When Gabriel visited Zacharias to tell of John the Baptist’s coming birth, Zacharias (who had even been praying for a son) responded “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (Lk. 1:18) By contrast, when Gabriel visited Mary to tell of Jesus’ coming birth, Mary’s response was “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38)
Peter is a husband to Megan, and a father to Peter (III), Andrew, and David. His background is in education, having served first as a science teacher and later as an assistant principal for his high school. Peter’s wife, Megan, led him to the Lord while they were both in college at Ohio State, a time where Peter mostly rock climbed and sometimes studied. Peter has since enjoyed freedom after freedom in the Lord as he has experienced more and more of God’s great love for him. One of Peter’s passions in life is speaking encouragement to the body of Christ. Whether with a couple in the DeWitt’s living room or from the pulpit, Peter loves to encourage, exhort, and equip his brothers and sisters in Christ! In addition to serving as an associate pastor at Agathos, Peter continues to work in education as a consultant for schools in Columbus and Ohio. Peter and Megan view their ministry as a joint effort and also enjoy woodworking together in their well-equipped home woodshop.
"I'm calling you to ... deliver to others what I've delivered to you"
Your world needs you! In this message, learn:
"I'm calling you to go out, to reach out"
We need to have an increase-profit mindset. Let’s translate that to the Gospel. If you don’t have a profit orientation—a prosperity orientation—about the things of the kingdom (healing, discipleship, etc.) it will hinder you actually serving people.
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you…” When you became a born-again believer God put a word in your mouth and—and power—is Jesus! We are to speak the word to all the people He sends us to! “Go into all the earth and preach the gospel!”
This is why there is such a discrepancy between what Christians believe about the Great Commission and what they do: We don’t realize that there is actually opposition to DOING the Great Commission. There is exponentially more opposition to DOING than there is to believing the Great Commission. The enemy just wants you to nod your head during church service, but he doesn’t want you to move your feet on the pavement of the street. The darkness shall cover the earth.” (Isa. 60:2) But that darkness will not cover God’s people! We are to be lamps on stands, salt on food, and a bright shinning light! Arise and shine for your light has come!
In Jn. 12:42-43 we read, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Many believers believe, but never confess. There’s a difference.
Many believers believe, but never confess. Why? We need to realize that there is actually atmospheric, spiritual pressure over the earth. He is called the prince of the power of the air. That pressure is greater in some places than in others. The testimony of Jesus, your confession of Christ (in word and in power) will issue forth out of you when your internal pressure for Christ is greater than the atmospheric pressure against Him! This is why you feel bold for Christ in certain circumstances, but not others. For instance, if you come to a church where all the members believe in Jesus, and they are here to praise God and hear the Word of God, the atmospheric pressure against Christ in that environment is VERY low! It doesn’t take a lot of internal pressure from Christ for you to get to the point that you are praising God in this environment!
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) We absolutely want to get theology right, but theology cannot replace passion. You can know everything, but if you are not passionate for Jesus, you will do nothing. Think about a marriage. Passion is so important in a marriage. A marriage is not just principle. Passionate love will cause you to do what principle will never motivate you too. Believing is not enough—we must believe to the point of action!
"Come with Me"
It’s the most riveting thing in the world to follow God! In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When you follow Jesus, He will make you a fisher of men. Your action verb is to FOLLOW. His action verb is to MAKE.
In Joshua 1:10-11 we read that “Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” Get ready Agathos! God’s going somewhere and He wants us to get ready. Remember, God works on people; His focus of influence is individual. This is why we will all stand before God individually in front of His throne. Our church will come with Him if EACH person comes with Him.
Peter’s life and his history of following Jesus provide an illustrative example. Following Christ always means stopping following something else. Peter chose Jesus. He could honestly tell Jesus that he had “left everything” to follow Christ. He forsook all. He left his nets. Nevertheless, Jesus said to Peter, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” (Mark 8:34) There was something going on in Peter’s heart to which Jesus was saying “I know you think you want to follow Me, but you want to follow your version of Me.”
In John 13:37, Peter asks Jesus “Lord, why can I not follow You?” If we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men, but Jesus says, “If you want to come after Me” you need to (1) deny yourself, (2) take up your cross, and (3) follow Me. You have to do a “denying” and a “taking up” before you can do a following. Eventually Peter’s shadow healed all it touched, but at this point Peter had not left this one idea about who the Messiah ought to be to him!
In all of our genuineness, why can’t we follow Jesus sometimes? There are three hindrances that can exist in our hearts to keep us from actually following Jesus. These are blind spots. Peter was genuine, but he couldn’t follow Jesus because of a mindset. Peter had not denied his own ideas, taken up his cross, and actually followed the real Jesus.
(1) The first hindrance is being given to the opinions of people. John 5:44 says, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” If satan can’t control you, he will seek to control you through people.
(2) The second hindrance is riches. The Word of God is clear: “you cannot serve both God and Mammon.” Mammon is controlling a lot of believers. We want to be in the flow of realizing that God will supply for you supernaturally to create flexibility in order that you can accomplish His Great Commission.
(3) A third hindrance is self-preservation, or as Mark 4:18-19 calls it “the desire for other things.” You have to leave something in order to follow a new thing. If you will follow Christ, I can promise you what He will do: He will make you a fisher of men! But you cannot follow two things simultaneously: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” (Mt. 6:24) We all want to serve God, so let’s remove any hindrances!
The Natural Desire of Our New Nature
No Compromise and No Condemnation
When something isn't operating according to its commission, we call it "out-of-commission." We don't want to be out-of-commission Christians. It's important to know what our job as believers is. So what is our job description as Christians–what is our commission? According to the Gospels, our Great Commission is as outlined:
- Go everywhere
- Everywhere you go, preach the gospel to every creature
- Make disciples of all the nations
- Baptize those that believe in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- Teach them to observe all things that I (Jesus) have commanded you
- Cast out demons
- Speak with new tongues
- Pick up serpents
- If you drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt you
- Lay hands on the sick and they will recover
- In wanting to be transformed concerning the commission, the first stage is denial/avoidance. Look at the Commission and don't let it depart from your eyes. Don't gloss over it. Don't average it out (aka justify yourself). Don't claim that it doesn't work because you've tried it half heartedly before with correspondingly poor results.
- The next stage can be condemnation. At this stage, remember it is important to not let your identity get wrapped up in your job description. To the pure all things are pure. If you are looking at the Commission and you think "I don't do any of this." OK, that feedback is PURE. There's nothing more to it. It's just data. It's just feedback. It's not your identity. Don't get your identity from your job; you get your identity from Christ, and then you help people.
- The third stage is to embrace the tension. You want to look squarely at the Commission and the things that will follow and feel the tension that says, "I don't see that" or "I don't want to do that." You stay in that tension and say "I know, my heart's going to change, but I am not letting it depart from my eyes until I see my heart change to line up with the Word because that is my standard!" Be careful not to throw a pity party for yourself and go back into condemnation in the midst of the tension. Understand that we are prone to use condemnation as a cop-out. You are not victimized because someone or the Word told you the truth! Stay in the tension–you can do it and you will be changed!
- You begin to actually have faith rise up in your heart for the scripture you are keeping before your eyes!
Promotion Through Pruning
“In theory only” is called religion. It’s form, no function. It’s form, no fruit. Jesus hates that. In John 10:37, Jesus said “if I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me.” That’s the standard. The Holy Spirit is wanting to convict you of things in the Kingdom that you haven’t seen yet. But, if you are not bearing much fruit, the Father’s heart is to lift you up - not to cast you out! (Jn. 15:2) Fruitfulness is actually natural for a believer. Fruitfulness consists of both fruitful “works” (Eph. 2:10) and fruitful “ways” (Galatians 5). "Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” There is only one reason God prunes you - that you would bear more fruit.
The Value of Fruitfulness
When you expect more, you get more! Jesus expected His relationship with His Father to make an impact in the lives of others, but a religious spirit tries to replace fruit with just words. 1 Cor. 4:20 says “for the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power!”
Life and Life Abundantly: More Than Theory
Jesus came to give us life, and life abundantly. (Jn. 10:10) But the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The abundant life the Lord has for you is not in theory only! When we are willing to know God in theory only, the enemy can steal from us in reality. Jesus had no value for words without works (see Jn. 10:37). Likewise, James had no value for faith without action. In Luke 18, the blind man put action behind his faith when he cried out to Jesus. The crowd tried to silence him, but he cried out all the more. Jesus recognized and responded to his faith: "what do you want Me to do for you?" And that's the question for you today as well. What do you want Him to do for you? What part of your walk with God do you want to promote from theory to reality?
Being Known by God (Part 6)
Good students ask questions. We all have questions on our heart to ask God. The Lord today is saying “what do you want to know about?” Jesus said "Ask and it will be given to you … for whoever asks receives.” (Mt. 7:7-8) We need to go to God with our questions! Our experience as a student is determined by our initiative. If you sit in the back of the class, you cannot expect to have a front row experience with God! If you are not asking questions, you are not a student. Disciples are students. If you are not asking questions, you are not playing the role of disciple. In the New Covenant, you can go straight to God to ask Him questions for yourself! God wants to be the instructor in every area of your life! Be specific -phrase your questions to God in such a way that you can do something with His answers. Start asking Him questions about something - with the expectation of being changed by His answer. If you are willing to turn at the Lord’s direction, He will make His words known to you. (Prov. 1:23) Raise your hand (and your voice); He wants to make His secrets known to you! (Jer. 33:3) God does not want to just to puff up your heads without changing your life. God has prepared special revelation, special inventions, special innovations, special insight for you – with your name on it – in Heaven. Do you realize that you are God’s #1 choice to bring impact in certain areas of this world? When you are a friend of God, He tells you more! (Jn. 15:14-15) You are His friend if you do whatever He commands you. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us in every area of our lives! When you are obedient to the insight and direction He has already given you, He will give you more. Faithful with little … given much! Engage with God, inquire in His temple. Ask Him questions!
Being Known by God (Part 5)
God doesn’t want a one-way relationship with you. He wants us to be known by Him, but being known by God is not a relational auto-pilot experience.One of the keys to being known by God is we have to have time with Him. The Lord wants to have a thing, a special thing, with you. He doesn’t want the new testament believers to stand back from His presence while one believer is in front of the Lord face-to-face. The face-to-face relationship is available for each of us! One of the best ways for God to get to know you is that He will ask you questions. When God asks you questions, He invites you to discover the answers with Him. The process of discovering answers with God actually causes you to own the answers once you’ve received them. God will ask us questions but He wants us to ask Him questions too! When you read the Word, ask God questions about what you are reading! God also wants the experiences that you have day-to-day to provide opportunities to develop understanding of Kingdom principles … but in order to develop that understanding, you need to ask “why.” When you seek the Lord in your day-to-day life He develops understanding - because you have been crying out for understanding. (Prov. 2:1-7) You literally become a pillar of understanding that people flock to in order to hear what you’ve heard from the Lord. This understanding comes from asking Him questions! When you ask Him questions, it invites Him to be a teacher in your life. And what a blessing it is to you and others when you are His student!
Being Known by God (Part 4)
Our relationship with God is a two-way street, but you do not want to be the foundation of your walk with God. He’s the Rock, not us! Being known by God is wonderful, but it is not a relational auto-pilot experience. As it relates to our personal relationship with Him, God, Our Father, as omniscient as He is, generally chooses to make Himself dependent upon our invitation to be known by Him. We have to invite Him in! Allowing God to ask us questions is a great way for Him to get to know us. The Lord’s questions in our life cause us to reflect or self-assess. The Lord's questions will also challenge us, test us, and encourage or draw out our faith. Great teachers ask transformative questions. When God asks you questions, it causes you to own the answer. God’s questions invite us to be a student. And then our questions invite Him to be a teacher.
Being Known by God (Part 3)
If you are one who follows Christ, there are two central things that you do: you hear His voice and He knows you. (Jn. 10:27) When you hear God’s words, you Know Him; when God hears your words, He knows you. If you want to be known by God, the first thing you should do is to ask Him to know you! The reason David was so well known by God was because David had asked God to know Him! (Ps 139:23-24) "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." When the Israelites were in the wilderness Moses pitched a tent outside the camp where people could go to meet with God. This is a key point in knowing “how to be known by God”: go on dates with God. He wants you to have your own thing, your own history with Him! He does not want you to somehow become vicariously satisfied in living through someone else’s intimacy with Him. God wants to know you personally. Talk with the Lord. He wants to make history with you!
Being Known by God (Part 2)
Who, according to Jesus follows Him? People that hear His voice and people that He knows! Knowing God and being known by God is a 2-way street, a 2-way relationship. How can we be known by God? We see in Ps. 139 that David was known by God because he asked God to know Him! We see in Genesis 3 (from the story of Adam and Eve) that while God always knows all things, we can still choose to hide ourselves from Him relationally. In other words, as it relates to our relationship with Him, our omniscient Father generally chooses to make Himself dependent upon our invitation to be known by Him. We see from Ps. 138:6 that God develops deeper relationship with those who have a humble, honest heart towards Him. Finally, we see in James 4:8 that we can be known by God by drawing near to Him. And praise God, we have access by faith to do just that! (Rom. 5:1-2)