A Prophet’s Reward – Part One

When God sends an apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, or evangelist, that person should be welcomed as such. Often when I travel people receive me as a “prophet” which then limits me so that I am unable to operate in the fullness of my apostolic calling and thus the anointing of an apostle. Some receive me as a “teacher” and even others receive me as a “pastor.” Sometimes this is because they have known me as a teacher or a pastor in the days before I was released as an apostle. Others see the powerful prophetic gift that apostles walk in – and instantly link it to the ministry of the prophet and so welcome me as a prophet. So, I understand what happens and why. However, those receiving the ministry God has given to me really don’t.

Furthermore, apostles are only able to operate in their anointing and calling when they establish a relationship. Everywhere I travel I attempt to establish long-term relationships. Seldom do those I minister for make any effort to continue the relationship after I leave. During the planning stages they agree that we need to be building relationally and long-term – however, it seldom comes to pass. So, it is not enough to just recognize an apostle as such – but there is also a need to build relationally if the fullness of his gift and calling are to be received and experienced.

Apostles and the apostolic anointings are fully operational where they are sent by the Lord; where they are welcomed and recognized as such; and where relational ties are established. That is the only way they can exercise the fullness of their “fatherhood” and the fullness of their apostolic calling.

To fully receive the benefits that accompany an apostle, he has to be accepted and welcomed as such. Matthew 10:40-41 states: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”

What is the reward of a prophet? The reward of a prophet is to receive the benefits of grace, favor, as well as the power and the anointing in which he operates. Why? Because when the gift is welcomed, the person is also welcomed along with the giver of the gift – Jesus – and that is why there is a reward. In fact, some say that the person who is the apostle is himself the gift due to Ephesians 4:8 which states “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” And, in Ephesians 4:11 it states that Jesus gives gifts to the church “…some apostles…” So, you receive the man who is the apostle as a gift from the Lord and along with that you are welcoming the Giver, the anointing and power that an apostle walks in, as well as the grace and favor resting upon his life. That is a great reward and leads to great ministry and life-changing services.

More next time…

The Assignment of the Apostle – Part Three

In the last two blogs we saw that an apostle has some very specific assignments according to the Scriptures…

1> He is sent with a specific purpose
2> He is sent to carry out a specific task within that purpose
3> The apostle is sent with a specific vision of that task

This time we want to continue looking at the assignment of an apostle…

4> The apostle is sent with a specific authority

The word “authority” in the Greek, is the word ‘exousia’; it means to grant legal rights to use power, authority, right, liberty, jurisdiction, or strength. If an apostle does not have the authority given by God he should not be ministering. This call and resulting authority must then be fully recognized by the leaders he submits to. Eventually he will be released by the local church to go and minister – released when he is ready to begin to fulfill his calling (purpose, task, vision). This then allows God’s power to flow so that he can successfully carry out the mission and vision.

In the Kingdom without that God-given authority, the apostle does not have the legal right to accomplish what he believes he is being called to do. More than likely, an apostle without power is one who sent himself, and that is why he has no spiritual authority and lacks fruit in the spirit realm and in his ministry.

Jesus sent His disciples with the authority to rebuke demons, heal the sick, and preach the Gospel; they obeyed Jesus and were very successful.

“…and when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Matthew 10:1)

The power is available, released, and witnessed by others when the man of God is walking in God’s calling upon his life and has been sent out by the local church how and when the Holy Spirit directs. This will usually happen after the call has been received and recognized, the man has entered into discipleship training; has been trained and equipped; personally mentored by a more mature and senior apostle; and then sent out (commissioned) by the leaders of the local church.

Too many today are not willing to submit to other leaders, allow the Lord time to develop their character, and grow in the skills needed to have a successful ministry. Thus we have immature apostles or, worse still, false apostles destroying the true work of the Lord who is building His Church. Many go who are not ‘sent’ but simply ‘went’ under their own authority and working in the flesh.

The apostle is sent to a specific place with an awareness of four very specific elements in his ministry:
1> Purpose
2> A specific task within that purpose
3> A specific vision detailing the task – how, when, where, with whom… especially the ‘where’
4> the authority to “go” and do what Jesus has asked Him to do and thus fulfill the vision

Why God is Not Your CoPilot (And 4 Other Cliches to Crush)

There are several unbiblical and untrue clichés that are seemingly passed from one generation of Christians to another. And these clichés need to be crushed.

Believers must continually repent of the thinking represented in these clichés, and Christian leaders must not allow these clichés to be passed off as Christian truth.

Here are my top five Christian clichés that need crushing.

5. Do your best, trust God with the rest.

I first saw this cliché on a poster of a guy playing basketball. He was attempting a dunk and was halfway to the rim. The poster seemed to imply to try your best to dunk the ball, and God will reach down and pull you up the rest of the way. It never worked for me.
The message wrongly paints the picture that God steps in and supplies the rest to our valiant efforts. And because one person’s best may be better than another person’s best, some need more help than others.

The truth is that no one’s best is better because even our best efforts are filthy rags before our holy God. And how foolish and miserable is it to only trust God with the rest, the leftovers? It’s much better to trust Him with everything. He desires and demands that we trust Him with all that we are.

4. God helps those who help themselves.

Similar to the first cliché, this one encourages you to help yourself, to attempt to live this life well in your own strength and energy. And God will look down and see your effort and provide the extra help you need.

But the message of the Christian faith is not that God helps those who help themselves. It is that God helps the helpless. And all of us are helpless before Him. We’re helpless in rescuing ourselves from our sin, and we’re helpless to live as we should. We desperately need Him each moment. We grow in Him as we remember our helplessness and rely on Him continually for everything.

3. God will not give you more than you can handle.

Maybe you were having a difficult trial, and some well-meaning person takes you to lunch to offer encouragement. He or she reaches across the table and says, “Hang in there. God will never give you more than you can handle.” It sounds so encouraging, but it is deeply wrong.

Actually He will give us way more than we can handle in our own strength. In His goodness, He will allow life to overwhelm us so that we’ll continually recognize our need for Him, so we’ll humbly seek His strength and wisdom. When we realize that we’re utterly helpless without His grace and strength in our lives, we are placed in a vulnerable posture that welcomes His power. Sometimes, God allows circumstances to completely overwhelm us to put us in that posture.

2. Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words.

My friend and co-worker, Ed Stetzer, wrote an excellent blogpost about the famous quote, “Preach the gospel, use words if necessary.” The quote is often attributed to Francis of Assisi, though there is no record of him offering this statement.

Those who use the quote often do so with good motivations, encouraging people to live out their faith in action, not merely words. Unfortunately, the cliché can cause people to believe that the gospel doesn’t need to be spoken or declared.

The reality is the gospel means “good news.” It is news that must be declared, news that must be heard for salvation to occur (see Rom. 10:17). You can’t “be the news.” The news must be heralded.

1. God is my co-pilot.

Perhaps you have encountered the bumper sticker and thinking that articulates, “God is my co-pilot.” The thought is that God comes alongside us as we live our lives. He is there to offer encouragement, to keep us awake when we get tired, to point out where we should turn. He is there to help us live our lives. After all, we’re the pilots, the ones in charge.

In our sinfulness, we like to be in control, but the Christian faith is relinquishing the pilot’s seat to Jesus.
In the gospels, Jesus never responded positively when people attempted to come to Him on their terms. Jesus continually gave one invitation to His would-be followers: follow Me. If we think we’re the leader in our relationship with God, we’ve not yet understood the Christian faith. He leads. We follow. He reigns. We bow. He is Lord. We submit and follow.

So what are some other clichés you’d like to see crushed?

Republished from: ChurchLeaders.com Daily… Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, Eric served local churches, most recently investing eight years as the executive pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

The Assignment of an Apostle – Part Two

Last time we saw that an apostle has some very specific assignments according to the Scriptures…

1> He is sent with a specific purpose
2> He is sent to carry out specific task within that purpose

3> The apostle is sent with a specific vision of what he should do

God gives each apostle a vision for his life and his ministry. This vision is very specific, detailed and will bring about changes in the one called to be an apostle so that they will be able to fulfill the vision. The vision is established and set by Jesus who calls men to be apostles and gifts them to His Church. The call and vision for that specific person is fixed. The person with the call is the variable and so the Holy Spirit begins to work within him to bring about whatever changes and adjustments are needed for the man to fulfill and complete the calling. So, the call is first on the life, character, and nature of the man through which the ministry of the calling is then birthed.

The individual vision for the person always fits within the wider calling on all apostles. There is the generic call and then the individual, specific, and unique vision for those who are called. This individual vision is the plan and will of God for the man’s life and then his ministry. It is God’s plan and purpose for the apostle to accomplish and complete during his stay on the planet. God never gives something that is general or uncertain in nature. He will always give the apostle something concrete and measurable. Those called to be apostles should not move out into their apostolic calling until they know the specific direction their call is to take. This specific vision upon a man will then attract certain people to their ministry and the team is begun and is formed.

Jesus said to the original 12 apostles,You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting…” (John 15:16)

The expression, “I have planted you” means: to place in a specific location and to relate to specific people. God places the apostle in a place where he will have a circle or sphere of influence that has been predetermined and set by God – this is because the apostle will only be effective when he is with the right people in the right place. The end-result of being in a specific place, with the people God sent him to be with, is that the apostle will bear abundant fruit. If there is no fruit, that is a sign tat he is not in the right place or with the right people.

More next time…

The Assignments Of An Apostle – Part One

An apostle has a number of very specific assignments according to the Bible…

1> He is sent with a specific purpose

Jesus was sent by the Father to establish His Kingdom and announce the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Luke 4:43 “…but He said to them, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.‘” Jesus came with a pre-established assignment to accomplish. There are no details in this first one as it simply paints the big picture. However, God is still very specific and precise even when painting in broad strokes. The big picture that needs to be accomplished – the specific purpose of that apostle’s ministry – is to be carried out in a certain way and in a certain place.

So, God has something very specific for each apostle to do and accomplish for Him. Our Heavenly Father expects us to carry out that assignment and complete it.

2> The apostle is sent to carry out a specific task

When Alexander the Great would send an apostle with an apostolic team, he would assign them a specific mission or task along with the authority to execute it. The word “mission” is defined as a commission that is given by a state or a king, in this case, to a diplomat or special agent to accomplish a particular assignment. 1 John 3:8b “…the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” So, in the midst of carry out “a specific purpose” of establishing the Kingdom, Jesus’ more detailed task or mission was to destroy the work of the devil. The specific task of each man called to be an apostle will include a specific task within the bigger picture.

The apostolic mission has to do with accomplishing a task for our King – Jesus; these are specific, exact, and precise; they have one goal: to establish and extend His Kingdom. The ministry of an apostle is characterized by the precision with which the work of the Lord is done. A military mission always has a specific target and goal. For example, mine is to “equip God’s people, mentor God’s leaders, and reach the nations.”

One issue we see today among apostles – Many of them today are unaware of the purpose (#1) or specific mission or task (#2) the King has sent them to do; thus the reason why they often work on different projects but nothing specific. They speak in general about plans and purposes but not something in particular or in detail. They run to each and every opportunity that comes along and, in the long run, accomplish little.

The first assignment is generic and much broader is scope and general in nature. The second focuses in on a specific part of the general mission or calling of an apostle.

More tomorrow…

Apostles – a Gift From Jesus

The Bible states that “He (Jesus) gave some to be apostles.” Ephesians 4:11

Jesus is the One who calls, commissions, constructs, and sends those who are called to be apostles. Jesus knows that they are the Master Builders and that they are needed to build His Church today. Jesus does not delegate this responsibility to anyone; He does it Himself. Today, they are many who call themselves apostles; they commissioned themselves, but the signs of a true apostle do not follow them. They take advantage of the people who are less knowledgeable and whose hearts are pure. Their actions shame the Gospel of the Kingdom. Because of this, many people are skeptical and even refuse to have anything to do with apostles and the apostolic movement.

Even true apostles often refuse to become known with the apostolic movement out of fear of being judged by the people and especially other leaders and compared or associated with those who are false apostles or, as Paul records, super-apostles. However, in spite of the problems inherent in introducing something new to the Church – there are still many true apostles who love God and His people and are working hard with little recognition so that the Kingdom continues to expand and grow. These apostles are genuinely sent by Jesus to build and edity the Body of Christ. These men are a blessing for God’s people because they do not follow their personal agendas – they are following the plan and purpose of God for His Church and their ministry and their agenda is simply to edidy the Kingdom and the Church.

The apostle’s call is a personal one in which God speaks directly into the spirit of the man through different means: His Word, the inner witness in his spirit; dreams, a personal visitation from Jesus; or any other way God might choose. This sense of his calling is then confirmed by prophetic words received through seasoned and mature prophetic voices – apostles and prophets who come into contact with the person. Afterwards, this calling is recognized and confirmed by spiritually mature men who know the man and are themselves leaders in the Church and connected to a local church. The call to be an apostle must also be confirmed by other men who are already functioning in the calling of an apostle. These men are sent by the Holy Spirit to validate the calling that is on the apostle and to encourage him during his time of training.

An example of this is Paul the apostle. Jesus separated and commissioned him to be an apostle. Paul received the revelation of his ministry in Damascus, and after 14 years, he went to Jerusalem where he found the other apostles who validated his ministry. He writes (Galatians 2:1-2): “Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but [I did so] in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.”

Paul was commissioned by Jesus, but he still waited for the other apostles to validate his ministry and the revelation he had received directly from God; he did this because he was in submission to the other apostles. Regretfully today, there are many ‘apostles’ who answer to no one; they do what they want, how they want it, and in the end, they abuse their position and the people.

An Apostle – A Sent One

Mark 3:14 states, “Then Jesus appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach…”

Over and over again in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry we see that He declared that He had been sent by the Father; He was a ‘sent one’ and thus an apostle on a mission from the Father. This mission was to establish His Kingdom on earth by “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus Himself said, “I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). His mission – apostolic mission – was to announce and establish the Kingdom of God throughout the world. Just as Jesus was sent, He selected a group of men who had the same mandate as He did and He sent them to do the same thing He did…. “go into all the world and make disciples.”

The “selecting and sending” did not end there. He has continued throughout the history of the Church to select men, call them, commission them, and send them out as apostles. These current day apostles will be firmly planted in a local church and connected relationally in that church. They will be sent out from the local church (apostles are “sent ones”) and report back to the local church. As part of the ministry team in the local church they will influence the DNA of the local church and it will acquire an apostolic flavour with the people themselves becoming apostolic. The people of God, due to the influence of the ministry of an apostle, will become apostolic and will know that they have an apostolic mission to fulfill and will fully embrace it. This, however, does not mean that every believer is an apostle. The believers will be members of a team lead by an apostle and will do apostolic work and flow in an apostolic anointing because their leader is an apostle.

Jesus said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21). With apostles as part of the leadership team of the Church that Jesus is building the Church will be apostolic in nature. The Church will be a sending body of believers – sending forth teams , expeditions, to conquer and establish His Name and His Kingdom in the enemy’s territory. Therefore, to be an apostle or to be a part of an apostolic team means to be involved in a series of “military maneuvers” and to be involved in a war to establish His Kingdom in foreign territory. The apostles and those who join their teams are not “stay at home, comfort seekers” but are willing to risk everything to see the lost saved.

An apostle is not just a preacher who travels; he is someone who has a call from God, is commissioned to be an apostle, is recognized by his church to have that call and is trained, equipped, and mentored to fulfill the call. He has been released and is sent out – traveling with a purpose and a specific mission in mind.

Apostle – Background To The Word

The word ‘apostle’ was used by Jesus to describe the 12 men He chose and then trained. When they were ready, He sent them out as apostles. Today – there are many who are called to be apostles but they are not willing to be trained and so often launch their ministry ahead of God’s schedule for them and thus do much that is in the flesh – wounding many in the Name of Jesus. It is imperative that those whom He calls, like the original 12 (Mark 3), wait until they are trained, ready, recognized, and sent before beginning their apostolic ministry (Matthew 28).

The background of the word ‘apostolos’ or one who is sent goes back to the days of Alexander the Great and the founding and expansion of the Greek Empire. He was, according to some history books, the first one to begin using this word. History tells us that Alexander the Great – King of Macedonia, 350 years before Christ – would send messengers with a team on behalf of his kingdom or empire to accomplish a specific mission; this was his most popular method used to conquer other nations.

The commander of this special force (the team) was called an “apostle;” the king would give him the power and authority to establish the Greek empire wherever he was sent. This was called an apostolic mission, and the soldiers were referred to as the apostolic team. This team would arrive at the appointed place, fight with the enemy, destroy it, and finally establish a base of operation to govern the nation in the name of Alexander the Great. The word “apostle” describes the leader of a special group of individuals who were sent with the authority and specific purpose of conquering a territory for the king and establish his kingdom.

This is strictly a military term. This elite force was composed of a small group of individuals who were well trained and equipped for war; they were the first to take over a small portion of the enemy’s territory; the first to lead the way and establish the kingdom of Alexander the Great.

Today – nothing has changed. Apostles are still called to lead a team and establish a beachhead in enemy territory where a local church is eventually established. However, what has changed since the days when this was a military term is that many are not equipped or trained for what they are genuinely called to do. Those called to be apostles need to be mentored by others who are already ministering as apostles – true apostles. And, they need to be trained and equipped before being released to minister. When released, they must be sent out by someone who, like Alexander the Great, has the authority to send them – and they are sent from a local church … the existing outpost of the Kingdom in enemy territory responsible for moving deeper into the darkness with the light.

The Apostle Today

God is restoring the ministry of the apostle in His Church today. It is being restored in every nation of the world. In some places the ministry is fully restored and operational. In other places, it is in the process of being established and accepted. In places where this ministry is fully restored and operational – many still do not receive the ministry. Often this is the result of bad experiences with ministries that speak of being apostolic and those who call themselves apostles and are not. This is natural and to be expected. Whenever God restores a truth some take it to an extreme and thus give it a bad reputation. Others jump onto the current move of the Spirit calling themselves apostles when they are not. However, this does not mean there is not a genuine ministry being restored by the Spirit of God – it simply means the the flesh and the devil are involved at times and counterfeiting the real thing.

Over the past one hundred years, God has been at work restoring the five ministerial offices. At this time the ministries of the evangelist, teacher, pastor, and prophet have been restored. The ministry of the apostle is the last to be restored and this process of restoration in the church is well on its way. For the last ten years or more this has been the main emphasis of the Spirit as He realigns the Church bringing it back to the way it was biblically designed to be built and to function. Once this ministry is properly established and received the Church will be ready and able to complete its task of world evangelization – the training and deployment of workers into the harvest fields and the extending of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

Not everyone who has the title of ‘apostle’ is an apostle. Many are deceived and have declared themselves to be an apostle when they are not. Because it is new and different many recognize that this is a move of God and want to be involved and so they “went” but they were not “sent.” They are what the Scriptures call “false apostles.” So beware of those who use the word ‘apostle’ as a title and are not looking to serve God’s people but want to be served and seen as someone special. True apostles do not see themselves as special – simply essential.

The word ‘apostle’ is not a title to be placed in front of a person’s name – it is a role or a function, a job description for a ministry that is vital to the health of the local Church and the expansion of God’s Kingdom. In the Greek, the word for apostle is ‘apostolos’; it refers to one who is sent; an ambassador, a delegate, a special messenger; a commanding officer or one who is commissioned by a higher authority.

In the New Testament, this word is used as a verb over two hundred times; it appears less times as a noun. The verb is three times more common that the noun, which means that it refers more to an activity than a title. An “apostello” or one who is sent is what you are, not what you have. To be an apostle is more than having a title or office; it is an activity or function you live for.

The word is composed of two parts: ‘apo’ which means one and ‘stello’ which means to send. Literally, this word is defined as “one who is sent” or to order someone to go to an appointed place. This is because every true apostle has a “metron” or sphere of influence. This is the group, the district, the geographical area that he is called to minister in and to – and for which he has the authority to minister in the Name of the Lord Jesus who is our Chief Apostle. It is the area or people to which he is “sent.” Every apostle must discover their “metron” and then minister within those God-given parameters. To minister outside of his ‘metron’ means that he is ministering without authority and in the flesh.

More tomorrow….

Legalism and Intellectualism

There are two things in today’s church that can stop the new wine from flowing. Both of these oppose the reintroduction of apostles and thus the fresh move of the Holy Spirit and the new wine. They are legalism and intellectualism. Legalism and intellectualism cannot remain operational when God’s people begin to bring the supernatural and walk in the power of God. The new wine and legalism/intellectualism are opposed to each other.

This is not to say that those who accept the move of the spirit live without rules or regulations. It is not to say that we don’t read, study, and are against learning more. It is saying that if a person or a church (even a movement or denomination) needs rules made by man to allow people to be controlled and to keep them feeling safe and secure – good with God and accepted by their church – then they will not welcome the new wine. The new wine brings freedom from man’s rules, regulations, and traditions and usually brings with it new ways of functioning, organizing, and ministering. Life takes on a new freedom and often an uncertainty as we follow the leading of the Spirit and a legalistic approach to the faith simply cannot embrace this freedom. The new wine is embraced relationally and not legalistically.

As well, often those who need to understand everything and approach every aspect of the faith rationally do not welcome the new wine, the move of the Holy Spirit, or something new or renewed like the ministry of apostles and the apostolic/missional approach to church life. It simply does not “make sense” to them. And, it is true, not everything in the spirit realm makes sense and the supernatural cannot always be understood. However, this does not mean that those who are involved in the new wine are uneducated and don’t read. it simply means that they value information and education (so read and study) but can approach and embrace the moving of the Holy Spirit without having to first understand it fully.

So, among the many enemies of the new wine – tradition, dispensationalism, denominationalism, apathy, lethargy, laziness, and neglect… legalism and intellectualism are, in my mind, the two that will lead the opposition against the current move of the Spirit and the reintroduction of the role and ministry of apostles. And, they are firmly entrenched in many churches often in ways that the non-leaders are amazingly unaware that they are even there and that they form such a non-biblical filter for life in the Spirit.