Which God Are You Worshiping (Worship Series Part 14)

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Photo credit: Pinterest

We are being transformed by who and what we worship (love, adore, commit our time to, devote ourselves to). I started thinking the other day, what if we believe we are worshiping God and we are simply worshiping a god created in our own image?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of God. What if we just pick the ones that we like and worship that God. The God who looks like us, who appeals to us, who makes us feel good…

God is the most loving, truthful, & generous Being in the Universe. However, I often wonder if the God we worship is the God created in our own image. He is a caricature that we can identify with. He’s pleasant, but not powerful or holy. He’s good, but not so good. He loves us, so that means He must agree with us and what we do. You see, we begin to imitate who we worship. If we are worshipping a god created in our own image we become more selfish, self centered, and unlike Him at all. We equate love with feeling good instead of choosing to do what’s right. We pick love that’s comfortable, instead love that is costly. We miss the opportunity for true transformation into His likeness because we are worshipping a god we created, not the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob.

My favorite passages in the Bible are either about Jesus or where Jesus is speaking. I study Him. I meditate on what He said & how He lived. I fix my eyes on Him, the resurrected King. He is the center of the Gospel. Jesus wasn’t interested in people pleasing. He did only what He saw the Father doing. He offended many. This God of love said, “Pick up your cross, deny yourself, & follow Me. If you love anyone more than Me, you’re not worthy to be My disciple. Go and sin no more. You are either for Me or against Me. I’d rather you be hot or cold, not lukewarm lest I spit you out. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father. Many will say have I not done these great things in Your name and I will say, ‘depart from Me, I never knew you.’ If you do not forgive, you are not forgiven” in doing so He perfectly represented the love of the Father. Part of love is righteousness. God’s love is not like our human love. This is the Jesus we worship.

How can a loving God say such things, that some will not enter heaven or I’d rather spit you out? Because God’s definition of love is not the same as ours. We can equate love with feeling good. God likes to do things that make us feel good. Yet He also disciplines those He loves, and He is holy. If we forget these attributes of God it leads to trouble.

Earthly parents teach, train, empower, love, and discipline their children. It’s part of love. Any parent who tells their child, “Do whatever you want, no consequences,” does not love their child.

If we want to know who God is, we pick up the Bible and read it. We see a God who loves passionately, yet corrects and disciplines His children. We see a God who is righteous, just, merciful, and also brings judgment on those who do not repent. We see a God who empowers and encourages, yet also rebukes. We see a God who helps the weak, and opposes the proud. We see a God who values repentance-heaven rejoices when one person repents. We see a God who values the sinner, yet says, “Go and sin no more.”

May we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. May we devour the Word of God with the Holy Spirit. May we grow to know God for who He really is. And worship Him in Spirit and in truth. He’s worthy.

Love,

Erin

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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Tearing Down Strongholds

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Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,”~John 8:31-32.

We demolish arguments (vain imaginations) and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,~2 Cor 10:5.

It is not simply the truth that sets you free. It’s believing the truth that sets you free. There is also the element of tearing down and renouncing lies.

The first step to deliverance isn’t a power encounter, it’s a truth encounter.

Deception is one of the enemies favorite tools. He has power. He has no authority. Jesus stripped the devil of the authority he gained through the sin of Adam and Eve (Col 2:15). Now the enemy needs people to come into agreement with him to accomplish his will in the earth. He wants us to believe his lies. He needs people to do his bidding in the world.

You may be saying, “I’m not evil. The devil is not using me.”

Maybe you’re not doing “evil”, but agreement with lies may be preventing you from fully experiencing the love, joy, peace, confidence, hope, and goodness of God. If the devil can’t get you to do evil. He will try to limit you from doing good or experiencing the goodness of God. He will try to prevent you from having and living the abundant life Jesus paid for (John 10:10).

Common lies (some I’ve believed and some I’ve heard):

God doesn’t love me.
God is always angry and out to get people.
God doesn’t have great plans for my life.
I’m a failure.
No one loves or accepts me.
I can’t do this, even with God’s help.
I’m stuck.
I must change in order to be worthy of love.
God delights in my suffering.
God dislikes me.
I cannot live like Jesus lived, even though I have the Holy Spirit.
I’m not beautiful, handsome, or valuable.
God doesn’t work miracles anymore.
God doesn’t want to heal or restore me or this other person.
God doesn’t want to bless me.
God doesn’t care about what I care about.
I’m not enough.
My dreams can never come true.
This is hopeless.
I will always be this way.
God is not good.
God is withholding something good from me.
My value or worth comes from someplace other than identity in Christ.
I cannot love or forgive this person.
They have more to offer or are more loved by God than me.
I will never get….(fill in the blank).
I will never have….(fill in the blank).
I can never be free.
This will always hurt.
I can’t have bliss/joy this side of heaven.
God doesn’t want to help me.
God is limited in this situation.
I’m too old, young, unqualified to do this, even with God’s help.
What Jesus paid for is for someone else.
God is solely focused on my sin or failures.
God can’t make me new.
God doesn’t want me to enjoy life.
It’s a man thing, I can’t be different.
It’s a woman thing, I can’t be different.
This is just the way I am, there’s no hope for change.
What I feel is truth.
All my passions and desires are truth.
God wants to use only certain people in powerful ways.
My role in God’s body is not as important as someone else’s.
My assessment of myself is 100 percent truth.
God’s love isn’t tailored for me.
My circumstances are bad because God is punishing me.
I can live how I want with no consequences.
Grace gives me permission to sin.
God can’t help me or this other person.
I can’t hear from God for myself.
This situation or person can never change, even with divine intervention.

Truth is without God, nothing is possible. With Him, the possibilities are endless. He’s empowered and is empowering us to live life to the fullest. All these lies have scripture to counter them.

Lies need to be renounced because what we believe, we empower. The Bible says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Our actions manifest what we believe. The first sin was rooted in the lie that God withholds good things from us. By believing lies we empower strongholds in our lives.

When the ship is sinking, check what you’re thinking. What we believe, we empower.

Father, I ask the Holy Spirit to hover over us and reveal any lies we have come into agreement with. As they are highlighted, help us to renounce them. Replace lies with Your truth. Help us to cling to Your Word and be led by Your Spirit. Help us to repent of speaking negative words and vows over ourselves and others. Cancel all negative effects of all ill spoken words and beliefs. Help us to believe and speak Your truth. Help us to believe ALL things are possible with You (Luke 1:37). In Jesus most powerful name, amen.

The Comforter (Holy Spirit Series Part 8)

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God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted,~Matthew 5:4.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;~John 14:16.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed,~Isaiah 61:1.

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. It’s one of the most beautiful attributes of His character. He fulfills this role so well.

God knew we would need comforting. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take heart I have already overcome the world.”

One of the beautiful things about a relationship with God is knowing He promises to meet every need, including our need to be comforted. He’s not distant, cold, unfeeling, or without concern for the things that concern us. What matters to us, touches His heart. He bottles our tears.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book,~Psalm 56:8.

God is emotional. He’s emotional about you.

I had an adult I respected tell me when I was a young adult, “God isn’t moved by your tears, He’s moved by your faith.” During that period of my life, I cried quite a bit. Being a preteen was challenging for many reasons. This adult taught me not to feel. I got to a point I couldn’t cry. I felt happy or angry. Nothing else. I learned to be very tough.

It wasn’t until I hit my twenties that I could cry. I just didn’t feel sorrow. During that time my mum died. I’ve never cried more in my life. During that time, waves of worship would invade my heart. I would just worship for hours. God brought a deep comfort I cannot explain. Though I had friends and family, none of them could reach the places God could. When everyone else went back to life, God was there 24/7.

I grew to know God in profound ways during that season. When I look back over my life, or rehearse the stories, etc…I could cry for days. Then there’s God. He’s standing in the midst of every loss, betrayal, pain, seasons of sickness, near death experience,…

What is troubling or grieving you this week?

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His comfort. Surrender every burden to Him. You may cry! He’s not offended or put off by your tears.

God is able my friends to sustain you through the most horrific pain. He’s strong enough! I promise He’s strong enough.

Lastly I will say, God promises to turn your mourning into dancing. He promises to give you joy for pain and sorrow!!! I can say with 100% confidence He keeps His promises. After spending many years suffering-I have overwhelming joy. I wake up some days dancing! I enjoy God. I enjoy being with Him. I enjoy knowing Him. He’s my Lord. He’s also my closest friend.

I have had people call my joy facade, or it annoys them. God is joy. Joy is part of the fruit of His Spirt. There’s plenty to be thankful for. God has blessed me with tremendous joy! Something I never thought possible. I’m young, yet feel I’ve lived 100 years. And through it all I can say, “It is well with my soul.

My friends, I’m praying God floods you with comfort and joy! No matter what you face, God is able. Your Comforter will never leave or forsake you.

Love in Christ,

Erin

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No One Counterfeits What Has No Value (Holy Spirit Series Part 6)

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Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves, by their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
~Matthew 7:15-16.

This is part 6 in the series. Funny because 6 is the number of man. Human beings are incomplete without God. Seven (7) is the number for perfection. This post isn’t about numbers. It’s about how there are people who don’t believe God speaks, performs miracles, or the gifts of the Spirit are at work today due to the abuse they’ve seen or lack of evidence they’ve seen or simply because of unbelief.

We will address two issues:

1. False prophets, those abusing the gifts, and counterfeit gifts.

A. The Bible tells us there will be people who can do miraculous things that would not be of God. Just read the book of Revelation (the antiChrist will be able to perform miracles) or how the magicians and sorcerers mimicked the miracles God performed through Moses (they could not do them all-but they could do some).

The Bible tells us to be alert, not dismiss the power of God. God has not ceased being powerful because we don’t think He is. God said, “You will know if someone is representing me by their fruit.” What is being manifest in their lives. Is it pointing to Jesus? Is it glorifying God? Is it fueled by Godly love and compassion? Is it drawing people into closer fellowship with God? Or is it drawing people away from God and to worship someone other than Jesus? There is one Savior. Only God is worthy of worship. We don’t worship the gifts or the people He uses, we worship God alone.

No one counterfeits what’s fake or not valuable. We have companies that make tons of money selling fake diamonds, fake Rolex watches, fake Gucci and Coach bags, etc…why? Because the original has tremendous value or worth. God is Spirit. He is the Creator of all things. The devil can’t be God; he can try to imitate him. God is all powerful. The devil is not. God gave His Spirit to partakers of salvation so we could live as Jesus lived: submitted and empowered.

Just look at the movies. Many are focused focused on the spirit realm-something many churches ignore or shy away from. As the Body of Christ, we serve and are empowered by a Superior Kingdom. Darkness is not more powerful than Light. Jesus is the Light of the world and His Spirit lives in every born again believer.

2. Unbelief.

B. Even Jesus was impacted by the lack of faith of the people around Him. Unbelief is the greatest sin because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I’m almost convinced we don’t see the power of God as fully because we don’t believe or we are relying on ourselves.

When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief,~Matthew 13: 53-58.

There are many unbelieving Christians. It’s acceptable to believe God can save someone from eternal damnation and raise them from the dead for eternal life (a miracle), yet for some to believe that same God will speak to them, heal the sick through them, or do great and mighty things is not acceptable. God has not changed. We may not ever see a parting of a sea like Moses did, but that doesn’t mean God can’t. And then again we don’t know what God will do. He’s not limited to our expectations. He’s God. He can do what He wants.

Restating the Purpose:

Jesus was moved by compassion and love to heal the sick, share the Gospel, and speak for the Father. The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is to bless people.

My dad keeps a book of all the miracles he’s seen in his life: cancers healed, deformed children healed, brain deformities healed, miraculous provision, blind eyes opened, reproductive problems healed, even God raising his son from the dead.

My own life has been blessed by the miracle working power of God. I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for God. Doctors told my mom she would never have kids due to cancer. My birth was traumatic, I could have died. I’ve had multiple issues God has completely healed me of. He’s saved my life so many times. The most profound was being trapped in a car under water and I couldn’t get out. 911 never came. My last phone call was to my mom and she said, “We are going to pray.” The engine had already flooded. The pressure of the water outside and inside making it impossible to open the door. I told her, “It’s no use, I’m going to die. I just called to say goodbye.” She prayed. She said, “Try the engine again!” I needed to get the window down, since the doors would not open. I had already tried. But I tried one more time. The engine turned over for roughly 60 seconds and I was able to get out. That’s no fluke. That’s a miracle. Once your engine floods and stalls, that’s it.

So sweet friends, believe God can do anything! Pick up your Bible and read all the things He has done. Think about salvation and the resurrection! Repent for unbelief. And remember, no one counterfeits what is fake or has no value. The Holy Spirit is the real deal. He is fully God and all powerful. If you’re a born again believer, He’s living in you. You are empowered!

God bless you!

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.

Intimacy Before Activity (Holy Spirit Series Part 4)

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,~Acts 1:8.

I told you last post that I would talk about how the gifts operate. I realized this part of the equation is so vital; intimacy with God. So many people want to get up and run with the ball without cultivating intimacy with God or being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Oswald Chambers explains it well.

Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ. After being set apart through sanctification, we should discipline our lives spiritually to maintain this intimate oneness. When God gives you a clear determination of His will for you, all your striving to maintain that relationship by some particular method is completely unnecessary. All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus’s ministry did not start until He was 30. What was He doing during that time? He was living, working, being obedient and honoring to His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father. Jesus models for us something we try to bypass, He grew in favor with God and man. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,”~Luke 2:52.

We don’t know what the Father was developing in Jesus all those years. Yes, Jesus is and was fully God. He was also fully human. Jesus knew the importance of intimacy (oneness, closeness, relationship) with the Father.

God longs to establish our identity in Him, develop intimacy with Him, and then send us out. Our greatest strength lies in our intimacy with God. He is our source!

The gifts of God are gifts. You can operate in the gifts without cultivating deeper intimacy with God. The problem is if we don’t know God, we are bound to misrepresent Him. If we are not cultivating relationship with God, we are going to be prey to pride, self promotion, self reliance, jealousy of others God uses, and self destruction.

The gifts of the Spirit aren’t primarily for us, they are for others and the building up of the Body of Christ. If we have an intimate relationship with God, those gifts are fueled by love. God is love. We will co labor with God to bless other people and help them become all God calls them to be.

So how do we cultivate intimacy with God?

I am a make lists type of person, but I am against legalism. It looks different for every person. These are just some ways God and I engage. Your relationship with God is so unique. He’s so beautiful in the sense He knows what each child needs. He speaks your love language.

So here’s my list…

1. Prayer (talking and listening to God). It all started with prayer, that is after salvation. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, that’s where to start.

2. Reading God’s Word. I like what Joyce Meyer says, she eats until she’s full. There’s no formula for how much to read. His Word is life giving. So, being in His Word helps to know Him. It’s God’s story written down for us. It reveals Him. It does not contain Him. Meaning the Bible is designed to lead us into an encounter with the author. It’s written in such a way that we need His Holy Spirit to bring revelation and insight.

3. Worship. It’s more than singing songs. It’s a life centered around glorifying God.

4. Giving thanks. Yes giving God continual thanks is a way to cultivate relationship.

5. Soaking. This is time set aside to just be with God. It’s inviting Him into the time to do as He pleases. It can be anywhere from 15 minutes to hours. It can involve worship music, journaling, prayer, or just lying prostrate before Him.

6. Listening to sound teaching. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher. He’s also working through other people. Feeding our spirits good things keeps our focus on God.

7. Serving others. Our relationship with God should benefit everyone around us,~Kris Vallotton. One of the ways I’ve seen God deepen my understanding of His love is through serving other people, especially the poor, sick, broken, and truly messed up people of society. When I was and am in desperation, God steps right into my brokenness. He brings Himself low to lift me up.

As I stated, your relationship with God is unique. These were just on my list and I don’t follow a formula to be with God. I wake up and tell Him how much I love Him and offer Him my day and my entire life.

Father, I pray we would cultivate intimacy with You. Help us to know You. May we be empowered by Your Holy Spirit and yield to Your relentless pursuit of our hearts. In Jesus powerful name, amen.