Quenched

Have you ever asked for something, but then changed your mind when you received it?

Throughout the walk of a believer, inevitably we will ask God to change us. There is a pure desire within the heart of us to become like Jesus. Our prayers beg God to remove things within us that don’t please Him. We pray for development of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Subtle changes appear, and faith is increased. There is a transformation happening.

But then the flesh notices the change. Something is off. It’s territory is threatened, and it will not go silently into the night. Our flesh starts to put up a fight. As Matthew 26:41 says, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

We start to resist the work of the Holy Spirit. We cover our ears, pretending not to hear His whispers. The slow fade begins. We return to our sin. 1 Peter 2:22 is so blunt as to compare it to a dog returning to it’s own vomit. Instead of resting easy in the newness of the Spirit, we prefer the dingy familiarity of our old nature. Why do we not remain?

“Do not quench the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 

God is an all consuming fire…but He won’t spread if we keep snuffing Him out.

Yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit is what will truly bring breakthrough, power & freedom in our lives. This means laying down our will…our stubborn, hard-headed wills. Deep down, we know that we don’t know it all. God is not at all put off by any of this. In fact, He wants to use that weakness to display His power in our lives. His best work is done through broken vessels. Ones who have surrendered and admitted that they need Him, and that His ways are higher. If we will allow Him to have His way, imagine what He could do through us.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” – Galatians 5:16

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:4


“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Phillipians 1:6


“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Romans 7:15

 

 

It is He

Our God has always been very clear & concise in stating who He is. He is not shy, nor insecure about His identity or His ways. Throughout the Bible, one phrase is constant and commands your attention.

“It is He…”

If someone was to ask me to describe God…there is no way that I could fit Him into words. His majesty and wonder are beyond mere words. Even when Moses asked Him what he should say when the Israelites asked him  the name of who sent him, God simply stated, “Tell them ‘I AM has sent me to you’.” This displays the profound simplicity of our Creator.

The true Author assisted the writers of the Bible in their attempts to describe Him. The verse below is one that summarizes the Father beautifully:

“God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things:  And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the  whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.” – Acts 17:24

This verse displays His sovereignty. God has a handle on all things…the whole world truly is in His hands. He is all sufficient & all knowing. Another verse that eloquently describes our God is:

It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
  He removes kings and establishes kings;
  He gives wisdom to wise men
  And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
  He knows what is in the darkness,
  And the light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:21

When Jesus came, this phrase continued to be prevalent.

And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” – John 9:35

When I see this statement, I feel God’s declaration, assuring us that He is who He says He is. There is something about this phrase that is very finalizing. It settles any questions, any arguments.  It leaves no room for doubt. He is instilling confidence in us each time it is written in the scriptures. We can declare who He is right along with Him. He is arming us with a confession of bold faith in Him. Our prayers and praises can be filled with the same confidence, proclaiming our King’s victory. When we feel fear, or when we are walking through the valley, declare this verse and stand upon the solid Rock.

“…the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.” – Isaiah 33:22

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Other scripture references that include this statement are: John 8:24, Psalms 60:12, Zechariah 6:12, 2 Kings 17:39, Amos 5:8, Amos 9:6, Job 9:5, and Acts 10:42 (and many more)

Ludicrous

God loves to get a rise out of people.

You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. By day you led them with a pillar of cloud,and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.” Nehemiah 9:10

To this day, His works and ways make people stand in awe. Some of them are so outrageous, that people just can’t believe the stories. They are just too much, too far fetched. They’d rather stay comfortable than dare to believe in something outside of their box.

Me, on the other hand…

I want to believe in something ludicrous. I want to believe in something that I couldn’t think up on my own.

I want to believe in a God who does wonders, and never stops coming up with new ways to amaze me.

Who would want a god who is boring & predictable with nothing in their pocket?

The burning bush, walking on water, being resurrected…I stand in awe at the mere thought of it. Imagine seeing it, living it.

Some would rather believe in nothing than to take a chance on Him.

He takes chances on us everyday. He does so knowing that we will fail. But He never once turns away.

Have you ever considered that one of His reasons for performing outrageous acts is to get our attention?

We must allow ourselves to be open minded and not put God in a box. Isaiah 55 says that His ways are not our ways.

Don’t forsake eternity just because you don’t understand. He wants to show you many things, but most of all, love. Let Him.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:18

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” – 1 Corinthians 1:25

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6
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“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” –

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Enlighten Me

In this age, spiritual enlightenment is heavily sought out, The options & sources available to achieve this goal are endless, including methods like meditation, yoga, and self help books. The desire to have our knowledge and awareness increased is something people of all beliefs  and cultures seek. We are pursuing a common goal: Truth.

With so many options and paths, one is overwhelmed at what path to choose without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. According to the Word, the mind is blinded & led astray until we have an encounter with the Christ Jesus Himself. It will experiment with what the world offers, testing the waters of multiple practices until it is quenched.

The only true enlightenment will come from the Holy Spirit. All answers lie within the person of Jesus. Romans 11:36 states “from Him, through Him, and to Him are all things.” John 1:3 states, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” He is the Beginning and the End, and without Him, nothing exists.  God doesn’t withhold the revelation of who He is from us. It is waiting to be discovered, like a hidden treasure. We have the map, and X marks the spot. We must travel and pursue it to find Him. True riches await us upon the discovery. The riches are our inheritance freely given to us by the only King. He is waiting to illuminate your mind with the only truth. Once our mind grasps the reality of who we are and what He has given us as His children, freedom is inevitable. Once the awareness of who you are in Christ is rooted in you, you are unshakable & immovable.

How do you achieve true enlightenment from God?

1. Meditate on the Word Meditation is not a bad word. It’s what you are meditating on. When we dwell on Jesus and sit with Him, He reveals things to us like friends, and gives us understanding. The Word is a light to our path, and only sheds light down on the right one.

2. Ask for it The Word says if we ask we shall receive. The perfect will of God is for you to know Him, His character…He wants you to enjoy Him. Be patient with the timing of revelations.

3. Only pursue Jesus – All other paths are false, and lead to death. Pursuing other beliefs does not honor our Savior. Honor Him by making Him your sole focus and seek Him with your whole heart.

Simply ask the Lord, “Enlighten me.” He will not withhold any good thing from His babies.

“…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints…” – Ephesians 1:18

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Get Your Hopes Up

The world has created many sayings that have become our generic responses to situations that occur in our daily lives. One common phrase is “don’t get your hopes up.” This always brings me down when I hear it. The intent is to avoid false hope or being let down. But God never gave us this advice. His word says the exact opposite. Romans 15:13 says He is the God of Hope! It’s His very nature, His character! Being optimistic and and hopeful is not foolish. You are not naive when you choose joy instead of doubt.

A mindset of hope will produce much more fruit than a timid & frightful one. Think of how much time is wasted dwelling on negative thoughts. Declining hope hinders our spirit from trusting God. If we use this phrase, you might as well just use the word “doubt” in it’s place. Because that’s the spirit that we’re inviting in when we say it. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. We must ensure that our words align with God’s. I can’t imagine Jesus leaning in and whispering this phrase to Peter before healing a leper. He was confident in mission, His ability, and God’s promise. He didn’t flinch in the face of adversity but chose to believe. He calls us to do the same.

The phrase “leap of faith” is a very accurate one. Hope requires risk. We don’t know the outcome of every situation, but we can choose how we anticipate it. When we leap instead of holding back, we allow Him the opportunity to catch us…and He will.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” -Isaiah 49:23

 

Inheritance

As I read the Word, especially the Old Testament, there’s a word that catches my attention.

Chosen

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 7:6

The verse brought about a specific question that I put off asking God for fear that I may come across selfish. However, we know better than to think He doesn’t already know it. So, I bared my heart and like a child, asked my Father.

Why are the Jews your chosen people? 

My followup questions to justify questioning my Father’s favor were:

If You created and formed every human being, why aren’t we all chosen? I thought there was no  partiality or favoritism in You, Daddy? 

I would be lying if I wasn’t cringing at myself, but that was just the enemy trying to get me to not be honest with Jesus. I believe that God wants us to be real with Him and not put up a front or hide our feelings. He wants to answer any & every question we have.  I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to continue reading the Word that evening. I had a hunch I would come across the answer.  He answered.

 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,  and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.  For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”  And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,  though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”  As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” – Romans 9:6

Children of the promise. Something in my spirit came alive. My identity was being awakened. The questions and concern of not being chosen faded quickly. I may not be in the bloodline of His Son, I may not be Jewish, but my Creator extends the same promise to me. He didn’t leave me out of the will. There is no fine print. I have my inheritance of eternity with my Savior and He has not forgotten me.

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 3:6

My label as a Gentile is not one to be ashamed of. We have received the Spirit of adoption & can choose to walk in the promise that Israel does. Just as a parent who adopts a child, He chooses to welcome us in to the family. He raises us in His love & power and looks after us as His own. It’s a free gift, not one earned by any action other than saying yes. But we must say yes in order to receive it.

All who say yes are chosen. 

There are many out there who have felt forgotten, left out, or ignored. But I want to remind you of something. The One who created you has not left you out in the cold. You are His, and He adores you. Ask Him to give you a revelation of your identity in Him, of the riches He has provided you as His child. His banner over you is love, and He waves it proudly.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”- Galatians 4:4

“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?  As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people, and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”  Romans 9:22

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15

“According to his great mercy,he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,kept in heaven for you,  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:4

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I will be beginning a blog series soon focused on our identity as God’s elect, His beloved. I am truly excited to share what the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me about who we are to Him & through Him.

Off Course

Along the journey of walking with God, there are countless resources for assistance in gaining knowledge of Him & His word. One of the most convenient and popular resources are apps on our smartphones. They contain different subject matters depending on what you desire to focus on. They offer different lengths, some being yearlong and some a couple of weeks. Other resources are books, emails, and radio programs.

There comes a time when we need to wean ourselves off of these and start trusting the Holy Spirit to be our devotional. 

We start to become more dependent on an author to teach us rather than consulting The Author. We are leaning on the middle man to spoonfeed us rather than eating the manna straight from Heaven. This daily act of repetition can easily become a religious act…an act of repetition rather than Spirit led. Possibly even an idol.

I’m not saying the Holy Spirit will not lead you to read a specific devotional or book. But we need to allow Him to suggest the material that He wants to use to teach us. It may just be the Bible…and we should be ok with that. Before rushing out to buy the latest book, or download today’s devotional…ask Him. Open up The Book and let Him lead you.

Think about this. There were no devotionals in Biblical times. People spoke with God and sought out His Word. There was a beautiful simplicity. In our advanced times, have we over-complicated it with our good intentions? Have we made it more difficult to hear from God directly? The Holy Spirit is not predictable. He is spontaneous, creative, and loves to blow our minds. He can’t be contained by a paragraph. He may want to take us somewhere totally different than what we expected or had in mind…somewhere deeper. Are we along for the ride?

Jesus said The Holy Spirit will teach us all things. He has proven that to be true in my life. In the quiet of my day, He whispers words or phrases to me. That begins my treasure hunt. I search the Scriptures for verses related to what He is talking to me about. Before too long, I have an entire lesson laid out before me, straight from The Teacher Himself. I have learned more from Him than I have from any other source. He illuminates the Scriptures and gives you revelation of what it means if you ask. Do we trust that He will guide us?

On the other hand, do we trust ourselves? Do we trust that we are hearing Him correctly or are we doubting ourselves? You may be further along than you think and not giving yourself enough credit. It is good to test the spirits (even yourself) ensure that it matches up with the Word…but don’t negate the power of God within you. He has made you His dwelling place. Once that takes place, He starts to speak to you and you become familiar with His voice. This takes time, reading His word, and talking with Him. Invest in developing an intimate relationship with Him and it will lead to a comfort and confidence that you are being led by Jesus Himself.

We are called to walk by the Spirit. Let Him take you off course.

“But 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.”  – John 14:26

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! ” – Hebrews 5:12

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25

“Do not quench the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19

 Wean (definition) – Accustom someone to managing without something on which they have become dependent or of which they have become excessively fond.

Out of Darkness

October has arrived. This has always been my favorite month of the year. With it’s arrival comes striking shades of autumn, welcome weather changes, and the anticipation of the seasonal holidays.

Until recently, one thing I loved about October was Halloween, even going so far as to claim it as my favorite holiday. I looked forward to celebrating it by getting my scream on at haunted houses &  indulging in scary movies.

My change of heart should come as no surprise after this year of spiritual awakening. Nevertheless, I am floored by what God has opened my eyes to.

The Holy Spirit prompted me to research if it was acceptable for a Christian to acknowledge Halloween. Of course, I turned to Google and found multiple explanations of the history behind the day, and verses to support it. A couple of nights later, the Lord gave me a verse to look up.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  You observe days and months and seasons and years I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” – Galatians 4:8

I realized quickly He was answering me. He followed that up with a word from a friend about my obsession with scary movies:

“If I haven’t given you a spirit of fear, why do you keep searching for it?”

This wasn’t the first time I had felt the prompting from Him on this subject.  Over the past few years, I have ignored them. Why?  To be honest with you, I blew it off. My thoughts on the subject were pretty common:

“I’m not celebrating satan, taking part in anything evil, and I don’t feel convicted. No biggie.”

What we acknowledge is a big deal to God, and He doesn’t take this lightly. When you become a follower of Jesus Christ, a process begins. (I’ve discussed this in some of the previous posts)  He begins to make you holy & pure, like Jesus. God purges us of things that are not from Him and that do not bear fruit. He made us a royal priesthood, a light to shine in darkness, a city on a hill. Why are we drawn to darkness? His words says that He has called us OUT of darkness and  into light! Why do we continue going back in?

The history behind Halloween is far from holy, and far from what God desires for us. To this day, there are heinous & satanic rituals performed…human & animal sacrifices, invoking of the spirits, and communicating with the dead. God is very clear and firm on this in the Bible. He advises to steer clear of anything that even has the appearance of evil.  (1 Thessalonians 5:22)  Furthermore, He calls us to hate what is evil, and cling to good. (Psalm 27:10)

So, why do we continue to acknowledge this day that celebrates evil but claim to follow Jesus? God has no ulterior motive when He tells us that something is bad for us. He simply wants the best for us, and desires for us to walk in His will. If we ignore His word,  the question is…do we really want to know His opinion?

Don’t take my word for it. Take His word for it.

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“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,  for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.” – Deuteronomy 18:9

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Coming in to His Own

There comes a point in each of our lives where we realize that something has changed. After the tumbles of childhood & the rebellion of teenage years, we find ourselves as adults in our right minds. We realize that after making it through unknown territory and difficult seasons, that we have come into our own. A confidence settles in, and we feel more comfortable in our own skin.

The point in our lives where we realize that we are God’s own is one that cannot be described in words. When a believer realizes the impact of this phrase, confidence reaches a whole new level.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 1:5

The verse above simply describes what the Lord did to make us his own. He knew long before the world was created that He wanted to bring His beloved back. Before we even distanced ourselves from Him, He had already planned to reconcile us. His plan was to adopt us…to make us His heirs…to love us unconditionally. The ideal Father, wouldn’t you say?

Being known in Christ entails many great things. He hears you when you call. He prepares you for the battles ahead, even the ones you aren’t aware of. He removes the fear of death with the promise of eternal life, in His presence. He takes away fear, shame, and makes us new. No other identity can match these promises.

We have been purchased with his own blood and his own body. (Acts 20:28, John 2:21)

Come into His own. Be known in Christ, and let God show you the identity that can never be taken away…the one of God’s child.

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“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” – Ephesians 1:14

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

The Romancer

The most common view people have of God is as a father. The guidance He provides, the nurturing love, endless forgiveness, and unavoidable discipline.

Others simply view Him as Savior with no reference to a relationship. God alone.

My favorite way to view God is as The Romancer.

Think about the endless pursuit displayed throughout the Bible. God loves to chase us…to win our love.

In the early stages of a relationship, love is so alive. Flowers, gifts, long conversations, and touching moments are sure to take place. It is no different with Jesus. Everyday, He is courting His beloved. There are many ways we can see Him wooing us if we look for them.

  •  Joy & Blessings – After a rough day, He makes you smile with a sweet gesture from a friend, an unexpected blessing, or even something sweet, such as a rainbow. Nature is bursting with His gifts.
  • Holy Conversation –  He speaks to you like you are face to face. He loves to get our attention by using themes. For example…you start the morning reading a certain verse in the Bible…and you keep seeing a that same verse in different places(websites, emails, songs). He’s talking to you…practically shouting to get your attention!
  • Visits -You feel His spirit. There is nothing like the presence of God. It not only brings a feeling of peace, but also you will feel joy, love, and power. Sometimes it will give me chills when He is near…other times, I just feel overjoyed.

Let the Great Pursuer catch you. Don’t be the one that got away.

 

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” – Psalm 23:6
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me.” – Matthew 12:18