These notes from Paul Tothill are a version of his message preached at Gateway Church on 10/2/19.
You can also listen to the message on the Gateway podcast (available on Apple Podcasts or any other device).
I want to build upon what I spoke about last week. I believe that God is awakening the hearts of believers and relaying apostolic foundations so His church may learn to live as one with Jesus to carry the very revival we seek and long for. After all this was the prayer of Jesus before He went to the Cross to open the way to this spiritual reality.
And I ask not only for these disciples but also all those who will one day believe in me through their message. I pray for them all to be joined together as one even as you and I, Father, are one. I pray for them to become one with us so that the world will recognise that you sent me. For the glory you have given to me I have given to them so they will be joined together as one and experience the same unity that we enjoy! You live fully in me and now I live fully in them so that they may experience perfect unity.
Carefully considered, Jesus laid out the apostolic foundation for the Kingdom of Heaven revealed in the authority and the power of the Holy Spirit to be demonstrated on earth through the church.
The first thing that Jesus emphasised over and over again was all that He lived and all that He did came from a unique father-son intimacy through the Holy Spirit with the Father. And He was willing to go over it again and again for anyone who would listen to him. His relational connection to the Father and Him continually walking in the Spirit provided the essential life flow to be free and powerful in the world. He invites us into that same present reality.
This Father-Son intimacy and connection is available to every single born again believer as a present reality through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We need to awaken our senses and our thoughts to this present reality. This is the very foundation and central work of the Cross and our salvation. We have been reconciled or reconnected to the heart of God in intimate relationship. When this connection is in place through salvation the Holy Spirit reminds us who we are and whose we are. We are all spiritual sons of God. We are highly valued and esteemed. We are honoured. The Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts as we cry Abba Father- or dearly loved Father. In turn, as we renew our mind we are able to learn to love with God’s love towards both God and others.
This spiritual reality is confirmed as we understand that through the work of the Holy Spirit we live as one with Jesus, both individually and in our togetherness. This is really important for us to understand. Jesus is one with us, we are “one flesh” with Jesus. This is the mystery that Paul teaches in Ephesians 5. We are one with Jesus in the same way that we are one with our spouse in marriage.
This becomes important because Jesus completely identifies himself with every genuine believer as His Spirit people, His very body. As I have said when Saul was confronted by Jesus in an encounter on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting Him. Jesus did not stand at a distance from the believers. He was uniquely and effectively joined with them as if it was himself. Jesus taught “what you do for the least of these you do for Me”. To take this further, how we honour and receive each other is how we honour and receive Jesus and the Father. How we honour Jesus will be how we honour others and of course how we honour ourselves will be how we honour others.
This is the idea of being one in Christ, not just individually but in our togetherness. Therefore, if we harm or dishonour others we harm and dishonour Jesus and indeed ourselves. If we sin against others we sin against God. For as you receive each other who are brothers and sisters you receive Jesus and the Father. We need to reflect on that for a moment.
There is simply no escaping this spiritual reality that manifests into our lives. That is why we grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not walk in the way of God’s love with one another as I spoke about last week. In particular, when we gossip, slander and back bite or do not honour others or the other things Paul says will not inherit the present Kingdom. It is a matter of common sense that if we are living as a Spirit people either grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit, we are not going to attract revival. If we want a move of the Spirit, we need to be willing to walk by the Spirit.
If we yield ourselves utterly to the power of the Spirit and walk by the Spirit revival is waiting to land. Of course, God can move sovereignly however and whenever He feels. But there is something about our hearts and moving in the way of God’s love in all of its expressions, especially honour leading to unity that is very attractive to God and where He pours out His Spirit. The first outpouring at Pentecost was such a picture of unity and faith hunger for the promise. 120 were together with one heart and one mind anticipating but not knowing when a sovereign move of God would take place.
The foundation of loving God with His love leads us to love others with His love. As free, self-governing and responsible people we choose to love others with God’s love. In our weakness, we continually learn, like Paul, that God’s grace is perfected in our weakness. This is a selfless love that identifies us as mature believers. Emotional wholeness and security and spiritual maturity go hand in hand.
Remember we have moved from religious duty to relational desire. We choose to be powerful and we choose to follow in the ways of Jesus. We are not made to. We choose to. He is our perfect role model and example of living out our salvation and bringing forward the authority and power of God into people’s lives. Free and powerful people keep their focus on Jesus, not comparing themselves to or competing with others. Each day we have the opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus. Each day we can be free to experience more than we did yesterday. One step at a time we can become more and more like Jesus as we yield to the Holy Spirit working in us. Each day we can learn how to live in and from God’s love, beyond the stumbles and the set-backs we will experience.
The Gospel is primarily social and relational in its expression and requires free self-governing and responsible believers living in their true identity, value and purpose from and in God’s unconditional selfless love, to reveal its power.
GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSES ITSELF AS HONOUR
One of the first and most obvious expressions of God’s love is honour. Let me unpack this a little bit this morning so that we can apply it to our lives and as free and powerful people choose to build a culture of honour that attracts heaven and God’s increase to our lives. To create anything new we need to be intentional, committed and consistent.
The most fundamental shift we need to make at a very practical level to establish a culture of honour is no longer being a people of habit but a people who are intentional and who know how to be self-aware and considered in how they live and respond to life circumstances. This is crucial if we want to walk by the Spirit.
We need to shift from habit to intention, self-awareness and faith action to respond to and release the power of our unity with God. This was the emphasis of last week’s teaching that we need to leave our father’s house- to come out from under the authority and learnt behaviour of the world even in our historical family homes, just like Abraham, to learn how to live in God’s house. To develop new habits, God habits, we need to recognise our old habits of the heart, be sober minded, be intentional and put consistent action to a new way of living. Yes, we will have set backs, but with a love-resolve and freedom we keep going, one decision at a time.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we being many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.
This neatly sums up what I alluded to early about being one in Christ and one together. When we honour one another as I will get to we all grow and increase. By contrast when we sow dishonour we sow discord and we limit the work of the Holy Spirit which ultimately leads to division and self-centred quarrels, offence, gossip and slander. We limit the ability of the Holy Spirit to be Himself and move freely in our midst.
When we do not honour one another we all are affected and we do not grow and increase. Hence Paul teaches to warn then remove the divisive brother. This also means toxic and other behaviours are not permitted in the body as Paul clearly tells us. Even Jesus did not give himself to others where he knew they harboured evil in their hearts.
Honour is given it is not demanded. Honour does not mean we have to agree on everything either. We can honour each other and disagree and still keep our connection. Nor does honour mean we will best friends with everyone. But I can ascribe value and worth to everyone as a starting point and encourage them to bring their life into a way that reflects the value and worth God gives and affords to them. The world suffers from a self-worth problem. God gives us great worth that in turn empowers us towards a humble confidence and security of heart.
Because we are all valuable, we should see ourselves as valuable and of infinite worth and treat each other in a manner that is consistent with that worth through giving honour or mutually submitting to one another in love in reverence to Christ as Paul puts it.
When people behave abusively towards someone, we are permitted for the sake of honour to remind that person that their behaviour towards us is inconsistent with their worth and value before God and our worth and value before God. When we gossip and slander for example, studies reveal that people lose their respect for those who do those things.
Jesus gives us honour so we will live from a place of honour and behave according to our true worth. Similarly, if someone is living in habitual sin they are not honouring themselves, they have foregone their freedom for bondage and not understood how valuable they really are or who they really are before God.
God’s love always expresses itself as honour. This is the very nature of the relationship between Father Son and Holy Spirit- the Godhead or Trinity, who are as one, yet being three separate persons, all essentially God, but each carry different functions working together in perfect unity. This unity is established in an environment of God’s agape love expressing itself as honour.
Verse 9, Passion translation
Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous.
Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honouring one another. Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.
Honour is such an important expression that shows us to be sons of God and that God’s love is in us. Honour is the evidence we are walking by the Spirit of God. When we find it hard to honour, beyond what I have said previously, we can recognise we have lost connection with God’s heart and we are in fact walking in the flesh. Our old self life is working in our subconscious mind or heart.
This is important because Paul clearly teaches us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are indeed sons of God. The Spirit will always lead us in the way of God’s love and truth, which means He will always lead us to honour and respect others in a Godly not a worldly way.
Let me turn now to consider three Scriptures that work together. The first is John 13. The scene is set at the last supper. Jesus models the culture of honour and reveals the Father’s heart towards the disciples and the world. He then invites the disciples to live and do as He did as a culture or lifestyle that reveals God’s heart towards us.
I then want to look at how honour is sometimes difficult when we know someone and we move by a familiar spirit. Finally, I want to take you to the teaching of Jesus that teaches us how honour as a spiritual and practical culture works to bring us all into increase.
Now Jesus was fully aware that the Father had placed all things under his control, for he had come from God and was about to go back to be with him. So, he got up from the meal and took off his outer robe, and took a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ dirty feet and dry them with his towel.
But when Jesus got to Simon Peter, he objected and said, “ I can’t let you wash my dirty feet- you’re my Lord.!” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand yet the meaning of what I’m doing but it will be clear to you.” Peter looked at Jesus and said, “You’ll never wash my dirty feet- never!” “But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet” Jesus responded, “then you will not be able to share life with me”.
After washing their feet, he put his robe on and returned to his place at the table. Do you understand what I just did? Jesus said. “You’ve called me your teacher and lord, and you’re right, for that’s who I am. So, If I am your teacher and lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow the example that I’ve set for you to wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you. I speak to you a timeless truth: a servant is not superior to his master, and an apostle is never greater than the one who sent him. So now put into practice what I have done for you and you will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings!”
We see here clearly that the way of honour is offensive to the world. Peter was offended that Jesus would use His authority in love for the benefit of others and to clean them up removing the dirt of the world and lift them up into a place of honour and worth. That the authority given was to serve others in respecting them and honouring them, giving them value and worth, and washing the world from their journey, setting them free into the love of God liberating them to become empowered and powerful people just like Jesus.
We see also that honour has its reward. Happiness is not what is going on around me, it is what is going on within me. When we learn to honour and serve others and bring the best out in them it produces internal happiness. Actually, studies show it releases chemicals in our brain that create emotional wellbeing and life motivation. When we choose to serve others, and build trust with others in our connections we release the chemicals serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin boosts our self-confidence and inspires us to help others. Oxytocin relieves stress, increases our interest in others and improves our cognitive abilities. It boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases libido and lessens our cravings and addictions. Best of all it inspires us to work together! As the studies show, we literally feel good about making others feel good about themselves and encourage them to be free and powerful into the world. The neuroscience on this is indisputable. God worked it out long ago!
We see also that honour attracts blessings and increase. As we give honour not only does our happiness and wellbeing improve, we attract the increase of heaven into our world. All this flows from our connectedness to God and His love that flows towards others and our desire to serve them from a place of God’s love.
Let’s now turn to an example of Jesus in his hometown. This is all too familiar if you pardon my pun. Listen carefully to the limitations of what Jesus could do. Remember that we are one body. And every person is put together for each other’s benefit. Certain grace gifts are in the body for the body’s benefit and increase. Each carry a sphere of authority, anointing and break through that is designed to bring us all into increase.
When we receive each other in God’s love expressed as honour and respect we open the heavens over our life and increase floods towards us. When we sow a familiar spirit and offence or dishonour we shut things down. We limit the boundaries of our inheritance. This is why many churches and people do not see the things they are crying out for.
Afterward, Jesus left Capernaum and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. On the Sabbath, he went to teach in the synagogue. Everyone who heard his teaching was overwhelmed with astonishment. They said among themselves, “What incredible wisdom has been given to him! Where did he receive such profound insights? And what mighty miracles flow through his hands! Isn’t this Mary’s son, the carpenter, the brother of Jacob, Joseph, Judah and Simon? And don’t his sisters all live her in Nazareth? And they took offence at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is treated with honour everywhere except in his own hometown, among his relatives and in his own house.” He was unable to do any great miracle in Nazareth, except to heal a few sick people by laying his hands upon them. He was amazed at the depth of their unbelief!
We see that familiarity and the spirit of offence worked here to stop the flow of the Kingdom in their midst. The people marvelled at first. The Son of God was ministering to them, but instead of giving honour to Jesus and receiving him even as a prophet let alone the Son of God, they were offended because of their familiarity with him. They did not see him as God did, nor did they see him as one who was given to them for their benefit and increase. This is why we must leave our Father’s house and depart from habitual thinking towards one another.
By their heart attitude and moving by the wrong spirit, notably offence and quite possibly jealousy and a familiar spirit, they moved to undermine an atmosphere of faith that the Kingdom seeks to land upon and manifest within. They hardened their heart towards Him. The truth is they were sinning against Jesus and they were sinning against God. This is all too common and this is sometimes why we do not see the things we are going after. Honour is for all not just the prophet as we will now see. Honour causes our heart to submit and give ourselves to the authority and anointing that another carries that God has designed for our increase and development.
In Matthew 10 Jesus lays out some important Kingdom protocols and how they are to carry themselves in a world that will persecute them. They were not to live by the culture of the world, but the culture of the Kingdom which is, as I have been saying, the culture of God’s divine love in all its expressions.
Again, remember how I commenced this message alluding to the oneness of Jesus with the Father and the oneness of Jesus with every believer and His church. I want to stress this most important point. Honour is given, it is never demanded. Honour is given it is not earned. For many of us this seems wrong and even offensive. Let’s pause a moment. God honours us and lifts us up when we have not earned it or deserve it. We can never earn the worth, value and honour God gives to us. We need to remember that. The world says you earn honour. That is not how God moves in my reading of Scripture.
Because we move by the Spirit, Honour is given it is not earned when it comes to God’s ways in God’s House. However, we must be sure to display the kind of worth and honour we have been given by God first towards our self and then towards others. When we do not honour ourselves in the way God does, we think anything goes. We either think too little of our selves or too much of our selves. In fact, honouring yourself as God does brings us to a place of genuine humility before God and others with a desire to live free powerful and honouring lives before God and others. We don’t want to live in a way that is inconsistent with our worth and value- which by the way is unsurpassable. That is the price Jesus paid at Calvary for our freedom. From our freedom in Christ, we want to value others the same way we value ourselves.
Whoever receives you receives me and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is God’s messenger will share a prophet’s reward. And whoever welcomes a good and godly man because he follows me will also share in his reward. And whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of my humble disciples, I promise you he will not go unrewarded.
We see this pattern of honour and reward in the Old Testament with Elijah and then Elisha. First the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17) who wanted to die and to whom the Lord sent Elijah. Elijah made a demand on this principle of honour and its rewards and the result of the provision given to Elijah by the widow was the oil and the meal supernaturally increased in her home and provision was made in a time of famine. In addition, her son was made well. Honour attracted the manifestation of the Kingdom realm.
And he called her and said “Please bring me a little water in a cup that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand”. She said as your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar, and see I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die”.
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth”.
We know that prophetic word was fulfilled. The widow received a prophet’s reward.
Next the Shunemite woman (2 Kings 4:8) who made provision for Elisha was barren and she became pregnant. Then we see this principle outworked by Jesus sending out the twelve disciples in Matthew 10 to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom that was at hand under His authority and anointing. He sent them to a household that was deserving or one that would offer hospitality and honour.
And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
In Luke 10:38 Martha was in the kitchen making sandwiches Jesus did not order. However, she was fulfilling the traditional culture of honour through material provision as revealed in the story of Elijah and Elisha. By Mary not engaging in this custom of honour she was indeed breaking protocol. But Mary had chosen what Jesus said was that “good part, which will not be taken away from her.” We choose to honour Jesus when we hear and obey His words of life. Remember as we receive each other we receive Jesus.
What Jesus is proposing is radical, but it is a protocol of heaven we need to understand. How we receive someone in our hearts and giving them honour by hearing them and receiving them, seeing them from God’s point of view, not a worldly point of view, gives us access to what they carry for our benefit so we may be built up. As we receive them we receive Jesus. Of course, we do not receive a wicked person and anything evil they may be carrying, but we most certainly must learn how to walk in the way of honour and respect towards others.
This culture of honour leads us then towards a culture of unity. A culture of honour displaces a culture of familiarity and offence that leads to a lack of faith, gossip, slander and other self-centred behaviour that prohibits the flow of the Kingdom in our midst and grieves the Holy Spirit.
These protocols and apostolic foundations are important to develop as we grow for the sake of our increase and to see revival come to our city. God wants us to live as His Son did whilst on earth, intimately connected to Him by the Holy Spirit, living the way of self-less unconditional love, living free and powerful, ascribing great worth and value to others, honouring those around him, using His authority for the benefit of others and creating a faith environment where heaven can invade earth.
 Simon Sinek Leaders Eat Last, p75
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