May I challenge you?

This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!

7 Characteristics of True Friendship

We've been teaching on a series of the Life of David which has been a rich journey. We are now on the subject of Jonathan & David's Covenant Friendship. Here are a few points on our message.

The most sacred relationships are friendships that have gone through the Cross. Many people do not have real friendships because they haven't allowed their relationships to go through the Cross. When a friendship goes through the Cross, the flesh and self is crucified and buried, and Christ is risen within the spiritual souls of the individuals.

The Bible says in John 15:13 that the greatest friendship is manifested when someone lays down his life for a friend. Jesus said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I tell you. I will no longer call you servants, for a servant doesn't know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have told you every single thing that My Father has told Me” (see John 15:14-15). 

Jesus was the greatest example of a friend - a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34). Think of it! Jesus Christ knows everything about us. There is not one thing hidden from Him; yet, He desires to be our personal friend - 1 Jn 3.20. This is our great confidence - “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b)


7 Traits of Godly Friendship

1. Godly Friends Love Sacrificially - 1 Sam 18.1-5
John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends 

Let God chose your friends for you. If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, or what we need - we'll rarely discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Need based relationships become a curse and an end in their own. Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 


Being fufllled in your relationship with God means you approach your relationships full and not from deficit producing toxic relationships. By valuing your friend's needs above your own, you'll be on your way to loving like Jesus. In the process, you'll likely gain a true friend.


2. Godly Friends Love Unconditionally - 1 Sam 19:2
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. God loved Peter out of his failure. Jn 13 "Loved you till the end" - Telos - completion of His work in you

We discover the best of friendships with brothers and sisters who know, love, cover and challenge our weaknesses and imperfections. A true friend tells the truth. Only your enemy would not tell you the truth because he wants you to be just like him.

If we're easily offended or hold on to bitterness, we'll have a hard time loving people. No one is perfect. We cannot be looking for idealistic relationship. People make mistakes. If we take a truthful look at ourselves, we'll admit that we bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. A true friend is quick to ask forgiveness and ready to be forgiving and when you are in trouble, Not a conditional friendship


3. Godly Friends Trust God Completely for you. 
The Bible says that in order to have friends, you need to show yourself friendly (Proverbs 18:24a); showing ourselves friendly goes beyond the niceness of friendship. Hebrew play on words - friends "ra'ah" but friendly "ra'a" meaning the "h" falls off. There is something we lose in friendship. There is vulnerability. Risk. Chose to trust. Trust is the currency of relationships.


4. Godly Friends Keep Healthy Boundaries - 2 Sam 1.26
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy ... Soul power relationships. Phileo vs. Agape love.

David and Jonathans friendship went beyond the physical and soulish but was grounded in something spiritual. Godly friendships set people free - not putting them in bondage. If you feel smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Likewise, if you feel used or abused, something is amiss. Recognizing what's best for someone and giving that person space are signs of a healthy relationship. We should never let a friend come between us and our spouse. A true Christian friend will wisely avoid intruding and recognize your need to maintain other relationships. It is not possessive or controlling, manipulative. It is not cliquish or party spirited.


5. Godly Friends Give Mutual Edification - 2 Sam 1.20 
Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted ...
True Christian friends will build each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Mutually encouraging in the faith walk and growth. Proverbs 27:17 means when it says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Does this friendship encourage me to grow in my calling?


6. Covereth a multitude of sins - 2 Sam 1.20
Proverbs 17:9 says, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a
matter separateth very friends - Proverbs 10.12, 17.9 - 1 Peter 4.8 - Friends do not repeat people’s sins or gossip. Mat 18.15 - They go alone to a friend to deal with a matter. They forgive AND forget.


7. A Covenant Friendship - 1 Samuel 18:1-3 & 2 Sam 9.1
Jonathan's soul was knit with David's soul. Jonathan recognized the anointing in David's to be king and gave him the kingship. Because he loved him as his own soul, Jonathan made a covenant with David - 
- This will cause a knitting of souls and hearts in friendships.

The Covenant Friendship between David and Jonathan lasted after Jonathan’s death and Jonathan’s family continued to receive the love and benefits of the covenant love with crippled Mephibosheth being the recipient 

What to do when you are Offended







Remember these things next time you feel offended:

1. Never, ever withdraw. No matter how hurt you are
2. 9 times out of 10 we simply misunderstood what was said and didn't see the heart behind what was said
3. Always wait 24 hours before you answer a matter
4. People say hurtful things because they are hurting themselves.
5. Never take things personally, ever. It's not about you. You just happened to be in the path of a bitter person.
6. Take criticism with a smile.
7. Do not give an offended person a platform to speak their mind. They will only infect others. Speak privately with them.
8. When you are offended it is a tell-tale fact that a part of your flesh is still dominating your soul without the Cross. Only the self-centered old sin nature can get offended.
9. When you're tired, hurting or in pain you most likely are the most vulnerable to be offended.
10. Even though it was said in a hurtful way or improperly, ask yourself this question "was it true what they said" and if so deal with it alone with God.

When we get offended, no matter the circumstance, we can know for sure that the symptom of offense that we feel is a sure sign we have uncrucified flesh reigning somewhere in our soul.

If  the Word of God offends us agree with it quickly - Jesus spoke beforehand that his disciples would have Divine Definition so that when offense came they would not be scandalized. Matthew 5:25-26 "Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing"

Psalms 119:165
Great peace have they which love thy law:and nothing shall offend them.

Matthew 24:10
And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.

Proverbs 18:19
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city:and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Matthew 11:6
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Matthew 15:12-14
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Let them alone:they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Matthew 26:31-35
Prediction About Peter’s Denial
(Mark 14:27- 31; Luke 22:31- 34; John 13:36- 38)
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night:for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
-- Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Mark 4:17
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time:afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Mark 6:3
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

John 16:1
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

2 Corinthians 11:29
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

John 6:65-68
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will -- ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Rom 5.5 the love of God sheds abroad in our hearts
Self love is easily wounded. It is so geared to its own self and self consciousness and is not easily healed. Overly occupied with myself everyday and how much I should be loved, valued and needed. Cain was wounded hurt, offended and never healed.
We have to leave ourselves to discover this love. Love one another as I have loved you.



The Doctrine of Familiarity

[Here are a few notes and a draft outline of a message we preached in the Cypriot Bible School - you can hear the 2 part message here: sermon.net/ggcphila - Enjoy!]

Not knowing anyone after the flesh:
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. - 1 Cor 2.2

Familiarity Defined:
  1. Familiarity is a result of the loss of the fear of the Lord and no Cross
  2. All error begins with familiarity with God’s Word
  3. Relationships become soulish when the Cross is removed and familiarity enters.

“Profane” also speaks of forms of familiarity, or taking for granted something that is sacred.

Not knowing Christ after the flesh:
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh:yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more - 2 Cor 5.16 

Familiarity:
Leviticus 21:12
Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane -- the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 44:23-24
And they shall teach -- my people the difference between the holy and -- profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments

Isaiah 52:11
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

The Process of Familiarity:
  1. Lack of brokenness 
  2. Dullness 
  3. Carelessness
  4. Breakdown of reverence
  5. Tolerance
  6. Influenced, blinded
  7. Overtaken
"The key that Satan uses to gain entrance to his capacity is familiarity. Satan can only deceive minds that have be- come familiar with what God sees as rare, holy, and set apart for His use alone. Familiarity enters in where holiness has been stolen and eternal purpose has been destroyed, because the Cross (which represents the devil’s defeat once and for all) has been nullified in our experience.” - CHS
When a person becomes familiar the begin to traffic demonic activity unaware: Mat 16.22-24 Peter was sentimental and too familiar with Jesus - he unknowingly became a mouth piece for the Devil thus Jesus’ response “Get thee behind me Satan"

Demons of Familiarity:
Familiar spirit: A demon or evil spirit who creates the atmosphere of being one's friend while being one's enemy, and who ushers in an atmosphere of lack of respect for authority, formality, and ceremony especially when instituted by God or His delegated authority (Leviticus 19:31, 20:6,27, Deuteronomy 18:11, I Samuel 28:3,7,8,9, II Kings 21:6, 23:24, I Chronicles 10:13, II Chronicles 33:6, Isaiah 8:19, 19:3,29:4).

  • Family demon (family demon presented by the family idols): THERAPSIN: II Kings 23:24
    • Against homes and marriages Gen 31:19, 34-35; 35:2; I Sam 19:11-17; I John 5:21
    • Special forces that cooperate with different armies to destroy homes and marriages, by breaking up marriages or making them unhappy.
    • Misrepresents God’s will to the homes and families
    • Domesticate and divide families by wounding people in the families that lack love of the doctrine and don’t have anointing manifested by brokenness.
  • Demon of Familiarity: GNOSTAS: II Kings 21:6 - trafficking familiar spirits - medium
    • Cause people be familiar with the provisions of God
    • Lull people away from thirsting and hungering for the provisions that come through grace and righteousness - spiritual laxity leading to utter destruction of the spiritual life of a person.
    • Inspire people’s psyche with pride
    • Cause familiarity that pulls the plug on fullness of the Body.

Demons of familiarity four-fold strategy in a believer’s life:
  1. by keeping them relating to the past
  2. by tempting them to use knowledge without going through the Cross
  3. by leading them to uncover secrets and sins and cause suspicion ignoring the Blood of Christ.
  4. by instigating disagreements to wound people

Fighting familiarity
  1. Humbling ourselves - James 4.7-8
  2. Hearing, fearing God - Eccl 5.1,2
  3. Rebound and Repentance - 1 John 1.9
  4. Breaking up fallow ground - Hos 10.12
  5. Mind Renewal - Eph 4.23 - Rom 12.1,2
  6. Stepping out in faith in the mission - Rom 1.17
  7. Prayer - Develops discernment