Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

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Stop, Look and Listen

August 22, 2015

Exodus 3

  1. Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.  So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 

In Exodus 3:1-2 Moses was doing what he always did. He was doing his own thing, minding his own business, just moving along in his life. He’d been living in Midian, had a wife and family and had been there for about 40 years.

So, here he was on the far side of the desert at Mount Horeb. He led his sheep up the mountain.

There was a flame of fire that caught his notice because the bush that was “burning” wasn’t burning! He noticed the fire, but not the Angel of the Lord. The flame drew him to the Angel of the Lord.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell as tongues of fire.

(Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.)

Most Bible scholars agree that “The angel of the Lord” always refers to a visitation of the pre-incarnate Jesus.  So, the Holy Spirit drew Moses out of his normal, everyday life and introduced him to Jesus.

            When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Moses answered, “Here I am.”

 When Jesus (The Lord) saw that Moses noticed and came to look, God the Father called to Moses by name. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except by Him/Jesus and that no one comes unless the Father draws him. Jesus tells us that He, Jesus, calls us by name.

(John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.)

Moses couldn’t even hear God until he responded to the Spirit and the Son. Once he did, he heard God call his name.

God doesn’t change. Even back in the Old Covenant times, He was preparing mankind for the New Covenant.  The trinity works in the same way.

Moses was not seeking God when the Holy Spirit (or the flame) got his attention. Moses couldn’t yield to the Lord until he saw Him in the flame, the Father couldn’t call him to his ministry until Moses went through Jesus first.

It is still the same today. We all yielded to Christ when the Holy Spirit prepared our hearts to see Him. We responded when we heard our own name, when we knew that He was calling us personally. What a wonderful God we serve!

We’ve been told that we have to decide to accept Christ in order to be saved.  Just like Moses, all we did was notice Him and He did the rest. We entered into His kingdom the moment we saw Him. Also, like Moses, we cannot miss our “burning bush” experience. God Almighty, Elohim, gets our attention Himself in whatever way will best capture us, then He completes it in us.

The next thing that happened was that God told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.  He was already in the Kingdom. Again, Moses did nothing but listen.  “Holy” means “set apart for God. ” Moses was standing in a piece of heaven on earth. The “dirt” of this world (his sandals) doesn’t belong there. When we acknowledge Jesus’ call, our “shoes” are removed also and we now stand in God’s kingdom on earth. The great thing about the New Covenant is that Jesus removed our shoes for us. Moses, being Old Covenant, had to remove his own.

                        5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, a murderer, one who ran away from God is now afraid. He is face to face with the Almighty. Even we, in the New Covenant, are aware of our sins and our unworthy condition the first time we hear our name called by God. God, however, goes on speaking to Moses without acknowledging Moses’ fear. God wasn’t interested in his shortcomings or his past, God now focuses on the future.  Just like what He did and does with us.

God laid out the whole plan. He told Moses that he would be the one to set the people free from Egypt, that they would leave there wealthy, that the land promised to Abraham was waiting for them. He tells Moses what His Name is and answers all of Moses’ questions.  The next thing Moses did was try and get out of it, but that’s another story.

The takeaway here is that God never changes.  Moses didn’t deserve grace, neither do we. Moses was a sinner, so were we. Moses was called, so are we.

We receive eternal life not because we gave our life to Christ, but because He gave His life for us.

           God So loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

        God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)

        In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

So, like Moses, it’s not about us, it’s about Him and His love. (With Moses, it was His love for the Jewish slaves in Egypt; with us, it’s His love for us who were slaves to the world.)  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs  according to the hope of eternal life.      

All we need to do is say “Thank you” and spread the good news to others so they can be set free too!

 

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The “Grace” Controversy

July 28, 2014

GOD’S GRACE. Controversial?

Who’d have ever thought that God’s grace could be controversial?  Yet, it seems to be a controversial topic among preachers and teachers today.  What a strange world we live in (oh, the world has always been strange).

In Paul’s day, the religious Jewish folk said he was “blaspheming the Law of Moses and the temple” because he was not telling Gentiles (non-Jews) to become circumcised or that they had to follow the Jewish laws.  Today, there are those who say that persons who preach grace want to throw out the Old Testament….similar? [If you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, you’ll see this everywhere Paul went.]

The Old Testament was the only “Scripture” available to the first Apostles.  Paul, as a teacher and lawyer, used it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews.  Paul proved Jesus was Messiah to the Gentiles by signs and wonders.  The Old Testament scriptures would have had no meaning to non-Jews.  Paul used whatever he could to show the non-Jews that God loved them; however, they wouldn’t be able to connect the dots using a scripture that had no relevance for them.

As Christian believers in this time, we have the wealth of the Old Testament to peruse as we see Jesus Christ throughout.  We can see God’s plan of redemption beginning in Genesis and follow it all the way through.  We can see God’s character and how patient he was to the Jewish people and how He loved them.  We see his plan to return mankind to a place where they are one with Him again.  We see how blessed we are that we have a new contract (covenant/testament) and that, as believers, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. {Romans 2:8}

When Jesus walked the planet among us, he was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan).  [Luke 11:15]

When Jesus was here, there were no Christians.  He came to the Jews to explain to them who he was and to show them that they were not able to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly enough to ensure salvation.  He showed them how impossible it is to keep the Law so that they would know that they needed a Savior (Him).  Most of them eventually did not believe and many of them called for his crucifixion.

He had a dual message:  1) that no one can keep the Law well enough to be saved and, therefore, God sent His Messiah to save them; and 2) to prophecy about the New Covenant (or agreement, contract or Testament) and what would happen after He died, took our punishment, and rose again to a new life…ushering in that New Covenant.

I knew the grace of God when Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior. John 3:16-18 says

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Just believe?  Isn’t that grace?  This was God’s plan from the beginning.  No hoops to jump through, no Law to obey, just receiving His gift of mercy and grace.

So…we just believe and go on living however we feel like?  Well, we could, but there is another component…the Holy Spirit who comes and lives in us when we turn ourselves over to Jesus Christ, believing He has done it all.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in us.  Our lives begin to change as the Spirit begins changing our desires to match up with God’s desires. We cannot remain the same as we were…we are alive for the first time, we KNOW love for the first time and we respond to that love. [John 14:17; 16:5-15]

Many of those who are so uptight about grace forget the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and our new ability to respond.

When you fall in love with someone, even on an earthly level, you want to please them, you want to learn all about them, and you change your life for them.  Think about how it would be if that person’s spirit was in you helping you to understand them, showing you how to love them and, more than that, showing you that they love you more than you could even absorb.  That’s what grace is like…that’s what grace is.

             Grace is Jesus.  Grace is Love.

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HUMBLE EGO TRIP?

February 24, 2014

            I remember thinking, during a worship service, how grateful I was for the cross.  I was imagining myself standing at the bottom, looking down at his blood, and feeling so very overwhelmed with my own unworthiness.  In the midst of this tremendous emotional drama, I heard in my mind (in my own voice…like a random thought) the words, “You are on the wrong side of the cross.”  It caught me up short!  What?  What does that mean I thought, wrong side?

            At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of that statement.  I understood that it meant that I needed to get into the forgiveness side of things, but didn’t really know what that meant.  But, I knew it was the Lord.

Most of my Christian walk (since 1975), I’ve felt unworthy or less than.  When I was first born again, I didn’t care if I was worthy or not.  I knew that I was saved, loved, forgiven, set free…had a clean slate and a new beginning.  As the years went by, I started putting things on my slate.  I put on a lot of “should’s”, “have to’s”, “must not’s”, etc.  I also always fell short of all those goals.  Some were taught to me, some were found in the Bible, and most came from my own mind.

So, I got involved in church, got counseling, studied the bible, listened to certain TV preachers, etc.  All the while, I still felt like everyone else “had it” but me.

Recently, the scales fell off my eyes (just like the apostle Paul in the Bible (Acts 9)) and I saw Jesus again!  I was reading a book entitled, “God Without Religion”, by Andrew Farley, on New Year’s Eve and by the next morning, I couldn’t’ put it down.  He plainly explained grace in his book and brought me back to the “joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12).  When Jesus said “It is finished” it was finished!  I didn’t have to be concerned about “should, have to, mustn’t” words.  Jesus covered everything.  He left us with only two commandments:  “Love God and love others.”  We can’t love God until we know that God loves us.  Once we know, we begin to love him.  As we get to know more about his love for us, we begin to love him more and more and we want to tell others about Jesus.

Does this give us an excuse to keep living a life of sin?  Why would we want to?  Why, after being touched by his love, would we have any desire to do anything that would move our focus from that love?  He said he will complete the work he started in us (Phil. 1:6), He will take us from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).  We are his forever, He tells us that we know his voice and no one can snatch us out of his hands, and because the Father has given us to him, no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hands.  (John 10:26-29).

Humble?  Who cares!  Jesus loves me just as I am and will make me whole, through the Holy Spirit.  I just have to love Him back and share that love with others.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! (2 Cor. 3:17)

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The Old is New Again!

February 17, 2014

     I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1975. That was a long time ago.  One thing I knew, then, was that I was forgiven, my sins were removed, my slate was clean.  He loved me and died for me to set me free.  I KNEW that!  I didn’t know the Bible, I didn’t belong to a church, I only knew that I was forgiven and new. 

I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell others.  I was so excited that others hid when they saw me coming, and then…they too accepted the Lord and they became “born again”.

This was during the Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church and, following my mother, I began to attend prayer meetings.  I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, Wait! Don’t stop reading because you don’t believe that is for today, or that is only for the Apostles.  Who told you that anyway?  No one told Stephen, Philip, Barnabas and many others, so they just did what Jesus said. Look for yourselves.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to start reading the Bible and finding out what is said.  It came alive.

That excitement lasted about three years.  I saw miracles. I saw addicts set free and arthritis and migraine headaches healed by the laying on of hands (by just plain, ordinary believers, just like Jesus said).

Over the years, the excitement wore off and the world crept in.  I was leaving my first love and becoming self-consumed again.  Little by little, like Chinese water torture, self became more important.

When I attempted to get back what I had, I joined a bible teaching church, I diligently listened to the Pastor.  I learned about faith and the power of it.  I learned and learned.  I liked my church and loved my Pastors.  I became involved in service and small groups and training, and the like.

We eventually changed pastors and our new Pastor began really teaching the Bible.  He took more than a year and a half to go through the Old Testament historical books giving us a clear understanding.  He had us do daily readings and we read the Proverbs and Psalms.  His teaching was clear and concise.  I began to take BibleCollege courses to learn more.  He took us through the Gospels, tying the Old and the New Testaments, showing threads and shadows and how it all led to God’s Plan to set us free.

I was filled with knowledge, filled with faith, yet something was missing.

On New Year’s Day, 2014, in a little book, I found what it was.  It was just plain Jesus!

That day in 1975, I met Him. I knew He loved me unconditionally.  But, over the years, I forgot.  I started adding have to and if  to the Gospel…“conditions”.  Then, I tried to meet all the “conditions” I had imposed upon myself, or had imposed upon me by various teachers, books, etc.

Jesus spoke to two types of people: religious and believers.  To the religious, He said, in essence: “You’ll never be good enough. You have to be perfect to enter into My Kingdom.”  To the Believers, He said, “I have covered it all, you only have to believe in Me and tell others about the good news!”

I now know when I read the Bible or listen to teaching, I must rightly divide the word of truth…there are no if’s or have to’s in the Good News, just Jesus, who did it all for us and finished it.

It’s called “Grace”, unmerited, empowering, freeing, loving Grace!  Grace to just love God and others.  Grace to set others free!  He just plain loves us!  We can’t escape His love and we can’t make Him love us more!  All I had to do is believe…and it’s still all I have to do. He did all the rest.

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Free to be Me!

January 21, 2014

Gal 3:3  Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

What happened when I/we responded to the call of Jesus in our lives?

John 3:16-18  [we all know this scripture]  Jesus said that all we have to do is believe, that He was not sent to judge the world, but that the world would be saved through him.

Well, I believed.  I was given eternal life and I didn’t have to do anything to get it except “believe”.  What did I believe?  That Jesus gave me eternal life.

Jesus’ commandment:  Love God with all our hearts and love one another like He loved us.

2 John 1:5,6

 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one anotherThis is the commandment just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

What happened to us when we accepted Jesus? We were no longer separated from God.  Our sin was covered in His blood and we were completely made new.  I became a new creature, nothing of my old self remained because new things have come.

  [2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.]

What are those new things? Here are some:

I no longer live for myself, but for Him. (2 Cor. 5:15)

My sins are no longer counted against me. (2 Cor. 5:19)

I have good news for others that they can be new and free too. (2 Cor. 5:19,20)

I am the righteousness of God because Jesus became sin on my behalf.  (2 Cor. 5:21)  I don’t have to do anything to become “righteous”, I already am and will always be!

Ephesians chapter 1 tells me that

I have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

I was chosen by Him before the foundation of the world.

I am holy and blameless before Him in love!

I’ve been adopted as God’s daughter through Jesus because that’s what He wanted!

God’s grace has freely been bestowed on me in Christ.

I’ve been redeemed!

I’ve been forgiven according to the riches of His grace (not by anything I’ve done)

He has lavished His grace on me.

It goes on and on.

I am free to be me.  But what about my walk?

The Holy Spirit resides inside of me. He is the pilot of my new self.  He guides me into all truth.  He teaches me all things, He brings Jesus’ words to my mind. He is the Spirit of Truth who bears witness of Jesus for me.  (John 15:26).   He guides me into all truth and will disclose what is to come and He glorifies Jesus all the time. (John 15:13,14).

I can choose to listen to the Spirit or listen to the flesh.  I have the ability to choose life at all times.

Jesus said that we receive power when the Spirit comes upon us! (Acts 1:8)

The power to witness about Him!

I am free to be excited about what Jesus has done for me and to listen to the Spirit direct me in my and life to tell others about it.  I am free to love others and have the grace to do so.

Jesus only asked that we love God first and love others like He did.  The Holy Spirit in me gives me the ability to do so.

We are to make disciples and teach them to:  Love God first and love others as He loved us.  That’s what Jesus asked of us and for that, He has given us eternal life, total freedom from sin (original, separating sin), ability to live for Him and choose His way.  He gave us His peace that passes understanding.

I need to stop thinking about what God wants from me (like I could give Him anything), and start thinking and remembering what He did for me.

When I first accepted my Jesus, I worshiped Him, I praised Him, I continually thought about how wonderful He is and what He did for me.  I couldn’t stop talking about the freedom I found, the love that entered into me and the wonder of walking with Him.

Little by little, for the best reasons, I started to put in “if”, “have to”, “should”, “must” because I wanted to please Him.  I already please Him, He loves me unconditionally and only asks me to love Him back!

THANK YOU LORD JESUS!

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THE PROBLEM CENTER

September 23, 2012

          There are two doors in front of us when we have a problem or situation.  One states: “PROBLEM CENTER”; the other says  “SOLUTION CENTER”.  If I open the ProblemCenter door, first I have to go through the “hall of mirrors” which only offers warped images of the “problem”.  Then, when I cannot see the situation without distortion, I enter the main operational center.  In there is a desk filled with paperwork, charts, graphs and I am sitting behind the desk, in charge.  If I open the Solution Center, there in only one room, and on the desk there is only one Book and the Holy Spirit is sitting behind the desk with a pointer, pointing out the true problem and the true solution located in THE BOOK.

          The center of our problems is in our minds.  We take our thoughts to the “problem center” instead of the “solution center of the Word”.  If we don’t change the “center” we remain in the problem.  In the problem center, we decide:  1)What the problem is (filtered through all our human filters); 2. how it can or can’t be resolved (using all our human resources, based on our filters); and 3. then attempt to execute our human solution based on our own faulty thinking.

          Just like in the story of the blind men each describing an elephant based solely on the part of the body they can feel, we see only what our filters allow us to see and then we barge ahead or quit based on that unreal realty.

          The Bible teaches us how to enter the “Word Center”, and not the “Problem Center”.  In 1 Cor. 13, we see that our human thinking is like a poor reflection in a mirror, that we know in part.

          The Holy Spirit expects us to bring our problems to Him…He is the teacher and counselor who will lead us into all truth.  (John 16)  and He only speaks the Word.

          Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her house; the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”Before  we became Christians, we used to be of the world, we used to operate solely in the human “ProblemCenter”; but now, we are no longer of this world, we’ve been bought with a price.  Phil. 2:12b tells us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling…”  We are responsible to change our thinking so that lines up with the Word of God.

          If you are ever unsure…Love is the always the answer

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God Has No Gray Areas/ Part 2

April 17, 2012

There’s a lot of talk about God today.  It’s all over the place.  There is not a lot of talk about Jesus Christ.  It’s under His Name that every knee shall bow. 

 It wasn’t like that in the early Church. “…we preach Christ crucified…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (Paul in 1 Cor. 1:23b, 24)   Peter, after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, went out and preached about Jesus, his miracles, his death and resurrection.  He exhorted them to “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  The Lord added to their number day by day (Acts 2).

 The early church preached about Jesus, about the Kingdom of God.  People believed in Him and were baptized with water and then filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and became bold and evangelized.  God blessed them by adding to their number and multiplying them.  They became such a great power that Rome was afraid of them.

 The power is in Christ.  God has given to Him “all authority in heaven and on earth.”  He, Jesus, commissioned us to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them all that He (Jesus) commanded.  That is what the Apostles and their disciples did, with boldness and empowerment by the Holy Spirit.

 Are we preaching Christ crucified?  Or some other gospel.