January 30, 2015
E-Letter: Peace and the Prophetic Gift
December 31, 2014
Written by John Paul Jackson
I meet a lot of young prophetic people in different places around the world. They are gifted men and women who can discern God’s voice, and I often hear them say similar things:
“If the church would just do this . . .”
“If the pastor would just do that . . .”
“If my father would just do this . . .”
“If my boss would just do that . . .”
They see the issues more than they see what is going well.
As prophetic people, we have a wonderful gift, but when we “tune” it to finding other people’s mistakes, we can become sin hunters who sometimes end up missing what God wants to do.
Prophecy is not meant to tear people down. It is meant to build people up. It is a constructive
element of the Kingdom, not a destructive element.
Many of us are uncommonly good at perceiving other people’s sin, and if we’re not careful, we get pulled into a cycle of negativity, where the negative is somehow more interesting to us than the positive.
The problem is that we become what we think! We become what we take in and what we see. And when our lives are focused on the negative, we lose our peace and don’t understand why we no longer receive as much revelation as we used to.
The peace of God is our phone line, if you will. Without peace, we don’t hear His voice. Without peace, it is difficult to see Him at work in people’s lives. The measure of peace we have in our lives reveals our understanding of the bigness
Revelation comes from peace. If we want to hear God more and in greater, deeper ways, we need to learn how to walk in His peace and break the cycle of prophetic drama in our lives. We are prophetic—being aware of sin comes with the territory. But what we choose to do with that revelation will either help build the Kingdom or help tear it down. It’s up to us.
A Safeguard for Your Gift
The Bible very clearly tells us how we are to think:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
— Philippians 4:8
When he penned those words, the apostle Paul did not include any conditions. He didn’t say, “Think on good things unless
you’re a prophet. But if you’re a prophet, you can think about anything you want.” I’ve seen real revelatory gifts wasted because gifted men and women became focused on the negative, ended up losing their peace and quit.
Seeking the peace of God is not just a good idea—it will keep you from burning out. Philippians 4:8 is a safeguard for your gift.
Look for the Plans of God
The point of the prophetic gift is edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3). The prophetic gift exists to help other people find their way to God’s heart. It exists to take the weak and make them strong, to help the strong grow stronger and the great greater. That is how the Kingdom of God advances.
Therefore, when we focus on the negative in someone else’s life, we actually tear down
His Kingdom. It is not as if God is surprised by the sin we see in other people. He knows exactly what is happening within them, just as He knows what is happening within us. God has good plans, even when the people in those plans are making bad choices. He is waiting for them to repent and accept His ways. His plans still exist for them, and He longs for those plans to be fulfilled.
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). That doesn’t mean we can’t bring correction when correction is due—but it does mean that we get to bring the love and kindness of God into each and every situation.
No matter where we find the captives—in the Church or outside of it—we are called to set them free and build them up, not tear them down. We are called to seek peace and demonstrate the heart of God on the earth.
In so doing, we avoid negative cycles in our own lives and see the Kingdom come in power and redemption.
E-Letter: The Deep, Deep Well
November 30, 2014
Written by John Paul Jackson
Intimacy with Jesus is based on depth, not on width. How long
you’ve been saved doesn’t play a significant role in your destiny with God, because long or short, the pay is the same (see the parable of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20). Intimacy with Jesus is about closeness and true understanding. It is about relationship. How well do you know Him?
Some of us tend to fall in love quickly, while others have a harder time with commitment. It can be much easier to take a puddle and simply make it wider,
not deeper. Digging a well requires work, dedication, desire and sweat, but widening a puddle is easy.
The problem is that a wide puddle won’t get us anywhere. We could stand in it and not get wet, because there is no depth. We need to be wells, not puddles.
What produces depth in our relationship with God? What brings our hearts to life and really teaches us how to live every day with Jesus? Here are a few things I’ve found helpful.
How to Dig a Well1. Repentance
Repentance can be a scary word for some people, but it shouldn’t be. The point is not, Wow. Look at how badly you’re failing! You are such a sinner.
The point of repentance is not our sin; it is living a lifestyle that allows us to be close to Jesus at all times, because He is our choice in this world.
We want Jesus, even if it means we need to bend
, change our ways or let go of things we used to enjoy to become more like Him. Godly sorrow produces repentance, and true repentance produces vehement, unyielding desire (2 Corinthians 7:10–11). If we don’t have a desire for the Lord, our “repenter” probably needs a checkup.2. Humility
Humility is like reading glasses. Only when we look through the lenses of humility do we see ourselves clearly and realize how much we need Jesus.
Without Jesus, we have nothing good. We can’t even take credit for our love for Him—every
good thing we have comes from His hand. The apostle Paul says that even our faith in Him is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). It is His faith giving us faith.
The moment we set our hearts to understand and to humble ourselves before Him, our words are heard (Daniel 10:12).3. Spiritual Disciplines
When I practice spiritual disciplines, I see more of the supernatural. It begins to operate in my life at incredible levels. But when I don’t practice spiritual disciplines, the supernatural seems to drop.
Unfortunately, some of the Church has started to believe that practicing spiritual disciplines is a form of religious bondage. “That’s legalism,” people say.
Yes, it is possible to make your relationship with God about rules and legalism. That is a trap to avoid. However, without spiritual disciplines, you will have nothing but a wide puddle. Prayer, fasting, studying His Word, making Him a priority in your life—these things produce depth
within us. Too many of us are happy with puddles.4. Waiting for God
“Yes, the Almighty will be your gold
And your precious silver.”
— Job 22:25
Here is my definition of what it means to delight in God: Delight is a satisfaction in God so complete that we lose desire for anything that disturbs our contentment in Him. That doesn’t mean we never experience hard times, but even in hard times, we can be content.
How do we learn to delight in God and find our contentment in Him? We spend time with Him. Some people call this waiting
for Him, and often it looks like certain spiritual disciplines—sitting in His presence, seeking Him out, making Him a priority in our lives. The point is to be with Him and get to know Him more.
Great peace comes from delighting ourselves in the Lord. We realize He is our treasure.
The Power of Desire
Psalm 145:16 says that God opens His hand and satisfies the desire of all living things. That is who our God is. That is His promise: He is the Desire Satisfier.
It is in the delight stage that we obtain what we have wanted all our lives. As we delight ourselves in the Lord, He becomes our gold—He becomes what we desire, and in turn, He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). We find our souls fulfilled and content, and the well grows deeper and deeper.
E-Letter: A Simple Way to Live a Holy Life
October 31, 2014
Written by John Paul Jackson
Holiness is not something any of us could accomplish on our own. Holiness is absorbed. It is not learned, earned or forced. It is not calculated with points for and against. Holiness is the result of a relationship with someone who is holy. As we draw close to the One who is holy, we start acting holier. It is similar to holding a nail to a candle flame—the nail will heat up. It cannot help but respond to the candle’s warmth in a similar fashion. The closer we are to Jesus, the holier we become.
If the key to holiness is intimacy with the Holy One, the answer to the question of holiness is time spent in His tent:
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.
— Psalm 61:3–4 (NASB)
Holiness Cannot Be Made
We tend to be formula-loving people. When we find something that works, we try to make it into a pattern we can follow the next time, so we can predict the outcome.
But a relationship with anyone, including God, is an amorphous thing with ebbs and flows. Patterns do not work with holiness. The moment we start trying to define holiness, we get ourselves in trouble, because the ways of God are far above our own. Isaiah used imagery to show the difference between humanity and the Divine, writing that as far as the heavens are above the earth, so far are the ways of God above our ways. We are human; we cannot make ourselves holy.
Instead, holiness is taken in
. It seeps into our bones like water in a dry sponge. The closer we draw to God, the more we realize, “Just a second. Wait . . . He is bigger than I thought. He is holier than I thought. He is purer than I thought.” The mold breaks.
Holiness Is Not Legalism
Legalism says we can become holy enough to reach God, but that simply is not true. In fact, that kind of thinking will “teach” us things about God that are not godly, things that do not line up with His truth. We cannot earn holiness by living good and faithful lives. We can only absorb
holiness by spending time with the One who is truly holy.
About the time we think we are holy, we find ourselves on slippery ground. I believe we are the most like our Father when we have set aside distractions and are looking at Him in shock and awe. In those moments, the greatest of hope floods our spirits, because we begin to understand that life with God is not about our ability to perform. “My God. You
are holy. Compared to You, I am unholy. And yet You love me.” Those are holy moments.
The divine dynamic tensions of God keep us in a place of seeking Him and, at the same time, being transformed by Him. Legalism says once we are transformed, we are transformed. “If you think
you are holy, you are holy. If you dress this way, talk this way and follow these rules, you are holy.” But that is not holiness.
If you want to live a holy life, Jesus is the answer, not the rules. He is the One we want, and holiness is an outgrowth of that desire, not the rules. This relationship with Him is real, and like any good relationship, it grows, expands and becomes better as we spend time with the One our hearts long for.
In His presence, we change. We are undone in the best of ways. We know hope and His kindness, and we find ourselves in a holier position, reflecting who He is not just with our actions but also at the core of our beings. Everything He touches is truly transformed.
E-Letter: Are You in a Rut?
September 22, 2014
Written by John Paul Jackson
It is a natural human tendency to find a rut and want to climb into it. When we find something that works, we tend to make it into a formula. Formula gradually becomes habit; habit becomes tradition, and the problem with tradition is that it tries to set boundaries for the mind.
We can find ourselves in a place where we “know” how everything is supposed to happen. We have the formula down. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know what is going to happen today, tomorrow and next year because we know what happened yesterday, and slowly, tradition can become the strength of our faith.
When Jesus walked the earth, tradition was rampant. The law of the Pharisees had begun to carry more weight than Scripture, and Jesus said to them, “You search the Scriptures thinking that you’re going to find the keys to everlasting life, and you don’t even know that I am here and I am the One the Scriptures speak of.”
When the “formula” becomes more valuable than Scripture, faith in God or true relationship with Him, something needs to happen. That something is called chaos.
A Better Order
Every time God wants to change what we have formulated—our habits, our thinking, our tradition—chaos is a vehicle He uses to make that change. As a result of our thinking, He allows us to come to a place where chaos ensues, and when chaos has finished its work, a higher order is established.
In a way, the presence of chaos in our lives predicts a coming order that is grander and more godly than the order we knew before. What God wants to take place is about to take place. Chaos allows regeneration to occur. It changes our thinking, our outlook and our expectations.
The suddenlies in life—when it seems like God snaps His fingers and His will falls into place—come out of chaotic moments. Control is relinquished in chaos, and new guidelines are released. That is what happened on the Day of Pentecost. A new, better way of life emerged from a chaotic moment (see Acts 2).
The Plow in God’s Hand
When I say chaos
, I don’t mean destruction or anarchy. I mean the plow that comes along and breaks up the rut. Many of us think that chaos is harmful, and it can be a little painful—but only if we are trying to stay in the rut that God wants to plow under.
Any time the earth begins to tremble with the approach of that plow, we don’t have to worry. Something better is coming. How do we know? Because we know Jesus, His ways and what the Bible says about Him—that He is better than anything we could imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He works all things to our benefit (Romans 8:28).
E-Letter: The Chair You Are Sitting In
Written by John Paul Jackson
Dependence on the Holy Spirit takes up a lot more “room” than most of us realize. When we think about being dependent on God, we probably think of specific circumstances such as sharing Jesus with someone on the street, difficult financial situations, unpleasant medical reports, etc. When we are running out of options, or just can’t see any other way out, we have
to be dependent on God.
But that isn’t the sort of dependence I mean. I am talking about everyday dependence on the Holy Spirit, the kind that happens as you’re making dinner, driving to the office or helping your kids get ready for school. The Bible says that the “breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). If we can’t even draw breath without Him, what does that say about our dependence on Him?
He is involved in the lives of His people on a moment-by-moment basis. Do you realize that the chair you’re sitting in doesn’t fall apart because it is His will that it stay in one piece? The roof remains in place because He wants it to remain in place. Your house and office building hold together because of Him. Your laptop turns on every morning because He is looking out for what you own. You can’t drive your car and get to your destination safely without Him. You can’t even get a good night’s sleep without Him (Psalm 127:2).
He is the One who reminds you where you put your keys and that you need to pick up Billy for soccer practice. He is the One who keeps you healthy—He kills germs on your behalf.
Acts 17:28 says that we live, move and have our being in Him. That isn’t a nice goal for the future or something that applies only to certain times and special circumstances; it is true all the time and in every situation. The Holy Spirit is the breath that gives us life, and He is giving us life right now.
Blow, Breath of God
Just as Jesus could do nothing without His Father, so we can do nothing without the Holy Spirit and His empowering presence.
In John 20:22, Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” That is interesting for a variety of reasons, but what intrigues me is that He said those words, and then He breathed on His men, and then the world began changing.
Demons were cast out, sickness was healed, lepers were cleansed, the dead were raised—amazing things happened when Jesus blew the breath of God on His disciples. He released upon them the Spirit of the Father. It was a foretaste, short-lived but powerful, of what is going to happen to you
on a consistent basis when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
The One you are dependent on is the One who causes everything to change: your town, your city, your region, your family, your children, your in-laws, your job, your life, your circumstances. He causes everything
to change. Therefore, hope is coming, and hope is here.
None of us can do anything without the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of God.
He is the Spirit of life.
He is the Spirit of promise.
He is our Helper.
He is our Comforter—
I have yet to find the end of this list.