Changed Heart?

Psalm 77: 10       TPT

Lord, what wounds me most is that it’s somehow my fault that you’ve changed your heart toward me and I no longer see the years of the Mighty One and your right hand of power.

Yesterday we saw the angst of Asaph. He groaned at the mere thought of the Lord because He felt that he had lost favor with God. What he felt was real chagrin. It pained him to think about where he stood with God and this verse explains why that thought pained him so. In his heart of hearts, he suspected that God’s coldness towards him was his own fault. I think we can all relate.

There are times when we feel very close to God and times we don’t. There are times I know He is with me in a very real sense and other times when it seems He is in heaven looking down on me. I would much rather have Him with me as I know you would too.

If you once enjoyed the power of God in your life, then the absence of it makes life mundane. If you have ever tasted the glory of God, then an existence without it loses its luster. Worst of all, deep down, we know that something in our lives has changed which is impeding those moves of God and even, as in Asaph’s case, God’s very presence. Knowing this truth grieves the heart but, it also empowers us because it means that we have power to affect change and I like that. If I am the problem, then I can seriously impact the outcome. I can change me and the best part of that is that God will help me. He is always waiting to bring us back into closer fellowship. Ain’t that great?

Asaph made an important declaration above and he made it to the right person. He shared his heart and misgivings with God. Once you get to the point where you can share your heart with God, the problem is all but rectified. Expressing those tender emotions, doubts, fear, and even thoughts is the gateway to resolution. Once you get that out, especially when articulated directly to Yahweh, He can move in and begin to help you. “Dad, I might not be where I want to be but I know you are the one who can help me.” With that, the hard work is done. Really!!

If you are not enjoying all the presence of God you wish to, then tell Him your thoughts and desires. Invite Him to help you grow closer to Him. Then listen to the quiet thoughts of your heart. You are going to be so surprised and how quickly He responds and some of the lovely thoughts He has.

And, have fun drawing closer, and closer to Him.

Power

Acts 1: 8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

We know something about God, and we know Jesus but who, really, is the Holy Spirit? The answer is that He is the power of God, the creative force of God. In the first chapter of Genesis we see that the earth was formless but the Holy Spirit was moving (or hovering) over the surface of the waters. Then God spoke the word and the Holy Spirit responded to that spoken word and created all that God spoke. So, by the Holy Spirit God created the earth.

Then we see in Luke 1: 35 that it was the Power of God through the Holy Spirit that caused Mary to conceive. There is the creative power of God at work. All three persons of the trinity have their place. They each have their own roles and characteristics. We are beginning to learn who the Holy Spirit is. When we do, we will be able to work with Him more effectively.

He is the one who is in the earth right now and who was promised to remain with us forever. He was sent to be our helper, guide and teacher so the more we can understand his role in our lives, the more we can learn and the more we can be led by Him. It is by His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are able to positively affect our lives and the lives of others.

And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving (hovering) over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1: 2

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Luke 1: 35

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Luke 4: 14

And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. Luke 5: 17

And you know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power. Acts 10: 38

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 13

…in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit…” Romans 15: 19

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 1 Corinthians 2: 4

[T]o be strengthened with power through His Spirit. Ephesians 3: 16

[F]or our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1: 5

Ashamed

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

To fully appreciate this verse you have to first remind yourself what salvation means to the Jewish writer. Salvation to the Jew is much broader than our narrow view. Many people think of salvation only in terms of not having to spend eternity in hell. Yes, that’s part of it but to God and to Paul salvation would be akin to Shalom. It means that we are saved in every aspect of our lives. And that clearly means the here and now.

To a person that is sick, the gospel is the good news about a healing God. To a person with an addiction, it means released from the bondage of that substance. Salvation is applicable in a marriage, in your emotions, and truly, every aspect of life. So, the good news about any brokenness is the gospel.

Paul was not ashamed to tell people the good news when he saw their lives broken. He knew that the good news about Jesus would save them from financial devastation, from a broken heart, would heal their bodies and their relationships. He wasn’t ashamed to let people know that falling in love with Jesus would be good news for their bodies, souls and spirits.

He also recognized that both the Jews and the Greeks needed to hear the good news about Jesus’ restorative power. To my way of thinking, I could say, we need to share the good news about how Jesus can touch a person right now to both Christians and non-Christians. Too often we think salvation is only for those who have never met Jesus but there are a lot of hurting Christians who need to be reminded that God loves them and has healing power in His wings. The need to be reminded the God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have very present power for everyday problems.

Yahweh is an everyday God. Jesus is the good news about every problem we face this day. His earthly ministry and sacrifice did way more than just assure us a place in heaven. He came to earth to give us abundant life right here and right now. That is salvation, that is Shalom – nothing missing, nothing broken.

When you see someone hurting, whether a Christian or not, share the good news of the gospel with them. It is power. If you can’t quote scripture, just tell them the good news that God loves them, Jesus loves them, and the Holy Spirit has been sent into the earth to help them with their problems today. Pray with them, pray for them. Encourage them to start reading the Bible and hearing the good news for themselves. Don’t be ashamed to share the gospel with them for it is the power of God, it is the power they need for their hurts and injuries.

Energy Drink

Psalm 63: 2             TPT

I’m energized every time I enter your heavenly sanctuary to seek more of your power and drink in more of your glory.

This is another Psalm of David’s. He did not write every psalm, but he did write a good many of them. Verse one reminds us why God said David was a man after God’s own heart. It reads, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Isn’t that good?  From this beginning point David goes on to expressing two important thoughts. Notice though, that he begins in adoration of the Father. I believe that may be a significant fact explaining David’s success.

Verse two goes on to reveal that David believed he routinely entered God’s heavenly sanctuary. That’s quite a statement! How did he enter the Father’s heavenly sanctuary? It must be that in David’s times of meditation he visualized himself entering the Father’s haven. Selah, pause and consider that. David is matter of fact about this part of verse two. It is just the set up for what he wants to say. That tells me that to David this was routine and nothing worth commenting upon. It is just what he did. He entered into the Father’s presence regularly.

I have noted that modern Christians often pray for God to invade our space. First, it shouldn’t be an invasion. He should be welcome here all of the time. The bigger point, though, is that we seem to be keen on inviting the Father into our space but perhaps not quite as intentional about visiting him. There is nothing wrong with asking Dad into our activities. That’s a good thing. It seems clear to me from this passage, though, that we should regularly visit Him at His house.

Second, it must be okay to seek God’s power. It is right here in a psalm. Father didn’t correct David for going to the throne room seeking more of His power. In fact, He apparently granted David’s request in ever increasing amounts. David drank in the Father’s glory. He looked upon the Father in His grace and majesty and was renewed, physically, but likely spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well. David came away from His time meditating WITH the Lord, energized. Wow! Is this going off as loudly in you as it is in me? We gain energy from hanging out with God at His house. Moreover, we are allowed to go to His sanctuary to stock up on energy and seek God’s power and glory.

I find this an empowering verse and I certainly hope you do too. We don’t have to continually, nor solely, pray for God’s glory to infiltrate the earth. That’s great but any time any of us wishes to bathe ourselves in the Father’s glory, we have a standing invitation to the Throne Room of Grace which is full of mercy and refreshing. You can show up and drink in His glory. That is astounding to me. Are you thirsty? I know I am. Let’s see how God’s glory satisfies.

Highly Combustible

Ephesians 1: 18 – 20         Complete Jewish Bible

I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people, and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him. It works with the same mighty strength he used when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven.

Although we looked at verse eighteen yesterday, I included it here for continuity’s sake. You might also like reading it from this version. I do.

Paul’s purpose in verse nineteen is to divulge the might of God’s power at work in our lives. There are two very telling items in his statement. First, this surpassingly great power is working IN us. That’s interesting. In other words, the power of God is not external. It is internal. That might be eye opening. God’s power is at work in us. That means we are a party to this surpassingly great power. We have a role to play with His power working in us and through us.

Here is the caveat and the other interesting bit. God’s mighty power is working in those who trust Him. Now wait a minute. I thought His power was on hand and particularly in His hand for all who confess Jesus as Lord. Why didn’t Paul write it that way? Let’s look at the Passion Translation for a clue to answering this question. “I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you!”

Notice the addition of faith. It is our faith mixed, in trust, with the Father’s power that brings about desired results. This surpassingly great, immeasurably vast power is yours by faith. Does that sound like a cop out? Well, maybe a little because it means that we have to mix faith and trust with Father’s power in order to have it working in us but that is why Paul prayed for the eyes of our heart to be opened. God’s power works in our hearts by faith and trust. It is like an internal combustion engine. You see the output of the engine on the exterior, but the power is actually generated on the inside. Within the cylinder of your heart, faith and trust mix and explode like the gasoline and air when the spark is introduced in an engine. The power of God is ready to combust. Just add some belief and trust and you have the workings of a power generator right inside you. The power for every goal to be achieved and every dream fulfilled is inside you right now. Ignite your passion and Dad’s power with a bit of faith and trust and your engine will take you anywhere you want to go.

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.

Spirit Power

Zechariah 4: 6

This is the word of the Lord . . ., ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Last week we spent a little time with the prophet Habakkuk, and he taught us about partnering with God and not being prideful. Habakkuk told us that leaning on our own strength, might and power, is a result of a prideful soul, a soul which is not right within us. The good news was that our Father has prepared a way for us to renew our souls and make them right. It is about immersing ourselves in Him and part of Him is His Word. That means to bathe ourselves, be baptized in the Father and the Son, since Jesus is the Word and nothing happens apart from him.

Today we are reminded that the power we need was never meant to come from our hands or even our own minds. Our strength and our success is in Him, more specifically in His Spirit. We are to work, think, walk and even breathe by God’s Spirit. We know that anything we do that is not done by and in faith is unpleasing to God. Only by faith in the Son are we justified and it is that faith which guides us.

God sent His Son to redeem us and to establish His family. Then Jesus sent us the Spirit to walk beside us and show us the way. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the way and that is where the Spirit always leads. The Son is the way to the Father. So all culminates in the Father and in His love. It is His master plan. A plan by which we were saved from eternal damnation, made heirs to His riches, given success here in the earth, and restored to Him as a body, whole and perfect. However, it is only in walking with and in the Spirit of God that we function as ordained. Anything not done in the Spirit, by faith, is frankly, an abomination. That sounds harsh but that word keeps ringing through my mind as I write.

An abomination because it is by our works, which is repugnant to God. When we look to our hands, education and wisdom, eschewing God’s gifts, it is to make ourselves Gods. This is the very thing which caused the downfall of humanity. We feign to know good from bad, right from wrong. We decide what is right to do, making ourselves righteousness judges. This is the way that leads away from God. In every sense, it is idolatry because we set ourselves up on the throne of our lives. We succeed or fail by our might, rather than recognizing the true God. Sure, we go to church on Sunday and pay homage to Him but how distasteful must that be to Him when we served ourselves and our needs all week long. We get up each morning and decide what we will do that day when God clearly tells us that it is not by our minds or decisions that we are to labor. We are supposed to turn to Him. We are to trust Him as our superior in intellect, wisdom, and experience. He is supreme in every way but most of us have yet to learn that worship is walking in His ways rather than by our sight and might.

Everything we do is a Spiritual matter, I mean right down to pumping gas into your car. You never know what might be on the mind of the Spirit. He might want to tell you that pump isn’t safe and to go to a different one. There is no part of our day that is not rightfully lived in the Spirit of God. We are to be baptized into Him as we are in the Father and Son, immersed fully in him.

It’s a simple thing to do but it must be done in faith. Simply ask the Spirit to come to you and take up his proper place in your life. Ask him to be your leader, teacher and constant companion. Invite him to be your business partner and your closest confidant. Ask him to come live in you and to be with you. Ask him to fill you to overflowing and to be with you always. There is no one with more power yet it is tempered with the greatest compassion. He is the breath of God, the very breath in your lungs. That’s what the Bible says about him.

How close is your breath? That is how close you are to hold the Spirit of God. Every breath is to be spent with him. We have had little actual contact with the Spirit. We’ve not taken today’s scripture to heart fully. Let’s change that. Make this the day that you invite God’s Spirit to be the power in your life. Relinquish your control and gain true freedom in him. Not by might, nor by power but by God’s Spirit. Let that be your calling card.