Archive for April, 2012

TURNING WATER INTO WINE(Pt. 4)

“Thus says the Lord: As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it, So will I do for My servants sake, That I may not destroy them all. “(Isaiah 65:8 NKJV)

We have been considering our theme for this month as to how God is “turning water into wine” in this hour. Mary, the mother of Jesus, led the way at the Wedding of Cana by re-positioning herself and becoming Mary, the disciple of Jesus. We further saw that the water does not become very good wine until it is poured out for others to “Taste and see that the LORD is good”. This means that only as our vessels have been filled up with “the water of His (Written)word” and transformed by His spoken word to us will the sweet new wine of His Life be experienced in fullness. Again, we tried to identify what can possibly be a hindrance to experiencing this fullness of His life in us now…a wrong worldview. We can look at life in such a way that we put off for tomorrow what God by His Spirit has made available to the believer today.

TRANSITIONAL VIEW

God in His sovereignty has reserved “the best wine” in these last days for His people. We are in a global shift in the area of God’s kingdom coming into view. What are some of the things we can anticipate by way of His transition?

1.From servants to sons. Religion that is entirely expressed by our human performance is giving way to a new understanding of our inheritance as true sons of the Kingdom. If we only see our relationship as “servants of God”, we will base all our expectation of rewards from God if we perform well for God. In a performance based relationship we tend to think that “If I am good enough…God will love and accept me, or reward me, and so forth”. Whereas, if I recognize that I have been accepted and loved by the Father “In the Beloved Son, Christ Jesus”.  I don’t earn His love…It is freely given. I serve God, without a desire to sin, out of love and gratitude for what God, through Jesus, has done for me.

2.From Christianity as a religious program, to disciples of the kingdom of heaven. We are not called to hold special weekend event services, where the Body of Christ are merely spectators, but not participatory. We are called to both be disciples of Jesus and make disciples of Jesus Christ. True religion is an engagement of a daily life witness. We are no longer attendees, but participants (Acts 2:42-43; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Which brings us to our next transitional perspective.

3. We are moving from the notion that “our buildings” are our point of worship to truly becoming “Households of faith”. e.g. “Households” or “Houses of faith” is the Language of family. In a household we can Grow Spiritually, Relationally and Numerically. In the book of Acts the Church was birthed and related both “publicly and from house to house”. We read of many examples in the scriptures: Priscilla and Aquila (1 Cor. 16:9); Lydia,”seller of purple”(Acts 16:14-15); Philippian Jailer & household (Acts 16:27-34); Cornelius& his household (Acts 10) to name a few. We believe this is where the true fellowship and discipling took place. They were growing so rapidly, the shear numbers would have hindered the spiritual growth of the Body of Messiah (Christ). But homes were the natural setting where spiritual community could grow,develop and hold one another mutually accountable for their walk with Jesus.

4. The “Top down” model of leadership is giving way to a LeaderShift of Ephesians 4:8-16. The “gifts” that Jesus gave His Body as He ascended to the Father were Servant-Leaders and Equippers. They, as Jesus warned, were not called to be like the World’s leaders and “lord it over” their fellow believers faith. But as Paul expressed it, they were to be “Stewards of the mysteries of Christ” and “Ministers (Servants) of a New Covenant”(2 Cor. 3:6).  Today, many leaders have passed “the basin and the towel” ministry (John 13) heading for earthly thrones. Success will not be measured in this hour by the size of a work, but by how well does the Body function…”In love, serving one another”. This will shift the axis of our focal point of Church-Life from “My needs Met” to expressing the heart of the Father, “There was no NEED among them”( Acts 2:42-47;2 Cor. 5:13-19). This is how the world will come to know and believe that God did send His Son into a lost world. “When they see how much you love one another, then they will believe you are My disciples”(Jn.13:35). The “new wine” flows unrestricted where the “Cluster” anointing is found.

(c) Copyright 2012, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights are reserved. This article may be shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original content. Address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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TURNING WATER INTO WINE(Pt. 3)

“Hear this! The days are coming-[this is] the Lord’s declaration- when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the one who treads grapes,the sower of seed. The mountains will drip with sweet wine, and all the hills will flow [with it].” (Amos 9:13 HCSB)

As we move towards the conclusion of this Age, there is an increasing onslaught on the faith of God’s people. This should come as no surprise as “Satan knows he has but a short time”. He hates everything that is of God, especially His people, those that name the Name of the LORD ( Jew or Gentile). One of the desperate ways he seeks to defeat and overthrow God’s plans is to pervert a true view of the world in which we live. Our World-View not only affects our eternal destiny, but our present choices today.

WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW?

A worldview is the certain “set of lenses” by which we view the world around us and make decisions accordingly. To understand a persons’ worldview is to understand “Where they are coming from”. And if I understand where a person is coming from I can tell you where they are going in life. Worldview supposes three basic ideas: One: Origin–How did human beings get here? This is a question of our beginnings and existence. Two: What has happened to the human race? As we contemplate the continual upsurge of wickedness, evil in the world, and the continual lack of world peace, we know something is broken. Three: How can we fix what is obviously broken? What answers can we find to offer a solution for mankind on the brink of self-destruction.

FOUR BASIC VIEWS

There are four basic Worldviews. Each have their own subsequent conclusions about the origin of life, the problem with life, and the how to fix the problem. The first worldview is the NATURAL WORLDVIEW. This view says, in essence,” We are here by chance. The explanation of man’s existence is by random causes. ‘There is no God’. Everything around me can be explained by natural causes. Therefore, if I can’t see it, feel it, taste it, touch it, smell it…it doesn’t exist. There is no ‘Here after’. And because there is no hereafter, I only live for here and now…The pleasure or gratification of the moment. “What’s in it for me?”,Survival of the fitess”, ‘Never mind about its consequences (or Who it may hurt!)”…Our modern day secular media slogan says it all…”YOU DESERVE THIS”. With the NATURAL WORLDVIEW as a framework for living there is nothing to be fixed…only consumed.

The second worldview is what I call the CARNAL WORLDVIEW. This view in essence holds the position that “There is more to life than meets the eye. There is a heaven and hell. And I believe there is some sort of ‘super-natural , higher power that has caused all of ‘This’ to exist. But we are left to make the best of life we can. Our ‘good deeds’ and our ‘bad deeds’ will be weighed in the end to determine whether we ‘Go to heaven’. And, to over simplify this mindset, “I am basically a good person. Religion has nothing to do with it”. “If it feels good–DO IT…as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else”.

The third worldview is what I call our WESTERN THEOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW. It announces, “I believe in a personal God Who is responsible for the created universe. Human beings are here by God’s choice, not by chance. There is a heaven, and there is a hell. God has made a way of ‘escaping hell’ and ‘entering heaven’…By believing in this God we will ‘go to heaven’ …when we die.” This view has been the norm for many, “Heaven is the goal…one day I’m going to heaven’. This is a faith-based view which is great but far too often, it falls short of God’s goal for our lives. It can put all the stress of belief in the “Here after” without a consideration for how we live “Here and Now”. And without the proper framework we become out of balance in our living. I suggest one more Worldview, which is more scripturally accurate, the worldview called THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

The kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven) is what John the Baptist proclaimed and called people to repent and prepare for it. Jesus, God’s Son, comes forth upon John’s arrest and proclaims, “Repent. The kingdom of God is here’’(or ’’is in your midst’’). ‘‘Repent and believe the gospel’’. Then Jesus began to both demonstrate and teach people what it was like when God’s kingdom came into view(Read Matthew 5-8). The point is that Jesus introduced a worldview that transcended a religious culture that merely postponed heaven’s reality for only a future occurrence. You cannot participate in a kingdom without honor and obedience to the King. The kingdom of God could only be gained by active obedience to the word of the King. The nature and character of the King will permeate his kingdom. The apostle wrote, “The kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”(Romans 14:17).

Embracing Jesus, God’s Son, as the Messiah and King, makes all the benefits of the kingdom a beginning reality now. What tells whether we are a part of that kingdom (with more to come) is whether we do what Jesus has asked that we do. Mark recorded that when, “One of the scribes approached… Him, “Which command is the most important of all?” “This is the most important,” Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 HCSB) This is the only Worldview that opens heaven’s door to us.

(c) Copyright 2012, Walter Fletcher,Jr.,All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Send all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

TURNING WATER INTO WINE(Pt. 2)

” Jesus told the servants,’Fill the water jars with water.’ So they filled them up to the very top. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the head steward, and they did”(John 2:7-8 NET).

I wonder what the servants at the wedding in Cana were thinking when Jesus told them to take water from the stone water pots to the head steward? They no doubt were just as surprised at it’s transformation as the head steward.

Faith and obedience must go together if we want to see a manifestation of God’s power. But faith is not always comfortable to the natural senses. It will offend the carnal mind and humble the flesh nature. And yet Jesus knew that faith and obedience is the only currency that the Father can exchange for heaven’s realities. But let’s consider Jesus’ first instruction to them.

FILL THE STONE POTS

Jesus instructed the servants to fill up the six water pots to the brim with water. The fact that John tells us that they were “six stone water pots” is significant. We remember that it was on the sixth day that God created man. And yet we know that six is an incomplete number in the scriptures. God created man to enter into the seventh day of His creation, which was a day of completion and rest. So in essence John points to the fact that even as the “Wine had run out”, so man apart from God is still incomplete and unfulfilled.

These water pots were to be filled to the brim with water to indicate that God’s desire for us is that our lives were intended for fulness. This is what Paul prayed for the Church of Ephesus, “That you would be filled up with all the fulness of God”(Ephesians 3:19). That fulness is the fulness of God’s character and nature which is manifest by love. If it is not the fulness of His love we only know Him in part and can only hope to manifest Him from our limited perspective and not as He is.

These water pots were used for purification. This speaks of that which truly qualifies any servant of the Lord. “Be clean you who bare the vessels of the Lord”. A sanctified vessel is a vessel set apart or fit for the Master’s use.  Many who would be useful to the Lord in His service disqualify themselves because they continue in habits and practices that render them unfit as His witnesses. Again, we must know that our vessels are sanctified by “the washing of the water of the Word”(Ephesians 5:26).

 THE LIVING WORD

Jesus turned the water into wine by His word to the stewards, “Draw out and take some to the head steward.’’ I believe we miss a great principle in the kingdom when we merely rush to the fact that “the water was turned to wine”. What is the significance of this “first sign”? Recall it was so that “His disciples would believe in Him”.  In other words, this was to strengthen their faith in Him. It was also done to demonstrate how they would to be effective also in their personal calling. These vessels ,once filled with the water, had no capacity in themselves to be anything more than containers with water until Jesus spoke a creative word. Only by His Word spoken did water become wine.  He later reveals the mystery, “The words that I SPEAK, they are spirit and they are LIFE”(John 6:63). True vessels who are able to share both IN His Life and FROM His Life have encountered His voice.  Many who want to be effective servants of His word cannot because they violate this principle in their life.  Is this not what Paul indicates by his own testimony? He had excelled in his religious learning above his fellows. But it was only religious zeal apart from revelation by the Spirit of Jesus. Then he says, “When it pleased the LORD Who separated me from my mother’s womb….To reveal His Son IN me”(Read Galatians 1:13-16). Everything changed in that moment. The water of religion became the wine of Life by the revelation of the living Word of God.  And the rest…is History.  

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Walter Fletcher, Jr.,All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content.  Send all correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

TURNING WATER INTO WINE(Pt.1)

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there”(John 2:1 NKJV).

Why would John start this first public miracle of Jesus with the statement of Mary being at the wedding of Cana? By all practical accounts this seems anti-climatic. She seems to be giving “first-billing”, upstaging as it were Jesus entry onto the stage of public ministry. And yet, as different in style, as well as audience, so John’s writing have a definite purpose. Recall he concludes his gospel by stating that these things “are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and believing you may have life in His name”(John 20:31 HCSB). John is not interesting in all the chronological flow of Jesus activity and ministry, He is concerned mainly with one thing…LIFE in the Son. Later, He writes,”This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:21 HCSB). Everything John writes about leads to a desire that we experience the fullness of God’s life in Jesus the Messiah.

HIS FIRST SIGN

John records Jesus turning water into wine as a “first sign”. Why? (1)To “Manifest His glory”. The glory of God is seen where miracles in His Name occur. Jesus Christ is still the same today as He was when walking among us. He loves to manifest His power to reveal His glory. (2) So that His disciples would believe in him. He wanted to encourage His new disciples to trust in Him, as their Lord and Master. He was worthy of their trust and allegiance. After all they had left all to follow Him. Confidence is tied to character. He demonstrated His supreme nature. (3) In order to keep a Wedding Celebration going! God is not a “kill-joy”. He not only loves a good party, He loves showing up to celebrate with friends.

TURNING WINE INTO WATER

Today, often, in our religious settings we’ve managed to turn “The wine back into water”. The prophet Jeremiah put it aptly when he spoke of no longer the “voice of the Bridegroom & the voice of the Bride” is heard in our land(Jer. 33:10-11). Even John the Baptist announcement of Messiah’s coming was as “a friend of the Bridegroom…I rejoice to hear His voice”(Jn.3:29).

JESUS TURNED WATER INTO WINE

How did Jesus turn water into wine? Mary is the key, but not “the star” guest of the wedding. John wants to show us a principle. Mary the Mother of Jesus must become Mary, THE DISCIPLE OF JESUS. Although she gave miraculous birth to Him, nurtured Him, protected & sustained Him from childhood to manhood…She must NOW “Learn how to lose CONTROL”. This fact was driven home when Jesus’ sisters & brothers, and Mary being with them were standing outside a home where He was teaching. They came to get Him and take Him away(Perhaps thinking “He is making a spectacle of the family!”…”Who does he think he is?”). Jesus replied to those in His midst, “’Who are my mother and my brothers?’… Here is My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother”(Mark 3:33-34 HCSB).

A SWORD WILL PIERCE

Mary, no doubt, reflected back to the words of Simeon as she dedicated Jesus in the Temple. “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign opposed—and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”(Luke 2:34b-35 HCSB). This is the work of the Spirit when we yield to the Word of God. “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart”(Hebrews 4:12 HCSB). Jesus did not move at the wedding feast at Mary’s bidding in order to put Mary in her proper place…NOT AS A PUT DOWN. But in order to lift her to an even HIGHER PLACE in the Kingdom. Like John the Baptist,who declared of himself in relation to Jesus,”I am a friend of the Bridegroom. I rejoice to hear HIS Voice…HE MUST INCREASE,I MUST DECREASE”(John 3:30). Mary became more than Jesus mother in this momentary crisis—“They’ve no Wine!” She became His most devoted DISCIPLE. She was willing to follow HIS Lead. And from that moment forward She continued to FOLLOW His lead–All the way to the CROSS and to PENTECOST(Read John 19:26; Acts 1:13-14). Yes, Mary can show us the way to have our “water turned to wine”. Listen to Mary’s words to those who were servants… “’Whatever HE says,DO IT’”(John 2:5). This her last recorded words in the Gospels are the most important today. LEARN TO LOSE CONTROL…TAKE HIS YOKE upon you and FOLLOW HIM.

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Walter Fletcher, Jr., All rights are reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Send all correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com