No Power to All Power

Matthew 28: 18          NMB

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, all power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

So, if, as Jesus said, all power was given to him, then why could he do nothing in and of himself? Is this a perplexing problem or a simple question? Remember from yesterday’s Word of the Day that John 5: 19 records Jesus as saying that he could do nothing of himself. So how was he able to perform so many miracles? The answer is, he was given all power when he was given the Holy Spirit. Recall that the Spirit of God came and rested upon him at his baptism. From then on, he walked in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than in his power.

I hope that brief recitation paints a picture in your mind. It can be very perplexing to think of walking as Jesus did, living as he did and carrying on his ministry, which is what we are all called to do. We try, in vain sometimes, to imagine what walking in and with the Spirit looks like. The good news is that we can look at Jesus. He has already modeled it for us. He was just a man, and by his own admission a powerless man. He couldn’t do miracles in himself. He was so aware of human shortcomings that he said that in and of himself he could do nothing. I can relate to that, can you? Doesn’t it seem sometimes that even the simplest things take more power and energy than we can produce?

The brilliance is in understanding we were never meant to stand on our own. It turns out, even to my chagrin, that individualism is a farce. We are not individuals. We are constituent parts of a whole and meant to be woven into the very fabric of our father. Actually, you know that we are called the body of Christ, each of us an important part of the whole. We are also the house of God; “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 2: 5). Jesus is the high priest who will offer spiritual sacrifices to God in the temple. It turns out that we are that temple.

My point is this. You were never designed to function on your own. That’s like a one person basketball team. You were created to function as a team; with all the rest of us but more importantly, in harness with the Holy Spirit of God. If we, as the body of Christ, as his spiritual house can grasp this, we can, and I mean this literally, change the world overnight. When we lay hold of this concept our lives will change dramatically as well as the lives of every person around us. You will not be able to contain yourself or that power resident within you. You become a world changer like Jesus. Everywhere you go, he will exude from you. I want so much for us to be that functioning body that Jesus is looking for. It isn’t only up to me. More importantly, it is up to “we.” The world changing phenomenon is in us, and we are learning to walk in the Spirit and emulate Jesus. If we are to ever be true disciples, that is what is called for.

Of yourself, you can’t do much, but then, Jesus said the same of himself. He was given a gift, though, a gift which not only changed him but changed the world. That was the gift of the Holy Spirit. If there is any one message of this age it is that we need to embrace the Spirit of God and walk with him daily. We need to meet this third part of the Trinity and know him as we know and love Jesus. Though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things with him. That includes caring for your family and being successful in what God has called you to do.

Make this your Spirit day. If you don’t feel you have a relationship with him, make this your day. If you know him, decide to go deeper with the Holy Spirit today. Determine to walk every step with him and purpose in your heart that he will be in your every breath.

O My Soul

Habakkuk 2: 4

Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.

Yesterday Habakkuk taught us that God does not want us to rely on our own strength, but rather to trust in His. We talked about partnering with the Holy Spirit, allowing him to guide our decisions and actions. We learned that He is not pleased with our looking to our own strength and skills. In fact, the scripture said we will be held guilty if that is our reliance. I don’t want to be held guilty by God but further, I don’t want to work myself to death when He has sent me His Spirit to do all the heavy lifting. Why would we do that? Why do we do that?

Pride – says the prophet Habakkuk or rather God through Habakkuk. It is vain pride, ego mania, that causes us to focus on us instead of our savior, Father and helper. It sounds ridiculous! Why are we looking to our abilities when our Father is omniscient? Habakkuk says, our soul is not right within us. In the Southern United States we would say, “Something ain’t right!” What a shock for God to tell us it is our very own soul which has gone afoul.

Before we panic let’s ask this question, “How can we get our soul right?” When you were born again, that was a rebirth from above. God breathed new life into you and renewed your spirit. What of the soul, though? Here is the bad news, you are going to have to get your hands dirty. Yep, you have work to do. Now, are you willing? Truth be told, probably only about 20% of you answered, “yes,” so it is to you twenty percenters that I will speak.

Here is the answer. Turn your Bible to Romans 12: 2. What does it say? Here is God’s instruction on how to renew your soul. It has to be retrained by renewing your mind with the Word of God. You have to do this. Before you freak out, though, remember what yesterday’s Word of the Day was about. It was all about partnership, right? There is nothing you ever have to do alone again. The other side of the coin, though, is that God is not going to do it without you. You are partners. Let that sink in. Imagine forming a partnership with Yahweh. Picture yourself shaking hands with Him as you seal your agreement.

Now, here you are. You have a reborn spirit which not only is in the likeness of God but actually is a little piece of Him. He is part of your genetics and your breath now and you are part of His. Our minds, though, are unruly and must be taken in hand. Your spirit in conjunction with Father’s is more than up to this task. You are going to have to spend time in your Bible. I hate it for you, but it is just the truth. It is going to have to be done but it is so easy. Let me help you.

Every week day I send you a Bible verse, right? Okay, just start there. Read the verses around it or read the whole chapter. Or, read it in several versions. Online databases have made this so easy for us. Now, here is the big secret. Do this with Dad’s Spirit, your helper. Start prayerfully. What does that even look like. Well, it does not look like your Pastor’s beautiful seminary prayers. It goes more like this, “Holy Spirit, I want my mind renewed and I have this verse today with which to start. Show me more about it. Speak to me what you want me to hear in this passage.” Keep it simple. The Holy Spirit didn’t go to seminary either. He just speaks plain old language like you. Although . . . he also speaks in picture language so watch the pictures that flow through your mind. Be like a child and just see in your mind what he speaks to you. Maybe that verse references other verses. If you are viewing them online, all it takes is a click and your screen will be painted with a bunch of similar verses. It is so cool!

Look, you can do this. You can get that old raggedy soul into shape and let me tell you a truth, it is fun. Once you know how to do it and know these simple little tips, it becomes such fun. You are going to be surprised at how much the Spirit speaks to your spirit. Hang on to your hat because he absolutely loves this process.

Now don’t be proud. Don’t look to yourself as the one who must heal your soul. That is not your job. It is Dad’s. And don’t be proud thinking you can do this on your own. Don’t look to your intelligence. We’re just not that smart, frankly. I mean really, compare us with God. We haven’t even had enough years to absorb the enormity of material available. Whatsmore, you don’t want to have to sort through the world’s entire database. Just yield, surrender (do you hear the song playing in your head) to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit lead you to what you need. Let God touch your soul with His love. You will be healed, and you are going to be full of His joy. This is the sweet spot. Let the Lord lead you. Let go of vain glory, foolish pride and surrender all. Be renewed in your mind and let your soul breathe fresh air.

The righteous shall live by faith, not by sight. Where there is pride, faith does not operate. Give God your belief and trust and He will be right there with you making the journey fun.

Whom Shall I Serve?

Habakkuk 1: 11

But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their God.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote this sometime around 607 B.C. That means this passage is over 2600 years old. It might have been written yesterday for how appropriate it is to our everyday existence.

I have been writing over the last couple of years about partnership with God. This is the singular message of our time. God sent Jesus to save us from destruction. Having accomplished his task, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion and helper. We are supposed to learn to work with Him the way the Father did when He created the earth, and indeed, the whole universe. We are called to walk with him the way Jesus did when he worked miracles in the earth. These two persons of the Trinity that we know well, did everything through and by the Holy Spirit. This was God’s plan for us, that the third person of the Trinity would come live with us, actually be in us and that we would rely on His strength rather than our own.

How many of us have learned this way of living though? Don’t most of us look to our “God given” abilities rather than to the Holy Spirit? Don’t we strive and labor? You would be shocked to learn how much of the Bible speaks specifically against our strength, our labor and striving to succeed. Here is just one little taste, straight from the lips of Father God on knowing Him, “Cease striving and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). Maybe you will like this one, “It is the Lord’s blessing that makes a person rich, and hard work adds nothing to it,” (Proverb 10: 22 GW). Hey, that’s Bible guys and I don’t mean the Bible according to Ivey. That’s the gospel. And don’t look at me like I am any better at this than anyone else but at least I know where the bull’s eye is painted these days. The target is: complete, 100% cooperation with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus said the Spirit is to be the leader (John 16: 13), so not only are we to partner with the Spirit, but we are to listen to him and get our directions, our plans from him.

I think of it this way, imagine every morning that you have a partner meeting (and in truth I advise you to actually do this). In that meeting you lay out what you perceive as the day’s priorities and tasks. You and the Spirit can look at the schedule for the day, the appointments, etc. but then comes the critical piece. Let him show you which are the really important items. He may add some tasks that he identifies as more important than those on your list. He does that with me. Sometimes what he thinks is most important is for me to read or to journal. Sometimes he will move one project in front of another. That’s good. That is what you want him to do because he knows the future and which actions get us to our goals. Talk through everything for that day but, and here is a key, when you leave the conference room table or the kitchen table, don’t forget to keep him right beside you. Listen to him all day.

Another key part of this is that it is his strength, his power that works for us. Look to him. Tell him he has mail. Let him be the miracle worker. You will be surprised what he can accomplish while you are having your lunch, that is, if you will give him the reins.

Look, this takes practice, I grant you. It also takes intentionality. In other words, you have to intend to live and work this way. You must purpose in your heart and in your mind to pay attention to the voice of the Spirit which is speaking within you. You will need to prioritize spending quiet, contemplative time with him. I know you don’t want to. You think you are too busy to sit and meditate but as I pointed out, this is God speaking. This is what the Bible tells us to do.

Sooner or later we have to decide if we are truly disciples of Christ. If so, then it is about doing what he says and following in his footsteps. Sooner or later, you have to decide if you are foremost a Christian or a lawyer, a Christian or a school teacher, a Christian or a banker. I kept making the wrong choice. I was a lawyer first and a Christian second. Don’t be like I was. Learn and practice making God supreme. Don’t let your strength, intelligence, or hard work be your God. Don’t serve your calendar but serve God and humble yourself before Him and His wisdom. Be a great success in Christ, your Lord.

My Part / Your Part

Psalm 9: 3

For when you appear, I worship while all of my enemies run in retreat. They stumble and perish before your presence.

I have enjoyed our jog through the Psalms. I am continuing it, you may have noticed. Each Monday I will continue our journey through the psalms. This is one I found when we did Psalm 9. It was so good that I saved it for another day. I love this, don’t you?

In it I see our partnership with Yahweh. This partnership is such a huge and important revelation. Jesus said we are to abide in him. As we abide, he makes our hopes and dreams a reality. In today’s verse we see our part in the partnership. It is worship. We communicate with the Father about our perceived needs but then we roll the care of it over to Him and enter into worship. I even hate to say we pray about our need because we get such weird and convoluted ideas about prayer. I just talk to our Father. I tell Him what I am thinking, what I think I want and what I perceive my needs to be. Then I let it go.

Some of the things we think we need, we don’t. It may be something entirely different that we need. We can give our senior partner room to fill the need even though it is filled differently than we think it will be. Some of the things we think we want may not fit in with the rest of our lives. They can end up being a burden. Father knows that so He will re-direct us and give us something that works better in our lives.

It is exciting to me to think that our enemies run in retreat while we stand in worship. That is really crazy when you think about it, but it is not unprecedented. In 2 Chronicles 20 we see this very thing happen. The minstrels played their instruments and the singers sang while God routed the armies of the enemies. Wow!

Make this a model for your entire life, especially your work life. Let God lead you. If you will spend time reading the Word and communicating with your Father, you will find you have more time rather than less. I have seen it many times. Our Father is a multiplier, even of time. You do your part which is prayer, study and worship and God will take care of the rest. The next thing you will see is the backs of your opponents and the appearance of new opportunities. Be blessed!

The Brass Ring

Isaiah 42: 1

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

I am sometimes asked which book is my favorite of the Old Testament. That’s easy! I love the book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah undoubtedly was in the flow of the Holy Spirit. He saw into Jesus’ life and ministry as no one else did. Because of Isaiah’s own intertwining with the Spirit, one can see the person of Jesus all through this book.

Obviously, in this verse, Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah. He also was shown the partnership that would exist between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Before the Chosen One would bring forth justice to the nations, he would experience his own union with the Spirit.

It is through this partnership with the Holy Spirit that Jesus was empowered to do any of the things he did. Without the power of the Spirit, Jesus could do nothing (John 5: 19). This is one of the most profound realities of Christian life. Isaiah’s fullness of understanding of Jesus’ anointing is seen in the sixty-first chapter. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me,” (Isaiah 61: 1). These are the very words which Jesus read in the temple that launched his earthly ministry (Luke 4: 18). This prophesy shows two examples of partnership with the Spirit. First, it shows that Isaiah spoke by the power, leading and unction of the Holy Spirit. Second, it reveals Jesus’ collaborative relationship with the Spirit. This is Jesus’ commission. I have only given a small part of it but you will appreciate reading the entire chapter.

Nowhere is this cooperative relationship defined more precisely than in Zechariah 4: 6, “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord . . . saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is critical language but an idea that we, perhaps, are yet to fully realize. While simple in theory, it is a bit more challenging in application, especially in that most of this applied theory is new in many parts of the body of Christ. We are only just now learning how to work in the flow with the Holy Spirit as Jesus did. However, he is giving us this revelation at this time in Church history so that we may go forward as a dynamic body of believers. As we increase our walk in and with the Spirit, we bring his power and wisdom to our own lives. That must be our first step. Only when we, through the Spirit, have met the pressing needs of our own lives can we set our eyes upon the horizon. However, having learned how to cooperate with the Spirit of the Lord for our own needs, we then take his power to the world. Our perspective changes along with our vision. We can then begin to cooperate with the Father on His goals and His vision instead of constantly being bogged down by earthly issues.

This intertwining with the Spirit is the key element necessary for us to arise as the mighty church of God, The Eternal. If there is any singular expression of needed deep revelation for believers it is the knowledge of how to walk with the Spirit such that every one of us is in continual communion with him, following him step by step. God spoke through Zechariah to reveal to us that everything we need to do, everything we are called to do is to be accomplished in the strength and power of the Spirit. What does this mean? This is the critical question. When we can answer this question definitively, we will have laid hold of the Kingdom of God. This is the brass ring!

More Power Please

Psalm 68: 35

O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!

You are getting a lot of Psalms and Isaiah this week because these two books, along with the Proverbs, are where I go for strength and encouragement. The Psalms are a good place for you to look for our Father in a time of need.

I need strength and power so I journeyed into the Psalms to find a promise I can hang my hat on. I have taken on a bicycle ride that is a bit of a challenge but like every aspect of my life, I expect Dad to be a full partner for this ride. I need Him to supply the strength and power and I will supply the legs. That sort of ends my commitment. Just like in my work, He has to do all of the hard work. This is an arrangement that is working very well for me and is what He wants my role to be. I know because I asked Him. I felt a bit guilty that I was expecting Him to supply all the strength and all of the power but He told me that is where He wants me. He wants me to rely on Him to provide for my every need. Wow!

I have three BIG guys. Why would I want to do the hard labor. That just does not make sense. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have this covered. And, oh yeah, my part? Well, that was praying about it before I committed myself. If Dad said, “No,” then I wouldn’t be doing this.

This applies in every single area of life. When things present themselves, before we say, “yes” we can go to the Father and ask Him. He manages the resources which include our time and energy. He also knows which things move us forward and which will set us back. We are such rugged individualists that we often forge ahead. “Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead.” Well, I am beginning to think that individualism may be at the root of a great many of our social, familial and even personal problems. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if it is sin. Regardless, your Father is here to carry the heavy load for you. He has all strength and all power. He is all we need.

Hey, remember to scratch out the name Israel and write in your own. That is your proper standing in this New Covenant.

Partner Meeting

1 Thessalonians 5: 17


Pray without ceasing.

Now what does this have to do with our partnership with Christ? In yesterday’s Word of the Day I shared how Father gave me insight and answers while I prayed. Now, what if I want that divine insight and wisdom all day long? Well, pray all the time, right?
I am increasingly impressed that our part of many situations is simply prayer. However, there are times when there is more for us to do. It is through prayer that Dad tells us what to do. He wants to lead us every minute of every day and the way He can do that is through our vigilance in prayer.
One of the cultural problems we encounter is that we have built prayer up to a formal event. Read what David wrote and you will appreciate that prayer was never meant to be ritualistic. It is the common communication between you and your father. It has to be familiar rather than formal if we are to pray without ceasing.   Prayer is simply talking with your Father, God.

Another element of prayer is making ourselves receptive to His voice. We also use the time in prayer to give Him the authority in every situation. This is when you can put the problem in His “inbox” (see the Word of the Day for June 4, 2014 and October 19, 2015). We need to invite God into our every part of our lives and day and then we need to let Him work out the problems and tasks for us. In prayer give Him your projects and then begin to thank Him and praise Him for the result. And do this all day long, without ceasing. This is your perpetual partner meeting.