Monday, April 15, 2013

Oil of Intimacy

"5 percent oil life. Check oil."

AH! Why does that keep coming on?  I just changed my oil!! 

In the past week, I have done a lot of driving, and it was not the time for my oil light to continue to come on.  After numerous times of stopping and checking the status of my oil, I figured that I was fine to keep going.  Do you ever have times where the Lord of the universe is trying to get your attention and you miss it by concluding that it is a computer issue and it must not of calculted the last time you got an oil change?
Or how about random thoughts that continue to go through your head and you don't ever stop to think, "Hey, maybe that's the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something?"  Like the past three weeks, the parable in Matthew 25 about the ten virgins wanting to meet the bridegroom continued to cross my mind.  I just thought it was my curiosity speaking as I realized that I had never dug deep into that parable and was interested to find out what it means.

So when Misty Edwards gets on stage at the "Passion for Jesus" conference and says she wants to speak out of Matthew 25, she got my attention.
When she opens up her message by giving a story of when she was driving and her oil light was on, the Holy Spirit got my attention.

The past month or so, I have felt tired.  I have been carrying burdens that I am not suppose to carry.  I have been stressed out about ministry, burden by different situations that have left me weary.  I knew that something wasn't right, I had been trying to run to Him and ask for rest, but I wasn't getting any breakthrough.  I saw myself slowly getting into the pattern of simply going through the motions.
I praise God for His kindness as I have seen Him pursue me even when I dismiss it.

If you haven't dug into Matthew 25:1-13, I encourage you to check it out.  It talks about ten virgins who took their lams to go out and meet the bridegroom.  In this parable, there are 5 wise ones and 5 foolish ones.  The wise virgins had flasks of oil that they had brought with their lamps.  As the time was getting closer to meeting the bridegroom, the five virgins without oil went on a desperate pursuit to find oil but they were too late.  The bridegroom said of them, "I do not know you".
The 10 virgins represent 10 Christians, pure and spotless.
The lamps in the parable represent the Christians ministry.
Often oil symbolizes intimacy, passion, desire, burning love.

The five foolish virgins had lamps, they had a ministry.  They had been too preoccupied with ministry, maintaining, striving, running around trying to accomplish this or that.  They had a name that they were alive but they were lacking the oil to sustain them.

The five wise virgins had oil.  They had intimacy, friendship with God, fellowship with His Spirit.  The had cultivated a life of enjoying Him, simply being with Him.  Because of their communion, they were able to hear and recognize the bridegroom. 

The past month, I have lost sight of what it's about.  The beginning of the bible starts with God walking with man in a garden.  The end of the bible talks about a wedding day, where Jesus marries His bride.  He simply longs to be with us.  To search out the very depths of His heart.  In that place, my heart comes alive, my life burns with passion for my King.  The goal of my life is to restore the first commandment to first place.  To love Him with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind and all of my strength.  As we give ourselves to the first commandment, we store up oil for our lives and for our ministry.  As the end draws near and times get harder, the only thing that will get us through is the oil of our intimacy with Jesus.  No one can touch a man or women in love.  "Many waters cannot quench love."

"I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and find them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my names sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you that you have abandoned the LOVE you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your LAMPSTAND from its place, unless you repent." Revelations 2:2-5

Thank you Jesus for going to great lengths to draw me back to the secret place of simply being with you.  Allow me to be a woman of oil!

Here is a quick exert from the book "Fire and Fragrance" by Sean Feucht..

"We must come back to the priority of ministry to the heart of the Lord.  It may not feel like a productive task; we may not be able to check something off of our 'to do' list at the end of the day; and it may not make for flashy newsletters at first or eye-catching Facebook bulletins.  But I tell you it is the key to apostolic Christianity.  Filling our hearts with the priority of being "with" Him, longing to gaze at Him, shaping all of life around Him, and from that place, releasing His earth-shaking presence wherever we go!  The key is to restore communion "with" Him.  Not the language of intimacy or the appearance of intimacy or the concept of intimacy, but hungry humanity in love with a raw God.
It seems so easy for ministry to Him to take backseat to the commissioning of people to "do" the work.  Of course, we must do the work, but oh, to do it with joy, pleasure, power, and fruitfulness even in the hardest of situations and circumstances.  The key to the hardest and darkest places on the planet is not more hard foreheads and harder workers.  Though this is essential to fruitfulness, it must be built on lovesick hearts fascinated with the beauty of God and placing value in actually telling Him how beautiful He is.  A tender heart is the key to longevity!  In all of our hard foreheads and persistent work, we must be even more stubborn in our locked gaze, fascinated hearts, and verbal praises."     

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Experiencing God, not religion

"Experiencing God, not religion" has been the tag line of the church I grew up in.  How awesome is that? Isn't that what this whole christian life is about? Experiencing God, knowing God, allowing that all consuming fire to possess us so that we can't help but express that love to our brothers and sisters as well as this broken world? I love that. I love that is the heart behind my church, behind the movement that I have been a part of my entire life.  Praise God!!

What does that even mean? To experience God?  Religion is substituting anything for relationship.  God longs to have a relationship with us.  That is His sole desire.
If I am going to be honest, the majority of my christian life, I have been content in experiencing religion and I didn't even know it.  I know it was not because of anything I had necessarily been taught or the community I have been raised in.  I had recently have been asking the Holy Spirit why I have been such a sucker for religion and why so many of my friends have found themselves in the same position.  He gently took me back through my life and everything that had happened.  For those of you who don't know me, I had the blessing of being raised in a christian home.  For the majority of my life, I have been in church, going to youth group, bible camps and mission trips.  I have been surrounded by christian friends.  The Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me and said, "The biggest danger for kids raised up within the church is to be content with knowing about God, but not actually knowing God."  Wow! I have been so guilty of that.  Since I knew a lot about God, I knew a lot about the bible, the goal of my christian life was to become more like Jesus so that I can be used by God to do great things for the Kingdom.  I turned my relationship with Christ as a list of disciplines I needed to maintain and things that I needed to do for God.
I didn't know what it meant to actually have an experiential relationship with Jesus.  Since I was a kid, I could share the gospel with anyone, I could give you all the right "christian answers".  I knew intellectually that we were created for an intimate, experiential, all consuming relationship with the person of Jesus, that only He can satisfy us, that only the Jesus can bring us life and supernatural joy in the midst of extreme hardships and tribulation.  Was I experiencing this?
I was talking to my dad about this revelation and he said something that was profound.  We were talking about people who have a radical conversion experience.  People who come to Christ out of a place of brokenness and despair and Christ comes and restores them and radically transforms them.  He said that those people come to know God before they know about God, where christian kids (like me) know about God, but its possible that we can never come into actually knowing Him in an intimate way.    
God is a jealous God.  He is jealous for our affections.  He is jealous for our thoughts, our emotions, our time, our everything.  He knows that only He can truly satisfy us so He longs for us to come to Him.  There has been many times in my life where the Lord has brought me to a place where He has ripped an idol out of my life, and it tested my knowledge of God.  From all those times, I felt His peace and love and it drew me closer to Him, but after a few months, I would quickly forget.  I would go back to being content with knowing about God and going through the motions.
A few years ago, again the Lord ripped an idol out of my life and it shook me to the core.  I don't believe it was any more intense than the other times but it led me to a place of humility, knowing that something in my relationship with Christ was not right.  There was more than I was experiencing.  I say that "only Jesus can satisfy" but why was this particular circumstance affecting me so much?  It was very clear to me that I was not satisfied in the Lord.  I was not content in simply my relationship with Jesus.  So either God is a liar and he doesn't bring us all that we need, or I had a lot of head knowledge that I was not allowing it to affect my heart.
The Word says that "if you seek me, you will find me, if you seek me with all of your heart."  I went out on a desperate pursuit of seeking Jesus.  Not being content in knowing about Him, but actually coming to know this man.  I want to be satisfied in Jesus alone so when the trials and hardships of life come, I will be founded on the rock and the JOY of the Lord, the joy of this relationship will be my strength.  I want to find him in a way that I experience Him, and not be content to experience Him once a year at a conference or mission trip, but to experience Him every single day.  Experience Him in a way that I can be His witness and testify to people out of a place of experience and not out of knowledge.  To come to know the "love that surpasses understanding".   

I began asking the Holy Spirit to lead me.  Lead me to the truth of who He was.  What was the role of the Holy Spirit in my life?  How do I hear Gods voice? I'm not content in just hearing from God through the word of God or through circumstances.  He is an intimate Father who wants to speak to His children.  How do I hear His voice above any other voice and be led by His Spirit?  I asked Him to bring people into my life who were radical lovers of Jesus, who simply longed to know Him more.  He is so faithful!! SO FAITHFUL!!  I praise God for the radical change He has done in me and is continuing to do.  I praise God for the people He has brought into my life.  He is the greatest reward.  Knowing Him is what we were created for.  If you haven't come to know Him, I encourage you to do whatever it takes to come into the knowledge of God and let it transform you to a love sick bride.  When we are in love, we will go to great lengths to serve the one we love.  It will consume our thought life, our emotions.  We won't be able to stop talking about it.  "For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.  MANY WATERS CANNOT QUENCH LOVE, nor can rivers drown it." (SofS 8:6-7).  We will be able to endure whatever this life throws at us when we are in love.

My absolute favorite passage in the bible is in Hosea 2.  The Lord gave me this passage when he took an idol from me and made this passage come alive.  The first 13 verses of Hosea 2 talk about a women who is "running after other lovers" but has forgotten about the Lord.  "When she runs after her lovers, she won't be able to catch them.  She will search for them but not find them. (v7)."  Everything else we pursue will not bring us the satisfaction we are longing for.  I was doing this and just like he did it for her, He took that away from me and it brought me to the wilderness.  But this is His promise when we are found in that place.
"But then, I will win her back once again.  I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.  I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.  She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.  'When that day comes,' says the Lord, 'you will call me 'my husband' instead of my 'master'(v14-16)..... I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.  I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord." (19-20)

So let us strive to know Him.  Let the goal of our lives be to become more intimately acquainted with Him and allow the love that we receive from Him in that place give us the power to love people with the supernatural love.  When we are in love, it changes everything! 

Just like Paul, I pray that this is the ambition of our lives!!

"[For my determined purpose is] that I may KNOW Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]... I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on towards the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward." Philippians 3:10-11,13 AMP


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Encountering God through Spiritual Disciplines

I'm not going to lie, one of my least favorite topics to talk about is spiritual disciplines.  I think one of the main reasons for this is that I use to have a completely twisted view on them.  Since I have been preaching this total grace gospel for a while, a lot of conversations relating to spiritual disciplines have come up so I decided I better write about it.

I recently was talking to a girl who asked me, "So you're saying I don't HAVE TO read my bible."  I explained to her that "No, you don't HAVE to do anything.  If you never opened your bible again for the rest of your life, God would still love just as much.  Since you are in Christ, there is nothing that you can do to make Him love you any less or any more.  You are completely accepted, loved, holy, blameless, pure, spotless, etc."  She went on to tell me how she would always feel guilty if she missed a day and felt as if she would have to read twice as much the second day.  She felt like God wouldn't use her as much if she had not been in her Word.  Those are all lies from the enemy but the thing was, I could relate to her.  I have been there.  I thought a "good christian" had to read her bible, pray, be involved in a local church, be obedient to God's commandments, share the gospel regularly, be involved in discipleship, and the list goes on.  I realized that I had been operating in the religious spirit, believing that in these things, I would find life and joy.

Often people who talk about religious spirit, or legalism, talk about any type of consistent behavior.  A behavior that we do regularly even when we don't FEEL like doing it is called legalism.  That is completely NOT TRUE!  I believe that those people want to live a fleshly lifestyle and feel good doing it.
I believe what makes a discipline legalism is the motive in which you do it.  I was watching a movie recently and one of the pastors said that if you say "No" to certain things and "Yes" to other things that are disciplines and you do it BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED it is called grace.  If you are doing it to earn love, it's called legalism.    
If you have certain disciplines in your life that you live by, whether you feel like it or not and you do it because God loves you and you are grateful for the inspiration to do it instead of being critical of those who don't do it, you are moved by grace.  It you are critical of those who don't do it, it's called legalism.

What is the goal of our christian life?  Is the goal to become more spiritually mature and more like Him?  Or is it simply to KNOW HIM.  To really know the person of Jesus.  To experience Him, to encounter Him on a DAILY basis.  Christianity is not rules to live by.  It is not simply being obedient to God's commandments and living a good life.  If that were the case, the Pharisees would of been rock stars.  Who are the people that Christ rebuked the most harshly?  It was the Pharisees, the religious leaders.  They kept the law, they followed the commandments, they knew their bible inside and out.  They were excellent at maintaining their spiritual disciples.  But when God in the flesh was standing right in front of them, they were completely blind.

There is nothing that we can do to change who we are in Christ.  No amount of effort that will make Him love us more.  But the thing is, we need Him so badly.  We need Jesus every single day.  We are living in a war.  We can't do this christian life without Him, we need His Spirit, we need His grace.  Spiritual disciplines put us in a position to receive more of Him.  More of His Holy Spirit, more revelation, more power.  The bible is not a list of rules or concepts that we need to work on.  When we spend time in His living word, we should expect to encounter the living God.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."  John 5:39-40

There are times when I don't feel like praying and I still pray.  There are times when I don't feel like reading the bible but I still read the bible.  I never feel like fasting but I often fast because I know these disciplines will lead me to more encounter with Jesus which in turn will radically transform my life.

On Sunday, I was challenging a group of high school students to simply rest in the finish work of the cross.  To stop striving for something that they already have, and abide in Him.  But if they were going to strive for anything, to strive to BELIEVE who they already are.  Our church wants to hit the streets and meet people with no other agenda than simply to love them.  But I challenged them that in order to love people, we need to know the love of God.  Not just intellectually but REALLY KNOW how He thinks about us.

This summer, I was learning a lot about the Bridegroom God.  I remember at one point, I was praying and telling the Lord that I get this concept intellectually but I need Him to reveal it to my Spirit.  I knew that when the Holy Spirit revealed the passion and delight of the Bridegroom God to my inner man, it would radically change my life.  I was not content in knowing about God's love intellectually, I wanted to know it in my inner being.  I wanted to know "the love that surpasses understanding."  I remember praying the prayer that Jacob prayed when He was wrestling with God in Genesis.  He told God, "I will not let you go until you bless me."  That was my attitude.  "Holy Spirit, I will not stop pursuing this concept, asking for your Spirit to reveal it to me.  I NEED to know how much you love me.  I am not content in knowing verses about your love.  TEACH ME!!  I will not eat (fasting) until you pour out your love and revelation."  I can't even begin to tell you how faithful He was.  For the past four months, I feel like I am on cloud nine.  He has poured out so much joy and love into my soul that I want everyone to know this God.  I long to be in His presence and having an experience with the God who is love, it CONTROLS me (1 Cor. 5:14).  It controls me to radically love people, to be obedient to everything the Holy Spirit it asking me to do and to do whatever it takes to know Him more.

In that season of striving after the revelation of Gods love, I didn't have to be told to read my bible, to pray, to fast.  I was so hungry for the love of God that I would go to great lengths to receive that love.  I set myself before Him, devouring the Word, begging for His Spirit to move, putting myself in a position to encounter Him.

I want to challenge you, what is a truth about your identity in Christ that you have a hard time believing?  It it that you are radically loved by God?  That you are His child and He is a good gracious Father?  That you are completely forgiven, pure, blameless and there is now no condemnation for those in Christ?  That you are no longer a sinner but rather a saint?  Ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to teach you.  When we believe these things in our inner being, it will radically change our lives.  In order to love, we need to experience His love.  In order to extend grace, we need to have an experience with His grace.  Do whatever it takes until His Spirit reveals it to you.  God is a gentleman.  He will not force Himself on you.  He will fill us to the amount that we hunger for Him.  Let's get radical!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Freedom from sin by receiving the grace of God

I was listening to a message a few weeks ago and I have not been able to get this revelation out of my mind.  It has transformed my thinking on how I view sin and Gods desire for us to find complete and total freedom from the power of it in our lives.  Most of this blog post is from the notes that I took.  Praise God for complete freedom by the power of His blood.

I think in the American church, there are several ways that we approach sin in our lives.  Either we will always struggle with it (Romans 7) or we come under the written code and resort back to legalism.  Paul says it is possible to overcome the power of sin but we need to focus on someone else rather than ourselves. 

In my last post, I talked about the difference between living under the law verse living by the Spirit.  As we simply yield and allow the Holy Spirit to possess more and more of our lives, He will transform us.  It is His job to change us, not our job to muster up self disciple and self-control to resist sin and walk in holiness.  We need to get radical about believing the truth about who we are in Christ.

So, in light of that, what about that sin that clings so closely? The sin that we can't seem to find true freedom from?  For many years, I would counsel people to continue to preserver, to stay in the word, to renew your mind, to get an accountability partner, to pray, the list goes on.  As I look back, I was counseling people to resort back to the law, believing that they had or could do something in order to find freedom.  Humbling.
So how do we find freedom from "that sin"?  We begin to radically accept the grace given to us on the cross. 
I think it is important to note that sin is not an evil action that you do, it is a supernatural power that has the ability to grip you and control you even against your will.  So how do you control something that has the ability to control you even against your will??

"For sin will have NO DOMINION OVER YOU, since you are not under law but UNDER GRACE." Romans 6:14

No dominion over you? Another translation says "no control" over you.  Wow!!  Is that what you are experiencing in your christian life?  Lets make sure that we never base our theology or beliefs based on our experience rather than the word of God.  Lets radically believe the Word even before our experience lines up with it.

In Romans 6:14, Paul is addressing that there are two areas we could be living under.  I believe that any area of your life where you find yourself free from sins power is an area of your life where you have freely received the GRACE OF GOD.  An example of this is when people come to Christ from wild living, sin they were addicted to before Christ is supernaturally broken off.  They no longer have any temptation or desire to participate in that particular sin.  They have received the grace and forgiveness offered to them on Calvary.    

Any area of your life where you find yourself under sins control even when you don't want it to control you, that is an area where you are still living UNDER LAW.

In Romans chapter 7, Paul is describing what life looks like when it is lived under the law.

"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not what is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Romans 7:18-24

Do you want to know if you are living under the law in any area of your life?  Romans 7 is your number one sign.  If your genuine heart felt repentance does not result in freedom from the sin you are repenting of, then you are living under law!

So how do you find freedom? You begin to radically accept the forgiveness of God.
"Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!!"

"How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify OUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God."  Hebrews 9:14.

Your conscience!!  When you feel guilt or have a heavy conscience, your flesh becomes stirred to try to stop yourself from sinning. Whenever you try to be good, the Holy Spirit backs off and stops working.  His power is no longer moving through you.  When His power is not moving through you, the power of sin takes over.  Dead works is human effort.  Trying to stop ourselves does nothing (Col. 2:20-23).  The impulse of human effort to try to be righteous only produces bondage.  The blood of Jesus removes the guilt from our conscience so we no longer feel guilty.  You freely accept the forgiveness by the blood of Jesus and your conscience gets cleansed from trying all the time and He will heal you.  There is POWER IN THE BLOOD!!      

"There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1.  When you actually believe that, sin looses it's control over you.

"The law... can never make perfect those who draw near, otherwise there would no longer be any consciousness of sins." Hebrews 10:1-2
Wow!!! How awesome is that!!  It's saying that if you let the blood of Jesus actually do it's work in your life, even the consciousness or inward awareness of the presence of sin in your members will eventually leave your memory.  Praise God. 
"By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with it's legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him."  Colossians 2:14
So in this verse, why would the demons loose their weapons simply because the legal demands were placed on the cross?  First of all, the legal demands is the LAW.  "The power of sin is the law." (1 Corin 15:56).  So once the law becomes nailed to the cross, sin looses it's power.  We know that satan is the accuser of the brother and he accuses us day and night.  His only weapon is lies, as he hurls accusations at us.  "Look at you, your sin is this. Your sin is that.  You'll always be that way."  When the law was nailed to the cross, he lost his weapons, he lost his power!! We cannot be controlled by sin unless we believe his accusations.  Unless we emotionally identify with his accusations, then sin can take hold. 

There is POWER in the blood of Jesus!! Seriously guys!! We need to get radical in believing the truth that His grace is sufficient.  The truth that we are completely forgiven.  There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  We have the righteousness of Christ.  Our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.  We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.  That is the TRUTH!! Get in the habit of speaking that over your life until you believe it and you see in manifest in your experiences.  He is more than able.  Our God is mighty to save.  Praise Him!!

"What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon this I see, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  For my cleansing this I plea, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus." 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Way of the Spirit vs Way of the Written Code

The past two years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to discover more of who the Holy Spirit is and the role that He plays in my life.  I'm sure I will be diving into more of the revelation that He has shown me in later blog posts, but one of the questions I had at the beginning of my journey was "What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?"  I have learned that is a loaded question and I am daily learning what that means but I hope to share with you one of the revelations the Holy Spirit has recently taught me through books, messages, and time spent with Him.  
We live in a war zone and every day we face many battles.  There is conflict in our homes, our jobs, relationships, etc .  James says that the source of it all is our passions that are at war within us (James 4:1).
So how do we overcome this sinful flesh? Paul exhorts us in Galatians to "walk by the Spirit and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the flesh (5:16)."  In Romans 7:6, Paul describes two different approaches to walking before God, in "the new way of the SPIRIT..." or the "old way of the WRITTEN CODE."  That is still our choice today.  Either we will walk by the Spirit, or live by the written code.  We cannot do both.  The Spirit only works where there is no law, so he will not tolerate even a hint of mixture.   

The deepest longing of God is to have intimacy with you.   You were created for his own pleasure.  This is His passion and His desire from the beginning of time.  What does it mean to be "one" with God?  How do we enjoy relationship with Him?  I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to consume every part of us.
In Acts 10, we read about the conversion of the first gentile household.  Peter was sent to preach the gospel to them and while he was preaching, the Lord chose to move in power.  "While Peter was still saying things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word (10:44)."  The greek word for "fell" in this verse is "epipito."  The Strongs Concordance says it means "to take possession of."  This language is very similar to the language that we associate with demonic possession.  In the book of Acts, this word is used three times to describe the Spirits baptism.  
Paul uses similar language in the New Testament.  We are called to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18), to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), intercede in the Spirit (Romans 8:26), and to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16).  
Apart from the Spirit, we are truly incapable of drawing near to him.  He has graciously given us the opportunity to freely submit our hearts and minds to him.  Unlike demonic possession, we have the free will to choose.  When we do this, the Holy Spirit gently takes control.  "the mind CONTROLLED by the Spirit is life and peace" Romans 8:6.
Another example of this truth is in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind."  The greek word for "transformed" in this verse is the same word used to describe Jesus glorification on the Mount of Transfiguration.  So another way to put it is to be "transfigured by the renewal of your mind."
This is what it means to walk in intimacy with our Creator.  To allow His Spirit to control or possess every aspect of our being. 
This is a challenging concept because we want to maintain control of our lives.  We are uncomfortable with giving God everything.  We limit our interaction with the Lord to prayer, worship and bible study.  We want to be able to close our bible's after our quiet times and live our lives how we want.  We like to keep God at a controllable distance.  
Yet Jesus taught us that "God is spirit" and "those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24).  This means we must relate to God as a spirit being.  
As we yield to the spirit, He will inhabit our soul.  Our hearts begin to take on the very character of God himself.  Paul tells us that these traits are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22).
This is how we are to grow in godliness.  God has no desire for me to ask him to make me more patient.  What he wanted was for me to live out HIS OWN patience.  The Lord wants us to willingly become channel's through which the very fruit of his nature can be put on display.  "From me comes your fruit." (Hosea 14:6).  Does this make sense?? God wants to live His life THROUGH US.  
He wants to empower us by possessing us with His Spirit so that we might live and minister as we were called.  He has given us supernatural levels of love, joy, patience, self-control and peace.  

A.W. Tozer puts it this way, "The Holy Spirit also wants to possess us Christians.  This Spirit is like Jesus.  Do you want to be possessed by a Spirit that is like Jesus? A Spirit pure, gentle, sane, wise, and loving; for that is exactly what He is like.  The Holy Spirit is pure, for He is the Holy Spirit.  He is wise, for He is the Spirit of Wisdom.  He is true, for He is the Spirit of Truth.  He is like Jesus, for He is the Spirit of Christ.  He is like the Father, for He is the Spirit of the Father.  This Spirit wants to be Lord of your life, and He wants to possess you so that you no longer are in command of the little vessel in which you sail.  You are a passenger on board or one of the crew, but you are definitely not in charge.  Somebody is in charge of the vessel."

So why don't we live this way? For me, I had chosen the Letter over the Spirit.  It's easy to tell ourselves that if we just manage to keep the rules a little better, our walk will be more acceptable to God.  This is the deceptive nature of the Letter.  It has an appearance of godliness but denies the power that brings about real change.  We settle with the excuses like, "I really want to obey God, look how hard I am trying."  Yet we are living like Pharisees.  We have a genuine zeal and passion for God yet we lack the power to break free from the desires of our flesh.  

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do not submit to regulations- "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teaching? These have indeed an APPEARANCE OF WISDOM in promoting self made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they have NO VALUE in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." Colossians 2:21-23.

The law has NO POWER in stopping the flesh.  We need something more.  We need His Spirit.  "I will put my Spirit within you and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes." Ezek 36:27.  
So lets get radical and believe this.  Lets stop believing that it is up to us to change.  That it's up to our commitment to the spiritual disciplines, or our ability to "just say no".    

Lets die to the law and live to the Spirit (Gal 2:19).  Lets give the Spirit total control in our lives.  Lets choose to walk by the Spirit and not by the old way of the written code.  The Holy Spirit wants to be your best friend.  He wants to manifest His presence in your life.  I have found nothing greater in this life than walking in intimacy and communion with the Holy Spirit. 

"Every believer is as full of the Spirit as we actually want to be." A.W. Tozer

Monday, November 26, 2012

Law is valuable

So if sanctification is by grace through faith, then what about all the commands in the new testament?

What is the purpose of the law? Does the law work the same way for a christian as it does for a non christian?

"Through the law comes knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20

"The law was our guardian until Christ came." Galatians 3:24

The law is a sign to lead us to Christ, to lead us to the cross.  I believe that the law works in tandem with the gospel.  The law prepares you for the gospel.  Is the law just the 10 commandments? I think that is what I believed for much of my christian life.  I had also believed that the purpose of the law was only for non christians to lead them to Christ for the first time.  I have been asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and He is showing me that the law is any command.  There is law in both the old testament and the new testament.  There is gospel in the old testament and the new testament.

People in the Old Testament were saved in the same way as they were in the New Testament.  Law did the same thing as it does for us.  They understood that through the blood sacrifice system that sin is not washed away by mans performance but by shedding of blood.

So what does that mean? When I read a command in the New Testament, what is my response?  Typically, my response when I saw problems was to jack myself up, to try to get it together and try harder.  Then I realize that my good works are like filthy rags to him.  He is not impressed when I try harder because I do it in my own strength instead of use that law to lead me to the gospel.

When I read in the law that I should not covet and I am coveting, then I know that I need help.  I know that I need the APPLICATION OF THE GOSPEL, not the application of grit, determination and will power.  I need an experience with God's supernatural mercy to make me what the law could never make me.

Do we really believe that apart from Him we can do nothing? Apart from His Spirit living in us and His power working through us, we can't accomplish anything.  A few weeks ago, I was involved in an outreach to the homeless of Minneapolis.  Typically, when I see a homeless person, I do not have this overwhelming sense of love for them that I believe Jesus would have.  Sure, I can serve them, be nice to them and try to love them, but I do it in my own strength.  The week leading up to this event, my prayer was "Jesus, I can't love these people like you love them.  You tell us to love one another. What we do for the least of these, we do for you.  I acknowledge that in my own strength, I can be nice to them but it is not your love pouring through me.  I need an impartation of your supernatural love.  Let me be an empty vessel that can be used to love these people.  Love them through me."  When we acknowledge that apart from Him, we can do nothing, that is when His power can work mightily through us.  As the day came, and the people walked up, I immediately started crying with tears of compassion and love for these people that I had never met.  I wanted to know everything about them, I would do anything for them.  I can assure you, THAT WAS NOT ME!!  It was the Holy Spirits supernatural love being poured out on these people that He desperately loved and wanted them to come into relationship with Him.
Any command in the New Testament (law), should lead us to the cross as we acknowledge that we need a Savior.  We can't love without Him. We can't serve people without Him. We can't encourage people without Him. We can't pray for people without Him.  Let us truly be lives surrendered down, trusting that the Holy Spirit wants to do the work for us. Yield into Him. Allow Him to work through you.  We need the gospel DAILY!!!
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives His life through me." Galatians 2:20


Sunday, November 25, 2012


The Holy Spirit has recently been showing me that I don’t understand the gospel.  I have lived the majority of my Christian life under the influence of a religious spirit (legalism).  The gospel that I have been preaching and living is a partial gospel, it’s partial good news.  Either God has recently been revealing this to a majority of His global bride, or He is bringing me into contact with people with this exact revelation.  I ran into a preacher who recently deleted over 60 of his messages on His podcast.  It’s not that everything He has preached was wrong, it’s just that he had come to realize that His emphasis was off.

Old emphasis: After we get saved we must work hard and strive to become sanctified so we can experience God.

New emphasis: What God has begun within us by grace, He will complete within us by grace so that we may experience the free gift of union with Him.


There is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn salvation.  It is by grace alone through faith that we are saved.  I get that.

So now what? Do we have to do anything to become intimate with Christ? Do we have to do anything in our sanctification? Is it by our effort that we become more Christ like? To become spiritually mature? To break free from the power of sin?

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now BEING PERFECTED BY THE FLESH?” Galatians 3:3

Guilty.  The majority of my Christian life, I have had a works mindset.  I have believed that now that I am a Christian, I have to do something for my spiritual maturity.  I have to read my bible, I have to pray, I have to be in fellowship, I have to renew my mind.  I have come back under the law.

Just like you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation, you don’t have to do anything for your sanctification (becoming more like Christ).  It is by grace through faith.  You simply need to believe.  
Believe that our righteousness comes from Christ.

It is so easy to believe that we are free from the law but still need our "christian principles" or "christian rules" that are man-made and they set a standard.  The reason we want a standard is so we can measure ourselves and see if we're okay.  That's called righteousness.  We don't get it through measuring ourselves through standards or performing.  It has to come through Christ alone.  

The Holy Spirit is way more committed to your spiritual growth than you are.  Trust that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and PERFECTOR of your faith.”

“This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29

So this probably raises a lot of questions.  I challenge you to go to the Word.  Go to the letters of Paul, especially Galatians and Romans 5-8.  Read them for yourself, not with everything you’ve heard in mind, just read it.  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.     

I will be posting more on this topic the next several days. 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1