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We never outgrow the need for encouragement and we all long for fathers. Our hearts are designed to cherish a father and to be one. It is pastoral, but once we feel the call to our own destiny, that relationship is better described as apostolic. Our fathering instincts work best when we focus on pulling other people into their own hearts; helping them become themselves. Understanding these four basic stages of walking with Jesus helps us connect with what other hearts are going through.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph 1:17 NIV
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings Phil 3:10 NIV
The spirit of revelation – Knowing Jesus starts with the experience of hearing his voice through His Word and His Spirit. We have a prophetic sense of what is in His heart and how we can flow with Him – our language is usually obedience to Jesus as Lord. We experience the majesty and the power of God and we learn to surrender our carnality and trade for His Kingdom. We see ourselves as sinners overcoming sin and serving a God who controls of our destiny. At this stage, we perceive Him as our redeemer, Lord and protector. We don’t really expect anything to go wrong. As followers trying to learn obedience, we usually align ourselves with other believers and work with them via serving in a church or an apostolic father with a mandate we like.
The spirit of wisdom – As we continue to develop our ability to hear God, our personal book begins to unfold and we get puzzle pieces of our own Kingdom calling. The trademark of entering the Kingdom is initiative. God writes His desires on our heart and waits for us volunteer for our role. We move from servant to friend to king and begin to partner with Him to translate His heart and our heart into vocations, ministries, mountains, families and cash flow. Obedience doesn’t describe maturity at this stage; waiting to be told what to do is much too passive to work in the Kingdom. Wisdom is a conversation premised on understanding our role and loving it. Pursuing our heart’s desires feels exactly like the opportunity for our dream to come true. The secret of Kingdom is that it’s God’s dream too! We are walking out the desires that He wrote in our hearts and owning our role in the Kingdom to bless nations. We understand His heart and what He desires (multiply our talents). But, exactly how is left up to us (he went on a journey). We’re “offering” our lives to navigate the risks that go with life, relationships and spiritual warfare… for the joy set before us and the fruit that we envision.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. Matt 25:14-15 NIV
Fellowship of His suffering – The price tag for co-laboring with our Father in the Kingdom is that “sovereignty” doesn’t mean he controls everything; He controls everything He wants to. Kingdom is not about “us.” We become instrumental in much larger victories, exploits, battles, setbacks, failures and delays. Although God isn’t orchestrating events just to test us, we are tested by them. Specifically, what gets tested is our understanding of what’s in our book – His word that is written in our hearts (our book) is tested and refined by all those “diverse trials of many kinds” (James 1:2-5).
As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Ps 18:30 NASU
They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; 19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. Ps 105:18-19 NASU
Some don’t survive this stage and adopt a theology that goes something like this, “I stepped out in an initiative that I thought was God, and it didn’t work – disaster struck. From now on, I’m just doing what the Father tells me – nothing more.” That vow translates to abandoning the desires that God wrote in our hearts, and shrinking away from both initiative and responsibility. It sets us up to become victims of passivity and delayed (or forfeited) destiny. It’s a belief that God must be a hard man who asks us to do what we think He should take care of (instead of working through His sons). We hide our talent because we are afraid something might go wrong – the next disaster.
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ Matt 5:24-25 NIV
Resurrection – The problem with experiencing resurrection is that the predecessor is death. It’s never pleasant to see our dream crushed. Whether it’s physical, financial, relational, or vocational, it always hurts and it always feels totally hopeless… exactly where God wants us. The dream we cannot accomplish in our own strength or wisdom, He eventually resurrects from the ashes. The revelation of resurrection is that He isn’t taking away the desires of our hearts, nor has he abandoned us. Our Father’s expectation is that we are faithful to our original path, no matter what giant, setback or defeat we face. As believers, we are not insulated from disasters. When the ship sinks, believers float. Death and resurrection is the birthplace of multiplication and fruit.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24-25 NIV
When we come out of the fire and the resurrection, we face the revelation that our Father was always present, the call on our life is still intact, nothing has changed in our book, and our next assignment is to press on in our Kingdom purpose. Our relationship shifts from knowing the Lord who tells us what to do, to knowing the Father who partners and promotes His sons to kings.
The fragrance of life – Believers who have gone through a death and resurrection carry the fragrance of brokenness and faithfulness, multiplication and the spirit of a father. We have a new empathy that can listen to the hearts of others and pull them into their dream.
Just like Abraham who went, even though he did not know where he was going, we come to the realization that faith is substance, yet its practical companion is uncertainty. We know the heart of our Father and we know our call, but we are not surprised by anything life throws at us… and we expect to survive and prosper… somehow, because we know the power of Jesus’ resurrection operates in us. It’s a combination of wisdom, humility, patience, and perseverance; a vision for the best and a strategy for the worst.
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