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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit”

Keep the Focus

Have you ever driven down the road and noticed the orange signs warning of a lane closure? The road crews put up the signs well in advance of the closure. The signs are nice warning of what’s ahead so drivers can get over in time before they encounter the cones. On occasion though, I have seen the signs but never encountered lane closure. I guess that’s why when I see the signs; I choose to stay in the lane even though I know eventually I might have to get over into another lane. Others will get into the next lane when they first see the signs. I wait and I watch.

Reading through the New Testament in our discipleship group, we came to a section in Acts that has caused me to think of those road signs. Toward the end of the Book of Acts, Paul has his sight on Jerusalem. He was compelled by the Spirit to go (Acts 20:22). In the next verse, the author Luke wrote Paul didn’t know what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem but in every city the Holy Spirit had warned Paul prison and hardships were facing him (Acts 20:23).

As Paul was making his way to Jerusalem and visiting the churches he established along the way, through the Spirit the disciples urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. A prophet Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet with it and said “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles’” (Acts 21:11).

First off, didn’t the Spirit urge Paul to go to Jerusalem? Second, then why did the Spirit urge the disciples to stop Paul from going? A little bit perplexing to say the least. If I had been Paul, would I have stayed the course and gone to Jerusalem? I think I would have doubted I heard the Spirit correctly.

But Paul had a different relationship with the Spirit – he actually trusted the Spirit to guide him in his daily walk. Paul knew God would provide even if he was bound and in prison. Paul’s whole focus was summed up in this one verse in Acts 20:24: However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Paul kept his focus even to the very end, even in prison – when he wrote his letters to the churches; even when he was in front of officials, rulers and kings – where he testified about the transformation from chasing Jesus followers to becoming one through his Damascus road experience with Jesus.

At one point, Paul was in front of King Agrippa speaking to him about his work for Jesus. In Acts 26:28-29 Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

I noted in my study guide for this chapter – we all have a testimony to share – our elevator speech – how we were before Jesus, when and how we met Jesus, and how we are after Jesus has saved us from our sins. Paul’s mission was to share what he knew. That’s our mission too. Paul prayed for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and have a relationship with Him just like he had.

He prayed for the short term – people who were listening at that moment; and he prayed for the long term – those who would come to a saving knowledge after his departure. But you know what’s really cool? Through Paul’s writings, we are his long term prayer request. His prayer is still being answered as each one of us who reads and understands what Paul knew and we find our salvation in Jesus alone. Prayer is a powerful tool that can open hearts to the amazing grace of God.

Even as we pray for others, we may not see the answer in our lifetime, but I do know prayers are never forgotten by God. I do believe I had ancestors praying for my salvation even though they didn’t know me or knew I would exist. But God did. He heard and He answered. I don’t know what future generations will come, but I pray for their salvation and that they too will have a relationship with Jesus so closely that they will never doubt His love or fail to trust Him in all circumstances.

I may need to see the “cones in the road” to heed warnings in the physical world, but I hope to never fail to see the spiritual warnings the Spirit uses to keep me focused on the task at hand. Let me be like Paul and finish the race before me, submitted to the Spirit’s instruction regardless of what’s ahead of me knowing God is in control and I can trust Him no matter what. As Jesus instructed Paul (see below), He instructs us. Let us go and do likewise.

“I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:16-18

Dry Wood in This Season

In my newsletter for May, 2021, I wrote about Elijah’s prayer. When I was finished writing for the moment, I went back into my archives and found a post from 2012. I used 2012’s blog to write my second book. Since I was on a theme this month, I thought I would dust this off and post the longer “book” version. I hope this encourages you in this season we’re in…

One Sunday morning while sitting in my nephew’s Sunday school class, we were engaged in a discussion about Elijah and powerful prayers. We were discussing the prayer Elijah prayed to God to bring fire upon the altar in the confrontation with the prophets of Baal (see I Kings 18:16-39). Elijah told the servants to wet the sacrifice which in turn wet the wood and the ground. He asked them to do it three times. I have heard this story many times, but what stayed with me this time was the image of the wood. The drought had lasted at least three years at the time of this confrontation. The wood the servants would have been using was very dry. Dry wood would have soaked up the water being poured on the altar. Wet wood cannot be lit unless it’s done supernaturally!

James wrote in his letter that Elijah was just like everyone else. Elijah prayed for no rain, and it did not rain for over three years (James 5:17). Elijah prayed for the fire to come down to consume the sacrifice (First Kings 18). And God answered this bold prayer of Elijah.

Elijah was doing the work of the Lord. He was God’s instrument to bring Israel back into a relationship with Him. Elijah prayed and God responded. Not only was the sacrifice consumed; the wood and the altar were burned up and the water in the trench evaporated in one huge showcase of God’s power. God likes to display His power. God also likes to use us to display His glory. We have the capacity to ask bold prayers to display the wonders of God.

I think the majority of the reason we don’t pray such prayers is because we don’t believe He’ll answer or maybe we don’t believe He can do it. We deal with a lack of faith in His ability to deliver our requests. We should have the type of faith that we could attempt great things and expect great things from God. It honors Him when we ask bold prayers.

One of the things that I find remarkable in relational to Peter is his boldness after he received the Holy Spirit. Before he was filled with the Spirit, he was fearful – denying Jesus (Luke 22:54-62), sitting in a locked room fearful of the Jews (John 20:19). Once the Holy Spirit fills him at Pentecost, he addresses the crowd where three thousand believed his message – Jesus is Lord – accredited by God by miracles, wonders and signs; He died, and rose again because death could not hold Him (Acts 2:22-41)! The Holy Spirit changed Peter from coward to a bold message bearer. Boldness is one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to be bold if we would have the faith to ask.

I chuckle every time I read about Peter being released from prison by a miraculous encounter with an angel. The story is found in Acts 12. Verse five says: So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The church was actively praying for Peter; God answered in a miraculous way. He shows up at the believer’s door; the people don’t believe its Peter, even though they had been in prayer for Peter’s release. Did the church believe that God was going to answer?

Yet, I am the same way. Why do I pray? What’s my motivation for prayer? I want to pray some really bold prayers. But I have to check my motives. I have to check if it’s something I desire for my own benefit or if it’s going to benefit others. Do I want to move God’s Kingdom forward by my bold requests?

God has given me an urgency to do more and to be more attuned to His will. I do believe too that we are going to see even greater things than what we could ever ask or imagine in the next few years. I think the time of dryness is over. We have to be bold in our prayers. We see these great men of the Bible and think they aren’t like us. However, they were nothing special. They were flawed individuals that God used in mighty ways. He likes weakness in us so that He will get the glory – not us. My prayers may not bring an end to a drought or change the course of history. But they could if I were to ask and believe – all it takes is the smallest of faith in a very large God. He is who He says He is. He is the miracle worker.

I think I have put God in a box. I expect small things from God. I seem to believe that He can only handle small things and not my huge problems. The problem with this theory is that my huge problem is nothing in the sight of God. The one who created the universe – the universe that we are still discovering is still growing. My perception needs to change. God’s story told through Scripture tells of a mighty big God. No matter the size of the box, it’s still too small to contain an awesome God. Scripture tells us that we have to have faith in the One to whom we bring our prayers. Hebrews 11:6 says anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith, as small as a mustard seed, can move mountains. Bold prayers offered in faith to a mighty God will be heard and answered.

…How much more do we need bold prayers at such a time as this. Let’s be bold and be brave and let God work through us! Amen!

Worship Night Reflections

Last night, there was a gathering of the church for worship. It was a night of praise music, somber reflection and communion then celebration of what God has done for us. Whenever we take communion, we are told to examine ourselves before we receive the cup and the bread. It’s in the moments before receiving communion when we come clean with God. We confess our wrongdoing before Him. In those moments we are to repent of those sins that keep us from our full relationship with Him.

I confess to you today, I am a sinner. I fall short of God’s standards. I will never get it right on my own. I can’t be good enough to win God’s favor. It’s just not within me. My flesh wants what it wants. It’s only by the grace of God and His mercy every day that I can live in right standing with Him. It’s only through Jesus and His righteousness that gives me freedom in the knowledge that I am right with God. I have forsaken my desires for His. At least, that’s the goal. I don’t succeed all the time.

One of the big themes I hear quite often is repent. It’s what Jesus called all the religious leaders to do whenever they were in ear shot of Him. John the Baptist spoke of this as his calling was to clear the way for the Lord. Repent. It was the theme for Jesus’ day as it is for ours. But we have fallen away from that message.

As I consider the times we live in, I believe we are near the end of the church age. I believe the church will be removed soon. I don’t know if I will see it in my lifetime or not, but times are moving closer and closer to that day. Just as John‘s message was to clear the way for the Lord, I believe we are in need of that same message for the church to be ready for Jesus to return.

The church is always top priority when it comes to God’s judgment. The church is His light. He will always clean house with the church first before He judges the unbelievers. Jesus cleaned the temple courts twice to get rid of the idolatry infested within those holy walls. I see a cleansing happening today. We may not understand what’s really going on in the church world right now, but I do believe Jesus is cleaning house.

We’ve seen it in the news time and again about the Catholic priests and sexual immorality. Southern Baptists are having a time of it as well. Leaders are falling and losing their “lamp stands.” The Methodists are determining their future too. This is the time to repent and come clean. It’s what we’re called to do before it’s too late. Repent before the coming of the Lord.

I know it’s not a popular word. It’s never really spoken about these days. The fire and brimstone preaching is a thing of the past. Now it’s the feel good messages – everything will be alright. But it won’t be right unless we make changes to get right before God. By God’s grace and His mercy, we confess and repent – change our mind about our sins. We agree with God on our sins – they are wrong and not the best way to live and keeps us from a full fellowship with Him.

God’s standards are our boundary lines. When we live in God’s boundaries, we have more freedom. Sin keeps us enslaved and in a debt we cannot remove unless we have the power of the blood of Jesus. It’s through Him we are given freedom. It’s by His blood we are cleansed. It’s by His body that was broken for us that we are given life everlasting. It’s His Spirit who seals us for that Day when He returns for us.

Following our flesh and our own desires is nothing in comparison to the life He gives to us. It’s the future life that is beyond words – beyond our imaginations. The flesh is nothing. Its temporary pleasures. What good is it to have the whole world and forfeit eternity? Why would we cling to this life of destruction when God gave us so much more? Because we don’t know what the future looks like walking in God’s way.

Where will He take us? What would He have us do? It might be uncomfortable. It might take us away from all that we know and love. Or it could be the best thing ever. It could be a life so full and overwhelming that we could actually regret not doing it sooner.

This is the time for examination before communion with Him. Jesus said to count the cost and then follow Him. To the churches He said, to those who have ears, let them hear.

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:2-6

A New House

There is an older neighborhood in my city close to my gym. Sometimes I use the cut through to get to another area of town because it’s less traffic and a more scenic way to go. The neighborhood is in one of the booming areas so the older homes are being fixed up or torn down and made into something new. I love to see these transitions. The updated versions look fresh and new, but the new houses are vastly different. The updated versions are put on the market and sold quickly. But the older homes that are sold before the updates are quickly torn down. I love to see the progress of new things being built. Don’t you?

However, it’s quite a different story about progress we need to make in our own transitions to become new. Our spiritual lives are like that neighborhood. Some of us are the old houses that need some repair work. We are comfortable in our broken down condition; never seeking a carpenter to help us and eventually our bodies and our lives are in a ruinous heap. There are some who have sought out a carpenter and repairs are being made to remodel their lives. Then there are those who have not only sought out The Carpenter, but our houses have been demolished and the new houses are in the process of being built. Jesus, The Carpenter, doesn’t come to make us a better version of ourselves; He comes to make us new.

One of the things I struggle with is making goals. In the corporate world, we are told to make SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. When I was in the corporate world, every year I had to come up with a couple of goals. It was so hard to do in the position I was in. I did the grunt work – I was the detail person. Like I said last week, I was not the big picture person. I helped to make the big picture come together. It’s hard to have goals dictated by another’s vision. However, progress needed to be made in my own growth as an employee and a member of the team in order to achieve the big picture vision.

Andy Stanley said recently in a message “direction leads to destiny.” I have heard it said this way “we have to be going there to get there.” We need to be on the path moving in the right direction in order to become who we want to become. The only way to become someone new is to have goals to get there. We are given the vision of becoming new, but what does that look like for us as individuals? For us as believers in Jesus, we have our own personal transforming life coach living in us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to help us to become the one Jesus saved us to become.

When I started on this transforming journey years ago, I didn’t realize the new me would be so totally different. I thought I was just a better version of who I was. However, I met up with some old friends from college and they wondered why I was so different. I no longer drank. My language was different. I was a different person before them. Unfortunately, I was afraid to tell them why I had changed. My life was different because of Jesus. When Jesus began His work in me, I didn’t know He would clean me up as He did. But He did and I am still being made new each and every day when I surrender to His work in me.

The thing about demolishing the old and making something new – it takes time. Sometimes the old comes down with a wrecking ball, sometimes it’s a tedious process of taking it down brick by brick. The new isn’t made overnight either. Our mindset is transformed every day as we open up God’s word. The thoughts we capture; the things we listen to and watch or read; even the people we even hang out with are transformed day by day when we give access to our internal and eternal life coach.

I still don’t have SMART goals yet, but I need the vision of who I want to become. In five years, I want to be completely different from who I am today. I must have my direction pointed toward my destiny. I can’t get there from here unless I am on the right path. How about you? Are you on the right path; going in the right direction? The key is letting our life coach have access to every part of our lives. Only then will we end up becoming brand new. In five years, we can all have a new house but it takes letting the Holy Spirit do His work in every area. He has to have access – give Him the keys. It’s the only way to become new.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (TPT)

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! Ephesians 2:10 (TPT)

The Right Mix

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the proof is in the pudding?” Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? A book I read recently had this phrase in one of its section headings. I can’t seem to recall the point the author was making at this time. However, when I read some Scripture this morning, this phrase came back to mind. The passage that spoke most deeply was from Galatians 5:22-23 concerning the fruit of the Spirit.

As believers, we are told we have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus at the time of our salvation. After we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are told there will be gifts that the Spirit brings with Him as He dwells in us. This fruit begins with love. Jesus’ love is planted in us as the Spirit is planted in us. The love is the seed from which all other attributes grow. The other attributes of this fruit is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For those who believe and have received the Holy Spirit, we already have this fruit in us. However, has the fruit been exhibited by our actions? This is where the phrase – the proof is in the pudding – comes to mind. We will be known by this fruit. As Peter wrote in his first letter, we are to crave spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2). As we grow, we become more fluent in the language of love – we exhibit these fruit characteristics more frequently and with greater strength.

Have you noticed recently we are missing these characteristics in the world around us? None of this fruit is exhibited in great detail in the world at large. There are small instances when the goodness and kindness seeps out into the darkness. Self-control seems to be lost in this day and age. Patience? It’s been lost in this fast pace world. We want it now and we demand it now. Instant and convenient has driven patience out of style.

It’s almost like we’re afraid to show these characteristics to others because we might be seen as weak. However, we are told that true strength is to show weakness and vulnerability. The world is craving a greater vulnerability – although they would never admit it. It is said that love trumps hate. However, actions show true identity of the fruit (or lack of) that dwells within. Love is an action.

We can give cards on birthdays and anniversaries declaring our love; but if it’s not followed up by action to prove that love really exists, the paper is thrown into the dustbin of history. Marriages will fall apart – families will fall apart – society falls apart. Love is glue that holds lives together. Without it, we’re hopeless.

The world is craving spiritual milk. The world doesn’t know it, but we as believers do. As believers, we are to grow beyond milk. The writer of Hebrews wrote in the fifth chapter we are to live on the solid food of righteousness and to be able to teach others these things. The writer warns us about falling away from the teachings of righteousness. Paul also had a few things to say to the Corinthians about needing milk instead of solid food. The Corinthians were acting like babies and couldn’t handle the truth Paul was ready to feed them. He wrote he could not address them as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Yes, we still have much to glean from these Scriptures. Much of our time is spent in pursuing worldliness instead of godliness and the pudding has been exhibiting the fruit of our strivings. Paul wrote to the Philippians: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Yes, we, as believers, have much to consider. The pudding has almost set. It’s time to stir the pot and get the right ingredients in the mix before it’s too late. The proof will be in the pudding. Think on these things.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

Rubber Meets the Road

For the last couple of years, I have been contemplating making a move. It’s on my radar once again, but this time I think I’m ready to go. It’s not an easy decision; one that I do not take lightly. I have been in this place for over seventeen years. It’s the longest time I have lived in one place. However, I have always said this was the house God gave me. When it’s time to transfer managers, I would wait on Him for the right time. So the decision is based on His direction.

The offer is on the table through a new start-up company who buys houses at a fair market value. It was so much more than I had anticipated that it has me a little startled. I don’t want to chase the money; but if this is God’s blessing, I don’t want to miss the chance either. This is where faith becomes an action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road and becomes very real in moving out in faith.

It feels somewhat like an Abraham move. God told Abram (before the name change) to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). I don’t think God is calling me to the mission field, but I am leaving my home of seventeen years. It’s a separation that is real. At this point, I don’t know if I am leaving my community and my church family too.

My small group is going through the Priscilla Shirer study about hearing God’s voice. So relevant for this time. The point that came across to me is about hearing God’s word through a sense of peace in the decision. I have heard God’s voice a few times in my life, but this one is different – as they all were. It’s a matter of discerning the right thing and the “almost” right thing; the good versus the best. That’s where it gets hard. No one knows the future but God.

A few years back, I knew God was asking me to sell my car. It was an almost “dream” car for me. I loved it, but it was costly to maintain. It was a struggle in my spirit to let go. It took me a month to finally put the car up for sell. Once I released it, I found the next car that was so much more economical and have had no expense except for maintenance. It was a complete blessing, especially in my financial lean time.

At Beth Moore’s conference last weekend, the first thing I wrote down in my notes was the faster we obey the easier it is the next time. Yes, I am struggling with the letting go process. However, the struggle isn’t much about letting go, but discerning if it’s God’s will to let go. Letting go is easier when we know God is on the move. I want to go where He is going. Don’t you?

In Priscilla’s video for the study this week, she talked about knowing what you’re called to do. She mentioned that we need to be on the front lines in God’s plan – we have to know our own “front line.” What is our individual assignment? Jesus had His own front line. He did everything His Father asked of Him and nothing else. We are to be single-minded as well. We are to work on our own “God-thing.” Do you know your God-thing? Is your time divided into things that are not yours to do?

My God-thing is to help people get healthy. I found my passion a few years ago; however, I am still working through what that really looks like when the rubber meets the road. How do I walk it out consistently? Right now, I work for a natural healthcare doctor. When I went to school to get a certification in health coaching, the instructor said to “find your voice” and use it to help others. Finding my voice was the key to writing. At the time, I had no idea that was the next thing God wanted to do through me to help others. Here I am years later, still typing away.

I don’t know what the next thing will be when I finally make the decision to move. I don’t know what’s in store for the next few months or years either. But so far, peace has settled over me. A couple of weeks ago, God whispered “trust me” and I am. God always knows when we have had enough. He will never keep us longer in a place than we need to be. The time is always right when His hand is moving us.

The last thing I wrote down in my notes from Priscilla’s message was obedience brings freedom. The Scripture associated with her last point was directed at Galatians 5 about self-discipline. As I looked that over, I noticed in verse 25 “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Wherever He leads, I’ll go. Will you?

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

Let’s Get on With It!

On August 21, the US experienced a total solar eclipse – from the west coast to the east. There was another solar eclipse that did the same thing 99 years ago. Think about how much the nation has changed in those 99 years. But since this last solar eclipse, I think there has been a drastic change. It is like gears have shifted to a new level of intensity. Just think of everything that has occurred since August 21.

Everything changed in that same week with the devastation from Hurricane Harvey; then Hurricane Irma hit the islands about a couple of weeks later; then Hurricane Maria soon after. It’s been a busy hurricane season. Many firsts have occurred this year in the Atlantic Basin.

Not only has it been natural disasters since the solar eclipse, but man-made devastation as well. The Las Vegas shooting happened in October, NY had its day of terror, and now this church shooting just this past weekend. Did I forget anything? Every month, has seen something new. Will this end anytime soon? Unfortunately, I think we have turned a corner. It is interesting to me that the next solar eclipse to cross this nation will come in seven years. Leads me to wonder what God has in store for us in these next seven years.

And yet, here we are born into this time on God’s calendar. We were made for this season. He chose us for this hour. Scripture tells us that God has a plan for our lives. We have a purpose specific. Ephesians 2:10 says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. God molded us in a fashion to do something specific – to reach the people He puts in our lives in the only way we can do so – with our talents and abilities. You might think you have no talent or ability. I always did. But God has placed something uniquely in you that will make a connection with someone else. You just might not have found that uniqueness yet. But it’s there. God designed you for a purpose higher than you can imagine.

So what do we do in this new time? We go back to the beginning of the church age when Jesus walked this earth – Love God; Love others and tell others what Jesus has done. I think the church has forgotten its roots. We got all into our programs to enrich our spiritual lives, but we have failed to follow through and teach others outside the four walls of the building. We became self-absorbed and have failed to love others in the way we have been instructed through God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20). Well, that’s my opinion based on what I have witnessed in my own life.

However, I really believe we are in a new time where this is really going to be top priority in the years to come. One day, we may not have church buildings to go to. The American church body may become like every other part of the world, meeting in homes under the guidance of everyday people who love the Lord and love others by teaching them what they know. We actually learn together as the Holy Spirit joins in to teach us. It stretches us to learn in a different way by participating in a group setting. No one speaks at us, but we engage in the conversation as we discuss the Bible and apply what we learn. I think this is where we will be going in the future. I could be wrong. Time will tell.

You also might think you don’t know enough to teach someone. I did. However, I know more than someone else. We are all at different points of understanding. We can all learn and grow from one another. We pray for a heart that is willing to listen and the Holy Spirit to help us in the process of teaching and learning from each other. We are to be open and ready whenever Jesus places us in the position to be His hands and feet. We can do this.

The first church did it with great success. Jesus instructed the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. The disciples weren’t ready in the beginning of His time with them; but when Jesus was ready to leave this earth, He put those scrappy young men in charge and they were ready. Three years of instructions from Jesus took a new form with the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who heard in the first few years spread the word and look how far it has gone. This is our time; and as you noticed, things are changing rapidly. Be prepared to tell others about your peace and your joy. They are going to want what you have.

So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! Hebrews 6:1-3 (MSG)

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

Revival is Now!

I like to listen to prophecy experts. I’m not sure if they are prophets or just teachers who pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I find it very interesting. One of the things I hear from a variety of sources is a possibility of a great revival happening here in the US. There are many who believe Jesus will be returning for His church in the near future. There are many who think there will be a revival before that day of Jesus’ return. Someone mentioned that the revival will come as a result of this political craziness that we are experiencing. Many talk about martial law going into effect and there will be no “changing of the guard” for the presidential seat. Many visions have been seen revealing devastating earthquakes, tsunamis happening on both coasts, and even a great divide splitting the US at the Mississippi. Only God knows what’s really coming. I do believe judgment is coming one day.

People come back to church when their world has been shaken. But as it was with 9/11 with only a few weeks of returning, will it be a true revival or just a stepping back to family traditions? What will it take for a true revival?

Many times, Jesus spoke of persecution happening because of Him. In John 15, He said that if He was persecuted, then His disciples would be as well. As we have seen in the Book of Acts, the church body grew with persecution. Today, there are many who are being persecuted in different parts of the world. They ask us not to pray for the persecution to end, but for them to be bold and strengthened during persecution; to stand firm in their commitment to Jesus.

Recently, I read a couple of books concerning the persecution of the church. It’s difficult to read about what people have experienced, but what faith they exhibit in the face of persecution. As one who has never experienced such a trial, I cannot imagine how they endured it all. If persecution grows the church, then this could explain why the American branch of the church is showing signs of decline. Our population is increasing exponentially, but our churches are not seeing the same increase. In other parts of the world, the church is increasing even in the midst of great persecution. At the beginning of the church age, found in the Book of Acts – persecution brought the scattering of the church. As persecution continued throughout the next couple of centuries, the growth of the church exploded.

From 120 to 3000 to 5000, then persecution began. My pastor said recently that by the end of the first century there were approximately 25,000 believers. By the time that the Roman Empire “legalized” Christianity around the middle of the third century, 33 million were believed to have been Jesus followers.

So what would it take for us to have a revival today that would show this kind of increase? Do I dare say it? One of the speakers I listen to fairly regularly is a pastor in Hawaii. He gives a prophecy update every Sunday. This past Sunday, he spoke of a revival as well. He said on Sunday that we may have to face persecution like we’ve never experienced it here in the US. The revival may come not of the natural disasters or the man-made disaster from the political fallout; it may come at the expense of what we believe. Because of Jesus and His teaching, we may find ourselves in a position to either stand up for Him or deny Him.

At times, I have wondered if my faith is strong enough. Could I withstand persecution? Would I deny Christ as Peter did at his first persecution? Of course, that was before the Holy Spirit took hold of him and radically changed him. The Holy Spirit gave him such boldness that nothing deterred him from proclaiming the name of Jesus. That’s what the ones who are facing persecution are asking for today. Boldness. Maybe that’s what we all need to be asking for regardless if we are under persecution or trying to reach our friends and neighbors.

Suffering for the sake of the message of Jesus is considered a joy to those who experience it. Suffering helps us identify with Christ. He suffered for us. Jesus said the greatest gift of friendship is dying for one’s friends. If we consider ourselves a friend of Jesus, then we should be willing to die for Him – physically as well as just die to ourselves; losing those things that we hold on to that have no eternal value. So whatever happens in the future, my revival begins now. It starts with me ready to face whatever is in store, with boldness and with the strength God gives me through the Holy Spirit living in me. My revival is now – how about yours? Are you ready?

“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” John 16:1-4 (MSG)

Fan the Flame

I think I’m in a rut. My routine is pretty set day in and day out. Even spiritually speaking, I think I’m in a rut. I haven’t felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit in a while. Did I move off the mark? Did my anchor slip? I think I just lost focus. I took my eyes off of Jesus. My fascination has been on the signs and wonders of what’s going on in the world. I do believe we are seeing the signs of the last days. This is not to say that Jesus is coming back in the next year or ten. That time is set by God. But I do believe He is coming soon. Maybe I’ll see it in my lifetime, maybe not.

But I am struggling with what to do. I should be focused on Jesus’ business – making the Kingdom known on earth before He parts the skies. At that point, the decision is made on who will be joining Him in the clouds. The rest will deal with the judgment that will come. (I’m a pre-trib girl.)

On Sunday, the pastor said that we should be living each day like it’s our last. Whether it’s because Jesus will come that day or we’ll be called to our heavenly home. To live like that, we’ll do everything necessary to live a fulfilled life. We’ll do what matters most and let the trivial things go. We’ll reach out to those on our path who needs something that we can fulfill.

Louie Giglio said in his Sunday message that we are to have an outward focus. We are the solution to the world. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He uses us to be the solution. It’s a reminder that we are the light. We are not to keep Jesus a secret. His is not a secret kingdom with a secret password to enter. The door is open to anyone who comes and knocks.

Over the last couple of nights, I have been listening to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live “Audacious” message from last year’s simulcast – it’s now on TBN and on demand. The message is about being audacious – having boldness beyond normal. We are called to be mighty for the Lord. We are not supposed to keep it to ourselves. The story is meant to be shared.

Jesus was a storyteller. Crowds followed Him to hear the stories and to be healed. They came to see Him do miracles. He taught them about the Kingdom of God through stories. Most didn’t get it. Their religiosity got in the way. They were being entertained not enlightened. But the children came, and it had nothing to do with what Jesus could do for them. The children felt the love Jesus had for them. They instinctively knew Jesus loved them. I think as adults we have become cynical to love. We don’t naturally feel the love and want to give it to others. I guess that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to help us in this regard. It doesn’t come natural to us; it’s a supernatural act.

In Beth’s book Audacious she wrote about falling in love with Jesus. Something has to compel us to do something. The love of Jesus in us will compel us to be bold in His name and for His glory. I made a note from the simulcast – we need to look for this one thing that will drive us for the rest of our lives. I think it’s the love that will drive us. Beth wrote about Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the beach after His resurrection. She asked the reader – Do you love Jesus? I mean, do you really love Jesus? Really, do you love Jesus? It’s not an automatic reply. It’s a think about it moment. Do we long to be in His word? Are we excited to spend time with Him? Do we bounce out of bed in the morning and rush to set down with Him for a morning chat? I can’t say that this is always my response.

When we think about loving someone, it’s a feeling but also an action. I have never known the love of a husband/wife scenario. I can imagine though the “swept off the feet” moments of romance that led to the marriage proposal. The thrill of the chase. The moments when passion over takes you, and you would do anything for your future mate. I can’t say that is the case with my relationship with Jesus. But it should be.

We should look for the romance with Jesus – we should ask for it. It should make a big difference in our lives. Religiosity should not get in our way to love Jesus and live for Jesus. There is too much at stake; time is short. We need the boldness for our lights to shine in this dark world. Ask the Holy Spirit to fan the flame of what has been entrusted in us. Let’s do it now and keep asking until boredom is replaced with passion to compel us to live each day to the fullest for His glory! Amen!

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

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