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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit”

Athirst for God

On the first day of the New Year, I opened the book “Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer to renew my focus for this year. As I read the words, I realized he penned them in 1948. He begins his preface “in this hour of all-but-universal darkness.” How much more are these words relevant to this day and time? He wrote of those who are growing hungrier for God. The people “are athirst for God and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.” In his day and time, he felt there was a revival happening but realized it may be the “cloud the size of a man’s hand.” Oh how I wish this to be true now!

Tozer wrote about how evangelicalism needs to change in light of the conditions around us. He reflected most were no longer seeking to build an altar for sacrifice, but were more comfortable “to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” He referenced 1 Kings 18 for the imagery. For those who truly desire God, they cannot “reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the ‘piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.” Is that not poetry? Are his words not true to this day and time?

We need teachers like this who inspire us to have this desire for ourselves. But is it really the inspiration of the teachers or is it not by the hand of God drawing us to Him if only we would respond? We should all long for nourishment to satisfy our souls. “For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.” Ouch. Okay, that stepped on my toes a bit. How long do I sit in a chair drinking in the Word, but fail to let it draw me closer? In one ear and out the other without really thought provoking change coming from it.

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” Yes, let it be as he says. Let this be my heart’s desire for this new year. I no longer want just an occupation of the seat, but an occupation of my heart. For far too long, Satan has snatched the Word right out of my heart because I didn’t pay close attention to the application. I leave the gathering every Sunday and have an agenda for the day. But did the agenda have time to reflect on what was heard? Does my soul feel quench by the Living Word?

One of the sentences speaks the loudest to me right now was this: “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” Tozer closes saying God’s hungry children need to find Him. If his (Tozer’s) “fire is not large it is real and there may be those who can light their candle by its flame.” The Holy Spirit can fan into flame even the smallest of sparks. We need sparks in the Body of Christ for this day. I don’t know if the revival happened in Tozer’s day. I didn’t research it. We are in desperate need of one today. Think of the difference we could make if we all were athirst for God!

If you are hungry; if you are thirsty, Jesus says “come.” First things first. We cannot do anything of any importance until we get right with God, and we are clothed in His righteousness. I don’t remember where I heard this prayer, but I am claiming it for 2016. “God, work boldly in me that You can be clearly seen working through me.” For God’s glory in this New Year! Come on Sparky! Let’s do this!

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:36-38

This post inspired by The Preface found on Page 8 of the “Pursuit of God” © Moody Bible Institute of Chicago 1948, 1983, 1999, 2006.

The Love of His Story

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I loved history, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy! But for the last few years, I have been fascinated by events of past and present. When I look at the past, I can see God’s hand moving things into place. I need a bit of help to see so I read all that I can read. History is a bit fickle though as it is determined by a point of view. Some of the time, the point of view is accurate enough to get a glimpse into the world at that time.

Jesus’ life is written down for us by four men who give us a slight variation in the details. Each man tells the story of Jesus from the point of view in which the writer can relate, and for the audience who will eventually read it. Matthew took his writings to the Jewish community. Mark did a quick overview of Jesus, hitting the high points. John was the longest living disciple and wrote his version near the end of his life. His view point took a higher view of Jesus. He saw Jesus as the Eternal One – from the beginning of time until the end of Jesus’ life to the eternal life to come. Luke on the other hand, was not a disciple. He was an investigator. He went to the ones who witnessed the events of Jesus’ life and reported on those things.

John should have been the one who told of the birth of Jesus. Ancient writings (or traditions) teach us that John took care of Mary until her death. He probably heard so many stories of Jesus’ birth, the family running from Herod, what they did, where they went, Jesus’ childhood; yet, John mentions none of these things. Luke, however, gives us the birth narrative. Luke gives us the stories Jesus taught; he gives us the healing encounters; everything that we could possibly want to know about the living Savior of the world.

I think we forget the Gospels are books written just a few years after Jesus’ life. These books could have easily been destroyed as nonsense by those who would have known the truth of these accounts. Yet, the Bible is still being validated each and every year. The Book still survives the test of time. There is no other book in history that has the number of manuscripts that validate it than this Good Book. Nothing can compare.

When I first started reading the Bible, I was fascinated by the stories. Originally, I thought this was the complete book of history. I thought it accounted for the Chinese, the Incas, the ancient societies that were talked about in my history classes. It wasn’t until I understood the Bible isn’t the Book of History, but the Book of His Story that things started to make sense. God’s handy work was evident by the events recorded in those ancient manuscripts.

When I consider the events of today, I imagine it’s a bit like those times in ancient culture. At the time of the writings, they probably didn’t understand the significance of the events. It’s with hindsight that gives the greatest view point. In a few years time, we will probably look back to 2015 as a pivotal year. The year gay marriage was upheld in the highest court. The year ISIS took over a vast land. The year Iran was allowed to maneuver their agenda to the signing table with the world watching. The year terror hit the west once again. On and on, we could mark the year of significance.

What fascinates me even more is the prophecies that are coming true as things align to bring events to the ultimate completion. I don’t know what the future holds for us in this next year. I suppose even more events will rock our world. There will be more natural disasters that will devastate us. There will be more death and destruction as Satan realizes his time is growing even shorter. He is becoming angrier with each passing year. But I don’t find any of this distressful. I have more hope than I have ever had. I find God working His plan exciting and hopeful; that people will see His glory and respond in greater ways. I see a revival of the Body of Christ. I see a vast army standing up in one accord – with one faith, one hope and one Head – Jesus Christ.

It’s going to get very real. It’s going to cycle around once again; for history to repeat itself. The Book of Acts will come back to life. The Body of Christ will once again learn how to make disciples and share the Good News to all who are ready to hear. I believe the Holy Spirit will be poured out in dry places, and the Body will have new life and new power. 2016 will be a year of significance like we’ve never seen before. Get ready; hold on for the ride of your life! Watch God work in amazing ways. And remember, we are here for such a time as this!

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Not Ashamed

“They” say it is easier at this time of year to share the Gospel message. There are signs all around us to point others to the message of Jesus’ Good News. I had an occasion over the weekend to speak the truth to two women who came to my door. They were going to persuade me that the Bible was difficult to understand and hand me information about the Bible. I stopped their speech and told them I knew the truth of the Bible. However, I didn’t tell them the reason I knew the Truth. I didn’t tell them the Holy Spirit lives in me to help me understand the Bible. I thought of it after they were gone. I failed miserably in sharing the Good News. I was disappointed in my lack of courage to speak boldly to those two women. After the encounter, I prayed for someone else to be better about sharing the Good News with them.

I was reading 2 Timothy yesterday morning. It reminded me of my encounter over the weekend. Paul was always ready to share the Gospel with everyone he encountered. He had a passion to share, no matter the cost to him personally. Even in jail, he proclaimed the Good News to all in ear shot. As I read, I followed the Timothy passage with Acts 28:31: He (Paul) proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Paul was never ashamed. Paul understood the responsibility of sharing the message.

We are all entrusted with the same message. We all have the responsibility to share with a desperate world. If this is the best time to share with ones who are more willingly to hear, then we need to be better at it. They say practice makes perfect. I want a “do over” with those women! I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I just need boldness to do it, like Paul.

When we receive the gift of salvation, we are not immediately taken to heaven. We are left here for a greater purpose. We are not here to keep the status quo but to advance the cause – take new ground from the enemy. We are in a battle that is furiously fought over our family and friends. We have a responsibility where we are – God planted us in this place and time with His full armor and His Spirit. We are told we are not to be afraid, but to be courageous.

I pray I will do better next time. I need to be working out of the Holy Spirit’s power. Normally, I don’t think of things very quickly. I need to learn to wait on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I must be prepared to do battle. My quiet time needs to be intentionally minded with the things God wants and not my wants. I don’t need any more training. I don’t need to study anymore – although I will never stop reading God’s word. I need to be more in tuned with the Holy Spirit. That takes practice.

Book knowledge is good, but living it out is where God’s truth is magnified to a lost world. We are Jesus’ body. We are to represent Him in this world. I may have good qualities but that is nothing compared to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we, as His Body, represent Jesus well; it will change our world around us. This is nothing like an encounter with Jesus. There is no greater testimony than the one has been transformed by His grace and mercy.

James Robertson (Life Today) said on his Monday broadcast, we don’t have to see the signs and wonders God is presenting to us today. We know we are closer to the end than the beginning. Jesus is coming back one day. Like John the Baptizer before us, we are called to prepare the way. There isn’t much time remaining before all hell will literally be poured out. It’s time to take some more ground.

As Paul as my mentor, I am asking for his level of commitment to share the news of Jesus Christ. Today, the signs point to His first coming – the manger scenes, the gift giving and such. But as the signs continue to point to the second coming of Jesus Christ, I must be intentional about doing God’s work. The work is not finished and will not be done until we see Jesus face to face. Lord, help us! Holy Spirit, work boldly in us so that You can work gloriously through us! Amen.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:9-12

Wiped Away

The end of the seven-year cycle passed with a whimper. God has used this seven-year pattern throughout much of modern history to raise nations up or bring them down. He has used it to wipe away debt. Over the previous seven-year cycles, debt has been wiped out by dramatic swings of the stock market. When the last few weeks were showing the same signs of a likely crash, I thought God was going to do it again. But the time has passed and to my knowledge, nothing has happened. Did God forget about this timetable thing? Didn’t He know we were anticipating something to occur? It’s almost a disappointment. Until I come to my senses and realize this is something we don’t want to see happen!

It just shows us: God’s ways are not our ways; God’s time is not our time. It also occurs to me; there is something always going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to. There is an ongoing war, which is unseen to our naked eye. It is a spiritual war; which if seen, would cause us to faint dead away. God has a plan we do not see. We are not privy to His thoughts. We can seek His guidance and ask for wisdom. God gives us His Spirit to communicate His desires to us. We have to be paying attention to His promptings.

I was listening to the evening news last night when I heard this comment by the anchor: the fires raging in California are wiping away houses and whole towns. California has seen disastrous fires over the last few months. Fires are destroying millions of acres of forests, homes and towns. Flooding is also going on in part of the western states. Both are extreme natural occurrences. They are historic in measure. What in the world is going on?

Nothing catches God by surprise. He doesn’t pace in His throne room looking for an answer to the world’s problems. He already knows the circumstances. Our job in the meantime is to believe in His Sovereignty and in His goodness. Fire burns away the perishable things, but leaves the imperishable. Floods leave behind a new landscape. We are to believe God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. We are to trust in Him and live according to His perfect will and pleasure. Through the Holy Spirit, we are given eyes that see and ears that hear. We are given a greater understanding into God’s perfect plan by His Holy Word.

Beth Moore spoke on Saturday about being audacious. She said we are built for fire. It’s the passion that burns in our bones. The fire of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but fuels us. In the last days, we will be given greater audacity to have more “guts for God’s glory.” We are not given a spirit of fear. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit! In future events, Beth mentioned fear will go viral. We cannot be swept into the wildfire of fear. And we cannot be lulled into complacency. We need to be awake to the world around us. What is unseen can be made known to those who are aware. God says He will pour out His Spirit on His sons and daughters in these last days. The Holy Spirit is our guide and our teacher.

Whatever suffering we must endure here is nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Jesus is worth the sacrifice we must endure. Jesus asks us to count the cost of following Him. Do we have what it takes when everything is wiped away? Can we say with certainty, Jesus is everything to me? In God’s economy, up is down. In humility, we seek the all-knowing God who does not leave us in times of trouble. We will have trouble in the days ahead, but we are given a greater hope in the future. God is who He says He is. And He delivers on His promises!

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:22-25 (NLT)

Still the Message

Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!” John the Baptist was given this message before the ministry of Jesus began. He was the one who called from the wilderness to bring about the change of heart for those who would hear and heed the word. Jesus had the same message. It might have been stated a bit differently. He spoke of forgiveness of sin to those who came for healing. The sick and hurting came in large groups for healing. But Jesus always looked to their hearts first to find their true sickness. He offered forgiveness and told those who came to Him “Go and sin no more!” The same message of repentance – turn away from your sins, and you will receive the Kingdom of God. Overcome that thing that holds you back. For the one who overcame, many promises were given. When Jesus taught the large crowds He ended His teachings with this phrase: “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

In Jesus’ time, the message was verbal. No one had ten copies of scrolls that they kept on their nightstand or coffee table to show those who entered their dwelling how “spiritual” they were. They went to the Temple to learn from the scholars. No one carried a scroll around to read while waiting for the next caravan to come around to take them to the mall to shop. It was all by the word of mouth that people were taught. So when Jesus said, “for those who have ears” He meant everyone that was listening to the sound of His voice. Pay attention – this is important to grasp the understanding you will need to enter the Kingdom. He said the way to the Kingdom is narrow and only a few would enter by the narrow gate.

I was listening to someone speak about the seven churches in Revelation on Sunday morning. I had a few thoughts that came to mind as they were speaking that I took note of and wrote them down. The first thought was: these letters were sent to churches – believers. I know it’s pretty obvious. Jesus wasn’t pointing out flaws or giving encouragement to non-believers. He had a message to give His followers. He had to get them back on track if there were going to fulfill His mission. Jesus gave every church a directive and a promise. Every church was called to repent of their deeds and for those who overcame their “issues” a promise was given. I have a red-letter Bible (meaning that the words that Jesus spoke are printed in red). Every word in this section of Revelation chapters two and three are in read letters. John wrote down what Jesus instructed to the seven churches. After Jesus gave the direction to each church, Jesus ended each letter “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

The message reminded me also when Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them and they were overwhelmed with His glory. Peter being Peter started talking nonsense about building shelters for Moses and Elijah. God interrupted Peter telling them to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). Pay attention, boys! Jesus’ words were important to record. If they were important to write then they must be important to remember and obey. Listen! For the Kingdom of God is near.

Do we get that in this day and time? Are we so far removed from the message that we fail to hear the truth behind it? Would Jesus still give us this message today? The word today should still be repent for the kingdom of God is near. For believers today, the kingdom is already here – the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Even more today, we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. For those who have ears to hear: Pay attention! Repent! Set ourselves apart from the worldly pursuits and pursue holiness! This is not a message we like to hear. But we’re all called to do just that. Our lives matter here on earth to bring glory to Jesus. But it takes a pure heart and a willing spirit and a renewed mind. It’s still the same message today. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying today.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

The Meeting

Do you have favorite Scripture that God has used to move you along your journey? One of mine is the passage found in Acts 10. The passage is about the divine connection made between Peter and Cornelius. One morning during my quiet time, I was contemplating this passage. I wondered about the significance of Peter and Cornelius’ meeting. Peter had to be willing to go where he was forbidden by his law to go. In his vision, God spoke to Peter to eat things that Peter considered as “unclean.” God told Peter He had already made those things clean. By God’s hand, He made all things in heaven and on earth. He declared in Genesis 1:31 all that He had made was very good.

Peter had to remove his old thinking and replace it with a new mindset. Peter was contemplating the meaning of his vision when visitors arrived who would take him to Cornelius. Peter took one step out of his comfort zone into a divine encounter. Peter’s vision was about “unclean” food, but God was giving Peter a new understanding that nothing made by God’s hand is unclean – and that includes all human beings. Jews and Gentiles did not meet. It was against their religion to associate with Gentiles. There was a barrier that God created in the beginning in order to separate the wickedness from His chosen people. And the Jews took that to an extreme. God set aside the Jewish people but that didn’t mean that they were any better than their fellow-man. Their thinking needed to be changed.

Cornelius was already on a path that respected God. He was already worshiping God and giving to the poor. He was already doing the things he knew to do, but it was not complete. He needed further information. I have seen this pattern repeated in Scripture such as the encounter found in Acts 18. Apollos was also in need of further information which was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila. When our understanding isn’t complete, God sends someone to tell the rest of the story. There were divine encounters that furthered the Gospel message. Apollos went on to preach the Gospel throughout his world. Paul mentioned Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12 as one of the preachers that believers “followed” along with Paul and Peter. Apollos must have been significant in moving the Gospel forward.

Back to Cornelius. Cornelius was a military man from the Italian regiment, which means he probably went back to Rome at some point. As I am contemplating these divine encounters, I wondered if he was the first messenger to Rome. When Paul wrote to the Romans, there was already a church planted. Who was the first one to take the message to the Romans? Was it Cornelius? Was this his divine connection with Peter that set up the wave of Christians to that part of the world? I would have to believe this is what took place. God gives us a small story that forms the larger context of taking the message throughout the world. I immediately thought of the Ethiopian eunuch that was encountered by Philip in Acts 9. Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to a specific road for the encounter with a man who would take the Gospel to the continent of Africa. It’s the small stories that take on the larger story of getting the message across – God so loved the world that He sent His Son; not to condemn the world but to save it.

We may feel that we have nothing to share, but God can use us for divine encounters for God’s ultimate glory! Peter heard the voice and was obedient to the task. Philip started out as soon as he heard the voice. As I stated previously, God used this same passage to move me to my current city – it’s now been almost sixteen years ago. Why did God call me here? I do believe I needed further information. I didn’t have the complete story. I haven’t had the divine encounter (that I know of) to take the Gospel message to my world, except through this written word. It’s not much, but if I am faithful to what I am called to do, maybe someone along the way will be changed by it. That’s my prayer anyway.

If I had not made the move, I never would have met the people I was supposed to meet to get me where I needed to be. My old thinking had to be changed. Sometimes it takes a move of God to help us see greater things than we could ever imagine. Never discount what God wants to do through our small obedience in these “little” decisions – it could impact a world! Cornelius, Apollos and Philip are good examples of what a little obedience could do for God’s glory!

The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:22-23, 34-35

Warning Signs

Over the last few months, I have seen a few warnings posted on the door across the street. Each time the warning sign was taken down, but no action was taken (that I could see). Last week, the warnings were not heeded and the Sheriff arrived. My heart hurts for my neighbor. But I am reminded as I sat down to have my quiet time we are given warnings all the time. The Holy Spirit gives us warnings through His promptings. We are given warnings about our health through pains and various symptoms. God warns us about things to come in His word. I am an observant person in most things, but sometimes I just miss the signs. I get distracted by life to really pay attention to what’s going on around me or in me. The only reason I saw the signs going up on my neighbor’s door was because I was outside each time it occurred.

We are told in Scripture to be watchful for the signs that God places around us. Many people I listen to believe we are getting closer to the second coming of Jesus. God says He puts signs in the sky for us to observe. The Holy Spirit helps us and teaches us how to pay attention so that we can learn from these signs. I have been fascinated this past year over “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn. Just the other night, I listened to one of his recent sermons on this coming year – the seventh biblical year. In September, we will be remembering the fourteenth year of 9/11. We as a nation were shaken to our foundations of what we consider our security. We thought we were invincible. We had pride and arrogance that no one could touch us. We were the superpower that no one would dare come against. Soon after it happened, I felt in my spirit that God’s hand had been lifted for that brief time to allow the destruction; to get us to turn to Him. Many did come back to church, but it didn’t “stick.” Life went on. We adjusted to the new normal and moved on.

Since that time almost fourteen years ago, we have fallen away even further. Have we learned from the warning signs of previous years? Will God send another “sign” of His displeasure? This is what Jonathan Cahn is considering in this seventh biblical year of “shemitah” – the shaking, the release of debt year. It’s interesting to hear what he has to say. It’s also interesting to see the signs that are happening in the last few months even. The seventh year began last September. Over the next few months, we will know for sure that God warned us. We could be aware of God’s work by the Holy Spirit. We could pay attention to what’s going on in the world. We could take precautions in our own lives to make sure we have our affairs in order. Or we could just ignore it all and just consider it all hype to sell another book. Time will tell. For me, I don’t want to see signs on my door and do nothing about it. I don’t want the “Sheriff” to come, and I have not been actively preparing the way for Him. I need to be ready for whatever God has in store – good or bad for this coming year. My heart needs repair work done. My life needs to be scrubbed clean of all filth that accumulates over time. And my house needs to be in order. How will you prepare for the coming year? My neighbor got several warnings which were not heeded. Let that not be said of us!

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15

In the Center

In my last newsletter, I sent out a challenge to the readers – to grow in godliness in 2015. I like to encourage them in their health goals. However, I realized most people know how to get healthy, but they just don’t do it. One of the things we need in order to obtain any goals is self-control or discipline. Maybe the area that needs work is our health or maybe its finances or even to help grow in our spiritual life. All these things though require discipline or self-control. Those of us who have the Holy Spirit in us already have everything we need to accomplish our goals. We are given self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. But why don’t we see greater success in our yearly “resolutions?” We give up way before we accomplish many of our goals in life. In my opinion, we just don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to become the men and women God has created us to be.

One of the things I would like to accomplish in 2015 is to memorize scripture. I am terrible in this discipline. I can memorize numbers without really thinking too hard on them, but words are hard for me. I would also like to grow in my spiritual life. Each year I want to see a difference over the previous year. I know I cannot become the woman God has designed me to be staying the same each year. I don’t know if I particularly like how God grows us though. God likes to take us through those difficult places in order to grow. God takes us through them – He does not leave us there! There is always another valley to cross; another storm to conquer; another pit to climb out of. But it’s always with the help of Jesus and His Spirit that gives us a way out.

I want to be in the place God wants me to be in order to grow. As Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) explained in his New Year’s Eve message (on Genesis 26), we need to be able to get into the “flow” of the Holy Spirit. We might have to dig out a few wells to be able to let the water flow again. There may be areas in our lives that block the Holy Spirit from working in us. This is something that needs to be examined closely and let the Holy Spirit reveal those blockages. Last year, I know the Holy Spirit was working on my blocked wells. I had some digging out to do. I am not finished with the process, but I am much further along than I was. I want 2015 to be successful in God’s way. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but this is something that I want Him to reveal to me. I don’t need more information – I need more revelation!

One of the points the Pastor made was “we cannot fulfill our calling in our comfort zone.” We need the challenge in order to grow. Muscles are only developed when they are stressed. Faith is grown when we take risks; when we are in that uncomfortable place. The enemy would love to block the flow of the Holy Spirit so that we will not accomplish what God has in mind for us. We let the enemy win when we fold too easily! I want endurance. I want security in His presence with me in the battles. Do I really want to grow if that means God is going to place me in those difficult battles? Do I really mean what I am asking God for – His will to be done? The amazing thing is when I am finished with the battle, I will see His blessing. I will see God’s glory in it. It will be worth it in the end.

One of the verses that I really want to memorize is Isaiah 41:10. This verse was given to me a few years ago. God was beginning a new path for me, and He gave me this verse. This verse also encouraged my Mom when she was facing her battle with cancer. I know that God has a plan in all that we face in this coming year. And it’s very comforting to know that God goes with us and helps us in the middle of whatever we’re facing. We will be in the center of His flow when the wells are dug out, and the Holy Spirit is working through us in those difficulties – it’s for our good and for God’s glory!

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 41:10

Make Room

My Christmas list wasn’t very long this year. I had a couple of things on there that I really wanted – wanted not needed. In the last couple of days, I have been in the midst of making room for my new stuff. I have had to rethink where I used to have my router to get the best results for my new toy. I had to move a few things around in my kitchen for my latest gadget. It’s a matter of removing as well. Out with the old and in with the new. For many times in my past, I have gotten so much more than I have removed. Over the last few Christmases though, I have learned to let go of things that I no longer need or want. Someone else might like them better, so off they go. I wouldn’t say I was a hoarder by any means, but I always had a problem with letting go because I might need the item again one day. So closets have been full to overflowing, junk draws get more junk, hiding places no longer were hidden.

A few years ago that mentality changed. I like clean spaces with less clutter. I like things in their places. I have found that clutter around my house also flows into my mind and heart. I definitely had a mindset that was not in the clutter free zone. My heart too was full of things that were not honorable or pure. In the last couple of days, I have also been considering this past year – whether I have grown very much in my spiritual life. I realized I didn’t see much in the way of growth. What I see that really happened last year was clearing the space in my heart and mind. Both are less full of the bad stuff and greater room was made for God to work. This past year wasn’t really significant in the amount of work that was done on the outside, but the inside seems to be a bit freer of the junk. I have made room for Jesus by removing the flow of the bad stuff and giving Him more time to input the good stuff.

All this was not possible though unless the Holy Spirit moved in my heart to make the changes. I would not have done it on my own. I like junk. I like junk “food,” junk television, and junk conversations. But none of that honors God. Too much junk really creates a bad environment for growth. And I want to grow. I want to honor Him. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and feel remorse of how I have lived. Life is too precious. Stuff just gets in the way of real growth. I am challenged to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. I need more compassion. I want to be known as a kindhearted, generous person. I want to love others like Jesus commanded us to do. But none of this is possible unless I give Him room to work. This past year, I have seen the movement. I am challenged for 2015 to do more with what He has given me.

I don’t know what 2015 holds, I just know Jesus holds it in the palm of His hand. Nothing comes to me unless the Father allows it for my good – good things and all the bad that will happen next year. I am called to a purpose and He has to get me ready to accomplish all He wants done. That is His purpose in each of us. We have to make room for Him to do His work so that we are ready to finish what has been started. Be prepared this year to be a greater light in the darkness. To Jesus, the glory and honor is His. There is no greater purpose than us serving a loving Savior who is worthy of all our love and sacrifice. My prayer is that all who read this blog will know His love, His sacrifice and His devotion to making us a better light in our communities. May God bless our time here on earth to glorify our Risen Savior! May we all make room for Jesus this next year!

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

In Those Days

These are the opening words to Luke 2 – the Christmas story. In those days, there was political unrest. God’s people were under oppression and felt hopelessness. They had been praying for a new king. There had been prophecies about a king from the line of David who would one day come again. For centuries, the people of God had been under the oppression of other governments, other kings. They were looking for the promised one. In the middle of one of the most powerful kingdoms ever established on the face of the earth, a little baby was born. In the silence of that night, a baby’s life would change everything. A star was born that would guide travelers to the place where they could worship the newborn King. There had been silence for the last four hundred years. God had not spoken. God seemed to be absence from the scene, yet God was working in the powerful kingdom to build roads, to build the infrastructure that would support the message traveling beyond the borders of Israel.

Most of God’s people were looking in the wrong place for salvation. Most of God’s people didn’t have a real clue about God’s plan of redemption. Oh sure, they had prophecies; they had the holy word of the God from their Holy Scripture. But most didn’t understand it. I dare say that the high priest didn’t have a clue much less the average person on the dusty streets of Jerusalem. God had a plan. And they failed to see what God was doing in their midst. We, on the other side of the story, can only shake our heads and wonder why didn’t they understand? Yet, the generations that will come after our generation may actually say the same thing of us. Why didn’t we interpret the signs of God that He is obviously demonstrating to us? He is at work but do we actually see?

The next thing in God’s redemption plan is for Jesus to return. I don’t know God’s timetable – His ways and time is not our own. God has been doing some amazing work to set the stage for the next act. The major thing that has really occurred in the last two thousand years (in my opinion) was the translation of the Bible into a common language. It seems since the day of the translation, men and women have understood and acted upon the Word in greater ways than in the previous thousand or so years since the church was established. Many died for the translation to occur. The religious rulers didn’t want the common man to understand it. They were afraid that their power would diminish and give the power to those who would be faithful with it.

When the Bible was translated, everything changed. People finally read the Word for themselves and were changed by it. They had a new heart and a new spirit. Innovations have further moved the Gospel to mankind. The stage is being set in our own time. Are we paying attention to all that is occurring? We turn a blind eye to the injustices. If you are reading this blog posting then you probably have more than one Bible in your house. We read it but do we take it to heart? Does it change us? The Day of Jesus will come sooner than we think. The Bible teaches that we are supposed to pay attention to the signs and wonders that are occurring. God’s Plan is going to be fulfilled. In these days, we have a responsibility to tell the story of the Glory that came to earth in the form of a baby to redeem those who are far from God. It’s the part we are to play in the Plan. How will they hear if we don’t tell them? How will lives change and hope restored if they don’t know there is One who came to heal them? We have a great treasure in the Word. It’s our responsibility to know what is in it and share what we know. It is also our privilege and joy.

I hope in the future when we look back “in those days” we will see such an overwhelming response to the Gospel it can only be explained because the Glory was revealed in those days!

God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 1:2-5 (NLT)

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