Life Beyond Church Ep. 16: Understanding The Glory of God

“Glory to God,” this is something that most Christians have heard at one point, maybe in a song, or while someone was preaching or even while reading the Bible. But what does it mean, what is glory, what does it have to do with God and how to we give glory to Him?

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

CCR PC 15 Why The Church Fails to Conquer the gates of Hell

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 either of my books Six Minutes of Grace: The Key to Finding Happiness and Purpose” and “Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs” today on paperback from Amazon or conwaychristianresources.com/shop or as an 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.
 

Be Ready For Unexpected Challenges

Be Prepared For Unexpected Challenges

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. However, this challenge is not always expected and more often than not we find ourselves stumbling upon it going about our daily lives.

Not every battle is laid out before us in advance and many times we will find ourselves stepping into the unexpected and then we discover why God led us to that place. We don’t always get pulled aside by someone and given a tactical briefing about something special or unusual that is going to happen that day which has the potential to reshape our lives. But that’s what happened with David he went about the mundane dealings of life and suddenly found himself standing face to face with Goliath.

This is the third part in my look into the life of David to help you discover how we to live you life after being called, commissioned or given a life’s purpose by God. Already we’ve seen how David’s heart handled the anointing by Samuel (Pt.1 HERE) and how David had the humility to serve Saul as his royal minstrel (Pt. 2 HERE) while still maintaining his family responsibilities (1 Samuel 17:15). Now we move on to the defining moment that launched David out of his season of Anointing and into his time of Apprenticeship.

God Combines Anointing With Opportunity Pt. 2

Not long after David became the royal minstrel Saul and the Philistines went to war, to fight over control of territory in western Judah (1 Samuel 17:2). Israel was trying to retain the land taken by the likes of Joshua, Caleb and Othniel while the Philistines were looking to push inward. However, this time was different it wasn’t just two waves crashing together in battle this time there were theatrics at play. The Philistines had their super-weapon and they were looking to coax someone from the Israelite army to agree to a champions battle (1 Samuel 17:8-9). In this battle the Philistines had Goliath, a giant (Anakim), and a descendant (or even a distant relative) of a tribe of giants disposed by Joshua’s conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 11:21-22).

Now a champions battle which Goliath was trying to bait Israel into is when a conflict is decided by a single warrior or small group of representatives from each army engaging in combat to determine an overall victor. This isn’t that crazy as it does prevent unnecessary loss of life in a conflict, although it appears to be more popular in stories than in actual battle, however there are real examples of this from history outside of the Biblical account.

This is the part of the account where David comes into play. After several weeks of the Philistine’s taunting Israel David’s father Jesse got the idea to send some supplies to the front lines of the pending battle (1 Samuel 17:17-18). David’s three oldest brothers were there so Jesse (fun fact: the son of Boaz and Ruth) asked David of all people to bring some food for them along with some cheese for their commander/regiment, then return home with a report.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers. David and Jesse probably had no idea about what was going on at the front line with Goliath taunting and challenging the Israelite army. David was just being obedient to his father, even though he was king Saul’s personal minstrel and the next anointed king of Israel.

David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers.

The Face Of The Giant

Once David arrived at the front lines days later the reason God led him there became apparent. As David was passing through the camp after delivering his supplies he overheard the commotion coming from the Philistine side of the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:23). After hearing the words of Goliath David demanded to know what would happened to the person that takes out this giant. David even goes as far to say “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” in verse 26.

It becomes apparent here that David’s trust and relationship with God gave him the faith to speak these words and to do the things he did later that day. By calling Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” he was declaring that Goliath was outside of God’s covenant and represented no real threat to those who serve and follow God. This is why David called Israel’s army the “armies of the living God,” as opposed to the Philistines who only served idols and demons.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them. It’s the same with us today there will come times in your life where circumstances, opponents or even yourself will appear to be like this mighty giant that is taunting you to walk into what appears in the natural to be an unwinnable battle.

David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them.

How many thousands of Israelite soldiers where there from all twelve tribes yet none of them had the faith (Numbers 13:33, Deuteronomy 1:28) to stand up against this giant (aka Rephaim, Emim, Anakim, sons of Anak) in the same manner that their faithful ancestors did (Joshua 11:21, 13:12, 14:12-15, 15:13).

Giants are not immortal or unbeatable but they are difficult to destroy if we go out in our own strength and without God’s assistance. David realized this He knew that God was more powerful than any living or breathing being outside of the covenant. To David this battle was not impossible and perhaps he was even reminded of the story of Caleb and Othniel fellow members of the tribe of Judah who killed several giants 300 or so years previously (Joshua 15, Judges 1).

This giant wasn’t there specifically to challenge David, Goliath was there challenging every person who followed the God of Israel. It was an open challenge to each and every soldier who claimed to follow the God who brought them out of slavery and into this Promised Land. Often this is how many “giants” in our lives operate they are not always looking not attack us directly but are looking to attack or embarrassed anyone and everyone who serves God. They do this to discredit God in the eyes of the people and to lure people into thinking that the giant’s gods/demons are the ones with real power and must be served.

David was there that day to honor his fathers request to bring supplies to the front lines, he didn’t go to fight or to impress the crowds he simply did as his father requested and once he arrive an opportunity was there waiting for him.

What’s Your Motivation To Face Unexpected Challenges

After seeing this display from Goliath David asked what if any was Saul promising to give the one who silenced this giant. A soldier responded to David by saying that the reward would be riches, Saul’s daughter, and tax exemption for his (and father’s) family (1 Samuel 17:25). On the one hand this sounds like everything you would want if you were anointed to be the next king. Riches to solidify your position among the people, a marriage to bring you into the royal family and the added benefit of you and your father’s house getting tax exemption status.

Many people would jump at the opportunity to receive this reward alone, except in this case they didn’t. There was something all of the other soldiers were missing, they were missing God in this equation. To David these rewards were not the reason for him wanting to challenge Goliath, David’s motivation came from wanting to stand up for God, the rewards were just a bonus for his faithfulness.

If one of the other soldiers had taken up Saul’s offer and lost then the army would have had to stand down and serve the Philistines as slaves, conscripts and Saul would become a vassal or be executed. The risk was too high just to receive riches alone, which is why things changed when David arrived.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered. They want the riches and recognition now and their hearts are in the wrong place. Often they only realize this after they have been defeated, but many times that defeat has lasting consequences on them and on those around them. Just as if an unanointed soldier had challenged Goliath and died the nation would have suffered the consequences I feel that often the same thing happens with the church at large.

I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered.

Far too often we seek out money, fame, influence and lose sight of why we are doing the things we are in ministry. It becomes more about advancement and position and less about pleasing God and doing what’s right in His eyes. David stood up against Goliath because of the things Goliath was saying not because he was looking for a wife or gold.

Courage To Face A Challenge Invites Judgement

David’s inquiries into the possible reward for killing Goliath didn’t go unnoticed, David’s oldest brother Eliab overhead his little brother and snapped at him. Eliab said in 1 Samuel 17:28 “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

This is an astounding response from David’s brother because he knew who David was called to be, he was there when Samuel anointed him. Eliab knew full well that God had appointed David to be King of Israel yet he still responded in this manner. He took David’s questioning about Goliath and declared it as being prideful or just wanting to watch the battle and perhaps “play the role of a king,” or thought that David was hoping for to Saul be killed.

Eliab wasn’t alone as others mocked David as well, but this type of response always goes hand in hand whenever anyone has faith for God to do mighty things. Even Jesus received this type of mockery by the people of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). Others such as the prophet Jeremiah faced the same criticism from the people of his own home town Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21). There is always this repeating resistance to anyone who tries to actually take God, his promises and His words at face value and try to do something to fight back against these so-called giants and unexpected challenges.

It’s no different for us today, if we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives we have to be prepared to face several things. We have to be ready for unexpected giants to cross our paths and we need to be emotionally ready for the complaining and push back we receive from others when we try to do something about those giants. It’s always easier to sit back and complain about the challenges in front of us and its comforting to ridicule others for trying to deal with problems we have no desire or faith to overcome ourselves. It’s that notion of settling for mediocrity and making sure no one else tries to rise above that level, because if they do then our excuses of why we never did anything about those challenges evaporate and we are left in shame.

This is where David found himself, he saw the giant and heard his accusations against God and his people, he had enough faith to ask what would come about for the one who wiped out this accuser and he was faced with ridicule. Were the people so far removed from the victories of Joshua that they no longer had any faith in God’s intervention, and what did they expect would happen if no on answered Goliath’s challenge. I’m sure eventually Goliath and the Philistines would have run out of patience and overrun the Israelite camp, leaving scores dead and the people in slavery once again.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away.

Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away. That’ll never happen, the only solution is to partner with God and stand against them. That’s what was in David’s heart He saw the giant, heard His words but unlike the other Israelite soldiers he had a firm grasp on who God is, what was available to him through the covenant, and how little a threat Goliath was in God’s eyes.

Taking A Stand

We can move out in the same faith today to see these unexpected challenges through the lens of our New Covenant and the power of God. We need to do this because if we don’t succeed in these challenges we will find ourselves in bondage to them and our anointing, calling and purpose will either become imprisoned or we will be forced to take the long way to our ultimate destination.

These times of unexpected challenges are the times when God proves to us that what He promised is real, they are times where our own strength cannot prevail and through these victories the next stages of our walk with God begin to open up.

Next week we will see how David faced this unexpected challenge head on and how it took him into the next phase of his calling. As he progressed from the place of Anointing to the place of Apprenticeship, because someone overhead David talking and rather than ridiculing him went to the king to tell him the news that someone was ready to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31)

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 LicenseBe Ready For Unexpected  Challenges Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Life Beyond Church Ep. 11: Faith That Transforms Mustard Seeds into Mustard Trees

Hidden beneath the parable of the humble mustard seed lies a foundational truth which many Christians are unaware of. So what exactly is Jesus trying to say to us and how can it revolutionize our lives?