Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for October, 2013

Spiritual Eyes

Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:17 is certainly instructive for us today.

Then Elisha prayed, Lord I pray You, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Every day in our faith walk we must be exercising the eyes of our spirit, for that is far more valuable, far more instructive, and far more “correct” than what we see with our physical eyes.

Our health, our non-wavering peace, our financial well-being, our effective ministry, and our successful path through life all depend fully on the strengthening eyes of our spirit. We learn what is in God’s Word – His instructions and promises – we honor it as absolutely true, and we accept nothing in our lives that might compromise that Truth. Therefore, when we observe any situation that appears to diminish God’s promises in a life (through our physical eyes) we train ourselves to look at it with the eyes of faith (our spiritual eyes). Strong and correctly trained spiritual eyes honor and please God (Hebrews 10:38), strengthen our faith walk, and are a direct result of our reliance on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Well developed and daily exercised spiritual eyes recognize disease and fear and poverty and confusion as tools of our enemy. The Holy Spirit, whose ministry in your life brings about righteous living and right standing with God (2 Corinthians 3:9) daily instructs you in this knowledge, all the while bringing to your remembrance God’s specific Word (John 14:26) as the standard you are to use to confront each attack – in whatever form it may take. God’s Word tells us that He is for your prosperity, wisdom, and success (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 35:27); He has taken the necessary measures to assure your health and well-being (Malachi 4:2, 1 Peter 2:24) and His work in your life accomplishes all of this (Hebrews 13:21). As we attend faithfully and resolutely, the Holy Spirit establishes God’s purposes in our hearts and in our lives. But we must attend! We must understand this Truth. God sent His Holy Spirit into the world to enable us to accomplish His purposes for mankind. We are inadequate without Him – inadequate to the task (John 15:5). Correctly introducing Jesus to the world – our “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19) – is weakly ineffective without the Holy Spirit in us. He is our Teacher, our Enabler, our Strengthener, our Counselor. He effectively perfects our spiritual eyes. He corrects our misconceptions and helps us to see as God sees (1 Corinthians 2:9-11), to speak as God speaks, and to expect what God promises.

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38

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Entering Into Holy Spirit Consciousness – Part Two

The topic of the gift of tongues and the extraordinary dimension they add to our spiritual lives is quite controversial in “Christian circles”! It should not be, for that is tantamount to debating whether of not the Word of God should be believed. Every beneficial aspect of praying in the Spirit, as taught in Scripture, is as pertinent and available today as it was at the church’s beginnings. The Holy Spirit continues with us today. He was poured out upon believers at Pentecost (Acts 2) and has never left. And the fullness of His ministry continues to bless.

When we know not how to pray, or when we need to pray about that which we know not – the Holy Spirit prays through us in that heavenly language that circumvents our understanding and our finite minds (Romans 8:26). Many believers have shared concerning instances in their own private prayer life or in group prayer when they have prayed for people and situations they had no knowledge of except for Holy Spirit intervention. Prayers utilizing tongues were interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:27) through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and they discovered that His ministry and leading had been in that direction. They understood that they had been praying concerning people and issues far removed from their natural understanding – issues around the world that needed prayer coverage.

This is an aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit that many Christians do without for various reasons. They have not been well and fully taught in this area, they come from a religious tradition that disavows the practice of praying in tongues, claiming that it has been done away with, they are uncomfortable with the entire subject, or they have not searched the Word diligently for themselves to fully understand all of the implications and blessings of this most unusual heavenly Gift.

For one who speaks in an {unknown} tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the Holy Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things {not obvious to the understanding}.
1 Corinthians 14:2

This Truth is further enhanced in the Message Bible version:

If you praise Him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and Him.

Sharing intimacies with God! Working together with the Holy Spirit on concerns that touch the heart of God and that need an intercessor – a willing voice and spirit to be obedient to the Divine will. Believing God’s Word over the opinions and doctrinal practices of men – man’s traditions that so often nullify the Word of God (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:8) – is a necessary resolve if we are to walk in the fullness of life lived in the realm of the conscious awareness of the Holy Spirit within; if we are to permit Him to accomplish His ministry on our behalf and if we are to give a willing tongue on behalf of His ministry to the world.

Entering Into Holy Spirit Consciousness – Part One

There is a way to see, hear, act, and speak that is not only available to God’s kids but mandatory to their successful life in the Spirit. There is always a “word fitly spoken and in due season for him who is weary” (Isaiah 50:4); there is encouragement, exhortation, and prophetic utterance that we can offer to others as we tune in consistently to the Holy Spirit; there are paths we are meant to take for Heaven’s purposes that can be known and clearly understood only through our purposeful attention to the Spirit’s leading.

God’s assignment in a life doesn’t just happen; it is not an automatic occurrence. Yes, in our obedience to His call, He works in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (Philippians 2:13), but first there must be the obedience – the willingness and desire to listen for that assignment.

One of the best and most effective ways I know to be consciously aware of the Holy Spirit within is to pray in tongues. For it is relinquishing that most powerful of human muscles, the tongue, for His use (James 3:5-10). As we pray in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 6:18), He is actually praying through us. He communicates with our spirits through His ministry of teaching and guiding and upholding us in our daily kingdom walk. Authority and dominion belong to God. Submission to that understanding, full acceptance of the Truth of His Word, establishes His Lordship. Our Father tells us through His Word that without the infilling, the baptism, of the Holy Spirit, we will not be up to the task He sets before us (John 15:7, John 16:7, Acts 1:4-5, 8).

See what Paul says to the Corinthian church in chapter 14 verse 15:

…I will pray with my spirit {by the Holy Spirit that is within me} , but I will also pray {intelligently} with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my Spirit {by the Holy Spirit that is within me}, but I will sing {intelligently} with my mind and understanding also.

And so that there is no doubt that he is referring to speaking in tongues when he says, “pray with my spirit”, he goes on to say that if we pray only in the Spirit, others will not understand the message for they cannot interpret the tongues. Read 1 Corinthians 14 in its entirety for an in depth explanation of the value of speaking in tongues.

Confusion concerning the availability of this gift hinders many Christians in their prayer life, weakens their walk in the Spirit, and prohibits full growth into all of the fullness of life in Christ. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you {the priestly nation} have rejected knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). That certainly is true of the gift of tongues offered to all of God’s kids through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is a powerful Gift from God often left unclaimed; a Gift that profoundly alters our relationship with our Father. It deserves careful attention for through the use of tongues in our prayer life we acknowledge and submit to the Spirit’s ministry to and through us. Do not permit incorrect teaching (or no teaching at all) on the subject to hinder your pursuit of all God has for you. Let the Word form and fashion your future days!

Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work

Very often I think we regard the concept of bearing fruit for the kingdom, for God’s glory, as that which we obediently bring about in the lives of others – helping them to see spiritual truths and beginning to successfully apply it to their lives, being instrumental in leading a person to salvation, exhorting others to take a stand for righteousness sake, offering the provision someone desperately needs, or simply sharing the Gospel in obedience to Holy Spirit leading. And each of these is legitimate and valuable fruit; the harvest of righteousness in your own life reaching out and blessing the world.

But fruit-bearing begins at home first before it reproduces itself in the lives of others. The fruit of the Spirit in a life,

…{the work which His Presence within accomplishes} is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)… (Galatians 5:22-23),

is how we walk in a manner worthy of our Father and pleasing to Him. Notice in Colossians 1:10 that “bearing fruit in every good work” is related to:

…steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God {with fuller deeper and clearer insight acquaintance and recognition}.

The fruit in our lives is Holy Spirit generated and the positive and gentle response to every situation we encounter, every human interaction we experience, and every heart reaction we “permit”. Petty irritations soothed with patience, rising fear overcome with peace, challenging temptations defused with self-control, a loving response to persecution, kindness counteracting disharmony – this is bearing fruit in every good work.

Just as the apple or pear trees produce and display their fruit for all to admire and benefit from, so our fruits of righteousness, our harvest of Holy Spirit influence, displays to the world the beautiful results of being connected to the Vine – the source of all goodness. The tree does not struggle to produce the fruit. It is simply the natural result of the interconnectedness of its parts to the life source.

We are visible testimonies, living epistles, each of us letters from Christ (2 Corinthians 2:3). The fruit of the Holy Spirit in us and through us will please and honor our Father, bless us and benefit others. As we are observed walking in grace and bearing Holy Spirit fruit we become a thought-provoking message to the world. And the amazing and comforting truth here is that the creation of this fruit is not our work. We are certainly the beneficiaries of its production; our spiritual and emotional lives are blessed by the evidence of the Spirit’s fruit in our days, but Heaven must be honored for our fruit bearing. As we, in faith, submit to the Holy Spirit, as we recognize the Presence of God in us – that He lives in us and accomplishes His purposes through us (Philippians 2:13) – then the fruit appears. The energy that produces the fruit is God’s energy, the goodness and righteousness of the character of the fruit comes from our Father. Where love overcomes fear, where patience defuses stress, where gentleness and peace define your life rather than conflict and concern, you are living in “the secret place of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1) and the fruit you bear is His handiwork to bless you and the world.

The Natural Qualities of the Supernatural

It’s not the startling revelation, the regal pomp of blaring trumpets, the loudly proclaimed announcement of, “Thus saith the Lord!” that characterizes our personal and daily communications with the Holy Spirit. We set ourselves to listen – He teaches. We ask for guidance – He leads. We seek wisdom concerning daily and future decisions -He counsels. Our expectation that there will be something to hear is our faith in action. We need to realize that He longs to teach us, to guide and uphold us – to lead us out onto God’s path for our lives, for that is His purpose, His job description (John 14:26). And that teaching, that guidance, is most often so quiet and gentle and natural that it is easily overlooked in a too-busy life. For those not accustomed to that relationship, not practiced in tuning in to and recognizing His voice, not taught about the reality of His daily ministry, to think about being used of the Holy Spirit to minister to others seems most often beyond the realm of possibility.

Very recently, in my early morning time with God, I lifted up a specific person, greatly loved. Years of prayer for this person had focused mainly on spiritual growth. This particular morning I simply said, “Show me how to help __________. What is my role here? Show me what I can do.” Later in the day, in conversation with a family member, I received my answer! Although the apparent purpose of the conversation had been an entirely different topic, my relative worked his way around to speaking specifically about the one I had prayed for that morning with simple and creative suggestions regarding my role in helping him. Clearly an answer to prayer! And clearly, this family member had been used by the Holy Spirit to shed light on the subject. And yet when I spoke of his being used by the Holy Spirit to answer my prayer he was slightly uncomfortable with the concept. A normal conversation – the exchanging of ideas and thoughts – is so natural. How could it include the supernatural?

The Holy Spirit lives in us and works through us. My relative truly ministered to me in that afternoon conversation. Some might ask, why didn’t the Spirit simply give you the answer – why rely on another. Perhaps I was too tuned in to the spiritual needs of the person I was praying for, not his needs in the natural. Perhaps the Holy Spirit wanted my relative to begin to understand through demonstration how natural it is and what it means to be led supernaturally. He gave voice to the Holy Spirit within him, and in so doing discovered how natural the supernatural can be. It’s an important lesson for all of us.

A Calm and Undisturbed Mind and Heart

Speaking peace to storms (Mark 4:39-40) is a stand that God’s kids should be very comfortable with. Our Lord is our example in this. He spoke peace to a storm “of hurricane proportions” (Mark 4:37 – Amplified)

“Hush now! Be still (muzzled)!” And the wind ceased(sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was {immediately} a great calm (a perfect peacefulness). (Mark 4:39)

Our great lesson from this story are the next words He spoke to His disciples:

Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)?

Very often the storms in our lives are in our thoughts and imaginings. There may even be a legitimate storm that you are facing, but again I assert that the battle to overcome it is in your thoughts and your words. Financial issues, health issues, interpersonal relationships, concerns for the future – we ponder, we meditate, we give place in our thinking to negative, even frightening possibilities. We look fully upon the storm giving our full attention to all of its implications and potentially devastating outcomes. Like the disciples in the boat during the storm we cry out, “Do you not care that we are perishing? Help God! Don’t you see my dilemma?”

It would be helpful and powerfully effective if, prior to the arrival of any storm, we established some certainties. Storms will come. Jesus told us that we would encounter “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” (John 6:33). For there is an enemy who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). However, He assured us that in Him we “may have {perfect} peace and confidence“, for He has overcome the world!

I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you. (John 16:33 – Amplified)

We chose to either look to the storm or look to the Lord. Looking to the storm indicates faith in the enemy’s ability to defeat you (and diminishes the work our Lord accomplished on your behalf). Looking to the Lord indicates “the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” (2 Timothy 1:5 – Amplified)

A continuous trusting gaze toward our heavenly Father is a storm killer. Words (our Father’s Word) spoken out in faith, filled with all the authority of Heaven (Luke 22:29) establishes the calm, peaceful daily walk that is meant to be ours.

…in returning {to Me} and resting {in Me} you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body… (Proverbs 14:30)

These are not just trivial greeting card banalities. This is God’s Word concerning what your life is meant to look like in His care. This is the observation post we are meant to occupy. Let the life and the Truth of God’s Word define your daily outlook. You are firmly established in peace. When peace eludes quickly recognize that disharmony and speak God’s alive and active Word into the situation (Hebrews 4:12). Look up some of the Scriptures spoken of here today; preach to yourself, and with authority speak to the storm. For what God has done for us, what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, defeats every storm.

God’s Word on the subject:

John 14:22 Philippians 4:7 Colossians 3:15

Clearing Away the Muck

The Holy Spirit surprised me this morning. In my daily time with God I was experiencing a heaviness not easy for me to interpret. It had, in fact, been a recurring and building symptom that had plagued me for many weeks. With little exception I had dutifully attended to the giving over of early morning hours to Bible study and conversation with the Holy Spirit, but the joy, the lively interchange, the rewarding sense of well-being were all missing. It had become an exercise in obedience and diligence but there was no fruit – no sense of life-changing, spirit-strengthening, path-defining joy; no apparent receiving of “His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship” which He earnestly desires for me to experience. (Isaiah 30:18)

That is when I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say “Let’s clear up the muck, for where is the joy? Take inventory with me and lighten the load”. So today Bible study and prayer gave way to allowing the Holy Spirit to shine a light on issues that I had been allowing to accumulate; burdens that I had been gathering one by one which weighed down my spirit. Oh, I had been praying about them, of course. That is what we Christians do. And if we are well-taught in spiritual principles, we find God’s promises in Scripture that apply to those issues and we speak them forth in faith. All of this I had done. But when joy is missing, when the conversation with our Abba is not honest and open and true with a resulting sense that all is well and that a day of wonderful promise stretches ahead of us – something is clogging the pipeline.

The Word tells us that we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11)and that while we may experience “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” as we walk out and about in this world, Jesus says:

Be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. {I have deprived it of its power to harm you and have conquered it for you}. (John 16:33)

Negative issues will try to cling to us and weigh us down. We have been given the remedy. God’s Word, His promises, His covenant with us is the overcoming force. But we must truly give Him each of our concerns, prayers, and petitions – Give them away! Do not share them with Him in conversation and then grab them back. Do not bemoan the passage of time without apparent results – trust your Abba. Your job is faith in Him and in His Word; His job is to accomplish on your behalf.

The Holy Spirit and I made quite a long list of the issues in my life that were robbing me of my birthright- the joy, peace, and well-being that are meant to be mine in Christ. And I am so grateful for His ministry and for how deeply and effectively He knows me, loves me, and leads me on in sweet victory.

…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away from all that will distract to Jesus.