The Holy Spirit

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And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you,~Romans 8:11.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams,~Acts 2:17.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,~Gal 5:22-23.

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is a person,~Matt Slick.

The Holy Spirit is not a strange force. He is fully God. He can speak (Acts 13:2); He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11).

He is the Spirit who empowered Jesus, led Him, raised Him from the dead, affirmed Him, bears witness to Him, and overshadowed Mary to conceive Jesus (Matt 1:18-20). He works to convict the world of sin. He lives in believers; continually revealing truth, God’s love, and proving wisdom, insight, and comfort. He works in believers to mold their character into the likeness of Jesus. And there is so much more. He is glorious!

The Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. To some He’s not necessary. To others He’s everything. Some equate Spirit filled living with wild, crazy, and looney manifestations. So, instead of seeking to live empowered by Him there is caution and sometimes quenching of the Spirit. I will say God can do anything He’d like and for some their walk with the Holy Spirit seems unconventional. I pray we are not quick to judge or compare. The only thing we can say is the Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. I’ve seen people laugh, cry, dance, shake, tremble, behave like they’re drunk, speak in tongues and have interpretation, all due to an overwhelming encounter with God’s Spirit. How can we assess the encounters? Well, all the things I’ve mentioned above are recorded in the Bible. And if they weren’t, we still must operate in grace and not accuse others of make believe, being prideful, or attention seeking. Discernment, love, compassion, and grace are needed.

I’ve found the encounter led to the person being changed in some way; deeper understanding of God’s love, healing (emotional or physical), freedom from some stronghold ( addictions, etc…). When God is working, who are we to judge, criticize, or put limits on God? He’s always up to something good.

The Roles of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit serves a great purpose in the Trinity. Without Him we do not have a revelation of Jesus, we have limited to no understanding of Scripture, we have no comforter or depositor of gifts, we have no seal promising we belong to God, and we cannot live empowered lives without Him. He’s significant. He’s so important. He’s vital to living like Jesus.

The Works of the Holy Spirit (credit to Mike Slick for the outline).

Access to God – Eph. 2:18
Inspires prayer – Eph. 6:18; Jude 20
Anoints for Service – Luke 4:18 Intercedes -Rom. 8:26
Assures – Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6 Interprets Scripture – 1 Cor. 2:1,14;
Eph. 1:17
Authors Scripture – 2 Pet. 1:20-21 Leads – Rom. 8:14
Baptizes – John 1:23-34; 1 Cor. 12:13-14
Liberates – Rom. 8:2
Believers Born of – John 3:3-6
Molds Character – Gal. 5:22-23
Calls and Commissions – Acts 13:24; 20:28
Produces fruit – Gal. 5:22-23
Cleanses – 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 Empowers Believers – Luke 24:49
Convicts of sin – John 16:9,14
Raises from the dead – Rom. 8:11
Creates – Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4 Regenerates – Titus 3:5
Empowers – 1 Thess. 1:5
Sanctifies – Rom. 15:16
Fills – Acts 2:4; 4:29-31; 5:18-20
Seals – Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30
Gives gifts – 1 Cor. 12:8-11
Strengthens – Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8; 2:4;
1 Cor. 2:4
Glorifies Christ – John 16:14
Teaches – John 14:26
Guides in truth – John 16:13
Testifies of Jesus – John 15:26
Helps our weakness – Rom. 8:26 Victory over flesh – Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6
Indwells believers – Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 4:6

As we enter this series on the Holy Spirit, I pray our hearts are enlightened to His work in our lives. May we submit to Him, listen to Him, follow Him, and thank Him. He, like Jesus and the Father, is an important part of our lives as believers. May we live Holy Spirit empowered lives! God bless you!

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Hearing God

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John 10:22-30

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

There are people who believe God no longer speaks to His children. There are those who believe God only speaks to certain people. There are those who believe God is always speaking.

I used to fall into the category of believing God only spoke to certain people. I’d hear people say, “I had this dream, vision, thought, or heard this voice and I just knew it was God.” It puzzled and intrigued me. I wanted to talk to God and be able to hear a reply.

My journey started in my late teens when I picked up a Tommy Tenney book. He quoted so many scriptures on how God longs for ALL His children to hear from Him. I was excited and determined.

Then I started praying, “God I would love to hear Your voice.

What happened next? To me it seemed like a whole lot of nothing at first. There was silence…so I thought.

Then I’d notice someone would say something that hit right home with what I needed to hear. I learned God speaks through people. Of course we take what’s said and weigh it against truth…yet sometimes we are waiting for a loud voice from the sky and God is speaking through the people placed in our lives.

There were circumstances that seemed to point towards or away from things I was pursuing. I learned God speaks and works through circumstances! Sometimes people are waiting to hear an audible voice from God when He’s showing them through situations the thing they are pursuing is not wise. It takes prayer and discernment for some situations.

Here’s a good example: a person keeps overspending yet they’re praying for God to speak a word about finances. The obvious answer is don’t spend what you don’t have and to ask God for willpower.

Here’s another example: a person wonders if they should date or be friends with someone. The person’s behavior is consistently questionable. There’s not really a need to ask God for a yes or no. He allows you to see the behavior and choose for yourself.

God’s Word/Intersecting Thoughts:

I noticed Bible verses would pop into my mind, thoughts of God’s love, or people would cross my mind to pray for to contact. I learned God speaks to our hearts and minds through intersecting thoughts. He speaks in ways we often dismiss. He’s not yelling; He’s speaking and prompting.

I started dating and documenting dreams, words, intersecting thoughts, impressions, visions, and any time I felt God was speaking. There are journals in my house going back 15 years. Over time and with prayer, there’s an increased awareness of God’s voice. There are things that were spoken over my life that did not happen for years. Some I forgot about and when journals were revisited, there was the initial word.

God Longs For You To Hear Him:

God speaks! And He longs to speak to you. I’m not a special person with a super hotline to God. Hearing from Him is a privilege of EVERY believer. Every healthy relationship is rooted in communication. God longs to talk to every one of His children.

That being said…there are people who fear they are making things up or if they tell people God speaks it opens the floodgates for chaos.

Here are some tips:

1. God will not tell you to sin. Examples: God will not tell you to lie, steal, cheat, gossip, complain, maliciously hurt people or yourself, commit adultery or fornication, etc.. I had someone tell me once God told them it was okay to sin. That’s not God’s character or nature.

2. Filter what’s being said through love. Not our human love. God’s love. Is it truthful? Exalting God? Redemptive? Hopeful? A warning to lead to repentance? Filled with grace? Does it match God’s character? Would it be something you’d imagine Jesus would say?

3. Study the Bible and how God spoke to and through people. Especially look at the words of Jesus.

4. If sharing with someone else what you believe God’s placed on your heart, it’s a good practice to say…”I feel or believe this is what God has placed on my heart.” Especially if you have no history with that person. It also gives the person the opportunity to reject what you’ve said if it isn’t quite accurate. The Bible says all prophesy is to be tested.

5. Measure by the table below:

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The Fullness of God (Identity in Christ Part 13)

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The quote above from C.S Lewis is spot on for what I wanted to talk about today. We need God. We don’t need another self-help book, or more advice from people, or to have the latest greatest preacher or prophet pray for us and speak over our lives. We need GOD. People spend their lives going round and around in circles looking for answers when God is the answer. He knows all, sees all, and nothing that happens to us or will happen to us is unknown to Him. So, why do we spend so much time seeking our own wisdom, or the advice of others, instead of developing intimacy with God?

I am not stating it’s wrong to seek the counsel of others, prayer from others, or help from people. God created families and communities so we would be able to be blessed by one another. People, however, will never, ever be able to replace God. They are not God and will never be God.

Any good thing done for us is motivated by God. Did you know God can prompt a non-believer to bless you.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him, Proverbs 16:7.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows, James 1:17.

God alone is good. When we see people doing things that are genuinely good, we can thank God. Remove God and what you have is selfishness and evil.

If God alone is good (which He is), why do we not spend more time getting to know Him instead of everyone else. Here are a few traps that prevent us from going to the true source…

The trap of “I can do it on my own.”

We live in a society that says, “Take care of yourself. Be a self-made person. It’s about you!” The world promotes pride. Pride is what got Lucifer into trouble. He wanted to exalt himself above God. I believe we seek our own wisdom out of pride. There is something inside us that says, “I can figure this out. I know what to do.” The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-8.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones.

We don’t have to ask God what to wear or about every single detail of our lives. We are encouraged to ask God for wisdom, insight, knowledge, and understanding. God is the fullness of wisdom, intelligence, insight, and knowledge. No one knows more than He does. He created everything we see. How awesome is it that He invites us to ask Him for wisdom. I don’t know about you, but I want to speak to the One who knows it all and cannot lie. People give us their opinions and insight which may be good, however everything God gives is perfect. He not only knows all, He knows what to say and how to say it. I have had people give me their opinions that did not line up with what God was speaking. They went by their perceptions of a situation. God looks at the entire picture. He knows every hair on our heads and knows why we do what we do even when we don’t know. Nothing is hidden from Him.

The trap of “I can’t know God.”

I have heard people say, “I don’t hear God’s voice, and I don’t feel Him near.” So, they give up on developing a relationship with God and settle for less than what Jesus paid for. Some people are waiting for a glorious power encounter like Apostle Paul had on the road to Damascus. The Bible tells us the following. Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me, John 10:27. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse, Romans 1:20.

The Bible tells us two valuable things, God has made himself known and makes Himself known to the world. He set up nature and everything around us so we would ponder who is responsible for it all. We also have a sweet word from Jesus that as His followers we will know His voice. We can learn the voice of God and hear His voice. God makes Himself available to be known. He’s pursuing us more than we could ever pursue Him. When I first became a Christian I did not have the encounters with God that some people around me had. I thought it was only for the spiritually mature, pastors, etc…I read in the Bible I could have a great relationship with God, it simply wasn’t happening the way it was for others. It wasn’t until I read Tommy Tenney’s book Come Thirsty in my late teens that I decided this hearing from God thing was something I wanted every day and I wanted intimacy with God more than anything. I am sure it was all initiated by God, and I take no credit for the desire. Growing to know God is the best thing that has ever happened in my life.

We can all know Him and have as close of a relationship as we want to have with Him. He is no respecter of persons. It’s not for some “special people.” It’s for everyone. Come one, come all!

The trap of “I will talk to everyone but God  or substitute people for God”

We covered this earlier, but we can become obsessed with seeking people for help, counsel, and wisdom. God is the source. People are not to be our primary source. They can not handle the weight of our brokenness. Only God can. People are flawed and sinful. God has no sin. We can be completely vulnerable with God with no fear. People even with the best of intentions can do great harm and damage to us. They operate out of their world view and limited knowledge. I have confidants, but I have learned that not every person who claims Christ is trustworthy, wise, or the right person to ask for help. I now ask God to lead me to the right people instead of allowing any and everyone to speak into my life. Even family can give bad advice and counsel. People, I repeat, people are not God. They will never be God. He alone is God.

The trap of “I am too busy or I will substitute things or activity for God.”

I love the phrase, “If you only pray when you’re in trouble, you are in trouble.” We need God. If we only talk to Him when we are in need, we are running on empty. Jesus operated on full. He regularly prayed to the Father, fasted, withdrew away for alone time with the Father, and when the storms came-Jesus rebuked the storms. He operated on full. He showed us how to live life. He was fully human and fully God. We are fully human and if we are believers, filled with God’s Spirit. We are also called to operate on full and draw from and rely on the Holy Spirit. He is all-powerful. We cannot be too busy for God. He said to love Him first above all. He is to be loved above work, above ministry, above family and spouses, above friends, above comfort, above food and pleasure. God is to be first. If He is not first, then we have an idol lurking somewhere. And our idols can do nothing but enslave us. Whatever is more important than God has to be thrown on the altar, for no person can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We either worship, love, and serve God…or we don’t.

I imagine if I were giving a motivational speech to sum this up it would go something like this….

Do you want more joy, hope, peace, and love in your life? Come to Jesus!

Do you want a more fulfilled life? Come to Jesus!

Do you want more wisdom and insight? Come to Jesus!

Do you want to be a better person? Come to Jesus!

Are you tired, worn out, weary, and without hope? Come to Jesus!

Do you need a friend who will stick closer than a brother and will never leave you, forsake you, or betray you? Come to Jesus!

Are you struggling, hurting, addicted, or in desperate need? Sweet friend come to Jesus!

One size fits all! He has all that you need and more. He is never closed. He always has time for you. He always has your best interests at heart.

We have the treasure that never runs dry. God does not fail. God has unlimited resources that He longs to share with His children. God overflows. He has no lack. He is available 24/7 for us & no one else is. He is the only One who can be with us always, even to the ends of the age. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age, Matthew 28:20b.

So my dear friends, I pray that this year 2013 we will seek first the Kingdom of God and all of His righteousness. When He is first in our lives, we experience the fullness of God. We become like the One we worship. When we are full of God, every person who crosses our paths is blessed beyond measure. The world does not need more people who are full of themselves. The world needs more people who are rooted in Christ and look like their Papa. May we be those people in this dark world. Love, Erin.

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