Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Weapons of righteousness

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: ... in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 
2 Corinthians 6:4‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

What are weapons of righteousness?  Tools to destroy the works of the enemy?

Can we look to the life of Jesus as an example? 

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devilʼs work.
1 John 3:7‭-‬8 NIV

What is the devil's work?  Satan is a deceiver, accuser, thief, and murderer.

... the devil ... was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44 NIV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10 NIV

So, by contrast, our weapons of righteousness are the Sword of the Spirit (which is the always true Word of God), forgiveness/mercy, and grace/blessing.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4‭-‬5 NIV

I want to walk in the power and love of God today, prepared to use the weapons of righteousness to reveal the Kingdom of Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us weapons of righteousness to demonstrate your power and love.  Jesus, thank you for your example and commissioning.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and anointing.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ministry of the Spirit

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. ...  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lordʼs glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:6‭, ‬17‭-‬18 NIV

During Greg's message this morning, he pointed out that Christ is reigning, and we are revealing His Kingdom, even when the world around us is full of turmoil.  We are the KING's DOMain, so we are the Kingdom. We live in such a way as to reveal the reality of Jesus' reign.  And He has broken "the fourth wall", so He wants to multiply His life through each of us.  So, He has delegated His authority and power to us through the Holy Spirit to have a bunch of Christs to appropriate the resources of the Kingdom on behalf of the King.  And we operate in the midst of a spiritual battlefield.

Therefore, since through Godʼs mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. ... But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:1‭, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬16‭-‬18 NIV

Brandi said that she thinks that when it finally clicks for us (when we operate in the reality of who He has now established us to be), it will be like the scene in The Matrix when Neo stops the bullets.

I asked the Father this morning what was holding me back from stepping in to that reality, and He told me that I need more love.  So, I asked Him how I get more love, and He told me that I need more of Him.

Heavenly Father, I want more of you.  I want my mindset to be identical to yours.  I want my heart to match yours.  I want your love to flow through me.  Please forgive me for being so selfish and self-centered.  Please invade my mind, invade my heart, invade my marriage, invade my home, invade my work.  Holy Spirit, lead me to Jesus.  Jesus, lead me to the Father.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

prophecy and tongues

In 1 Cor. 12:7-11, both prophecy and speaking in tongues are included in the list of gifts of the Holy Spirit, but apparently the church in Corinth was too focused on tongues.  Personally, I didn't have much exposure to tongues before high school, and in grad school through early career, my perspective oscillated [1] and then warmed up [2], [3], [4], to the point that recently, I have asked several Brothers and Sisters to pray for me to receive the gift of speaking in tongues.

With respect to prophecy, I think I have generally dismissed this gift as unattainable for me, even though Paul gives several directives to pursue this gift:

1 Cor. 12:28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

1 Cor. 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit,especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. ... 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

I believe that God wants us all to desire prophecy. But how do you grow in prophecy except by practice?  I need to listen to the Father, and then share what I think I hear.

And, I think it would be great to speak in tongues, as well.

Father, thank you for your desire to speak through me.  Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.  I want to live every moment aware of your presence, hearing you, and sharing what you are saying.  Jesus, thank you for your example of constantly listening to the Father.  Holy Spirit, I believe that there is a mysterious connection between speaking in tongues and speaking the words of the Father, and I look forward to growing in your gifts.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV

Perhaps the degree to which He reveals Himself supernaturally through us is dependent on the degree to which we allow Him to possess us.

From A.W Tozer's How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit,

... are you sure that you want to be possessed by a spirit other than your own? even though that spirit be the pure Spirit of God? ... I ask you, Do you want Him to be Lord of your life? That you want His benefits, I know. I take that for granted. But do you want to be possessed by Him?

Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of being united with you in spirit.  Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming my spirit.  Holy Spirit, I want to be fully possessed by you.  Take full control of me.  I am your vessel, your instrument; use me according to your will.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, August 18, 2017

childlike faith

Heavenly Father, draw me nearer to you.  I want to step nearer.  

I want to have a childlike marvel at your goodness.  I want to brag to people about how great my Daddy is. 

I am afraid that I will stall out in my growth.

I have provided for you every step of the way, and I will continue to lead you every step.

Thank you, Father.  I trust you.  I want to trust you more.  I want to be faithful to continue walking and growing in the faith that you have given me.  I want to exercise the faith that I have and see you increase it.

Thank you that I can trust you to lead me.  I will follow you.

I pray in the name of Jesus. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Peace, art, and leadership

I read this passage a few days after the Power & Love conference, and I committed to memorize it:

2 Thes. 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

I want to live a life of peace, and I want to allow the Lord of peace to flow through me into other people.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have prayed this verse over several people.  

On vacation out at the farm this past week, my mom encouraged me to take up sketching again.  It was an enjoyable activity in junior high and high school, and I even enjoyed engineering drafting in college.  Somehow I lost that activity later in college, grad school, and early career; at some point, I allowed my perception of myself (my self-identity) to become strictly analytical.  But my mom reminded me that I do have artistic capacity.  I think sketching is a good activity for me to resume.

Brandi and I have decided that we want to be intentional about our kids learning to play the guitar.  It is such a versatile instrument, and I would love for my kids to be able to lead people in worship with a guitar.

Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach to Paseo about bearing fruit (Luke 6:43-46).  I fasted Saturday evening and Sunday morning, and I felt very tired and weak Sunday morning.  I almost ate some food before preaching, but instead, I asked the Holy Spirit to give me energy and passion as I taught, and He did.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be used by Him to encourage my church to pursue God more deeply.  I want to engage fasting as a way to pursue God more and mature in hearing His voice and having a greater measure of Him flowing through me.

Sunday evening, Brandi, Shaun, and Raelene prayed over me, and it was very encouraging.  I was reminded of my opportunities for leadership, opportunities to make a difference.

Yesterday, I walked into the lab office, and the students were having a conversation about body, soul, and spirit, and the difference between animals and humans.  We ended up discussing how God made humans with a spirit to connect with him, how sin separates us from God, Adam and Eve and original sin, Jesus as the second Adam, how Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial and substitutional death, and eternity of heaven and hell.  Wow, what an opportunity to share truth!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your continued work in me.  Thank you for using me and flowing through me.  Please increase your flowrate through me.  I believe that you are leading me to spend more time with you in the mornings and evenings pursuing you, and also through fasting.  I trust that you will flow with more miraculous healings as I focus on pursuing you for you.  Thank you for your love!  Oh, may I be awestruck every day by your incredible love!  May my amazement at your beauty and love be evident to those around me.  May I be bold in explaining the source of my joy is you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Identity, intimacy, peace, and confidence

Reflecting on the messages at the Power & Love conference in El Paso this past weekend, four of the topics that were significant to me are identity, intimacy, peace, and confidence.

Fundamentally, we have to see ourselves as adopted sons and daughters of God.  We have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus, which secures our eternal salvation and allows us to be filled, baptized, and anointed with the Holy Spirit.  We are beloved children, and we are worthy of His love because of who He made us, not because of anything that we have done.  While we are worthy (worth the price that He paid), we are undeserving of His mercy and grace.  We are not "sinners saved by grace"; we were sinners, but now we are saints.  

As adopted sons and daughters of God, we need to focus principally on desiring intimacy with our Father.  Jesus lived this out daily by spending time in "the secret place" with the Father in the mornings and evenings.  Jesus did what He saw the Father doing, and He said what He heard the Father saying.  Before we focus on doing, we need to focus on being.  As a "type A" person, it is easy for me to slip into the religious check-list of reading your Bible, praying, fellowshipping, etc., which are very effective at promoting intimacy only if we approach those activities with a desire for intimacy.  Otherwise we end up like Pharisees.

With respect to healing for ourselves and for others, we need to focus on the presence of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace ("sar shalom"), who is the Spirit of Peace, who destroys all chaos.  We can simply invite Peace into us, and He will destroy the work of the enemy.  Especially when ministering to children with mental or behavioral issues, it is important to treat them with gentleness and peace.

If we want confidence in demonstrating the power of God, then we need to step out in faith.  If we want to grow in faith, then we need to take more steps of faith.  Faith is spelled, "R-I-S-K".  If we try to heal someone in the name of Jesus, but we don't see it happen immediately, then we need to press in to know Him more.  We need to strive to live out the example that Jesus set for us of 100% healing, but the supernatural power and miracles are not the goal, simply an overflow of our intimacy with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for growing us and leading us.  Thank you for continually stretching us.  I want to know you more.  I remember when I was in junior high saying that I wanted to live a life that convinced people of who Jesus is.  I want to make good on that desire.  I want your power and love to flow through me so abundantly that people around me experience your goodness.  I don't want to try to give people a sales pitch for you, I want them to experience your love and power.  Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Spirit of Peace that destroys chaos.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  I want to be a holy vessel of faith that you flow through.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sent to bless: encourage and strengthen

In my Scripture reading this morning, I read about Silas and Judas Barsabas going back from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.  

Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.
Acts 15:32 NIV

I think the Holy Spirit has given me a gift of encouragement, and He has given Brandi a gift of prophecy. I feel like Brandi and I are supposed to learn the concepts, principles, and practices of the Power and Love conference this week so that we can go and teach it to others.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love.  Holy Spirit, thank you for giving us gifts.  Please confirm your desire for us to use our gifts to advance the Kingdom of Christ. We are your vessels, please flow through us. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.