Posts Tagged Holy Spirit

Good Ideas

2 Chronicles 20: 35 – 36

And after this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing. So he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.

This is what comes of our good ideas, disaster. This verse speaks about “after this.” What just happened? Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah have just returned from three days of carrying the spoils of war home from the conflict with the Ammonites, Meunites and Moabites. God showed Himself strong on their behalf and they profited greatly. Now Jehoshaphat has a good idea. “Let’s ally ourselves with Israel.”

At this point in time, God’s kingdom was divided. Israel was not following the ways of the Lord. Up ‘til now, Jehoshaphat has sought the Lord and Judah has enjoyed the blessings thereof. Now he has his own idea and rather than seek the Lord, he just executes his plan. You see, Israel had something he wanted. They had good shipwrights and Jehoshaphat wanted ships that could sail to Tarshish, or at least ships able to make long voyages. I think lust had a grip on Jehoshaphat and he wanted ships capable of traveling to lands of gold, silver and exotic animals. Did he not just learn that his blessing was in the Lord? All the gold, silver and wealth of any kind was in walking with the Lord. They had just taken three days to carry of the spoils from a war they didn’t even have to fight in and yet somehow Jehoshaphat has shifted to thinking he needed to build big ships in order to chase the world’s wealth, literally.

Well, as with all our “great ideas” this one backfired horribly. Verse 37 reads, “Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.’ So the ships were broken and could not go to Tarshish.’” Don’t get bogged down here thinking that God cursed the ships or Jehoshaphat. The truth is that Jehoshaphat walked out of the blessing and into the curse. The breakup of the ships was the natural consequence of walking in the world rather than walking by the spirit. This is one of those “selling your soul to the devil’ moments.

Israel was immersed in idol worship. They had left their first love and were serving other gods. Jehoshaphat was not only willing but desirous of an alliance with Israel because she had something he wanted. This is exactly why you hear so much about adultery in the Bible. Israel had already abandoned her first love and now Judah was willing to get into bed with Israel despite their heathen practices because of the desire for material goods. Mind you, it is not the desire for ships or gold that was the selling out of Judah. The prostitution was in selling out to the world to get it. God had shown Jehoshaphat that He would more than supply their needs. He even gave them the worlds goods. How is it that Jehoshaphat didn’t understand that? The sad conclusion is that his alliance with Israel, which was mired in the deep weeds, led the entire nation of Judah astray too.

Jehoram succeeded his father Jehoshaphat as king and the seeds of Jehoshaphat’s wickedness bore fruit in Jehoram’s generation. Chapter 21, verse 11 makes this clear, “Jehoram made illegal places of worship in the hills of Judah. This caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to chase after foreign gods as if they were prostitutes. So he led Judah astray.”

Not only did Jehoshaphat not get what he wanted because the ships foundered and broke apart, but his greed and resulting alliance with the lost tribes of Israel caused the nation of Judah to founder as well. They went from being the source of one of the greatest stories of victory to a lost and broken people. It’s sad.

So, how are your bright ideas looking to you right about now? I know I regret my own when I don’t take them to the Lord. They fail miserably and bring me grief. What, then, is the answer? I’ll bet you know. Take it all to the Lord in prayer. Although, that is a little misleading. Really what we are called to do is to listen to the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sure, take it to God in prayer but then hush up and listen. Let Him guide you through His Spirit. That is the way. That is what Jehoshaphat did when he was so successful. He sought the Lord. Later, he led the entire nation of Judah astray with his good ideas. Hey, I’ve got an idea – let’s follow where the Lord leads. I bet that will work. And that is my good idea for today.

See Him

Psalm 33: 8

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

I went to hear a friend of mine preach last Sunday and had a marvelous time. Isn’t that funny, that we can actually have fun at church? In his sermon and his delivery I could see the seminary student. At other times I recognized the research he did in preparation. It was also clear that he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him in the preparation and the delivery of his message. As I sat there soaking in all of the elements of the message, I found myself wondering. What makes a man like this even want to be a Christian? His message was full of reliance on God, reliance on the Spirit of God. His message was about the idols which we all set up in our hearts. One of the most prominent for preachers is that we tend to put our education and our ability to research and learn on the throne of our hearts. We get so busy trying to learn and convey what we have learned that we forget to actually yield ourselves and all that we are to the Lord. Craziness, right? As I listened, though, I became convinced that this is a man who truly adores God and who is submitted to him. For all the education and intelligence, this was a man hungry for more of God and humble before the Almighty.

It bathed my heart is the sweet honey of the love of God. The anointing in me was stirred up by the anointing on the message. That is the sweet spot and there is nothing better. That anointing only comes from those who truly love the Lord and stand in awe of Him. We sometimes have to remind ourselves to look at the Father and appreciate the grandeur of who He is. Messages from the Holy Spirit are only given to those who yield their will to that of the Father. There is a loud note of trust here. I have to put what I know, or think I know, on the back burner and let the Holy Spirit be the teacher. First, the Spirit preaches the message to the preacher and then preacher gives it to the congregation. In order to receive that message, we have to stand in such reverential awe of Him that we are convinced that He will not let us down. We trust and know that He will deliver.

Every aspect of life is this way. It is not only for preachers. Whatever work we do, in our relationships, with our money and everything else, we lay all those things on the floor of the throne room of God as we lift our eyes to gaze upon His beauty. From that adoration, praise and trust, from that intense sense of reverence and awe, flow all the miracles and all the sustenance. Understand this, to my friend, Jay, sustenance was a message for Sunday. It was one of his greatest needs. He had to trust God for it. There is great pressure in trying to develop a Sunday sermon. If you miss God in that situation, you do so before a crowd of people. Everyone knows you either didn’t seek God or you didn’t listen. That can put some pressure on you – if you let it.

Just like everything in life, we must take all these worry generating circumstances to the Lord and trust Him to meet our need. Clearly Jay did just that. His message was anointed in the grace of the Father and the oil of the Holy Spirit. God delivered. God was trustworthy. Yahoo! That is shouting ground folks. If God will do it for a preacher in North Carolina, He will do it for you. God is no respecter of persons. His grace and mercy are for every single person on the planet. Jay appealed to the Holy Spirit and trusted God for the answer. That should encourage all of us.

Whatever your problems, whatever your worries, lay them down. Look upon the Lord. See His magnanimity. I tell you truthfully, when we see God for who He is, not only does it arouse praise and reverence within us, it also minimizes the worries. We begin to understand that He is not only capable, but also willing. Look at the Father, our God. See the glory of His countenance. Let Him lift your heart. When you see Him, really see Him, you will lose all worry. You will know all your needs are met. Glory to God!

So the answer why people, capable people even, submit to God and serve Him is because God is so great. Great is a much overused word but I just cannot seem to find a word big enough to describe the kind-hearted generosity and love the Father has for all who seek Him. This is also the answer to how we can actually have fun at church. When we experience God, there is nothing greater. It may be hard to describe to a non-believer or a cultural Christian but the heart soars in the presence of God. We experience true freedom and joy. Look upon the Lord. See Him for His greatness and the kind intentions of His heart. Stand in awe that the God of the Universe is your very own Father – if you let Him be.

Spirit of Revelation

Psalm 110: 1

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

I love these Old Testament revelations of Jesus. It is common for us to talk about Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father but think about David writing this 1000 years before Jesus arrived. Just to make it clear, the first use of the word “Lord” refers to God. “My Lord” is Jesus, the Messiah. Do you not find it amazing that David had such a clear revelation of Jesus so far in advance of his arrival?

This is the work of the Holy Spirit and believe it or not, that same Holy Spirit is alive and moving in the earth today. Very few Old Testament writers had this kind of revelation, especially about Jesus. Even fewer knew, explicitly, about the Spirit. One of the things I like most about David is the way he worked with the Holy Spirit. He is unique in his understanding of and flowing with the Spirit of God. Do you find that surprising? Well, the Holy Spirit was not yet fully revealed. The Old Testament saints were looking for Messiah. Jesus revealed the coming age of the Holy Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit has not diminished one jot throughout the centuries. He is still revealing powerful truths. One of the other similarities, though, is that there still is not widespread collaboration with the Spirit. He remains a bit of a mystery to many New Testament believers. Did you know you can even pray to him? Well, that may not be a huge revelation, but it may be something you haven’t thought of. He is God. He is the third person of the trinity. Therefore, if you want to walk with him and have him give you the kinds of revelations he gave David, you can. You can talk with him and ask him to partner with you. He responds well to invitations.

The Holy Spirit is moving in this age for those who have the requisite awareness. He wants to integrate into your life and activate all his spiritual gifts with you and for you. Seek him, invite him, talk with him daily. He is there with you right now and will gladly walk as closely with you as he did with David, even as closely as he partnered with Jesus.

Confidence

Romans 5: 5           GW

We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Can we truly be confident in the Lord, so confident that it shows? The love of God brings hope and we will not be disappointed in our hope because God has given us the Holy Spirit. Did you know that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to pour love into our hearts? He pours, not dribbles. A great volume of love is available to anyone who will receive. This love brings confidence.

We have confidence that God will never leave us nor forsake us because He poured out His Spirit to us. His Spirit lives in us so God is bound to us. He has chosen to be bound to us. We cannot be separated from Him because His Spirit is in us. That is a powerful statement. Therefore, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 39). Surely this truth yields hope, a hope which leads to confident expectation.

Look at this verse from the New Living Translation, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Is that not special? Here is the Passion version, “And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!”

Just think, it was God’s choice that provides us with a never-ending flow of His love. No one coerced Him. He came up with the idea and the plan. So, our confidence is in His love because He offered it freely even while we were yet lost. When we did not love Him, He devised a plan to furnish us with an everlasting, endless supply of His love and His love never fails. We should have confidence in that love. It is reliable and we can trust in it.

Let your hope in God’s love fill your heart with confidence. There is no guesswork here. God has given Himself to you because He wanted to. If He would give you His Spirit, and His Spirit is constantly pouring the love of God into your heart, what would the Father deny you? He has given the best, why not the rest?

Fire

Matthew 3: 11

As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire? What does a person who has been baptized in fire look like? Why does the prophetic word teach that Jesus’ baptism is not only in the Holy Spirit but also in fire?

Many days when I sit down to write the Word of the Day I ask the Father, “What can I possibly write that will ignite people? What will awaken their former zeal?” Too many of us have fallen asleep in our faith. I preach to myself as well. Am I aglow with the Holy Spirit as I once was? I believe Jesus wants us baptized in fire so that we will burn with devotion and passion. I keep thinking of people who are “on fire” for God. Where has our passion gone? Have we abandoned our first love?

This verse always reminds me of Moses and the burning bush. The bush was not consumed. It wasn’t a natural fire, it was the Holy Spirit. It got Moses’ attention and he turned aside to observe it. That is exactly what I think the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire is supposed to do for us. We become those burning bushes which attract people. Look at this story more closely for a moment. “So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am,” (Exodus 3: 3 – 4). What an amazing encounter. Observe the dynamic though. The bush afire garnered Moses’ attention. When Moses took the time to turn aside and look at the bush, the next thing that happened is that God spoke to him. Wow!

We are to be those burning bushes. When we are on fire for God, people turn aside to attempt to discover what is so amazing. When they do, God speaks. We are called to be the catalyst though. When we burn brightly, people are drawn to God. I am concerned that our flames are beginning to go out. We just don’t seem to be red hot anymore. What does it take to get dying embers to burst into flame? Is it something I can give you? Is it something God needs to do? Is it something only you can do for yourself?

You have heard it said that Paul told Timothy, “Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands,” (2 Timothy 1: 6). This is from the King James Bible and it’s a good word. However, many other translations, reflect back to the fire that was to come to us through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is how the Tree of Life version reads, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” The Passion version says, “I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you.” The fire and passion of Paul’s heart is heard in these words.

I wish I could lay hands on every single one of you and breathe upon the spiritual gift that has been imparted to you through Jesus’ baptism. However, I can’t, just as Paul couldn’t at the time he wrote to Timothy. We are going to have to fan the flames of the Spirit ourselves. I pray you become an inferno for God. I pray you and Jesus stir up those embers and rekindle the roaring fire you once were. And, if you have never been on fire for Jesus, if you have always been a bit lukewarm in your passion for Him, I pray right now, in the name of Jesus that the Holy Spirit touch you and love you into an unquenchable fire. Jesus, send your Spirit to breathe on each one of us. Refresh our anointing and our fire Lord. Amen!!

Living Water

John 7: 37 – 39

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This verse is enlightening, and I believe it brings a certain amount of joy as well. It celebrates both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What word jumps out at you from the passage? I am intrigued by the word “cried.”

As I read the gospels I perceive Jesus as very cool under fire. When put on the spot, he once simply knelt down and began to doodle in the dirt. This is not the person I think of “crying out.” It is no great leap to conjecture that this message was of keen importance to Jesus. Can you picture this scene? Apparently, everyone was seated because Jesus stood. They were feasting. Who was there? How many people do you reckon were gathered? In the midst of the feast Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice. Wow! That must have been a sight. One can certainly suppose that the message was vital for Jesus to interrupt the feast and to make such a spectacle of himself.

Interestingly enough, the message was not about salvation. It wasn’t even about sin. Why didn’t he jump up and say, “Come all you sinners. I will save your soul from eternity in hell.” That is what most of us would expect but only because we don’t know Jesus well enough. Jesus took care of the sin problem. He conquered hell. His real message is displayed in this cry. “Come to me all you who are thirsty. I will satisfy your thirst.”

How did Jesus plan to satisfy the deep and enduring thirsty within us? He already knew about the Father’s plan to send the Holy Spirit into the earth. God made the promise back in Joel 2: 28. Then John the Baptist revealed that Jesus would baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3: 11). Now, here, in the early chapters of John we discover that those who believe in Jesus were to receive the Spirit. Right before Jesus’ exit from planet earth he gathered his followers and advised them. He was passing the torch to all who would follow him. He told them not to leave Jerusalem “but to wait for what the Father had promised . . . for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 1: 4 – 5). Then Jesus was taken up in a cloud of glory. He was glorified in the earth and in heaven as his disciples watched.

So, Jesus’ essential message was come, receive the filling of the Holy Spirit so that you will never again thirst. The living water of the Holy Spirit is a river flowing in the spirit of those who ask and receive. The invitation was simple, “Come,” Jesus said. Anyone who is thirsty is invited to the well. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, he says also to you, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water,” (John 4: 10). Receive the living water. Be filled and satisfied.

Filling Station

Acts 2: 4

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

Back in the old days, we called gas stations, filling stations. You drove your car into the station and someone would come out and fill it up with gasoline. It was good. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Holy Spirit filling station, a place where we could pull in and be topped off with the Spirit?

Yesterday, we looked at Ephesians 5, verses eighteen and nineteen. In verse eighteen, Paul tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit. His directive is a bit challenging. He writes “be filled” as if there is a filling station we can visit to fill us up with the Holy Spirit. It would have been good for us if he would have continued to write, how we should be filled. Was it so simple for the believers of that day that instruction was not needed?

Today’s passage is from the account of the Day of Pentecost. Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received this promised pouring out from God. The Bible says, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2: 1). The first thing we learn is that they obeyed the Word of the Lord. That is always a good starting point. Secondly, what were they doing? This was a Jewish feast day therefore, we might safely assume they gathered together to worship and honor the Lord. They gathered in his name. And they were filled. It seems the key to their being filled by the Spirit was obeying Jesus’ word.

Another good example comes from Acts 4: 31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Here we find believers gathered together, praying.

God sent Peter to Joppa to the home of Cornelius, A Roman soldier. Even though Cornelius and his household were all gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell upon all of them even while Peter was still preaching (Acts 10: 44).

While I am not saying that the Holy Spirit can only fill you when you are assembled with other believers, I am saying that being in a Spirit filled environment certainly does recharge your batteries. An atmosphere of praise and worship invites the presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe the early church celebrated Christ with such enthusiasm and spoke so boldly about Christ, the anointed one, that the Holy Spirit was constantly being poured out. Praise and worship are powerful tools that many of us overlook far too often. As you immerse yourself in the Spirit you will find your faith grow stronger, your ability to hear improved and you will immerge renewed in your faith.

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