Friday, October 20, 2017

Voice of Truth

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25:5 NLT)

On any given day, there are lots of different messages that compete for our attention. Public opinion seeps in through our relatives, friends, and co-workers. Cultural norms influence our mannerisms and beliefs. The voices in our head fill us with self-doubt, fear, and delusions.

It’s difficult to recognize truth from deception. Lies are often just photoshopped versions of reality which makes them appealing. When falsehoods are reinforced by many sources, they tend to become imprinted in our minds. Truth is rare. Unless we are paying close attention, we miss it.

The Voice of Truth is from God who knows everything and everyone intimately. He liberates us from the cacophony of lies that enslave us. He leads us along pathways of truth, teaching us to distinguish between authenticity and falsehood. When we listen to Him, we are set free and consecrated. We can put our trust, hope, and confidence in the Lord who guides us with His voice of truth.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Receiving the Spirit

“Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away - whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.’’ (Acts 2:38 MSG)

Most mornings, I don’t have the patience to wait for coffee.  Luckily, my coffee maker has a ‘Sneak-A-Cup’ feature. It lets me grab the carafe, before brewing is complete, and pour out a cup of coffee without making a mess. This way, I can have a few sips and go about my morning chores.

I wish the Holy Spirit worked this way--allowing me to sneak just a few drops of anointing before I rushed off to do other things. But no...He requires me to be still, quiet, and patient. I have to wait until His work in me is complete.  This same perseverance is necessary in prayer. When we hand someone over to God, we have to keep from grabbing them back too soon.  We wait in eager anticipation, confident that the Holy Spirit is brewing in them.  When God is done with them, He will let us know.

Lord, may we be made complete in all the fullness of life and love that comes from You. Grant us the patience and fortitude to wait.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Making Space

‘Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!’"
(Acts 2:40 MSG)

Like many people, my junk drawer is filled with odds and ends. Most of the stuff has no value or purpose, yet I’m hesitant to part with any of it.  Instead of getting rid of this stuff, I just organize it. I sort everything and put it in sections so the drawer looks neat and tidy. This makes me feel like I am in control of my junk.

We live in a stupid culture that bombards our minds with junk. Even if we recognize that much of our time is spent on things that have very little value or purpose, we are hesitant to change. Instead, we try to organize our day so we can cram even more useless activities into it.

A vessel that is stuffed with fillers cannot receive; it has to be emptied first.  There are so many things we cling to for validation. Our relationships, possessions, accomplishments--all shape our identity and our sense of control. We must release these attachments. Once there is space, the Spirit of God pours in, filling us with His purpose and influence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gracious God

“But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.” (Isaiah 30:18 MSG)
Parents do things for their kids without expectations of reciprocity. We do it because we love them without limits, without conditions. They may or may not deserve or appreciate all that we do, but we do it anyway.  When our son was seventeen, we bought him a used car. Before we handed him the keys, my husband and I did everything we could do to make the car ready for emergencies. My husband took care of all the mechanical stuff, while I made sure to stuff granola bars and emergency gas money in different compartments. We also made up a winter bag with extra blankets, gloves, snowpants, etc. for the trunk, in case he got stuck in the snow somewhere. I don’t think my son even knows about half of this stuff.
We have a God who loves us unconditionally, sacrificially. He fills each of us with immeasurable potential, undeserved grace. Most of us get bogged down in what we lack, while God has stuffed us with more than we need.  Until a crisis hits, we don’t even notice. Even then, we have to look-- in the depths of our inner self, in every hidden compartment of our being. And God’s not finished. He’s eagerly watching, waiting for us to ask for His input. The Lord is gracious, merciful, and compassionate. He takes the time to set everything right.

Lord, we shall wait in anticipation, trusting in Your grace. Heal us and make us whole.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Overwhelmed by Awareness

“John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5 NLT)

In pre-Christian times, Jews used baptism as a form of ritual purification, a symbolic cleansing after repentance. The word ‘baptism’ originated from the Greek word Baptizo and the Hebrew word Mikveh. To baptize someone can mean they are immersed, plunged, saturated, or overwhelmed in something.

Jesus told the disciples that they would be immersed in the Holy Spirit. I believe this promise extends to all who trust in Christ.

What is our part in this holy anointing? First, we must desire to be saturated in Christ. Secondly, we must turn away from anything that separates us from God and turn toward Him. Finally, we must submit our lives to the influence of His Spirit.

Holy Spirit, soak us in Your presence; overwhelm us with awareness.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Discerning Hearts

"Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil.” (1 Kings 3:9 MSG)

Bomb sniffing dogs can detect even trace amounts of dangerous chemicals. They are taught to disregard distractions like food or other stimuli. It doesn’t matter if the explosive is hidden in a large, cardboard box or a pink purse--the dog is trained to find it.

Some people are better able to sense danger than others. They have a keen sense of intuition. They can detect even trace amounts of evil, no matter what shape or size it comes in. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all develop discerning minds?

The ability to distinguish between good and evil comes from paying attention to the subtle expressions of the Holy Spirit. This requires us to ignore many of our human inclinations and cravings. Those who think they already know it all and can manage everything on their own--rarely tune in to anything but their own ideas. Thus, surrendering our preconceived notions also becomes necessary. The more we surround ourselves with truth and goodness, the more we learn to recognize falsehood and stay away from it. As we become intimate with God, as we listen and obey, our minds align with God’s perspective. This leads to spiritual wisdom which is true discernment.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thieves and Manipulators

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)

A few years ago, we had a peculiar incident happen in our neighborhood. Since we live in a rural area, people are generally trusting--especially if someone looks vaguely familiar. A middle-aged lady from the nearby town went from house to house ringing doorbells. She would say she just happened to be in our neighborhood for some reason and asked if she could use our restroom. Most of us let her into our homes; we didn’t want to be rude. She would only be in the bathroom a few minutes, and then she politely thanked us and moved on. In a few days, we all figured out that she was stealing prescription painkillers. She was checking the medicine cabinets in our bathrooms for any pills we might have.

When we think of thieves, we imagine someone who looks dangerous, sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night. Most of my neighbors keep loaded guns in their homes. If they thought that their loved ones or their homes were in danger, they wouldn’t hesitate to defend themselves.  But all the guns and ammo can’t protect us if we allow manipulators into our lives. Those who are looking to exploit others are often skilled in the art of deception. They may seem harmless, helpless, and friendly. They may stroke your ego and find ways to make you feel comfortable around them. They let us believe that we are still in control--even while they are pushing our buttons and pulling our strings.

(Continued in the next post)