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The Holy Spirit

August 5th, 2016

The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness.

“Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the Holy Spirit.”

Life can be challenging. And that just might be the understatement of the year. Daily life presents situations that confront your lack of knowledge, understanding, ability, and/or resources. That fact we all have in common. Just “toughing it out” doesn’t work so well in many situations. Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue result from those challenges. David, the courageous victor over Goliath, still experienced difficulties beyond his abilities, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:12-13 NKJV.  Don’t lose heart. You will see the goodness of the Lord in this lifetime.

Spiritual life is also challenging. Consequential decisions for yourself and family are a daily occurrence. Previous experience or the advice of friends does not always offer the depth of knowledge and wisdom that you need. Of ourselves, we are insufficient for all of the demands, necessities, and challenges life presents. God always provides the answer. The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness. “The Spirit of the Lord [is] the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV. Sufficiency is found in God because God alone is sufficient. Read 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV.

God’s desire and supply are simple, direct, practical, and achievable. “Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV. The New Testament is translated from Greek, which is grammatically distinct and layered with meaning. In Paul’s instruction, “Be filled” is the Greek verb, Pleroo, which is “imperative, present tense, plural, and passive voice.” The command is imperative, a command to be obeyed; present tense, continuous in duration; plural, for all without exception; passive voice, a grace gift to the hungry. A literal translation is: “All of you, be continuously filled with the Spirit and continually controlled by the Spirit.” Our generous, gracious God fills the heart and life where He is invited.

Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being . . to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is as Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV.

Christian Communications 2016

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Holy Spirit

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Empty Lives

September 16th, 2015

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV.

Life without Jesus will never be all that life should be.

My thoughts and comments today are about “empty lives.”

As a child, life is exciting, exhilarating, and filled with anticipation – Christmas as a child – first day of school – first date – finally, your driver’s license – falling in love – being married – starting your career – raising a family. Life too quickly fills with responsibilities and routines, each day wearing away a little of the mysteries and wonder. School becomes homework and hard work. Dating becomes complicated, even confusing. A driver’s license involves gasoline, and insurance, and repairs. Falling in love eventually brings rent or mortgage, and bills.

Too soon, spontaneity yields to a schedule that becomes repetitive, and you find yourself trudging through life feeling that emptiness – a sense of “same old, same old” – with something deep inside telling you that life is not meant to be that way. A better life is waiting for you. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV. Jesus replaces empty lives with full hearts.

Life without Jesus as its center will never be all that you long for life to be. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can take His place or fill that void. You see, that emptiness you feel in your soul runs so deep. You cannot fill empty lives with stuff; you cannot silence it with noise; you cannot ignore it with busyness. “Man has a purpose – to be in relationship with God . . when he forgets his purpose he forgets who he is and what life means.” Francis Schaeffer, Theologian and Christian philosopher. Life does not work well when you forget who you are and what life means.

Life cannot be what it is meant to be if you leave God out. God alone makes sense of everything else about your life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. God makes what you have enough. God makes relationships enriching. God makes who you are meaningful and satisfying. God makes what you do fulfilling. God fills your future with hope and unlimited possibilities. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

The Bible narrative begins with these words, “In the beginning . . the earth was without form, and void, and darkness covered . . and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 NKJV. That is the way anyone’s life is until Jesus is invited to come in and set it right, and fill it with life and fullness, and give light and understanding. He is there, waiting for your invitation to do so today and every day that follows. “Until we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

The Apostle Paul described where you find a full heart and full life, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you may know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV. Don’t try to live life – even a moment of it – without Jesus filling your heart.

Today, I pray for you to make room for Jesus in everything you are and all you do.

Christian Communications 11309

 Empty Lives

Empty Lives

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Spiritual Intimacy

November 14th, 2014

“That I may know Christ.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual intimacy.”

Life requires purpose and a superceding objective. Your purpose has to be consequential enough to weather the demands life will require of you and influential enough to empower you to give the effort necessary to achieve and excel. Any person is insufficiently inspired who lacks an objective worthy of the sacrifices needed. The greatest purpose is knowing Jesus Christ in a practical, personal, and intimate way. His intent is that you, “. . know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV.

Intellectual knowledge alone is inadequate for the personal and experiential knowledge of Christ that Paul sought. He desired a transformative experience of soul and spirit that redeems the heart (See Romans 7:15-26 NIV) and forever alters the desires and direction of one’s life. Read Acts 9:1-6. Subsequently, Paul pledged a devotion to Christ that did not exclude the most severe of mortal threats. “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . .” See Acts 20:22-24.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy. Information without corresponding experience becomes intellectual, without relational integrity. As I intend, “relational integrity” describes a commitment to absolute authenticity in relating to God or others. Authenticity is the only enduring basis for real intimacy. Worse yet, intellectual information without corresponding, spiritual experience immunizes you from a real and vital relationship with God.

As a young, college student preparing for ministry, I prayed that Paul’s passion for Christ would be my passion as well. “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10. This verse became, and remains today, my “life verse.” Paul’s words describe my purpose and objective. I am committed to daily experience an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul’s passion to “know Christ,” expressed an unparalleled intimacy, with disregard for suffering or sacrifice. The same expression is found in the Old Testament, “Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived . .” (Genesis 4:1), as well as in the New Testament, describing Mary’s incredulity at the angel’s announcement, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:30-38. The word expresses experiential knowledge that forcefully creates and releases new life. Do not be content to know about God, without experiencing Christ personally and powerfully. Anything less is inadequate.

Passionately, Paul desired an encounter with Jesus that releases God’s power and new life, in and through him. Such spiritual intimacy evidences itself in a power for life that is linked to and sourced from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 1:17-21 NIV. Nothing you encounter will ever prove His Resurrection power insufficient. In Jesus’ resurrection, God turned apparent defeat into glorious triumph.  Whatever is broken in your life can be fixed. What seems listless and lifeless can receive life abundantly.

If you desire anything more than Him, then your passion to know Him as He desires to be known is lacking. Jesus was clear, “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You have sent to earth.”  John 17:3 NLT. There is a depth of relationship that results from intimate fellowship experienced with God through Christ. Only then will you know the power that flows from His Resurrection into the very circumstances where you walk and live every day.

Today, my prayer for you is to know Jesus to the extent you could never again be the same.

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Spiritual Vacuum

June 11th, 2012

“Do not . . give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27 NKJV

Wherever God and good do not fill, lesser things will.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual vacuum.”

I learned from my high school physics teacher the principle that “nature abhors a vacuum.” When the normal atmospheric pressure inside an object is lessened significantly and that object has insufficient strength to resist, the greater pressure that surrounds it will cause its increasing and eventual collapse. That has been helpful in my spiritual life; let me tell you how.

Jesus told of an evil spirit who was removed but returned to find its former place, “empty, swept, and put in order.” Read Matthew 12:43-45 NKJV. It was a place clean but not occupied. That description might at first seem good, but is not good enough. The keyword is “empty.” A spiritual vulnerability existed; the vacancy left a spiritual vacuum waiting to be filled by something or someone. The unclean spirit finds “seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Tragically and needlessly, spiritual collapse is all too common. In your heart and life, wherever God and good do not fill, lesser things will.

I see a practical application in the Bible’s warning, “Do not . . give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27 NKJV. The devil’s “wiles and devices” are always pressing for access into one’s life. Read Ephesians 6:10-18/2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV. But how do you limit the daily intrusions the devil continually seeks in your soul and spirit? Feebly resisting wrong attitudes and actions without initiating and strongly sustaining righteous practices does not work. Your spiritual success will only come from actively giving God “place” in your life everyday. That is how you start everyday, live your day, and end your day; doing so must become your spiritual lifestyle.

The more extensive “place” you purposefully allow God in your life – your time, affections, thoughts, desires, and practices – the more the devilish intrusions are restrained until eliminated. Paul applies the principle in practical matters: lying or speaking truth, stealing or working, profane or edifying language, bitterness or kindness, anger or tenderheartedness, malice or forgiveness. Ephesians 4:25-32 NKJV. It is always your choice; a choice you must make.

Any spiritual vacuum is a vulnerability you cannot afford. The truth is simple enough. Writing of the Holy Spirit who is within the Christ-follower in contrast to the spirit which embodies the world and its culture, John affirmed, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NKJV. Our modern, high-tech, low-touch world offers no suitable substitutes for the daily practice of ancient, spiritual disciplines of Biblical meditation, prayer, fasting, and New Testament fellowship.

Fill your heart with the right things; leave no place for wrong. Fear is the absence of courage; take courage. Unbelief is the absence of faith; choose faith. Disobedience is the absence of obedience; obey. Worry is the absence of trust; begin to trust. Sin is the absence of righteousness; live righteously. Discord is the absence of peace; sow peace. Hate or indifference is the absence of love; prefer love. Sadness is the absence of joy; rejoice. For every spiritual vacuum there is a fullness of God’s provision. See Ephesians 3:19 NLT/2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. Every emptiness you feel is an absence of God there. Invite and welcome His fullness today.

My prayer for you today is that you will experience fullness that fills and overflows.

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