Going To The Next Level
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Sunday 4th October 2015
I begin a two-part series today, titled ‘From Glory to Glory’. Today’s message is titled ‘Going to the Next Level’. In God’s plan for each of us, there is a next level that He has already prepared. There is a higher ground to attain – where you may be today is not the best that God has in store for you.
Here is 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, our foundation scriptures for this series: ‘But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord’.
The phrase ‘from glory to glory’ in verse 18 of our foundation scriptures speaks of upward or forward movement, promotion and advancement. The dynamics of moving from one glory to another is what we can refer to as ‘Going to the next level’. God has a next level for each of us, taking us from glory to glory. He is a progressive God, and has programmed us for change. Hence, we ought to give ourselves permission to progress and thrive. Even though God’s definition of progress or a better place may sometimes not resemble what we aim to see from our natural point of view, we can be rest assured that He will fulfil His promise. A good case in point is Joseph who ‘advanced’ from his father’s house to the pit, then was sold into slavery, ending up in Potiphar’s house, then to prison before eventually making it to the Palace. Conversely, you may be going through a situation that looks hopeless and messy. Don’t despair; it is simply God’s way of taking you from glory to glory. It may not look very rosy on the surface, but God is working something out for you behind the scenes.
The words ‘transform’ and ‘glory to glory’ encapsulates the term ‘process’. It is the Greek word ‘metamorphosis’. A process takes time. An understanding of the process of time helps in discerning that our lives will go through some unpleasant periods along the way to glory. It is vital that we do not write ourselves off, or conclude that we are not making progress in life. Within each of us, God has ingrained the capacity to make progress and experience growth in life. There are several bible characters who experienced progress through the process of time: Abraham and Sarah went through a season of barrenness before Isaac was born, Israel as a nation went through a period of slavery before entering the Promised Land, and Queen Esther was promoted from slavery to royalty. Conversely for each of us, there is a next level. Proverbs 4:18 puts it this way: ‘But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day’ (also see Mark 4:35).
In Philippians 3: 12-14, Apostle Paul refers to his desire to continue making progress and putting the past behind him: ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’. In following the example of Apostle Paul, we can shun complacency and stagnancy, pressing forward towards God’s incessant best for our lives. Regardless of the various inhibitions along our way of progress – personal challenges and discouragements, the opinion of people and other factors in life, we can rise above all these and make progress. A decision to press on and not give up as a believer confounds the enemy. Ultimately, there is a purpose that each of us should reach for, once we have understood what the next level looks like. So then, what are you pressing towards? In your walk with God, family life, business and career? What is your vision? There is a goal for each of our lives and we must fully attain this. Hence, it is a travesty to live vicariously or to try to imitate the life of another person. Instead, we ought to live the life that God has ordained for each of our lives.
Besides living the life that God has ordained for our lives, we must carefully lay aside the past – the failures and the successes of yesteryears cannot substitute for the process that God intends to use to bring us into the future He is preparing for us. From Luke 5:1-5, we read the account of Jesus’ encounter with Simon Peter and his call into ministry. ‘So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Simon Peter’s experience of an unproductive all-night fishing expedition blinded his eyes to a foreseeable future that Jesus was about to present to him. Conversely, to move to the next level, we must be ready to ignore our past failures and disappointments. Here is the reason why God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah 29:11, saying: ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’. We ought to always remember that God is bigger than our past experiences. Each day is a brand new morning to fulfil new possibilities that He has preplanned for us. These are the days of new things in God, and I declare a brand new morning in your life in Jesus name! Jesus’ grace has completed the work that our efforts could not accomplish – our response is to embrace what Christ has done and enjoy the blessings He has provided for us.
Here are 4 things to do to embrace the next level:
(a) Receive a word from the Lord and respond by faith: Every word from God is assigned to lead the way towards the next level. Sadly, these words from God are not treasured as they should be. Can I encourage you to fully embrace unashamedly the word of God, like never before? Jesus’ parable of the sower in Mark 4 reveals to us the various kinds of believers that are in the kingdom, including wayside believers who live their lives exposed to the seed-stealing activities of the birds of the air (an imagery of the devil and his cohorts). God’s word need not fall on rocky or thorn-choking hearts either. Hence, as Christians, one of our weekly Sunday requests from God should include a rhema word that speaks directly into our circumstances.
In Luke 1:31-34 and 38, we read the story of Mary whose right response to God’s word should encourage us in our walk with God. ‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Despite the incongruence of God’s word with our circumstances, we can take courage in the infallibility of His word.
(b) Leave the past behind: In order to move to the next level, we must be willing to put the past behind. The past cannot replace the future that is far better which God has in store for us. Genesis 11: 27-32 reveals an interesting account of the life of Terah: ‘This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran’. Sadly, Terah lived and died in Haran as he could not put behind him the tragedy of his son’s death, forfeiting the experience of Canaan, a luscious land where his future could have been much better. Thankfully, God sent Abram out of Haran in Genesis 12:1-5: ‘Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.
I declare that every ancestral cycle of difficulties and challenges are broken today in the name of Jesus! You will reach your destination in Jesus name!
(c) Lay aside distractions: All distractions must be laid aside regardless of how legitimate it may seem. This includes friendships and associations that are not leading towards your God-given destination. Hence, it is imperative that we are discerning and mindful of our relationships.
(d) Renew your mind: Regardless of how difficult the past may look, there is a glorious future awaiting you. Look forward to this every day.
It is time for your next level, and you will make it there. I declare that you will fulfil your destiny and purpose in Jesus name (Amen).
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