Tag: Holy Spirit

Why was Jesus raised from the dead? These truths will excite you!

It’s that time of year again; the time when life is celebrated as a holiday. 

Easter.

I understand there are many Christians who can’t stand the word Easter, because of its pagan origin. Frankly, though I’m not wild about the word, I am okay with the concept of taking a pagan holiday and turning it into something new.

After all, it’s what the Resurrection of Jesus made possible for us all. 

In fact, the death and burial of the sinless Son of God would have meant nothing without the resurrection.

“Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God].” (Romans 4:25 AMP)

In other words, He died to pay for our sins, and the Father’s “Amen” was forever demonstrated to mankind by the empty tomb.

So whether you prefer Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday, God still says the same thing; “everyone’s debt of sin has been paid once and for all. If it were not so, I would have never been able to raise My Son from the grave. The devil would have kept Him in the bowels of the earth.”

But praise God, Jesus IS risen!

And child of God, the resurrection of Jesus means MUCH MORE than a simple receipt with PAID IN FULL stamped on it.

May these resurrection truths grow roots and bear fruit in our lives…

Truth #1 – Power to stand with God.  

“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33 ESV)

The word “resurrection” sounds like a religious word, but in plain, ordinary English it means, “to stand up again”. That’s exactly what the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to do.

To stand up again after being dead in sin, pushed around by our old nature, buried beneath our burden of guilt and shame. Yes, the same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the grave dwells in us and gives life to our mortal flesh; we stand up again and again and again.

Until we finish our course. Victorious in Him!

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” (Romans 8:11 – 8:12 ESV)

Did you see that? The Spirit Who raised up Jesus raises us up, SO THEN we don’t have to obey our flesh!

Truth #2 – Power to be led by God.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 ESV)

Imagine what He can do through you and I as we learn to hear His voice and cooperate with His leading.

Jesus said something that pretty much blew His disciples’ minds. “It’s to your advantage that I go away.”

Really, Jesus? What could be better than the Son of God accompanying you everywhere?

His answer to that question blows MY mind…

Truth #3 – Power to do the works of Jesus.

What could be better?

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13 – 16:15 ESV)

Child of God, all things that belong to the Father belong to Jesus. AND EVERYTHING Jesus has is available to you and I through the ministry of the Helper; the Holy Spirit.

Facing death and destruction? Sickness and disease? Fear and torment? Testing and trials?

The One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you!

No wonder John wrote: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)

Resurrection power dwells WITHIN you!

“…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 ESV) 

Resurrection power is WITH you! 

“You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Ephesians 2:10 paraphrased) 

Created, ordained, and equipped to do the works of Jesus – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 ESV)

May this Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, or whatever else you’d like to call it, find you understanding to an even greater degree “what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church…” (Ephesians 1:18 – 1:22 ESV)

No wonder the early Christ followers turned their world upside down with the power of God.

Doesn’t your world need to witness God’s resurrection power? 

I know mine does.

What’s next? Please think with me.

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Something is stirring in my heart. I’m seeing something in the scriptures, yet I can’t quite see it. Do you understand what I mean?

I read this yesterday:

“So Solomon finished building the Temple.” (1 Kings 6:14 NLT)

Then, as I meditated on that passage, I remembered what happened after Solomon had finished building. As the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant and other items into the Temple (kind of like moving God’s furniture into his house), then:

“…At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NLT)

In other words, God moved inside; he took up residence there.

Okay, with that thought I started looking at Moses’ ministry, and the building of the Tabernacle of Meeting.

“So at last Moses finished the work.” (Exodus 40:33 NLT)

Again, just like in Solomon’s example, when the place was finished and every part was in place…

“…So at last Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:33-35 NLT)

Yes. God moved inside, and his glory became evident to all.

So now I read the passage in Ephesians.

“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22 NLT)

I know what I’m thinking and sensing; but I’m not certain I can articulate it.
God is in each individual. Right. But is there something the Church is missing?

So I ask you…what comes next?

If God established a pattern, first with Moses and then with Solomon, what can we expect when the Body of Christ finally grows up? What is on the horizon for the church?

What will it take for us to get “there”? Or, “are we there yet?”

I look forward to your thoughts…

The NEW Year

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Well, it’s December 30th, and soon the year 2013 will be history.

This is the time many reflect upon things they did well, and some maybe not so well. Many will make half-hearted resolutions to quit this, start that, while deep down knowing nothing will change. Most resolutions won’t last for 24 hours; but that’s okay. No one takes them seriously, anyway.

It’s the season to hear the new year prophets proclaim their message of prosperity and abundance for all, while other seers declare certain doom and gloom. Churches will gather their saints to “pray in the new year”, which isn’t a bad thing to do. But how does one pray for a new year?

Do we implore the Almighty for extra grace? What if we haven’t used what He gave us in 2013? Do we beseech God for souls to be saved, when we’ve cared very little about our neighbors? Should we beg for God to do “a new thing” while we despise the “old, worn out message” of the cross?

Do we REALLY need a New Year’s pep talk?

Maybe it would be beneficial to look once again at Solomon’s words.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 ESV)

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s New Year’s parade, or discourage people from setting goals, making resolutions; those sort of things. My message is simply this:

We really don’t need anything new, if we’ll use what we’ve already been given. There is enough time to eat right, exercise, pray, study, read, develop good healthy friendships, and still snuggle with your honey.

There’s enough money, and opportunities, to make a living. Honestly!

Resources are all around you and I. Resources that have been available probably long before 2013.

The flip of a calendar page isn’t a guarantee for a fresh start, or good riddance to bad habits.

And we really don’t need new revelation from God! I’m not saying He won’t give it; but the Gospel is STILL the power of God unto salvation, the Holy Spirit is STILL HOLY and powerful, Father God and His Son Jesus are STILL running the show!

And He HAS given to His people EVERYTHING that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4).

Maybe this year, instead of looking ahead for change, we should look inside. Implore God to inspect our faith, our desires, the things that frustrate us, the things which tempt us.

Search inside our hearts, Lord.

Because when NEW begins there, it will be quite a year!

It Seemed Good

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Some things really seem good, know what I mean?

But have you ever made a decision based on what “seemed good” then found out it wasn’t good? I have. I would bet you have, as well.

Adam and Eve looked at the tree, listened to the serpent, and acted on what seemed good. But it was SO bad!

It seemed good to King David, when he called for Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, to come and keep him company. But, again, it was bad.

It seemed good to Saul of Tarsus to persecute Christians; he believed he was honoring God by his actions. Good in his eyes, but bad in God’s!

Everyone has the potential to make bad choices. Even what seems good can be dangerously bad.

Unless we hear from God.

Yes, God.

To those who will commit their lives to Him, allowing Him to have the final say in the decisions they must make, He, by His Spirit, has a precious way of letting them know that what seems good, is good! Some people call it hearing from God, receiving a witness, or getting God’s green light. I simply say, “it seems good to me AND the Holy Spirit!”

Hallelujah.


“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28 NLT)

God is the One Who knows what is good or bad. Good looking fruit hanging from a forbidden tree still means bad fruit. Power and authority to do as one pleases doesn’t necessarily guarantee good ideas or decisions. Passion isn’t the litmus test for whether an action is right or wrong. Someone can believe something so strongly, so passionately; but passionately bad, passionately wrong, is still not good.

For something to seem good AND BE good, we MUST find out what God thinks about it. If it seems good to Him, don’t be afraid to step out in faith.

If it doesn’t, find something else to do.

An Open Letter To Our Sons & Daughters

Pen and Paper

“An ‘Open Letter’ to our sons and daughters.”

He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. (Luke 1:50 NLT)

But you, O Lord , will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation. (Psalm 102:12 NLT)

Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord . (Psalm 102:18 NLT)

I’m not old, but I’m also not young. There are probably more years behind me than I have left on earth. As I watch my generation’s sons and daughters take their place in society, and especially The Church, I am excited and grieved about what I see.

This “Open Letter” isn’t just my opinion about how things “should” be done in the church. It isn’t about temptations I see your generation succumbing to. My desire is to speak wisdom into your life. May you leave a greater legacy for God than those before you.

I’m not going to rail on you for having tattoos, certain philosophies of ministry, liberalism in the church, piercings and ear gauges, or an ultra conservative worldview. I just won’t do it.

I don’t want you to think I consider myself an expert on anything. Actually, my only credential is my age, my experience. Of course, with my experience comes some personal pitfalls life can bring, and the testimonies of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and power.

So this letter is for you, the younger, more talented, quicker and smarter than I. It’s purpose is to help connect my generation and yours, for the Kingdom of God.

Please allow me to begin with some apologies. I apologize personally, and on behalf of those in my generation who have not done a very good job of running the “race”, or of “passing the baton” of faith. My generation has been one of self-indulgence, breeding independence (rather than inter-dependence), selfishness, and a party mentality. We’ve done such a fine job of cultivating that mentality, or spirit, you can go anywhere in this country and easily spot it. Even in the church.

I apologize for making “ministry” something God never intended it to be. I put such an importance on “working for God” I sometimes didn’t accurately express my faith, or struggles, with those I loved. I felt I needed to carry myself a certain way, to where I wasn’t quite sure if even the Lord recognized me. I lived a hypocritical life, preaching one thing but living something different. No wonder the hand-off has been rough.

Most of the time, my mistakes, my sins, were unintentional. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change anything. If I had it to do all over, I’d probably do some of the same things again. And I’d be wrong. But no one on earth has the luxury of seeing Heaven’s perspective about everything. We can only do what we can, learn from each other’s experience, and continue to do our best, with God’s help.

So, with my apologies made, and my heart transparent, I’d like to share a few thoughts one generation should say to the next.

Here goes…

First thought – hold fast to Truth.

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. (Psalm 78:4 NLT)

He always stands by his covenant – the commitment he made to a thousand generations (Psalm 105:8 NLT)

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10 NLT)

There IS such a thing as “Absolute Truth”. Truth has always been truth whether anyone knows it, believes it, or shares it. Truth isn’t truth because it receives the most votes or gets the most “likes” on Facebook. It is not based on popularity. It can’t belong to one group of people, denomination, political party, ethnicity, gender, age, social status, or occupation any more than another.

Yet truth must be sought, believed, and embraced. It must be shared, unaltered. Altered truth becomes a false truth, which isn’t truth at all. Truth must be passed on from generation to generation, or each generation will walk farther and farther away from it.

Truth, usually, is revealed in bits and pieces, increments, much like a puzzle picture becomes clearer with each added piece. That’s why it is ever so important for you to keep seeking truth, and it’s sole Author. He is the One Who has the ability to open your understanding even to the concept of absolute truth.

Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations (Proverbs 22:28 NLT)

I’ve noticed the idea of absolute truth is hard for some to handle. Some use it to try and control others, manipulating others to do what they want them to do. They hold “truth” over other lives like a club of sorts. They even blame God for the way they act, saying they’re just defending truth.

Others propound the idea truth must be redefined for each generation. But as Proverbs talks about not moving the “ancient boundaries”, to change the meaning and substance of truth every twenty to thirty years is like moving someone’s property line every so often. Someone is going to be cheated.

I feel each generation really struggles with the process of handing off the baton of truth. Because truth can make someone very uncomfortable and demand much change, it is easier to compromise just a little to make it more acceptable and less divisive.

But someone gets cheated! Someone loses each time the fence is moved. I believe each generation has become more “cheated” than the previous one. As the world continues to spin, almost out of control, the church is allowing more and more “property lines” to be violated.

Sons and daughters, like it, believe it, embrace it or not; you are now being called upon by The Truth Himself to stand for truth. The Holy Spirit wants to show you where the old “fenceposts” of truth really should be. To give you revelation from the Word so you can regain the ground lost through compromise. Future generations are, right now, in your care. My hope and prayer is for you to be better stewards of Truth than your predecessors.

Please search the Scriptures and the God of the Scriptures. Let the Lord show you “the property lines” like He did for Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. Find out what Peter meant when he wrote “God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”

Second thought – prepare for God’s outpouring (3 parts)

a) Prepare to speak.

‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants – men and women alike – and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17,18 NLT)

I personally believe we are living in the last of the last days. Sons and daughters, I believe you will see the Coming of the Lord. I share this next part with that belief in mind.

God says He’ll pour out His Spirit upon all people. All people. The context of this scripture is interesting, and needs to be understood. On the Day of Pentecost, there were people, Jews, gathered from all over the Roman Empire, and beyond. They had gathered to worship, to celebrate. God used that opportunity to send the Holy Spirit to the 120 believers in the upper room AND those gathered for the Feast.

Now, please don’t stop reading because I said something that made your mind tilt. You may think the Spirit was poured out upon JUST the believers in Jesus. That’s true, to a degree. But multitudes, “all people”, were affected to the point they began to say, “what’s going on around here?” Sure, those gathered heard the commotion and probably saw the fire (Acts 2:1-4). But when God pours out His Spirit it isn’t just for the Elect. He’s not willing any perish. Since the Spirit is the One Who draws souls into the Kingdom, it stands to reason God didn’t flood just the 120 with His Spirit.

I believe God is in the process of pouring out His Spirit in unfathomable measures. As it was back 2000 years ago, so it is today. People are sensing a spiritual “tug” on their hearts, a hunger for spiritual things. But without clear direction from a Son and Daughter of God, all they can say is “what’s this mean?” Thank the Lord, Peter heard the questions and was able to say, “This is that!”

This is one reason why God says His sons and daughters will prophesy. Not necessarily talk about the future, but declare to your world what God IS doing! You see, when people are questioning the “now”, speaking of tomorrow doesn’t resonate. They need a NOW word from a NOW God, through sons and daughters anointed to understand and speak into others lives. If no one is speaking Truth with Heaven’s unction, people who are asking the questions will come up with their own answers; or fall for anything “spiritual” that comes along.

To prophesy is to speak with God’s inspiration, His unction. It’s to take the Word being communicated in Heaven and declare it on earth. The Word God is speaking RIGHT NOW. The Word we are supposed to “live by”; that which proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

So in these last days the Lord is looking for, and finding, sons and daughters to speak the RIGHT NOW word, telling all who ask “what does this mean?”, “this is that!”

There’s something else to expect and prepare for as the Spirit is poured out.

b) Prepare to see.

You will see visions. You will gaze upon the work God is doing, see the people who are asking the questions, and understand by inspiration of God what needs to be done in order to connect the Question with the Answer. God will supernaturally show you how to make Heaven’s will done on earth. You will see things as they can and should be. You will see scriptures “opened up” as never before. You will see ways to minister that may seem odd to some, but right to God. You will say along with Jesus, “I only do things I see my Father do.”

I believe our young men and women will see visions revealing God’s love for all mankind, like Peter did. A vision that opens the eyes of God’s sons and daughters to see the value of everyone. Over the last 10 – 20 years there’s been a huge push toward diversity and value. Society has been inundated with teaching and training of all kinds concerning diversity, tolerance, and value. At the same time, hate crimes and bullying have been on the rise. People are at a loss for words and can’t seem to understand “what’s this mean?” Many are buying the idea that man, apart from his Creator, is capable of fixing all his societal and relational issues.

But God will give you eyes to see, and the ability to speak His value into each life.

Sounds wonderful, and I am beginning to see signs of it happening. Yet there’s one more aspect of the Outpouring I want to emphasize. One more thing I want to add to this open letter.

c) Prepare to be shepherded.

Shepherd – “to give advice and instruction to (someone) regarding the course or process to be followed.”

“Your old men (and women) will dream dreams.”

Dream. To see a vision while asleep.

“Those in the latter stages of life shall continue to see what God’s doing, though they lie in a state of repose. Their physical activity may be diminished, but they are still connected with God’s plans and purposes. They see where they’re going, and know where they’ve been.” (my expanded paraphrase of the above quote)

I see this as such a vital part of God’s Outpouring. The young and the old working together to answer the questions the Spirit’s Presence stirs within people. The young, learning from, being mentored by, the old. The old, gracefully and prayerfully encouraging the young to rise up and take their positions in the Kingdom of God.

As an older man, this subject is very near my heart. I have sensed for several years a new, possibly final, outpouring of God’s Spirit on the horizon. God is anointing and raising up a new generation of spiritual leaders.

My word to you is simple. Connect with the “dreamers”. Allow them to speak into your life. Encourage them to “shepherd” you, “giving advice and instruction regarding the course or process to be followed.” Draw from them wisdom gleaned through years of walking with God. Receive their insight, prayers, and correction. Let the foundation and platform they have built with God help establish and lift you to do even greater things.

Finally…

Third thought – live your life with purpose.

When you’re young, there’s a feeling of invincibility. I remember being in my teens, then my 20’s and 30’s. I could whip the world, drive all night, move pianos, plant a church; whatever I wanted to do, I believed I could do it. And time flew by.

Now I’m almost 60. I sure would like to have known then what I know now. I would have lived more “on purpose”; loved on purpose, prayed on purpose, even played on purpose. I’d have followed Paul’s advice more closely.

“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:16 – 5:18 NLT)

Throughout this nation, there’s the mentality of fun and entertainment. Entertainment isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can become such a time waster. The Lord knows I wasted way too much time over the years. Entertainment, whether movies, games, television, music, can be a good relaxation tool, or a huge diversion, a distraction, from what’s really important.

“…but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” This is the key for living your life on purpose. Understand what He wants you to do, then do it with all your might.

There are many things, even good things, things other people seem to “get by with” doing, but in the end only rob you of time, influence, and opportunity. Don’t let yourself get pulled into that way of thinking. You are called of God, called to make a difference, anointed to speak to your generation, equipped to see things through God’s eyes.

There are people, imperfect but powerful men and women of God, who have served in the Kingdom of God with integrity. “Faithful” is what the Lord calls them. They have built, with God’s help, that which you and others are inheriting.

These men and women of God have been given, at this time, the highest, most important calling of their entire lives. They’ve been called to dream, to incorporate the things God has done in the past, connecting them with what He’s doing today. To shepherd sons and daughters like yourself and help equip you with the spirit of integrity and faithfulness.

God will finish His awesome work! Heaven’s grandstand will be rocking with celebration as we each find our place in His work, living our life on purpose.

The “generation gap” doesn’t exist in God’s work. Let’s join together, each doing our part.

Sons and daughters, I love you. I believe God will do greater things through you than He has through me, and my generation.

And I will help in any way I can.

Thanks for reading.

Jan

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