Overcoming Church

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KEY TEXT:

LUKE 13:20-21
And again he said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like a leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

INTRODUCTION
Much like light that exposes or salt that preserves, leaven influences its surroundings in a subtle but overpowering way. So it is with the Kingdom of God.

What is a leaven?
• Leaven was a little bit of dough kept over from the last baking that had fermented in the keeping. Its permeating quality is emphasized here as it works from the inside to affect all the dough.

• Regularly used in Jewish teachings as a sign of powerful influence of God’s Kingdom, usually in a bad connotation due to its fermented nature.

This is how Jesus would have seen the woman make the bread for the household, mix a little in and the whole character of the dough changed, then you needed to work that little in until it worked throughout the batch.

Jesus is saying this is how My Kingdom will come

Comparison of the Kingdom of God and the Leaven

The kingdom of God
• Starts from a small beginning.

. . . . Leaven is small but it changes the whole

• The Kingdom works unseen. As it works in human heart. As faith spread people speak of Jesus and tell of his love, his way of truth and life, his salvation and promises as they live like He did.

. . . . You cannot see the leaven working

• The kingdom works from the inside, to make the bread and the dough needed kneading and then baking.

It is the Holy Spirit who sows the “leaven” or faith in Christ Jesus into the flour of our hearts. It is the power of the Holy Spirit to increase our faith, use His gifts to touch others around us bringing the kingdom into their lives.

Do you see the key message here, the dough had no power to change itself, no matter how much the dough tries it cannot become bread on its own. An outside power brings the seed. . . the spark that then brings the faith. . . . . that then brings the conversion . . . . that then brings the repentance and the purification which results in Salvation.

Jesus is the seed, the Holy Spirit is the one who plants it and kneads the dough to increase that gift of faith to make us the bread of life as Jesus is.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says like this:
The path of discipleship is narrow. And it is hard to find, to be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, to confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, at the same time to love our enemies, of that truth his enemies and ours, and to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, to see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them, to believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall possess the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenseless, preferring to incur injustice rather than to do wrong ourselves, to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before the swine, is indeed a narrow way.

A TESTIMONY OF A PASTOR
A young man in the church who was on trial. He had already spent time in prison, and was looking at the possibility of a 20 year-sentence. He committed the crime before his recent conversion. Both the judge and the prosecuting attorney admitted this young man’s life had been transformed by God. But they wanted some measure of justice for the crime. So they sentenced him to six months in a short-term-prison. The Sunday before he left, the church laid their hands on him, sending him out as a missionary to a mission field that none of them could get into. As a result of this Penetration, over 60 of the approximate 110 prisoners confessed Christ within a year.

In the church, several leaders gather and met together with this Pastor. They all broke from there group and inform this Pastor that he was in “error:” To them, “Leaven always refers to sin,” they said, ánd this parable shows how the church will be filled with sin and compromise in the last days.” They saw it as a warning, not a promise.

Although this Pastor, did not dishonor his brothers, he totally rejected this posture: it disarms and distracts us from the true mind of Jesus Christ: one of great triumph.

What was the mistake the church of today made about this System:

1. They mistook the Church for the Kingdom. They are not the same. As the Church, we are the representative of the Kingdom, reconciled people, the redeemed core of humanity who carry out His plan within the world. We are his workmanship fulfilling His divine purpose within his fallen world and we are to live in the realm of the King’s Domain, but in itself is not the Kingdom. While sin does infect the Church, the kingdom is the realm of God’s rule and reign. Sin cannot penetrate and influence that realm, that is the Kingdom of God.

2. Their tendency, to see a weak, struggling church in the last days has made it difficult to see the promise of God for revival. It is impossible to have faith where you have no hope for the weak and struggling sinners. Such approaches to understanding Scripture have crippled the Church.

Today I want to share a message entitled: OVERCOMING CHURCH

Without a revelation of what God intends to do with His Church, we cannot move in overcoming faith. When the main goal of our faith is keeping us safe from the devil, our faith becomes inferior to what God expects. Jesus had in mind more for us than survival. We are destined to overcome.

Every conversion plunders/spoils hell. Every miracle destroys the works of the devil. Every God encounter is an invasion of the Almighty into our desperate condition. This is our joy.

Example of funny story of being happy of her salvation:
There was a little old lady who was very happy of her salvation. And on Sunday morning she would shout occasionally. But things changed when a more dignified preacher came to the church. He let it be known to the little lady that he didn’t care for her shouting. But the next service she let out a few “amens” and a couple of “praise the Lord’s”. After the service the preacher met with the deacons and told them if it happened in the next service that he wanted two of them to escort the lady out of the church. At first they refused, but then agreed.

At the next service. . the little lady got happy again. She hollered . . .”Praise the Lord.” The preacher motioned to the deacons and they got the little lady . . one on each side, picked her up and proceeded to carry her out from the sanctuary . . near the back she let out one more loud “Hallelujah”. The preacher hollered back . . . “What are you shouting about now?” Her reply . . “When Jesus rode into Jerusalem he didn’t have but one donkey, and I’ve got TWO OF THEM”

The original flame of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, burns within our soul. We all have the promise of God. We are all part of a company of people destined to do greater works than Jesus did in His earthly ministry.

Why is it so hard to see the Church with significant influence in the last days?
The greatest danger in the church today is complacency, comfort and professionalism. Many believers feel that it is others responsible for evangelizing, for telling others about Jesus, for trying to lead others to church (it’s the work of the Pastor, leaders). Yet, Jesus tells us that we are to?

“GO INTO ALL THE WORLD, this means telling our boss, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, friends and everyone else that you come in contact with.

It was God who determined that the Bride should be spotless and without wrinkle.

It was God who declared, “Behold darkness will cover the earth, but His glory will appear upon you” (Isa. 60:2).

What we need in the church today is the Shekinah Glory to shine in the hearts of every believer and be a glow of God’s Spirit in the lives of people you have not seen and meet before.

It was God who calls us, His Church, Overcomers (Rev. 12:11).

Is one who, by God’s grace received faith thru Jesus Christ, experienced new birth and remains constant in victory over the sin, the world and to any ungodliness within the visible church.

The Parable about the Leaven illustrates the subtle but overwhelming influence of the Kingdom in any setting into which it is placed. In these days, God has planned to put us, church into the darkest of situations to demonstrate His dominion. A dominion of principle of living in relationship with Him and others.

Illustration:
A jeweler often places a diamond on a piece of black velvet. You know why? The brilliance of the gem is clearer against that background. So it is with the Church. The dark condition of the world’s circumstances becomes the backdrop upon which He displays His glorious Church!

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20).

To say as deep as sin goes, God’s grace goes deeper. As wide as sin is, God’s grace is wider. As tall as sin is, God’s grace is taller. When sin abounded, grace super-abounded. God’s grace is greater than all of our sins. Grace is God’s unmerited favor.

What this passage reveals of God:
God’s love for the sinner is far greater than His hatred of sin and His grace is exponentially greater than my curse.

To illustrate the principle of pervading a dark world system, we will look at 2 Old Testament heroes who give prophetic insight for today’s Overcoming Church.

2 OLD TESTAMENT HEROES:

I. DANIEL AS LEAVEN

Daniel 1
Daniel was probably around 15 years old when we begin his story. He was taken away from his family, made a eunuch, and put into the king’s service. He, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were chosen because they were “good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had the ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldean’s” (Daniel 1:4).

Daniel started as a trainee in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, but later was promoted to an advisor of foreign kings. He grew above all others in wisdom, and became a counselor to the king. Because of his excellence in service and power, the king considered him ten times better than all the others (Dan. 1:20).

To more accurately understand the setting, remember that Daniel is now a part of the most demonically inspired Kingdoms to ever rule the earth. He is deeply embedded into that system. He is numbered with the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers. While God considered him to be His man, he was just another spiritualist to the king. . . at least for a season. (advisor)

What a strange group of people to be associated with, especially when you consider that we’re talking about Daniel, a prophet without blemish. His unwillingness to be defiled is legendary, raising the high-water mark for generations of prophets to follow.

Babylon was a sophisticated society (great Babylon, great temples, hanging gardens), with enough distractions to keep any Hebrew men in the constant tension between devotion to God and an unhealthy love for this world. When you add strong idolatrous worship and the demonic presence it brings, you have a deadly combination that would undermine the faith of any casual Christian. Daniel, on the other hand, was absolute in his devotion to God, and uncompromising in his purpose. He with a reason for bitterness, you’ve just found him-taken away from his family, made into a eunuch, and forced to serve among the cultists. Greatness in God is often on the other side of injustice and offense. Daniel made it over this hurdle, but not because he was great. He was victorious because of his devotion to the One who is great!

What can we learn from the Life of Daniel as Leaven?

A. THE POWER OF HOLINESS

Daniel discovered early on the power of holiness. He was unwilling to eat the king’s delicacies (royal food & wine – considered contaminated bcos it was offered to idols).

Application
Separation to God is demonstrated in personal lifestyle, not associations. He could not control his surroundings. So often the church gets this backward. Many in the church live the same way as those in the world, but they will not associate with unbelievers so as not to be defiled. Many Christians prefer to work in Christian meetings, find their future love in the church, don’t associate with the colleagues or classmates, and isolate themselves from the very people we are left on the planet to touch in His name. This is the product of survival theology. The Kingdom is the realm of the Spirit of God demonstrating the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And it’s a Spirit-empowered life that has the effect of leaven in the dark world.

B. THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE

The ultimate challenge came to all the king’s wise men when he asked them not only to interpret a dream he just had, but also to tell him what the dream was! When they couldn’t, he ordered all the wise men killed. In the process, they sought to kill Daniel and his friends. Daniel asked for an audience with the king. He believed God would enable him to bring the word of the Lord. Before he told the King the dream and its interpretation, he taught him a virtue of the Kingdom of God called HUMILITY. Daniel stated, “This secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart” (Dan 2:30).

In other words, Daniel wants to say to this to the king, “It’s not because I am great or gifted; it’s because God wants us to live, and He wants you to have this message. He then interprets the dream as a servant.

Application:
So much of today’s Kingdom theology is focused on us ruling, in the sense of believers becoming the heads of corporations and governments. And in measure, it is true. But our strong suit has been, and always will be, SERVICE. If in serving we get promoted to positions of rulership, we must remember that WHAT GOT US THERE WILL KEEP US USEFUL. In the Kingdom, the greatest is the servant of all. Use every position to serve with more power.

We are to learn the age-old lesson of Proverbs 16:18, which says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” It is summarized in Daniel 4:37, “Those who walk in pride he (God) is able to humble.”

Why? Simply because there is only One who is worthy of the highest place, and that is Jesus Christ. All who exalts themselves will be eventually be brought down.

C. PROMOTION CHALLENGED

The four Hebrew men were promoted as a result of Daniel’s prophetic gift. Please note that there is no mention of Daniel operating in this gift before this crisis. It was God who orchestrated these circumstances so that Daniel would earnestly pursue spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:8-11 – message of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous power, prophecy, tongues, interpretation, discerning spirits)

Application:
Pervading the system of this dark world, often involves our willingness to bring spiritual gifts into our world. These gifts actually work better in the world than in the confines of church meetings. Why? When we practice the gifts only in the church, they lose their sharp edge. Pervading the world system with His dominion keep us sharp and gets the people saved.

D. SALVATION BY ASSOCIATION

The rest of the wise men, comprised of magicians, astrologers, etc. were spared because of Daniel. The presence of the Kingdom saves the lives of people who have not earned it through personal obedience (they were unbelievers). Such is the power of righteousness- it protects those around it. (Acts 16:31 – “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”)

Lesson:
Promotion does not go unchallenged. Just when you think you have been placed into a position of influence, something will happen to totally rock your boat. Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image that stood 90 ft. tall. All in his kingdom were to worship this thing. But the Hebrew children would not. There is a distinction between submission and obedience. Sometimes we are to go against the command of our leaders – but even then, only with submissive hearts.

E. THE SYSTEM INVADED

An additional lesson from Daniel’s life as leaven is found in Chapter 4. He has been given the interpretation to another dream. It is about the judgment of God against Nebuchadnezzar. Remember, this is the leader of a demonically inspired kingdom – one of that required idolatry! Men of lesser character would have rejoiced in God’s Judgment. Not Daniel. He was deeply perplexed. No condemnation. His response to his master was: “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies.” (Dan. 4:19).

What loyalty! His devotion was not based on the character of his king. It was based on the character of the One who assigned him the position of service.

Some would have had an “I told you” so response to their boss if God judged them in the same way. The world has seen our “holier than thou” attitude, and they’re not impressed.

I think it’s time they see a loyalty that is not based on genuine goodness. Responses like Daniel’s become noticed. They display the Kingdom in its purity and power. They are radical.

The closing verses of chapter 4 record what is possibly the greatest conversion of all time: that of Nebuchadnezzar. He was the darkest ruler ever to live. His final recorded words are: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride, he is able to put down” (Dan. 4:37). He was saved from hell because of the leavening power of the Kingdom of God. The system was pervaded, righteousness was established, power was displayed, and people were saved.

Testimony: Pas Ephraim’s mother

Application:
For massive worldwide revival to reach its dominating potential, it must be taken out of the four walls of the church and launched into the marketplace (Mark 6:56).

Pheme Perkins writes, “There is no Christianity without proclaiming the Gospel. Teaching and learning the Word of God are as essential to the faith as are prayer and belonging to a Christian community. A community that has the same compassion for the suffering that Jesus exhibited cannot be content with ONLY preaching the gospel to the already converted.”

Church, this is not our mission field only. Our mission field is out there.

Pas. Carlos once said, REVIVAL IS AN EXPERIENCE, BUT EVANGELISM IS AN EXPRESSION.

II. JOSEPH AS LEAVEN

God had spoken to Joseph about his purpose in life through dreams. Sharing them with his family got him in trouble. His brothers were already jealous because he was his father’s favorite. They later captured him and sold him to slavery.

God protected him wherever he went because he was a man of promise. As a great servant, he obtained favor in Potiphar’s house. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, he said no. She then lied and had him put into prison, where he again prospered. While circumstances had gone from bad to worse, God was establishing the qualities of leaven in His man.

While in prison, he met a butler and a baker who worked for the king. They each had a dream, but were sad because they didn’t understand them. Joseph responded, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.” Joseph had obviously not become bitter against God, and used his gift to interpret their dreams. For the butler it was good news, and he was freed. But the baker was executed.

Sometime later, Pharaoh had two troubling dreams. The butler remembered Joseph’s gift, and he was brought before the king. When asked to interpret the king’s dream, Joseph replied, “It is not in me.” Such a humble heart keeps us useful to God.

Joseph interpreted the dreams and then operated in the gift of wisdom by giving the king counsel as to what to do next. The king honored him by putting him second in command over the entire Egyptian Empire.

Joseph gives us one of the best illustrations of forgiveness in the Bible. His brothers came to him (unknowingly) because of famine in their land. When he finally reveals who he is, and the obvious fulfillment of his dreams. He says, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me here before you to preserve life.” (Gen 45:5).

Notice that Joseph did not forget what happened to him. The notion that we are expected to forget what someone has done to us causes us more damage than good. Suppression simply hides a wound from view. Incubating the wound causes the infection to worsen.

Application:
Joseph understood that God was ultimately watching over this whole situation. God used their evil for something good. Joseph understood that the bad things his brothers did to him were part of a bigger plan to save lives. God knew that eventually there will be a terrible famine that would kill millions of people. God knew that Jacob’s family – the very family from which the Savior would come – would be wiped out by famine. So that was the plan. Joseph understood that, and it helped him to forgive his brothers” “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

III. LEARNING FROM THEIR EXAMPLE

Pervading the system involves both Purity and Power.

Purity is seen in the character of these men as they demonstrated loyalty and forgiveness. Beyond reason. Power was released through the use of their gifts.

Daniel:
To be effective as leaven in the Babylonian system, we must rethink our understanding of these subject. God’s people must find a heart to see others succeed. Anyone can wish good upon someone who conforms to his or her beliefs and disciplines. Like Daniel, he lost all that he had in terms of personal wealth and freedom, but he never lost his character or his integrity. HIS WALK MATCHED HIS TALK.

Joseph, who is like Christ, had a love that would not cease. In his obedience to God, he was led by grace and feeling of tender mercy as he communicated God’s grace. He spoke by grace, he forgave by grace, he forgot by grace, he loved by grace, he remembered by grace and because of grace, when his brothers bowed before him in fear, he could say, “GET ON YOUR FEET, GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD.”

But the ability to express loyalty and forgiveness before someone is saved may be the key to touching that individual’s heart.

Personal integrity is the backbone of all life and ministry, and our credibility is founded on this one thing. We can be gifted beyond measure.

JOHN BUNYAN the great Puritan Preacher, said this:
You have one tongue in your head and two tongues in your shoes, no matter what the tongue in your head is saying, the tongues in your shoes tell what you are doing and where you are going, and the awful truth is that the tongues in your shoes have the last word.”

But if we can’t be trusted, the world will turn a deaf ear to our message. Integrity is holiness, and holiness is the nature of God. Yielding to the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the integrity issue.

And lastly,

IV. TAKING IT TO THE MARKETPLACE

Mark 6:56 – “Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.”

Have you noticed how Jesus spend lots of time outdoors? Near the water, on mountains, grain fields, wilderness. Jesus did much of his teachings and miracles outdoors. Not in the temple.

Jesus pervaded every realm of society. He went where people gathered. They became His focus, and He became theirs.

The people are running, they were hungry and had been fed with food and teachings and now they had lost their way and now were hurrying because they wanted to catch the moment with Jesus. They wanted to be with the good Shepherd. In Mark 5:6 – . . . all who touched Him were healed.”

What is interesting here is, THERE IS HEALING IN JESUS TOUCH. And there is healing in our touch too. And I think we forget about that.

We too can do the same, like Jesus Did:
-DJCL go, catch the fire in Jesus name to touch someone today.
-We can go and use our gifts of the Spirit to identify the needs of our co-workers, friends, neighbors, contacts.
-We can pray for healing to takes place for those who are suffering in sickness. That they may see the power and glory of God.
-We can go to marketplaces so we could find someone to be prayed for or they can received prophetic word that will brought them to a greater awareness of God’s love
-We can go at a local hospital to visit the sick and their families, seeing God to do impossible.
-We can visit places like drug rehab, DSWD, prison share the love of Jesus and get them saved and find hope in the Lord again.
-We can go and feed the poor and needy, which we have been doing, brought to the church to be treated as heaven’s treasure. They are fed, ministered for their most basic natural and spiritual needs.
-We can go to the poorest community and houses and clean, while others go to house to house to pray for the sick.

The truth is:

Not only Jesus care for the down and out, but He does care and loves the up and coming. The wealthy are some of the most broken of our cities. But we must not serve them for their money.

Where does life take you? Go there in the anointing and watch the impossibilities bow to the name of Jesus.

IN CONCLUSION

Buck was a man who fully embraced the gifts into the marketplace. He was selected for jury duty. As soon as he sat down, the Lord spoke to him: “Justice must prevail.” When the trial phase was finally over and the jury began to deliberate, they found themselves divide as to the interpretation of the law. Buck explained the issues in such a remarkable way that the others thought he had studied law. He used that opportunity to share his testimony. He was once a great science student, but his mind had been ravished by a lifestyle of drug addiction. Jesus healed his mind as he memorize Scripture. His testimony won the hearts of some jurists, but drove others away.

When it was time to cast their verdict, they were evenly divided. So the deliberations carried over to the next day. Their point of contention was the definition of a criminal. The man being tried fit six of the seven qualifications needed for him to be considered guilty. The seventh was questionable. So Buck brought a rose in a vase the next day of deliberations. Everyone thought it was a nice gesture. He let them argue for a while and then asked them, “What is this on the table?” They looked at him like he was stupid, and said, “A rose!” He asked them if they were sure, and they said yes.

He pressed them further asking, “What are the parts that make up a rose?” They listed the petals, stem, leaves, thorns, etc. So he asked them, “Do you see all those parts of this rose?” They responded, “Yes, everything but the thorns.” So he asked, “Is it still a rose without those thorns?” They said, “Yes!” To which he stated, “And this man is a criminal!”

They got the message. The gift of wisdom had been in operation without their knowing it. Now all but two agreed he was guilty. It was still a hung jury. When the judge asked each juror if they believe they could come to an agreement, they all said no. That is, except Buck. In his heart were the words, “justice must prevail.” The judge then gave them 30 minutes to work through their disagreement. As soon as they entered the room for deliberation, the word of the Lord came to Buck. He pointed to one of the two jurors and said, “You say he’s innocent because…” Buck proceeded to expose a secret sin in the juror’s life. He then turned to the other and did the same. They both looked at each other and said, “I’ll change my vote if you change yours!”

Buck first brought the gift of wisdom into the deliberations. It helped to bring clarification that benefited even unbelievers. He then brought a word of knowledge, something that he could not have known in the natural, to expose the sin in two people who had rejected God’s dealings. In the end the will of God prevailed in the situation – justice!

Being involved in the supernatural through spiritual gifts is what makes the invasion effective. The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of power! We must be in pursuit of a fuller demonstration of the Spirit of God. Pray much and take risks.

The ultimate example of this invasion is Jesus. In Him, the supernatural invaded the natural.

What would Jesus say to us today? Follow me, the time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at Hand! Believe! Listen! Learn! Let His word fill your heart and mind! Let it spring up, increase and bear fruit! Be an Overcomer! Amen! Amen!

Let every knee bow, let every tongue shout, Jesus is the Lord!

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