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It’s the SAME Spirit!

We follow the same Jesus that the disciples followed. We are filled with the same Spirit that filled them. The words that Jesus gave to His disciples are words for us today. He didn’t say, “I am with you always, until the last of the 12 disciples dies.” NO. Matthew 28:18-20 says 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  He is with us always! To the very end of the age! The same Jesus, the same Spirit abides with us today! 

I believe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that the Holy Spirit that moved in the book of Acts is still moving today. It is up to us to make a daily decision to read the Word of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit to lead us. When we do we are able to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. When we don’t we are merely living out a fleshly existence with little to no fruit.

Once the disciples repented of their sins, made a decision to follow Christ as their Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit they became power kegs for the Kingdom of God. They literally turned the world upside down with the gospel. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We too have the ability to turn our world upside down with the gospel, if we yield ourselves to the purposes that God has called us to. First and foremost we must grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and secondly we must obey the Word. Being fired up to serve God without knowing who He is or what He wants us to do is a waste of time. We must learn of Him and that comes through studying the Word prayerfully. We must also spend time with Him in prayer daily. The saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,” is more than just a cute phrase. We can’t live out a life of faith on old studying habits. We must continually be in the Word and allow God to transform our thoughts and life by the washing of the Word over our hearts and minds.

Too often we are walking around weak and defeated because of our lack of studying the Word and inconsistent prayer life. There is no excuse for this. We have the same Spirit that led Jesus, Paul, Peter and multiple others that have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. It is time we got serious about allowing that same Spirit to lead us into the works God has called us to do. NOTHING good will be accomplished by trying to please God with our own thought directed efforts. He has called us to abide in Christ. Abiding requires spending time with Him.

The book of Acts is so full of wonderful examples of how the men and women of God allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in what to speak, who to speak to, where to go etc. We to need to be led by the Spirit. We need to keep our hearts tender before God so we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit when He leads and then OBEY!  When we do we will have the boldness to share the gospel and therefore see souls won for Christ, we will see signs and wonders and we will be growing in our walk with Christ as we should. The Word of God doesn’t change. The Spirit of God doesn’t change. The purposes of God don’t change. As you read the following scripture remember, it is as relevant for us today as it was for the Apostles..

Acts 2:14-21 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘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.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Father God: Remind us that we your sons and daughters are to be led by the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that longs to share the good news of Christ with those who desperately need to hear it. Keep our hearts tender before You so that we may yield to Your will and accomplish much for Your Kingdom.  We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Embolden Your Church Lord

With so much worldwide persecution of the church going on it is vital that those of us with the freedom to live and share our faith openly without fear of death and torture do so. It is also critical that we spend time in prayer praying for those who are currently going through incredible testing of their faith. Too often we are afraid to share our faith because of fear of being ridiculed or thought less of when many are required to give their life for doing so. We are not called to be cowards. We are called to be unashamed of the gospel (good news)  that saved us, freed us and will continue to preserve us until He comes again!

Romans 1:16,17   16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  (Faith not FEAR)

Jesus made it very clear in Luke  chapter 9 that those of us who call Him Savior and Lord and have made the decision to follow Him MUST be willing to do a few things.

Luke 9:23-26 NKJV 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The life of a Christian is a life of intimacy and service to the ONE who called us.  We cannot do it in our own strength. We can only live  a spiritually fruitful life by DAILY surrendering our lives to HIM. By yielding our will to HIM. By spending time in HIS presence. Through the  power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. By searching the scriptures daily to learn of HIM and His purposes for each of our lives.  When we are willing to daily take up our cross we are usable by God for His purposes. If we are too busy consumed with fear,  worldly concerns or self interests we are wasting precious time that He has give us to be used in service. There are so many that have yet to hear the gospel. So many hurting that need a touch from Jesus. So many broken lives that need to be restored to the ONE who died for them.

My prayer is that the Lord will embolden my faith as I yield to Him. That He will strengthen my resolve to follow Him, regardless of the cost. That I will NEVER be ashamed of the gospel of Christ! For as the Word of God says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Lord, forgive us for our complacency and lack of faith. Forgive us for allowing fear to play a part in our walk with you.  Please increase our faith. Embolden us to speak the truth of the gospel whenever we are given the opportunity to do so. Create in us a heart that longs to spend time in Your presence and in Your Word. Give us a burden of prayer for our brothers and sisters all over the world who have been called to suffer and die for the sake of the gospel. Help us deny ourselves and take up our cross daily for You! Lord may we live our lives as Apostle Paul did, not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes!  In Jesus beautiful name, Amen.

 

 

There is a cost!

 

In my personal bible reading, I have once again worked my way through the Old Testament and am currently in the book of Matthew. Instead of reading through each chapter in my usual full speed ahead mode, this time I am savoring  my time reading and sometimes rereading several times, the words and actions of Jesus. There are just so many details I have missed in the past. This time through, I am going to take my time and enjoy learning the details of the ONE who died for me.

This morning I was dwelling on some verses in Matthew 16.  Verses 24 to 27 are powerful, serious words! 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done.  I have heard these verses throughout my Christian life so many times yet the weight of the message has never hit me harder than it did today. This is a message  for the double minded. It is a message for the fence sitters. It is a message for the luke warm Sunday Christians. It is a message those who are trying to get their life worked out before they get serious about their commitment to Christ.  This is a message for every person who claims to be a Christian. As a Christian we are to be a  follower of Christ. To follow Him we must walk in His footsteps on the path that He leads us. We must be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Denying ourselves is not easy but it is required. Taking up our cross is living a life of sacrifice but it is required. Losing our life and self interests for those of the Kingdom of God is not natural in the flesh, but is required.

Some  have the idea that those who willingly give up the comfort and ease of a selfish life to serve God with abandon are the “super spiritual” people. A little too radical. A little too zealous. However, this is what Jesus requires of all His followers.  He requires we live a life of obedience and service to Him, our High Priest! This will require sacrifice of all types. This will require doing things we don’t always like to do. This will require pouring ourselves out to others, even when we don’t feel like it. We serve a radical Savior. Nothing He did or commands comes natural to us. It is by His Spirit we are able to accomplish all that He has for us to do. John 16:12-15 NIV 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

Christ  didn’t just call us to Himself and than leave us with the difficult task of trying to figure out how we are to follow Him, He has equipped us! With the Holy Spirit living within us and the Word of God to guide us we are able to fulfill His purposes if we are willing. But in order to do so we must be willing to deny ourselves our own ambitions and take up our cross and follow Him, walking each day with the Holy Spirit guiding and teaching us how and where to serve. He may lead us into some dark places where He wants us to show the light and love of Himself to others. He may lead us to some very uncomfortable situations where we are to be His hands and feet. North American Christians have been blessed with inordinate amounts of freedom in following Christ.  Denying  ourselves is a difficult task because we are not used to denying ourselves much of anything when we have been blessed with so much. When it comes to taking up our cross, it is a decision that seldom results in our death. There are brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the globe that understand the high cost of both denying themselves and taking up their cross as they are living in countries where they may not only face persecution but death to do so. Many are  martyred on a daily basis because they are willing to deny themselves and take up their cross! They understand the cost of being a disciple. For those of us in North America, things are changing. There is a rising rebellion and bitterness towards the church.  One day we too may be called to give our lives for Christ. If so, we must do so willingly, knowing one day He will reward us for what we have suffered and done for His Kingdom.

If we have made the decision to follow Christ, follow is what we must do. My prayer is that each one of us will lay aside those things that are holding us back and willingly say, “Lord I am ready to follow you completely! I am ready to deny myself, my selfish ambitions and comfort and am willing to take up my cross and follow you wherever You will lead me!” This is the heart cry of a disciple, this is to be the heart cry of every one of us who has made Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessings!

“He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”~Francis Chan

 

 

Should I stay or should I go?

 

For the last few years I have noticed a wonderful thing happening. Many of the body of Christ have grown discontent attending churches where the Spirit of God is not moving. Churches that have become nothing more than religious tombs where the Word of God has been so watered down and political correctness has become the staple. There is a stirring in the hearts of God’s people. A stirring for more. It happened to me a few years back and I see it happening over and over to others. God is drawing those who are earnestly seeking Him into a deeper walk. A walk that requires obedience to His Word, loving on others and allowing Jesus to not just be Savior but Lord also.

For too long many of us were content with being small c Christians, when we have been called to be big C Christians.  Christians that will be seekers of God and His Word. Christians that will walk in obedience, even into the hard places. Christians that will serve not just sit idly by as others serve. He is doing something wonderful, scary and powerful in His church. We often hear on the news that people are leaving many of the mainstream churches. Attendance is down. Churches are closing. Despite this there is a wonderful thing happening. Some of those people are leaving churches where God’s Spirit is not moving to churches where God’s Spirit is moving! They are being relocated to grow and serve elsewhere.

For those truly seeking, God will lead them where they may be fed and where they may feed others. Sometimes discontent is a good thing. Sometimes it causes us to seek out more! By no means am I suggesting that people leave a church if God has placed them there in order that they may be used to bring about necessary change. Nor am I suggesting people flip from church to church looking to be entertained and served. What I am suggesting and seeing is that when people are serious about growing closer to Christ and hungry for growth it may be necessary that they leave behind a church that is refusing to move forward in God. A church bound by men’s traditions where the Spirit of God is not allowed to freely move.

Prophetic signs tell us that  it is not likely too long before Christ takes His followers home to be with Him. If so, we would be wise to use the time left wisely.  To get involved with a Church that is preaching the full gospel. To sit under the teaching of men and women that are walking in obedience to Christ. To serve along side brothers and sisters that are committed to being the hands and feet of Christ to a broken, messed up world. I am not suggesting these churches will be perfect, after all you and I are there right? 🙂  However, they are headed in the right direction. They are allowing the Spirit of God to move. They are people of prayer, lining their lives up with the Word of God. Not perfect but true seekers. It is in this atmosphere we are able to grow spiritually as a family and from that growth are able to reach out and use our lives in service inside and outside the church building!

Ephesians 5:14-20 NIV  14 This is why it is said:“Wake up, sleeper,  rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.15 Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:18-23 NIV 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.22 And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 4:1-16 NIV As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:  “When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.” (What does “He ascended” mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Acts 2:17-21 NIV 17 “‘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.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,  blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

If you are seeking a deeper walk with Christ and are longing for more and you are in a church where the gospel is being watered down or perhaps no longer even preached and the Spirit of God is no longer moving,  it is likely time for a change!   Ask God for wisdom and direction in where you should be attending. He will open up a door for you to walk through. Life is too short. God has a place for you to grow and serve. Ask Him and He will show you!

Blessings!

 

 

Why bother studying?

Are you aware of the many verses in the bible that instruct us to study the Word of God?  If you haven’t been studying it, you may not be! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ it is vital that you become a student of the Word of God. Without studying the Word we will never know who our God is, who our beautiful Savior is, who the Holy Spirit is and what God expects of us as we follow Christ. If we are lazy in our studying we will crippled in our thinking and in our walk! Without renewing our mind on the truth of God’s Word we will never walk in truth or victory. We will be vulnerable to the world’s way of thinking.

Let’s take a look at just some of the Bible verses  that encourage us to study God’s Word….

2 Timothy 3:12-17 NIV 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Joshua 1:8 NIV Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Deuteronomy 11:18-28 NIV 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. 25 No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

 

Psalm 119: 9-16 NIV How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lordteach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-17 NIV  But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescuedme from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Psalm 119:105 NIV 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

 

Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

 

1 John 2:3-6 NIV We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them.This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.

These are but a few of the many verses found that tell us of the importance of studying and knowing His Word!  I will wrap up with one final scripture. Here we see how imperative it is that we have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as part of our complete armour in order to walk out our walk with Christ!

Ephesians 6:11-17 NIV 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We need our sword to fight! It is critical to have an offensive weapon to strike back at our opponent!  (Satan) The Word of God is that sword!

We all need to use our time wisely! Life is short and we have much to do before the Lord Jesus returns! Don’t neglect spending time in His Word. It will change you from the inside out and prepare you for any battle you may face!

Blessings!