Category Archives: The Holy Spirit

Am I ‘mentally ill’?

John 10-27 My Sheep Hear My Voice green

I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness about Me, but you do not believe because you are not part of My flock.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  John 10:25-27

I don’t know if you have followed the flap in the media this week regarding the comments made on the ABC show “The View” about Vice President Mike Pence.  Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman said that the most dangerous person, the one that we should really be afraid of, is the Vice President.    She said that he not only talks to Jesus, but Pence also says things because he believes that Jesus talks to him and tells him to say them.

Joy Behar then said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus.  It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you…that’s called mental illness.”  John 10 makes it pretty clear that there is a division between those who will hear Jesus’ voice and those who won’t.  Those who don’t are not a part of His flock.  The group of Jews around Jesus had been arguing with Him and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”  He answered, “I told you, and you do not believe.  You don’t believe because you aren’t a part of My flock.”

In John 15:18-23 Jesus went on to warn His followers that ‘the world’ was going to hate them.  They hated Him, they were going to hate them.  The same thing applies to us.  The same spirit of the world is here today.  It drives the media, politics, and just about everything around us.  And it hates Jesus and it hates followers of Jesus.

And for sure, if we start talking about hearing Jesus talking to us, they aren’t going to get it.  Not even most believers get it.  I’m not even I understand His voice most days.  The voice of Jesus is one of the most wonderful, most precious and most confusing things in my Christian life.  If I were to start my sentences with things like, “Jesus told me to give you this money,” or “Jesus told me to quit my job, so I’m quitting,” the words ‘mentally ill’ would soon trail behind me as well.

I like what JD Greear writes in his book, Jesus Continued: “Such experiences (like God throwing us a curveball, or God moving in our spirit is not on the time table we thought it was) should teach us to hold our perception of what the Holy Spirit is ‘telling us’ loosely,” on pg. 166.  I can sense that God is telling me something, or leading me to make certain decisions, or pressing something on my heart.  All of these have happened to me in varying degrees of intensity.

There are times when I know from the Holy Spirit pressing inside of me that I need to say with boldness that it wasn’t just a coincidence that I knew to give somebody something specific, or to call at the right time, etc. but that God led me to do it.  To tell that to a nonChristian at work takes a risk.  And there are times when I know that God is speaking that I can’t deny that it could be Him and I need to act on it.

I am i the middle of sensing that God is moving me through His Holy Spirit to uproot me from my current full time job to a possible ministry position.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  It is not just a debate for “The View” between scoffers or those who genuinely can’t understand this talk about hearing from God.  It is about my husband and I listening to God and obeying Him.

In Hebrews 11 it says that Abraham left without knowing where he was going.  I’d like it to be a little more clear than that.  I am trusting Psalm 32:8-9 that promises (and warns), I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.  

And no, I am not mentally ill.  I am one of Jesus’ sheep.

 


Prayer in the Spirit…

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet...Revelation 1:10prayer

“I was in the Spirit.”  Have you taken notice of those five words much, or have you just sped over them?  I’ve been thinking about them in the last week or so.  I’ve been thinking about prayer, and pondering how much I really just scratch the surface of what God has for me and for the rest of us.  In Ephesians 6:18, at the end of the armor of God, Paul writes: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…”

I haven’t heard maybe any sermons on what praying in the Spirit means.  But I’ve read some things about it from guys from the 1700’s, and one guy from the early 1900’s.  Could it be that all of our television, Internet and video games have wrecked our depth to have that be a part of the normal Christian experience?

JD Greear writes about it in his book Jesus Continued.  So it isn’t all just guys that are dead that talk about praying in the Spirit.  He writes, “Our greatest power in prayer occurs when our prayers are prompted by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  Prayers that start in Heaven are heard by Heaven. (pg. 153)”

For me, the ‘in the Spirit’ promptings come one of two ways.  The first is through dreams.  It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but when it does, God gets my attention.  I’ll give an example.  I had a dream that a friend from church was covered in road rash.  She came and the ladies from church took her into this prayer cabin and totally covered her in prayer and she came out without any rash at all.  She was just fine.  I woke up, laid there and prayed for her for quite awhile, not knowing exactly what was going on.  Whatever it was, I knew it had to be rough.

The next day she was supposed to be at work and she wasn’t there.  Someone  mentioned she was at her husband’s court with him.  He was a doctor and was getting sued for some bogus malpractice suit.  It hit me that was what the dream was about, so I began praying fervently again for both of them.  At the end of the week we had a women’s gathering at our church and she described how those two days were the worst days of her life.  I would describe the prompting that God gave me through the dream as ‘praying in the Spirit,’ as there was no other way that I would have known how to pray.  He gave me a picture of what she was going through with the road rash.

The other way that God has worked for me is to give me burdens that will not go away until I have prayed them away.  When Scott O’Grady from the USA was shot down and behind enemy lines in Bosnia for eight days back in 1995, I couldn’t stop praying for him.  I must have prayed for him at least 8-10 times a day.  This was before 24 hour news, so I just kept praying!  When the news came that he was rescued, I cried.  When I read his book, Return With Honor, he tells of how  he laid still for hours at a time because captors were feet away from him.  At one point God gave him a vision of a “choir” of thousands of people from all around the world praying for him.  I was in that choir!

Jeremiah 33:3 says, Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932) said, “Prayer in the Spirit is the energized prayer of the righteous man that is of great force.  There is passion in the praying that prevails.  God never keeps hot hearts waiting.  ‘When you search for Me with all your heart I will be found by you.’  Jeremiah 29:13-14  Prayer that is energized by the Spirit brings power, turn ordinary mortals into people of power.  It brings fire.  It brings life.  It brings God.”

I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me.  Habakkuk 2:1

headphones-312817_960_720.jpgAnd the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”  1 Samuel 3:10

 


Depth of the Gospel, Fullness of the Spirit

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love if Christ–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us.  Titus 3:4

Fullness of the Spirit and depth in the gospel are inseparable, and one always leads you to the others.  The more you grow in your knowledge of the gospel the more intimate you become with the Spirit.  JD Greear, from Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than the Jesus Beside You

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Another thought provoking chapter to chew on.  Greear’s point is that we grow in fullness of the Spirit not by asking for Him, but by believing the gospel.  If we want to grow in the Spirit, we don’t just plead for more of the Spirit, we put more renewed faith in the gospel.  Fullness of the Spirit is a by product of believing the gospel (p. 107).

In Galatians 3:1-5, Paul reminded them that they received the Spirit by hearing with faith, not by any kind of work.  It was by believing the gospel.  But they had slipped back into a works based system.  Isn’t that what we do?  When we first come to Jesus we get that it is by grace we are saved through faith and that He’s thrown our sins away as far as the east is from the west.

But then we think we have to work after that to prove things.  We have to work to prove to God that we really mean it, or to prove to others that we have a better faith than them…or to prove to ourselves that our past is really behind us…or to make up for the sins that we’ve committed since we turned our lives over to Jesus that we really shouldn’t do anymore.  And then we miss the fullness of the Spirit because we’re operating in the flesh trying to strive and control and to just live life on our own.

So how do we really get to know how wide and long and high and deep Christ’s love is so we can experience more fullness in the Spirit?

My thought: In Matthew 22 Sadducees came to Jesus with a question.  They were probably trying to trap Him, because they didn’t believe in a resurrection and were asking about Heaven.  “What would happen if a woman’s husband died and she married his brother and he died and she married the next brother and he died and she married the next one–who would she be married to at the resurrection?”

Jesus’ answer in 22:29, You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.  In other words, you don’t really know the Bible and you don’t know God’s power.  I was sharing about that in a church that I was once in, that Jesus might say the same thing to us if we don’t really know Him through the Word in a real relationship and haven’t gotten to know His power through our faith walk.

The pastor asked a real question, something like this, “How do you answer your kids when you try to tell them Bible stories and they say they’ve heard it all before and they won’t listen?”  My quick answer was, I believe it was from the Spirit because I couldn’t be that profound was this: Go out as a family and find people who have never heard of Jesus and His love and find a way to share the Gospel with them.  Then it will become alive to your kids.  That was over fifteen years ago and I believe it more strongly today.

For me, the way you grow in your knowledge of the gospel, and thus become more intimate with the Spirit, is to share the good news of it with people who have never heard it, or who need to hear it again and again and again.

I was talking to some boys who had carried a grudge for months now.  “Meet me in the bathroom at 2:30,” was one boy’s challenge.  The teacher had caught wind of it, and she was unable to convince them of why they shouldn’t fight out their issue.  In she marched them to my office.  “I need to know when this started.  One at a time, no interruptions.”  They talked of surface conflicts, then it came out.  Months ago the one boy had insulted another boy’s mom, who was dead.  He was new, he didn’t know it.  He had apologized many times, but the boy and his friends wouldn’t listen.  He had crossed a line and had to pay.

This was one of the friends.  It’s a week before Christmas.  I’ve been pondering the line from Titus 3:4, But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, throughout most of the month.  I guess it’s become part of me now.    I began to talk about forgiveness, and how it is a gift that the other person doesn’t deserve.  It is based on kindness and goodness.  But one day the shoe will be on the other foot and you’ll need someone to forgive you for a debt that you can’t repay.  I said that there’s no better time than Christmas to extend the gift of forgiveness.  I don’t think the teacher had tried this line of reasoning…

I didn’t talk about Jesus, but I did talk about the Grinch, whose heart was two times too small and how it grew three times.  Unforgiveness makes your heart two times two times smaller and forgiveness is what makes it grow three times in a day.  The offending boy turned and apologized one last time and the other boy then was faced with the choice to forgive or not and chose to forgive rather than to fight him at 2:30 and to pay the consequences.

Maybe one day he will get the Gospel, maybe he won’t.  But I am struck still with the depth of the gospel.  Maybe I grew a little more in the fullness of the Spirit this week because of realizing a bit more of the kindness and goodness of God our Savior who appeared and saved us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Not Good if Detached

 “I am the vine: you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 

Corrie Ten Boom, one of my favorite warriors of the faith, wrote about keeping in that abiding relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit:

If the connection between the branch and the vine remains, the fruit comes from the vine.  The vine does everything and the branch much keep connected with it.  That electric lamp does not help the generator; the generator does not help the lamp.  The generator gives all the power.  The lamp must only be connected.

You do not help the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not help you.  The Holy Spirit does everything–the only condition is that you must keep in contact…(hence we are not good if we are detached from this abiding relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit).

This is what I have been processing the most this last week, this Holy Spirit connection.  As I’ve been reading JD Greear’s book, Jesus Continued…Greear repeats what Corrie Ten Boom said decades ago.  Greear has written about not just going out and doing things for God out of guilt, striving to please God, some kind of performance issue, or whatever thing that would drive us to go out and try to do something for God–but to actually wait for the Holy Spirit like they did at Pentecost and let Him tell us what to do.

Then instead of doing things for God, He sends us out and He does things through us.  And then we bear fruit, as John 15:5 talks about.  If we sit at Jesus’ feet first, like Mary did (Luke 10:38-41) He’ll tell us what to do and where to go.  He leads; we follow.  He commands; we obey.  He supplies; we steward.  He delivers; we worship.

It seems to me that the sitting at Jesus’ feet thing is the hardest part of the whole Christian life.  The waiting and listening and then going.  The being in the Bible, listening to the voice of the Spirit and then obeying.  That’s like the trifecta.

The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  First off, everything else calls for our attention to keep us from getting into the Bible.  We oversleep, we hit the snooze, or we have to get to work early.  Then when we do get in the Word, our mind jumps to our to-do list, or to how someone else who needs to read this, or we run out of time so quickly.  And then the Holy Spirit puts an application on our heart.  An act of obedience, a prompting of some sort.  An apology that we need to make, a phone call that we should make to someone that will need to talk for a long time, someone who needs a visit that doesn’t have long to live and needs to hear about Jesus…

But when we walk in the Spirit and set our minds on things of the Spirit as a pattern of our lives, the result is life and peace, as Romans 8:6 promises.  It is a life filled with fruit, as John 15:5 states, and John 15:7 goes on to say, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  Answered prayer.  Who doesn’t want answered prayer?not good if detached

Stay attached to Jesus through being in the Bible daily, listening and waiting on the voice of the Holy Spirit, and then obeying His leading.  If you do, you’ll bear much fruit.  Otherwise, we are not good if detached…

 


Be Filled With the Spirit

filled-with-the-spirit

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:5

Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18

Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

In our women’s Sunday school class, we are studying the book by JD Greear, Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You (Zondervan 2014).  Greear is writing to people who, like him, come from a background where the Holy Spirit has been more of a doctrine than a person of the Trinity.  One of his quotes is:

“Many Christians might have heard of the Holy Spirit in a doctrinal sense but they have no real interaction with or dependence on Him.  Functionally they live in ways ‘unaware’ that there is a living, moving Holy Spirit.  They have all but excised the Holy Spirit from the Trinity; instead they functionally believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Bible.”

I lead the Sunday school class, and one woman’s question was kind of challenging his doctrinal position, wondering if Greear believed that we receive the Holy Spirit at new birth from another quote: “So, are you speaking the Word of God to others?  If not, can you really claim to be filled with the Spirit of God?”

My short answer was that from everything else that JD Greear has written in his book, I believe that he is orthodox, most likely believing that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we become Christians.  However, most people do not walk in the realization of the fullness of the Spirit, and that is what this book is about.

When it says in Acts 6:5 that they picked Stephen to help serve the widows, Luke noted that he was ‘full of the Holy Spirit.’  That must have meant that others weren’t as full of the Spirit.  ‘What makes someone full of the Spirit, or more filled with the Spirit than others?’ was my question to the group.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about this during the week.   Paul spent considerable time writing about walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), setting our minds on things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), not grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), not quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), and praying at all times in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18).  This tells me that this tendency to set our minds on things of the flesh and live as if the Christian life depends on us is not new.

Paul battled this when he wrote the book of Galatians.  He questioned in Gal. 3:3, “Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  Why don’t we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit more?  Why do we rely on the flesh instead?

It’s kind of like a friend of mine.  We were at a meeting together, in the middle of a cold winter.  We both had the same model and year of vehicles.  I pointed my key fob out of the window with my remote starter and started my vehicle to warm it up.  She said, “I wish mine could do that.”  I looked at her and said, “I’m sure you can.  Give me your fob.”  She did and she just about flipped when I started her car too.  She had a remote starter for two years and didn’t know it.

Isn’t that how it is with the Holy Spirit?  He lives within us and is ready to fight the flesh battle for us if we would just call on Him.  He is ready to speak to us, empower us, lead us and do great things through us.  Do you just need to know that you have Him waiting to be called upon?

In some ways, it’s not about whether  we have the Spirit or not, it’s about whether the Spirit has us.  Are we willing to surrender to Him, wait for His voice, draw near and go where He tells us to go?

Check out this song by Casting Crowns, “Spirit Wind,” from You Tube:

Spirit Wind

 

 


Rush away, Holy Spirit

Rushing

Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.  1 Samuel 10: 6

This was promised to King Saul, when Samuel anointed him as king of Israel.  1 Samuel 10:9 goes on to record that when Saul turned his back to leave Samuel, “God gave him another heart.”  I love how the ESV talks about the work of the Holy Spirit as rushing upon the people that God was working in.  In Judges 13:25 it tells that “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in Samson in Mahaneh-dan.”  Then in Judges 14:6 we see, “Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him (Samson) and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat.”

The Holy Spirit lives inside of believers.  We are told in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit.  This is the same Holy Spirit that rushed on Saul and Samson and the same Holy Spirit that is described in Acts 2:2 as coming from heaven like a mighty rushing wind.  Can you picture the Spirit stirring in you and rushing upon you?

I have prayed for people often that the Holy Spirit would begin to stir in them, giving them an awakening of God in their lives.  I picture them beginning to think thoughts that are alien to their way of thinking and then wondering, “where did that come from?”  I picture them wanting to read the Bible where they never did before.  I also pray for them to have a desire to be about spiritual things and not just fleshly desires.  And then the rushing of the Spirit.  I pray that those who are gripped by a messed up past would be gripped by something other than their dysfunction–the power of the Spirit to overcome the former driving passions to a holy one.

When the Holy Spirit rushes on us, He changes us in the snap of a finger.  It’s a change maybe we had been trying to accomplish on our own for years.  Rush away Holy Spirit.  Shorten the time gap of change.  

I pray that the Holy Spirit would rush on me, turning me into a different person.  When we place our faith in the work of Jesus, calling on God to save us and to make us His child, that’s what happens.  God replaces our sinful, dirty and depraved hearts with His heart of righteousness.  We now have the ability to walk away from a fight, the power to say no to sin and the desire to serve God and others instead of being devoured with selfish ambitions.

It is a process that takes place when we are saved and it keeps taking place as we feed on the words of the Bible, invite the renewing work of the Holy Spirit into our lives, and take steps of obedience as God leads us into this new life.  Rush away Holy Spirit.

 


What’s your superpower?

spiritual gifts.png

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.  1 Peter 4:10-11

 

This little passage is about spiritual gifting, which is the empowerment by God to do things for the kingdom. There is a difference between doing things that we are naturally good at and doing something by gifting, leading and enabling power of the Holy Spirit.  I have been naturally good at sports and music, and in my younger years would do much of both without much need of the courage and gifting of the Holy Spirit.  But there is a supernatural gifting that comes from God, by His Holy Spirit, that has been called your “spiritual gift.”

There are many varieties of this spiritual gifting, with lists in Ephesians 4:11-12, Romans 12:2-7 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  They are things like teaching, giving, hospitality, wisdom and discernment, preaching, evangelism, administration and showing mercy.   When Jesus comes into your life, He gives you abilities from His Spirit so that you can serve Him and build up the church.  And He expects you to use it for His glory.

No Christian can then say, “I’m not good at anything; I have nothing to offer.”  That is a lie from Satan, or a ploy of your flesh to be a slug.  As sure as you have the Holy Spirit in your life, you surely have a gifting of some sort.  

There are two ways of looking at this gifting:

That every believer has at least one of the listed gifts.  Your task would be to discover what that gifting is.  One way of discovering this is to get out and try things.  And, just like someone who shoots baskets in his driveway was meant to take those skills and be a part of a basketball team, your gifts are meant to be fleshed out in the church.  

 When there are opportunities to serve and you do something, you may find that some things are in your wheelhouse, and others just aren’t.  And, you may do something like help out with Sunday School or take part in the worship team, and people may tell you how that really touched them.  You may feel the working of the Holy Spirit when you tell others about Jesus, and you know those words didn’t come from your own head.  A pattern will soon follow of things you are drawn to doing, and of seeing God work through that.

That the gifting of the Holy Spirit in your life is varied, depending on the need of the moment.  If I am filled by the Spirit and am walking in the Spirit, being led to do something and I do it, the Holy Spirit’s power will work through me.  There are times when God has led me to do something that is totally out of character for me, but I know I must obey and do it, and God works.  

Here is an example of this:  One time I was at a prayer meeting with several other churches in our area.  The pastor leading it urged us to think about someone we could share the love of Jesus with, and to ask God how to do that.  As soon as he said this, a mom from school came to my mind.  As we bowed to pray, I had a flash of an image of me standing at her door with two bags of groceries in my hands.  She had been having some troubles with drugs and getting caught.  It would have been more comfortable to me to have her in my jail Bible study, but to walk up to her door with groceries was not in my comfort zone.

After work the next day, I knew that this was when I should do this.  Her house was right across the street, so it was easy to know if she was home or not.  There were cars in the driveway, so this was the time.  As I stopped at the stop sign, the choice was there: if I turned right I would go home, left to the grocery store.

“Okay God, I’ll just drive to the grocery store…okay God, I’ll go in, but I don’t know what to buy for them.”  I sensed God tell me, “Just buy what you would buy.”  So I went my usual route, but got double of what I would get.  As I got to the check out, I told the clerk, “I need paper bags, and all of this has to fit in two bags.”  That’s what in my  “mini vision.”   So I fit them snugly in and set off for her house.  I prayed that God would give the words to say why I was there.  I didn’t have a script prepared.

When I got to the door with the bags in my arms, she came to the door and said, “What are you doing?”  Her living room had several people in it, so we walked into the kitchen and said, “I just wanted to let you know that God loves you.”  She gave me a hug, I talked with her and the guests for a few minutes and I left.  I am still waiting for the opportunity to tell her more about Jesus, and I have this gut feeling that one day it will come.

This was a one time working like that.  I was obeying  the leading of the Spirit, and trust that God worked through it.  If God is leading you to do something, just do it with the courage and the strength that He provides.  

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10


Handle with Care

But reject foolish and ignorant arguments, knowing that they breed quarrels.  The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness.  2 Timothy 2:24-25 HCSB          

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Proclaim the message.  Persist in it, whether convenient or not.  Rebuke, correct and encourage with great patience and teaching.  2 Timothy 4:2  HCSB

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 NIV

We’ve been studying 2 Timothy in our women’s Sunday school class.  One of the challenges was to memorize 2 Timothy, which I took on.  Surprisingly, it only took me about a month to get it.  As I’ve memorized it and reviewed it since then, the verses about gentleness have echoed in my head over and over.

It must be something God wants me to develop, because I keep getting many opportunities to put gentleness into practice.  One of the responsibilities as an Elementary Principal involves dealing with parents.  Over the last few months, I have had a few parents who have been unreasonable, irrational and argumentative.  Sometimes it seems that they are just waiting to jump on someone, and the minute the slightest issue comes up, they pounce.

While these parents are chipping and chewing, these verses keep playing in the background.  I want to spit back and show them the holes in their thinking and actions.  Then there’s the part about not engaging in quarrels and rejecting foolish and ignorant arguments.  I call it “picking my battles.”

I don’t think that I am the only one who has to deal with argumentative, unreasonable people.  We all do.  How we deal with them reflects what is inside and Who we belong to.  One of the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5, is gentleness.  That means that as the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in us, gentleness comes out like an air freshener.  I wish it was just that easy.  There is an aspect of me diligently working on gentleness, or any other fruit or character trait that makes me more like Jesus than like my old, grumpy self.

I pray in the morning to put on kindness, compassion, gentleness, humility and patience as listed in Colossians 3.  But I still have to consciously be gentle in my interactions with difficult people.  It’s kind of like if someone else finds a job for you, answering a prayer for employment and money to pay the bills.   You still have to get out of bed each morning and go to work.  And once there, you have to fulfill the job expectations.  We have a part to play in the process.

So it is with gentleness.  God works in me as I call upon Him as I daily keep in step with the Spirit.  In Jerry Bridges’ book called “The Practice of Godliness,” he recommends memorizing verses about the character issue that you are working on. Hence, the above verses to memorize and to put into practice.  God, work Your gentleness in and through me today, in Jesus’ name!


Do your prayers sound like this?

growth

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to HIm.  Colossians 1:9-10a

Most of the time my prayers do not sound like  Paul’s prayers.  But when I really want to see someone grow in their Christian life, I borrow these words.  They really distill what we need to have to make it spiritually.  And when I’m stuck on how to pray for myself, I do the same.  Let’s take his prayer apart:

Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  According to quora.com, the average adult makes around 35,000 choices a day.  Just try to order a sandwich from “Subway” and you’ll notch about 30 choices.  It would be really nice to get a little note from God with our directions for the day.  Instead of getting that, we get the Holy Spirit who is always with us to guide us.  God, direct me today so I know I’m doing what You want me to do.

In all spiritual wisdom and understanding.   Just this last week I encountered a situation with a difficult parent where I needed God’s wisdom regarding how to respond to her bullying and berating.  I asked God for understanding what she really is angry at and how to stop butting heads with her.  God is not like a magic eight ball that gives immediate answers, but I trust that He will speak ideas into my heart and mind as I proceed.  Take your most difficult situation that is facing you and ask God for His wisdom and understanding.  

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” the character played by Tom Hanks, Captain Miller,  dies in his mission to save Private Ryan, the only son left in his family.  James Ryan went back to Normandy to Captain Miller’s grave.  Ryan stood by his grave and said, My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day, I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope it was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.” (From http://www.thesource4ym.com/movieclipdiscussions)

We don’t have to earn anything related to what Jesus has done for us.  That’s what grace is all about.  Private Ryan  felt a strong gratitude and had a  sense of purpose in life because of the sacrifice made for him.   We need to live our lives with a different purpose and sense of value because we know that Jesus  gave up His life for us.

Fully pleasing to Him.  If we do something that God instructs us to do, then we’ll be pleasing to Him.  That’s what obedience is.  If we don’t do something that we know God has commanded us not to do, the same is true.  If you want to please God, obey Him.  That’s what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.”

May you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will today,  along with gaining wisdom and understanding from His Holy Spirit who is at work in you.  May God direct your steps and give you ideas, creativity and skill that comes from Him.  May you walk differently because you belong to Jesus, being filled with gratitude because of His sacrifice for you.  And may you please God by being obedient to Him.   May you turn from sinful ways and delight in doing things God’s way.  


Pray at all times in the Spirit

prayPraying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.  Ephesians 6:18

I would call prayer the walkie talkie that goes with the armor of God.  It is not an intercom, a one-way communication tool, but a walkie talkie for two way communication.  That’s why Paul writes to pray in the Spirit at all times.  What does praying in the Spirit mean?

In Romans 8:26-27 we find that “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Here are some of the things the Holy Spirit does to help us in prayer:

  • The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God.  He knows the mind of Christ and the will of God.  Then he He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us.  
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.   When I enter into praying ‘in the Spirit,’ I am asking the Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray and what to pray for so that I am praying for people against Satan’s strongholds, devices, and schemes and am effective in my prayers–not just babbling words or phrases learned from someplace.
  • The Spirit in my spirit prays with groanings that cannot be expressed in words, working in us to will and to do the will and good pleasure of our Father.  “Put on my heart what it is You want me to pray for and to yearn for.  Stir my spirit with Your Holy Spirit to intercede and to speak according to Your will.”

The prayer of the Spirit is the inner meaning of prayer.  It is more than just sitting down and asking God for a list of things–it is communion, fellowship, cooperation and identification with God and Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, a preacher in the 1800’s from England said, “The most important part of prayer is not what we say to God, but what God says to us.  It is no place to hurry (the place of fellowship with God).  The soul must be still and wait before the Lord.” (From the Collection and Works of Samuel Chadwick, Beacon Hill, 1943).

Ephesians 6:18 commands us to pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication.  Pray when you don’t feel like it, pray until you feel like it.  Pray for little deals and pray for big deals.  Pray for yourself and pray for others.  Prayer is a weapon.

Finally,  our power verse with tells us to be alert and to persevere.  Don’t be content with seasons of prayerlessness.  Break through whatever wall it is that keeps you from communing with God on a deep enough level to know that your spirit is communicating with the Holy Spirit.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power.”  James 5:17