By Charles Mahaney
Jesus taught men to live by dying, to get up by getting down, to hold on by letting go, and to increase by decreasing so that His kingdom could be built on the sacrifice of our slain desires. No other accomplishment will satisfy the inner thirst that initiates us into God’s purpose. In the Old Testament, the mantle was on the outside. In the Old Testament it is infolded, and in the New Testament it is unfolded. In the Old Testament the mantle was wrapped around the shoulders, the symbol of strength. In the New Testament it wraps around our spirits. In Him we can take off the spirit of heaviness and put on the spirit of praise. God wants us to stretch ourselves toward Him.
Why are we here? Just to exist, to get up, go to work, and live? God planned you and called you. The fact that you are living in this hour says you have a purpose. When you come to this realization, hell is in trouble.
Situations come into your life to direct you from His purpose, but His anointing causes you to be a purpose-driven person. God wants to send an earthquake into your prison and open the doors so the other prisoners can hear you. The past falls from each of us like an old garment. We still remember it, but we choose not to wear it. In the Old Testament, they could not mix fabrics such as cotton or wool. Their garment had to be singular. In the New Testament, we cannot mix unforgiveness issues and wrong attitudes with the heavenly spun garments of God’s mantle of anointing. The way to be a more effective Christian is to have a greater anointing, thus yielding a more bountiful harvest.
We must love without our love being confounded by self-interest. We must move away from the human characteristic of courting oneself first, or we’ll fail to grasp the trembling fact that He saves us not because of what we are but for what we can become.
The supreme passion of the Lord of the harvest is to exercise His lordship over broken and dishonored pieces of human life, and it is our failure to realize that fact that makes our message sound irrelevant to the hopeless of the twenty-first century. He called Abraham and then told him to sacrifice the son of promise. He could only use Jacob after he pinned Him to the muddy banks of Jabbok. He chose Israel and then allowed them to tie Him up and crucify Him. At Pentecost He chose the church and placed Himself in our hands.
Jesus refused to play into the hands of the enemy. Instead of turning rocks into bread, He fed five thousand. It was really the same challenge but on a much greater scale. He did not jump from the pinnacle of the Temple, but He hung on a cross, died, was buried, and refused to stay dead. The devil challenged, “If you really love God, come on; do something.” Jesus knew He was not the great I Was or the great I Am Going to Be, but He was the great I AM. We must refuse to be bogged down in proving that God exists. When we manifest His love and character, our radically changed lives are the greatest sermon we will ever preach to humanity, proving beyond a doubt that God exists.
There is absolutely no way to shut God out. He moves where He wills. There is divine interference. It is an immutable fact; it is a matter of record. The word interference comes from two words, inter or between and forced to make or work. God penetrates and moves between cause and effect, between the visible and the invisible, between the known and the unknown, and between the spiritual and the material. When man relies on methods, fixed agendas, and established procedures, God is ruled out of our ministry. When the supernatural is not present, we become professionals at duplicating.
We must allow God the right to interfere. He knocked Paul down on the road to Damascus. In Acts 10:44, it is recorded that “while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell. “ This is divine interference. All our programs and forms rely on physical phenomena, and very few vibrate with the presence of God. You do not get far into the Scriptures until you make the startling discovery that God actually has likes; and if there are likes, there must of necessity be dislikes. If Israel is the apple of God’s eye (in Hebrew this means the pupil), then anyone who messes with her is bound to find himself on God’s scroll of dislikes. Religion bothered Him, and it still bothers Him today. We are to be active and shine in this world as His representatives. But if we are going to make a difference, we must submit to the radical, changing, penetrating message of the gospel that reveals Jesus to our world.
Jesus’ compassion and the Pharisees’ legalism were at an impasse. The Pharisees were masters at avoiding anything and anyone which would make them religiously and ceremonially impure. Their keeping the letter of the law led to a separation from anyone who was not part of their exclusive sect. Our outward acts toward other people also reflect our theology. The way we act toward others reveals how we view God.
The rabbis had 613 laws that had to be kept daily. They had the Sabbath, and they had numerous laws to protect it. They even had hand washing down to the minute detail. The tradition of the elders stated, “He who lightly esteems washing will perish from the earth.” That is why a Pharisee eating with Jesus was shocked that He did not wash His hands before the meal (Luke 11:37-38). The Pharisees strictly avoided contact with sinners, and they had forty-nine reasons for pronouncing food unclean. They declared seven kinds of fish and twenty-four species of birds unclean. Their books on hedging and protecting the law were thicker than their book of the law. They said, “Thou shalt not kill,” but Jesus said it was murder if they destroyed people with their words. Nobody knew the Scripture like the Pharisees. They memorized them and even wore them on their arms and on their foreheads and on the hem of their robes. One would throw a dart at a rolled-up scroll, and wherever the dart stuck the Word, they would begin to quote it from memory. The irony is that the people who learned and loved the Scriptures rejected the very One whom the Scripture proclaimed.
The weakness of the law is that it can show us what to do, but it cannot make us want to do it. Mary allowed the Lord to serve her first, and Jesus stated that Mary had made the better choice because she allowed the Lord to minister to her. Jesus was teaching that others were important but ministry to others is dependent on being fed by the Lord, who is the Bread of Life.
Because of His love for us, He stirs up what is hidden deep within our spirits. It is His way of directing us into our purpose. Your moment of destiny is not something you have looked for but is something that has been seeking you. God has placed a seed of His destiny in each of us, and fruit is the result of that seed. When you step into God’s purpose and God’s timing, He will be with you. Remember, Peter walked on what others sink into. Jesus made a statement as He read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue. Every eye was upon Him as He said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” He was saying it had become true because it was fulfilled in Him. He told them, in essence, “You are now looking at the fullness.” The only way to learn a principle of life is to truly experience it. Everything we’ve gone through was God sharpening us to this point. Love has been training us for His purpose.
It is time to unload. Jesus carried our burdens to the cross, so why do we keep picking them up? There is a defining moment in every life. A man once said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” We all have a place we must step from, and it is from our former somewhere to our future somewhere. Our heavenly Father wants us to embrace a vision of greater things.
Nazareth missed Him because they knew and were interested in His doing, but they had no concept of His being. His being initiates us into His doing. To some, His work and its message will be just a small amount of bread and cheese in their quest. Gideon chose the men who both drank, and looked to defeat the enemy. We must drink with a vision. If the bread and cheese of this effort will move you on a little closer to your purpose, then the labor will not be in vain. Together let us step into the place no other generation has been. Let us reach for the mark of His purpose and destiny.
Caesar leaned back on his throne, and when he spoke, everyone came to attention. “Let us not only tax the Jews in Palestine; let us order a registration and have each one go to the place of his birth to register.” For Mary and Joseph, this required a journey south to Bethlehem.
No one had ever seen God, but He was soon to become known. The world’s stage was set. A manger became the focal point of history, the gateway of time and eternity. The calendars of the world date from this event. The Word became flesh as divinity slipped into the robe of humanity.
Reconciliation and recovery began here with the birth of Jesus. There is nothing remote about the humble stable nor anything unique about the birth of a baby. It happens countless times every day in our world. However, the long shadow of this baby will fall across the ages because God desired that the relationship between Him and man be so close that the divine became human. Here is a God who so loves each of us that He defies our refusal to be loved by Him. No one can outdistance God. Even though we lose our grip on Him, He never loses His grip on us.
When we, like Adam, try to hide from Him, He searches and calls until He finds us. We may turn our backs on Him, but He never turns from us. Where does one find God? We do not find Him; instead, we are found by Him. His love always takes the initiative and comes to us with irresistible mercy and love.
We stand in amazement, bending and looking into the manger. The revelation that God came is our spiritual swaddling clothes, yet this revelation is the foundation upon which our entire recovery must rest.
Then this baby, this Jesus, disappeared from sight. When He was twelve years of age, He visited the Temple in Jerusalem. For eighteen years, He remained in Nazareth and was spoken of as the carpenter. He, our soon coming Savior, worked with sweat running down His face, shaping things with hands that would be nailed to a tree. These same hands will shape every life that yields to Him.
The day came when Jesus stepped from the carpenter’s shop onto the stage of destiny. Quietly He stood on the banks of the Jordan River and moved into the water, asking John to baptize Him. The baptism of Jesus was not for the remission of sin, because He had no sin. Baptism was His dedication. He dedicated Himself to His great cause: our salvation. Publicly He bowed in submission to His Father’s will. Through His baptism, Jesus painted a picture of what He came to do. He came to die, to be buried, and to be raised from the dead. This is also His pattern for our recovery. We die through repentance, are buried in baptism, and are raised to a new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus could be our savior, He had to prove that Satan had no power over Him. When Jesus stepped into the desert to meet the tempter, it was no sham battle. The Lion of the tribe of Judah walked alone into the jungle of Satan’s stronghold. He had to master the tempter before He could help the tempted. The gauntlet had been thrown down. He had to have it out with the devil. He knew the Christ the crowd wanted but He knew He had to be the Christ they needed, so He stood in the crucible for each of us.
Temptation is a human experience we all face. The answer is not to be embarrassed by the temptation. The Bible says that “every man is tempted.” Another verse says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation” (James 1:12). Temptation is not abnormal. Jesus, who was both God and man, came not only to reveal God but also to reveal man. Jesus defeated the devil, and having been tempted, He is able to help all who are tempted. The Lord not only resisted the devil; He defeated him.
The Bible always places the joy of God after the salvation of His people. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7). The woman rejoiced after the lost coin was found, and the father rejoiced over the prodigal who returned home. All of heaven rejoices when a lost soul is recovered.
From Eden to this trembling moment, God has done His best to reveal Himself to mankind. He used types and shadows. He employed smoking altars and bloody victims. He tried righteous laws and stern judgments. Then Jesus lay on a cross, and it became God’s sign to the ages. On a bloody, swaying cross, suspended between heaven and hell, God unveiled His heart, revealed His love, and then rested His case. Jesus spoke these vivid words as He faced the cross: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9-1 1). He then turned and walked from the upper room to a garden and a hill. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). This is the Joy of Recovery.
The above article, “Pursuing Purpose” was written by Charles Mahaney. The article was excerpted from chapter five in Mahaney’s book, The Joy of Recovery.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.