Divine Appointments – The Fruit of Obedience

For my 15th birthday, my parents bought me a guitar and some lessons at the local community center. This started a love affair for me, which lasted until this day.

The smooth surface, richly colored wood and shiny strings melt my heart every time is see a guitar. I love the moving melody, which flows from the guitar’s inner chamber, and the fact that I can praise God and play the guitar at the same time.

After Christ saved me and renewed my spirit, I continually played the guitar and worshiped Him. In the wee hours of the morning, when everyone else was asleep, I went down to the basement and sang at the top of my lungs until the floor joists rattled.

When I discovered classical guitar, I felt led to take lessons. With three small children, a pastor husband and a church full of people, I looked beyond reason and common sense and signed up for classes.

My young instructor was very talented and inspiring; yet, what he showed me would take hours of practice; and I knew there were not enough minutes in the day for me to dedicate to learning this skilled art.

That week, I did my guitar class homework, but I prayed about whether or not to continue taking lessons. The Lord told me to go to one more class and to take my young instructor the book, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”.

Confused, but wanting to walk in the Spirit, I did just that. My instructor politely accepted the book, gave me another lesson and promised to visit us at our church some time.

Many months went by and I forgot this episode in my life, as I immersed myself in the hustle and bustle of life. Then, one epic day, my former classical guitar instructor rocked my world.

He entered our church facility and pulled me aside. He told me a tale, which caused me to cry the whole time he related it:

His girlfriend broke up with him several weeks after my last lesson, and he had to move. In the midst of packing, he decided to end his life.

He removed his gun from his dresser drawer and placed it on the coffee table in the living room. Leaning back on the couch, he contemplated his life and exactly how to terminate it.

As he blankly stared straight ahead, his eye noticed the book I brought him those many months before. He leaned forward and opened it to a random page and started reading.

The page he opened to answered the exact question that had been gnawing at him for half of his life. He read the page twice and then continued to read, opening Josh McDowell’s book to random pages over and over again.

Eventually, he fell on his face before the Lord, repented of his sins and rose to walk in a new life. He came to our church that day to hug my neck and to thank me for listening to the Spirit and buying him that book.

God not only spared this young man’s life, but He set his feet on a new path of leading worship in the blessings and glory of the Lord. That one divine appointment had a ripple effect, which changed many lives in the future, including mine.

God has divine appointments for all of us (Acts 16:9-11, 25-34). He will even use strange and unattainable desires in our heart to direct us to the right place, at the right time, to the right person, whose life He wants to impact for His Kingdom.

Prayer:
Father God, there is nothing too small or too great for You. You use our lives for Your purpose, to grow Your Kingdom and to draw the world to Your unconditional mercy, love and grace. Fill us in all of our being with all of Your fullness, so that we may have the richest measure of Your presence and become Your Body wholly filled with You (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Help us to discern the leading of Your Spirit through each moment of our life, and anoint our body, soul and spirit to make a difference in the lives of those You bring our way. Teach us to humble our self under Your mighty hand and use us for Your honor and glory (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

Thought for the Day:
“Disappointment = His-appointment. Change one letter, then I see that the thwarting of my purpose is God’s better choice for me.” —Young

Advertisements

God’s Truth Sets Us Free

Vain imaginations and idle thoughts will drive us to distraction. They cause stress and come straight from the pit of hell (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 1:21; Genesis 6:5; 1Chronicles 28:9).

If we listen to negative self-talk long enough, we start to believe it is true. We listen to Satan’s lies and this ruins our relationships with God and other people (John 8:44).

Satan’s lies demean, belittle, undermine and accuse us (Revelation 12:10). They keep us in bondage and debilitate us in our endeavors to serve God with our life.

Satan attempts to keep us in bondage to his lies. The only way to overcome Satan’s debilitating talk is to counter his lies with God’s Truth and Word. (www.theophostic.com)

Then, we can walk in God’s Spirit and believe only what God says about us. By His mercy and because of His love, God takes away the shame and misery caused by our sins (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:4).

He calls us to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We do not count anyone’s sin against them, but we bring to them a word of loving understanding and mercy, without compromising God’s Word (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Prayer:
Father God, teach us to take our thoughts captive and to make them obedient to Christ rather than the devil (2 Corinthians 10:5). Give us the victory over sin and death by our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Remind us to follow Your will for our life rather than following the mold, into which Satan or someone else in our life attempts to squeeze us. Help us to walk in Your will for us each and every moment of every day (Ephesians 2:10).

Thought for the Day:
God’s Truth always sets us free. – John 8:32

Living in God’s Presence

I used to think that God wanted me to work for Him. I was under the impression that He desired for me to spend all of my time serving in the soup kitchen for the homeless, going to Bible studies, taking abandoned children into our home, helping to lead worship in my church, teaching adults how to read, witnessing to everyone I met and a myriad of other activities.

However, these very activities stole time away from my ability to actually live in the presence of God (1 Chronicles 28:9). Remember when Jesus went to the pool? He only healed one man (John 5:1-18).

Another time, when He walked through the crowd, only the woman who touched his garment was healed (Luke 8:43-48). Jesus did miracles and taught the crowds as He saw the Father working.

However, He spent more time in solitary places communing with our Father God (Matthew 6:9-13, 11:25-26, 14:23; Luke 6:12, 22:32, 22:41-44, 23:34; John 11:41-42, 12:27-28, 14:31, 17:1-26). He lived in the very center of God’s will.

We can learn a lesson from Jesus’ life. He listened to God, heard His direction and did only what the Father said and did (John 5:19, 5:30, 8:28, 12:49). God calls us to do this same thing.

We no longer rely on our human reasoning to direct our day. We seek the Lord and He directs our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). We walk through our day communing with our Father and following His Spirit’s direction even if it makes no human sense.

Sometimes, I actually argue with the Spirit’s leading, or discount it as a human thought, which just floated through my mind.

Maybe I am tired and I do not want to follow the Spirit’s leading. I have my own agenda for my day; so I decide to take a nap or go to the pool or play a game of Scrabble instead of obeying my Father’s will.

When I do, I quickly learn that I grieved the Holy Spirit and missed an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, God will lead us to nap, because of what lies ahead in our evening, or He has a person at the pool or the park whom He wants us to talk to about Jesus.

The point is to walk in the Spirit, so that we do not reap the consequences of living in the flesh (Galatians 5:15-25), thwart God’s will for our life or quench God’s Holy Spirit. We will have more time to rest in His presence.

Prayer:
Father God, keep our thoughts centered on You as we learn to walk in Your ways. Help us to understand that You do not want us to work for You, but to do the works, which You created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Remind us that it is not by our works of righteousness, or our might and power, but by Your Spirit that we live, move and have our being in You (Titus 3:5-7; Zechariah 4:6; Acts 17: 28).

Thought for the Day:
If Jesus did not speak for Himself, do anything through His own effort or strength, or teach anything of His own devising, how can we do otherwise?                                        – John 12:49-50, 7:18, 5:19, 30, 14:31

Transitions

Change is abhorrent to most people; however, life is full of adjustments. Much of the transition we experience as a new Believer occurs in our soul (Romans 8:5). Our spirit is Born Again; and although we still physically exist on this earth, we no longer walk according to the dictates of our physical, mental or emotional desires. We learn to walk according to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:15-25).

Christ frees us from the bondage of our past. We are forgiven and there is no longer any condemnation (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 8:1). We choose to change our priorities. We do not pursue anything, which prevents us from fellowshipping with God or walking in His perfect plan, which He ordained for us before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:10).

We fight the carnal desires or satanic impulses, which continue to tempt us, by using spiritual weapons such as prayer, Bible reading, spiritual fellowship, and the ability, which the Spirit gives us, to corral our thoughts to the obedience of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8). Once we come to understand that Christ lives in us, we have no desire to ever live in the flesh again (Galatians 2:20).

This allows God to destroy the demonic strongholds from our past (John 8:32). He changes our negative thought patterns to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). He heals our negative emotions and fills us with the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He removes our negative behavior and exchanges it with acts of service to the King of kings (Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Timothy 6:15). We abide in unity with both our Father and our Lord.

Prayer:
Father God, the world follows self-help gurus and they hire life coaches to help them to succeed in life. These “experts” can only help a person to thrive in body and soul. Only You can rebirth our spirit, which is dead in sin. Only You can completely fulfill us in body, soul and spirit (Ephesians 2:1; Romans 6:11, 8:10). You bring us victory in every area of our life, and make us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). If we remain in You and walk in Your Spirit we will live fruitful lives (John 15:5). We love You with all of our heart and we live, move and have our being only in You (Acts 17:28).

Thought for the Day:
We often resist transitions; and, therefore, never receive the blessings, which accompany them; instead, we can embrace the changes God brings into our life and look for the advantages He has in store for us through them.

Enjoying God’s Presence

Many people tell me that they feel like God left them. They no longer experience the presence and anointing of His Spirit in their life, and they miss that feeling. They want the union with God, which they had during their first experience with salvation. God promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5); therefore, in actuality, we leave Him. When we do, it is impossible to feel His presence.

We move away from God in many ways. Those who are Christians in name only will indulge their flesh with no remorse (2 Peter 2:20-22). Our lifestyle choices will often pull us away. False prophets lead others away and distract them from worshiping the one true God, (2 Peter 2:1-19). Some people in crisis pray for salvation, but then reject the Word of Life and turn from walking in righteousness (Romans 13:8-14; Ephesians 2:2).

King David lost God’s presence one time too. When He walked away from purity and God’s ways, He begged God to help him to overcome his evil heart. He entreated God to restore the joy of His salvation and to renew a Godly spirit in him (Psalm 51:10-12). If we walk in the Spirit, it is much harder to fulfill the desires of our flesh (Galatians 5:16-25). We lose the craving to be around sin or to take part in it.

We see the destruction that sin leads to and we want the blessings of God on our life instead (1 Peter 4:1-5). During the sanctifying process, even if an authentic Believer does not sense God’s presence, we are still basking in His blessings. Once we begin walking in the Spirit all of the time, however, we always feel the presence of God. Even if God is silent, we enjoy His company, and we live a life of praise to His name.

Prayer:
Father God, through Your Spirit, You give us hope that we will live with You throughout eternity (Romans 8:22-25). Help us to walk as children of the Light, by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:8; Ephesians 5:8). We want to live in love, just as Christ did by offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 3:16-18). Remind us to pray in the Spirit, so that our prayers will be effective (Romans 8:26-28). Thank You for giving us Your Spirit to live in us each and every day.

Thought for the Day:
If we abide in Christ, He abides in us in the same relationship as the branch and the vine, and together we will bear much fruit by His Spirit with us. – John 15:4

Self-Confidence or God-Confidence

There is nothing on this earth that I want more than to be filled through all of my being with all of the fullness of God, and to have the richest measure of His presence until I completely overflow with God Himself (Ephesians 3:19). This starts at Salvation when we receive all of God’s fullness. He moves in by His Spirit with all of His glory and power.

I know that there is no way to contain more of God, because His fullness already abides in Believers; but I do want to experience a fuller awareness of His presence and leading. Too often, we are so full of our self, that we miss out on the fullness of God within us. The more we allow our flesh and self-confidence to dictate our life, the less we walk in the Spirit.

We need to surrender to God the self-assured part of our identity in order to trust Him. People with a high opinion of their assets have so much to overcome, but those who suffer with self-doubt and who lack self-esteem are closer to walking in the Spirit. The uncertain, timid person is already light years ahead of most people. Insecure people trust God more than those who are secure in their self.

What we need more than self-confidence in our human attributes is our confidence and identity in God. John advised us to decrease, so that Christ in us may increase (John 3:30). We gain our identity in who we are in Christ, not in who we are as a person. There is nothing, which God calls us to do, that we cannot accomplish, once we realize the extent of His power within us (Philippians 4:13).

If we list our human assets and talents, we discover the gifts God gave us. For instance, what are we good at? What positive character traits do we already have? These are the areas where God is already shining through us. We are His light in the world (Matthew 5:16). God lives in us, and we have all the power of the godhead working through us. Now, that fact will improve any self-image!

Prayer:
Father God, when we face challenges in life, which overwhelm our faith, we are tempted to roll up our sleeves and apply some human effort to the problem. We fail to realize our limited human resources. Remind us that the nation of Israel faced such an issue at the outskirts of Canaan, and felt like grasshoppers. They wandered in the wilderness, because they thought they had to rely on their human effort rather than on Yours. Give us the faith to follow the leading of Your Holy Spirit each moment of every day.

Thought for the Day:
When we gain our identity from Christ in us, rather than from our human capabilities or insufficiencies, we accomplish everything, which God calls us to do.

Balancing the Soul and Spirit

Our spirit, the third entity of our existence (body, soul, spirit), is originally dead in sin, until we repent and come to Christ as our Savior. This starts a gradual process of total surrender to God’s will for our life. We no longer follow our heart, but listen to God’s Spirit instead (Jeremiah 17:9). The Spirit keeps us grounded and focused in comparison to the fickle and wayward emotions, which guided us in the past.

At salvation, Christ unites us with Himself in one Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; John 17:11, 20-23). Then, God’s Spirit fills us with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). We have a more peaceful and secure life now. Our spirit is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith, regardless of the emotions presenting in our soul. We can take the emotional wounds of our soul to Christ and allow His Spirit to exchange them with His fruit through our spirit.

Sometimes we still allow our soul’s emotions to dominate over God’s spiritual fruit in our spirit and to dictate our behavior. This is a common human malady. One of the goals of our Christian walk, however, is to surrender our soul’s emotions to God and then to walk in the Spirit and to express the fruit of God’s Spirit. Our spirit is not angry or depressed, our soul is. It is not hypocritical to be joyful, even when we feel depressed, or to show love to someone we feel anger toward.

This is part of the higher calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit, only God can, but we must choose to exhibit them rather than negative emotions. We do this by walking in the Spirit all day long. Our spirit is always exhibiting the nature of Christ, the fruit of God’s Spirit, and can overcome the negative feelings in our soul

Negative feelings are a direct sign that we are not taking care of our soul. We feed our body food all day long, and we study the Bible to feed our spirit, but our soul needs care too. We do this by paying attention to how we feel. Then, use the Serenity Prayer Principle. If you can fix the situation causing your soul stress, fix it. If not, then submit that need or feeling to God for Him to heal or to fulfill.

Prayer:
Father God, our spirit is eternal and connects with Your Spirit in our inner man (2 Corinthians 4:16), our true spiritual self. You deliver us from the power of darkness and open the door for us into the Kingdom of Your Son (Colossians 1:13). We are Your emissaries to the world in which we live. Your love flows like a river through us to those You place around us. Remind us that our self-life is dead and we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us (Galatians 2:20).

Thought for the Day:
God cares for us abundantly more than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He will meet the needs in our soul.