Posts tagged ‘Spirit’

What Are Your Callings?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get pretty stressed out about life.  My to-do lists just never seem to end, and there are never enough hours in the day.  I work from the time I get up until the time I go to bed.  Reminds me of my Great Aunt Bertha.  “I work!”  She cranked out with her wrinkled, old finger pointing in general at anyone and everyone.  “I work!”  I don’t have a clue how old she was, but I swear it must have been near 200!

Okay!  Seriously!  Back to my point.  All this work wears me out.  I feel defeated before I even climb out of bed in the morning.  Everything that really matters gets pushed aside so that I can get done the stuff that somehow has been given more importance.  So the other day when I read ” But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd,” (Matthew 9:36), I actually cried.

In that moment, I was the crowd that Jesus saw before Him.  I was weary, worn out, and lost.  I was without my shepherd because I had allowed the business of life to drag me away from Him.  I didn’t have His strength or His guidance or His comfort.  I cried out to Him and confessed my failures.  In particular was the guilt over not being obedient to His calling in my life in the past while.  But in this time of prayer, God revealed something to me about His callings that I have just never given credit to before.

Many years ago, when my older boys were little, someone in Sunday School told me that my calling was to take care of my boys and raise them up to know God.  It bothered me a lot that I had not discovered my true calling from God.  It bothered me some, too, that this person thought my calling was just being a mom.  I had much bigger spiritual aspirations.  And a calling from God would naturally be spiritual, right?  All these years I have never viewed my role as their mom as a calling from God.  And in those years, I have actually received more “spiritual” callings.  But last week, as I fretted to God over not staying true to His calling, He revealed to me two things.  First, He had given me more than one calling.  They are different from each other.  Some with longer commitment times than others, and some with more sacrifice and work than others.  But all callings from Him are to be met with my obedience.  Second, God revealed to me that being a wife, and a mother, and a teacher, and a daughter, and a sister, and an aunt, etc. are all callings from Him.  He has put me in all of these positions with a purpose for me to fulfill in each one for His honor and glory.  While I have been struggling to be the daughter who lives 450 miles from her dad with ailing health, and being the mom who tries to home school her son with autism and still be a good mom to the other 3 boys and a good wife to her husband, and the teacher who has a caseload that is too big for one person to handle, and the…and the…, I have not viewed these as callings from God.  They were not “spiritual” enough for me, I guess.  And so, I have not sought the help from God that I needed.

In Zechariah, Zerubbabel was laboring with the people of Israel over re-building the Temple of God.  But they were trying to do it all on their own.  And God had a message for Zerubbabel, and for us, too.  We have quoted it many times:  “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts,” (Zech. 4:6).

We are not going to succeed in any of our callings without the Spirit of God, our Shepherd when we are weary and scattered.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  What are the many ways that God has called you according to His purpose?  They will all work together for good.  God will see to that.  But it would really be helpful to us if we remember that we aren’t the ones who will make it work.  Not with our own power or might, for we are weary and weak, worn out, but by the strength and power of the Spirit of God working in and through us.  Acknowledge your callings before God, and then rest in His care as He works through you for His purposes.

God bless and merry Christmas!

Fasting: Intimacy with God

Recently my Sunday School class has begun a study on fasting.  It is based on a book, and led by the author on a dvd.  We listen and discuss.  I missed the first 2 sessions, and was finally able to attend the 3rd one last week.  I have to say that I left feeling really uncomfortable with what the man said.  Some of it really rang true of the Doctrine of Prosperity.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is the teaching that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy and as soon as you give your life to Him, and give your money to His ministry, you will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.  It is a false doctrine that is not true to what the Bible teaches.  Jesus himself warned that those who followed Him would face trials and persecution.  He also warned that it is very difficult for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God…because with wealth, the temptation is so great to rely on self, rather than God, which is not the way to salvation (Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life).  The apostle Paul stressed that when we are weakest, God’s strength shines through.  How then does it seem right to say that God wants us to be wealthy (and take the risk of being pulled away from Him), and healthy all the time (allowing us to live by our own strength, and not the strength of God).  And happy?  There is a difference between being happy (superficially, based on current circumstances) and filled with the joy of the Lord (the hope that we have in His presence at all times).

Back to fasting.  The author of the series said some things that sounded right.  But he also said some things that made me cringe.  He encouraged fasting as a way to breakthroughs in your prayers.  To sum up, when we fast, God takes extra notice and bam!  Miracles and answered prayers!  The breakthrough in your financing that you have been praying for.  The healing, the deliverance from drugs, or homosexuality, or other sins.  I believe that God stirred His Spirit within me for a reason.  Do you pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding before you enter a place where His Word will be taught?  It is so important to seek His leading, even while we are being led by others.  False teaching abounds, even when that is not the intention, and we must be on guard at all times.  Seek the guidance of the Spirit, our Counselor, so that we won’t be led astray.  1 John 4:1 tells us we are to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

I left Sunday School last week determined to do just that.  I went to the back of my Bible and wrote down every verse that mentioned fast, fasting, fasted, and I began to read those verses and the ones surrounding it.  I spent time praying and studying what the Bible says about fasting.  The following is what I learned.  At the end of this post, I will include the Bible references that I learned from so that you can test the spirits also.

What fasting is:

Fasting is a sacrifice on our part with the intention of drawing near to God.  It comes from a repentant heart that seeks to be in the presence of God with an intimacy that removes all other distractions.  It is an offering of oneself in a way that is pure and complete.  During this time of fasting, we are held up in our weakness by the power of God.  We experience His strength in a way that we can’t when our focus is divided.  In the act of fasting, we bring honor and glory to God.  Fasting is purely relational.  Because it is just between us and God, it is intimate in its very nature.  It is a longing to be near Him, to adore Him, to be completely fulfilled and satisfied by Him.  It is the opportunity to give Him our undivided attention, to pour out our souls to Him.  When we are so closely connected to our Father, then we are so much more able to hear Him speak to us, and see His hand at work around us.  We benefit in this time of nearness by knowing Him more deeply.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights after being baptized and before being tempted by Satan.  He didn’t fast for a miraculous breakthrough.  He fasted to draw near to His Father and glean strength from Him.

Prayer in times of fasting are linked in Isaiah 58 and Acts 10 to the obedience of the person praying…obedience specifically related to helping the poor, the needy, the destitute, the oppressed.  God says that He hears and answers the prayers of those who give to those in need.  Then they will experience light in the darkness, healing, God’s guidance and protection, satisfaction of the soul, strengthening of your bones, and God’s provision.

The one time fasting is specifically linked with a miracle/answered prayer is when Jesus said that a particular demon responds only to prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21).  This would be a very specific situation that I believe the Holy Spirit would direct and inspire to the result that the demon would be exorcised and God would be glorified.

Fasting is not to be a method of manipulation, an attempt to get God to answer your prayers in the way that you want Him to.  Before you shoot me down, consider what the Israelites were doing in Isaiah 58.  They fasted and prayed every 5th and 7th month during their 70 years of captivity.  But God did not listen to them.  Why?  They were fasting for themselves.  Mourning what they had lost.  Praying for what they wanted back.  But what they didn’t get was that fasting was about God…repenting, drawing near to Him, seeking His will, and living in obedience to Him by meeting the needs of the poor, and observing the Sabbath…to worship God.  How does our fasting tend to look?  Is it our heart’s desire to be nearer to God and seek His will?  Or do we say, “Hey!  Look at me!  See what I am doing here?  I am fasting!  I am making the supreme sacrifice so that You will hear me.  Now please answer my prayer!  I need a financial breakthrough…I need my relative to give up alcohol…I need my child to turn from immorality or homosexuality…I need so and so to be healed….”  I am not saying we cannot, or should not pray for healing while fasting.  But we must be aware of our motives, the attitude of our heart.  Is it pure?  What is our intention?  Are we praying and fasting for our will?  Or the will of God and for His glory?

Prayer, with faith the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains, can bring healing, when it is the will of God.  Fasting, with the right attitude of the heart, and obedience in giving, will glorify God first and foremost, will deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him, and will seek His will above all.  Fasting is not about getting our way, it is about worship – profound, intimate worship.

Scripture references:  Joel 1:1-15 (vs 14), Zechariah 7:1-14 (vs5), Nehemiah 1:1-11 (vs 4), Daniel 9:1-19 (vs 3-4), Psalm 35:11-14, Psalm 109:1-31 (vs 24), Isaiah 58:1-14, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 4:1-2, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 2:37, Luke 18:9-14, Acts 10:24-33 (vs 30).

When You Pray….

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have felt like I don’t know who I am praying to.  We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  If I’m praying to God the Father, does Jesus feel left out?  If I pray to Jesus, am I wrong because I should be praying to the Father?  I have been known to just mix things up a bit.  You know, pray to one and then pray to the other the next time.  I want to be fair, and I also want to cover my bases.

There really is no need for such confusion, though.  Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven….”  As far as I have ever read, Jesus never told us to pray to Him, only to the Father.  But we are to pray in the name of Jesus.  Jesus tells us this himself in the book of John several times.  Chapter 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; and 16:26.  He tells us that when we do that, God will hear our prayers and will “give you anything you ask for.”  [I caution you here, though…remember that when you ask in Jesus’ name, you attach His name to your request.  Be sure to ask for what will bring honor and glory to Him.]

We are also told that the Holy Spirit will pray for us in utterances we cannot understand when we don’t know how, or what to pray.  Romans 8:26-27 (NCV) – “Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness.  We do not know how to pray as we should.  But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain.  God can see what is in people’s hearts.  And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants.”

But Jesus is the one who speaks to us…through the Holy Spirit.  In John 16:13-15 Jesus says, “But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth.  He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come.  The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you.  All that the Father has is mine.  That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you.”

We pray to God the Father.  The Spirit prays for us as we pray.  And Jesus speaks to us through the Spirit.  It is a perfect circle that includes all three members of the Trinity.  Not a single prayer or message ever gets lost in the delivery process.  And honestly, I find it so comforting that Jesus is the One who’s words I hear when the Spirit speaks to me.  Perhaps it is because of His great sacrifice for me at the cross, and the love that caused Him to lay down His life for me.  Perhaps it is because He calls me friend (John 15:15).  Maybe it is because He is the One of the Trinity who bore the weight of humanness as He walked this earth.  I’m not sure.  I am sure of this, when the Spirit speaks, I am hearing the words of my Lord and Savior directed just to me.  I am overwhelmed by His goodness and His love!!!

Safe On Base: What to do with chaos and fear?

Remember playing Tag as a child? We always had a base. A place where we could run to and not be tagged. The game got a little wild, or we were perilously close to being tagged, if we could just get to home base, we would be safe.

Sometimes I am home base for my boys. They are busy doing what boys do. And there are some who are quite independent. But even the boy who clashes with me the most, will sometimes need home base. He will just come to me and say, “I need a hug.” And that is all. One quick hug, and off he goes again. He stopped at base, got his bearings, found his safety net, and then went back out. A couple of my other boys need longer hugs. They need to have a few moments of knowing my arms around them. One is small, and I can envelope him in my arms. He feels secure. The other one is bigger than me, and he envelopes me in his arms:-) But I am still home base to him.

When this world is chaotic, and spinning like a tornado, we need a home base. Or when someone writes a post about the end times, we may need a home base. Yesterday’s post may have filled many hearts with joy. But there are some who might have been gripped by fear, too. I have been there. Satan sure knows how to use the best news, the greatest hope, the truest promises of God to instill terror into our hearts. But our God is not the God of fear! The promise of Jesus’ return is a glorious hope, and our hearts should celebrate!!!! Any time we are in that grip of fear. Any time we feel out of control for any reason at all. Any time we need a place to feel safe, and take a breath. God has provided a home base for us. Himself.

Psalm 46: 10-11 (NCV) – God says, “Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be supreme over all the nations; I will be supreme in the earth.” The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender.

Amidst all of the chaos of life, the fear, the worry, the questions and doubt…hush. Shhhhh. Feel the arms of the All-Powerful God envelope you. Know His strength. Draw courage from the safety of His presence. Quiet. Know, without a doubt, that the one, the only, true God, who is supreme over all the nations and earthly powers, and who is supreme over all the earth itself, and who is supreme over the forces of darkness, is holding you, and is in control! Rest. Soak in all that He is, and you will be ready to move forward again.

Mental Telepathy

I’m a Trekkie…a Star Trek fan, not a fanatic, but a fan. For the past several months I have been working my way through the entire Star Trek Voyager series, one episode at a time. There are several alien species that have telepathic powers. The Vulcans, through a mind meld. The Betazoid, the Q, and the Ocampa to name a few. They could read other’s thoughts who could not do the same, like us limited humans. And when they were in the company of another telepath, they could speak to each other with their minds. So cool!! Wish I could do that! 🙂

Wait! I can. Oh yes I can…well, sort of. I can’t communicate with my husband or children that way…if I could, I might try a little mind control as well. Just kidding!!!!! I can communicate by telepathy, in a sense, with God, though. We have this special connection, God and I. He knows my heart, and He knows my thoughts. And when I talk to Him in prayer, even if it is not spoken out loud, He hears me. Case in point. During the wee hours of this morning, I was praying about something that was causing me to be afraid. I said to Him with my heart and my mind, “God, I’m afraid.” He heard me! He sent a devotion to me this morning that was about the exact thing I was fearful of, and gave me courage and peace through it. Of course the really, really cool thing about that is that God knew I would need that encouragement long before I actually read it this morning…and He worked in the heart of the writer to write that and publish it right where I would see it when I needed it.

This spiritual telepathy of sorts works the other direction, though, too. 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12 (NCV) – “Who knows the thoughts that another person has? Only a person’s spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts. It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.” God shares His thoughts with us, too! He speaks to us. He teaches us. He reveals who He is to us through the most direct communication one can imagine.

What a joy it is to know that the mind of God is focused on me, and that I can hear what He has to say directly to me. There is great peace and comfort in knowing that even when I am alone, I am not alone. And the presence of the Spirit within me keeps me sain as well…I don’t have to talk to myself, when I can talk to Him;-)

Have a blessed day, and rejoice in your intimate connection with the God of the universe!!

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