A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts

January 7, 2024

The Importance of God's Word in Unsettling Times

There are so many reasons that God's Word is vital in times of trouble. But before I begin my reasons why, we need to examine the exegesis of what we mean by "God's Word". And naturally, we Christians understand the Bible to be God's Word to us; His expressed [or written] message to mankind. "Word" in Greek is Logos and implies the Divine reason/thought that gives the cosmos its form and order. That's what the Bible means when it says in John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. The "He" in this passage is telling us that Jesus is also "the Word"; He represents and embodies the complete message of God to all men. 

So, here we have the idea that both Jesus and the Bible are God's Word. They are connected because the Bible is literally all about Jesus -- if you diligently read it and study it, you will find Him on every page. Paul gives us the duality of that concept when he says, "I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known"

In other words, Paul is telling Believers that it is his job to make the word (Jesus) known to them as the message from God to mankind. He can accomplish that through teaching from the collection of writings that scholars most commonly accept as written, [beginning with Genesis], around 1400 B.C. until Malachi was written, approximately 450 B.C. -- what we know as the Old Testament. That is the written word of God.

But Paul also wants them to understand that the Word of God encompasses more than what's written on the page. God had been speaking into mankind for centuries, revealing Himself in various ways -- in His creation; through the prophets He called into service; through Scripture [of course], and now the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. But by the time that Paul is teaching this truth, Jesus has been crucified and risen. So, Paul wants it clearly understood that God continues to reveal Himself through the Holy Spirit, who will teach us a deeper understanding of what is written on the pages of Scripture. That concept sees the Word of God, as spiritually revealed, or the Rhema Word.

It is an utterance from God to the heart of the receiver via the Holy Spirit, as in John 14:26: But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like Me who sets you free, He will teach you all things in My name. And He will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you. In addition, we can see the activity of the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Although the Lord is no longer on the earth, He is still the Word and works through the Holy Spirit, who is living and active in us; separating our soul and flesh from our spirit, and discerning the condition of our heart, that we might clearly hear Jesus and obey His commandments.   

To summarize, Logos is a theological term with a clear reference to Jesus as the Word in the Bible. Rhema is a spiritual encounter with the Word, whereby the principles of the Bible are communicated directly to the heart and spirit of the Believer. The problem is that much of the Church doesn't recognize the Rhema Word or hunger for it. And of course, the Rhema Word must coincide with what is revealed about the Logos in the Bible. I do not believe God or Jesus will speak a word to our hearts or spirits that contradicts His Word in the Bible, but I certainly believe They have a desire to illuminate the Word to those who will receive it.

So why have I taken such pains to elucidate the fullness of this term "Word of God"?  It's so that as we traverse these difficult times in the modern world, we know how to engage and bind ourselves to the Word of God, in all its fullness; to remain grounded and connected to our lifeline [both the Bible and Jesus] when confronted with conflict and dangerous situations. It is important to understand how to do that. 

So, I invite you to consider the following passage in the Bible. I think it expresses much better than I can, what I am talking about ... For we did not receive the spirit of this world system but the Spirit of God, so that we might come to understand and experience all that grace has lavished upon us. And we articulate these realities with the words imparted to us by the Spirit and not with the words taught by human wisdom. We join together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-revealed words.  Someone living on an entirely human level rejects the revelations of God’s Spirit, for they make no sense to him. He can’t understand the revelations of the Spirit because they are only discovered by the illumination of the Spirit. Those who live in the Spirit are able to carefully evaluate all things, and they are subject to the scrutiny of no one but God (1 Corinthians 2:12-15, The Passion Translation).  

To us in the 21st Century, this should tell us that there is a valid connection between revelation from God (Spirit-revealed truths) and the Bible (Spirit-revealed words). They are meant to work together to bring us into greater intimacy with the Father and to guide us to not only fulfill our purpose for the Kingdom that Jesus came to establish, but defend it against the spiritual forces that want to obstruct it. And here's an amazing truth that we need to be exceedingly grateful for ... the heroes of the Old Testament had access to the Holy Spirit when God sent Him upon them, but we have been blessed that the Holy Spirit is with us always, living inside us! 

I recently read an interesting article on kingdom citizens.org. Consider that Daniel, in his service to God, did not have the Holy Spirit's presence in him. But he did make obedience to God's Word his fundamental guide. Even when King Darius decreed that no man could pray to any other god but him, Daniel continued to remain obedient to God's command that "You shall have no other gods before Me", by praying towards Jerusalem three times a day. He is an example that no conflict, no law or decree can change the truth of God's Word. Daniel presents a pretty good challenge to the 21st Century believer. If he was willing to stake his life on following God's commands -- no matter what -- and without the Holy Spirit as guide and counselor inside him, how much more should we be able to stand and occupy in times of trouble? 

In the New Testament, the Disciples Peter and John also show us who and what should take priority in our lives. Just like Daniel, they ran up against man-made laws; laws that forbid them to teach about Jesus. They had a decision to make! Would they choose man's law over the truth they knew of the Word -- that He had died for our sins and rose to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede on our behalf? Or would they continue to witness about the Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and reveals the power of the Gospel? "We ought to obey God rather than men" was their answer -- not to be rebellious and sow discord and chaos into the society, but to remain obedient to God's law, when man's law went against it.

As our spirits become increasingly aware that conflict is on the rise and may become unavoidable, I know it will not be easy. In our flesh, the Enemy will attack us with fear, doubt, anxiety, and unbelief. But I want to encourage you to make the Word of God your foundation in the midst of the uncertainty, confusion, and disorder. We're already seeing, that in so many areas, wrong is now right; bad is now good. Like Daniel and Peter and John, ask yourself, What does God call me to do in this situation, according to the Bible? What am I hearing from the Holy Spirit?  When you know the Word, both in Scripture form, and in your personal, intimate relationship with Jesus the Word, you will find that you have a foundation to stand on; one that strengthens you, gives you strategies, and provides stability in unsettling times. We will overcome!

#understandingtheword #whatislogosword #whatisrhemaword #kingdomcitizens #obeyGodorobeyman #holyspiritinus #holyspiritinoldtestament #holyspirit  #weoughttoobeyGod #Jesusistheword #revelationofthebible #spiritrevealedtruth #danielsobedienceinthebible

Isaiah 55:11    "So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it".



June 17, 2022

Treasure the Power and the Presence of the Holy Spirit!


I have spoken before about the awakening in my heart to a hunger to know more of the Holy Spirit. As I have stated, I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but there came a time [within the last ten years] when I experienced a huge shift in my theology and relationship with the Father and Jesus and I came to understand the full personality and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't that I didn't believe in the Holy Spirit, it was just that in my 30+ years as a Christian I had been given no guidance for a personal knowledge or experience of Him as His own separate and equal Being. It had always been presented to me that He was an extension of Jesus; a substitute or understudy, so to speak. But as I began receiving revelation from the Word, I could see and discern that He was God Himself, just as Jesus was. And with that knowledge came the desire to know Him and experience Him, as the Bible tells me I can.

To be honest, when those revelations came, I was a bit jealous of other Christians who had grown up in denominations where the presence of the Holy Spirit was vibrant and active, and a relationship with Him was customary and familiar. And I was surprised that as I sought to grow in my knowledge of Him and began to develop an intimacy with Him, I also began to see a distancing or separation from some of my other fellow Christians. I was told that the kind of experiences I was looking for weren't possible for today's Believers; that the power and fire that rained down on the First Century Believers was only to jump-start the Church; that the closing of the Canon has left us with centuries of faith in the saving grace of Jesus, and that's all we need. But is that really the case?

That kind of thinking has shown me just how misunderstood the Person of the Holy Spirit is in the 21st Century Church. And let me make a statement here that is not meant to offend, but I feel I must clarify for me. There are times that I distinguish "the Church" from "the Body of Christ", and this is one of those times. For the sake of this discussion, the Church represents those Believers who, like the Pharisees, are clinging tightly to their belief systems and the rules of their particular form of theology. If their denomination holds to the doctrine of cessationism [the gifts of the Holy Spirit were for the establishment of the Church and ceased with the deaths of the apostles], then their interest in developing a relationship with the Holy Spirit will be minimal. But for the Body of Christ, who walk in Jesus's ways as their model, there is a recognition of [and reliance on] the Holy Spirit to convey the thoughts and will of the Father as it pertains to our purpose in His Kingdom on earth. 

For me, the Holy Spirit is that friend that has only your best interests at heart; the One that prays for you, intercedes for you, and whose heart burns to guide you into fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. Because Jesus remains in Heaven, for now, and the Father sits resolutely and powerfully on His throne, the Holy Spirit commits to be with you through, as prophetic minister Graham Cooke says, "every circumstance of life; of warfare, of crisis, and of opportunity". The Holy Spirit wants to see you succeed and overcome; to fulfill all that God has planned for you! He will be with you in good times and bad. He is the One who will not leave you nor forsake you. 

And so, I now find myself talking to Holy Spirit as often as I do Jesus because I know that He is the conduit -- the instrument God uses to protect Jesus's transmission of His will for my life. And I can trust Him. Heaven's message to me will not be corrupted or perverted when I lean on His truth, and not my own understanding. In fact, He has shown me that my understanding is sometimes wrong, and He's not afraid to correct me and discipline me. He desires to help me in my weakness, and encourage me in my strengths. He is with me when my soul is in the depth of despair, and celebrates with me when my spirit bows down in humble adoration before the throne of my God. His Presence is the life force of my faith.

But there is another aspect of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life that I have had to learn, and which I want to pass on to you to encourage you. I love those times when I am overwhelmed with His presence; experiencing evidence of His presence as it manifests physically in my body; or I hear a word in my mind that I know is Him. And I rejoice in those glorious times! These times are a reminder that, without a doubt, He is ever-present and always exists with me. But there are also those times that my soul and spirit don't sense His presence at all. In other words, I don't have any particular physical or spiritual sensation that He is with me. In simpler terms, I don't "feel" Him. And that's when I have to simply trust the promise that He will never leave me. That's when I have to decide ... "Do I believe in the promises of the Word? Are they mine, or are they just empty hope"? That's a determination each of us must come to if we are to walk in confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

So, I will not be tempted to doubt the Holy Spirit. And I will not limit Him to a ritualistic or denominational doctrine. I will welcome the fruit of His presence in my life -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I will ask for all He has to offer. I want to be filled up to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I want to experience manifestations of His Presence and I won't limit displays of His power in me as I surrender to God's calling on my life. I will seek and ask for the fullness of the Spirit in my ministry and in the gifts He bestows upon me. I will be subject to the Spirit's teachings and His wisdom. And above all else, I will testify that Jesus is the Lord of my life, having been empowered to speak of His saving power through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I praise God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and I welcome Him as the means of God's gifts, signs, wonders, miracles and revelation in my life and this Age. Holy Spirit, You are welcome here!

2 Timothy 1:14    Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious Truth that has been entrusted to you.

April 5, 2022

The Importance of Hosting the Presence of The Holy Spirit In These Last Days

A very good friend reminded me of the excellent video by Bill Johnson, titled "The Holy Spirit Is In You". I heard this video when it first came out, about 6 years ago, and it was perfect timing then, and is still as relevant today. Mark and I had just been activated in our anointing to partner with Jesus in an Inner Healing Ministry, and it was so important that we understand how pivotal the role of the Holy Spirit would be in our ability to carry out our assignment from the Lord.

First of all, let me tell you that I had no prior grasp or comprehension of needing a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Throughout my conventional Church experience, I only heard about praying to Jesus or God; rarely hearing about seeking a relationship with them, let alone being taught that they desired it! What I heard from the pulpit [or Sunday School class] was usually all about asking for what God or Jesus could do for me. But when the Lord arranged for me to to have the opportunity to accept an assignment to work with Him to "set the captives free", I was introduced to the Person of the Holy Spirit, who enhanced my relationship with God [in all His fullness] and beyond measure!

And now, six years later, I am so glad to rediscover the important messages of that video. I want to share what I have learned about stewarding and manifesting the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I want to encourage everyone to pursue it. I will begin by saying that what I am going to write is my own understanding of Biblical precepts, and I do not expect everyone to agree with me. But I believe I have been shown a legitimate facet of God's Truth. I do not propose that I have complete knowledge on the subject, but I am willing to state that I believe this is what God has shown me and spoken to my spirit. 

So, let me begin by saying that, as Believers, my husband and I regard the stewardship and manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a sacred responsibility. In calling us to His service in His Inner Healing ministry, God has given us a special assignment to be good stewards of the power of the Holy Spirit in us by overseeing and dispensing that power in accordance with His desires for the lives of others. We are to be a picture of what it is to partner with the Father to see His love, mercy, compassion and grace to defeat the strategies of the devil to kill, steal and destroy lives -- just as Jesus did! 

And I'm going to borrow from that Bill Johnson video by agreeing that God loves to see "private victories in secret places". That is the perfect description of my experience during an Inner Sealing session with a person, as I see the presence of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit revealed in what can only be described as a supernatural encounter. There is a spiritual occurrence/experience of the Presence and the Power, which are openly evident [and visible] as the Beloved encounters the manifestation of the Savior and the Comforter in their life. And it is that much more precious when it is a "private victory in the secret places" of those lives. The power of the Presence of the Holy Spirit does not have to be "for the world". By that, I mean that it is not necessary that it be declared to all the world to prove that we are good stewards of what He has assigned us. We do not need to draw attention to our stewardship ... whether it be in giving to the needy, in demonstrating how fervently we pray or worship, or when partnering with Jesus to bring His victory and healing to a wounded soul or spirit. That is not to say that public worship and prayer are wrong! God loves to be glorified!

But I believe the Father knows the true intentions and motivations of our heart, and He is more pleased when we do what Jesus did. Yes, He spoke to thousands at the Sermon on the Mount, and to crowds in every city as He traveled throughout Galilee and Judea. But I believe we have lost the recognition that Jesus also focused on personal revival in the lives of individuals. And that is how I believe the "revival" the Church is prophesying in these Last Days will be accomplished. I am more interested in stewarding revival in individual lives, by introducing people to the saving power of Jesus Christ and the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit in them. Once they submit and surrender to that consuming fire, they are a force to be reckoned with on this earth, and God will equip them to share and spread that manifestation "as they go".

I do not believe Global Revival will happen by the Holy Spirit using His power to make it happen. It will be individuals stewarding His power [in them] by being willing to step into that power they possess and having an effect in the world. I do not believe it is the Holy Spirit's role to respond to our prayers by changing the world for us! That is not properly using our stewardship! 

I will admit that I spent many years in my faith not understanding [or stewarding] the importance of hosting the Holy Spirit. It wasn't until I surrendered to the fullness of the Godhead [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] that I understood what hosting the Spirit was all about. I had to learn how to express His power in me to affect personal revival in the lives of those who came to our ministry for Inner Healing. I knew it wasn't me who could impact a change in lives, but the power of the Holy Spirit in me who could touch and heal a broken heart, wounded soul, or tormented spirit. It is He who transforms a life; changes someone's perspective to what the Father desires; and creates in someone a new birth and a new heart. I am just a caretaker and steward of His ministry to God's beloved. 

But we MUST be willing to accept that stewardship and take its responsibilities seriously. We must not quench or grieve the Holy Spirit! In today's world, not quenching the Spirit takes boldness. Because of our inclination towards "political correctness" and the advent of the "cancel culture", many Christians are unwilling to stand up for Biblical principles or God's truth because of the backlash that comes with it. I remember the first time the Holy Spirit prompted me to say something in a Bible study that I knew would cause conflict. I tried to bargain with Him that He would not want me to be divisive, but I clearly heard in my spirit, "I want them to know this Truth! Do not quench the Truth"! And I believe that because I was bold enough to declare His message to the group, that God determined I could be trusted with His Word and He moved me further into my assignment.

And I have to say that I identify with what the Holy Spirit feels when He is grieved. When I see the sin in a person's life [whether self-inflicted or imposed upon them by the sins of another], I am saddened to see God's purpose in [and for] their life stifled. And now, more than ever, as we see the character of the world deteriorating, it is important that Christians understand the importance of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He is not to be put on display as a spectacle or a distraction; or for self-aggrandizement (promoting oneself as being powerful or important). We need the Holy Spirit in the world right now to counter the growing evil of the Enemy, and to comfort us; to counsel, convict, guide, and empower us to overcome and endure. And we must manifest [demonstrate] His Power in us to the rest of the world, so that as many as possible can be Saved, Empowered, and Transferred into the Kingdom of God! He makes possible what the world wants to convince us is impossible! Whatever it is that God has called you to in this life, you can not do it without the Holy Spirit. May His Presence be a growing reality in the lives of all who call themselves Christians! It's is time to host His power in our lives -- the rest of the world needs to see Him in us!

Acts 1:8    But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

February 11, 2022

A Heavenly Reminder

Do you ever have that spiritual discernment when you know that God is tapping you on the shoulder and reminding you of something that He has disclosed to you long before? It's as if He's saying, "Do not forget what My Holy Spirit imparted to you; all revelation is for My purpose in due time". In fact, the Bible confirmed this for me in 2 Peter 1:19-21 ... So we have the prophetic word made more certain. You do well to pay [close] attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and light breaks through the gloom and the morning star arises in your hearts. But understand this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of or comes from one’s own [personal or special] interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 

So, I sit here today, amazed at the work of the Holy Spirit, connecting my time in prayer yesterday with four Godly women, to an anonymous comment on a post I was inspired to write nearly ten years ago to the day. Our prayer time yesterday was focused on crying out to the Lord in repentance for how far our nation has fallen from its original purpose in God's plan for the nations. We enjoined our Father to intercede on behalf of His remnant who still recognize who this nation is in the Spirit. We declared that we would not submit to the Enemy's agenda or strategies to destroy the holy covenant made at the dawn of this nation's discovery, nor the profound faith the Founding Fathers had in Divine Providence to deliver our new country of America from what seemed like certain defeat at the hands of the British Empire. 

We admitted that we were not blind to the sins of our nation or our fellow countrymen, and we were not naive regarding the unholy covenants and intrigue in which those placed in authority over us have engaged. But we confessed our belief in our God to restore and reestablish covenant with His righteous remnant. We asked for the Blood of Jesus to purify the land and cleanse the hearts of the wicked, returning it all back to God's original design for our Republic. We upheld the fervent prayers of our historical forefathers as they sought to establish what had never been accomplished before ... a land born for personal liberty and freedom; the same tenets that Jesus proclaimed as His purpose: setting the captives free; healing the blind to see; and giving liberty to the oppressed and downtrodden. We asked that our captivity in modern-day Babylon be ended, and we be allowed to receive His blessings of prosperity, hope, and a redeemed future.

As I drove home from that prayerful time, my spirit was refreshed, but I knew we could not let up. We have committed to consistently meet to hear from God on how we are to execute our assignments in His Kingdom and strategize as His spiritual army of Heavenly representatives on earth. I was reminiscing how far down this path we have come since the Lord spoke to me about writing this blog. He asked me to be obedient to share what I heard Him say in the times of disquiet and, yes, even despair in my soul. So, imagine my amazement when I checked my blog to see if there were any comments I needed to respond to, and I received this comment on a post titled, Jeremiah 2:20-21. The anonymous reader wrote these three concise sentences: "Ten years have passed since this posting and things are worse. God will not be mocked. He will always have the last Word".

I knew it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to revisit what He inspired me to write so long ago, and it is a message for all Americans. So, I wish to implore you with the same appeal as the Angel of the Lord spoke to George Washington in the middle of a bitter winter in 1777, "Son of the Republic, look and learn".  So, now, Sons and Daughters of this Republic and the Most High God, I invite you to read the following ten-year-old prophecy from the Lord that I have been reminded to share...

From March 4, 2012 ... Although God prophesied to the nation of Israel about the coming judgments due to their disobedience to Him, I sense that our own nation has fallen away from recognizing the part that Divine Providence played in the founding of this great nation.  Indeed, George Washington, himself, acknowledged this concept when he said in his First Inaugural Address, "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States.  Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency."

Alas, I am afraid, as Jeremiah 2:20-21 charges, that we have "broken off this yoke and tore off our bonds" to this "invisible hand".  We have removed Him from our schools, our town squares, our houses of Law, and are increasingly diminishing His true voice, even in our churches.  Within the halls of our Government, and throughout our Literature and the Arts, we have declared, "I will not serve You!"  

We have sacrificed our morals, values and principles for the sake of tolerance, greed, and popularity. Indeed, like a prostitute, we have cheapened and perverted who we were as a nation; we have abandoned the true meaning of "equality" and "liberty" and lowered the standards in which we were rooted. 

Divine Providence blessed us with a unique opportunity....we were planted "like a choice vine"; the first nation in the history of the world founded on the principle that "all men are created equal".  We have traded self-sufficiency and liberty for entitlements and servitude.  Is it really that hard to imagine God questioning, "How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?"  Can you deny that God has every reason to pull up such a profane and dishonorable root?  

As in the case of the nation of Israel, God will not be patient forever.  It is time to recognize our decline and set things back on the path towards reclaiming our heritage.  In the words of President George Washington, in his First Inaugural Speech, "The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."  

That is what I wrote then; it is not a prophecy that was imagined by my own mind or will; I did not not write my own interpretation of what I heard the Holy Spirit say, but just transcribed what I heard in my spirit on that day. And I have dutifully recorded a Scripturally sound comment from someone who stumbled upon a ten-year old post. Is that anonymous reader giving us a word of knowledge from God, Himself? I don't pretend to know that answer. But I do know that the comment speaks of God's truth. He will not be mocked. We have been created and placed here, in the greatest land on earth, in this particular time of history, to represent God's purpose in His plan of redemption. Those seeking to pervert His purpose and power can try to convince themselves that they have the better plan, but God will have the last Word! 

So, please .... wherever you are; whether you are able to gather in numbers large or small, please join our small group of praying women to ask Jesus to show us the way to reclaim our nation for His Glory! Let us be eyewitnesses to His miracles of the restoration of our land, the reinstitution of righteous government, and the realignment of men's hearts with the Father's. It's not too late! Maybe that's why I received that "anonymous" comment ...

Jeremiah 2:20-21     Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; You said, 'I will not serve you'! Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree, you lay down as a prostitute. I had planted you like a choice vine -- of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?   


October 7, 2021

The Tension Between Scriptural Knowledge & Spiritual Experience

This is an important topic to me. As Christians become more enlightened to the role they play in the approaching End Times, it is urgent that we understand just how critical our relationship to God through Scripture and Spirit really are. But, you will notice that I used the word "tension" when mentioning the two. I did so because I often find that my fellow Believers fall on one side or the other when it comes to the best way "to know" God's will. And this often causes friction, or tension, when discussing our role in carrying out that will. 

Let me explain further ... Many Christians are adherents of "Sola Scriptura", the theological doctrine which holds that the Bible is the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice. The spiritual aspects of our faith are given little or no attention. Then there's the faction of Christians who uphold that since God is all about relationship, the best way to hear from Him [as to what His will is] is for us to transcend this material world and sit at the foot of the throne to hear from Him directly. I often find myself trying to explain my position that it's not either/or, but both, which are essential for the full experience of our faith walk. One viewpoint is not more correct than the other. In fact, if you don't utilize both sources, then it is my opinion that you are not receiving the full counsel of God.

As representatives of Jesus on earth, we must find the balance and the proper exercise of both methods of growing our relationship with our Creator. Speaking for myself, my relationship with God developed in what felt like a natural progression: I began reading the Word, admittedly from a very surface level at first. But by just taking that step, it was an open door for the Holy Spirit to begin instilling a strong desire to know and learn more. That quickened my mind [and soul], and as I pressed into God more [through His Word], I learned that I could have a spiritual experience with Him. I could actually hear His will for me, just as Jesus heard what to say and speak from the Father ... What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me (John 12:49-50).  From there, as I dove deeper into the Word, I began to seek out the experiences that were being highlighted by the Holy Spirit; my faith grew to the ability to engage my spirit with the Spirit of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I could not have done this without first, exploring the Word with ever-increasing fervor.

So, I am often concerned when I hear Christians advocating for more "going in the spirit" experiences, while minimizing the importance of Scripture for discerning the legitimacy of those "experiences". And I am equally uneasy when I hear Believers deny or criticize our ability to have that intimate relationship with God in the spirit, declaring them to be "un-Biblical". The Bible says that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). To me, this verse validates that we can hear from God [which is a spiritual experience], but it starts with seeking Him through His Word, the Bible. Encouraging Christians [especially immature Christians] to explore the spiritual realms without a solid foundational understanding of who God is from His Word, invites the potential for those Believers to "get smoked".  And likewise, discouraging mature Christians from enjoying our status as co-heirs with Christ, while being seated with Him in the Heavenly realms, is to be like the Pharisees, shutting the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces (Matthew 23:13).

It all comes together for me when I consider how easily the Enemy can keep us confused and in conflict. The Bible is so rich in the knowledge of the Nature and Character of God! Studying it can be a spiritual experience in itself. Yet some Christians only long for the "sensual" encounters they have access to as spiritual sons and daughters. Just consider the foundational belief of our Christian faith, as stated in Ephesians 2:4-6, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... We cannot possibly understand the fullness of all that this passage teaches us without first, studying the Bible, and then experiencing the spiritual effects! 

If we tried to go in the spirit where we are seated with Jesus, without the knowledge of the history of all God did to make that experience possible for us, then I submit we could not possibly comprehend the fullness of who we are. And in the end, for me, that is the most important aspect of both Biblical knowledge and Spiritual experience -- to fully know who we are; why we're here on the earth at this time in history; and what Jehovah Elohim, our Creator, expects from us. It is more important, now than ever, that we understand that "all of creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons [and daughters] of God ... to be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God". That will indeed by a spiritual encounter worth experiencing! But the impact of that experience will be lessened if we do not have the knowledge of all that it has cost God to bring that about! May we embrace the fullness of our relationship with God, and know Him in all the ways possible!

Ephesians 3:19    And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

February 4, 2021

Learning To Trust My Human Spirit's Connection to God's Spirit

I was recently asked to participate in an 8-week exploration of the relationship between my human spirit and God's Spirit. I know, to many of you, that might be an unfamiliar [or even uncomfortable] turn of phrase. If, in your history of being born as a new creation in Christ, you were not taught that we are a three-part being (body, soul, and spirit), then you might be unaware that you even possess a human spirit. I know I did not have that knowledge for many years in my relationship with Christ. In fact, without that knowledge, I would submit to you that it is difficult to have a real relationship with the One who saved us. 

You might have been raised in a church that didn't differentiate between soul or spirit; and you might even believe that they are the same. But Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "May your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Here, Scripture makes it clear that they are separate parts of us. And we know that God says we are made in His image, and the actual form of His Being is Spirit. So there is a component of our design that is spirit, and was made to resemble Him. But what does that look like for us? How does that figure into our relationship with our Father in Heaven? And what is the purpose and reason for our human spirit? 

Well, I will tell you that it should be the desire of all humankind to mature and develop in their human spirit so that we can think and act righteously on behalf of our Creator and our Savior. But we can't do it on our own! I'm not a theologian, so excuse my simple explanation, but I believe that when we are conceived in the flesh, there is a spark at conception in which God's Divine Spirit (with a capital "S") is transferred to our mother's fertilized egg and our human spirit becomes part of our DNA and is present as we are born into the world. But because we are born into sin, we don't have any experience or relationship with our human spirit because it is separated from God's Divine Spirit. 

But when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, our human spirit is regenerated/revived/renewed as it mingles with God's Spirit. That is when we are literally "reborn" as a true spirit being, with the potential to grow into an intimate relationship with God as we mature in our faith. Now we are able to hear from Him and experience Him in ways that those who don't have that connection will never know! I want you to take Romans 8:16 to heart and experience how your spirit responds when you read, For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as He whispers into our innermost being [spirit], “You are God’s beloved child!” That should encourage and embolden us as we come to the knowledge that we are no longer separated from our Heavenly Father but are now joined to the Lord as one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)! 

For me, the revelation that my spirit is now connected to and resides with Jesus's Spirit [as one], comes with the realization that I am not to become lazy, if you will, in my spirit; but I am to exercise it and use it to stay joined to Him in all things. This is a very simplistic way to describe this truth, but it's like exercising our physical muscles. If we don't use them, then we lose our flexibility and our ability to move in our environment with ease and strength; our physical health suffers. If we don't exercise our spirit's union with God's Spirit, then we lose that connection with Him in the spiritual realm, and our power and authority [in being one with Him] becomes weaker and less able to battle against the devil's spiritual attacks. But just like physical exercise, it must become a habit -- such a natural part of our everyday existence that we don't feel alive if we aren't experiencing it.  

I will also tell you that for a long time I tried to compare the experiences of my spirit with the Lord's Spirit to the experiences of other Christians. Please do not fall pray to that temptation from the devil! Somehow, I had believed the lie that the connection between my spirit and the Lord's had to be dramatic and physically impactful and powerfully exhibited. Now, it most certainly can be, but it doesn't have to meet any particular standard or follow a specific pattern. Remember, Jesus is our model, and the Bible never tells us that when Jesus's human spirit was connected to the Father's Spirit, that it was always earth-shattering. In fact, I believe that Jesus simply came to know the Father's heart and was able to communicate, spirit to Spirit, in simple and uncomplicated ways. In fact, it was such a natural part of their relationship, that I believe it became indistinguishable from the simple act of breathing or drinking or eating -- we need it to survive! His Spirit is life-giving to our spirit!

So, once I came to the truth that I simply need to give my spirit permission to experience a connection that can be as easy as calling out His Name, I was able to experience Him responding to my cry and learn to trust that He was always available. And it changed the way I related to Him! He was no longer that somewhat remote, towering, superhuman, unapproachable hero that I felt unworthy to be bothering with my human troubles. He was my brother, my confidante, my protector, my friend, my rescuer, my Savior and my King! He is all I need in this life and eternally.  Whether my spirit prays in my personal time with Him, or I praise Him in a corporate gathering; whether I'm reading His Word out loud as I exalt Him, or singing and dancing in response to the joy my spirit is experiencing in His presence; and whether I'm thanking Him for all He's done in my life, or crying out for more of Him ... I have learned to trust that His Spirit is connected to mine -- even when I don't get an immediate [or any] response. It's simply the knowing that there is a secure and certain connection between my spirit and His Spirit that defines who I am and whose I am. 

So, if you don't think you have that trusted connection, do what I did. Ask for it! Ask to experience what it's like to connect your human spirit with our Lord's Spirit. And the beautiful thing is you get three-for-one! You have access to the Father's Spirit and His Holy Spirit, and you are one with all of them, as they are one with each other. You don't have to go through what the world is experiencing, feeling disconnected and adrift; at the whim of the devil's strategies to keep you separated from the most incredibly Divine relationship that any human being could ever desire. Learn to trust your spirit. The connection was made when you accepted Christ as your Savior. Now experience all that this connection has to offer you! 

Galatians 6:18   Finally my beloved ones—may the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, be flowing in your spirit. So shall it be! 


December 11, 2019

Jesus's Gift of the Holy Spirit


     At this time of year, we Christians contemplate the gift of the Son of God to mankind. It still blows my mind that God would send a part of Himself to this earth to deliver me from the penalty of eternal death. That precious baby in the manger spent the next 30 years preparing for his short-lived ministry of three years which would change the world forever.
     But even though the Son of God only walked the earth for 33 years, He left us a gift that in many ways was His greatest act for mankind: the gift of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I know that Eternal Life is unquestionably a gift that is beyond compare, and one that will keep on giving for eternity. But note that I said the gift of the Holy Spirit was an act for mankind.  For the time that I am on this earth, the Holy Spirit is my source of power to fulfill my assignment for the Kingdom.
     Yes, we each have a purpose and an assignment. And it surpasses our salvation experience. Have you ever wondered if accepting Jesus as your Savior is the sole intention of God for your life? How many have thought that after coming to that glorious decision, you receive Christ, and then automatically begin a new life filled with a new purpose and a new way to live in this world? Are you disappointed that life still seems the same in so many ways? And how many Christians do you know who still struggle, even though they have heard it preached a dozen times or more that they are "a new creation", but have no evidence of that reality in their lives?
     I think that sometimes we believe that the importance of Jesus is summed up in His life, ministry, death, and resurrection. That seems to be where many in the Body of Christ stop in their understanding of what He has done for them. But I urge you to read John, Chapter 14, because what Jesus has to say to His disciples is just as relevant for us [and perhaps even more so, since I believe the Body of Christ has lost some of the magnitude and importance of His message].
     In this chapter, Jesus is informing the Disciples that He will soon be leaving them to return to His Father in Heaven, stressing the truth that everything He has taught them was not by His own authority, but the Father's, who dwelt in Him. Furthermore the works [miracles] Jesus had done were evidence of the power [and works] of the Father [in Jesus].
     Then Jesus says something that every Christian should rejoice in: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." Can you comprehend that Jesus is telling us that because we believe in Him as our Savior, we will do the works that He did, and it will be possible for the same reason it was possible for Him -- because the power of the Father is in us [to do His works]? How can that be? We have the ability to do the works of the Father -- the same works Jesus did -- because our Lord tells us that He will send a Helper to be with us forever.
    Let me continue ... Jesus says this Helper is "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." Of course, that Helper is the Holy Spirit, which is the very breath of the Father. So, just like Jesus, we have the power of the Father dwelling in us to do His works. Then Jesus tells them, "I will not leave you as orphans" And here is where I think that we 21st Century believers run into a stumbling block. I believe we often act like orphans. And here is why ...
     In John 14 Jesus tells the Disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." I will tell you that I am astounded at the number of Christians who do not know the Word; who do not read, let alone study and know their Bible. We act like orphans who don't know we are part of God's Kingdom family even though we are saved, which gives us the right to enter the Kingdom as sons and daughters of the King! (Read John 3:5).
     Have you ever tried to give your theological view to another Christian that, based on your salvation, you are now an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven; stationed here to represent your King's way of living, and have been given an assignment to continue His works on the earth to defeat the works of the devil and reclaim dominion of the earth as God intended in Genesis? Well, I have, and the question I usually get is, "Can you show me where it says that in the Bible"? At that moment, I know they have not read the Word for themselves, nor have they received revelation from the Holy Spirit. And you don't have to be a biblical scholar, having spent years studying the Scriptures. Just read the Book of Matthew and it should open the eyes of your heart to see the truth of the Kingdom and our purpose! I do not put myself forward as someone special or anointed; I am just an obedient follower of Christ who one day woke up with a hunger to know, for myself, what the Bible could reveal to me. And I do not credit my human mind, but the mind and the heart of the Holy Spirit to show me what I could not discern on my own.
     How many of you, like me, sat in churches for years and were never encouraged to read the Word for ourselves or to seek a relationship with the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls "the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Is the Body of Christ willing to be taught? Do they hunger to know and remember all that Jesus has said to us through His Word? Sometimes I wonder. Because the concept of the Kingdom is not that hard to discover if you spend anytime at all with the Holy Spirit in the Bible! And just because I can't give you Chapter and verse that I'm an ambassador of the Kingdom, etc., does not mean that my theological view of the Kingdom and my position and responsibilities to my King (stated above) are not the truth. 
     So, I will state Proverbs 25:2 again, as I have so many times before, It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out. That's Chapter and verse. but are they going to accept that word to mean that it is incumbent upon us to not only read the Word, But how many will seek the counsel and direction from the Holy Spirit to connect the dots in all of Scripture to receive greater revelation than just what we've heard someone else preach or teach? For instance, to even comprehend this verse in Proverbs it means we have to understand that we are "kings and priests" as is written in Revelation 5:10, And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth (KJV).
     In summary, the Lord had three years to spend with the Disciples to teach them all the Father wanted them to know and to do. Knowing that He would be crucified, resurrected, and returning to the Father, Jesus made sure to let His Disciples know that He would not leave them alone; that He would send the Holy Spirit to help them continue God's plan to dwell in them and give them the power to do His works and defeat the devil, whom Jesus called "the ruler of the world" in John 14:30. Nothing has changed. He still sends the Holy Spirit to those who are called His disciples. It's the greatest gift He could give us this side of Eternity. And we have all of our lives to receive this teaching!
     I pray that the Body of Christ will celebrate not only the birth of the Christ child this season, but will seek greater understanding of the Kingdom of God through the Word of our Lord. It is my prayer that all who love Jesus will embrace the gift of the authority and power of God [in us] to grow us in the wisdom and the knowledge of the height, the breadth, the width, the depth and the immeasurable revelation of the Holy Spirit to guide us to seek His Kingdom. It's more than we've thought, folks. Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. There is more for us to do in this life! Do not put a limit on your purpose based on your denominational doctrines, religious mindsets, or the fear that you might be deceived. You have an assignment! And if you are seeking the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to reveal it according to the righteous desires of your heart. Trust Him and receive Jesus's gift to faithful men on the earth. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Acts 1:8     But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

January 11, 2019

Maintenance or Transformation?

     As Christians, we have decisions to make. What are we going to believe is probably the biggest one that will influence our faith walk. I don't mean to trivialize the gift of salvation or the Gospel message -- I am assuming that we are all in agreement that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, come in the flesh to sacrifice His life for ours and to fulfill God's desire to be reconciled with us for eternity. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian must believe in this doctrine.
     But as we [hopefully] mature in our faith, there are often times that we Christians find ourselves in disagreement over interpretation or revelation from the Bible. Ideally, I would hope that we could agree to disagree [in love] while still being willing to have an open dialogue and share in what we discern the Word and the Spirit are telling us.
     That is where determining what we believe is so important to our journey with Jesus in faith. We must always use the Bible as our "go to" source; it is the Word of God; it is a picture of His Nature. And we cannot discern Him by cherry-picking verses. Rather, we are better served by stepping back and getting the "big picture".
     There are so many ways that man has attempted to define God by his [man's] own standards. But, by seeking Him in His Word, it is indisputable that He is Spirit; He is Light; He is Love; and in both His love and judgment, He is a Consuming Fire. And if I am made in His image, then I should be desiring to become all those things, too.
     Speaking for myself, I spent too many years satisfied in accepting the tenets and doctrines of the denomination I belonged to. Not that they were wrong, or I have rejected them! I was just so limited in my understanding of who God was and His purpose for my life. I just didn't spend time in the Word, trying to meet God in what the inspired writers recorded. I was locked into "maintenance" mode, if you will, rather than pursuing God to reveal more of Himself and transform my life.
     Perhaps I didn't feel qualified to seek more since I had come to my faith late in life. But as I write this, I am struck with the thought that the Bible is just that .... the place that we meet God; where we are introduced to Him. But if I truly want to know Him, doesn't that require that I go a step or two further -- ask Him questions, seek more knowledge about Him, and develop a real relationship with Him? And the Bible is where we start to do that! It is where we gain insight about God and what He desires our relationship to be. It is where we get insight from men who shared their encounters with Him and their growth in relationship and knowledge. Remember, they didn't have a carefully constructed canon to base their faith upon; their knowledge came from experience with God! And it transformed their lives! I want the same thing! Is that wrong?
     I know there are Christians who fear straying too far from accepted [or strict] interpretations of the Bible. I respect that. I never want my human mind to determine God's "big picture". But I also don't want to diminish Him or confine Him to a box called "religion". I want to allow my spirit to receive knowledge and counsel from the Holy Spirit, since it is the Spirit that reveals God to us. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Colossians. He wrote to them to put off the old self and put on the new; that they were to seek the things from above where Christ was, seated at the right hand of the Father. They were to set their minds on things from above, not on things of this earth. They were to put to death everything that had become their idol, and everything that separated them from God. They were to "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (Colossians 3:10).
     But have some of us made idols of our religious doctrines? At the same time, I would also caution us not to be tempted by every new "prophet" or philosophy or teaching that makes sense to our rational minds. The Bible is to be discerned in the spirit; relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths [that God wants imparted] to grow us into understanding and becoming more like Him.
     Peter encourages the followers of Christ with a request that "grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord". He goes on to say, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence". And how are grace and peace to be multiplied? By the empowerment of the Holy Spirit! Paul confirms this when he writes to the Corinthians: " For we did not receive the spirit of this world system but the Spirit of God, so that we might come to understand and experience all that grace has lavished upon us. And we articulate these realities with the words imparted to us by the Spirit and not with the words taught by human wisdom. We join together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-revealed words. Someone living on an entirely human level rejects the revelations of God’s Spirit, for they make no sense to him. He can’t understand the revelations of the Spirit because they are only discovered by the illumination of the Spirit. Those who live in the Spirit are able to carefully evaluate all things, and they are subject to the scrutiny of no one but GodFor who has ever intimately known the mind of the Lord Yahweh well enough to become His counselor? Christ has, and we possess Christ’s perceptions."
     Why is it so hard for some Christians to think that Believers today can also join together Spirit-revealed truths with the Spirit-revealed Word? I recognize that there are other Christians [whom I know have their hearts sealed with the Holy Spirit] who will not agree with me that there is more to God's Word than what is on the written page. I also recognize that they will judge me wrong for perceiving something different than what they have been taught. And please do not misunderstand me ... I do not hold myself more righteous or greater in the Kingdom of God. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the pages of the Bible, granting them greater understanding of His supernatural purpose for their life. I would never force my understanding upon another Christian, respecting their journey and where they are with the Holy Spirit. But neither do I accept condemnation for moving forward in the Spirit's revelations to my spirit. When I read the Bible, I know I am reading a supernatural Book and I expect to receive supernatural revelations from the Holy Spirit.
     One of the gifts of the Spirit is Wisdom. This is the Holy Spirit acting upon our faculty of reasoning and our free will; instilling within us an attraction to the divine nature of God. But here's where our human nature comes in. We can choose to discern [from our spirit and heart, where the Holy Spirit resides] to respond to that attraction and calling, or we can fear being deceived; not trusting our spirit to discern the invitation of the Spirit to grow in understanding. That is a choice each one of us must make! And it saddens me that it can cause separation within the Body of Christ. 
     But the bottom line is this: Knowledge and understanding of God are a huge part of faith in Him. It is incumbent upon us to know who He is if we are to become like Him. To me, that means seeking counsel and wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit to reveal God's supernatural intention of His Word. Remember, we have access to the Logos Word, which is the constant, written word of God; the Bible. We learn about Him and His ways through strictly interpreting this written word. And then there is the Rhema Word, which I can best describe as God personally speaking to us through the Holy Spirit's revelation of the written word. We benefit from receiving the Rhema word in our hearts as a consequence of reading the written word with our minds. 
      Both are crucial to our Christian lives, and God's "living" word always corresponds to His written word. I believe the more time we spend reading and praying in the Logos word, our hearts will be opened and our spirits will be exercised in the Rhema Word. It is my prayer that all Christians would be open to the possibility that there is growth in understanding God and His Word. We may not always agree, but if we have the Holy Spirit in us there is nothing to fear. He will guide us and counsel us. And I believe He delights in seeing us pursue more intimate knowledge and understanding of God. If you decide that you are satisfied in your level of knowledge, then I will support you, just as I would hope you would encourage me to receive more Spirit-revealed truth, if I so choose. And I join Peter in praying that grace and peace would be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.

Philippians 1:9    And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment] ...  

December 28, 2018

We Have Spiritual Gifts To Unwrap

     The rush of the Christmas season has passed, we've all over-eaten, and stacks of presents are everywhere. The joy of watching your loved ones unwrapping their gifts with joy can be the highlight of the holiday. Can you imagine how pleased it makes the Holy Spirit when we open ourselves up to receiving the gifts He has for us?  It is important for both the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ that we believe, first of all, that we have gifts to be used; and secondly, that we earnestly desire to receive them all.
     I say this, because I know of some Christians who have expressed that they don't think they've been given any gifts, and others who think that desiring gifts is somehow exalting themselves. I personally do not believe that either of these suppositions is true. To begin with, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 is one of our "go to" Biblical destinations to find out what the Word says about our gifts. Verse one confronts an obvious stumbling block among the believers in the Church of Corinth. Various translations record Paul saying this about the spiritual gifts: "I don't want you to be confused about the gifts -- or misinformed -- or uninformed". So this was a very important topic in the First Century Church! So should it be today.
     Paul continues in what he wants the Corinthians to understand ... "Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same". Paul goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit distributes these various empowering gifts to different people so that the Body of Christ [when considered as a whole] can expand the influence of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
      There is to be no competition or envy among believers concerning the gifts because we all have a vital part to play in the Kingdom, and the gifts are the divine power source from God that confirms His Word and establishes His righteousness on the earth.  When we properly use the gifts imparted to us, the Body of Christ is equipped to change the world. You see, the imparted gifts are not for us, they are for the benefit of others. Yet, today, there seems to be such controversy and much discord among the Body regarding the pursuit of the gifts. 
     If someone is operating in their gift(s) -- yes, one may be empowered with more than one gift by the Holy Spirit -- I have seen that person ostracized and excluded from the Body because they don't resemble everyone else. I think there are times we have forgotten this important advice from Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:19: "A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be a body at all!" In other words, we should support each other's differences and be thankful for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in bestowing the impartations from God. Furthermore, we should be using our own divine power source to encourage others. Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to "earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts)". 
     There is a beautiful picture of this encouragement in Acts 13 where inspired prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch heard this from the Holy Spirit: "I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me. Now, release them to go and fulfill it.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them off. Here, we see the Church working with the Holy Spirit to equip and send believers out into the world to share the Word of God and His Kingdom message. 
     Now, the modern Church does send missionaries into the world to share the Gospel. And, yes, many of them are endowed with spiritual gifts. And I daresay that these gifts of revelation, wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and tongues are well-used and well-received among unbelievers who are seeing the manifestation of the Most High God for the first time.
     So, why is it so hard to get the Western Church to embrace the desire and pursuit of these divine gifts? Why are they so neglected, or even misused? What builds the Church up more as the representative of God's kingdom -- denying His empowerment, or selflessly strengthening and encouraging the Body to manifest His power and glory?
     I can only speak for myself, but as I have grown in my relationship with Jesus, I have also sought more of the Holy Spirit and God's empowerment through Him. Because He lives in me, I have access to all the gifts, and I have no problem saying I earnestly desire and pursue all of them! I know that these gifts provide supernatural power and ability to demonstrate God to those I come in contact with. I want to drink deeply of the Spirit [and cooperate with Him] to help unlock the potential of the gifts in others. Just as on Christmas morning, the anticipation of unwrapping a pile of gifts is something we look forward to. It's time for the Church to apply the same expectancy towards the spiritual gifts. Let us desire their distribution, activation and operation in our lives!

1 Peter 4:10    As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. 

December 22, 2018

Where Is The Holy Spirit In Your Life?

     I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but there was a huge shift in my theology and relationship with the Father and Jesus when I came to understand the full personality and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't that I didn't believe in the Holy Spirit, it was just that in my 30+ years as a Christian I had been given no guidance for a personal knowledge or experience of Him as His own separate and equal Being. It had always been presented to me that He was an extension of Jesus; a substitute or understudy, so to speak. But as I began receiving revelation from the Word, I could see and intuit that He was God Himself, just as Jesus was. And with that knowledge came the desire to know Him and experience Him, as the Bible tells me I can.
     But here's the thing... as that began to happen, I also began to see a distancing or separation from some of my fellow Christians. I was told that the kind of experiences I was looking for weren't possible for today's Believers; that the power and fire that rained down on the First Century Believers was only to jump-start the Church; that the closing of the Canon has left us with centuries of faith in the saving grace of Jesus, so we don't need those manifestations. But is that really the case?
     Here is what seems so evident to me: God birthed the Church at Pentecost and poured out His Holy Spirit upon it. He baptized it in the Holy Spirit, filled it with the Spirit, and anointed it with the Spirit. In case you need Biblical confirmation of this, here it is: Just before Jesus ascends into Heaven, he gives His disciples (who would start His Church) the following instructions ...  "Don't leave Jerusalem... in a few days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5)". He also told them, "But I promise you this -- the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power" (Acts 1:8). Then in Acts 2:4, Paul tells us "They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues -- empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!". The Modern Church will tell you that Jesus is only proclaiming these promises for those twelve men.
     Yet, it seems to me that the Bible is telling us that when the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of God -- is present there are evidences of His power. Centuries of faith should not have changed this truth! God doesn't change! If there is no proof or confirmation that the Holy Spirit is moving in power and fullness, can we say He is present and active? The filling of the Holy Spirit is not just a theological term that expresses "faith in Jesus," it is a real experience that transforms one's life inwardly (activates your spirit), but also equips you and anoints you outwardly for the ministry God has called you to. There is very real power that comes when the Holy Spirit is present in a person or a Church's life.
      I would also suggest that the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is not a one-time occurrence -- whether in a person or the Body of Christ. It is something that is meant to last and grow. "Revivals" are great for stirring the souls and spirits of people to seek that encounter with the Holy Spirit, but our experiences are not to be temporary events. The out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is to be continuously and increasingly evident.
     But how many Christians today believe this? Why is the experience of the First Century disciples not the goal of us Twenty-First Century disciples? Why is it so easy for Believers today to dismiss the importance of experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? If we can embrace the idea that these fleshly bodies are now the Temple where Jesus resides, why can we not believe Paul when he tells us in Ephesians 2:22, "This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, His dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!" Paul is not speaking to the twelve disciples here. He is speaking to believers in Christ. Furthermore, he is teaching that there should be a transformation in our lives through the power of the Spirit living in us. That means the power is active, not passive!! There should be evidence of His presence in our lives!
     At times, I fear we are not too far removed from the Christian heresy of the 4th Century called the Pneumatomachian heresy. Those who believed in this false teaching denied the full divinity of the Holy Spirit and taught that He was a created being, subject to the Father and the Son. In fact,
Pneumatomachians were called “opponents of the Spirit” or “Spirit fighters.” Sadly, today there are Churches that feel dry, dead, and empty of the Spirit; as if He has left the building. Speaking in tongues, healing, or prophesying and revelation, which were all evidences of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Early Church, are denied and even denounced as false Christianity. 
     What makes more sense to me is that as the teaching of the power of the Holy Spirit in us (which Paul clearly confirms) is removed from the Church, the Spirit departs from where He is not wanted. You see, when the Holy Spirit is welcomed and present in the Body of Christ, there is a peace and righteousness in God's House -- both in the church building and in the individual believer. He cleanses the Temple of the Lord; convicting us of our sin and empowering us to walk in the same  power and effectiveness that Jesus had when He was anointed of the Holy Spirit; giving each of us our calling/ministry to continue Jesus's work. 
     When the Body of Christ attempts to limit the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the effects upon the Church are real -- Divine revelation and illumination of Scripture is replaced with [and limited to] denominational doctrine; we seek other teachers instead of receiving heavenly insight from the Holy Spirit. In addition, our prayer life becomes centered in our flesh instead of flowing out of the anointing and power of the Spirit. We must ask ourselves if we are yielding to the Spirit and inspired by Him when we pray, or if our prayers emanate from our minds and soul.
     I can only speak for myself, but I don't want to be an empty vessel. I want to be filled up to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I want to experience manifestations of His Presence and I won't limit displays of His power in me as I surrender to God's calling on my life. I will seek and ask for the fullness of the Spirit in my ministry and in the gifts He bestows upon me. I will be subject to the Spirit's teachings and His wisdom. And above all else, I will testify that Jesus is the Lord of my life, having been empowered to speak of His saving power through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I praise God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and I welcome Him as the means of God's gifts, signs, wonders, miracles and revelation in my life and this Age. Holy Spirit, You are welcome here!

Ephesians 3:20-21    Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power [of the Holy Spirit] at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

August 12, 2018

Our Journey To Redemption

     If you have been following my blog over the last couple of weeks, you can probably tell that the Holy Spirit is guiding me to an expanded belief system. Having been led to a Deliverance Ministry by God, I have been challenged to see the human condition from His perspective, and to see the absolute necessity for Christians to understand the "spiritual mechanics" of how the Kingdom of Darkness tries to hinder our interface with the Kingdom of Light. But anyone whom the Lord has commissioned to get involved with Deliverance Ministry knows the inevitable arguments that come from the Body of Christ ... Christians can't have a demon; We have the Holy Spirit in us, and a demon can't occupy the same territory; Deliverance ministry is not for today. Jesus trained the disciples to do it, but that all ended when they died ... or any of a number of variations of these rationalizations.
     For a long time, I felt that I could adequately explain why I know that Mark and I have been called to this ministry, and my testimony went something like this: Yes, I agree that once we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us and He cannot be defiled, so our spirit cannot be possessed by a demon, but both our body and our soul can be oppressed by a demon. I would then ask the following questions to the Doubter: How many saved Christians suffer from a sudden migraine headache, or herniated disks, or cancer? The answer I get is invariably some form of the following, "God is being glorified through that Christian’s infirmity and He wants to humble them so that they come closer to Him in their affliction. These suffering Christians just need more faith and prayer. God will fix them if it's His will".  I would then explain that God doesn't choose to hurt us so He can love us. These are examples of demonic powers oppressing the body.
     I would then ask how many saved Christians suffer from addiction to pornography, alcohol, or drugs? How many are involved in adulterous affairs or choose to engage in unethical business practices? How many saved Christians suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, or emotions that are out of control? Again the response I usually get is, "They just need to draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to them" or the easier way out of this dilemma, "Then they probably weren't saved in the first place". It's as if they want to see the Father as a medicine cabinet God with a magic pill called Faith that makes all our hurts go away. So I would try to show them that these are examples of our soul -- our mind, our will, and our emotions -- being tormented by demonic forces. I was satisfied with the fact that our spirits couldn't be touched.
     Now before I go on, I want everyone to understand that these situations DO NOT mean that a Christian is not saved! But it does point to the very real possibility that their bodies and souls and spirits may be in torment, and guess what? That is not how God designed us to be! He wants us to draw waters of joy from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3). It is never His desire or will that we be in pain, whether physical or spiritual! If at this point, anyone remains unmoved in their theological position, I would just ask them to consider the following: Do you believe the Bible when it says Jesus cast out demons? If the answer is yes, my next question is, "Do you think that when Jesus ascended to Heaven, that the demons said, 'Well, we might as well leave, too' "? If their answer is no, then my final inquiry is, "Then, do you think our Savior would leave us here for the last 2,000 years subject to these demons, without any way to fight back?" That train of thought almost always gives a Christian pause, and they will give Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance at least a modicum of consideration.
     In the past, I have always assured them their spirits were immune to any kind of defilement because, yes, our hearts were owned by the Holy Spirit. But God has been showing me that there is more to this spirit part of the equation. I am still holding onto the position that a true, born-again Christian cannot be possessed by a demon, but I believe God is showing me that our body, soul, AND spirit can be tormented, corrupted, and yes, even defiled by Satan's workers in the spirit realm.
     Now, before everyone goes screaming from the room, I want to be clear AGAIN that this does not mean that salvation has been lost. Let me say that in another way ... The Holy Spirit resides in us and will never leave us as He continually bears with us while we remain in our sinful ways. That's just where we are in the redemptive timeline of our journey. We continue to be cleansed by the Living Water of Christ [in us] as we continue to live in this foul world which inevitably soils us.
     Ephesians 4:30 tells us that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and therefore, some Christians take this to mean that our spirits cannot be defiled in our present state. But I like the way the Passion Translation gives us God's Truth: The Holy Spirit of God has sealed you in Jesus Christ until you experience your full salvation. So never grieve the Spirit of God or take for granted his holy influence in your life. God is Holy and cannot, Himself, be invested in our sin. But in His wisdom and love for us, He first has Christ bear our sin on the Cross, and then deposits the Holy Spirit in us to continue bearing with us until the day we are fully redeemed and saved at Christ's reappearance. It is that second sentence that we need to fully digest ... So never grieve the Spirit of God or take for granted his holy influence in your life. If we have been sealed [and therefore unable to be defiled], how is it possible to grieve the Holy Spirit after being sealed?
     I say all this because it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that we Christians can be defiled (contaminated; polluted; poisoned) in our daily lives as Satan attempts to steal, kill, and destroy parts of our bodies, ours souls and our spirits. Any part of us can become broken, even when the Holy Spirit resides in us. That is why Jesus sent Him; to counsel us, comfort us, advocate for us, intercede for us, and strengthen us -- to come alongside us and help us in those times we are being tormented by the Enemy. As I stated in my previous blog, Jesus longs to occupy the throne of our heart, having complete dominion over it, sharing it with no one else. And He places the Holy Spirit in the "Holy of Holies" portion of our heart, where we cannot be defiled. BUT, if Jesus does not own our whole heart, it becomes a battleground. The heart is the place where the Holy Spirit and our spirit commune in this earthly realm. If any part of our heart is not fully surrendered to Jesus, our spirit can be influenced in wrong ways.
     I do not think it is too difficult for Christians to understand that our hearts can be broken and shattered, as well as our bodies. But how many of us recognize that our spirits can be broken, too? I believe Psalm 51 shows the extent to which we can be broken in body, soul, and spirit. It is the cry of David to the Lord after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. I urge you to take the time to click on the link I have provided and read it. David asks for his soul and body to be restored: Make me hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Then he pleads for his spirit: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me... Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit... My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.  
     Hopefully, I have made the case that the condition of our heart affects the health of our spirit. There is a connection between our heart and spirit as exemplified in Ezekiel 36:26, And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you; and in Psalm 34:18, The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. If the heart is broken or defiled, it crushes the human spirit. The only sacrifice that is acceptable to God is a broken spirit and a contrite heart, with the desire to be renewed and restored to a right standing with Him through surrender to Christ. That is our righteousness.
    So, I just want to leave you with this thought.... Do not doubt your salvation if you find your soul, body, or spirit shattered. It is not a question of your faith in the work of the Cross. I am just sharing what the Lord is showing me... the Holy Spirit residing in my heart is the guarantee of my salvation. But remember, our salvation is a progressive journey. I don't think I have ever heard it expressed better than on the website called Mainsail Ministries: The Holy Spirit is a permanent resident within us until Jesus comes again. We are sealed as if inserted into a Holy-Spirit-envelope that is addressed to Jesus. When He comes again to finish the work of redemption, we will no longer need this sealing. Why not? Because we will have Jesus Himself…again. 
     Why do we think that Jesus and the Holy Spirit continue to intercede for us, if it is not because we are transitioning into the image of Christ in our ongoing journey to reach the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness]. Until then, we are going to stumble and fall prey to the tactics of the Enemy to steal, kill and destroy our bodies, souls, and spirits. I believe that the Body of Christ needs to come into a fuller relationship with their human spirits. We tend to live out of our body and soul, while ignoring the spirit part of us, which is how Jesus and Holy Spirit commune with us! How can we ever expect to be free from the torments of the Enemy if our spirits are not encountering and experiencing Jesus from a clean heart? This redemptive journey is not an easy one from the flesh/soul standpoint; but if we can get in touch with our spirits the road is easier as we learn to walk in the path Jesus modeled; spirit to Spirit.

1 Peter 5:8-9    Be well balanced and always alert, because your enemy, the devil, roams around incessantly, like a roaring lion looking for its prey to devour. Take a decisive stand against him and resist his every attack with strong, vigorous faith. For you know that your believing brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing the same kinds of troubles you endure.