231. Meet the Real God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

New for old

God is always doing new things.

Please understand that, as we said before, He is always the same, faithful and full of lovingkindness, and He has never changed. But when we engage Him intimately, He reveals Himself in continually new, surprising and sometimes even shocking ways.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you”
(Isa 42:9).

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it,
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert”
(Isa 43:18-19).

God is revealing new things in our day, yet often we try to cling on to what is old, comfortable and familiar, just like the children of Israel did in the wilderness. Old forms of church wineskin, church government, ministry, prayer, evangelism, doctrine and theology are all being challenged by new, fresh revelation of truth.

Have you ever stopped to question how much of what we believe is because we have always believed it, based on what someone else has taught us, or from a religious construct, doctrine or theology? How much is derived from or influenced by our particular culture and society? And finally, how much is actually from revelation, coming out of our direct personal experience of relationship with God Himself? In short, how much are we ‘leaning to our own understanding’?

The Joshua Generation are forerunners of the new. We are finding a new level of experiential relationship with God, a new level of communication with Him, new ability to hear and see what He reveals. We are finding out what it means to have the mind of Christ!

God is calling us to let go of the old and embrace the new: new mindsets and new paradigms, new worldviews. We must not be surprised if we encounter great resistance to change, and not only from the quarters we might expect it. Certainly some people in the old established churches will oppose what God is doing, but the greater resistance will likely come from more recent moves of God which have settled into maintenance mode.

Deeply ingrained

Even within ourselves, we may struggle to overcome the comfortable inertia of wanting to keep things the way they are. We experienced some of this within the church here: for a while the old pastoral form of church government steadfastly opposed and resisted the new heavenly apostolic order. We discovered just how deeply some of these things are ingrained into our thinking and practice. But eventually we made an individual and corporate decision to step into the new.

“… The dynamic of our strategy is revealed in God’s ability to disengage mindsets and perceptions that have held people captive in pseudo fortresses for centuries! Every lofty idea and argument positioned against the knowledge of God is cast down and exposed to be a mere invention of our own imagination” (2 Cor 10:5-6 Mirror Bible).

God has begun challenging the very pillars of our minds. We find ourselves in a time of transition, of uncertainty and change, in which we cannot be sure of anything we thought we knew. He has even told us,

“You have been invited to know the real Me, so that you can be forerunners of the glory presence”.

If He is inviting us to get to know the real God, what God did we think we knew? Is it possible that we have been seeing and presenting a false image of Him all this time? If so, we have only been introducing new believers to the same false image we have been worshipping. And if the world has rejected that image of God (and often, it has), then what might happen when we present the true nature of God, when we ‘show and tell’ what He is really like?

We need to meet Him and experience Him for ourselves. Then what we are offering people will not be some theoretical, theological perspective and doctrine, but a real relationship with a living God. And that is what the world needs; like us it needs to meet the real God, not the image that has been painted of Him up to now.

Seen Me, seen the Father

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.

“Jesus is the crescendo of God’s conversation; he gives context and content to the authentic thought. Everything that God had in mind for mankind is voiced in him. Jesus is God’s language. He is the radiant and flawless expression of the person and intent of God. He mirrors God’s character and exhibits his every attribute in human form. He is the voice of God announcing our redeemed innocence. This voice is the dynamic that sustains the entire cosmos. He is the force of the universe upholding everything that exists as the executive authority of God, enthroned in the boundless measure of his majesty” (Heb 1:3 Mirror Bible).

He declared, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. As Mirror Bible translator Francois Du Toit says, “the best translation would always be the incarnation”. So Jesus has to be the lens through which we both see and project what God is really like.

Transformation

As ‘forerunners of the glory presence’, we must get to know that presence by our own experience. The glory is the glory of the true God, not some dim, fractured, distorted image of Him. The principle is that we will be transformed into what we behold: if we see God as angry and vengeful, looking for every opportunity to pounce on us and strike us down when we get out of line, then we will display the same traits ourselves. So even as we look to unmask what Brad Jersak calls ‘the toxic representations of God’ so prevalent in the traditional church (and therefore in secular western society), we have to be careful to operate in love towards those we enter into discussion with. We can only do this if we are beholding the real God. The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is still working its way through the lump: religious and political spirits love dispute. By seeing and revealing the truth and operating in love we can help people to engage God themselves rather than feeling they have to engage in argument.

When Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, there was first of all a time of consecration. Alongside new experiences, new thinking and new levels and patterns of authority, we must display new levels of openness, honesty, sincerity, honour, respect and commitment.

Sacred cows

The old, the comfortable and the familiar have to be left behind when God brings us into a new day. If we are to receive all that God has for us we will need to let go of those old familiar ways because they will no longer be effective. Two and a half tribes elected to forego their inheritance in the Promised Land. We are not to be tethered to the past: old ways must not become idols we will not abandon.

So what are your pet doctrines, ideologies, methods and other sacred cows? Are you willing to meet God as He really is and ask Him to expose, remove and replace them?

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230. Your Destiny Revealed

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Every one of us, whether we know it or not, has an inheritance that Jesus died to secure for us. It includes our identity, our redemptive gift and our destiny. If we choose to cooperate with what God has prepared for us, then we will find total satisfaction and fulfilment.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book (scroll) were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

(Psa 139:16-17).

All God’s thoughts about us are good, because He is always smiling over us. Some people present Him as an angry God waiting to pounce when we get it wrong. That is not the God I know, nor is it the God revealed in the person of Jesus (who is the exact representation of God’s nature). He is always running with open arms to embrace us even when we do get it wrong, because His deepest desire is for relationship with us.

But there is a battle going on for our destiny. There may be problems to solve, messes to clean up, and raw materials to be shaped. Don’t let the obstacles, opposition or past mistakes stop you fulfilling all that God has destined for you, instead see them as stepping stones. He brings good out of every situation.

Perhaps you feel constrained, contained, limited by your life circumstances? God can explode the walls of the box your life seems to be in. Even if religious or political authority, position, power or laws are against you, God is bigger than all that. Willing hearts are all He needs to work with.

What is your destiny?

Most people never know what their destiny is. Of those who do, a small percentage know from childhood, but the majority only find out between the ages of 30-50, when perhaps they have more time to reflect or are more mature and willing to listen. But our age does not need to restrict us: Caleb was 85 years old when he took possession of his inheritance.

Here are three kinds of evidence to help us identify our destiny:

  • Physical evidence (what we can see or deduce by examining our lives).
  • Relational evidence (what God says to us).
  • Heavenly supernatural evidence (what is written on our scroll in heaven).

Physical

Abilities and desires

We can look for the things God has included in our design that have no cultural, generational or nurture basis, qualities unique to us. Abilities and desires which none of our family or peers share, our reactions to events and situations, the positive and negatives which stir us, these are clues we need to find. What lights us up, what do we find fulfilment in already?

But beware, brokenness can also be a strong driver. Say we lost a close relative to a particular disease, we might find purpose in running a campaign or support group for sufferers and their families, but that could be a hindrance to finding our true destiny. So let’s be sure that we are really looking at clues to God’s design, and not the results of our own brokenness.

These are like the Lego or jigsaw pieces of our destiny; we need to put them together to see the bigger picture.

For me, they include:

  • my inquisitive desire to understand how things work
  • my concern for issues such as racial inequality and injustice
  • a fascination both with history and the future
  • a liking for science fiction, the unexplained, the outside-of-the-box, broadening the perspective of the possible.
  • mountains always being special for me.

Later on, I was drawn to the Bible, to study it, to meditate in it, and eventually to encounter God in it, and that was something He placed in me. And I was always attracted to revivals, to moves of God’s Spirit. None of this could be explained by nurture, or by brokenness.

Challenges

We should also look at the challenges we face, at opposition seeking to hinder us.

  • I had a fear of public speaking. I could not even read aloud in class! Yet later on, people kept asking me to speak. Eventually I did, and now it is one of the main things God uses me in.
  • I had to overcome serious health issues, and pursue living in supernatural health for myself. So now I have a testimony which can help others do the same.
  • I had no fathering, no mentor, and thus no sense of identity; I experienced being let down and betrayed, which led to loneliness, so I struggled with community and relationship. But all of those are things God is calling me to be involved with.

Are there character issues with which God keeps having us go around the mountain, until we deal with them? Negative personality traits He is asking us to work on? Things He gives us repeated opportunities to get transformed? Those, too, are clues.

Let’s not be limited by our past, nor let cultural constraint, gender, race or social standing stop us. God really is no respecter of persons.

Let’s surround ourselves with the right connections and associations, with people who will encourage, challenge and support us. Let’s be willing to obey even if God asks us to do something unexpected or unusual. Let’s not be passive, but actively pursue our destiny.

Relational

We can develop an intimate relationship with the God who has these vast thoughts about us. If we can learn to listen to and speak with God daily, then surely this is the simplest way to get to know our destiny?

His sheep know His voice (John 10:27). If we ask, we receive (James 4:2-3). Let’s draw near to Him (Heb 4:16, 10:22, James 4:8), get closer, go deeper, be real, be vulnerable in intimacy; get to know Him, know His thoughts, know His heart for us (John 16:13-14, 1 Cor 2:9-12).

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:18-20).

God has made resurrection life available to us to enable us to fulfil what He has called us to do.

Supernatural

Deep calls

God is releasing a sound, a vibrational frequency, calling us to come into alignment with our heavenly destiny. It is coming out of the spiritual realm. People are hearing it, all over the world (and not only believers).

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls… (Psalm 42:7).

We can engage Him in this sound in our worship. We need to tune into that sound, to engage our spirit with the creative light realm, that spiritual dimension all around us where we can access every spiritual blessing.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3).

And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).

Our destiny has been particularly fashioned for us, and involves ruling in heaven and walking it out on earth.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph 2:10).

Scroll of destiny

We saw in Psalm 139 that our destiny is recorded on a scroll. We can go into the record room of heaven and see the scroll of our destiny and the scroll of our life. When you compare the two, you can see where they line up (and where they don’t).

But I believe our destiny is also encoded in a double-helix scroll, our DNA. That is why, when we break bread, we speak words of transformational realignment over our DNA.

Search my heart

So let’s engage our destiny, fight for it, be prepared to be transformed for it. This is a good prayer to pray if you want to know your destiny:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way

(Psalm 139:23-24).

Draw near

Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8).

God has placed it in our heart, so we can engage with it (and with Him) there. We give God access into our heart and He gives us access into heaven:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throneAfter these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things” (Rev 3:20-21, 4:1).

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near… (Heb 10:19-22).

In the heavenly holy place we will find the arc of the covenant. The blood of Jesus is on the Mercy Seat, which always gives us access to come. Inside the arc are manna (representing the will of God for our lives), the tablets of stone (representing God’s law now written on our hearts) and Aaron’s rod (a symbol of authority).

Let’s go there now.

[Click here to play an audio version of the following activation: https://goo.gl/8s6uLA]

Close your natural eyes
And open the eyes of your heart, your imagination.
Think of a door. Picture the door in your spirit.
Jesus is knocking. Open the door, let Him in.

Feel His love, acceptance and affirmation.

Hear the sound of many waters, feel the vibration of His presence.
He embraces you and draws you close to His heart.
He affirms your identity
He affirms your calling
He affirms your destiny.

Listen to His voice.
Feel your heart engage.
Feel the desires of your heart released.

Now think of the door standing open into heaven.
Step through that door.

Jesus takes you by the hand
And leads you through the veils
To stand before the Arc.

His Name is manifested as you stand in His presence:
יהוה
(Yod Hei Vav Hei)
The Lion, the Ox, the Eagle and the Man.
The Presence of God manifests between the wings of the cherubim.

Open your heart to Him.
Let Him unfurl your scroll.
Let Him write and reveal the contents of the scroll onto your heart.

Let Him cause those longings, yearnings and desires to be released within you.

You can eat the manna, as it reveals more of God’s will for you.
Feel the energy.
Pick up the rod and feel the authority,
the confidence and boldness to fulfil your destiny.

And now you can step back into this realm…

I would encourage you to practise this daily, to feel and engage with the presence of God in the realms of heaven. Expect your heart to be changed, expect your destiny to be revealed and the longings that God has for you to be released.

SoundTrack: Closer – Amanda Cook

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יהוה  POWERFUL Manifesting Prayer | Adonya via YouTube

 

 

229. No-One Said It Would Be Easy

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Subdue

No-one said it would be easy (or if they did, they lied).

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen 1:28).

So apparently there was something in their destiny that Adam and Eve would need to subdue. And it is always that way:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

Most of us are familiar with that scripture, but how many of us really do consider it joy when we encounter difficult situations? Yet we would probably all say we want to be mature, complete and lacking in nothing. Do we see every obstacle as an obstruction and a barrier, or as an opportunity to overcome and grow in faith? That is what will make the difference in our experience.

Every battle on the pathway of our destiny is intended to create dependence on and intimacy with God. We are not supposed to overcome it alone, independent of Him, but to learn that we need Him. When we come up against something that seems impossible, if we keep looking at the obstacle it gets bigger and bigger until we end up in despair. If we look instead at God (who is God of the impossible), we get hope. Faith can arise and then nothing is impossible.

Jesus said we could speak to obstacles and tell them to move, but only if we have hope and faith in our hearts. He has been there and knows what it is like to face obstacles. If we try to avoid the battles, conflicts, trials and tribulations then we are cheating ourselves of experiential intimacy, growth and transformation. That will actually hinder our development into maturity. Sadly, the kind of gospel preaching many people have responded to has completely failed to prepare them for the battles they will face.

The first step

When God gives us a vision, usually we do not immediately get to see the whole of His purposes in it. Often, we only get the first step or two, like Abraham did: ‘Leave everything behind and I will show you where to go’. This encourages us to pursue Him for further revelation, and we then find that this only comes by first pursuing relationship with Him.

He uses that initial encounter or vision to get us started on the pathway. Sooner or later we will meet opposition which we need to press through to overcome, often from well-meaning believers, friends or family who try to put us off doing what God is asking us to do. Other people’s negative words have hindered many from fulfilling their destiny.

Fight for it

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15).

Adam lost his inheritance but God’s ultimate plan did not change. He promised restoration through conflict. There is conflict, enmity, between the path of the tree of life and the path of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

We have to be willing to fight for our destiny. Jesus himself overcame the circumstances of His illegitimate birth and an early attempt on His life. Later on, He faced temptation and opposition from all kinds of people, from his own family and disciples through to the religious and political leaders. He persevered even to sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane and willingly giving up His life on the cross.

Abraham

Many other people we read about in the Bible experienced the same thing. Abraham did not just get the Promised Land handed to him. God took him (and his descendants) on a journey in which they could learn to trust Him and be obedient, with varying degrees of success. When the people of Israel came out of Egypt they crossed the wilderness to the Promised Land only to find it full of giants needing to be conquered. But God gave them divine strategy to overcome the opposition they faced.

So where are you? Are you in slavery in Egypt, wandering around in the wilderness, or are you in your own Promised Land, fighting to take possession of your inheritance?

Joseph

Joseph had wonderful visions, but his family reacted badly. He had a coat of many colours, favour, a double portion… and it seemed he had lost it all. He was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, and sold into slavery in Egypt. He suffered false accusation and imprisonment. He was forgotten and let down by other people time and again.

Most people would have given up, thinking ‘those dreams must not have been from God’. Not Joseph. He continued to believe that God’s plan was alive and well. The reality is that he started out somewhat naïve, and his destiny for ruling could never have been learned in his father’s house, so God removed him. His experience of exile and prison taught him about people: through encountering animosity and jealousy he became streetwise.

Instead of being deflected from our purpose by treating everything we face as misfortune, how about we call it ‘refining’, and allow it to transform and change us?

David

David eventually became the great king he was destined to be, but not without first facing family opposition, killing a giant, surviving the previous king’s attempts to assassinate him, living in a cave with a bunch of oddballs (which sounds a lot like ‘church’ to me) and fighting off Philistines trying to rob him of his family and possessions. Only when he had overcome all that could he fulfil the purpose of God in his generation.

Esther

Esther was seemingly on a fast track to nowhere. Orphaned, kidnapped to a harem, separated from her remaining family, not allowed to speak to anyone, she went through a whole year of purification in order to spend the rest of her life in futile servitude at the whim of the king. God had other ideas. As her uncle Mordecai asked her, ‘What if you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’ God is saying the same thing to each of us today.

She saved a whole nation by taking her life in her hands, stepping out of cultural expectations and going to see the king uninvited. You may not know the significance of your destiny, what its consequences might be in the plans and purposes of God for yourself, your family, your nation, your world. God has a purpose for you. Be an agent for change. Be a world-changer.

Let’s be willing to be transformed, to come into maturity. Let’s embrace the fullness of who we are and fulfil every part of the destiny God has for us. We sing,

I am royalty
I have destiny
I have been set free
I’m gonna shape history
I’m gonna change the world
(Jake Hamilton – The Anthem).

It’s great to sing that we are going to change the world – but it will only happen if we believe that, because of who we are in God, we really can.

SoundTrack: Jake Hamilton – The Anthem

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226. Nothing Can Stop Us

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

“Overcomers, prevailing over every obstacle in our way.”

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11).

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psa 139:17)

Do you know what God thinks about you?
Not what you think, or what the world thinks, but what God thinks?

Not Mission Impossible

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph 1:3-4).

He has chosen us to be sons, to be part of His family, to be those who will engage with the earthly and the heavenly, the natural and the supernatural, in order to fulfil His commission to restore creation to original purpose and design. This is not Mission Impossible, but “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

Sorry, Frank

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this
(Isa 9:6-7).

God’s intention is that Jesus’ kingdom will have no end. It will bring peace and wholeness, not just here, or in this time, but through everything else that is out there and through all eternity. And God is going to get His way: all He asks of us is whether we will be part of that or not. That is our choice: the pathway to eternal life or the pathway of humanism. The pathway of the tree of life, or the DIY pathway of the knowledge of good and evil.

His way, or My Way (sorry, Frank).

Don’t miss your destiny

Many biblical figures lost their birthright or only partially outworked their destinies. Here are just a few from the Old Testament (I am sure you can think of others):

  • Adam and Eve
  • Cain
  • Esau
  • Jacob
  • Reuben
  • Simeon and Levi
  • Judah
  • Moses
  • Solomon
  • Jeroboam

Let’s check our hearts: have we become cynical, sceptical, critical or judgmental because of past experience, disappointment and disillusionment? That is what can happen when we allow life’s circumstances to affect how we see ourselves and our future, rather than what God says about us. The same is true if we have become earthbound rather than heavenly, settlers rather than pioneers, apathetic, passive, lazy, selfish, fearful, rebellious, comfortable, safe or materialistic; none of those will help us fulfil our destiny.

When Jesus looks at the destiny written on our scroll, is that what He sees in our lives? Does He recognise the person He created us to be? Or, like the bridegroom in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt 25), does He say ‘I do not know you’? That chapter continues with the story of the talents, representing the destiny God has given us. Let’s be like those who took a risk and gained more as a result, rather than the one who dug a hole in the ground and hid the money.

‘Throw out the worthless servant into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt 25:30). This is not ‘hell’ by the way. The weeping and gnashing of teeth is an expression of anger and frustration when those who have wasted their destiny realise that they have missed out on God’s best for them.

Choose

We can choose to serve God or we can make ourselves god; but we can’t do both.
We can choose to follow what God says or we can choose to follow the philosophies of men; but we can’t do both.
We can choose to worship in spirit in truth or we can choose the worship that pleases us; but we can’t do both.
We can choose the lifestyle of holiness or we can choose the lifestyle of the world; but we can’t do both.

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Our destiny is designed for us to make an eternal difference. Choose it, and nothing can stop us; we will not allow our past to rob us of our future. We are intended to be overcomers, prevailing over every obstacle that is placed in our way.

So will you choose your eternal destiny?

Today I choose to accept my mission.
Today I choose to accept my calling.
Today I choose to accept my destiny.
Today I choose to accept my commission as a son of God.
Today I choose to surrender my will and my ways to You.
Today I choose to serve the Lord.

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SoundTrack: We Are The Free – Matt Redman

“Nothing can stop us, we’ll be running through the night
And our passion will not die…”

The image of Frank Sinatra, taken from the trailer for Pal Joey (1957), is in the Public Domain.

217. Redemptive Gifts (1)

Mike Parsons

 

Creation

In this series on ‘destiny’ we have looked at ‘who I am’, and it is time now to move on to our redemptive gifts or ‘how I am made’. After that we will go on to ‘what I am made for’.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

If we want things to work together for good (and not just our own good but for the good of everything and everybody), then we really need to know that we are called and that we have a purpose.

Do you know His purpose for your life?

Have you accepted His call?

His purpose and His call will work together to enable us to see our lives outworked for the glory of God and bring transformation to this earthly realm. If we know His purpose for our lives and know what He has called us to, both in this realm and in heaven, that will enable us to be a gateway of heaven on earth.

Transformed or conformed?

‘A redemptive gift is the grace of God woven into who we are; that when we are made right with God we become able to honour Him with how He has made us to be’.

Sadly there may have been other threads ‘woven into us’ which have affected us negatively.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is… (Rom 12:2).

God’s will is for an open heaven over us, for us to engage with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in intimacy, and for that we need to be transformed (not conformed). The world wants to conform us to a particular pattern and rob us of what God intends us to have and experience.

The world may have masked, damaged or perverted our identity, our gift and our destiny, because of our own experience and that of our generations. If we don’t know who we really are we will forever be asking ‘where do I fit?’ and ‘where do I belong?’

God desires to transform us to outwork who we really are, in His service. In that way we will be able to fulfil our part in restoring the whole of creation.

Redemptive gifts

Redemptive gifts are different from the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (healing, words of knowledge, wisdom, distinguishing of spirits, tongues etc.), and from the offices appointed for the church in 1 Corinthians 14 (apostle, prophet, teacher, miracle worker etc.), and from the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4 (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, shepherd).

Redemptive gifts are found in Romans 12.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy , according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who rules,  with diligence; he who shows mercy , with cheerfulness (Rom 12:6-8).

There are seven different gifts, and these are given to ‘each of us’, which leaves nobody out. We are to line up with what God has given, rather than what the world has attempted to impose on us. Each of us is to exercise the gift(s) He has given us; and as we do we are to be that gift to the rest of the body.

The seven gifts are: prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy.

Paul writes that faith is intrinsic to being a prophet and that a servant will actually serve (you cannot be a servant in theory). The same with teacher and exhorter – it is only in teaching or exhorting that they express themselves. The next three are interesting. ‘With liberality’ describes how a giver gives. ‘With diligence’ describes how a ruler rules. Finally, mercy operates ‘with cheerfulness’, indicating that the mercy gift may perhaps struggle to be cheerful. We will look at each gift in more detail in coming posts.

Why ‘redemptive’ gifts?

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be redeemed from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:19-21).

Everything God created in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm is waiting for God’s sons to be revealed, and to bring back to creation what is missing. And so ‘creation itself will also be redeemed’, and we are called to be part of God’s plan to do that. That plan includes the gifts God has given us, and when we discover who we are then we can discover how we fit in to God’s overall purpose. The way we are wired and designed enables each of us to fulfil our destiny and engage in the process of restoring creation.

Redemptive gifts are dealt to each person in differing measures of faith.
God gives people as the different gifts.
God gives these gifts as necessary to fulfil his redemptive will on earth.
Each of us is a gift, differing according to the grace given to us by God.

Each person is and has a primary gift, but will have others as well, and the mix and degree of the various gifts in each of us is a unique combination.

Received at conception

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Redemptive gifts are received at conception, rather than salvation. We are born with them and they will influence the course of our lives, regardless of whether we become Christians or not (though they will be more effectively expressed if we do). Psychologists term these differences in people ‘basic temperaments’ or ‘personality types’.

We are designed on (and with) purpose.

Redemptive gifts tend to shape our personality. They also affect the way in which we may receive or express one or more of the spiritual gifts, offices or ministries.

So my redemptive gift is how I am intrinsically made to function, ideally with spirit and soul in harmony. But because of separation from God, my soul or heart personality traits developed independently of my spirit. I need to discover the gift, then purify and refine the heart to define and polish it, so that it begins to shine.

There are some common behavioural characteristics which can help us identify our redemptive gifts (primary and secondary). Compassion, for example, may come more easily to servants and mercies than prophets and rulers. However, we must not use our gift as an excuse for not growing in love! We are all called to walk out the fruit of the Spirit, whether it comes naturally or not.

Arthur Burk has done a great deal of research into redemptive gifts. Here are some of the characteristics he has identified and how he correlates them with other sevens in the Bible (click here or on either image to view or download them both in one PDF file):

slide-1-hd
slide-2-hdGod is your Father and designer, and He desires to call forth your identity as His child. He desires to reveal your redemptive identity. He wants you to know who you are and how you are designed. You are called to be a world-changer.

As you exercise your own gifting you are free of the need to compare yourself (favourably or unfavourably) with anyone else. You can be comfortable in your own skin, not having to try to be like other people.

You are you.

You are unique;
Everyone else is also unique.

You are messed up in some way;
Everyone is messed up in some way.

You are a mixture;
Everyone is a mixture.

Every one of us is in a process of being refined, purified and transformed so that we can be ‘us’ as designed by God.

We must learn to respect and honour the differences and uniqueness in each other. As members of the body we will not all see things the same way, but when we put it all together we (as a body) will see things as Jesus does.

Next time we will begin to look at each of the gifts in more detail.

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215. Revealing the Sons of God

Mike Parsons

RevealingWe are all on a journey from slavery to sonship, and those two conditions are very different. Slavery breeds a poverty spirit, fear and lack of identity; sonship breeds faith, identity, resources and responsibility.

Empower a slave and it leads to rebellion, betrayal and treason, as with Israel in the wilderness. They were given freedom and responsibility, but they showed no loyalty to God or to Moses because they still had a mindset of slavery (see Exodus 15-17, 32, Numbers 21). On the other hand, restrict a son and it will hinder creativity. When someone knows who they are, God can inspire them to release their own creativity into His creation.

So we have to be careful not to empower people who don’t know who they are nor to restrict those who do. We need to put things in place which will help sons come into the fullness of sonship and to deal with any slavery mentality they may have.

The spirit of slavery vs the spirit of sonship.

The root issues of how we think are in our hearts, not our heads. To use a computer analogy, the heart is like the hard drive and the head is like the Random Access Memory (RAM): things get loaded from our heart into our conscious thinking and then we act out of them.

Our characteristics and behaviour will help us identify to what extent we are acting out of a spirit of slavery and to what extent out of a spirit of sonship. Almost none of us will fall completely into one category or the other. A spirit of slavery is often the product of poor nurture, unhealed wounds and brokenness in our own lives, but it can also be generational: particular ways of thinking handed down to us from previous generations.

We are going to look at a number of areas. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, not asking ‘how ought I to think?’ but ‘how do I in fact think?’ And please, let’s use this as a tool to assess our own condition, not to label or judge anyone else!

In the tables below, you will see a category in the centre column, and on either side of it, the characteristics typical of slaves and sons. You can download these tables as a PDF file to save or print if you wish.

slavery #1 Slavery #2 Slavery #3 Slavery #4

An opportunity to be transformed

Spend some time working through this. Use these checklists to ask yourself: “do I have more thinking on the left side as a slave or more on the right side as a son?” Then you will get an idea of where you are on this journey. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, so that you can change.

If you recognise demonic strongholds in your thinking, see it not as a criticism but as an opportunity to be transformed. Those strongholds are defended and empowered by familiar spirits – spirits that are familiar with your mindsets, your patterns and ways of thinking – and they constantly seek to ensure that you continue to think that way. Continuing in that way of thinking only results in continuing to demonstrate the same patterns of behaviour, or worse, a downward spiral that leads to an orphan heart, shaping us and blocking our destiny.

But God wants to do something about it. He is only showing you any slave-mentality you may have so that He can free you from it and enable you to think and act more and more like a son. Access to heaven and heaven’s blessing, heaven’s authority and heaven’s power all come from knowing who we are as sons.

In the heavenly realms we have places of authority that God has destined for us: mountains with thrones that God is calling us to possess. We can only possess them when we come into maturity (see Gal 4).

What do we do?

When we recognise that our mindset is not right, we:

  • forgive and release those whose words and deeds have resulted in us being the way we are. We don’t rationalise it away. We see that it happened and had an effect on us, and forgive and release them.
  • own the way of thinking or the behaviour. We don’t make excuses for it, it is sin to think like a slave when God has said you are a son, and if you don’t treat it as sin you will most likely carry on and be comfortable with thinking that way. Confess it, renounce it, repent of it (turn from it and turn to the truth). Take it to the courts, if you know how to do that, and get divorce papers which enforce separation from that way of thinking and behaviour.
  • meditate on the truth of God’s love for us and his acceptance of us. Meditate on the destiny He has for us. Get these things into our spirit by experience and encounter so that they become the basis of how we live. This is not an instant fix – it takes time.
  • attack the familiar spirits. Don’t let them lie to us and whisper into our minds. Take captive every thought. Deal with the thoughts that come, don’t entertain them and allow them to take root. Challenge them! We must be very careful about what is coming out of our mouth, not saying negative things that line up with the spirit of slavery. Speak out the truth.
  • get help if we need to. If we cannot deal with familiar spirits ourselves, we enlist the help of someone else who can minister deliverance to us. We may need healing from a wounded heart, and someone to minister that healing if we are not receiving it on our own.

Then we can be restored, and come back into a place of peace and rest, knowing who we are as children of God, knowing God’s love.

He really wants us to know our identity as His sons, and to renounce our slavery and orphan mentalities. He wants us to receive our security and acceptance from Him. Then we will be manifested as sons on the earth, to bring the whole of creation back into alignment with God’s eternal intentions before Satan fell.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

That’s us!

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214. The Hearts of the Children

Mike Parsons

heartsOur fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt (Acts 7:39).

A whole generation saw their home as Egypt and not the Promised Land, because they saw themselves as slaves, not sons. How do we see ourselves? Are we looking to our past to define us, or are we believing what God says about us and looking to our future? The fact is, we tend to look the way we’re going.

Generations of slaves

They were generations of slaves. They had no understanding of freedom, and no understanding of godly leadership – they had to do what the taskmasters told them to do. They had no connection to God as Father, and had lost sight of their covenant family identity from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had no sense of belonging, no sense of heritage, no sense of purpose. They had riches, because they came out with the gold of Egypt, and yet they had no wealth. Money does not bring happiness or fulfilment, and it does nothing to root out an underlying poverty mentality or an orphan spirit.

They had no loyalty either to God or to Moses, no faith or trust in God, and as a result they all died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb – including Moses himself. Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit, and a different relationship with God. They knew him as Father and were able to enter in, taking the next generation in with them.

Turn our hearts

He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse (Mal 4:6).

God’s desire is to turn our hearts back to our Father in heaven, and to see that His heart is for us. This is a fatherless generation, a strategy of the enemy to steal destiny by separating and removing fathers from their families, but we do not have to be part of it. We do not need to have an orphan spirit.

  • Orphans have no parents
  • Orphans have no inheritance
  • Orphans have no home
  • Orphans have no connection to heritage
  • Orphans think like slaves

A son or a slave?

Let’s ask ourselves, do we think and act like a son or a slave? It may not be black-and-white: perhaps sometimes we think and act like sons but then slip back into thinking and acting as slaves. De we identify with slavery or sonship? Do we know our identity as a son, our royal identity as a son of the king?

God wants to heal your father- (or mother-, or other relationship-) wounds. He wants to remove the scars that are on your life. He wants you to have a home in Him. He wants you to know you are adopted, accepted, and loved. He wants you to know and fulfil your destiny.

Will you allow God to be your Father? Or will you allow your relationship with your earthly father to rob you of that intimacy?

Will you trust Him with your heart? If your heart has been damaged, if you have been betrayed, disappointed, let down and hurt, then it is no small thing to trust someone with your heart again (even if that someone is God). It is a choice, and a choice that comes with risk attached.

Will you allow him to deliver you from an orphan spirit? Will you lay down your old natural identity? Will you pick up your new supernatural identity?

Stand and speak

If you will, then stand and speak these declarations out loud (if you can’t do that now, please be sure to come back and do it later, because speaking these things out carries power). When we have made these declarations, God is going to minister to us and speak to us in our hearts.

I choose to lay down my old identity as an orphan and slave
I choose to turn away from my past
I choose to forgive and release my earthly father for not representing true fatherhood to me
I choose to look to my heavenly Father for my acceptance

I choose to let go of rejection, fear and insecurity
I choose to embrace my destiny
I choose to give my heart to You, Father, afresh today
I choose to allow you to heal, deliver and restore me.

Now receive what God is going to do for you.

In the authority you have released I loose each person who made those declarations from an orphan spirit and a spirit of slavery and a spirit of rejection. I pray for the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit to break those yokes, destroy those burdens and loose them from the control of their mind, their emotion and their will, from that orphan spirit and that spirit of slavery.

I loose them from it in Jesus’ name, in the power that Jesus is releasing today under an open heaven.
I bind each of them to their full destinies in heaven and on earth as sons of God

Now I want you to close your eyes for a few moments and see with the eyes of your heart the scars that may be over your heart from the past. You may picture them, you may feel them, or just sense that they are there.

Now hear the voice of Father God speaking to you and to those wounded areas of your heart. And this is what God says to you:

‘I love you my child – I love you, I love you.
I love you my child – I love you, I love you.
I love you my child – I love you, I love you’.

Over and over, hear Him repeat those words. Allow His words of love and acceptance and affirmation to heal the wounds and remove the scar tissue from your heart.

I release the angels, release the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, to bring that healing oil to heal the wounded hearts. Receive the love of God, receive the Father’s embrace, as He says:

‘I accept you as my child
I affirm who you truly are
I call out your spiritual identity as my son
I invest you with the authority as a prince (or princess) to subdue, rule, and manifest My kingdom on earth as it is in heaven’.

Receive that into your spirit. Let your spirit embrace and begin to expand and grow and mature. Let it bring God’s blessing into your life.

Receive a revelation of who you truly are as a son of God, and allow Him to continue that process of conforming you into His image, into the image He always had of you from eternity, into the image of Jesus. A son of God, taking up the full responsibility of who you are in the heavens and on earth.

God’s desire is for you to truly know that you have a home, that you have a family, that you are accepted, that you are loved.

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210. A Beloved Child

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back to the weak and elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? (Gal 4:8-9).

Relationship releases us and empowers us. Religion enslaves us. Are we serving God in order to have a relationship with Him? If we are, we will end up in religious bondage. Or do we serve because of our relationship? That will bring us into life.

Every one of us can come into a relationship with God. It is a free gift of grace. Sadly, though, if we listen to the lies of the enemy, we can be enslaved all over again by going back into religion, back into dead works, trying to please God – and trying to get a relationship with Him (when we already have one) – by what we do.

We serve God not so that we can have a relationship with Him but because we already have a relationship with Him in Christ. We serve from the security of our relationship with Him, so we are co-heirs with Him. We work with Him not for Him. If we are working for God then we will be looking to get something in return. But if we’re working with God, we’re working in partnership with Him and simply enjoying all the blessings that brings.

Who has labelled us?

Who has given us our identity? Who has labelled us? What labels have people put on us? Parents, siblings, friends? Authority figures, society? What has labelled us – and do we still believe the label? How do we label ourselves? Is it according to our past and what other people say? Or is it according to what God says about us?

If we label ourselves ‘sons’ then we will think, feel and act like sons. If we give ourselves some other label then we’ll think, feel and act the way we labelled ourselves instead. Who are we agreeing with? With God, or with what other people say?

Identity

Where do we get our identity from? From what we do? From our work? How do you introduce yourself? I’m a doctor, I’m a housewife, I’m a cleaner… If your identity is so tied up with what you do that you cannot separate it, then what you do has power over you.

Some of us will get our identity from relationships, with a father, mother or husband, wife, friend… Those relationships can define us. People join clubs – or even gangs – because they are looking for identity. They are looking to belong. Whereas, in God, we already belong.

Culture itself can provide our identity. I am British, and British people have a reputation for being stiff-upper-lipped. Is that who I am? We can adopt those traits and it can affect how we are, when we could be seeing and hearing what God says about us and getting our identity from Him.

Too often people base their identities on what they do, on anything from their jobs to their roles in relationships and their pursuits, and by doing so they significantly limit their lives. The truth is God intends for all people to find their identity in Christ. That is where we will find the truth of who we are and embrace it.

Abundance

Mark Driscoll says, “if you’re a Christian, your identity encompasses all the abundance of being a beloved child of God”. It encompasses the abundance, the overflow… everything it means to be a child of God. But our spirit has to grow and overrule the soul. It must overrule everything that has told us who we are, everything that has naturally defined us, so that our spirit decrees who we are, based on what God says. Then we can live in the truth of that identity and revelation of who we are and why we are here, and we can start living our lives fully in Christ.

Blessed

You are saved from punishment; you are reconciled to God; you are accepted as a child of God; you are adopted into His family. You are a saint not a sinner;  you’re blessed; you have a new spiritual identity as a son and an heir. Believe it. Start thinking that way, start meditating on that. Start embracing what God says about you!

By virtue of our adoption we have been given a new name, as a son not a slave, a new legal standing and status. Accepted; no longer alienated nor condemned. A new family relationship: God is our Father, no longer our Judge. A new image: the image of Christ. these are awesome things that God has done for us.

Destiny

Knowing your identity is absolutely key to knowing and fulfilling your destiny. Because if you don’t experientially know who you are (that means actually know it by experience, not just know about it), then how can you know what belongs to you and what you are called to do? See, if you were the son of the Queen of England but you were taken as a baby and put into another family, you would never know who you really were. And we have been robbed, we were taken into captivity, so (even though we have now been released) we have never known the fullness of who we really are.

But God is revealing to us in these days who we really are as His children; what sons really do in the kingdom of God; and what our inheritance really is in that kingdom.

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209. The Right to Become Children of God

Royal Coat of Arms of the United KingdomMike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

God the Father sent Jesus to ‘redeem those who were in bondage to sin’, to buy us back from slavery. He set us free, but it does not stop there – we are then adopted into His royal family, and become His heirs. In that family relationship we find acceptance, affection, affirmation, approval – and unlimited access to our Father, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.

The right to become children of God

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Everyone reading this has the right to become a child of God if they believe and accept Jesus. That is astonishing! Everything we have done in our past can be overcome because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1)

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).

That word ‘know’ means ‘experience’. If God is love, and God is in us, then love is in us, and we can experience it for ourselves. In fact we can live in it, every moment of every day.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children (Rom 8:14).

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal 4:7).

An inheritance for you

You have become a son of a Father who has an inheritance for you. Not only that, but He has released that inheritance to you so that you can experience the fullness of that relationship. That relationship of intimacy in sonship is something He has always wanted and planned for each of us:

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph 1:5).

Slaves and orphans struggle with the fear of trusting, and therefore live a life of independence. If we cannot trust anyone else, we will feel we are on their own. God does not want us to feel alone. If, because of that fear, we fail to fully grasp that we are sons, then there is no way we will act like sons either.

We may find it hard to trust because of past experience. We have all been hurt, all been damaged, all been let down by people. We may be afraid of being hurt, rejected, or disappointed.  We may suffer from fear of failure, or fear of losing control.

But losing control is the very thing we need to do. We need to surrender control to God, and trust Him to have our best interests at heart. We have to stop being independent, and learn to trust Him as our Father. When we do, we embrace everything He has for us, because he will cause our destiny to be outworked in our lives.

A loving, affectionate Father

You see, salvation does not make us slaves (servile followers of a tyrannical God). That is what religion presents, and it is the lie the devil uses to lead astray so many people who would otherwise escape his clutches and turn to God. No, this great salvation makes us sons (grateful children of a loving, affectionate Father). That is the difference between religion and relationship. Religion will always put us into bondage (the word ‘religion’ even comes from a Latin word meaning ‘bound up’), but relationship will bring us freedom.

To be liberated from slavery is wonderful. But then to be adopted as a son and made a co-heir of the Father’s entire estate is absolutely astounding! If we were to fully understand what it is to have access to the wealth of our Father (and I’m really not talking about money), it would totally transform our lives. Because of our adoption, the nature of our whole relationship with God has radically changed. We are set free from that religious perception of God as a hard taskmaster just looking for every opportunity to punish us, a God we have to somehow try to appease by doing our good works (only to find that nothing we can do is ever quite good enough).

There is no punishment in store for us as His children, just love and acceptance, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Reserved in heaven for you

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

I hope we all understand by now that ‘reserved in heaven for you’ does not mean that you have to wait until you die to go and enjoy it. Jesus has opened up heaven for us and we are seated there with Him: everything there is for us to discover, and we can walk in that inheritance as sons right now. And God is looking to reveal more and more of what it means to be saved, what it means to be part of His family, what it means to have a relationship with Him.

In the past I have ministered to people who had been adopted, and naturally they can struggle. In spite of much love from the adoptive parents, they can still have a sense of not belonging, of not fitting in (and especially if they come from a different country, race or colour). But when we are adopted by God it is like we have found our eternal home, as if we have come back to how things should always have been. Because that is the reality of it.

Steal and kill and destroy

But (and it is a big ‘but’)…

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10a AMP).

The enemy, the father of lies, wants to remind us of our past and our history in order to rob us of our present and our future. He wants to rob us of our adoptive inheritance and destroy our relationship with God. Yet Jesus said,

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10b AMP).

Who are we going to listen to? If we are smart, we will listen to Jesus and embrace the fullness of what the Father has destined and provided for us.

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208. Whose Slave Are You?

sMike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are on a quest, and in a battle, to lay hold of and possess all that God destined for us (and destined us to be). That quest and that battle will lead us into deeper intimacy with God.

Jesus is the firstborn Son, but the Father always desired a larger family.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29).

It is my destiny and yours to be His son (this is not about male or female but about our relationship with our Father and our position as heir). Now, it is all very well knowing as a piece of factual information that we are sons, and even knowing in our head that God sees it that way, but the question we must ask ourselves is, do I feel, think, and act like His son? Am I experiencing that, and living it out? And if not why not? If I am not fully embracing everything God says about me and thinks about me, then I need to know what is preventing me so that I can overcome it, and enter in.

A heritage of slavery

We all started out as slaves. Mankind was in slavery because of what our ancestors, Adam and Eve, did in the Garden. Therefore we are all born into slavery, and we are all spiritual orphans, separated from God. Adam and Eve became spiritual orphans because they were ejected and expelled from the Garden, sold into slavery because they chose to follow the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than the pathway of the tree of life that God had designed for them. God wants us to turn away from following the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil, to come back and embrace the tree of life. Even good things, if we do not get them from God, can still lead us into slavery.

So because of Adam and Eve’s sin, naturally speaking slavery is our heritage. It affects how we feel and think about ourselves and about God. Keep going that way and we end up with a wounded soul as a result of trying to meet our own needs in the only way we know how – from the world – and our spirit is separated from God and dead to Him. That is what is in our natural family line, and ‘sons of disobedience’ carry on the family tradition.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Eph 2:1-3).

People who do not know God as Father, and do not have a relationship with Him, will carry on in the pattern set up by Adam and Eve. All of us either have lived or do live like that. Yet He never intended any of us to be ‘children of wrath’, and that is why He has made a way for us to live differently.

Whose slave are you?

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Rom 6:16).

Adam and Eve chose to present themselves as slaves to sin, and the result was death, both physical and spiritual. But Jesus has given us a choice now: we can present ourselves to God.

So, whose slave are you? Who is your master?

One master brings life; the other brings death. We have a choice about who we serve, and it is a choice offered to every one of us. I choose to serve the perfect God of love rather than a fallen being who wants only to destroy me.

God so loved

This is how God made that choice possible for us:.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Take out ‘the world’ and substitute ‘me’. It is too easy to read the words ‘the world’ and think it means other people, everybody else, but not ourselves. No, it means ‘God so loved me’. It means that by believing in Jesus I can enter into life rather than continuing in death.

The Amplified version says that ‘God so dearly loved and prized…’ You are a prize, to God. He deeply desires intimacy and relationship with you. As a result of that, He was willing to give His Son so that you could become His child.

Paul puts it this way:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Eph 2:4-5).

And,

God sent him [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children (Gal 4:4).

It is by God’s grace and God’s power, through the victory of Jesus on the cross, that we can be saved from the path we were going down and be brought into this relationship with Him: from death to life, from slavery into freedom, from separation to intimacy.

We are royalty

God has paid the price, and bought us back so that he could adopt us as His own children, just like Jesus. Awesome! How would we feel if the Queen of England adopted us, gave us the run of the palace and access to all the people she has advising her and looking after her? If she said to us, ‘I want you to inherit all that I have’? How special would we feel? That is what the God who made the whole universe and keeps it all together has done for us!

We have been redeemed, bought back from slavery by Jesus, given a new home and a family. We are adopted as sons into the family of the King. We are royalty: princes and princesses, regardless of our history or background. What we have done, what has been done to us, none of that has any effect whatsoever on how God sees us. We look just like Jesus to Him, holy and perfect and righteous. God does not hold our past against us, unlike the devil who constantly accuses us and tries to cause us to remember our past. Since God chooses not to remember it, neither should we!

We have been born again into a new family with a new identity. We have a new heavenly home (which we can engage with now, not only when we die) and are ourselves a home of God. We have a new, heavenly citizenship, and a new (yet eternal) identity and purpose. We have come into sonship, into a relationship with our Father.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you (John 14:18-20).

…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5:5).

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).

So let’s fully embrace all that God has done for us in His love, so that nothing, nothing, nothing will ever remove us or separate us from the fullness of all that He has for us as His dearly loved children.

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Soundtrack: Jake Hamilton – The Anthem