IN THE UPCOMING NEW YEAR…Put On Your Seat Belts And Hold On!

SCRIPTURE, JOEL 2:21-27:

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Looking at JOEL, chapter 2 in this BLOG-STUDY, we read that an invasion had taken place in Israel; an invasion of “locusts” that stripped God’s people of everything, and I mean everything (Joel 1:4-20).

What those nasty swarming locusts did to the people, our persistent ‘nasty’ sins will do to us.  Our only HOPE is to recognize God’s CALL:

“Return to Me with ALL your heart” (Joel 2:12)

To those who turn to the LORD in REPENTANCE, regardless of the sins that envelope them, He promised…

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–” (v. 25)

The Land That Suffered Under God’s Judgement Would Be BLESSED!

There is a “now, but not yet” taste to this passage of Scripture.

Eventually in the new heavens and the new earth, in the consummation of ALL THINGS, the Church will see the total fulfillment of God’s PROMISES here.

RESTORATION is the work of the LORD alone;  “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!”

JOEL maintains a “prophetic” observance forming part of the New Year ritual.

QUESTION:  So how will God RENEW us in 2017?

  • NO FEAR (vs. 21-22):

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FEAR is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  It prepares us either to run from or fight against the presumed danger [ *See footnote [i] ].

The BIBLE uses words like fear, afraid, terror, dread, anxiety, tremble, shake and quake over 850 times to portray the center core of our emotions.

We are fragile beings, given to fears of every kind.  We have a built-in insecurity that no amount of ‘whistling in the dark’ can lessen the anxiety.

FEAR attacks the most precious parts of our life, keeping us from living the life God meant for us.  So God wants to help us overcome our insecurities; our fears as we learn to “FEAR NOT!”

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control”  (2 Timothy 1:7 – AMP).

With everything that’s going on in the world today, the SPIRIT OF FEAR seems to be working overtime!  BUT…the “spirit of fear” doesn’t come from God, crippling to anyone who holds on to it.  SATAN wants us to be overwhelmed so we cannot accomplish the things we need to do.  Remember, if God is for us, no one (including the devil) can be against us!

The Land Had Suffered…

The prophet Joel has vividly pointed out the impact from the drought connected with the locust devastation on the land; BUT NOW…the call is to JOY and GLADNESS.  Things are now reversed.  Instead of mourning, exaltation; instead of sadness, there’s joy and gladness; instead of ‘the day of the Lord’–the very great and terrible FEAR, there is “FEAR NOT”!

We can conquer our fears!

To admit that we are afraid is to admit that we are human.  But to admit being afraid and then trusting the Lord and going forward will take the FEAR out of FEAR.

FIRST MONTH OF FORMER/LATTER RAIN (vs. 23-24)

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ISRAEL has a Mediterranean climate with long, hot, rainless summers and relatively short, cool, rainy winters.  Rainfall is unevenly distributed, significantly lower in the south of the country [Wikipedia].

Bible history also shows that the patriarchs, like Abraham, dug wells wherever they went with quarrels of water.  Thus, RAIN was directly correlated with the livelihood of the people in Israel; their survival was threatened when it didn’t rain!

THE FORMER RAIN–

The FORMER RAIN should fall enough to yield a good harvest for the upcoming year.  

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Since there is no rain during the dry season, it’s impossible to cultivate farmland unless it rains.  That is why the FARMERS wait with anticipation for the FORMER RAIN while getting ready to farm for the year (James 5:7):

[7] Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn ans spring rains (NIV).

The former and latter rains, which comes at the right time for farming in Israel, is a BLESSING from God.  So most of the RAIN recorded in the Bible figuratively, represents God’s GRACE & BLESSINGS poured out on His people.

Physical farming in ISRAEL, controlled by RAIN, represents the GOSPEL work of God spiritually (Mt. 13:24-30; 36-40).

The two special rains in the farming season–the former and latter rain (Autumn & Spring rains)–represent the Holy Spirit that God gives us in spiritual farming.

THE PROPHECY OF THE LATTER RAIN–

The coming down of the “latter rain” at the HARVEST TIME is to be fulfilled through the work of the Holy Spirit, which in turn, God POURS OUT on us for the Gospel Work of gathering God’s people represented by the WHEAT, from the ends of the earth, in the SPIRITUAL HARVEST TIME.

Now is the age of the Feast of Tabernacles–

It is the spiritual fruiting season–when we should ask our Heavenly Father, who rules and manages ALL THINGS, to pour out on us the Holy Spirit of the latter rain.

As gospel workers, we are to accomplish the amazing work of the Holy Spirit by preaching the “good news”–the Gospel; boldly being clothed with the abundant GRACE of the Holy Spirit our Heavenly Father has poured out.

This is what we need church in our day!

  • WE NEED the Lord to open the windows of Heaven to erase the spiritual drought we’ve been living under of late.
  • WE NEED Him to send the heavenly RAINS upon us one more time.
  • WE NEED Him to give back everything the enemy has tried to take away from us.
  • WE NEED revival of His manifest presence among His people.
  • WE NEED power in our services.
  • WE NEED a revival of holiness in the church.

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WE NEED REVIVAL!!!

Oh that God’s people would SEEK His face and ask Him for the move of God we so desperately need in these last days.  This should be at the top of our prayers!

RESTORATION (vs. 25-26 a.):

Whatever the ENEMY has taken away from you, God wants to RESTORE IT!  God wants to make it better than before!!  That’s the kind of Father He is.

Every day we have CHOICES put before us.  We can be tempted to get hurt, wounded, or sometimes, depressed.  And believe me, I’ve been down this beaten path before over my lifetime.

We can complain and remain in the same awful condition, OR…we can PRAISE God and be raised up.

ISRAEL’S CROPS had been destroyed by a LOCUST INVASION

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AND, the impact lasted more than one year.  When locust destroyed the crop, they wiped out the SEED saved the previous year and the HARVEST of the current year and the SEED that would be used the next year.  It was a multi-year impact on the people.

JOEL 2:25 now complements the preceding verse, which says,

And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten–the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust…”

Joel has used the LOCUST INVASION as an illustration of God’s judgment.  In His promise to “restore/replace” the years lost to the locust, God is pledging to RESTORE His repentant people with a place of BLESSING after judgment.

THE TEXT describes other positive things that would take place during this RESTORATION:

  • GREEN PASTURES for livestock in verse 22.
  • TREES & VINES that bear fruit–verse 22.
  • THE SPRING & SUMMER RAINS would come as needed for a good crop in verse 23.

And the RESULT of the RESTORATION would be physical and spiritual:

— THE PHYSICAL:  “You will have plenty to eat, until you are full” – verse 26.

— THE SPIRITUAL:  “You will praise the name of the Lord your God” – verse 26.

God’s ultimate desire is not to punish His children, but to RESTORE them!

He PROMISED to send new wine, grain and oil.

He PROMISED never to make them an object of scorn among the nations.

In addition, He PROMISED to drive the “army.”

NO DISGRACE HERE!  (vs. 26 b.-27).

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The prophet JOEL is talking about the FUTURE PROSPERITY of the church–the ABUNDANCE of spiritual food that the church will not be in shame or sorrow.

BUT…when much is given–much is required from us.  There is an EXPECTATION from God; ALL these plentiful provisions we enjoy are going to testify that there is only ONE God–the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is also the ‘Great I AM.’  In no way or form will the body of Christ (the CHURCH) be disgraced.

In today’s headlines, we see many nations trying to DISGRACE Israel…but not entirely.  Their negligence of God, by cutting Him off from their lives, has escalated them to this position.

Our nation is walking down the same road that Israel took centuries ago and lost all their blessings.  So it becomes imperative that the church rises up and takes hold of their responsibility in leading the people in a godly way and direction so that they are RENEWED!

The PROMISE of ‘no shame’ to God’s people.

This PROMISE is mentioned twice in this passage of Scripture, solidifying the seriousness of God to bestow this on His people.

If we are going to call ourselves ‘children of God,’ we can’t take this lightly–but should hold tight to this assurance and allow God to RENEW us in the New Year.

Now the ROAD to get there at times may be rough–we may be deceived by the enemy; that we will not be granted with this BLESSING, but when God is with us, we will surely get there!

My desire is to be a ‘BARNABAS’ [*Bible Study Tools, Barnabas meaning] to my readers in the upcoming New Year by encouraging and articulating in the year of 2017, bringing RENEWAL and ABUNDANCE that God offers to all of our lives!

For that FIRST and FOREMOST, we must…

  • Fear not!
  • Enjoy the blessings of the latter and former rain.
  • Accept God’s restoration plan for our life.
  • You shall not be put to shame and know that He alone is God and there is no other!

So get ready, and buckle up, and hold on!!!

 


CREDITS & fOOTNOTE:

Footnote [i]:  Google Dictionary for FEAR.

Photos:  Google IMAGE Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified bible (AMP), unless noted in the text.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND

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Last week I participated in a political discussion group on social media where the attacks got pretty hot and heavy.  And, I have to confess, my “flesh” got in the way of my heart and I had to repent from my reciprocal reactions.  

Was I right in making a “political” point? Perhaps, but my thought process and reaction to unbelievers wasn’t.  I’ve since disconnected with the group.

The Holy Spirit directed my repentance, to a study in 1 Peter–and so here I am: A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND–“But as the One Who called you [MEL] is holy, you [MEL] also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living” (1 Peter 1:15 AMP). Now that’s…personal!

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 PETER 1:13-21 –

PETER begins his letter to the churches, in the northern part of Asia Minor in the first twelve verses to the future of the Christian.

[13] “THEREFORE, prepare your minds for action…” and this is a good place to start from.

I capitalized the word “THEREFORE” for emphasis.  When reading the bible, it can become a tired old saying, but true–and it’s there for a reason.

In the Amplified bible, verse 13 reads “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert)…”

PETER is about to make a transition from the FUTURE HOPE of the Christian, to the PRESENT HOPE…Peter wants Christians to understand, since God has given us a living HOPE, our incorruptible Inheritance and His promised of PRAISE, HONOR and GLORY, and there is a certain way He expects believers–that’s us–to conduct ourselves publicly, in our homes privately, or anywhere we travel in this life.

This takes us to 1 Peter 1:15, “as the One Who called you holy…be holy in all of your conduct and manner of living.”

So Peter in essence is saying–no, what Jesus said in Luke 12:48,  “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”

WOW!  Living a holy life in the expectations of a HOLY GOD, can that be a reality in today’s world?  It’s a hostile land out there!

THE CALL TO HOLINESS –

God calls His people today to HOLINESS.  A “HOLY PERSON” isn’t an odd person but a distinct person.

A holy person has a quality about their life that is separate; and their present lifestyle is not only different from the past way of living, but is different from the way of living of unbelievers around them.  They are real, genuine, authentic people and they should be representing the likeness of Christ Jesus to the watching world.

We have been commanded to live a holy life–energetic and blazing with holiness.  

Someone once said, “We may choose a married life or a single life, but it is not left to us to choose whether, or not, we live a holy life.”  It’s what marks us as God’s followers.

Why don’t we then, want to heed the call?

“Wait just a minute,” someone might say, “This holiness thing is just a little bit too much for me!”

The problem becomes, we don’t want to be different–to stand out of the crowd.  We have become an assembly line society…and YES, churches today are part of society in case you forgot.  We’re terrified of being set apart.

We visualize a caricature of “holiness”; we think the whole idea of holiness communicates an attitude and displays actions that become known as “holier-than-thou”.

We discredit spirituality and behavior that puts one on a pedestal of being better than the rest.  Jesus despised this type of mentality and morality that the Pharisees displayed and we agree with Him.

We often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY!

After READING AND STUDYING this passage of Scripture, I found that Peter gives some answers, or KEYS to a holy living that should help us to be what God wants us to be. HOLY.

KEY #1 – VERSE 13 “GIRD UP”:

The King James Version (KJV) reads, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” and I thought, “Huh?”

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In biblical times robes were usually worn–and robes tend to get in the way if you’re doing certain kinds of work or you need to get from POINT A to POINT B, in a hurry.  So “girding up your loins of your mind” is a metaphor for being prepared in your mind…being alert.

Being ALERT mentally–

Is when we see and process the information in the world around us in a different way because of the understanding we should have through the Holy Spirit.

How many times in my life as a Christian, I’ve fallen down by not adhering to this aspect of “holiness.”  Things that others see as the normal way of doing things, or at least the acceptable way of doing things, are not so acceptable when you have a PREPARED MIND–seeing things through the POWER of the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV):

[14] The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment;  [16] “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” (Isaiah 40:13)  But we have the mind of Christ.

“GIRDING UP OUR MINDS” means being ready and able to recognize and reject the worldly influences around us.  My unspiritual banter in a political forum became foolish, just as their argumentative ‘banter’ was foolish.

The 2nd Key to holy living I happened to notice is to LIVE A CHANGED LIFE!

KEY #2 is found in VERSE 14, where Peter tells us to be “obedient children…”

[14]  [Live] as children of obedience  [to God];  do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

The word OBEDIENCE seems to raise the hair on the back of one’s arms.

Colossians 3:20:  “Children, OBEY your parents in everything”…

Or, this gets to the ladies sometimes…“SUBMIT to your husbands…Colossians 3:18.

Some of us become rebellious when we hear those words in conversation.  But as those verses in Colossians are brought to mind, the apostle Paul is saying wives, husbands, children…ADAPT to your role in life because it is your service in obedience to not your husband, your wife, your parents BUT…THE LORD!

Peter is telling us that, even though before we knew the LORD, we considered it alright to do certain things, and now, it is no longer acceptable to use our “ignorance” concerning spiritual things.

The apostle Paul gives us a whole list of things that ought not be found in the life of a Christian.  READ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

DON’T BE DECEIVED; NEITHER THE…

  • impure and immoral,
  • NOR idolaters,
  • NOR adulterers,
  • NOR those who participate in homosexuality,
  • NOR cheats,
  • NOR greedy graspers,
  • NOR drunkards,
  • NOR foul-mouthed…

The list GOES ON!

What I found interesting in reading this passage was, if your LIFESTYLE is a LIFESTYLE that is displeasing to God, and you have no desire or intent to change it, you are probably kidding yourself if you call yourself a CHRISTIAN.

As a student of the Bible, I’m not making up the rules for your living, or my living, neither do the church leaders in place, nor any particular church member.

BUT…if you don’t feel the call of God to change from your former way of life to the life of an “obedient child of God,” then you need to see if that once “confession of Christ as savior” in your life is a genuine one.

KEY #3 – KEEPING YOUR HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FIXED ON JESUS TO BE HOLY 

1 PETER 1:17-19 (The MESSAGE):

[17] You call out to God for help and he helps–he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.  [18] It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  [19] He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.  

[Bible Study Tools-the Message bible, 1 Peter 1:17-19]

Keeping your heart, mind and soul, fixed on JESUS–to be HOLY, not only do we need a PREPARED mind and a CHANGED LIFE, what Peter is saying here, as Christians, we are to claim Almighty God as our Father–not simply as our Creator but as our Father.  And, to understand this, it is through the precious BLOOD of Christ Jesus that allows us to call Him, FATHER!

The BLOOD of JESUS
The BLOOD of JESUS

So Peter is telling us, that if we are going to make that claim of God, we better focus on the SACRIFICE of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, and, that knowledge needs to be reflected in everything we do and say.  Even as we share our comments, or others’ comments, on Social Media, “as is right and fitting and your proper duty to the Lord” (Col. 3:18 (b) AMP).

As Christian witnesses, we often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY.

Today, the WORLD has a desperate need for people who are different.  As in Genesis 17, Abraham was to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as a mark in the flesh of an everlasting COVENANT between God and His people–His children.

Like CIRCUMCISION was a mark of the flesh in the Old Covenant, Christians should have the spiritual mark of HOLINESS.

Like circumcision, it won’t be easy, in fact, at times it will be painful.  But it will make a difference!

We need people who will be JESUS at the office, in Congress, in Society, in the Classroom…ALL in a HOSTILE LAND.

People who live their FAITH in boldness, even though the rest of society thinks we are different.

Will you make a commitment as I have made, to be serious about truly being repentant when we sin, not to take SIN lightly…after all, our SIN is what caused Christ’s death, after all.

THINK ABOUT LIVING A “HOLY LIFE” THIS WEEK, IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!

 


 CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations, as noted in the text:  King James Version (KJV); The MESSAGE Bible (MSG); The Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

Letting The Holy Spirit Have More of You!

ACTS 8:14-17 Amplified Bible:

[14] Now when the apostles (special messengers) at Jerusalem heard that [the country of] Samaria had accepted and welcomed the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,  [15] And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit;  [16] For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  [17] Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

For years, as a believer in Christ, I struggled understanding the four verses listed above.  And then one day, the “scales” were removed from my eyes [See “Taking the Red Pill”], and I began to understand.  Slowly at first, but then one Sunday morning, it happened.  Not all at once…but a Holy Spirit moment, the realizing empowerment took a hold of my heart.

EMPOWERMENT:

In Acts 8:15, 17, 19; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:12; all refer to the EMPOWERING operation of the Holy Spirit.

Now being saved, baptized and trained in doctrinal values of the Baptist denomination, this idea of EMPOWERMENT ran against everything I’d previously been taught by all the well-meaning church leaders.  I knew what Scripture had to say about receiving the Holy Spirit, even underlining them with side notes in my Bible.  Here are the well-known three proofs:

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, save or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Cor. 12:13 NIV).

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”  (Romans 8:9).

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory”  (Eph. 1:13-14).

The apostle Paul clearly taught that we RECEIVE the Holy Spirit at the moment we receive JESUS as Savior.  The above three passages make it clear, the HOLY SPIRIT is received the moment of SALVATION.

“Could there be more?”  – The Inward Justifying and Sanctifying Work of Holy Spirit…

In Acts 8:15  however, depicts the inward justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it does not mean, getting more of the Spirit, rather it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have more of you!

“And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might RECEIVE the Holy Spirit.”

[ILLUSTRATION – “A Woman Named Norena” – (See Footnote [i]):

Just Getting By…

The story is told of an elderly woman named Norena, who lived in southern Florida.  When a hurricane hit that area, her home was of many that was damaged severely.

Norena received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began.  However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity.

Norena lived in her dark unfinished home–without POWER–for fifteen (15) years.  The astonishing part of this story, the hurricane wasn’t Katrina but Andrew–a hurricane which struck in 1992.

She had no HEAT, no AIR CONDITIONING while the humidity clung to 100%.  She didn’t have one hot shower.  Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner.  Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of POWER in her home.

Acting on a tip, one day, the mayor of the Miami-Dade area got involved.  It only took a few hours of work by an electrical contractor, Kent Crook, to return POWER to Norena’s house.

CBS News reported, Norena planned to let the water get really hot, then take her first “bubble bath” in a decade and a half.

“It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on”, Norena told the reporters.  “It’s overwhelming!”

After reading this story, I thought to myself, “How many Christian true believers have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have the overwhelming POWER of the Holy Spirit operating within them?”  JUST GETTING BY!

In my own personal testimony, I believe that some of us have had that POWER turned off for so long, we would not even recognize it if it came back to us!  In my case, the POWER was turned on almost 9 years ago.

Giving only a little to JESUS–

Most of us only give Christ a little space of our lives.  D.L. Moody once said,  “What could God accomplish with a man or woman who has fully surrendered his or her will to God?”

NO SET FORMULA FOR RECEIVING AND GROWING IN THE INFILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT:

There are some PRINCIPLES to look at, but basically, it is the same as growing in-depth of relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no set FORMULA!  Only GUIDELINES.  God is sovereign!

The principle represents our human attempt at cooperation in God’s purposes and SUBMISSION to God’s will.  GROWING in having the Holy Spirit upon for POWER…is simply a matter of being in LOVE with Jesus; asking for the equipping of the Holy Spirit,  receiving in FAITH, and then stepping out in OBEDIENCE.

PRINCIPLE ONE –THIRST – John 7:37-39:

EXTREME THIRST
EXTREME THIRST

It is “thirst” that leads us to Jesus, who gives the LIVING WATER, the Spirit of God.

“Now on the final and most important day of the Feast. Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice,  If any man is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said,  From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs of living water.  But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were afterward to receive.  For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor)” ~ Amplified Bible.

This is, first of all,a THIRST for intimacy with God – Psalm 63:1.

Second, it is a THIRST that arises with deep-seated awareness in our own inadequacy to do the works of God in our own strength.  Jesus perfectly describes our condition when He said,  “…apart from Me, you can do nothing!”

PRINCIPLE TWO – EXPECT – Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”  ~ NIV Bible.

For many of us, “our God is too small”–our expectations of the Christian life are too small.  We’ve limited God by our FEARS, WORLDVIEWS, LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, etc..

EXPECTANCY is an expression of “untrammeled” [Not derived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered-[ii]] faith in God, which prepares us to RECEIVE to do all that He has for us.

PRINCIPLE THREE – REPENTANCE – Acts 2:38:

“…REPENT (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the (gift) of the Holy Spirit” ~ Amplified Bible.

That one is already BAPTIZED and GROWING in Christ is already assumed.  What the apostle Peter has emphasized here is REPENTANCE and CONFESSION should be an ongoing part of the Christian life.

SIN blocks our relationship with God, so REPENTANCE is basic criteria to spiritual growth.  Being sensitive to sin is what counts.

Please be careful here.  One doesn’t have to be perfect to have a high level of SANCTIFICATION; to receive the Holy Spirit “UPON” them for EMPOWERMENT.  There isn’t precondition for a “second blessing.”  If there were such a criterion for receiving the INFILLING, then none of us would qualify.  This is given as a FREE GIFT of God’s grace to all in Christ, who in obedience RECEIVE.

The GIFT IS AVAILABLE THE MOMENT WE ARE IN CHRIST.

No Neglect…

Having affirmed…no precondition, we must be careful not to neglect the inward work of the Holy Spirit.  God is very PATIENT, but if a person persists in disobedience, God may and often does, withdraws the Spirit’s EMPOWERING.  Saul is but one example in the Bible (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Peter, after denying Jesus, went out and wept bitterly.  Later on the beach, he accepted Jesus’ recommissioning in the question and command,

“Do you love me?  …feed my sheep.”

PRINCIPLE FOURASK! – Luke 11:9-13:

If a person is in Christ, he already has the Holy Spirit within him.  BUT…to have the Holy Spirit “upon” for POWER, which is what it means to be baptized or filled with the Spirit, one must appropriate it–ASK!

Asking in PRAYER..

The important thing is to ask in prayer.  Doesn’t matter what words you use; no neat formulas.  What does matter is the intent of the heart.

Many find it helpful to have hands laid upon then.  This has a good Biblical precedent (Acts 9:17, 19:6), which gave me support in my faith when receiving Holy Spirit’s INFILLING; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in an unknown tongue.

One may ask to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, not once but many times, and as often as needed, and I’ve personally done so on many occasions.

PRINCIPLE FIVE – RECEIVE in FAITH – (Gal. 3:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15):

RECEIVING THE INFILLING with the Holy Spirit is not subject to our emotions or our experience.  Rather, it is founded in the PROMISES of God received in FAITH.

Pail asked the congregation located in Galatia,  “To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba (Father)! Father!”  (Gal. 4:5 AMP).  

And furthermore, in Galatians 3:14,  “To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit.”

The Key to Appropriating What God Has Clearly Promised Us…

IS IN JESUS!  (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15).

These PROMISES listed in the above verses, gives us the CONFIDENCE to ask for and in faith RECEIVE the infilling of God’s Spirit.  We come to know it’s God’s will and intention… that we are made useful in His kingdom, equipped to witness to Jesus Christ.

Thus, in FAITH, we ASK for it, we TRUST and BELIEVE that we have indeed RECEIVED.  Experience will follow what we have appropriated in faith.

The emphases upon APPROPRIATING in faith, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is it is Biblical; fully respects the SOVEREIGNTY of God and avoids all gimmicks and manipulations of tarrying meetings and the pressuring by people to speak in tongues, so marred by our joyful reception of God’s free gift.

PRINCIPAL SIX – OBEY the Holy Spirit – (Acts 5:32; John 14:15-17):

This last step is the crucial one and the essence of our whole relationship with JESUS.  We are called to OBEDIENCE to the Holy Spirit by receiving in faith…that FAITH must be made ACTIVE and ALIVE!  The way that this happens is through obedience to Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to obedience and while obeying, that’s when we EXPERIENCE the POWER or see the evidences that we have been EMPOWERED.

AN ILLUSTRATION:

Agitating Dirty Socks
Agitating Dirty Socks

The Holy Spirit, being Holy…His nature doesn’t allow Him to live in a dirty environment.

Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of my washer is called?  The part in the middle that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth?  I’ll just refer to it as an “Agitator.”

What is the purpose of the “Agitator”?  As far as I have learned [our washing machine and dryer is right next to my study/computer room], its sole purpose is to cause havoc for the dirty clothes; it’s there to SHAKE, SEPARATE, the clothes from all the dirt, grime, and money that may be in or on the clothes.

That said, as soon as we are SAVED, Holy Spirit moves into our hearts…but He doesn’t have our heart to Himself…there’s still a lot of things in there…the main one being our own selfish desires…even though we’ve been saved from our past sins, there still remains some things of the world we still cling on to.

ThesE “THINGS” have a way of attaching themselves to us as DIRT.  So, the Holy Spirit begins to gently and lovingly…AGITATE, to SHAKE…to CONVICT us to the things that need to leave our heart.

You see, God wants us to be FILLED with His Spirit…and only when we come to a place in our lives, is He willing to remove ALL the dirt…can we truly be FILLED with His Spirit.

Until then, many times in our spiritual life, it feels like we are in a washing machine…and the Holy spirit constantly, because He loves us so much, agitating within us, convicting us of sin.

What is the TRUTH?

The truth is God’s will for all to be FILLED with the Spirit…but it is your choice…it’s up to you…TOTAL SURRENDER!

If your DESIRE is to have a casual, nominal Christian lifestyle, in place of surrendering all…seeking to receive will not be your desire.  This is one of the major reasons why many individuals in the body of Christ don’t see the need of surrendering all.

The topic in this BLOG discussion, is often a controversial one because… the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused in the receiving/indwelling of the Spirit, occurring at the moment of salvation.

THE FILLING of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life.  It certainly has been for me.

The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.  To RECEIVE the baptism or infilling with the Holy Spirit is just the beginning…you will not arrived at its end of the journey, but you have only begun!

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  “Norena” story from UPI.com>TopNews

[ii]  Oxford Dictionaries.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin for Bloggers.

 

Bible References:

Amplified Bible and New International Version Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe All I Need Is to Take A Vitamin !

THE FAITH VITAMIN:

If you are thinking to yourself right now,  “Another Blog-post about ‘FAITH’?” — I certainly hope, by the end of this page, you just might have a different perspective on the topic.

A.W. Tozier once said, “faith is the vitamin that makes all we take from the bible digestible.”

— We are SAVED by Faith.

— We walk by Faith.

— We are in the household of Faith.

TEXT:  ACTS 14:9, 10

[9] “This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze upon him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well,  [10]  said with a loud voice,  ‘Stand upright on your feet.’  And he leaped up and began to walk”  (NASB).

FAITH is perhaps one, if not the most important element necessary, to grow in the Christian walk.  George Muller , a Christian Evangelist, said “The beginning of anxiety is the end of FAITH and the beginning of true FAITH is the end of anxiety.”  If anyone would know the impact of those words, it would be Mr. Mueller.  He cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime (Wikipedia).

FAITH IS THE KEY:

This KEY that becomes available for us as Christians, unlocks the supernatural realm in our natural existence here on earth.

It is a journey–

Desert Wilderness
Desert Wilderness

Poor old Moses spent 40 years wandering in the desert eating nothing but bread off the ground, an occasional bird, and everyday, a million plus people would come up to him and ask,  “Are we there yet?”

Romans 12:3 tells us,  “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”  (NASB).

What we do with it, how we use it, is up to us.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us WITHOUT FAITH…we can never make God happy.

We can’t compare our faith with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Please don’t do that!

Comparing will only lead to division–

There were three little kids who were talking after school one day.  One said, My brother is taking horseback lessons.  Another said, Well, my sister takes gymnastics.  The third child, not wanting to be outdone said, Well that’s nothing.  My sister takes antibiotics!”

TWO THINGS ARE TRUE ABOUT FAITH PEOPLE:

“People with FAITH feel like good things are about to happen!”

FEAR is the exact opposite of FAITH:

FAITH believes the absolute best will happen in every situation.

Being a Pollyanna Versus Being Faithful–

Webster’s Dictionary says one who is considered to be a POLLYANNA, is a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.  So i think the two have similar qualities…but different at the same time.  One is God based (faithful) and one is personality induced (Pollyanna).  

THE NATURE OF FAITH IS…

“NOW FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  (Hebrews 11:1).

So what does FAITH really look like?

In meditating [kept reading until the words spoke back to me] on Acts 14:9, I see a man crippled in his feet since birth.  He has never taken a step forward in his life; never ran barefoot through the grass in the park; never felt the hot beach sand between his toes.  He was just sitting there where he had been placed.

Many times over my life I’ve found my lack of faith was because…I was still sitting in the place where God put me long ago; never moving forward to what He had planned for in my spiritual life.  I had become weak in FAITH–giving up and not standing on God’s promises.

God Requires Legs of Faith–

What do I mean by “legs”?  It’s putting legs on our faith (like the crippled man), our praises and our prayer life so that we can move on to higher levels.

“And he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

NO FAITH…he would have remained sitting in the same spot…stilled crippled!  Have you ever felt “crippled” in you faith?

FAITH GETS YOUR ATTENTION:

“He was listening to Paul as he talked, and [Paul} gazing intently at him and observing that he had faith to be healed”  (Acts 14:9).

PEOPLE around you are listening and watching your FAITH–

This man listened to Paul as he spoke and when Paul fastened his eyes (or “gazed intently”) upon the crippled man, everything else went out of focus except…for what he understood in this man’s eyes.

Before we are able to SHARE THE GOSPEL we have to look at and notice others.

I have sometimes been in a conversation with someone after church services, when I began to notice their eyes.  The were not looking in my eyes any longer as we spoke.  Were they not interested in what I was saying?  Did I have a dirty spot on the front of my shirt I hadn’t noticed?  Their FOCUS had changed in a different direction; waving to someone towards the back of the auditorium, saying , “Excuse me, I haven’t seen that person in years!” , and off they go.  Did I miss something, did they?

Many folk are afraid to share and won’t look intently.  One man said to me in an Evangelism Training Program,  “Nothing strikes fear in me more than sharing my faith with a complete stranger.”  Why, it’s gotten so bad, I’ve enrolled in a Witness Relocation program!  [I added the last sentence to illustrate the thought].

What Paul saw was expectancy and enthusiasm–

“…and he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

Paul saw this man who was now leaping up and down on the inside.

FAITH looked like unbridled enthusiasm.

San Diego Billy Graham Crusade
San Diego Billy Graham Crusade

I remember once being a counselor at a Billy Graham Crusade in San Diego, California.  The Crusades ran for several days and I had experience great joy in seeing many come to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit within me and other counselors each night.

It was the last night of the Crusade and as the football stadium’s field began to clear, I turned to leave and notice two large men carrying a man in uniform by his arms towards me.  The soldier’s feet weren’t even touching the ground.  I stood there frozen, wandering what was coming next, when one of the men spoke up and said:  We are Marines!  We were SAVED on the first night and this Marine Private… needs to be SAVED too!  I had to explain to them,  JESUS doesn’t move like that.  That SALVATION comes from your friend by his FAITH in Jesus…not by your faith in Jesus.  He has to make his own choice.

I then asked the young Marine who was now standing on the grass between the two larger men [they had to be at least 6′ 4″],   “Would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior tonight? ” He nodded yes, and accepted Christ.

What was his motivation?  Was it more than his friends insistence he come forward?  I can’t answer that question, but what I experienced was the expectancy and enthusiasm of two Marines who were inexperienced in their sharing JESUS, but had the FAITH to use their legs and leave the results to God!

Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor
Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor

“Launching Out in FAITH!”

Peter, in Luke 5,  is told by Jesus to “Put out into deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (verse 4).  In other words, go out beyond the boundaries you are comfortable in… that you’ve accepted for yourself in life.  Expand your perimeter, your comfort zone; start to think and live out of the box!

A Practicable Exercise After Taking the FAITH VITAMIN–

I was taking an Evangelism Training Class on Saturdays years ago, and asked my wife if she wanted to go along with me for the training session; the exercise.  Reluctantly, she agreed, and after our Pastor/teacher briefed us, we ventured out to the surrounding neighborhood on foot.  We both looked at each other and confessed, this was going to take a lot of FAITH,

On that particular Saturday morning, the one that I had invited my wife to attend, was…DOOR-TO-DOOR EVANGELISM.  Yep, you got it.  We were assigned street addresses and were to apply what we had learned in the classroom…door-to-door.

After several doors being shut in our faces, one man came to the door and actually seemed interested in what we were presenting (The Gospel Message of Salvation through the 4-Spiritual Laws).

A Hidden Voice–

“Who’s at the door?” a woman’s voice rang  out of nowhere.  “Don’t be talking to those people!  Close the door!”  I didn’t want to be rude and offend, but the Holy Spirit was telling me the whole time we were there…DON’T STOP SHARING...and our FAITH kept increasing.  

The man stepped outside onto the small porch, telling us that the voice we heard…was his wife, who was a Jehovah’s Witness.  We both thought later, this was certainly a “role-reversal”.

That was an experience that Dianne and I will always remember.  We were expanding our perimeter, our comfort zone, and were definitely living out of our boxes.  We both knew, by FAITH and confidence in His Word, that we were to go–with our feet–comfortable or not.

We left that house knowing, we had planted a Word-seed.  We had been faithful to God’s Word.  The results were up to Him and  based on our faithfulness and obedience to His Word and not by our works.

NO LIMITS HERE!

When we limit ourselves, we limit God.

FAITH knows that what we see is not all there is.  

What we are, is not all we will be.  

Where we are is not where we will end up.  

FAITH looks like unlimited potential.

Exhausting Every Human Resource Available–

In the Gospel of Mark, there was a woman who had been ill for 12 long years, exhausted from trying to get well.  All she had received back was bad reports.  In fact, instead of getting better, she go worse!

When she heard about Jesus, she went after Him (though it was against Jewish law to do so in public).  Because she thought to herself, if I can get close enough, to touch Him… I’ll be better!

That’s HOPE!

One definition of HOPE is, “A heartfelt expectation of something with an outstretched neck!”   She was expecting and willing to risk it all!

FAITHFULNESS is the willingness to take risks (with “an outstretched neck”); and that requires FAITH in order to produce the visible fruit.

So that they [us] should seek God, in the hope

that they might feel after Him and find Him,

although He is not far away from each one of us.

For in Him we live and move and have our being…

Acts 17:27-28

WHAT “FAITH” IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT:

FAITH IS… dead to doubt.

FAITH IS…blind to impossibilities.

FAITH knows nothing but success in God Almighty through the POWER AND AUTHORITY He gives every believer.

FAITH IS NOT believing that God can, but it’s knowing that God will!

Hebrews 11:1 says that,

“Faith is the substance (that which stands by you/along side) the committed, unrelenting, unflinching confidence or companion of things hope for,    And the evidence (revelation, illumination) of things that are not visible to the natural eye.”

Taking the “FAITH VITAMIN” Produces Action–

Hebrews 11, “The Heroes Hall of Faith” Chapter, gives an illustration of the heroes of the Bible who took the faith vitamin:

[32]  And what shall I say further?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.  [33] Who by [the help of] FAITH subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouth of lions.”

Those Scripture verses tells us that FAITH subdued, FAITH worked, FAITH obtained, even stopped the mouth of a lion.

What then does FAITH look like?

When you find JESUS, you find the author (creator), finisher (completer) of your FAITH.  Christ in you…is the HOPE of Glory!  It’s time for all of us to take our daily Multi-Faith Vitamin and watch for the healthy results.