romans 14:23)

 

As an example, our Lord says in all things give thanks. If a born again believer grumbles
and complains about his circumstances and is generally unhappy, we could say his state
of unhappiness is a result of sin: disobedience and unbelief in the word of our Lord to
give thanks in all things and to believe that all things work to the good of those who love
the Lord.


The differences or disputable matters occurred when we talked about things of the flesh:
what you drank, what you read, what you ate, etc.
The apostle Paul points out that in the body of Christ there are disputable matters
(differences of opinion) and non-disputable matters as it pertains to our walk with Christ.
And with the disputable matters we must be careful not to let them hinder the love for
our brethren, regress or damage the faith of other believers, and not let it fracture the
assembly.

 

Romans 14:1 (NIV): "As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him but not quarrel
over opinions." In the NLT translation it says ―accept other believers who are weak in 
aith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. One person
believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Here the discussion is about food, and we know from the scriptures the issue was about
meat sacrificed to idols. Some believers thought it was sinful to eat this meat, while
others did not think it sinful.


In today’s context you can substitute meat with; alcohol, reading fairy tales or Harry
Potter, watching certain movies, money won in the lottery, women wearing pants or
dresses, or a host of other disputable matters regarding "Christian" behavior.
Paul goes on to say in Romans 14:14 that "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus
that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean." So
alcohol, as an example, is not evil in itself or "sinful" but for some believers the addiction
caused by alcohol has had devastating consequences in their life or in the lives of others
they know. So drinking to these believers is sinful and rightfully so. However, for others
it is not. Paul says "let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats for
God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?"
(Romans 14:3-4)

 

Paul goes on to say (Romans 14:15), "For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you
are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ
died." So here he is saying even if something is not sinful in itself, if it will affect the walk
of another brother do not indulge in it. "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating
and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."(Romans 14:17)
"So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual understanding." (Romans
14:19)

 

Paul is saying, okay, this thing is not evil, but if another brother might stumble if he sees
you indulging in that thing, then consider the Kingdom of God first, and not indulge in
that thing.

 

However, Paul then goes on to say, "the faith that you have, keep between yourself and
God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he
approves." (Romans 14: 22) Here Paul calls "blessed" those who are not persuaded by
what they eat, drink, read, etc. But he says out of consideration for those weaker in
faith, just keep it between you and God. So if you drink a beer, as an example, do it at
home. Or consider not having it at all.

 

In Romans 15 Paul goes on to say, "We who are strong in faith have an obligation to bear
with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his
neighbor for his good, to build him up." In other words put the considerations of others, 
the love of the brethren, before our own desires. This is a Kingdom message and
attitude.


On the flip side of the coin, however, we do have the slippery slope which leads to
legalism. Those who Paul might refer to as "weak in faith" who declare, that they will not
worship or associate with other believers who do not agree with them on disputable
matters.


This has lead to a schism in the Body of Christ to where it now numbers 38,000
denominations of Christians (World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford
University Press, 2001). This is the great tragedy in Christianity. These folks commit the
cardinal sin "of not loving their brothers." But rather practice segregation. And our Lord
tells us a house divided cannot stand.


In many churches, the goal is no longer to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ,
it is to be transformed into congregations that look like them. So you have churches who
endorse worship and fellowship only with people who drink, eat, dress, behave, read,
have specific spiritual gifts, and watch or don’t watch certain movies that they approve or
who interpret the scriptures according to their views. They feel most comfortable with
people in their assembly who look like them.


I give as an example, my 82 year-old mother. She is a Kingdom woman. A woman who
at the age of 8 years old started hearing the voice of God and had the gift of prophecy
through dreams and visions. A woman who has literally saved many lives from death and
tragedy by obeying the voice of God and has warned, counseled, made late night phone
calls and traveled to save lives on the promptings of the Holy Spirit.


A woman who could not live without the glory of God sustaining her. Yet there are many
"Christians" who would not focus on how she glorifies God and how God has mightily
blessed her, and would not revere her Godly ability to forgive the unforgiveable, and her
Godly ability to sacrifice bodily needs and wants for the lives of others.


These Christians would focus on the "flesh" - that she enjoys her glass of wine,
sometimes cusses and sometimes watches TV programs that might be viewed as trash or
stupid, and worse yet, that she likes Harry Potter movies and sees nothing wrong with
trick-o-treating on Halloween! They miss the glory of God in her life. But she could care
less what you think. To her it’s all about Him.


Men we must remember godliness is not what we interpret it to be with our human
attitudes and emotions. A man or woman of God is the person who allows the Holy Spirit
to use their bodies to do the work of our Lord and in doing so glorify Him. The strong in
faith know that "nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him. What
comes out of a person is what defiles him." (Mark 7: 15).

And even in the case of many substance abuse addictions, whether it is alcohol or drugs,
doctors often find that at the core of the abuse was a wounded soul. A soul in such agony
the drug or alcohol was used to cover up the pain. So the alcohol was never the evil, it
was the pain inflicted as a child that caused the hole in the soul, which then led to the
addictive behavior or defilement.


Dear Lord, I pray that we never take our eyes off you and your Kingdom. Let your will be
done and not our will. Strengthen us so we grow strong in faith. Protect us from the
enemy and our own minds which by its nature seek to condemn and segregate the
brethren. All praise and glory to our Lord.


REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE


A Muslim man asked a young pastor why he should consider Jesus in light of all the
public and personal trauma such a conversion would cost him. The pastor said because
Jesus was the way to eternal life. The Muslim then said, Mohammed says when we die he
will lead us to eternal life as well. What else, he asked, is there to consider? What can
Jesus do for my people who are hurting and are in strife right now?


The pastor thought for a moment and he didn’t have an answer. Was there power in the
Kingdom of God for a believer in Jesus Christ?


Today we had a very powerful session on counting the cost of discipleship. And as each
man considers the cost of giving the Lord complete dominion over every aspect of his
life, we must also realize the rewards of discipleship. And it is the rewards of discipleship
which dovetail into the same truths the young pastor was seeking.

 

The Curse of the Law


The scriptures teach us that Jesus not only came to save man from the penalty of the
Law which was death, but also to redeem God’s children from the curse of the Law. What
is the curse and how is it different from the penalty of the Law? In the Old Testament,
when our Lord stated the ground would be cursed because of Adam’s transgression, we
find that when someone or something was cursed it rendered the thing or person
unfruitful and made life unpleasant.


It opened up the thing or person to the forces of darkness. The same concept is
illustrated when Moses sets forth the covenant principles to the Israelites; before them
was a "blessing and a curse."
When cursed one became vulnerable to enemies and all matters of disease, anxiety and
calamity. The curse would be a precursor condition that eventually led to the penalty of
the Law which was death. The blood of Jesus saved us from the penalty of the Law, but
was that it?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, when our Lord started to sweat and become anxious as
the events of Calvary were about to unfold, he came under the curse of the Law.
Darkness came and Satan was at the helm. His anxiety, the capture by His enemies,
ensuing brutal beating and ripping of his flesh, the crown of thorns sunk into his head,
the spitting, scoffing and hate of the frenzied masses were all allowed to come upon Him.


The scriptures say anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse (Deut 21:23) and
truly our Lord was cursed before the penalty of the Law was executed. Jesus became sin
that night in the Garden and it pleased the Father to bruise him in this momentous ritual
of atonement. The forces of darkness were allowed to come against Him until He said "it
is finished."


To understand the ramifications of what our Lord Jesus did we must realize what God
wanted from us as a result of this great salvation. We wanted eternal life, but what did
He want? The Lord our God wanted sons and daughters in the image of Jesus Christ. So
now let’s look again on that day at Calvary from God’s eyes and see what He saw. And
what he saw were two people hanging on the cross.


On the front of the cross hung Jesus. On the backside of the cross you were nailed, hand
and foot. When Christ was buried, you were buried. When He was quickened and raised,
you were raised. When Jesus was seated in the heavenlies, you were seated there as
well.


When our Lord said abide in me and I will abide in you, He wanted you to see yourself on
the backside of the cross, crucified, buried and resurrected. To gain victory over the
traits, dispositions, appetites, tendencies and dysfunctions of the old man, you must see
yourself in union with Jesus and crucified on the backside of that cross. This takes
spiritual discipline.


When you are tempted in the world, see yourself buried with Christ in the tomb. And
when the wiles of the devil are sniffing at your door, see yourself seated with Christ at
the right hand of the Father, having authority on this earth. Our Lord gave us everything
we need to have a victorious life and to enforce the victory He gained over the enemy.


The death, burial, resurrection and seating at the right hand of God accomplished a
"great salvation." It gave the sons of God the ability to have complete victory over the
curse of the law, self (the old man, flesh), the world (lust of the flesh, eyes, pride of life)
and the dogs of Satan.


But for the believer to come from under the curse, in a land and world that was still
cursed, it would be the Spirit of Christ living in and through the believer that would gain
the victory. But you must grab hold of this truth – really wrap your head around this
concept.

So the same Jesus who gained victory over death, over temptation, who knows God’s
will, and who is favored by God in all things and thus is abundant in grace; is the same
one who gains victory in health, relationships, provision and protection in the life of the
believer. We gain victory in identification with our Lord, for as the apostle stated "I am
crucified with Christ."


It is this key aspect of the new covenant, only gained in the experiential sacrifice of one’s
body and soul to God, and the identification and union with the Son in which the curse of
the Law is overcome. It is Christ who lives in me who has the power to heal, to love the
ungodly and ugly, to provide, to not be anxious for anything and to bear fruit in all
endeavors because he knows the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.


The secret of the Kingdom is that when we identify with the death and burial of Jesus we
get weak, more broken and more contrite than we have ever been. And why is this necessary?
Because our Lord says "My power works best in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9
Men, there is power in the Kingdom of God. To the man who is totally surrendered and
identified with our Lord he is able to take authority and call upon the name of God for
victory in all matters. What I describe is not sweet poetry but reality.


As I talked about at the men’s breakfast earlier this year, when the Lord brought me to
where I said he could use my life even unto sacrifice if it was His will, I began to
experience the power and abundant grace of our Lord.
It is a new stage of belief and faith in which our Lord has shown me that he is all
powerful. And there is nothing he cannot do in health, relationships, or provision for
those totally surrendered to Him. And what I discovered was that in total surrender he
has shown me my assignment in the Kingdom, prepared me, and He is now moving
heaven, earth and hell so I will accomplish His will.


"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor 9: 8
And to experience this power and grace of God you must have no doubt, but faith that
when you ask it will be done. For it is not me who asks, but Christ in me who knows the
perfect will of my Father. The scriptures say a double minded man "should not think he
will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:7). Thus complete faith in your surrender
is needed to take authority.


I am a witness to the fact that the Lord is faithful and I am no longer under the curse of
the Law. My circumstances have been no different from yours, but my God, my Lord, my
sweet hope and everlasting Father is showering me with his glory, power and love. And
why?

Because I took inventory of my life and brought everything that separated me from Him
to the altar of sacrifice (unforgiveness, ambition, covetousness, childhood wounds,
stubbornness, unbelief, greed, pretense of someone who I was not, ungratefulness). And
I asked Him to live in me so He would forever be my king and lord.


Not in name but in reality, for you see the Kingdom of God is here. My feet are his feet.
My eyes are his eyes. My hands are his hands. All for His glory. And since my feet are His
feet, Satan and the curse are crushed under my feet (Romans 16:20). I now claim
authority in the name of Jesus Christ.


Where God is there also is the Kingdom. And in the Kingdom there is no curse but
immense blessing. And I can testify to that truth. The Kingdom of God is here brothers,
expanding slowly with each new saint. Grab hold of it.


So consider the cost of discipleship but really, is there any choice? As Simon Peter
declared ,“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and
know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68)


Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear
the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The eyes of the LORD are
on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. The righteous cry out, and the
LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the
brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have
many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not
one of them will be broken. (Ps 34)


Brothers, Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.


I POSSESS NOTHING


Two weeks ago our assignment was to brood over Luke 14:26 where our Lord talks about
the cost of being a disciple. Jesus says "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his
father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own
life—he cannot be my disciple." In the context of the scriptures we know this to mean a
man must not hold anything in greater esteem than the Lord – be it a possession or
relationship.


We have a great illustration of Luke 14:26, of the surrendered life, in the Old Testament
story of Abraham and Isaac. Before we go there, let me say that all 66 books of the Bible
fit hand- in-glove. The Old Testament is an illustration in graphical terms of New
Testament principles. So if you want to see the doctrine, will and nature of our Lord,
illustrated in the human theater, review the Old Testament.

Isaac was Abraham’s love child. He represented everything sacred to his father’s heart:
the promises of God, the covenants, and the hopes of the years. Even God acknowledged
the strength of Abraham’s affection for Isaac (Genesis 22:2). As Abraham watched Isaac
grow to young manhood the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life
of his son until it bordered upon the dangerous.


And as A.W. Tozer describes in "The Pursuit of God," ―it was then that God stepped in to
save both father and son from the consequences of an uncleansed love. For the rest of
the story, here is A.W. Tozer.

 

Excerpts from The Pursuit of God


"Take now thy son," said God to Abraham, "thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and
get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the
mountains which I will tell thee of." The sacred writer spares us a close-up of the agony
that night on the slopes near Beersheba when the aged man had it out with his God, but
respectful imagination may view in awe the bent form and convulsive wrestling alone
under the stars.


Possibly not again until a Greater than Abraham wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane
did such mortal pain visit a human soul. If only the man himself might have been allowed
to die. That would have been easier a thousand times, for he was old now, and to die
would have been no great ordeal for one who had walked so long with God. Besides, it
would have been a last sweet pleasure to let his dimming vision rest upon the figure of
his stalwart son who would live to carry on the Abrahamic line and fulfill in himself the
promises of God made long before in Ur of the Chaldees.


How should he slay the lad! Even if he could get the consent of his wounded and
protesting heart, how could he reconcile the act with the promise, "In Isaac shall thy
seed be called"? This was Abraham's trial by fire, and he did not fail in the crucible. While
the stars still shone like sharp white points above the tent where the sleeping Isaac lay,
and long before the gray dawn had begun to lighten the east, the old saint had made up
his mind.


He would offer his son as God had directed him to do, and then trust God to raise him
from the dead. This, says the writer to the Hebrews, was the solution his aching heart
found sometime in the dark night, and he rose "early in the morning" to carry out the
plan. It is beautiful to see that, while he erred as to God's method, he had correctly
sensed the secret of His great heart. And the solution accords well with the New
Testament Scripture, "Whosoever will lose for my sake shall find."


God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there
would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering
patriarch He now says in effect, "It's all right, Abraham."

 

"I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove
him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I
wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love.
Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent. Now I
know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,
from me."


Then heaven opened and a voice was heard saying to him, "By myself have I sworn,
saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son,
thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy
seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy
seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."


The old man of God lifted his head to respond to the Voice, and stood there on the mount
strong and pure and grand, a man marked out by the Lord for special treatment, a friend
and favorite of the Most High.


Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed
nothing. He had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had
taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham's life and
worked inward to the center; He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over
in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus He practiced an economy of means and
time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective.


I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything
he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every
sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his
side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing.


There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be
learned only in the school of renunciation. The books on systematic theology overlook
this, but the wise will understand.


After that bitter and blessed experience I think the words "my" and "mine" never had
again the same meaning for Abraham. The sense of possession which they connote was
gone from his heart. Things had been cast out forever. They had now become external to
the man. His inner heart was free from them.

 

The world said, "Abraham is rich," but the aged patriarch only smiled.

He could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned
nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal.

There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful
habits in the life. Because it is so natural it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but
its outworkings are tragic.


We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their
safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But
we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is
safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed."

 

End Excerpt from The Pursut of God - A.W. Tozer
 

Amen

 
 
 
 
 

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