Prayer & Discernment 

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Morning Devotion: Give it 12 months and pray (talk about relationships (friendships and marriage)). Prayer at the end. 

I grew up in the church, my dad is a pastor/evangelist/chaplain. My mom prophetic, a teacher, preacher, and quite discerning. They taught me oh so very much. One of the greatest things they taught and modeled was agape love and prayer. I was taught to pray expecting God to show up. He has! My word, He has. My parents also modeled sacrificial, lavish love. We were taught to love everyone and be generous. They are part of my family culture. 

One thing I will add to what they taught me is look at the fruit of someone’s life who wishes to connect with you. The character and fruit matter so much more than their words, gifting, or performance. Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit, not it’s gifting, words, church attendance, performance. 

How many of you pray about the people who want to befriend you or for singles, date you? 

How many pray about the opportunities presented? 

How many look for good fruit in the person’s life or with that business, church, or organization? 

How do they treat people? What is their track record? 

Some Good Fruit: Love, respect, honor, taking responsibility for actions, honesty, integrity, kindness, self control, wisdom, peace, handles conflict instead of avoids it, keeps their word, keeps confidences, loyalty, things bloom/get better with their addition, value added, you are better because of the situation, seeks to build up instead of perpetually tear down, tells you what you need to hear, not just what tickles your ears, treats your heart like it’s theirs, unselfish, fair/just, free of control and manipulation. 

You see there is good, and there is God. There is good, and there is His very best. God gives good gifts. 

I am not stating run from every person who is not perfect; there are no perfect people btw. I am not saying run from broken people either. Everyone has something God is working on in their lives. I am saying look for some good fruit, examine character; prayer may save you some unnecessary drama and trauma. 

We are called to love everyone. We are not required to be best friends, confidants, or partners with everyone. 

Every opportunity is not God sent. Every cute or handsome person may not make a great spouse. Every person who tries to befriend you at church does not make a good friend. Every person who says, “I love you. You are like family or my best friend,” does not necessarily mean those words. You must look for fruit. Actions scream over words. 

It’s easy for people to put their best foot forward at first. The goal is (maybe) to impress the other person, connect, and for some to latch on to the other person. The trouble comes when masks fall off and you see the real deal. We are still to love people (seek to do no intentional harm, look for ways to bless them). Yet it is better to know before your heart is entangled or connected if that person is going to put your heart through a meat shredder. 

I placed 12 months on relationships (trial period) because, from experience, you begin to see more of the real person after a year. Some people can pretend for much longer. Yet I have noticed after a year the guard is lowered a bit and you get to see more transparency. Each person do what is best for you. It is not a law, just an observation. 

God wants you and me treated with respect, love, honor, and dignity. 

When I meet people and they have this toxic relationship going on, some will say, “God brought this person into my life.” So I ask, “Would you set someone you love to be in a relationship with someone who treated them this way?” The answer is normally no. Yet there is a belief that God desires less for His kids. 

There is a misbelief that God enjoys the hurt, heartache, abuse, and suffering of His children. He does not. This is a lie based off the treatment of Jesus. The Father delighted in the redemption of mankind through His Son. He did not delight in watching humanity mistreat Jesus. God loves His Son. He also loves you. 

So, with many learning bumps on this heart I have learned and am learning to do the following. 

1. Pray. 

Lord You know this person and their heart/character. Please reveal it to me. Help me not to connect with people who will leave my heart shattered or beat up. You bring in the people who are loving, trustworthy, good, kind, and will leave my heart better than before. 

Lord show me who this person really is. 

Lord is this opportunity a blessing from You or just a distraction or a setup to be mistreated/used? 

2. Pay attention. 

I am speaking from experience, not “Thus sayeth the Lord.” God does not always come out and tell me, “This person is up to no good.” Mostly they show me through their actions. Their words and actions conflict. They reveal two faces. There is disparity between what they say and live. If you remove their words and just look at their actions, you see their character. God will also sometimes reveal their heart/character in dreams. 

3. Love the person with appropriate boundaries. 

It’s easy to throw people in the garbage. We throw trash in the garbage, not people. Just because someone is not the best fit for us, does not make them worthless. No one is worthless. Pray for the person. You may seek ways to bless them. It does not mean you tell them the inner parts of your world or bond like besties. It does not mean you are forced to spend time with them or give them access to you. 

There are people I love, yet my connection with them is limited based on their behavior that brings drama, trauma, chaos. If they were hungry, I would feed them. Naked, I would clothe them. I pray for them. I am not inclined to treat them like my confidant. 

Papa God thank You that You love us all. Thank You that You are good. Thank You that you answer prayers and we can trust You. You know the perfect matches and opportunities for us. You know it all. Give us Your eyes and discernment. Cast out fear and suspicion by Your great love. Help us to make wise choices in relationships. Help us to be a tremendous blessing to everyone. Bring in Your choices for friends, mates, opportunities. Thank You for the ability to choose ourselves, yet we invite You in as the One who knows all and loves us more than anyone else. You desire Your very best for us. Heal any wounds from the not so great connections, make us whole. In Jesus mighty name amen. 

Spiritual GPS (Holy Spirit Series Part 9)

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1 Corinthians 2:12-14

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually perceived.

The Holy Spirit has many roles and functions in our lives. One of the most profound ones is providing wisdom. God is perfect in wisdom. He tells us that those who lack wisdom should ask Him. God sees all and knows all. Why wouldn’t we want His insight, help, and wisdom?

Self guided or Spirit led?

Life teaches us that the choices we make have consequences. So, learning to be led by God’s Spirit is crucial for peace and the abundant life.

Some of the things I’ve learned, and am learning from life with the Holy Spirit.

1. If it Doesn’t Seem Right or There’s an Absence of Peace-Wait.

There are things God will ask us to do that fill us with uncertainty. Those things do not violate His Word. He may ask you to reach out to a neighbor, pray for a stranger, or get out of your comfort zone. It takes discernment to know what’s our fear, and what’s a stop or check in our spirit that we should wait or not move forward. He is willing to provide confirmation.

Lessons Learned:
God has been stretching my faith by asking me to pour into strangers. How do you speak into someone’s life and not come off pushy, weird, or like a stalker? So, I held onto many prophetic words or visions. Finally when I had the courage to share, the people responded the timing was perfect. God had the waiting (my hesitation) already built into the equation.

2. Pay Attention to Red Lights and Warnings.

When you get a red light, “Don’t go there. Watch what you’re saying or how you’re treating this person. This isn’t a good plan,” listen. You may not hear Him speak directly to you, yet it won’t feel right. He will even use others to point to truth. God not only speaks to us, but through others.

Lessons Learned:
There was this man who was pursuing me for a relationship. I always pray in relationships, “God show me who this person truly is.” Gosh, it’s a prayer He always answers. The Lord spoke to me that the man wasn’t who he appeared to be. I did not listen because he was so kind. Eventually I saw he was not following Jesus. He said all the right things. He talked about God. The more I prayed, the shadier his behavior became. I could have saved time and headache by listening to God. Don’t ignore the red lights. God says no because He loves us.

3. Get the Word of God in You.

I have heard people say they don’t need or read the Bible. They rely on the Spirit.

Friends, we need the Bible.

I had an interaction with a person on social media once. They stated the Holy Spirit told them they did not need to read the Bible. Many things the person said violated Scripture. They believed everyone went to heaven, and hell was just a ploy to scare people. They believed evil people weren’t really humans, but demons imitating people.

The Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. He cannot lie or betray Himself. He does expand our understanding, but His revelation does not violate the nature of God. If we don’t know the Word, we can just go by what we think and feel which is dangerous. God will not tell us to lie, steal, cheat, be unfaithful, gossip, lust, covet, etc…

4. Everyday Decisions and Life Choices.

I’ve not had God tell me to brush my teeth or go to work or what to wear. He gave us a functional brain. If you’ve used GPS, you know it normally only provides instructions when they are needed…Turn here….Go Left…Recalculating! The Holy Spirit is smarter than a GPS, thank goodness. He will alert you when a direction needs to change, when a behavior needs to change, when you need to turn around. Otherwise, keep going! Unless you have do not have the Holy Spirit, you’ve hardened your heart or seared your conscience, you’ll get a tug when you’re headed the wrong way. And if you’re not listening, He will send someone to correct you. God corrects those He calls a son or daughter.

What to Choose?:
My first mission trip I had two choices-Costa Rica or Brazil. I wanted both places. I already speak Spanish, so I felt a tug to CR. The Brazil team needed a worship leader and I had just picked up a guitar. God did not point to a map and say, “Go to this place.” I’m not saying He couldn’t or wouldn’t. He didn’t. I chose Brazil. It was an amazing choice. I made lifelong friends and fell head over hills with love for Brazil. Would CR have been the same? I don’t know. I do know I followed my heart and was blessed. It set me on course to be a worship leader. CR already had worship leaders. Brazil was my first time leading and it was stretching. When I returned to Brazil years later I was able to preach for the first time. Brazil holds my heart!

Life Altering Choices:
I believe in asking God for guidance on things that will impact our lives and cannot be easily changed, like marriage or moving across the country.

Marriage (til death do you part):
I had a man tell me recently that as long as two people love God they can make a marriage work. I’ve seen numerous Christian marriages fail and they both loved God when they got married. It takes more than love for Jesus to make a relationship work. There’s compatibility, friendship, communication, attraction, and many other factors that come into play. I sent him on his way to find his wife.

Wisdom says, “You don’t have to accept everything that’s offered to you.” God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He wants the best for us.

May you and I rely on God’s wisdom! He knows the plans God has for us and they are GOOD (Jeremiah 29:11).

Love in Christ,

Erin

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Encounter (Holy Spirit Series Part 7)

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There are so many wonderful things I could say about the Holy Spirit. Tonight I wanted to share more testimonies that will hopefully fuel your faith.

I gave my life to Jesus when I was 7 years old. My parents are pastors. So, I grew up hearing about Jesus and watching them live like Jesus. I saw them open our home to the poor, widows, orphans, and even those who had done horrible things to them. I watched my parents love the man who murdered their oldest son and never served a day in jail for the crime. I didn’t know at the time that their love was a display of one the Holy Spirit’s greatest works-agape love.

My first realization of His work in my life came on Easter when I was 7. I was watching the Easter movie about Jesus. When it came time for Him to go to the cross, I recall being overwhelmed with sorrow and love. I wept. This man gave His life to save mine. The Holy Spirit was so at work that day! I didn’t want to live another day without Him!

Like many Christians I thought God only spoke to special people, like pastors. ūüėČ Yet, there was this hunger in me for Him that couldn’t be quenched. There were so many things I couldn’t understand, like walking in a place and being able to know if it was good or bad. My mom said I had an uncanny knack of knowing spiritual atmospheres. Later learned it is the gift of discerning spirits.

It wasn’t until college I begin to hear God speak to me. A still voice would bring scriptures to mind, line by line. I had to look them up because my memory was never excellent at memorizing scripture. I began to journal, date, and log those versus. I still have some of those journals. He moved from speaking scripture to providing wisdom, and insight. I keep a journal with me at all times to document what He’s speaking.

Knowing (Prompted to Pray):

One night at a Sunday night worship gathering I was caught up in worship (meaning really into it). I was joyful, excited, and happy. At one point sorrow hit me so profound I felt as if I wanted to die. This was so strange. I began to cry big crocodile tears. I excused myself to the restroom. I begin to pray. I didn’t know what else to do. After awhile the grief lifted. Days later I was talking to a friend and she confessed she was going to take her own life. She said Sunday night she had it all planned. A light bulb went off for me. I asked what time? She said that evening. It was the exact time I was hit with grief. She said something like a wave of God’s love hit her and she couldn’t go through with it.

Healed in a Moment/Delivered in a Minute:

I told you last post about being trapped in my car under water. Well, after that incident, I had awful panic attacks in enclosed spaces. Mainly in my car. I would have to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, or otherwise be overcome with fear. I went to my pastor at the time for prayer. He wanted me to go to counseling. I’m not against counseling. I’m pro take it to God first. I left church discouraged. I drove around worshipping and talking to God. I told The Lord , “I never want to feel this way again. I know You can fix this.” It was in a moment that I felt extreme warmth surge through my body. Fear was gone. I didn’t have anyone pray for me or lay hands on me. God did a complete work in one minute.

He did the same thing for my heart. Years before that awful car accident, I had a bad reaction to medication during a routine surgery and almost died. The outcome was a healthy teenager came out on heart meds and seeing specialists. I told God I knew He healed. Jesus paid for healing. I’m happy to say my heart is healthy!!!! This happened with me and God. One moment changed my life, one act of faith.

There are people who travel all over to see miracle workers or “super” spiritual people. The Miracle Worker is God alone. The Spirit of God is in every born again believer. He doesn’t come in percentages and is fully God. There are so many breakthroughs that can happen with just you and God. I’m an ordinary person who has suffered quite a bit and seen God bring miracle after miracle! I’m thankful for every person who refused to help or could not help because it’s taught me to rely fully on God. Yes, we need people too. God is everything. He is my everything. The Holy Spirit is all powerful. So, I encourage you to fan the flame of your love for God! Get into the secret place with Him. Get to know Him for yourself. Know the Author of the Book (the Bible). Encounter Him. Let Him encounter you!

Greater is He who is in you than in the entire world!~1 John 4:4.

Love in Christ,

Erin

Know, Speak, Do (Holy Spirit Series Part 5)

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I know we took a week off from the Holy Spirit Series. I want to jump back in to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We talked about what they are a few posts ago. I want to encourage you not to limit God to a list. The Holy Spirit is fully God and can manifest His Presence in ways we may not understand.

Scriptures are filled with stories of ordinary people encountering an extraordinary God. Has God changed or have our expectations of what He will do changed? I truly believe we don’t expect much from God anymore. Since we in the Western world have so many options, it’s easy to bypass God. We rely on ourselves, others, intellect, or our abundant resources.

On missions we’ve seen more people giving their hearts to God, healed of sickness and diseases, and encountering God in powerful ways.

What’s the purpose of all these gifts of the Spirit?

To build up the body of Christ. To demonstrate the love of Christ. Love and power combine to bring heaven to earth.

Let’s look at the gifts coupled with the fruit of the Spirit.

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The attributes of God are manifest through the gifts.

Knowing Gifts:
Words of Wisdom:

This is a revelation gift.

…this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowlege.

The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. It is received from God through prayer (Ephesians 1:17).

Words of Knowledge:

A word of knowledge is a definite conviction, impression, or knowing that comes to you in a similitude (a mental picture), a dream, through a vision, or by a Scripture that is quickened to you. It is supernatural insight or understanding of circumstances, situations, problems, or a body of facts by revelation; that is, without assistance by any human resource but solely by divine aid.

Discerning of Spirits:

Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.

Discernment will also enable you to recognize the Holy Spirit in another person.

Speaking Gifts:
Tongues:

Supernatural utterance in languages not known to the speaker; these languages may be existent in the world, revived from some past culture, or “unknown” in the sense that they are a means of communication inspired by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:11; Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4, 10:44-48, 19:1-7; I Corinthians 12:10, 13:1-3, 14:2, 4-22, 26-32).

The spiritual gift involving ability to speak in foreign language(s) not previously studied or to respond to experience of the Holy Spirit by uttering sounds which those without the gift of interpretation could not understand. At Pentecost the church received the gift to communicate the gospel in foreign languages (Acts 2). God gave His Spirit to all His people to empower them to witness and prophesy. In Corinth some members of the church uttered sounds the rest of the congregation did not understand (I Corinthians 12-14). This led to controversy and division. Paul tried to unite the church, assuring the church that there are different gifts but only one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-11).

Interpretation of Tongues:

Interpretation of tongues is a supernatural verbalization and subsequent interpretation to reveal the meaning of a diverse tongue. This gift operates out of the mind of the Spirit rather than out of the mind of man.

Prophecy:

Prophesy is speaking God’s words and agenda for the building up of the Body and others. It is to encourage, edify, warn, and correct. Paul tells us about prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:1.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives–especially the ability to prophesy,~1 Corinthians 14:1.

All prophecy is to be tested. Meaning we take what’s said and weigh it against God’s word and character.

Prophecy is divinely inspired and anointed utterance; a supernatural proclamation in a known language. It is the manifestation of the Spirit of God – not of intellect (I Corinthians 12:7), and it may be possessed and operated by all who have the infilling of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 14:31).

Doing Gifts:
Faith for Miracles (Gift of Faith):

The gift of faith is the supernatural ability to believe God without doubt, combat unbelief, and visualize what God wants to accomplish. It is not only an inner conviction impelled by an urgent and higher calling, but also a supernatural ability to meet adverse circumstances with trust in God’s words and messages.

Healing:

The gift of healings refers to supernatural healing; it is a special gift to pray for specific diseases.

Healing can come through the touch of faith (James 5:14-15); by speaking the word of faith (Luke 7:1-10); or by the presence of God being manifested (Mark 6:56; Acts 19:11-12).

Miracles:

The greatest miracle is salvation.

A miracle is the performance of something which is against the laws of nature; it is a supernatural power to intervene and counteract earthly and evil forces. The word miracles comes from the Greek word dunamis which means “power and might that multiplies itself.” The gift of miracles operates closely with the power gifts of faith and healings to bring authority over Satan, sickness, sin, and the binding forces of this age.

Miracles can also be defined as supernatural intercessions of God. God exhorts us with energy to do something that is not natural or normal to us. Just as the ministry gift of miracles is the expression of prayer, so is the function of the Holy Spirit to direct our prayers (Romans 8:26).

Italasized text from Christcenteredmall.

The gifts of the Spirit are available to all believers. Some believe if a gift isn’t apparent in their life, then that’s it. Paul encouraged people to desire and ask God for the gifts. Gifts as stated before are not signs of spiritual maturity or to be used to abuse people. They are to be led by the Holy Spirit and measured by the fruit of the Spirit.

Father, I ask we would fully believe the Holy Spirit is capable of all things. He is fully God. He can do all things. Help us to rely fully on Him. In Jesus powerful name, amen.