Paul explained to the Corinthians the distinction of those whose spiritual responsibilities would meet the criteria of being that of a spiritual father. Over the years, I have had less than a handful of ones who have genuinely served that role and influence in my walk with the Lord. Yet of those who have, gratefully they have done so remarkably. In each case, they changed my thinking, provoking me to reach harder in seeking and knowing God.
At the top of that list is a two and a half decade trust relationship I had with a pastor I came to serve together with. Not unlike Moses’ call to Joshua, it began when he reached out to establish this meaningful relationship with me.
At the forefront in my most cherished remembrances of this man of God are the significant times of prayer we shared. As much and for the most part more than most I have known, he embraced the admonition of Paul to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It was the context for one of the more frequent prayers I recall hearing him unwrap in interceding for ones he upheld with his prayers: that of soul prosperity.
Being uniquely balanced as a man of the Spirit while being deeply immersed in God’s word, this prayer was based on 3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray above all things that you may prosper and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom of God, one must be born of the Spirit. Our spirit is what connects us to God. It is not a head-thing. However, one’s soul, that being one’s mind, will and emotions plays a vital part in this spirit-connection to God. So, in praying for soul prosperity, this spiritual father of mine was praying for a sound mind, will and emotions … as the basis for the choices and focus needed in our spirit maintaining a healthy, right connection to God; that enables one to grow spiritually and walk uprightly.
Never in my 50 plus years of walking with the Lord as an adult has this dynamic of soul prosperity been more essential than in today’s toxic spiritual atmosphere. The intensity of the clutter, distractions, deceptions and seductions has invaded the thinking of even the elect, mirroring the prophetic words from Matthew 24.
The Mandate to Influence, Lead and Build
Jesus stressed the point that as believers, the expectation is for His followers to impact the spiritual environment around us as salt and light. Our assignment is to be the influencers rather than being whiplashed by what is happening around us. Doing so requires the discipline to renew our minds and transform our will and emotions to be aligned with the potential …. of this mandate of our born-again spirits to operate with soul prosperity. It represents the foundation needed to influence, lead and to build.
The life of David contains a number of gems tied to the standard and requirements for being a spiritual leader and Kingdom builder. Following the long, grueling years of God’s grooming and waiting for the expectation tied to when Samuel anointed David king, it then happened suddenly, almost unexpectedly. The wisdom of God was evident as David uniquely brought together unity in the kingdom he now led. Then in one of his earliest decisions as king, David brought the small tribe of Issachar into his advisory circle because of their ability to understand the times, in order to know what to do.
The Secrets Required to Lead
This Issachar context is equally essential in today’s spiritual environment. It was also a critical factor for Joseph in his role in Egypt, as it was for the generation Joshua led and then later, for Daniel in serving the Lord in the Babylonian occult-court setting.
There is a vital point of wisdom captured by Solomon needed to be the head and not the tail in such spiritual environments, no doubt something he learned from his father. It bears a unique leadership application for not just Kingdom building, but in realistically addressing the dynamics tied to facing judgment and with that, the path to restoration that was such a key part of both Joseph’s and Daniel’s mantles.
“Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” Eccl 7:17
The Amplified translation begins this sequence with “Do not be willfully wicked.” Addressing people of God, it points to situations with death at the door and the acute need of the fear of God … alluding to the potential destructive result that can come from the practice of sin or the willful ignoring of what one knows is right.
The Kingdom Corridor and the Reach
This wisdom of Solomon illustrates the narrow, difficult path by which Jesus described the Kingdom of God. Fully embraced, it portrays a narrow corridor between life and death … and Solomon’s insight into premature death among God’s people. Many within the segments of the persecuted church around the world understand this reality. However, the spiritual impact of this dynamic is becoming increasingly evident within the Western church as the momentum of the fourth horseman’s mandate in Revelation touches every corner of the globe.
An astute observation I’ve heard more than a couple of times from one of my most valued and respected prayer-partners is that over the years, that he has managed to do STUPID really well. This is an astute, seasoned and very committed man of God. He and I share being highly disciplined in the priority we give to immersing ourselves in God’s Word and abiding in His presence, listening. Despite this long-time practice for each of us, not unlike most of the heroes of faith, we have each had times of faltering and misfires.
Despite pulling out the stops in our zeal for God, not unlike most of the heroes of faith, we operate with chinks in the armor of our mind, will and emotions. We’re in good company. Moses lost it in his frustration with the people under his charge and struck the rock instead of speaking to it in bringing forth the needed water. After years of holding fast to God’s preparation for his mantle as king, David presumed on the Lord by assuming control of the reins in his quest for Bathsheba. God’s very revealing word to him in uncovering his deceit was “David, why have you despised me?” Peter, again and again became so full of himself in walking with Jesus that the final step of correction and direction that he needed, which followed the resurrection, was accompanied by him being consoled … before he finally got beyond himself.
Getting Beyond Ourselves
Even the most disciplined and respected will have times of crossing this fine line that Solomon pointed to and do STUPID. The vigilance and need for the reach to stay beyond ourselves is constant.
“Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” Eccl 7:17
The higher the calling, the greater the potential is for doing STUPID. Of the many teachings I absorbed as a young believer, one of the hardest for me to get through was Andrew Murray’s book: “Humility, the Beauty of Holiness.” My first attempt in reading it, I was unable to get further than a few chapters. It was too rich and too convicting. But I came back to it and not only got through it, but then later re-read it and absorbed even more. It wasn’t that I was walking an unconsecrated life. Not at all. It was in realizing and needing to clean up subtle issues of the heart … the mind, will and emotions … that only comes over time from consistently exposing ourselves to His Presence and Truth.
2 Chronicles 32:31 tells of God leaving Hezekiah, to try him that he might know what was in his heart. This came following a time that scripture describes Hezekiah’s exploits with: “All that he did prospered.” In other words, God left him alone that he might recognize the reality of God’s role in his exploits. Such is the foundation for soul prosperity and the antidote to overconfidence, which usually is tied to pride and unhealthy ambitions, which mars our sensitivity to hear and to discern, when the need for listening is acute.
Kingdom leadership is very different from that of the world. Its success is uniquely tied to a deep dependency on God and His guidance …. which requires a depth in understanding His ways and His truth. This depth involves something more. It was as Isaiah prophesied: “Woe, judgment is coming to those who are wise in their own eyes and are clever in their own sight.” In Judges 17 it states: “In those days, there was no king in Israel when everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Paul reveals this truth with the words to the Corinthians: “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the cleverness of the clever.” He similarly wrote the Romans: “For although they knew God, they did not honor God or give thanks, as they became futile in their own reasoning.”
Community Soul Prosperity and Spiritual Maturity
There is a difference between being a believer and honoring God in our thinking, which predetermines right decisions, priorities and actions. That difference is found in the spiritual maturity which is more often tied to the humility required to adhere to Solomon’s advice to avoid doing STUPID.
“Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” Eccl 7:17
Paul unwraps this truth in his letter to the Ephesians in his reference that ties maturity, as a community, together with the unity that in short is derived from soul prosperity within the community. That community soul prosperity is based on the psalmist’s observation:
“Teach me Your ways that I might walk in Your Truth. Unite my heart to fear Your Name.” Psalm 86:11
As Paul explained it to the Romans, that when this truth falls short: “Claiming to be wise they became fools.” It coincides with Judges 17 when the result of the standard faltering, due to the lack of leadership, was everyone doing what was right in their own eyes.
Avoiding spiritual myopia, the need is for the priorities to trigger a confluence of minds that includes assuming responsibility for those upholding the standard. There are far too many in this critical hour posing as spiritual fathers who neither recognize the times or the responsibility. Whether just self-proclaimed imposters or simply deceived, it doesn’t matter. The result and influence is the same.
In understanding the times, there is a standard and strategy needed to face and overcome the onslaught of the fourth horseman and death. That standard draws strongly from soul prosperity and spiritual maturity in the community.
Based on the models of Joseph and Daniel, this can operate when only a remnant exhibit this standard, but it means major parts of the community being sidelined. However, the Joshua generation achieved what the Moses generation did not: the singleness of purpose of the community in being yielded to and obeying God in possessing and then building the inheritance promised. At the core of being yielded and obedient to that level was soul prosperity on the community-level. Seriously accomplishing this goal can be tied to the right execution of the strategy employing the most basic form of community in Judaism.
Recognizing and Responding to the Change
The season emerging is marked by the Lord doing a new thing, a new thing comprised of old foundations. It is a new thing to those who until now have been blind to it.
During the days of the Charismatic Renewal in the early 70s there emerged a magazine called “New Wine.” Its moniker was drawn from the story of the disciples of Jesus’ cousin John questioning why Jesus’ followers were not participating in what had been their practice of fasting. Jesus’ response was: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskin be ruined. New wine must be put into new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
Jesus was pointing to not only a new dimension being introduced to the faithful, but to the adjustments required in its successful application. The standard and the nature of the spiritual season we are entering calls for not only the New Wine now coming from on high, but the new wineskins needed to contain it. In other words, we need to be seriously recognizing and embracing God’s new strategy and thinking required for this new season.
Whether we draw from the model of Daniel’s response to facing dire consequences (Dan 2:17-19 and Dan 6:16-20); or the prophetic words of Joel (Joel 3:14-20) or John the Revelator (Rev 6:2-17), what lies before us is unprecedented and requires adjustments to both the strategy and thinking that will shape and orchestrate how we approach and respond to the changes.
Without the discernment, new strategy and thinking in adjusting to the change, death capitalizes and impacts the spiritual environment around those who misinterpret or avoid the process with the glitter of power and authority.
Again, it requires a keen understanding of not just the times, but the changes and with that, the standard needed to recognize and overcome the subtleties brought on by the fourth horseman and death. As has been noted, it is the standard that derives strength and clarity from the soul prosperity and spiritual maturity nurtured in the community.
Strategy and Thinking for the Season
Within Judaism, the most elemental form of community is based on what is called a minyan. Whenever ten Jews live within walking distance of one another, they form a minyan and begin meeting regularly for two primary purposes. First, is to pray and seek God. Second, is to help one another become successful business-wise. The second purpose includes how doing so can benefit the community. The process incorporates being responsible for nurturing the balance of these goals in one another.
In my experience in putting together such basic forms of community within Christian settings, I’ve found that most excel in the first while falling flat in the second. Even those who are marketplace practitioners.
The issue involves the need for the new wineskin encompassed by mature thinking. In other words, mature thinking requires getting beyond old mind-sets. Over-spiritualizing and the lack of practical planning and goal-setting that is not sensitive to the process … is far too prevalent within Gentile thinking for both Gentile and Jewish believers. The need exists to realistically embrace the simple tasks of service, stewardship and opportunity, which include bearing a community-responsibility for those of the same mind.
Spiritual maturity will result from getting beyond ourselves and growing up sufficiently to overcome the blindness that prevails with old-mindsets …. in order to embrace the thinking and community-focus, that for the most part come naturally with Jewish thinking.
At issue for believers today is the critical need for the Issachar context …. to accurately discern the right response to change … which avoids the resistance from old mind-sets. At issue is the needed awakening of the remnant of forerunners who will be stewards of the change. Key to enabling the change will be the unity between the generations: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which will connect the zeal of the younger generation with the wisdom of the elder generation.
The times now upon us are releasing a level of change that cannot be ignored. The Spirit of the Lord is on the move, awakening, preparing and empowering. Accurately responding to these changes has the requisites for praying and nurturing soul prosperity in the community … as a remnant of forerunners with the anointing of Joseph and Daniel become givers of Life in a season marked by the need for restoration, Kingdom building and the path through that narrow corridor between life and death.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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