Time with Him

It’s been a whirlwind ride! We are in our new location, preparing for the ministry the Lord spoke to Jeff (my husband). It will be “My Father’s Place,” for this home belonged to his beloved stepfather and is his heavenly Father’s place. It has already become a place of prayer, just as the Lord spoke to Jeff. And it will be a place of healing for pastors who are hurting and/or wondering about their call.

The location is physically beautiful, but we are seeking for the Lord’s presence to be powerful here –– that’s much more important! And we must have His wisdom in order to minister to the pastors who come to us. We have no words to heal them, but His Word and His words through us will do it.

We appreciate your prayers during our transition to this new ministry.

Flowing with the Spirit

Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the away, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. (NASB)

Flowing with God’s Spirit is like  floating down a perfectly calm river in an inner tube, relaxed and carefree. I’m completely at rest when I’m moving in the Spirit and hearing His voice, carefree as the current of the river of God takes me where He wills. When I fall into the trap of  “helping God,” I’m no longer trusting that His current will take me where He wants me to be. I’ve gotten out of the inner tube and am trying to swim upriver. It’s tiring and stressful to try to swim against the current!

My goal is to continually keep that “inner tube” imagery  before me. When I feel some stress coming on, I immediately cease, get back into my inner tube, and lie back with my feet dangling over the side. Ahhh, trusting Him is so much easier, and in doing so, I am worshiping Him! I’m in my inner tube today –– want to join me?

Led by the Spirit

Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
What does it mean to be “led by the Spirit?” Jesus said it was better for His disciples that He go so that He could send the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7). It sounds to me like Jesus thought it was essential for His disciples to have the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is better than having Christ walk beside me? How can that be?

If I invite the Holy Spirit to be in control of my life, He will fill me with God’s love and God’s power. Rather than simply being physically beside the God the Son, His Spirit now indwells me. That means my own human nature that indwelt me is replaced by Christ’s nature, through the Holy Spirit. And that was much better for the disciples, as the Book of Acts bears witness. It is the same today, for me and you. When the Spirit comes in, all strife ceases, all pride ceases, all self-serving ceases. Self-giving, sacrificial love is manifested. What a wonderful gift from the Lord, poured out at Pentecost and poured out today! How today’s church would be changed if we would ask our Father for the Holy Spirit!

Jesus is no longer just “my model” for living. Rather, His nature has come in, by the Holy Spirit, to make an permanent inward change in my heart. Now I am able to be loyal to God just as a wife is loyal to her husband. Now I am able to love God with His love, and love the world with His love. The Holy Spirit has poured out agape in my heart, even to overflowing .  Now I am able to have intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son. That change of nature and fellowship leads to Christlikeness in me, more and more.

It’s all for His glory, so that by His very Spirit in me, people cannot deny the reality of Christ and their need for the salvation the Father has so graciously provided through Jesus. Some may run away when they see their sin in His light, but some will come to Him. This is God’s design for us. This is  the purpose of Christianity. It is not like the rest of the world’s religions. It is God coming to dwell in us and transform us into His likeness!

What about you? Are you led by the Spirit? Has your nature been changed to the nature of Christ? Are you intimately related to Christ? Are you like Him in this world? If not, you have missed it. But there is still time. Get on your face before Him now and ask Him to fill you with His nature, His love, His power, His Holy Spirit.

Resurrection Power

Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

Oh, how I want you to know Jesus –– not just to “know about” Him but to know Him intimately, and to know the power of His resurrection! There is a life for you, a life of walking in the power of God. Many Christians don’t believe that power is for today, but it certainly was for the churches to whom Paul wrote. It happened to me on November 1, 2001. Baptized in the Holy Spirit, I shook all over, spoke in an unknown language in praise to God and was filled with God’s actual love and His blessed Holy Spirit. It was granted to me so I can glorify God and Christ in my life. Do you love God? Then I know you will ask, seek and knock until you receive His glorious gift, too.

In Ephesians 1 and 3, Paul prays for this power to come upon those in the church at Ephesus. It is like no other, because it comes from the very throne of God by way of Jesus Christ, worked in and through us by the Holy Spirit. The Ephesians were very good at determining false doctrines (see Revelation 2) but in the midst of all of their good works, they had lost their first love. They didn’t go on with Jesus, and they were in danger of losing their place as one of His churches.

There is a greater life for you, here and now. It’s Christ’s eternal life in you, abundantly (John 10:10). It’s His love poured out in your heart until it overflows and spills out on everyone around you. It’s power over sin and Satan.

How does it come? By faith in the Holy One of God. Jesus said to His believing followers, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (see Luke 11:13). You see? It happens after you believe in Christ. Those who call God “Father” are to ask for His Holy Spirit. Pray and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith.

But don’t forget the rest of Philippians 3:10. In knowing the power of His resurrection, be prepared to know His suffering. You will be persecuted by religious ones. And be prepared to die to your own desires, just as Jesus died to His. He lived to do the will of God, and that meant the death of all but His will. But this death to self that you must die leads to freedom and His resurrection power. Is He worth it? How could a gift from God be worthless? I never heard Paul complain once. And I won’t either –– it is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Spiritual Anorexia

Hebrews 2:1-3a (NASB) For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

Anorexia nervosa is a terrible disease. Imagine having such a false self-image that you believe you’re over-nourished when you’re actually starving. Imagine refusing invitations to eat because you think you’ll be healthier without it! Now think of the church in America. Is she spiritually anorexic?

Well, if I’m going to diagnose, I have to know the symptoms of spiritual anorexia. Jesus Christ describes the first symptom, lack of love, in Matthew 22:1-5 and Luke 14: 16-24. Guests are invited to a supper. They ask to be excused because of other concerns: farms, businesses, lands, oxen and family require their attention. The temporal (that which is here today and gone tomorrow) is considered more important than the eternal. They neglect their salvation, making light of it and being careless about it rather than treasuring it and being diligent, earnest, zealous and careful regarding it.  So Jesus tells them they shall not partake of the supper.

The second symptom is a heart hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). The writer of Hebrews tells us that we shall not enter God’s rest if our hearts are hardened (Hebrews 3:8-11). How does sin harden believers’ hearts? They continue in a sin until it no longer seems like sin to them. Their hearts are calloused over, hardened to the point where they no longer hear the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance. Repentance from sin is rarely mentioned in most churches in America. You’re human, after all. You can’t help sinning. But Jesus says He came to set you free from sin (John 8:31-36) so you’re no longer a slave to it.

What’s the cure spiritual anorexia? What’s the cure for lack of love or a hardened heart? Gathering to encourage and exhort (Hebrews 3:13). Preaching in America today often includes no exhortation, no holding the Word of God as a plumb line against each believer, no challenge to the status quo. Christians aren’t encouraged to get right with God. Challenging by speaking the truth in love leads belivers to a healthy fear that they may lack God’s rest (Heberews 4:1). That births a desire for things which accompany salvation and help us to hold it fast (Hebrews 6:9-12). The believer seeks the inner cleansing of heart described in Hebrews 10:22, his heart is filled with God’s love and he jumps at the opportunity to sup with Christ.

In Revelation 3:14-20, Christ speaks to the church at Laodicea. He tells the church (not the lost) that if anyone will let Him in, He will come in and sup with them and they with Him. He’s knocking, church. Don’t think you’re well when you’re starving. Don’t refuse Christ’s invitation. Eat and live!

The Desires of Your Heart

Psalm 37:4-6 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.”

What are the desires of your heart? Take some time to think about them, and then write them down.

Done? OK. Now, let me talk with you about this Scripture. Do you know what it means to “delight” in the Lord? Is it just being happy with Him, and dancing around? Can He be Someone you have a crush on? Is that what it means?

The original Hebrew word for “delight” is anog, and it means “to be soft or pliable.” So to delight yourself in the Lord is to make yourself soft and pliable for Him. Then He will give you the desires of your heart. You say, What? I can’t stay hard and stubborn? Nope. No soft and pliable, no desires given.

Why? If you’re hard and stubborn, you’re not submitted to God. If you’re not submitted to God, He will simply let you continue on in your hardness and stubbornness. He will not force you into the image of His Son. But if you insist on remaining hard and stubborn, watch out. He might not recognize you when you meet Him.

But if you delight in Him, He will mold and shape you into the image of Jesus Christ. That is God’s purpose for your life. You are designed to be a God container. Jesus is to shine from you, and that means there’s work to be done in your heart.

That’s where the molding and shaping comes in. It’s fun, once you allow Him to do a little heart surgery, removing your sin nature (your natural tendency to rebel against God) and replacing it with Christ’s nature. As you watch Christ being formed in you, a revelation occurs –– His character beats yours by a country mile.

Let’s not forget the rest of these verses, though. You have a bit more to do to before the Lord can give you the desires of your heart.

There’s this “commit your way to the Lord” stuff. That means you make the decision to follow God’s commands (i.e., the Ten Commandments). You repent from your sinful ways, turning away from them and turning away from the world. This is another act of submission to God, and it is essential in order for you to be saved. No repentance, no salvation.

The Ten Commandments are harder than they first appear. Look at Matthew 5, 6 and 7, commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, to see the Son of God’s interpretation of His Father’s Commands.

Christ summed up the Ten in two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do the former, and you’ll automatically do the first four of the Ten. Do the latter, and you will automatically do the last six. The key is love –– not human love, but God’s love poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit. Then you can love God with all that’s in you, and love even your orneriest neighbor.

Finally, there’s trusting in Him. That means you go to Him as your refuge, and you are confident in Him. Recall Psalm 91. To “dwell in the shelter of the Most High,” we must be settled down with Him, as in marriage. That’s what “dwell” means in Hebrew. That’s definitely an issue of submission. He requires you to be intimate with Him, spiritually.

Oh, the plans He has for you, if you will submit to Him! He’ll bring forth your righteousness, so it shines forth like light. You will be the light of the world, just as Jesus described His twelve disciples. And your judgment (His verdict that You are His) will shine from you like the noonday.

Do you feel like you’re not shining now? Do what the Word says, and be blessed of God. He’ll give you the desires of your heart. Oh, by the way, I almost forgot something. When you make yourself soft and pliable in His hands, you’ll find your desires and His desires match. Glory!

Right? Wrong.

Luke 11:13 (NASB) “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

I was talking with a Christian friend during a Bible study the other night. He told us all that he was presented with an opportunity to sin and he didn’t do it. He was pretty proud of himself.

I asked him why he didn’t sin. He said, “I don’t need that stuff.”

“Do you mean you chose not to do it because you knew it was wrong?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “It wasn’t right to do what my friend suggested.”

“It’s good that you know right from wrong,” I replied. “Everyone should know that.”

I leaned in. “Did you ever think of the Lord, while you were making your decision about whether to sin?”

“No,” he said nervously.

“Well, then, you did a right thing for the wrong reason,” I said. “Anyone can do the right thing. There are many non-Christians who are good persons, doing right things, but they’re not heaven-bound.”

I continued, “Here’s what makes a Christian heaven bound: He has God’s love in his heart. He doesn’t sin because he loves God with God’s love. It’s been poured out in his heart by the Holy Spirit. He hates sin the same way God hates sin. He loves Jesus Christ; therefore, he obeys Him.”

“If he’s Spirit-filled, I said, “his sin nature (inborn rebellion against God) has been replaced with Christ’s nature and his heart is filled to overflowing with God’s love. Sin no longer has dominion over him.”

My Christian friend volunteered to pray at the end of the Bible study. He said, “Thank You, Lord, for a very enlightening study tonight . . .” While he prepared to don his coat and go out into the cold night, I saw that he was still processing what I’d said. I pray it works in his heart.

If a professing Christian doesn’t have God’s love in his heart, he won’t hate sin like God does. The result? When his “right/wrong indicator” is working, he’ll do pretty well. But if that goes on the fritz, overwhelmed by his own sin nature, he’ll fall into sin. God sighs and shakes His head sadly. Another one has hurt the heart of God.

Our Lord isn’t One who will say, “Be perfect as I am perfect,” and then say, “Gotcha! You can’t do it!” When Jesus Christ was glorified, the Holy Spirit was given. Each of us must cry out for the Holy Spirit individually, after we already know God as our heavenly Father. “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Receive the Holy Spirit into your heart, and love Him with His love. Be filled with the Spirit, and you’ll do right for the right reason.