Kayaking with God

Revelation 22: 1

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

I was corresponding with a friend of mine last week when this image of the river took on new meaning. Many of you know that I love to kayak; rivers, lakes, the ocean, it doesn’t matter. I like it all. I will say, though, that it makes a great day to paddle down a deep water river. The very thought of it is making me yearn for my boat and a day off.

Last week I wrote in an email, “We need to be in that river just floating along. Dad has taken away our paddles so that we must trust Him for the thrust and steering.” That really spoke to me as I wrote it. I couldn’t get it through my fingertips fast enough. I could see me going down the river without my paddle. It gives a whole new meaning to “up the river without a paddle.” But even as I wrote it I had such a calm and reassured feeling. I mean, I like the effort and motion of paddling but I probably could enjoy riding along with Dad doing all the work too. The feeling that washed over me was very pleasant. There was not even a moment’s hesitation like things are going to go bad for me if I don’t have my paddle.

So obviously this is a metaphor for life. The Holy Spirit is the river and we are supposed to allow him to direct our path which is analogous to steering with the paddle. What if we just floated along going wherever he takes us? Most of us are challenged in this area. Sometimes we paddle so hard that we can’t even perceive the nudging in another direction. The other problem that I have is that God gives me a direction and a paddle and I start paddling really hard trying to accomplish everything in my strength. That is why He doesn’t tell me too much at a time. I think I am serving Him with my effort but that is not what He is asking us for. He wants everything we do to be a partnership endeavor. He isn’t intending to give you tasks which you are to complete in your own strength. You are in the same boat together and He just tells you where you are going. You don’t have to panic when you come to a fork in the river. Just take your paddle out of the water and He will steer the right course.

We work too hard. I believe in hard work and our father most certainly does not applaud laziness. The problem is that we work hard but without Him and His grace. He wants us to get down the river but not by injuring ourselves. That is what the old me always did. He wants us to let the flow of the river, which is the Holy Spirit, propel us. He has not set us a course upstream so when we feel like we are paddling against the current it would serve us to stop and ask Dad if we are even headed on the right course. It is probably that we are working ourselves to death going wrong way. Neither do we have to paddle our boats faster than the Holy Spirit is leading. Even if you get to the right destination if you get there before the Holy Spirit it will do you no good.

Learn to work with the Spirit of God. The Father sent him to us to lead us and help us. We are not meant to accomplish anything in our own strength. Nor are we meant to plot our course on our own. Our Father knows the bends of the river and the best way to go. Let your effort be combined with His grace and direction and you will find that you arrive where you were meant to be and you will get there sooner and without being exhausted. 

Take a five minute mini-vacation right now. Close your eyes. Picture yourself and God together in a canoe or two person kayak going down a beautiful river. Imagine perfect weather with just the slightest breeze blowing across your face. Listen to the sounds of birds and frogs. Let your Father sit in the back and steer and enjoy the river of life.

Minding the Spirit

Romans 8: 5

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

This scripture raises an interesting question for us all. Where, really, is our mind? I know for myself that I awaken in the morning thinking about what I need to do that day. So, my mind is on the things of the flesh. There are people, though, whose first thought in the morning is towards God. They pray before they ever leave their beds and they dedicate their day to the Lord, our god. 

No matter what our occupation we are supposed to live everyday unto the Lord. That can be a bit of a challenge when we let the world intervene first thing in the morning. I am learning that I need to right my ship early, then I can have my mind set on the things of the Spirit from the outset. From there all matter of life can proceed. If my mind is set on the things of the Spirit rather than on the things of the flesh don’t you imagine that priorities and the flow of my day may be affected? If, instead, I am focused on my to do list, getting to the grocery store, emails, phone calls and the like it gets very difficult for the Lord to lead me. You see, I believe in this verse Paul is giving us some very practical, everyday advice. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit so that you and the Holy Spirit are in synch the rest of the day. Let the Holy Spirit guide you through your to do list. Let Him inspire your actions. 

When we set our minds on the Spirit we will reap the fruit of the Spirit. That is what we want. We want to live Spirit inspired lives. Too many times people have the notion that Spirit led lives are for ministers. The minister’s job is to teach all of us how to live the high life, life which is lived in the power and light of the Holy Spirit. 

Begin your day by turning your eyes on Jesus. Let Him be your morning illumination. Then just follow where he leads.

Extraordinary Success

Daniel 6: 1 – 3

It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they should be in charge of the whole kingdom and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

The Israelites have been carried off into captivity once again, this time at the hands of the Babylonians. When they were first taken into captivity the then king, Nebuchadnezzar, ordered that some of the youths of Israel should be groomed for service to the king and David was among those selected. Now Darius is king. Darius is organizing his command structure. One hundred and twenty satraps were appointed over the kingdom. We can think of them as governors or provincial rulers. These one hundred and twenty governors were accountable to three commissioners and the three commissioners reported directly to King Darius. David’s appointment to a commissioner position is remarkable in itself but even among the commissioners he stood out. The scripture records his great success as due to the remarkable spirit he possessed. We know who this remarkable spirit is. He is the Holy Spirit of God and we too can avail ourselves of his divine assistance. You see, Daniel was an outstanding man but his extraordinary talent was not innate. It was born of his close walk with the Spirit. To my way of thinking this in no way diminishes the greatness of Daniel. In fact, it elevates him in my mind because Daniel learned how to walk according to the Spirit which is a phenomenal accomplishment in any age but amazingly and incredibly so before the coming of Messiah. 

This is the same Daniel that was thrown into a pit of lions and survived. He is the same Daniel who had three good friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah whom we know better by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel hung out with guys who walked through a fiery furnace without getting even the smell of smoke on their clothes while the people that threw them into the furnace were burned up. What gave these young men their incredible power? They possessed an extraordinary spirit. 

Okay, I am willing to accept that explanation. How about you? We know that with God, truly, all things are possible. I can fathom the Holy Spirit being the secret to this awesome power at work in the lives of these young men. Here is the problem though. You and I have this same Holy Spirit. In fact, we are living in the age of the Holy Spirit. Only after Jesus came and left was the Holy Spirit sent. It was only through Jesus’ victory that the age of the Holy Spirit was ushered in. The promised outpouring of the Spirit occurred well after these young men walked the earth. Now, because of what Jesus did, the Holy Spirit accepts our invitation and comes to live inside us. That never happened before. So, that means that we have greater access to the Holy Spirit than did Daniel and his friends. Since they did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them as we can today, what made these captives who had few resources more powerful than most of us today?

 I believe the answer can be found in the tenth verse of chapter six where, referring to Daniel, it reads, “and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God.” Daniel spent a lot of time seeking God and giving thanks and I presume his friends were like minded. I do not preach a doctrine of works, far from it, but I cannot deny that there is something that happens within us when we spend time with the Father. I am not saying that God will reward you with miracles if you will spend sufficient time in prayer. All of God’s gifts are free. We didn’t have to do anything to earn the greatest gift so we do not have to earn the others. None the less, prayer causes a change. We build up ourselves and our spirits when we spend time in prayer and in the presence of God.

We talked recently about sowing to the Spirit. It is basic logic to conclude that if we want to reap from the Spirit we must first sow to the Spirit. Said differently, if we wish to reap spiritual benefits we must sow spiritual seeds. To me that is as simple as saying, if you want tomatoes, plant tomato seeds. Don’t expect tomatoes if you put cucumber seeds in the ground. Look at what you want, at what you need and then sow that type of seed. But let us take our thoughts one step further. There is nothing in this earth or universe that did not begin in the spiritual realm. Even the tomato began in the mind of God who then communicated His thought to Jesus and the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to bring His vision into being. They then created the tomato in the realm of the Spirit and manifested it into the physical. That is how everything comes into being. Therefore, we, who have a pipeline to God, can go right to the source of creation and have all our needs met. When we spend time with our Holy Father, He shows us how to create the answers we need. He teaches us how to walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit so that miracles become everyday occurrences. This is God’s plan for us. He promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit thousands of years ago looking forward to this day when He could teach us how to live and walk as He does. It is His Garden of Eden plan, the way that Adam and Eve were supposed to walk and work. This is the life of abundance that Jesus was tasked with bringing into the earth. It is here now and we can walk in it even more powerfully than Daniel and his friends. It is all at your fingertips. It is in your next breadth. There is nothing you cannot have, nothing you cannot do. Just spend time with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and let them lead you.