Saturday, December 27, 2008

"What Ifs" for 2009 by Robert Ricciardelli

Every Year I share my evolving "What If" list. There are many what ifs in many situations in life. What ifs can be good, especially reflecting about the way things are and “what if” we changed them, or aligned ourselves toward them to the glory of God. We only know in part, so it is always good to check what we think we know often.

Please remember that these are only what ifs, purposed to shake up paradigms, while firming up Kingdom foundations. Many "What Ifs” are happening all around us, but what if they were not just the exception? What if they became realities? My prayers are to continually stimulate possibility thoughts towards ways that bring forth His Kingdom through our lives.

Here are my What Ifs as we move into 2009:

What if we prayed for our leaders rather than complain about who we have or didn’t have in office?

What if we realize that God is on the throne and will have His way regardless of who is in office and that we are called to pray His will and purposes for the nation?

What if we gave to Caesar (government) what is Caesar’s, and gave to God what is His, which is our very lives?

Jesus was consumed with His Father’s Kingdom being brought to the earth, what if we focused on that rather than our political processes and gave that burden to Him?

What if we were using what we do have, and quit wasting time worrying about what we don’t have?

What if we did not fear any longer, no fear of life or death, because we are in His hands?

What if we heard the words “Stop it, just stop it” and began to truly stop the negative thought patterns? Stop it, just Stop it, thinking that way, in Jesus name!

What if we could really understand and activate true repentance in every area of our lives, instead of just feeling sorry for our patterns of sin?

What if we could forgive every wrong ever committed against us in the past and swiftly in the days ahead?

What if we allowed His presence to eradicate bitterness from the depths of our souls?

What if we realized and applied His freedom from every deliberate and unintentional wounds of our childhood?

What if we were never a victim again, because the revelation of Christ and His grace sufficed daily for us?

What if we could forgive ourselves and move on past the shame simply because Jesus has forgiven us?

What if we accepted and believed with all of our heart, soul, and mind that Jesus loves us, accepts us, and is for us every moment of every day? And just the way we are!

What if we accepted the fact that HE ACCEPTS US AS WE ARE to the point that it overwhelms the fact that we do not accept ourselves?

What if we could live the way of the cross, persecution, and dying to self, because it is the narrow way He asked us to follow?

What if we died to self more so that Christ lived through us more, and every single need met as our joy was made complete in Him?

What if we could just rest in who we are in Christ, rather than running around doing activities He never called us to do? Being rather than doing!

What if we really believed God loved us and it had nothing to do with our past, or our future performances? Resting in Him!

What if pastors and leadership teams around the world would train and release every member of their church into the ministry that the Lord has called them to, and especially beyond the four walls of organized church?

What if we actually picked up our mats and walked in obedience when we were delivered, rather than come back for prayer and healing for the same things week after week?

What if leaders would seek to always serve beyond ever having to be being served?

What if leaders would seek to train and lead others in the vision God has for them as individual ministers and trust the Holy Spirit to move on them to support the community or corporate vision.

What if leaders did not respond to fear of rejection and failure but trust the Lord for any perceived numbers they expect to see. Or, not look at numbers at all!

What if city wide transformation begins to take place because each individual realized their purpose and calling and was released to fulfill it beyond the four walls?

What if every church pastor sought relationship with the other pastors of the community to fulfill a city wide vision beyond their own ministries? That they realized their vision for the city could not be realized without partnering with others.

What if we realized the Lord owned everything we have and asked us to steward everything, and that we would ask Him how much to give and to where, always willing to give 100% if He were to ask that of us?

What if all the children of God understood and operated in the full authority that Jesus Christ sacrificed for us to have?

What if Kingdomized people began to bring the Kingdom authority to all the gates of the city. That Kingdom people would lead the way in government, business, healthcare, media, law, and educational jurisdictions of our cities?

What if every believer never settled for how they view themselves while seeking the Father to know the full potential of what He sees in them?

What if we would accept others and the blessing they are, rather than be offended by them in their differences?

What if we chose to see the good in people, pray for the rest, and love them regardless if they changed as we think they should?

What if more souls for the kingdom and the releasing of every saint into ministry far outweighed any focus on mammon or control?

What if we all were willing to serve in every phase of our lives rather than being served?

What would happen if every believer realized the lifetime process we are in and could walk without judgment, beside those not as far along in the process?

What if what we thought was reality was revealed as not, so as to get us to living a life that is filled with reality and purpose for the kingdom?

What if we choose to not be offended when offenses came, or at least choose to let go of all offenses immediately?

What if we chose to forgive in every situation and not only because the Father said He would not forgive us unless we did, but because it was in our hearts to love in that way?

What if we really were blinded to culture, creed and credentials as the family of God?

And what if we were excited about the uniqueness of each difference, and the value of each expression of God's people?

What if spiritual Fathers would be motivated with a heart of giving to their spiritual sons that far outweighed any thoughts of what they would receive in return?

What if we had abundantly more Shepherds, (pastors), willing to run after the few of the flock that have been hurt, isolated and in need of life giving expressions of our Saviors love?

What would happen if God's people really prayed and communicated intimately with the Father on a daily basis?

What if we had every Christian home open and available for the faith community every week? And how about daily?

What if every believer was more concerned about being Father's change agents for people, families and communities, rather than holding on, and waiting for Jesus to mystically remove them from the very earth He desires them to change.

What if the perceived rapture were a long ways off, or to not to come at all, would we still be about our Father's business in establishing His kingdom upon the earth?

What if we really did not fear dying for Him and in fact chose to die to self daily in order to truly live in and through Him?

What if we lived and moved and had our being in the Holy Spirit 24 hours a day and 7 days a week?

What if every word or deed was received with the Father's heart and mind and every response that came forth from us in word and deed was likewise from the heart of the Father?

What if we would rather have a towel (servant), than a title in leadership?

What if we realized that we must seek to trash every idol in our life to really be free to serve in the army of our Lord?

What if we realized that the greatest idol that you and I have is "self", then began to become selfless in our pursuit of Christ and His Kingdom?

What if every believer realized that their obedience to all that they do each day was ministry unto Him and His kingdom?

What if every housewife and mother understood that she was in full time ministry in her role?

What if the people of God saw the ministry the Lord is doing through His daughters, while becoming free from limited mindsets regarding the Father’s potential and ministry in women.

What if we saw that the Kingdom of God as beyond race, gender, or age, but diversity of expression in His glorious Kingdom.

What if every businessman or blue collar worker realized that in Christ, they were full time ministers in their calling?

What if every business owner understood that people are their greatest resource and began to pastor their businesses?

What if every business owner looked at their employees, vendors, and customers, as part of their household or sphere of godly influence?

What if every Christian business owner looked as their lives and businesses as an impact for the community?

What if there was no difference in the perceived spirituality of a organized church pastor and one who pastors their home, business, and community.

What if we actually believe God speaks in relevance for today beyond the written word in alignment of the written word?

What if we actually could actually hear a relevant word for today that was in line with the heart and written word of God?

What if there was greater prophetic accountability?

What if there were more prophetic people apologizing when they spoke amiss, as often as they publicly acknowledged when they got one right?

What if we worshipped the foundation of all order, (Christ), beyond the order or perceived order of things?

What if the living Word, (Christ Himself) replaced any dead theoretical, theological, Christological religion?

What if we had fellowship or connections with others during the week instead of relying on one Sunday Service, which was never designed to meet our ”one anothering” needs.
What if the earth really was filled with the glory of the Lord and He is just waiting for us to get involved?

What if true wealth is measured in what you give away?

What if the family became the primary context of the Church?

What if we loved as He loved?

What if we spoke as He spoke?

What if we did what He did?

What if we really believed we could lay hands on the sick and watch them recover?

What if my opinions were okay, because they were my opinions and people would love me even if my opinions were different from theirs?

What if we all could appreciate the different cultures and expressions in God’s Kingdom, regardless if we understood them, or fancied them.

What if people understood the commanded to love, and would love by choice rather than out of having to feel "the love"?

What if even a few of these "what ifs" became realities in people's lives, enabling them go out and make a bigger kingdom difference?

What if …………………………………. You fill in the blank, as with God, All things are possible. The What if’s stated can be realities because of the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us.… May the "now" questions become future solutions to the glory of our God.

Allow Him to Refine, Define, and Align in 2009

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Do Not Labor in Vain by Robert Ricciardelli

1 Corinthians 15:58
With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

Have you been noticing lately how we as Christians can get caught up on the peripherals of our faith? We get so absorbed in non essentials that we miss essential foundations like love, forgiveness, and even how practically the Holy Spirit desires to be in everyday life with us and through us. We can all miss the basics sometimes. You have heard the term, “Being so heavenly minded, but doing no earthly good”. We have been taught mostly through religion, that we are saved for the afterlife, when in fact, Jesus made the way to save us now, and for NOW. We are saved completely and wholly now by Him to engage in His life, and labor for His Kingdom.

Throughout Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the message is very clear. “This present bodily life is not valueless because it will die. God will raise it to new life one day, it is of great value to Him and the world around us. What you do in your body today matters, because God has a great future in store for you. I would say that probably ninety percent of His church is coasting and trying to just get by this earthly realm in waiting for the life beyond. It probably is one of the biggest deceptions that have impacted the church. Being saved is for the now and not just for the later! When the Body of Christ is immersed in His life everyday and in His ministry in every sphere of society, nothing will hold back the multiplication of transformed lives and societies to the glory of God.

What you do in the present --- by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, advocating justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself, will last into God’s future. They are not just good things to pass through this life with, but they are all part of building God’s eternal Kingdom. We are now at a time when the church needs to rise up and know their identity and mission. It is time that each member knows that everything they are and do is ministry, and has eternal impact. Evangelism that has been focused for what will come after this life, must now be focused on what we have been born into RIGHT NOW!

We have slowly been enslaved into the idea of bliss, enlightenment, and streets of gold when we leave this earth, versus the truth of working presently for His Eternal Kingdom. Many have been paralyzed with thoughts of the end times and the afterlife, leaving little room for TODAY life. Father has always desired for us to begin living in His eternal promises now, and bringing His Kingdom of heaven to the earth. His Kingdom come and His will be done, now and into eternity. He saved us out of our past lives and into His glorious Kingdom now, as well as into the next life. We must realize that we can engage in His life, His power, His eternal presence, the moment we accept Christ, His Lordship, and His precious Holy Spirit into our lives.

It is time we rethink the very meaning of salvation itself। When you mention salvation, most people will immediately think that you mean, “going to heaven when you die”. Let’s presuppose that the bible teaches us that God’s creation is good, including the world, life as we know it, our bodies, brains, cells, etc. The bible does teach this by the way, while at the same time God reconfirms this with us in the promise of our bodily resurrection at His appointed time. If this true, then limiting God’s salvation for a later time actually is a far departure from foundational Christian Jewish beliefs.

Christian Aid has a slogan, “We believe in life before death”, now that is a great slogan. Life before death is what is threatened, and called into question, by the idea that salvation is merely life after death. If we live like we are waiting for a timeless, bodiless eternity, why would we put any effort in putting things right in this present world? But if what matters is God’s people as new creations with life before death, then we must see salvation as not “going to heaven” but “being raised to life now” and continuing in life after death in the new heaven and new earth… So remember, Jesus did not just save our soul, but our whole.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pause, Reflect, What Are We Doing? by Robert Ricciardelli

We are all living in a fast paced, hard driven, make it happen world. I know this world well, and have operated in it for most my life by the worlds standards and measures. By the grace of God, the Lord took us out of the Matrix several years ago. Through continued trials and tests, Father has forged in us a resolve, and a faith in Him, that otherwise had been and would have continued to be minimized. As we travel, we see common patterns that limit our effectiveness and ability to be Kingdom ambassadors to the world. If we do not pause, reflect, and hear correctly, we will often look back and say, wow, so much time has passed and very little of what we had intended to do, ever got in motion.

PAUSE… Be Still and know I am God

“Pause”, “Be Still”, can that really happen in our lives on a regular basis? We all know it should, and should know that it is vital if we want to be “Father Pleasers”, and hear from Him on what He has to say, and how He sees things going. This does not have to be in the form of a ritual, but just time with Him. He will take every moment you give to Him and make something good out of it. As we pause long enough to hear His voice, we can now then move on and reflect based on His divine plans.

REFLECT… Navigational fine tuning

His ways are not our ways should always be part of our reflection. As we look into the spiritual mirror of our existence, how much of our lives are spent reacting to the world and its systems. How much worry or focus is given to these very same systems? Even Jesus reminded us to give to Caesar and His systems, what is his, and to give to God what was due Him, which are our very lives. Jesus was not concerned with politics, He operated beyond the worldly systems, while still within them. He was in them but not OF them. We must begin, or continue our conversations with the Father to hear His plan, engage with it, and seek His voice for the next steps. Then we can seriously begin to objectively ask the real question, what are we doing?

WHAT ARE WE DOING?... Good question, but do we have the answer?

God never intended for religion. He intended to have a people; called by His name to steward, be productive, and carry His presence to those around us and to the nations. Does sitting in a church service each week hearing a good message and worshipping together give us all of what we need? Are we living our experience of being the church through two hours on Sunday and maybe a home cell on Thursday? Are we active in our thoughts and communications with the Father in everyday life? Are we being transformed by His presence? Is the transformation manifesting selectively depending on the people we engage with or the environment we are in?

I love corporate worship and the time you can have when you come together, whether it is Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, but what are we doing in between those corporate gatherings? It is great to have a corporate vision, but do we have an identifiable vision and revelation from God for ourselves. Are we living our lives thinking we are okay because we sit and listen to great preaching and have a wonderful church expression each week, or are we allowing the Holy Spirit to mobilize us every single day into His purposes and plans?

His Kingdom wants to encompass everything. The King and His righteousness desires to influence everything we are and everything we do. We must pause, reflect, and examine all that we are and all that we do. How is our heart towards those who have rejected us? Do we forgive, do we love, or do we just move on?

How do we treat co-workers that are different than us in their beliefs and lifestyles? Are we praying for them, loving them, or do we sit back in judgment of them?

Those who run businesses, have you examined how you are treating employees, customers, vendors in light of His love and His Word? Are we living in the revelation that the Father is your Senior Partner in business and in life, and have you been making important decisions without Him? Are you living in the reality that people are God’s greatest asset, Always?

These are the types of questions we ask in our coaching and consulting of others. Here a few beginning steps..

Some Steps towards Kingdom reality
  • We must all continue to migrate towards relationship with Him first, which is the only hope of real and lasting transformational change.
  • We must examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and reflect back to us the things that we may not be aware of. Once revealed, our love for Him should motivate us to take the steps He shows us to get healed, get whole, and forgive or release others to Him.
  • We must look at our daily activities and check and see if the actions please the Father or grieve the Father. We should decide today to be “Father Pleasers”. We also must recognize that religious activities do not cut it in pleasing the Father in everyday life. How we treat our spouses, how we love our children, how we give without having to receive, how we become absorbed with Him and others, rather than self.
  • Talk to Him continuously. Jesus only did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Jesus is always our model. Sometimes Jesus would turn away the crowd, the noise, the ministry stuff, to get away with the Father. So must we. He loves to hear from you and He is big enough to listen to the gripes and complaints. He is also big enough to show you that the gripes and complaints are insignificant in light of His eternal plans for you.
  • Just love. God is love. Everything about Him oozes love. Love does not mean we ignore justice. His perfect Love always includes truth and justice. But how our hearts move towards truth and justice often reveals where we are in His love. Love seems to gravitate towards healing and restoration, rather than judgment. You will find that your life does not matter and will pursue loving those who have hated and rejected you. You will pray for your enemies and you will begin relationships with those who are different than you.
  • Walk humbly before your God and others. When I write, I am writing these things to myself. I thank God for my development, but boy I have a long way to go, just ask my wife. The more I know, the more I don’t know and the more it keeps me pressed into Him. If you think you are nearing completion, think again. You’ve come a long way baby, but He has eternity waiting and changes are going to happen. I have found it much easier to be a willing partner with the Lord. He loves us enough to make our path straight, but it is so much better to get on the right path first, rather than being extracted from the ways we thought were the right ones…
Lord we embrace your path today. Illuminate all things to us and we choose to follow all that you show us. Forgive us for our rebellion, and our religious ways that have brought us a false comfort. Show us how we can truly live and move and have our being with you each moment for your glory alone, Amen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Zimbabwe Freedom is Near by Robert & Joyce Ricciardelli

This is some of what the Lord gave Joyce and I on behalf of Zimbabwe in prayer today. The context came from 2nd Chronicles 20. After spending time in Zimbabwe the past few weeks, revelation continues to unfold. This is what we sense the Lord is saying:

Zimbabwe - A destructive force has enslaved you, and decimated the land and its people . This is not a time to lay down, a time to quit, nor a time to despair. There's no time to waste—destruction is at hand from all sides.

Shaken, the Zimbabwean faithful have continued to pray to the One and only hope. Many nations united in seeking God's help—they are united from all over, praying to God.

"O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn't you cause some of the natives of this land to leave, while many remained? They have lived here and abroad as Holy Temples of honour and worship for you, saying, 'When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—we can take our place before You Lord. We know you are personally present in this place and in our hearts each day. We pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.'

"And now it's happening, as many are called back to the land and foreigners are coming to help rebuild the walls as the Lord prepares the way for that day! The enemy had come to kick us out of the country you gave us. O dear God, won't you take care of them that remain, and us that will go? We have been helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We relied on men and mans devises and found it empty and fruitless. We don't know what to do; we're looking to you, our hope, and our only salvation."

The prophets of God are declaring by the Spirit of God from the midst of the congregation. "Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you who remain, and those of you who will lead, Listen to the Word of the Lord: Don't be afraid; don't pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God's war, not yours. You won't have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, stand in Him, my fellow Zimbabweans, and watch God's saving work for you take shape. Don't be afraid, don't waver. March out boldly Just Now—God is with you."

Then the leaders both near and far, along with all of the people knelt down, bowing with their face to the ground, worshiping God. Then they arose knowing the victory is near, they stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

The prophetic cry arises.. "Listen Zimbabwe, Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in the prophetic and relevant words of the prophets and you'll come out on top!" Give thanks to God, His love never quits.

As soon they continued shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the enemies of God in Zimbabwe and they all ended up dead, or vanished in fear. God set up confusion and in-fighting among them, and the destruction began from within. Confusion and implosion of their evil ways shall over take them says the Lord. In their confusion, they will go at each other, and the end of their ways will be swift and sure.

As the Zimbabwe faithful come up over the rise, looking for their attackers, they will see them no more—not a forceful enemy in sight.

When the leaders and the people sort out through the victory of the Lord, they begin to see justice and goodness overtake them. Lands restored to the proper stewards, crops grow, and the disease and famine begin to melt away from the presence and goodness of their God. They came together and blessed God as it became a blessed land once more as God set things to His order.

God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! They entered the city gates worshipping God. They paraded around the city along with all the instruments of the band playing. What God we have. We could do nothing, and yet He did all things and it is wondrous in our sight.

"'For here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You'll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You'll be my people, and I'll be your God!

The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
When surrounding kingdoms and the whole world got word that God had fought Zimbabwe's enemies, the fear of God descended on them. As long as God's people reigned, peace reigned, and the enemies of God would not touch His people nor move against His presence on the land. When the righteous rule the people rejoice, and the enemies are scattered by the hand of the Almighty.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pray For Government Leaders, Trust Only God for All Things.

Joyce and I have been grieved by the response of God's people regarding the current President elect, Barack Obama. We have heard everything from Barack being judgment for America, to Barack being the anti-Christ. In a time when we should be praying and speaking life into the people God sovereignly has placed to help govern the nation.

A great barrier was broken when Barack was elected that has brought healing and hope to many, not only in the USA, but in fact to many nations. We should be rejoicing with them in what it means for them, and for all of us together as a nation. We know that it is not about an individual or even system, as God can work His ways through all of it. Mr. Obama is coming in to his first term at a time in history that gives him a challenge no president has faced, especially in the past 50 years.

We also must remember that Jesus was never concerned with politics and even said, give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God, what is God's. God wants us to cry out to Him, look to Him, and not to man, or mans devices. But we do have a responsibility to pray for those in authority.
We also must remember how the Lord has used many through the centuries that may seem in appearance, impossible.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.

Our thoughts and words carry power. We can bring forth blessing and cursing, life or death by how we are driven and what we choose. May we choose life. People of God, May His Kingdom come, and His will be done on earth through our thoughts, through our words, through our prayers, and through our actions motivated by faith and His abundant love, in Jesus name, Amen