The Power of Communication

comm Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:6, ESV

One of my greatest enjoyments as a pastor is doing premarital counseling. It is always fascinating to watch couples learn the unique and intricate details of their soon-to-be spouse. For me the most intriguing topic of counseling with couples is communication. Statistics show that marriages and relationships most often fail due to communication breakdowns. I also recently read a statistic that on average, large corporations spend about $60 million annually as a result of communication breakdowns.

Communication is more than just disseminating a message so that it is heard. Communication is about being understood. Maybe you or someone you know has said, “You are not hearing what I’m saying” or “You don’t understand me”. As I read this Scripture from Colossians, I have several thoughts regarding communication:

  1. What an awesome display we have of communication from God regarding the Gospel message! Throughout history we see the symbolism of redemption through Christ in the Old Testament sacrifices. We hear the echoes of the Old Testament prophets declaring what was to come. God has expressed himself in written word through Scripture, and displayed His glory through the person of Christ. Then we have such a vivid display of the cost of redemption and hope available to those who experience redemption through the brutal murder of Jesus. Christ appears to the disciples following His resurrection, again confirming the message of redemption. The Holy Spirit has come and confirms this work of Christ in us and empowers us to share the message of redemption with others. Again and again through every means possible, God is speaking about redemption—not just to be heard, but to be understood: not because of His need, but in response to our need.
  2. Secondly, our communication with others—our coworkers, family, spouse, children, etc.—ought to be reflective of God’s efforts in communicating with us. We should humbly assume the position of the servant, not to be heard, but to understand the needs of others. Paul’s admonishment was for us to understand others so we know how to answer. God fully understood our need for redemption. He not only understood, but responded as a servant, offering His only son to be our propitiation. Again, reflecting on the goal of communication: not that I may propagate my agenda, but rather serve others more effectively.
  3. Considering Paul’s writing, it becomes clear that the tendency of our communication is opposite of what it ought to be. Our carnal nature is self-seeking rather than desiring to understand others in order to answer appropriately. If communication was not a problem, Paul would not have addressed the issue. Everyone has different filters through which communication passes. These filters are based on past experiences, our childhood, environment, culture, and others. In order to truly understand another person, it is required that we lay aside our personal filters and have the right ears to hear. Repeatedly in Revelation, Jesus says, “To him who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying…” Spiritually we recognize that not everyone has spiritual ears to hear. In the natural, communication is dependent upon hearing with the right ears and without our own set of filters.

John Calvin had this to say regarding Paul’s writing:

He requires suavity of speech, such as may allure the hearers by its profitableness, for he does not merely condemn communications that are openly wicked or impious, but also such as are worthless and idle. Hence he would have them seasoned with salt. Profane men have their seasonings of discourse, but he does not speak of them; nay more, as witticisms are insinuating, and for the most part procure favor, he indirectly prohibits believers from the practice and familiar use of them. For he reckons as tasteless everything that does not edify. The term grace is employed in the same sense, so as to be opposed to talkativeness, taunts, and all sorts of trifles which are either injurious or vain. The man who has accustomed himself to caution in his communications will not fall into many absurdities, into which talkative and prating persons fall into from time to time, but, by constant practice, will acquire for himself expertness in making proper and suitable replies; as, on the other hand, it must necessarily happen, that silly talkers expose themselves to derision whenever they are interrogated as to anything; and in this they pay the just punishment of their silly talkativeness. Nor does he merely say what, but also how, and not to all indiscriminately, but to every one. For this is not the least important part of prudence — to have due regard to individuals.

Luke 6:45 displays a picture of the origins of our communication. To truly understand what someone is communicating, is to understand the desires and intents of their heart. Likewise, those things we communicate to others paint a vivid picture of what is beneath the surface within the motives of our heart. Thus, our greatest ability to communicate with grace and with seasoning, is to allow the character of God and the Word of God to be indelibly written on our hearts according to Hebrews 8:10. This Scripture creates for me a mental picture of a wall around my heart—a wall of God’s Word. This wall filters out incoming words that contradict God’s Word, and also filters outgoing words that contradict God’s Word.

Today, as your “word meter” runs, and as you endeavor to communicate, ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to effectively use the “wall of the Word” around your heart so that you might humble yourself to truly understand those God has placed around you. Truly, we can display the glory of God in our communication by recognizing the needs of others.

The Supremacy of God Displayed in His Providence

eagle

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31, NIV

This week I had the opportunity to visit a member of our church in the hospital post surgery. The doctors thought this individual might have a post-operation blood clot in his lungs. News like this can be devastating and create fear and opportunity for speculation. I made it to the Emergency Room in enough time to see this young man before he was whisked away for tests, leaving me enough time to lay a hand on him.

Following the tests, while waiting on the results, I felt as though I was watching a miracle unfold in his life. What began in this young man as labored and strained breathing, eventually turned in to hearty laughing and wonderful conversation about Christ and His work in his family. Eventually, the test results came back negative for a blood clot.

Often times the greatest display of God’s glory in circumstances of illness or the uncertainties of life are found not in the results of a healing or miracle, but the work on one’s character and dependence upon God during the crisis. Jesus said in John 15:8, that God is glorified by the fruit which is produced in our lives. God-fruit can only be produced through dependence on Him–even through times of pruning. Many times miracles and healings become an added bonus to encountering God through trials.

Isaiah in this Scripture made it clear that in our lives there would come seasons in which we would need to be renewed and strengthened. For believers, we certainly must have daily dependence on God for renewal and provision. Providence is God’s ability to care for and provide for His people. Philippians 2:13 (NIV), says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” God provides the willingness and the resources to act. Knowing that God will provide and sustain us in every moment of our lives, enables us to rest and be renewed in Him–even in the most uncertain of circumstances. We can truly enter His rest when we fully trust His providence.

The Fire Bible says this about Isaiah 40:31:

To hope in the Lord means to trust him completely with our lives and to serve him faithfully. We are to wait patiently for his promises and purposes to be fulfilled. Those who truly have put their hope in God will turn to him quickly as their source of help in time of need. Those who hope in the Lord are promised God’s strength to revive and refresh them when they feel exhausted from suffering and difficulty; the ability to rise above their difficulties like an eagle that soars into the sky; and the ability to run spiritually without tiring and to make steady progress without giving up when it seems that God’s plan is delayed. God promises that if his people will patiently trust him, he will provide whatever they need in his perfect time until they are united with him forever.

As we find our satisfaction in God through dependence upon Him, we find our lives to be renewed with overflowing joy. Isaiah portrays the effects of this renewing like the ability of the eagle to soar above the circumstances of life. Have you ever sensed the renewing of God that lifted you out of the pit of despair and set you soaring into heavenly heights?

God is glorified, and the cycle of joy continues.

Faithful Man

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV

Last night we began a new men’s fellowship group that meets twice a month. As we began the group I began running through all of the new things that are starting here at Victory right now. It’s exciting to be able to see the faithfulness of current leaders, and it’s even more exciting to see those leaders raise up new leaders!

Timothy faced several challenges. Initially, I’m sure Timothy had to overcome not having a godly male role model in his life. His spiritual heritage came from his grandmother and mother, and was significant enough that Paul was well aware of this heritage and encouraged Timothy to consider it and fan into flame the deposit of God in his life. Eventually, Paul became Timothy’s mentor and taught him how to be a godly man. Timothy was also faced with the challenges of pastoring a church that had considerable influence and history, and even members that surpassed Timothy’s age and spiritual heritage. Paul had been their pastor.

Whatever our challenge may be, God’s emphasis is never placed on our great skill to solve the problem, but rather our dependence on Him for grace to be ever faithful to Him. How great an opportunity as believers we have when we can truly cast all of our cares on Him and become all the more faithful through storms to Him as He proves over and over His faithfulness to us.

These are the men and women Paul challenges Timothy to consider spiritual leaders. These are men and women of stature that have endured the testing of their faith and have remained faithful. Only testing gives opportunity for one to prove God’s faithful grace in their lives.

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-10, Paul creates an assessment that we can use to judge our lives by to consider areas that we might need to become more dependent upon the grace of God to transform. Spiritual maturity and growth is never instantaneous. True growth happens over a lifetime. No matter your background or spiritual heritage, and no matter your current struggle, the grace of God is sufficient to develop faithfulness and steadfastness to Christ through the journey.

Here’s a sampling of the inventory that Paul gave Timothy that we can use in our personal lives:

  1. Above Reproach (holiness & reputation)
  2. Husband of one wife (moral purity)
  3. Temperate (balanced life)
  4. Prudent (wisdom & humility)
  5. Respectable (good role model)
  6. Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
  7. Able to teach (communicates truth with love)
  8. Not given to wine (not controlled by addictions)
  9. Not self-willed (not self-centered and controlling)
  10. Not quick-tempered (slow to anger)
  11. Not pugnacious (not abusive in any regard)
  12. Uncontentious (nonargumentative, peacemaker)
  13. Gentle (loving and kind, non-threatening)
  14. Free from the love of money (nonmaterialistic)
  15. One who manages his own household well (a good husband/father)
  16. A good reputation with those outside the church (an honorable testimony)
  17. Love what is good (pursuit of godly activities)
  18. Just (wise, discerning, non prejudiced)
  19. Devout (committed)
  20. Not a new convert (not a new Christian)

The Keys to the Storehouse

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.” So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses…Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain…

Genesis 41:55-57, ESV

God has been moving the Church at large this new year into a new season of growth and depth of revelation of Christ. Recently, I was reminded of a prophetic word that God had given me at the end of 2011, for this year of 2012. I’ve become stirred in my spirit as I’ve been reminded of this word and how it seems that God is fulfilling His promise.

The key phrase that God really impressed upon me at the end of 2011 for 2012, was from this passage from Genesis, “Joseph opened all of the storehouses.”

In order for the storehouses in 2012, to be opened, God must give us the keys to unlock the door. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not know.”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians says, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God…What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined…” (1 Cor 2:7,9, ESV)

It is God’s desire to open His spiritual storehouses and release into our lives the fullness of the riches contained in those storehouses. It is up to us as to whether or not we will yield and enter in to His fullness.

If I gave you a brand new home full of artwork and valuables worth millions of dollars, more than likely, you will do your best to enter that house. But, the only way you can get in is if I give you the key to the door. However, as believers, God is giving us free access to these great riches, and sadly, many of us are still on the outside peering through the window.

Here is a highlight of the specific word God had given me in 2011 for 2012, based on the life of Joseph:

1. There would be an increase of spiritual activity and awareness: Dreams, visions, prophetic ministry, etc. God gave Joseph through Pharaoh’s dream, wisdom on how to prepare for the coming famine.

2. Forgetting the Past & Stepping Into God’s Fullness: Joseph named his son Manasseh, meaning “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” Isaiah 54:4 says we will forget the shame of our youth, meaning we are stepping into spiritual maturity and adulthood.

3. A season of enlargement, abundance and provision: Joseph named his second son Ephraim. Isaiah 54–we are to enlarge our tent. The things that afflicted you in 2011 are the things that God will use to fertilize the seeds that produce fruit in 2012.

4. Increase of Souls into the Kingdom: Pharaoh during the time of the famine, sent everyone to Joseph saying, “What he tells you, do.” This will be a year of supernatural favor with the lost.

5. The abundance that flowed from the storehouse into the lives of the people was in direct proportion to what they put into the storehouse. Malachi describes our spiritual storehouse as the local church. What has been invested into the local church and into the kingdom of heaven, will be returned in spiritual riches as well as financial breakthrough.

All of these points are a description for what will happen as the storehouses are opened. The keys to these storehouses have been released and I believe that already in 2012, we are seeing the fulfillment of these things. Here are the five areas I believe that God is releasing into the Church:

1. He’s restoring His tabernacle, or local church and His people to be a dwelling place for His presence. The focus is shifting from performance and functioning under the law into the place of grace and free access into the Holy of Holies as a lifestyle.

2. He’s unlocking or restoring the revelation of the Authority or Priesthood of the Believer through a proper understanding of the Believer’s call and commission. It is no longer satisfactory to be a “Christian” in speech only. Believers are realizing their need to be carriers of the Kingdom of Heaven, not just spectators in His kingdom.

3. He’s releasing a new emphasis on revelatory teaching that enables believers to connect their life with the life of Christ to experience His presence and his Authority in a greater way. Teaching is no longer about just practical self-help, but there’s an understanding that as Jesus said, “You Shall Receive Power.” (Acts 1:8). The disciples were already moving in signs and wonders, but now they had a revelation of Christ, His Calling, & His Commission for their lives personally. It was now time to teach others.

4. As these things are happening, there is coming a release of this Kingdom Authority and Ministry from the Believer that will bring God’s manifest presence into ordinary, daily life. The expectation will no longer be for a supernatural manifestation in services only, but now in every avenue of life.

5. As all of these things take place, there is a new release of gifts of leadership and administration to accommodate the souls coming into the kingdom, and to accommodate the depth and level of ministry taking place.

I pray that today’s post is an encouragement for you and provides supernatural insight to what God is doing in your life and His Kingdom. God is speaking–can you hear Him? There’s a wave of glory building…let’s ride the wave!

Leadership Commandment #2: Submission

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17, ESV

When I think of submission and authority, I often think firstly of two things: a bathroom scale and stoplights. I know this is probably not what you expected.

In life, we all know the importance of healthy eating, proper exercise, and taking care of our bodies. The bathroom scale becomes are check and balance to help identify lack in these areas. The scale is our rude, potentially great awakening, to the truth of our current eating habits.

The wonderful stoplight at the intersection you always have to drive through to get to work, that inevitably is the longest stoplight in the city is another example of checks and balances. When submitted to the authority that stoplight brings in your life, you find safety and peace knowing first that you will not be involved in an accident running the red light or being stopped by the local, friendly police officer with a special gift. This wonderful device brings flow and order to the madness of travel.

Leadership is more than being a lone ranger and finally not having to submit to authority. I love the occasion in the Bible of the Centurion that approached Jesus to come heal his servant. He recognized the authority on Christ’s life because he himself was submitted to authority.

Being willing and open to submit to and honor authority releases the authority of the one you are submitted to in your life. Christ was submitted to His father and as a result, He carried the blessing and anointing of His Father. There’s protection and safety when you move under authority. One of the other things shown by authority in this passage of Scripture in Matthew 8 is the wholeness that comes from submission to authority. Being submitted to another person who can help guide you through the areas of growth in your life provides healing, growth, and freedom.

There’s so much that can be said about the power of honoring and submitting to authority. I’ll wrap up this thought on submission with Hebrews 13:17–honoring the authority God has placed in your life will be advantageous to your continued growth as a leader. One of the great verses of the Bible–what you sow, you will also…..REAP.  As a leader, we are required to lead by example in submitting to those who are in authority over us. Your submission to those over you will teach your followers the power of submission.

What aspect of your life is God bringing into submission to His authority? Who has God placed in your life as a spiritual leader to bring God’s healing and wholeness to fruition in your life?

Trust God today as you grow in leadership to continue to submit to those in leadership in your life.