Saturday, January 26, 2013
Hello church family… here we are on the last day of our fast. Well done! I pray that God has transformed you and planted some amazing dreams in your heart as you have taken this time to seek him. I pray that as you have dedicated and put aside this time to focus the remainder of your year is blessed and beyond anything that you could have dreamt for yourselves.
Today we are looking at Acts 19:1-5. As I was preparing to write this post I really wanted to wow you with my knowledge (wink, wink) so I read this scripture it in every translation, prayed about it, read what I could on it… basically I really sought God on what he wanted to have me say and this is what it kept coming back to…. Wait for it, its life changing (wink, wink again)…. It’s as simple as this:
Step One: Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour
Step Two: Ask to receive the power of the Holy Spirit
It is as simple as that. When Paul saw some of the disciples the first thing he asked is ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ It was the simple next step in our walk with God. Receive Jesus into your heart, and then receive the Holy Spirit.
I had the awesome privileged to be raised in a Godly, Jesus loving house where it wasn’t unusual to hear my mom singing in the Spirit while she worked in the kitchen or drove us to school, or to hear my dad quietly speaking in tongues as he went about his day. I never thought the idea of the Holy Spirit was foreign at all and it was a daily practice from a young age for me to speak in tongues, and utilize this gift. Now that I reflect back on that I am beyond thankful that when I wasn’t sure what to do in a situation, that still small voice was there to urge me in the right direction. Thankful that when I didn’t have the right words to say to a friend, or maybe even a stranger, that still small voice was there to prompt my words to be used beyond my limited capacity. Thankful when it felt as if I was drowning, that still small voice was there to comfort and encourage me in my despair and darkness.
If I was made to imagine my life without the Holy Spirit as my guide it would be sad. I wouldn’t want to live life without my compass, my guide, my comforter. The Holy Spirit is so much more then a nice idea to me. He is a necessity that I depend on everyday. When Paul naturally suggested the Holy Spirit to the disciples he did so because no one should have to walk a day without Him by their side.
If you find yourself today questioning if you really understand the Holy Spirit or if He is even in your life, it’s worth it to take a moment and ask for God to fill you with the Spirit. There is no better way to live then to be guided through life’s trails and trials with the Holy Spirit there leading you.
I believe God’s best is a life with the Holy Spirit as your guide, so take the time to listen to that still small voice and be open to where it will lead and guide you. The Holy Spirit is like a muscle, the more you use Him the more you will be used.
Have a great day.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:13-19
I love praying. Being on this fast has reminded me just how much I need it, and it's amazing how the more I pray, the more I want to pray. It's been transforming my mind and shifting my perspective. Though I must admit, praying in the Spirit - well - praying in general, was never an easy thing for me to do. It took a lot of guts. It took a lot of faith.
I love my RGroup. I love how when we get together it's real, honest, and there's always grace, love and support. Just last week we got together and talked about how praying out loud and worshipping in front of people can be one of the most vulnerable things that we as Christians can do. It's your intimate relationship with God on display, or so it seems. So many times I justify this feeling of insecurity by convincing myself that prayer is only between God and myself. I choose to be silent, rather than to speak His Word over situations, because I'm afraid that my ability to put together amazing sentences is awful, or afraid that I'll talk in circles and not make any sense. It's this internal battle between how I feel and my convictions.
Reading 1 Corinthians 14:17 I am convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that prayer is what builds the Church. Prayer where no one can hear you, prayer out loud in front of many, or even prayer for one is crucial in building each other up. It's where we need to start. I started to imagine what it would look like if I responded to every victory or problem with prayer. Praying for not only for the big things, but for the every days and in betweens. Sometimes I worry that I'll run out of time praying for all the people God's placed on my heart, but God has been reminding me that "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much..." (Luke 16:10) - He'll grow my capacity to love, to care, and increase my time in prayer. Amen. I love that our God cares, and that His heart is to build us - His Church.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
I so love that our church encourages us to do a 21-day fast every year. January is the perfect time to fast, pray and direct our focus to God for the New Year.
I have to be honest; I don’t always get excited about doing a fast. Fasting requires me to give up something that I love and naturally (like most humans) I enjoy being comfortable.
I'm so glad I don't stay there. After every fast I am reminded of how important and beneficial it is and I’m so glad that I decide to take the plunge, even if it requires me twisting my own arm to get motivated.
If we decided to always remain in our comfortable state we would never grow. Often times without even realizing it, the many comforts of life can turn into our biggest distractions. We mindlessly start running to these distractions which can drive us further away from who we are called to be.
Like Barnabus and Paul we have all been commissioned to go out and change the world. We all have a specific part to play in the Great Commission. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it, I don’t want to let distractions of life rob me from my calling.
Fasting eliminates the many distractions of life and allows us to see things from a clearer perspective. It points us in the right direction and reminds us of who we are called to be.
Fasting takes us away from our regular routine of doing things and creates room for us to better hear the Holy Spirit.
Listen and obey that small voice and watch Him transform your life! I dare you! :)
And for those who speak in twitter…#fast#pray #waitforguidance #obey #gointoalltheworld #youarecommisioned #changetheworld
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
While I was growing up, I routinely prayed, but they were either prayers that I had memorized or prayers that were recited with the rest of the church. I am appreciative of my roots, but also so thankful that the Lord drew me with His lovingkindness and invited me into a deeper relationship with Him.
Before I go further, I want to take a moment to look at this passage in the book of Luke 11:1-11. I think that it is interesting to note that the book of Luke has 7 unique passages that refer to prayer. Now we know that Luke was not amongst the first 12 disciples who had the privilege of walking, talking, listening to the teaching, or weathering the storms with Jesus. I wonder, did Luke have a unique understanding that, as a believer, prayer was his point of connection to an intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father? Did he realize that prayer was the avenue of experiencing for himself, the love of his Heavenly Father and the dynamic power that was now available through the sacrifice of his Saviour?
I can relate to Luke. Although I had attended church since my childhood, I was an adult before I became born again. I was surrounded by wonderful, mature, caring people who had grown up in families who had known the Lord for generations. They all seemed to know so much, and I felt that I had so much catching up to do. It was a bit daunting to think that I could somehow start to acquire some knowledge; after all I couldn’t even find my way through the Bible! I had so many questions as I started to grow in my personal relationship with the Lord, maybe you have some too! What I didn’t know, but was soon to find out, was that I didn’t have to do this with my own strength. All I had to do was ask...
This passage in Luke is all about something we refer to as, “the ask”. Luke makes it clear; to ask is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of persistent pursuit. Luke encourages us to be bold, to be persistent, and to understand that we are no longer considered slaves or servants, but are now either a son or daughter of the King. And further, it is His good pleasure to ensure that we have all we need to live this life well.
During the month of January, we have focused on deepening our understanding of the person, the power, and the purpose of the Holy Spirit. This passage in Luke, instructs us to ask boldly and with persistence, and leads us to seek for a very special gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit. I think that the Message Bible beautifully expresses the heart of the Father towards us: And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?” Luke 11:13
So, as I conclude, I want to encourage you – just go ahead and ask! I did, and apart from salvation, it was my best ask ever! The Holy Spirit has truly been my Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby, and He is waiting to be yours! All you have to do is ask!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
While reading today’s scripture, I couldn’t help but think about one of my favorite childhood cartoons “The Transformers." As a boy I was fascinated about the idea of cars that could transform into giant intelligent robots! They could hide by looking like any other car, but in reality, they were much more. I loved it as a kid, but I’m sure you’re wondering what does any of it have to do with Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus?
There is a quote used a lot in the TV show, “More than meets the eye." In the same way, Paul reminds us in verse 10-12 that there really is “More than meets the eye”. We all face many and different challenges in life. It’s very easy to blame it on what we can see, but lets recognize whom we are really dealing with. Verse 12: For we are not against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world… Our battle isn’t against human-foes, it’s a “spiritual warfare”, lets not forget Jesus teaches us in John that even though the enemy would love nothing more but to kill, steal and destroy our futures, we have a God who LOVES us so much and He has come to give us LIFE in abundant (John 10:10).
If we are in a middle of a spiritual warfare, we need to be spiritually prepared. I love the metaphor that Paul uses in verse 13-17 about taking up the whole armor of God to stand firm and be prepared. I had to stop to here to recognize at the thought that God really gave us the best help we could get, His Spirit! As align ourselves with God’s word and His Spirit, I can’t help but think of Romans 8:31 “ If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
Finally Verse 18 continues on to say “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” What a wonderful reminder of how important prayer is. Praying in the Spirit is so important that he doesn’t just instructs us to be praying once in a while, but ALL THE TIME. It needs to be part of our everyday life.
There is a quote from Abraham Lincoln that goes "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe" A dull edge makes the work that much harder and longer but a sharp edge eases the work. I trust God that in these 21 days of fasting, as we focus on God’s Spirit, as we spend time with Him and learn to follow and trust Him, that we are getting our axes sharpen as we prepare to see God’s supernatural work in our life’s this year.
Monday, January 21, 2013
In a quick glimpse, it's saying. You are children of light, so live like children of light.
Wow. Does anyone else have to re-read that just so it settles into your Spirit a bit more? I feel like I understand it but only in the shallow sense of the statement. Sometimes it takes a while for me to fully embrace, let alone recognize the fact that I can be called a child of God. (What a crazy statement!)
In verse 11 it says “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” What are some of these fruitless deeds Paul's talking about? In the beginning of Ephesians 5, Paul lists out these fruitless deeds from sexual immorality, foolish talk, etc... But Paul isn't listing them out so we can just avoid them, but more as “Hey, you ARE a child of God now live in a manner fitting for a child of God.” I imagine it's the same for Prince William, or someone in the royal family. Just like how they live in the manner of royalty, so they live, act and have responsibilities in that lifestyle, as a child of God, we have that too. Because we are children of the light, a child of the Most High, it's simply saying, live the way you were made.
I love the last little bit of this passage. We're told to walk in wisdom, and just like how you're fasting to seek more and to understand more of what God wants for you and for others, that is the perfect place to find wisdom from God. We live in a very fast-paced culture, there are certain standards that are set for us, and we read in verse 16 to make the most of every opportunity and culturally we automatically take that and go, “YOLO! Live it up!” And totally, live this life to it's fullest, I have nothing against that. But I believe that Paul is digging deeper then just telling us to live day by day. I believe that we're being told to make the most of every opportunity we have FOR the glory of Jesus. Not just to make the most of time, but to make the most of the time we have. I don't know about you, but I can't help but feel excited and prompted to go and do just that! But we can't do much without the Holy Spirit, and Paul tells us that we should be filled with the Spirit. It's not just a one time occurrence, but a daily, every minute, every hour, every-time-we-get-a-chance kind of thing. I don't know about you, but I can't live this life without the Holy Spirit, I struggle to do the simple things without the Holy Spirit. Yes, I can do tasks without the Spirit, I just mean, why would I, when we've been given this amazing gift to help us through our journey? Whether that's at work, school, doing a fast, or talking to a friend. We've been equipped with the most amazing “tool”, and I can't imagine letting it get dusty on the sidelines when this whole time it's what would of helped me succeed.
As we live a spirit-filled life, closely tied to it is worship and gratitude. Our desire to worship not only increases, but it overflows to encourage others in their worship of God too! So cool. Paul lists out a variety of ways of worship to God, and it suggests that God delights in creative, spontaneous worship. That the most pleasing song to God is something from the heart, not necessarily a great sounding singer, or musician. As we continue to live a life filled of the Spirit, we will be filled with thanksgiving because the Holy Sprit and a complaining heart is like oil and water, it just doesn't go together.
As you continue to seek more of God and invite the Holy Spirit into your life, I pray that you will find wisdom, grow a deeper desire for God, and that your heart will be filled with worship and thanksgiving, and in the midst of that confidently know that you are a child of God.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
This is one of the greatest scriptures in the whole New Testament! It stirs my spirit, and reminds me of the significance of who we are in Christ. These few verses mark the start of everything we are talking about throughout the month of January – the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We read in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) that Jesus came to earth, and He dwelled among His people! That was so significant, because no longer was God a god “up there in heaven” but he was tangibly with them. Then, when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent his spirit, not only to be with his people (that’s us!), but to be IN THEM!
Often times preachers say things like, “how different would your life be, if Jesus was physically with you”. This is a power visual that helps us to honor God with every thing that we do, but the reality is, having the Holy Spirit in us, is even better than having Jesus with us. Having God’s spirit in us, leading us, guiding us, convicting us, teaching us, is the biggest asset to the life of a believer!
Sometimes I imagine myself being there, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). How powerful would that moment have been? Seeing the fire of God, the Spirit of God fall, giving them power to perform miracles, to speak in other tongues, to heal the sick, to see heaven come to earth! This stirs me up, because the bible tells us that the same spirit that did those miraculous works lives in me (Romans 8:11). The Holy Spirit is the same today as he was on the day of Pentecost. He never changes!
As Pastor John has been teaching this month, the Holy Spirit is always speaking, always leading, but it’s up to us to silence all the other voices around us, and listen to what he is saying.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
I have come to look forward to January and taking extra time seeking God and spending time with the Holy Spirit. As Pastor John has spent this month teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit I have realized again how blessed we are to have the gift of the Holy Spirit within us to lead us and guide us through life.
These verses come right after one of the most powerful chapters in the bible on love where Paul says if we are not operating in love, all other gifts are useless.
I like the way the Message Bible starts this chapter “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does.”
We are told here to eagerly pursue this love and to earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual gifts.
Paul talks about praying in tongues and to prophecy and that prophecy always builds people up it does not tear people down, it helps to constructively aid their spiritual growth and gives them encouragement and consoles them in the process.
In verse 5 Paul says he wants us all to speak in tongues but even more to prophesy and if we do prophecy in church, have someone interpret so the whole church is edified and helped.
In conclusion our job is to stay close to God and the fruit of it will be a close walk with others and openness to speak into their lives through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Friday, January 18, 2013
I’ve always loved the Canadian Blood Services ad line "Blood, It’s in You to Give". It speaks of something life-giving and precious that we can so easily give away... (as the irony kicks in I’ll explain)
God sent His son Jesus to walk on this earth not just to give His life for ours, but to be an example in every way possible for us to follow. As we are learning this month to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, guiding us as we walk this life out, it is important to keep in perspective why we are here and what our mission is. We are here to be a light in the darkness, reflecting the true source. All glory and honor to Him.
Through my younger years my mom would often say as I would head out the door, “Remember who you are and whom you serve”. I’m so thankful for these words sown into my life because it has shaped me into who I am today. Every step I take I will strive to live like Him.
Jesus, He’s in you to Give.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
It’s counter-intuitive, is what it is. The Holy Spirit is summoning you and I to a radical break from the norm. Naturally, we see sin will wreak havoc in our lives. Did you read the list in verses 19-21? Hello! Quarreling: check. Envy: check. Outbursts of Anger: check. If I am not intentional in following the Holy Spirit, it is an effortless spiral down.
Yet, here He is, Holy Spirit, pulling us along by the hand to this counter-intuitive God life. I have experienced it to be a gentlemanly beckon, a quiet “come this way” or “put your foot there” with the occasional “WATCH OUT!” He’s positioning me away from what comes quite natural to produce in me something extraordinary… something of God’s very nature.
And oh, the fruit! I love that the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is described as fruit because what is more naturally succulent than… honestly, I cannot pick just one. Across the board fruit is just good. And so are these tasty morsels: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s what others will look at, gobble up and crave more of.
I am thankful that my simple duty is to follow. I don’t create the fruit in my own power. I don’t cut the path. I follow. Fix my eyes on the leader, watch my step, listen for the cues, and do not deviate. Let the blessed fruit bear witness to the journey.