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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit movement”

The Stirring

What could possibly go wrong with a day of exploring a cave with twelve young boys? I’m sure if the young coach would have thought it through, it might have occurred to him it wasn’t a good idea during monsoon season. But like all of us in those seasons of our lives, we don’t necessarily think of those things that could go wrong – especially when we are young and life hasn’t thrown us a curve or two. Been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. You too? Too many times we end up needing a savior to rescue us from our misfortunes. But sometimes in those misfortunes, we find our greatest victory.

We’ve all heard the stories of these children and many more of unfortunate circumstances for other children stuck in a situation that was not of their own doing. Children are vulnerable to the whims of the adults who are in charge of their care. It’s unfortunate some of those adults don’t make the best decisions on behalf of those children. Maybe they don’t think their decisions through. The best laid plans don’t always have good outcomes. But sometimes they do, even when the odds are stacked against them.

On my July 4th holiday, I had a movie marathon. One movie opened my heart in a new way. It was about children. Particularly, about one Irish child’s unfortunate circumstance that produced a great victory for hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The story was told through the movie Noble, the story of Christine Noble. One woman changed thousands of children’s lives by her willingness to go. This one woman had a dream of Vietnamese children suffering in the gutters of a city in Vietnam. That dream changed her life and the lives of countless others. One woman.

This week, I also finished a book I had been reading called Love Does by Bob Goff. Love Does is part of Bob’s story and the work he does just because he can. Bob is a willing participant in Jesus’ work around the world. Bob’s heart was positioned to be used for the children of Uganda. His foundation has built boarding and schools for the children in Uganda. Uganda has many orphaned children due to wars and AIDS.

Bob and a young man boarded a plane for Uganda with an idea to help the Ugandan children. They drove up to the northern part of the country through war-torn countryside and checkpoints along the way and saw the needs so great they knew they had to do something.

Christine boarded a plane for Vietnam. She didn’t know how she was going to help either, but she knew she needed to try. She began to walk the city and through God’s direction found the place where the need was the greatest. And she began the task to build a better life for the ones she found there. And the idea grew.

God led both of these inspirational people were led on their journeys. They listened to the inner voice and the stirring in their souls to do something. They didn’t know how. They didn’t have the resources. But God did. They were just willing participants in God’s work to help these children have a brighter future. Bob and Christine had an idea. They had no idea how that idea was going to play out. They just started to walk their idea out. And God was faithful to lead them to the right people and the right places.

Sometimes we might think, these types of people are different. But I think we’re all called to have the same willingness to go and walk out the ideas that stirs our souls. Sometimes we over think our ideas – we’re afraid to fail, so why even try? But maybe God has stirred our souls. Maybe God has given us the ideas to walk them out and depend on Him to show us the way.

God’s heart leans in the direction of children. God hears the children’s cries of help. God directs our steps to help these children. I know there are many times children have cried out for help, but no one comes. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear. I think it has more to do with those He prompts to do something and we failed to act on the stirring.

There are some divers who have flown around the world to help the children in the cave. The divers’ hearts have been stirred to action. It might seem insignificant at the time, but it could change everything for the future of the country. It only took one stirring to begin the change in Uganda and one stirring to begin the change in Vietnam. One stirring.

The Spirit of God is looking for hearts that are willing to be stirred for the sake of the children. Today it may be children in a cave in Thailand or in an orphanage in Uganda or Vietnam; but tomorrow maybe in a red-light district in Greece or at a border crossing in Texas. What would God have us do for the children? Any ideas?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Keep it Hot!

What better message to send on a hot summer day than to fan the flames to make us even hotter. What? Okay, this morning I read the passage about the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3. That passage always checks my spirit. The church was considered to be lukewarm – neither cold nor hot. Laodicea was known for their lukewarm waters – it was disgusting and people would spit it out. Jesus said He wanted to do the same with their attitude toward God.

My spirit does a check to see if my attitude has shifted into indifference or stagnation – being lukewarm toward God. I don’t want it to go there, but oftentimes, I find myself easing back into patterns that allow this unholy attitude toward God. It doesn’t take much for my eyes to shift away from Jesus into worldly patterns. I spend less time with Him in the mornings because I want just a few more minutes of sleep. Or watch television at night taking me away from more godly pursuits.

I have heard it said the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Indifference can stop any movement of God. I have found myself in those indifference moments because a social problem doesn’t concern me. However, our attitude toward social issues can become extreme. Tony Evans made the remark in a recent message “we are more concerned about what’s going on in the White House than what’s going on in God’s house.” That was a jolt to my spirit. We’re fanning the flames in the wrong place.

As Christians, our involvement in political things should be for the right reason. As Christians, we need to make sure we elect people who have godly values so that the government will be kept in check. However, as Christians are priority is saving lives – spreading the message of hope and restoration. We are to reflect Jesus to those around us. Many times though, we go through these seasons of dryness where nothing is happening in our spiritual lives to keep us on fire for the Lord. Our faith seems to have diminished and our hope seems to have fizzled when more and more of the world’s problems creep into our spirits.

It’s hard not to let those issues turn our heads into wrong actions and wrong words when our spirits have not been thoroughly cleansed by the presence of Jesus. My heart hurts when I hear words spewing out of person’s mouth that do not glorify God and these things are said by a supposed Christian. I also have to check my spirit when I want to judge that person. I don’t know what’s going on in that person’s heart to cause words to flow that are not edifying anyone. I am not to judge but to love. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

I want to see God move again. It’s time for the spirit to be checked. A lack of faith or an attitude of indifference can keep God from moving. Maybe we’re not in a good place to hear or see God. Maybe we’re in a place where there is only lukewarm water flowing. Maybe we need to move to where the living water is flowing sweet and clear. Maybe we have lost our first love.

When the first church began, it was through the Holy Spirit’s tongues of fire resting on the people. The people had gathered together in prayer and worship before the Holy Spirit came down. They fasted as well. They were anticipating something to happen – Jesus told them to wait for it. They prepared for it; and when it happened, lives were changed dramatically.

I believe we can have that again. I believe God wants hearts turned toward Him again like it was in the beginning. He is waiting. Jesus is standing at the door waiting for the door to open to Him. There is no handle on His side of the door – the door has to be opened by us. Are we preparing and anticipating His knock? It could mean a world of difference – not only for us as God’s people, but the world is looking to us for the answers.

Our attitudes have to change. God is waiting on us to fan the flames into a holy fire. Indifference – no. Passion for Jesus – yes, please. Faith – white-hot. Jesus could do nothing when there is a lack of faith. I believe Jesus is waiting on us to remove the indifferent attitude toward Him and toward others. God is ready to move mightily among us. I’m ready for it. Are you? Fling open the door and say yes, Lord Jesus, come.

I know all that you do, and I know that you are neither frozen in apathy nor fervent with passion. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, I am about to spit you from my mouth. For you claim, “I’m rich and getting richer—I don’t need a thing.” Yet you are clueless that you’re miserable, poor, blind, barren, and naked! So I counsel you to purchase gold perfected by fire, so that you can be truly rich. Purchase a white garment to cover and clothe your shameful Adam-nakedness. Purchase eye salve to be placed over your eyes so that you can truly see. All those I dearly love I unmask and train. So repent and be eager to pursue what is right. Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. Revelation 3:15-20 (TPT)

Let Us Pray

Father, Almighty God, Sovereign King of Heaven and Earth, Creator God,

In You we do trust and believe. Forgive us for the sins that breaks our fellowship with you. For the plight of the poor that we have ignored; for the ones who are enslaved and have done nothing to free them; for the lives we have taken in our ignorance that You have fearfully and wonderfully made them in their mother’s womb; for the blood we have shed because of our hatred of those different from ourselves. There are so many sins against us that they are too numerous to mention; however, You know every one of them. You know our hearts, Lord. We do what’s evil in Your sight. Forgive us Lord God; help us, heal us, change us. Remove these sins from our hearts by the power of the blood of Jesus.

I read just this week of Jim Cymbala’s vision for his church – a church known for its prayer meetings. In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, he made note of Charles Spurgeon’s declaration about the church. “The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings… If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”

Father, let that not be true today of Your people who gather before You. Let us remember that we are to be a praying church. Nothing will change unless we bring it before You. Let us get right before You and stand on Your promises that You hear us when we pray. Let us once again be humbled in Your presence. Remind us of Your greatness. Let us remember once again that You have all the answers if we would just seek You with all our hearts.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3 we have been rooted and established in love and need to grasp the depth, the width, the height of Your love for us. Not because of us, because we are not worthy; but because of You – there is no being greater; no love stronger or more secure. It’s who You are.

Father, help us to grasp it and internalize it individually. We can only love because of You. You first loved us. You first called to us and drew us near. This love did not originate with us first. We love only ourselves. But by Your grace and mercy, You called out to us. Some of us responded, some of us need more convincing. Father, don’t let up – keep calling us to the fullest relationship we can have with You here on earth.

Change our hearts and change our minds, Lord Jesus. You know what is eating at us and how worried we are. Let us remember You are Sovereign over all. Nothing is impossible for You. Our biggest worry is nothing in Your sight; but because it worries us, You care to intervene on our behalf. Thank you, Lord. We bring that worry to You right now. We ask that You take it from us as we release it to You. Let Your will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. It’s in Your perfect time and help us to wait patiently for the answer. Let us wait like it’s said in Isaiah 40:31 with hope and renewed strength. Let us soar like the eagles.

It has been said of eagles that they go to the high peaks and wait for the change in the wind; once the wind changes, the eagles take a leap of faith off the edge and soar to greater heights with the wind beneath their wings. We are told in Scripture that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. Our waiting should be like that eagle waiting on the edge – waiting to take the leap of faith, for the Holy Spirit to lift us up to greater heights. Again, this is not because of us; but because we are called for a purpose far greater than we can imagine.

Lord Jesus, we gather together at Your feet; waiting on Your instructions for this time and place. We are here because You have placed us here. But once we hear, please help us do what You ask when You ask it. Let us be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives. Let us not miss the opportunities to reach our communities for the love of Jesus. Let us not miss what You are doing around us. Let us be sensitive again to the Holy Spirit’s quietness. Jesus, we need You desperately to intervene in our lives – not only for our sake, but also for those around us. Let our testimony of all that You have done be made known so that You may receive all the glory.

Come Lord Jesus, come. Shake us awake. Fill us again. Give us a hunger and thirst for Your Word and for You personally to be made known to us again. Lord Jesus, hear these prayers and bring the greatness of Your name to this earth again. Thank You for all You are going to do once again in us and through us – for Your glory.

For all this we pray, in Your precious and holy name – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14b-15

One Thing is Needed

Do you remember that simple prayer that you were taught as a young child? Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take. Seems rather odd today, doesn’t it? But back in the day, children would die in sleep. Epidemics, malnutrition, etc would not allow for a long life. You just didn’t know if you would wake up in the morning regardless of the age of the one praying.

Back in the day, women would die during childbirth. Back in the day, life was short with no guarantees of tomorrow. I think we have forgotten how risky life really is. Medicine is keeping us alive longer. We say someone who has died in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s how young they were – taken in their prime. However, not too long ago, it was the norm. Prosperity has brought a new perspective. We believe we’ll live forever. At least, that’s my perception of today’s thinking. But we just don’t know how long we have on this earth. God teaches us through His Word to number our days; to make each day count.

One thing has been made clear to me over these first weeks of this year; prayer is foundation for a successful year. We might not know what this year will bring, but prayer puts us in the right place to hear from God to make this year successful in His sight. We don’t know how many of these years we have left, but we do know that God has a work designed just for you and for me. The only way to succeed at this thing is to be on the same page as Him. He designed the page, He holds the pen. He has a story to write through us, but do we know it unless we sit with Him in prayer?

I struggle with this thing called prayer. It’s not that I don’t pray. I do – every day and often throughout the day. What I struggle with is not the mechanics of prayer but the heart of prayer – being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I pray. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our intercessor between us and God. God speaks to us through that still, quiet voice which is the Holy Spirit whispering the words of God into our spirit. The trouble is the quietness of prayer – being still in His presence in order to hear Him.

This week, I listened to Jim Cymbala’s teaching on My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer. This teaching reminded me how devoted he and his church are to prayer. The Tuesday night prayer meetings are legendary. In his teaching, he noted a response from a Korean about the state of the church in Korea. The Korean was asked why the church is growing so rapidly in that place and the Korean noted that the American church relies on programs; the Koreans rely on prayer. That’s significant.

In the original gathering of the disciples in the upper room after Jesus ascended, prayer was the underpinning of the movement. It all started as the Holy Spirit fell upon that room when the disciples were praying. The only way to bring revival in this land is to lay the foundation of prayer to bring the movement into this season. Churches have fallen away from “prayer meetings” as it was called back in the day. Very few feel the need to attend such gatherings, but how much more is it needed today?

I am inclined to believe there are certain things that are done only by way of prayer. God isn’t going to move big in our lives unless we ask for Him to do so – that we devote our time to persistent prayer for God to do big things – not because we’re so great, but because He is and He will get the glory for it.

A.W. Tozer said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” When we have a small view of God, we have small prayers. When we believe in a big God who is bigger than the biggest hurdle we face, God can do greater things in us and through us.

We have heard that prayer changes things. It can shake the heavens. It can rock the earth and cause prison doors to fly open and chains to be broken. It can heal the sick and cause the blind to see. All these things will bring glory to God when we bring it before our Father in heaven. Jesus said that we have not because we ask not. We have to be before Him persistently until we hear the answer – yes, no, or not yet. Don’t give up on that prayer that you’re offering today. Continue to circle it until God sends the “rain.” If you believe in one prayer is the will of the Father, then be sure to pray it with passion that will move God to act on your behalf.

These are the things I am learning – it may take a lifetime to learn, but God knows the length of my days. God is faithful to fulfill everything He has started in me. Let’s not waste another day without going before the Father to bring His will to earth.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9b-12

Buy the Field

On Sunday, the Pastor brought a great message. I even told him so after one of the gatherings. Since I was serving on Sunday, I heard the message three times. But I confess today, I don’t really remember the whole message. I remember a couple of things though that leaves me feeling a bit convicted.

One thing he said, and I have heard it before, the statistics of us sharing our faith or leading others to Jesus is shameful. Less than ten percent share their faith with others outside of our faith and less than one percent has led others to Jesus Christ. I do share my faith – much more on the web than I do in person, but I have in person as well. But I have failed to lead anyone to Christ. Planted seeds, yes. Harvested, no.

The other thing I recall from Sunday is a story he shared about his brother-in-law. It was a story about transformation. His brother-in-law had a casual relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t until he lost everything and hit rock bottom before he looked up and truly found Jesus. He had risen in his company and was making great money, but then the stress caused him to turn to drugs and drugs never lead anywhere good. He lost his job, lost his wealth and almost cost him his life. But in rehab, everything changed. He came out a different man.

I think one of the reasons we don’t share our faith or lead others to Jesus is that we aren’t convinced that Jesus is everything we need. My story isn’t like the Pastor’s brother-in-law. I grew up in church. I have known about Jesus all my life. Yes, there was a time when I walked into a dark valley of my own free will. But I recall that time as being very painful and lonely. I discovered a few years later, that I would rather have Jesus as my Lord than me as my lord. My story is one of slowly turning everything over to His control. One part of my heart at a time. As I was led throughout the years, every part was revealed to me and I submitted it to His Lordship. It has taken years to get to where I am today.

When I hear of others say they don’t need Jesus, I get it. I mean, my life has been easy. I had a good home life growing up. I have had good jobs over the years. I had everything I needed. A little bit of Jesus maybe good enough for that kind of life. But I know there can be so much more. I read stories in the Bible that tell me there is so much more to this surrendered life. However, I want that kind of story without the hardship!

I listened to an interview yesterday between Jonathan Otto and Dani Johnson. Dani shared her story of deliverance and healing. But there was a statement that was said by one of them, not sure which one, that has hung in the air ever since. “The poor know Him more.”

It reminds me of the story that Jesus shared about a rich young man (Matthew 19) who asked Him what he should do to enter heaven. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, then come follow him. The young man left very sad because he had great wealth. Jesus said that it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven and that floored the disciples. They assumed richness was a sign of God’s favor on a person’s life. But if the possessions possess us, what good is to have the richness of the world and have nothing of Jesus? Emptiness. Loneliness. Spiritually bankrupt. Maybe that’s okay for some if they don’t know anything different. They just don’t know all that they could have.

We are told in Matthew 13 that heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we find the treasure, we will sell everything in order to buy the field. How many of us would sell everything for that kind of possession of heaven? Maybe that’s why most Christians only have a little bit of Jesus. Maybe we’re so afraid Jesus is going to ask us to sell it all and give it all to the poor that we fail to have the best treasure of all. If we bought that field, we would rejoice and share the news with everyone. It’s a matter of conviction that we would know we have just bought the greatest thing ever.

People were (and are) willing to die for that richness of heaven. Every disciple laid his life down to share the Good News of Jesus. They were convinced because they knew Jesus in the flesh; watched Him die a painful death. But what changed for them was when they saw Him resurrected. They touched the wounds. They ate with Him. They were empowered by His Spirit. The same Spirit we have in us when we believe in this Jesus. We can have a deeper conviction too. Maybe we need a different encounter that would change everything for us.

Are you willing to risk everything to follow Him? Or will you walk away sad because of your great wealth? Don’t let possessions possess you. It’s not worth it. Go, buy the field. It’s worth every penny!

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 (MSG)

Becoming Successful

I listen to Andy Andrews’ podcast on a weekly basis. On one podcast recently, Andy mentioned this little book that had a major impact on his life. It is called The Greatest Salesman of the World by Og Mandino. I was curious, and I had to check it out. The book is small and has much to say about how to live a life with success. There are ten “scrolls” in this book that give guidance on how to become successful. I don’t see myself as a salesperson, so I didn’t know if it would be relevant to me. However, as I read through it the first time, there are many things that I could incorporate in my life to be a better witness for Jesus.

The book mentions that in order to incorporate these tips in one’s life, the reader needs them to become a habit. A habit is something that is done with regularity. The suggestion is to read one “scroll” a month. Read that one every day; morning, noon, and night; for 30 days. As the reader sits with it daily, it seeps into the subconscious; it starts to shape how we think and also gives us a different perspective about how to live our lives. Andy suggested doing it, so I started the journey to become successful!

I began with the second scroll instead of the first. The second is how to become successful by using love as the tool. As I sit with this one “scroll” this month, it is a reminder that this is what I am supposed to be doing as a follower of Jesus. As I stated earlier, I don’t see myself as a salesperson. Although I have written two books, I don’t necessarily want to go out and sell them. I would like for them to sell without my actual effort in doing so. My focus isn’t on writing or selling books but, how to live out this life as a follower of Jesus. The books are what I have experienced in life. What’s that have to do with selling though? We all sell something at some point in our lives. Whether we are “selling” the Gospel message to our friends and family or have an actual product we believe is worth selling.

The love chapter starts with this: “I will greet this day with love in my heart.” The author believes this is the “greatest secret to success.” Nobody will pay attention to our words until they feel the love directed toward them. The world is looking for love – mostly in the wrong places. One sentence stands out to me in this section: “Always will I dig for reasons to applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip.” Digging is always more work than scratching, wouldn’t you agree? We may have to look deeper for the ways to love someone, but there is always something there to love. God said we are all made in His image. If that is the case, then that is the reason to love each and every person on this earth. (And yes, even the political ones!)

The world is in turmoil and no government official is going to turn the tide. It’s going to take a move of love to change people’s perception – not only of us, but of God the Father and Jesus the Son as it’s done through God’s Spirit leading the way. People are looking for something. They just don’t know what they are actually seeking. We are told in Holy Scripture that we will be known for our love. If we love God, then God’s love is in us, and we love through His love. It’s who we are as the Body of Christ. We are to reflect His character. But really, it feels impossible! People are so difficult to love!

Yet, Jesus said this is the second greatest suggestion – I mean, commandment – love others. The greatest commandment of all is to love God with all our being. As I contemplate this little book; and as I see our nation falling apart at the seams, it reminds me that this move to love starts with me. I have to change the way I look at people. Yes, they are difficult, but there is something God put in them to love. We may have to dig it out, but it can change a person when we represent love well. No one can withstand the force of love. It’s up to me to take the first step toward this change. Will you join me in becoming successful?

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:15-17

Source: Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World (originally published by Frederick Fell, January 1968; Bantam edition March 1974; Bantam Trade edition February 1985) pages 58-62

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