The Bible, which means the book, is a single narrative that points to one person. 66 books written over the span of human history, and they all stay consistent; Christ, the Word of God, who never changes.
Four phases of the Christian walk
All of us know about Jesus, at the Passover meal, taking the cup and saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. All of us know about salvation, but did you know there’s more than salvation? There isn’t just one cup at the Passover meal, there are four! And if you’ve ever felt like the cup of salvation wasn’t enough to make you fill like you were living a life of abundant and fulfilling life, then let me challenge you to read this and step into the other cups of promise. This post is based on notes from a book, so read it in parts if you need to; its well worth it
The Four cups of Passover and the four original promises of God
Passover is the celebration of God’s deliverance from Egypt. God gave the Israelites four promises before he brought them out from under the yoke of slavery. These four promises are still celebrated at Passover in the four cups. Let’s look at His promises:
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” – Ex. 6:6-7
In this verse you see the four promises to his people:
1. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
2. I will free you from being slaves to them
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment
4. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God
Every physical act in the bible also is a spiritual act for us to use. These promises are still the promises God has for all of us today! The four stages of the Christian walk are the same as they were for the Israelites, and they look like this:
Gods promise to rescue you from the bondage of sin and death (Salvation)
Gods promise to deliver you from whatever holds you back
Gods promise to help you discover his original intention for your life (Restoration)
Gods promise to make you part of a family that is making a difference in the world
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” – Num. 23:19
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Phil. 3:12-14
“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Phil 1:6
Salvation is all that is necessary for eternal life with God, but there is so much more; a life of fulfillment and abundance on earth! Here are some quotes from Chris Hodges book, “Four Cups”, and some personal notes on the topic:
Don’t settle for less than God’s best for you. Don’t stifle that voice in your heart that tells you there has to be more.
It took 40 yrs. of trailblazing in the desert, and then a faith-based fight, before the Israelites were able to claim the Promised Land. And along the way they grumbled and stumbled and second-guessed God most of the time.
But even with their doubts, fears, and uncertainties, they couldn’t dismiss God’s promises. His words got them dreaming again – a dangerous luxury for slaves. They began to foresee their future-a future filled with freedom and joy and the promise of a better life. Like most of us, they needed to see the hope in the journey – sort of like a vacation brochure – before they could take the first step.
You’re going to have to face your dream killers. Here are three big ones:
1. Unfulfilled expectations – “Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” – Prov. 13:12. And wasn’t it His original hope in Genesis that we would eat from the tree of life rather than the one of death? Dream! Abraham was promised a son, but when he felt like he was running out of time from old age, his own attempt to move things along backfired. God holds the plan. Get closer to him and let him reveal & fulfill it. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Ps. 139:16.
Why keep putting it off by carrying it on your own? Let God take you into your purpose. If you aren’t letting God do it, you might be missing the point. Get closer to him and wait on his perfect timing. Remember, God is eternal; Satan is not. So who do you think makes us worry about timing?
2. Unrelenting doubt – Doubt typically takes hold in our minds when we allow the enemy of our souls to question what God has promised us. Don’t let your temporary circumstances deter your lifelong purpose.
Study about God’s faithfulness to combat his strategies. Surround yourself with people with a testimony.
3. Unchangeable circumstances – The dream killer makes us want to give up. It’s a faulty mentality that believes we’ve reached a point from which our lives can never change. We serve a God who can raise the dead. Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, the son of Gods promise about which he said: ‘Isaac, is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’ Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again – Heb.11:17-19
God not only rescued his people from bondage in Egypt (Salvation), he also freed them from a slavery mind-set. This is the second promise. We have to learn how to live free. God gave the Israelites many laws to teach them how to be free, covering areas like personal hygiene, finances, parenting, and choosing a spouse. Not because God is a strict taskmaster, but because his people didn’t know how to live in true freedom. The new testament laws are no different. Its God’s manual on healthy living. People who have been slaves – subjected to abuse, mistreatment, and confinement – often don’t know how to function as they were originally intended. When we find ourselves captive to our own selfish and sinful behavior, we lose sight of our purpose. God promises to redeem us. He promised that we would be part of his family, even though we were slaves to sin; he promises that we belong and are loved by, Him, the father.
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” – 2 Cor. 1:20
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” – Rom. 12:2
This is one of my favorite verses, and a topic I love to discuss. The Process of Renewal is one of my previous blog posts on this subject.
Perhaps you find yourself in some type of bondage right now. It could be an addiction or a secret habit that you cling to. It could be an unhealthy relationship or an obsession with appearing successful in the eyes of others. An addiction is anything we do that we don’t want to do but we can’t stop doing. It is any ingrained pattern that pulls us to false idols to escape our pain. Break the idol; God is not far from you. He wants to quench your thirst for more and show you the power of the real and living God.
For me it was an addiction, to fill every second of my day, to avoid loneliness. An unrealistic expectation that made me tired and put burdens on my friends and boyfriends. Something I suffered with, circling around in the desert, for over 10 years, before I recently gave it to God and said please take my burden and show me your presence in a real way that quenches the loneliness. Loneliness was my idol. I held on tight, worshiped it and couldn’t let it go. I set it above God saying, ‘I think you have more power than God.’ God is so good though! He brought me to a place that I could recognize this idol and gave me the faith to trust Him to break it and its false power. What used to be depression, even suicidal thoughts as far as taking preventive actions, is now an overwhelming desire to be alone so that I can delve into more of Him. I’m walking in victory, in Jericho, but I know there are still other areas that I hide and hold from Him; other battles to fight and other false gods in my life. But as long as we follow Jesus, He is going to lead us into greater freedom on earth and do all the fighting for us. – Jehle
So many people, including Christians, believe that God requires us to make changes before we can approach him. But that’s not true. We don’t get our lives together in order to get to God. We go to God to get our lives together!
And just like Christ didn’t just take a beating for us, but gave everything; his life. We can’t just give Him part of us. We have to give Him everything; our lives. We can’t say, I have salvation, now I’m through with you. We need him to be our daily bread; our daily manna/miracle/present help in the midst of our deserts leading us to the promise of a fulfilling life.
Once God becomes Lord of your life, he begins working in your heart to give you both the desire and the power to change; Not before. A lot of change will happen after you’ve been set free, but you don’t change in order to become free. Salvation is a gift.
It’s like being lost in the woods and you come across a hiker who knows the way out. You are faced with the choice of trusting them to guide you out, or to trust yourself to find it on your own.
Every day we have the same choice. Are we going to keep following or are we going to get tired of the hills and turn back to the unrelenting woods and loneliness.
When the Israelites left Egypt, they still had part of Egypt left in them. They still had a slave mentality and still acted like slaves. They had a wrong view of themselves, a distrustful view of God, and a skeptical view of the future. And at some points they thought surely it would be better to be a slave in Egypt than to continue forward to a land that we can live in freedom.
It’s common knowledge that good things come from someones sweat, blood, and tears. Jesus took on all the sweat, blood, and tears for you, so that you could have a fulfilling life; but if you want to do all the work yourself, and not give up your idols (loneliness in my case) and go through all the pain by yourself, he’ll let you. He is polite. He wants to help us, but he won’t force his hand.
Left unchecked, your addictions will keep you on a treadmill of frustration and mediocrity, never growing into your God-given potential. Its easier to cling to anger and bitterness, but there is no freedom in that. It turns our stomachs and makes us sick. We find freedom in forgiveness, and the other instructions of God. “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” – John 1:9. Any effort to break bad habits without a change of heart is a short-term fix at best.
We can only change through God. We can only know God through Jesus; and Jesus is the word of God (John 1:1,14). Simply put, we can only change by filling ourselves with more of the bible! “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit” – Heb. 4:12. The bible causes change in those who live by it. When we are faced with something we don’t understand or feel like we are doing wrong. Do a bible study on that.
God reminded me of this example; reminded me of previous attempts to get rid of loneliness through fasting people for a time.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” – Matt. 12:43-45
That’s how it was with me. I used the fasting to clean and tidy my spirit house, but I didn’t fill that space up with a new tenant. I should have filled it to the brim with Jesus, so that when the spirit tried to come back, he couldn’t. Instead, I left it tidy and unoccupied, so when I fell right back into my old ways, the problem was SO much worse. Because it showed me that my effort was useless on my own. I should’ve been looking into God’s word for the answer to my problem. Looking for his promises and his presence and asking him to take it himself. Learning is important if there is a lack of knowledge. But for those who already have the knowledge…
Bible study and discipleship isn’t all about learning more stuff – its about discovering and developing the reason why we were created and living it out.
Church isn’t another form of entertainment, it’s a call to action.
The goal is not to just learn, but to apply.
Faith without works is dead; it is stagnant, and unchanging, and there is no power in the lives on those who possess it.
Once you are saved, and you’ve let God heal the pains and scares of yesterday, you are restored to your original function. You can then walk in your purpose and destiny.
In Matthew 25, three servants were given talents (what a convenient term for money!). One got 5, the next got 2, and the last got only 1 (A little spoiler here, the last is first in the kingdom of God!). The three servants all had the same opportunity to use their talents wisely and profitably on behalf of their master (just like God gives us talents and abilities and an opportunity to use those for his glory). The two servants, with more talents, invested them and gained even more talents, but the servant with the one talent hid it because he saw the master as a hard, unreasonable, and overbearing judge rather than a kind father.
If you live by fear, you will bury your talent. Instead, you must bury your fear and invest your talent. Once your fears, pain, and limitations are confessed and healed, its time to explore your personality, gifts, passions, and dreams. From the four basic Greek temperaments to the Myers-Briggs personality types, there are many different ways to explore the way you were designed by God.
I have a previous blog post called Finding your Purpose and Giftings, which has a test to find where your gifting are.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” – 1 Cor. 12:4-7
Our different personality traits, temperaments, and gifts are not to be measured or compared with one another, as if some have more worth or value than others. There is no room for inferiority or envy in the body of Christ; we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”.
Each with a purpose and a destiny, so that one cannot be better than the other.
God took the Israelites out of slavery and into greatness. The jews have won more than 20% of the Nobel Prizes awarded, even though the jews comprise less than 2/10 of 1 % of the world population.
80% of Christians have never discovered their calling. Can you imagine what your body would feel like if 80% was dead or inactive?
Let’s all pray that God revive his body of believers, for we are meant to be the body of Christ. How can others see Christ but through us? Can you imagine if Christ had been on earth and not showed us who God was?
I personally think that part of this death in the body of Christ is due to the church rejecting the Holy Spirit. Christ is the head of the body, and the spirit is how we hear Him. We can’t be a part of the body of Christ without the baptism of the spirit of God. That’s what John meant when he said, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is what Christ meant when he said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” And further, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body”. We CAN NOT be part of the body of Christ without the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, we received the holy spirit when we accepted Christ, but then everyday our churches tell us to ignore the spirit. Someone, somewhere didn’t like the gift of talking in tongues, and everyone abandoned the spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is SO much more than gifts. I’ll be writing another blog soon about him. We need to know him, because he is the one who guides us into all truth. God’s spirit living and breathing inside of us, without whom we have no breath of life.
(the topic ‘born of water’ will be another blog post conversation. It’s already in the works)
The final cup of the Passover meal is called the hallel, meaning to rave, celebrate, or boast. With this cup they celebrate the fact that God formed them into a new nation after their deliverance from Egypt. God intends for us to literally live our dreams – the dreams he placed in us, so we can experience contentment, joy, and wholeness. God’s ultimate plan for you is to be full and filled – fulfilled.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
He didn’t give you a dream so that you could constantly feel frustrated and defeated; rely on God as your power source.
Lasting happiness, doesn’t typically come from writing a bestseller or climbing a mountain, but from helping others and making a difference in the lives of other people; Not out of obligation, but from the joy of helping meet someones needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory based on 5 levels of human need; not just surviving, but also to give our lives meaning.
One youth pastor decided to show young men and women a global worldview; to show them how God wanted to use them in his grand design for great things. Amazingly, he realized that the trivial issues that plague most teens fell away once they were focused on a purpose. Very few got caught up in drugs, partying, and even the dating scene.
If we truly hone in and focus on God, everything else fades away. Sort of like the last scene in the recent movie Lucy, when she realizes her purpose, she loses sight of everything else.
“You are the light of the world. … You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” – Matt. 5:14, Act 1:8
We’ve made ministry a profession, and we like to sit on the sidelines and watch.
I personally think that Satan has exalted so many different forms of entertainment in our generation, so that we start to view church as entertainment as well. Our pastors might as well be our tv, because once he’s done, we click the button and turn it off. We have made entertainment our idol; America screams entertainment above God.
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” – Eph. 4:11-12
Every Christian is called by God to change the world.
“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.” – 1 Cor. 12:4-7
Unfortunately, some people go around thinking, ‘It’s too late I’ve already messed up my life. The mess is too big and complicated to unravel.’ Don’t believe it!
Time, after time, after time again, in the bible, God uses the weakness of his people to show his glory and his strength! Both your strengths and your weaknesses are gifts!
I like to think of it like this:
1. God gives us strengths so that we can help his body, the church.
2. God uses our weaknesses to show his power to the world!
Ultimate fulfillment is about ministering to others from our own unique stories. Our struggles and battles and our testimony of victory! Fulfillment never comes alone, but with a group of people. The body of Christ rejoices with us and its a huge party celebrating God’s goodness. It’s easy to see why Satan goes to great lengths to destroy our relationships. He is trying to stop our potential to make a difference. Contribution, Community, Celebration
If you want to know more about this topic. Get the book “Four Cups” by Chris Hodges. Every page is wonderful and its last chapters are great for those in leadership; it shows how to take these topics to another level in outreach and church growth.
1. Accept Christ as your savior. Continue to walk with Christ further than just salvation. Get connected to other believers. Most people do this by joining a church. (Conveniently, Church of the Highlands gave me this book for free when I joined their church. They base their church on these principles, so that they continue to help you grow in your walk with Christ.)
2. Delve into studying the topics you struggle with. Get involved in a bible study group, to share with and encourage each other. Work out your issues by asking God to take control of them. Let the Holy Spirit be your counselor through the healing process. Find a mentor in your church to help if you want.
3. Explore your gifts. Get involved with, or in, different areas of your church until you find your niche. Study what the Bible says about that niche. Find a mentor in that niche to help challenge you to grow into it, if you want.
4. Once you know your gifting. Walk in it with others! And repeat steps 1-4 as needed for cleansing, healing, and more talents!