15 – Why The Church Fails To Conquer The Gates of Hell

Conway Christian Resources Podcast

You can check out the article behind this podcast at:
https://conwaychristianresources.com/2018/10/blog/gates-of-hell/

What kind of impact is the church supposed to have in the world? Is it a continuing impact or one that ebbs and flows? Does yesterday’s victories guarantee that the territory taken by a church will remain indefinitely? These are questions that are rarely asked by people in the church and the state of most congregations attest to this ignorance. Far too often we assume that all of yesterday’s work, prayers and victories will be enough to sustain us continually.

find more information at https://conwaychristianresources.com

Pick up your copy of my book “Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs” today on paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble or on eBook from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iTunes.

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Did you know that favor follows after faithfulness? It’s an odd concept but it carries with it a crucial truth which has the potential to radically change our lives. But first let me ask you this, have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one. We want the glory without a battle, and we want to enjoy the riches of work we’ve never done. This conflicting idea can apply to our natural lives but also (and more importantly) to our spiritual lives as well.

We need to understand that God is always watching and nothing is hidden from his sight (Mark 4:22) be it our actions, attitudes, beliefs or anything else for that matter. God is observing us and is looking not to strike us down in fury but He is looking to take us to the next level of our calling and relationship with Him. As I’ve talked about previously for the believer God’s judgment has less to do with vengeance and smiting and more to do with refinement, correction and launching us into our destinies.

Have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one.

Throughout the scriptures we see pictures of how the faithful few took God’s words seriously and lived accordingly. Those such as Abraham and Moses who took their revelation of their part in God’s plan and lived faithfully while expecting God to do great and impossible things. They lived out their beliefs and in turn god brought about the manifestation of the things which were promised to them.

Where we also see this truth play out is in the life of David who despite being the next anointed king of Israel still endured difficult times. He went through trials and encounters that many people would of either ran from or would of fallen of the rails and did things their own way. I spoke last week about how after David killed Goliath he didn’t rush over and deal with Saul at the same time. No David was faithful, and he recognized God’s plan amidst the chaos that the nation was in at that moment. A decision that many not just in the world but also in the church wouldn’t of made, because they serve the God’s of advancement and self more than their Creator.

David in the months after Goliath’s defeat demonstrated a lifestyle of faithfulness, a lifestyle directed towards, God, Saul, his friends and the people he would one day lead. But before David could lead the people he had to go through his own season of Apprenticeship. Which is the second step in the process of the 4 A’s which takes us from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation to Announcement which is our full entry into our callings and destiny.

Now begins David’s Season of Apprenticeship

Following the defeat of Goliath David was appointed as one of Saul’s military commanders and depending on the translation this either speaks of a battalion of 1,000 soldiers or he was the commander over all of the soldiers from a particular clan from one of the twelve tribes. Either way it was a significant promotion from royal minstrel and shepherd and it allowed David to become a recognizable face in the nation (or a the very least in the capital of Gibeah).

However this promotion alone isn’t enough, being promoted is only part of the process in order for favor and the next step in our lives to materialize we need to learn how to be faithful with the opportunities that are presented to us.


1 Samuel 18:5 “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” (NKJV, see also 1 Samuel 18:30)


David learned in this season how to lead people in battle and how to inspire people to the point of them respecting him rather than fearing him. David would of learned the ins and outs of the kingdom as he witnessed Saul at work daily dealing with the matters of kingship and justice in the nation. David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

It is during these years that David built up loyalty with many of the people who would accompany and support him during his darkest days. It is during this season of training and apprenticeship that many of the key relationships that would define David’s life going forward were established. It wasn’t just about the singular issues of learning information, or demonstrating good servant-hood abilities but it was a combination of all of these matters.

We Need Others For Help

Once we begin to combine anointing with opportunity inevitably God will begin to bring people into our lives to help us through the stages of Apprenticeship and Activation. God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible, this applies not just to ministry but to what ever arena of live God has called you to. We see this with David as two of Saul’s children become close and very supportive of David rather early in this process.

God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible.

The first is Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son and the assumed next king of Israel, what is astonishing is that right at the beginning of this new season of David’s the two of them enter into a covenant with each other (1 Samuel 18:3-4). A covenant in the eyes of David and Jonathan is an unbreakable agreement sealed in blood which offers blessings and curses upon those who enter into it. The only way out is death and to break a covenant legally allowed the one who broke it to be killed by the other party with no consequences.

This wasn’t just a handshake agreement but a life long blood oath to protect eachother and it effectively made them brothers in a legal sense (Proverbs 18:24). God knew that David couldn’t succeed in what was coming down the road for him alone so He brought people into his life who could love, support and protect him along the way.

David also received support and protection from this first wife Michal who was Saul’s second oldest daughter. She protected David from her father (more on this next week) despite the risk and ensured that David could one day become king.

We need to get beyond the image that every believer is a mountain unto themselves with no real connection to those around them. It is this idea that “I can do all things myself” which is crippling not just your destiny but the callings of entire congregations. God wired us for community and being faithful will only get us so far in life. Notice that David was a leader in the army, he wasn’t a one-man army but lead others whom he depended on to win the battles. David had his soldiers and later his might men to help him through this whole process.

Faithfulness brought to David favor in the eyes of people and that same favor inspired others to come alongside David to help him. Later in David’s story we see helpers and supporters with him in the wilderness, in the capturing of Jerusalem and in many other places. The places where we don’t see people helping and supporting David can be seen in some of his greatest mistakes, such as with Bathsheba when he stayed home from the battle or when he called on a census against God’s will.

When we have supporters and fellow-workers we can achieve so much more than we ever could alone. As I said our faithfulness will only take us so far in our journey and eventually we will need to partner with others to see God’s purpose for our lives manifest in this world, and not just manifest but thrive, grow and reproduce.

It’s No Different in the New Testament

This idea of needing help and support is not just found in the life of David but we see the same process in the life of Paul. After Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went about and began testifying about what he had encountered and how he had gone from persecutor of Jesus to a follower of him. Not long after the church’s leadership in Jerusalem sent Paul away where he spent over a decade in his own personal “wilderness.”

Eventually when the gospel had begun to take route in Antioch in Syria and opportunity for Paul to minister arose. But Paul was not alone he was sent along with Barnabas who was respected by the church and who could act as a teacher/supervisor for the former persecuting Pharisee. Despite Paul’s encounter he still needed support, oversight and help along the way to becoming the great Apostle to the Gentiles. What began with a teacher and student relationship with Barnabas and Paul eventually blossomed into Paul being able to “graduate” so to speak and go off without his friend.

Yet Paul didn’t go alone after he and Barnabas split up over John Mark but everywhere Paul went he had others with him as well. He had the likes of Luke, Timothy, Pricilla, Aquila and others who helped him in his ministry. He had help from Tyrannus, various officials, common people and the like who all supported Paul in his mission. Paul even had scribes and couriers to help spread his message around the Roman Empire. Paul couldn’t of done everything alone, he couldn’t be an apostle, tent maker, scribe, courier, ship captain, carpenter and so on all at once.

Is it any different with us, do we not need the support of others to ensure that we can become who God created us to be? Our personal faithfulness will only take us so far because God designed it that way to ensure that his body would operate as body where one part is dependent (but not subservient to) all of the other parts.

Where Does Faithfulness Come To Life?

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live. This is a life which lines up with our covenant responsibilities, it reflects the nature of Christ and it acts as a testimony to the promises from God we are holding onto. Those promises include the over aching promises from the Bible but also the personal promises and revelations which God has communicated to us individually.

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live.

A life of faithfulness doesn’t come all at once as it is better compared to a town which is covered in snow. Each flake is an act of service, obedience, humility, and faith which was carried out while only God was paying attention to you. Eventually these flakes add up and for those who were sleeping or oblivious of your life will eventually look out the window and suddenly see the streets and yards covered in snow and assume that it all happened at once, or perhaps it was some sort of miracle.

The reality is that these snowflakes built up upon one another over time and for the most part they were ignored until the moment the snowdrifts were several feet high and the streets needed to be plowed. Then did the other people take notice of what was happening, or perhaps that is when they woke up and looked outside for the first time.

When we pass the tests of faithfulness in the small things which are hidden from the crowds and influential people then and only then will God reveal those insignificant victories to the world.


Luke 16:10-12 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

Revelation 3:10-11 10 Because you (Philadelphia) have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.


Our personal trials will always determine the quality and severity of our public trials and when we cultivate faithfulness, and dependency on God when we are alone then we will be prepared for the greater public battles which will rise up against us, just as Goliath rose up against Israel and David was already prepared to face that challenge.

The Double-Edged Sword of Favor

A lifestyle of faithfulness eventually leads to a life full of favor, that is favor from God and favor in the eyes of the right people around us. It has to go in that order because if we are striving to attain favor in the eyes of people we will inevitably compromise or even sacrifice our relationship with God to attain that prize. That was the sin Saul committed when he compromised his position so that the people around him would be satisfied by being able to take the plunder from the Amalekites rather than obeying the prophet Samuel.

Having favor with God is about more than just making Him happy it has to do with our faith and how we reciprocates our faith with his own faithfulness in our lives. As we see in these verses from Psalms and Proverbs the favor God shows us in response to our faith, love, obedience and relationship can have a tangible effect on our lives.


Psalms 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. (NKJV)

Proverbs 3:3-6 “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)


Despite all of the great things God’s favor brings into our lives next week we will look at the dark side of having receiving favor from God and having people rise up to support us. This isn’t a topic to be feared but it is one which will prepare us to enter the third stage of the progression from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation and finally to Announcement.

For now though take time to pray and seek God so that you can recognize those small hidden battles and opportunities for faithfulness. That eventually those victories and testimonies will bring open up new opportunities in your life and to connect you with people that you can partner with so that the callings and destines of all of you can come to pass in this world.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseFavor Follows Faithfulness Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Life Beyond Church Ep. 13: The Secret Name of Jesus Christ

The Secret Name of Jesus Christ

Did you know that Jesus has a secret name that most Christians are unaware of, a name can change everything about your faith and how you see the Son of God?

14 – Living Under Judgment And Loving It

Conway Christian Resources Podcast

find more information at https://conwaychristianresources.com

Pick up your copy of my book “Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs” today on paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble or on eBook from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iTunes.

At one point or another you’ve probably heard a Christian talk about God’s judgment falling on some person, place, organization, or even on yourself. Biblically it is the great equalizer that reminds us that one day we are all to stand before God for our celestial hearing (Revelation 20:11-15) before we either enter Heaven or eternal punishment. But this idea has been abused and misunderstood to the point that people inside and outside of the church have become numb to the concept of God’s judgment, or they even believe that it vanished after the cross. But there’s so much more to this concept of Judgement and it has a key role to play in your everyday life, but only if you allow it

Don’t forget you can find the article version of this teaching here: https://conwaychristianresources.com/2018/10/blog/living-under-judgment/

Transforming Challenges Into Victories

Transforming Challenges Into Victories

For those who have been anointed and have received a calling from God one of the greatest tests you will face will come in the form of discovering the skill of transforming challenges into victories. Last week I talked about how “those who have been given a call and purpose from God will inevitable find themselves facing a great decisive and unexpected challenges which will determine if they will continue down the path God has laid out.

How you face those challenges will determine if you’ll even take up the courage to fight your battle and see God bring about a mighty victory in your life. As we’ve seen so far in the past few weeks having a calling or anointing on your life is only the first step in a life long journey full of ups, downs, sorrow, joy and total dependency on God.

David’s Statement Of Faith

Now let’s continue to look at the life of David and pick up at the leading up to the monumental confrontation between the anointed future king of Israel and the giant Goliath.  If you remember last week, we looked at the arrival of David to the battlefield after he had been sent by his father to bring supplies to his brothers and their regiment.

David saw the hulking Goliath taunting the Israelite army into a champions battle to determine who would be subjected to whom. David unlike many of the soldiers apparently, demonstrated a willingness to stand up against this giant and stand up for God and his people.  At first David was laughed at and scorned by his brothers and passing soldiers but one person overheard David’s words and told Saul about them.


1Samuel 17: 31- 32 “31 Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. 32 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”


In 1 Samuel 17:34-37 David recounts to Saul his previous victories against a lion and a bear, battles fought in secret upon the hills of Judah as David protected his flock of sheep. David speaks of how he killed a lion after he pulled one of his sheep from its mouth and how he grabbed it by the beard and killed it, a surprising feat for any teenager. David didn’t attribute those victories to his own military prowess or his great skill or strength but rather David gave all of the credit to God. This abundantly clear when we get to verse 37


1 Samuel 17:37 “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David didn’t attribute those victories to his own military prowess or his great skill or strength but rather David gave all of the credit to God.


To David, God wasn’t an ideal to him but a living reality, God wasn’t some far off entity who occasionally checks in on creation to make sure he didn’t leave the oven on. No, David saw God as an integral part of his daily life who was there to help him. This is a truth that became even more entrenched in David’s life after he was anointed. David knew what he was called to be and from that revelation he trusted God to preserve him long enough to fulfill that calling (as long as he remained faithful of course).

A Kings Battle

David was ready to fight this battle, but the irony here is that it wasn’t his battle in the first place. Here the person who should of gone up against Goliath wasn’t a pint-sized teenage shepherd but the King of Israel Saul. Of all the people in the Israelite army Saul was the closest match for Goliath in terms of size, we know this because 1 Samuel 10:23 describes Saul as being literally head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people who are estimated to of had an average height of around 5’3”.

Perhaps Goliath’s taunting was to lure out King Saul to fight this battle, to have the largest Philistine (between 6’ and 9’6”, depending on the manuscript) and the largest Israelite fight for control under the watchful eye of each others’ gods to see where the true power in the region rested. Even after weeks of taunting and challenges King Saul was content to stay in his tent and hope someone else would fight this battle for him. The shackles of fear had tightened around the heart of the king following his abandonment of God’s anointing and how he was failing in his duty to protect God’s people.

Even after weeks of taunting and challenges King Saul was content to stay in his tent and hope someone else would fight this battle for him. The shackles of fear had tightened around the heart of the king.

On the other hand you had David how was ready and willing to step up and fight this battle against the people’s enemy. Here we see play out a contrast of how two groups of people react to challenges in their lives. At one point both David and Saul were anointed by God but only one of them remained faithful and was ready to work with God to bring about a victory. We have one person ready to take up arms and fight while we have another who is trying to pawn off their responsibility but still maintain the credit for the accomplishment.

Don’t believe me then take a deeper look at what Saul tried to do with David. After Saul agrees to send his minstrel to fight the Philistine champion he tries to arm David with his own royal armor. At first this may seem reasonable but the deeper meaning here is that Saul may have been trying to trick the people into thinking he was fighting in the battle. Or another way to look at it Saul was trying to put his name on David and take the credit for a victory by proxy. Saul was looking for an easy way out, he didn’t want to fight but he wanted the glory from the victory.

But Saul’s armor was too large and cumbersome for David and he elected to go into battle without it. David refused Saul’s armor, he didn’t need Saul’s covering or protection because God was with Him. Would we make that same choice in our own lives, how often do we trust other people’s armor or position or power in place of God’s in our lives? It’s a temptation because it’s easy to trust more in things we can see or seem to provide tangible protection in a battlefield we don’t always see clearly.

The Time For Battle

After David refuses Saul’s armor he goes outside and finds five smooth stones from a nearby brook (1 Samuel 17:41). Why five? Some like to joke/point out that it could have been one stone for Goliath and four more for his brothers, giants who were later killed during David’s reign as king (1 Samuel 21:15-22).

With a shepherds staff a sling and some stones David was ready for the battle. At first this may seem foolish but David has already shown that he can kill wild animals with his staff and the use of a sling was actually common in battle in that era. Some estimate that a trained slinger (Judges 20:16) could launch a projectile at speeds up to 100mph.

Now the pieces were set and David was ready to face off against Goliath a remnant of the giants that were driven out of Israelite territory by Joshua and into Philistine territory (Joshua 11:21-22). Israel failed to remove the Anakim (see also Rephaim, Emim and Nephilim) from the land and now an old battle was about to repeat itself, but the players remained the same the forces of chaos would stand toe to toe with God and his covenant partner.


1 Samuel 17:45-47 “45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”


After making that declaration David rushed towards Goliath and hurled a stone with his sling and knocked out the champion who dared to curse and test God and his people.

Completing The Task

But the story didn’t finish there David went one step further and ensured that the battle was over.


50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.


How often to we fail to complete our spiritual battles, how often to we get a taste of victory and then go home without completing the battle? I feel this is a tendency that is common in the church today, we stick around just long enough for God to show up and begin to do something and we think that it’s enough and go home. We take progression and advantages which God has given to us but fail to see them through into victories and fulfillment of God’s intentions for our lives. We are content to knock our proverbial giants unconscious but are unwilling to “do the dirty work” and eliminate those giants from our lives.

We are content to knock our proverbial giants unconscious but are unwilling to “do the dirty work” and eliminate those giants from our lives.

Again we begin to resemble Saul, the giant is knocked down so we can all go home, amen, hallelujah. Saul failed in God’s eyes because he didn’t see things through according to God’s plans. He took shortcuts, spared the lives of enemy kings, acted as a priest to expedite the beginning of a battle and so on. We need to be more like David who completed the job without compromise. David ensured the victory was complete and left no room for chance, and even went as far as to use Goliath’s own sword to do it with.

We can’t continue to settle for half of a spiritual victories, it not good enough for God to only answer a part of our prayer we need to see things through. God is ready to continue to work with and through us but we have to remain persistent and expectant that there is more to a battle than just the battle, after the battle comes a victory and comes the spoils (rewards). Because if you are unable to convert your challenge into a victory you’ve only succeeded at inviting further challenges into your life. As I already mentioned the only reason there was a giant to challenge David is because Joshua’s army was content with a partial victory against Goliath’s ancestors.

David’s victory over Goliath was complete here and that lead to an even larger victory for the rest of the people. As we see in 1 Samuel 17:51 “… And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” Because of the actions of one anointed and willing servant of God the entire nation enjoyed a victory that day

If you are unable to convert your challenge into a victory you’ve only succeeded at inviting further challenges into your life.

It All Begins With Servanthood

David didn’t do any of this for his own glory but he instead did it to stand up for God and His people. From what we can tell in the scriptures David never received the promised gifts of riches, tax/service exempt status for his family or Saul’s daughter in marriage (he married Michal later but under different circumstances). But what David did receive was recognition from God, as David graduated from the season of Anointing and entered into the season of Apprenticeship, the second stage of the 4 A’s: Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement.

David took this victory as a opportunity to not claim the throne by force but to continue serving Saul and the people. Unlike most people who would of followed up killing Goliath by next challenging Saul to the same battle, David instead continued to serve Saul as both as a commander and as they royal mistral. David didn’t take this victory as an invitation to fast-forward along the progression and suddenly go from being anointed to being announced as king. David took this opportunity to serve and was faithful to the point of annoyance in Saul’s eyes, but in the eyes of God and the people he was growing closer and closer into the manifestation of his calling.


1 Samuel 18:5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseTransforming Challenges Into Victories Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.