Insight: Do You Have the Holy Spirit or Does the Holy Spirit Have You?(Part 1 of 2)

Once we have placed our saving faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, God graciously sealed us with the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. Because salvation is derived from the finished atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, our deeds will never be righteous enough to earn us our salvation. As believers, the loving work of Christ on the Cross mightily liberates us to be all who God has purposed us to be. We now have this remarkable assurance that our salvation is not contingent on our overall performance as Christians. While I do vehemently believe that genuine believers cannot lose their salvation, I do believe that it is possible to live a defeated life as a Christian failing to live in the fullness of what God has ordained.

Have you ever wondered why so many Christians are merely scraping by within this life? They may go to church faithfully, know all of the right things to say within Christian Culture, avoid committing the obvious sins, and even become involved in a ministry or two. But, they are still struggling with the same addictions and struggles that they have for decades as Christians. They may have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, but not as the Lord of their life; they have not wholeheartedly surrendered every area of their lives to Jesus. Why is this? Why would a Christian choose to live a mediocre life with a divided allegiance? What I believe God has taught to me through His Holy Word and through other mature believers is the importance of being immersed in the Holy Spirit.

When Christians are born again, they are born of the Spirit. Through the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, our heart of stone is exchanged for a heart of flesh. God’s Spirit now resides within each and every believer who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer certainly has the Holy Spirit but does the Holy Spirit have the believer? There is a significant difference between the two–the difference between simply surviving as a Christian and actually thriving as a Christian. The Holy Spirit deeply desires to be actively involved in the believer’s life rather than to be restricted to the confines of the believer’s body. He wants to overflow as a stream of life towards everyone whom the believer comes into contact with. The Holy Spirit wants to radically transform your life as a believer so you can live the life of victory God has destined for you to live. Jesus has already overcome this war and the dominion of sin, but it is up to us to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. The invitation is there. Will you respond to it or ignore it like so many already do? God will not infringe on our free will; we either want Him or we don’t, it is as simple as that!

Humility is one of the secrets to the Holy Spirit controlling, leading and empowering the believer. This is counter-cultural and a major threat towards our westernized mindset(which has affected much of the church already). God’s Spirit cannot work as it intends to when we place confidence in the flesh or when we become prideful. Pride and humility are opposing forces. Until we humble ourselves and repent before our mighty God, we will be stuck in this spiritual stalemate. We need to get on our knees before God and confess our sins. We should not ritualize this confession like so many do, but we should weep and mourn over our sins recognizing how depraved we are before a Holy and Just God.  It is then and only then that God’s Spirit may begin to work within us as Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered believers.

Secondly, there must be a willingness and openness to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit through abiding in Him. An interesting observation from Jesus’ earthly ministry is His repeated emphasis on Him being One with God the Father. For example, in John 14, Jesus teaches His disciples, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves”(Jn 14:11). Once Jesus ascended into Heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit(John 14:26; 15:26) onto all those who would believe. The person of the Holy Spirit is co-equal with God and Jesus. Unfathomably, God has purposed for His very Spirit to dwell inside each believer. Now, each and every believer has direct access to God through Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit! It is pivotal that we as believers comprehend the importance that the Holy Spirit has for us in our lives.

Jesus teaches in John 15, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing”(Jn 15:5). Please listen closely and hear what Jesus is saying here! If we do not abide in Him, we can literally do nothing of spiritual worth! We are fruitless, ineffective and destined for destruction if we do not abide in Him. The way in which we abide in Jesus is through abiding in what Jesus gave us before He ascended, that is His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word! There is no other way to fruitfully live the Christian life. It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit within individual believers where the spiritual body of Christ is now capable of living within and among huge numbers of people at a time. Jesus exemplifies this awe-inspiring truth when He teaches in John 14,“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(Jn 14:12). Jesus was not referring to the quality of the works, but rather the size and quantity of the works from this multiplying effect from disciple-making. Because Jesus is residing in each believer through His Spirit, He is able to replicate Himself as many times in order to broaden and extend His reach to further His Kingdom.

In conclusion, as followers of Jesus who are called to model the way in which He lived, we must be one with the Holy Spirit. In addition to the Holy Spirit residing within us, we must reside in the Holy Spirit through being immersed within Him. This is primarily accomplished through humbling ourselves and through being one with the Holy Spirit, much like how Jesus and the Father are one(John 14:20).

Stay tuned for next time where I plan on showing how this would practically look in our lives as Christians seeking to live immersed in the Holy Spirit today.

Father, please humble your Church before You. Help us to repent over our sinful ways and return back to our first love, Jesus. Provide us with an openness and willingness to have you move within our hearts anew! I pray that the Holy Spirit will overflow within each believer’s heart and stream into every area of our lives so that we can powerfully transform the lives of those around us! In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!

What The Enemy Does Not Want You to Know

Key Biblical Text

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete”(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Introduction: Too Busy to Focus on the Spiritual

Have you ever stopped to consider that what we see in the physical realm is only a portion of what is actually happening all around us? I think that it is a safe assumption that most of today barely have enough time for ourselves, let alone to ponder on the spiritual realities within this world.

Life in modern society is moving at such a frighteningly-fast pace that we barely have sufficient time to get our day-to-day tasks accomplished. Statements such as: “I just don’t have enough time”, “I’m too busy for this”, or “There aren’t just enough hours in the day to finish what I need to accomplish” are ubiquitous to the average person today. While it is not necessarily a sin to be busy, what I fear is happening today is that we are being greatly distracted from the things that truly matter in the context of eternity.

Westernized Christianity Waters Down The Spiritual

It is my assertion that the teaching among most Christian Churches within the West does not provide enough focus on the spiritual warfare surrounding Christians. Yet, the Bible repeatedly underscores the importance of recognizing the spiritual realm as something very real and also something which Christians must prepare themselves against.

In the West, we have this prevailing humanist and materialist mindset which overshadows much of the way in which we think and operate as a society. Secular psychology is an incredibly influential and authoritative force even to the degree that it has begun to infiltrate the Church. Almost everything, including the things of spiritual origin, can be merely theorized into these humanist “boxes of understanding”. Christian Colleges and Universities have begun to incorporate psychology-counseling into the teaching curriculum for those studying to become pastors and teachers.

We Are in All-Out Spiritual War

Christian, do you know that you have an enemy who will stop at nothing to annihilate your faith? If you do not recognize how high the stakes are, then surely what reason would you have to equip yourself for this spiritual warfare? There is an old quote that teaches that the greatest thing the enemy ever pulled off is to convince us that he doesn’t exist. The schemes of the enemy work best when those being deceived are ignorant to what is actually happening. Therefore, I think that it is also fitting to say that one of the greatest things the enemy has pulled off is to convince the Church to downplay the importance of spiritual warfare. Perhaps one of the leading causes for why much of the Church in the West has fallen asleep stems from its ignorance of spiritual warfare. We are called to make war with sin so that we can grow in holiness and righteousness, but how can this happen if we are not even aware of the type of battle which we are involved in?

Spiritual Strongholds

GotQuestion.org provides a Biblical View on Spiritual Strongholds below:

The enemy is firmly entrenched; these strongholds have been guarded for thousands of years, presenting a great wall of resistance to the Truth. None of this deters the Christian warrior, however. Using the weapons of God’s choosing, he attacks the strongholds, and by the miraculous power of Christ, the walls are breached, and the bastions of sin and error are battered down. The victorious Christian enters the ruins and leads captive, as it were, every false theory and every human philosophy that had once proudly asserted its independence from God…Sharing the gospel is not the only time we see resistance. We can also face demonic strongholds in our own lives, in our families, and even in our churches. Anyone who has fought an addiction, struggled with pride, or had to “flee youthful lusts” knows that sin, a lack of faith, and a worldly outlook on life are indeed “strongholds.”

I believe that understanding and being able to identify spiritual strongholds in our lives as Christians is one of the first steps to conquering them. Interestingly, a significant degree of our spiritual maturity and growth as Christians is dependent on how effectively we make war with these spiritual strongholds. Each day we wake up, we are faced with a decision to equip ourselves with the armour of God or not. We must understand that even though God has finished the work through His Son on the Cross, we are responsible to continually walk in obedience and to access the spiritual means of grace freely given to us. The spiritual toolkit in the form of God’s armour and the reservoir of His grace is definitely there for the Christian, but it still needs to be accessed by faith in order to be effective.

Tragically, so many ignorant Christians fail to live their spiritual lives in victory and instead choose to live defeated lives. As they listen to the lies of the enemy, they begin to believe them. These lies gain a foothold in the minds of the believer leading to a crippled and ineffective life as a Christian. Rather than reclaiming the authority they have in Christ in order to overcome the dominion of sin, they allow themselves to remain spiritually-complacent and unfruitful.

The Solution: Live by The Spirit through Repentance, & Equipping Yourself with God’s Armour 

God will not provide us with the spiritual victory as long as we are not surrendered to Him. We need to die to self so that Christ through His Holy Spirit will reign and actively work through us as one of His instruments. In the West, I fear that we often intellectualize Christianity and that we restrain it to some kind of futile head knowledge while the heart remains unchanged. If our faith does not manifest in commensurate righteous actions and deeds, then we may be wise to question whether we have a saving faith or not. James 2:14-17 teaches:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

The core teaching is not that it is works that saves us, but rather the point is ultimately: What is the point if our faith is not accompanied with works? Our hearts, not merely our minds, needs to be transformed. It is then and only then that the Holy Spirit will reside within us and empower us to conquer the spiritual strongholds in our journey. As we abide in Christ(through study and application of Scripture), the Holy Spirit works mightly in our life while demolishing those strongholds in the process!

In addition, equipping ourselves with the armour of God as detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18 is essential. Without which, we will inevitably compromise our Christian living and our faith will eventually be sifted like wheat as Jesus Himself reveals the enemy’s intentions to Peter(Luke 22:31). I find this analogy about the Christian from GotQuestion.org helpful as it relies on Ephesians 6:14-17 for its framework:

Our weapons are not physical, for our warfare is spiritual in nature. Rather than guns and tanks, our weapons are those of the “full armour of God” and consist of “the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”(Ephesians 6:14-17)

 

Prayer

Father,

I pray that you awaken your Church to the spiritual battleground around us. Please strengthen us as we ready ourselves for battle in this spiritual fight. Thank-you for providing us with the spiritual weapons of warfare to be victorious over the dominion of sin. Help us to walk in step with Your Holy Spirit to experience the fullness of the plan to that which You have called us in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, I pray Amen.

 

Reference:

https://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-strongholds.html

5 Reasons Discontentment Will Destroy

Introduction

God has been exceedingly good and gracious to all of His creation even within this sin-bent world. He even goes as far as extending His common grace to unbelievers too, providing steadfast patience desiring for all to come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9). Why then are Christians, in the wealthier parts of the world especially, left feeling discontent? Hasn’t God already provided all we need and then some through His Son, Jesus?

Continue reading

Power in Eternal Perspective

As Christians, I do not think that it is possible to overemphasize the level of importance we should place on our perspective. Yet, I cannot even begin to count the number of times where my perspective became distorted and tainted by the deceitfulness of my heart. The truth of the matter is that even as Christians, we are still very inclined to waver and allow our perspective to be shaped by the lies of the world. Perhaps one of the best examples of someone in the Bible who truly got what having an eternal perspective looks like is Paul. In his letter to the Philippians(4:10-13), Paul writes,

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Let this sink in for a moment: Paul is literally a prisoner at this point, yet he is virtually unaffected by his present circumstances to the point where he is actually rejoicing. How is this possible!? Shouldn’t Paul be anxious about what may happen to him, or at the very least that the Jesus Will Supply All Thingsadvancement of the Gospel may be hindered? To the extreme contrary, Paul rejoices with the assurance that God will supply all his needs (Phil. 4:19) and that God’s will is being accomplished despite these adverse circumstances. The central lesson here is that “our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances”. Paul had unbridled confidence that Jesus was always with him and no outward circumstance could ever undermine this. The secret to this is simply found in relying on Christ’s power for strength. 

If you are anything like me, unfavorable circumstances have a tendency of leading me to thoughts of discouragement, doubts, and even despair. What I have found is helpful is preparing ahead of time through feeding my mind with God’s Word and meditating on His promises. Reading about God’s promises is one thing, but actually marveling and mediating on them so that they become entrenched in our minds is quite another. In doing so, when conflicts befall us and we find ourselves immersed in unpleasant circumstances, we can readily call God’s promises to mind. “What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions”; harmful input from the world needs to be replaced with wholesome input from God’s Word.

Interestingly, even the world has its own version of this teaching within New Ageism. The difference is that the world wants you to believe that you alone possess the power to change your inner attitude and perspective through relying on your own strength. While this may work in the short-term, it certainly does not within the long-term because only God through Jesus can provide us with an eternal perspective. We are weak and we will constantly fall short even though we like to view ourselves as wise in our own eyes; the heart is deceitful and it cannot be trusted(Jer. 17:9). You will find yourself chasing after the wind never actually finding the contentment which your soul seeks. All the while, you will become a slave to your own desires, becoming a product of your environment and situations rather than a conqueror through being anchored in the One who already victoriously overcame sin and death!  We all need Jesus, so let’s stopping leaning on our own strength like the enemy cunningly tells us to do by means of his lies. Instead let’s put our full trust in Jesus alone so that we can see life through God’s point-of-view. 

Please free feel to comment below! I welcome any of your thoughts!

God Bless!

The Best Time Is Yet To Come

Resting in the glorious truth that God is indeed fully sovereign and all-knowing over every single detail of our lives should give us all peace, assurance, and hope as we entrust every fabric of our being unto Him. Melwyn And Ruth Misquitta from Witness Ministries recently wrote the following blog entry regarding this importance of trusting in our all-sovereign Father at all times. I pray that you find it as encouraging, and spiritually-edifying as I did!

FAITH BOOSTER:

The Best Time Is Yet To Come [May 03, 2016]

WORD OF FAITH:

The vision is yet for an appointed time…Habakkuk 2:3, NKJV

The scripture says, “The vision is for an appointed time.” That means there is a specific time already determined for the fulfillment of the desires God has placed in your heart. The appointed time is the best time! We have to trust that God can see the big picture for our lives. He knows what’s up ahead. He knows what we’re going to need, who we’re going to need, and when they need to show up. If God did everything we ask on our timetable, it would limit us because sometimes, what we’re asking for is too small. Sometimes the person we think we can’t live without, God knows in ten years they’re not going to be good for us. So He is closing the door right now. Sometimes the promotion we want so badly, if God gave it to us right now, He knows it would keep us from a much bigger promotion that He has three years down the road.

Remember, God has the advantage of seeing it all. The longer I live, the more I trust Him. The more I see His hand of faithfulness, the more I know that His plan is better than my plan. Today, trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He has an appointed time, and it is the best time to bring to pass His promises in your life!

DECLARATION OF FAITH:

Father, today I put my dreams, desires, hopes and longings into Your loving hands. I trust that the vision You have given me is for an appointed time. I know Your timing is best so I will praise You until I see the promise in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Original Blog Entry:

https://witnessministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/the-best-time-is-yet-to-come/

Depression, Lake Michigan, and Jesus.

Thanks for sharing this post! I really enjoyed the illustrative imagery that you incorporated. Jesus truly is the Answer to each and every one of our problems. All that He asks is for our submission and trust. I am living proof of this reality.
Paul reassuringly tells us to, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”(Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

Heavenly Father,
May all of those who struggle in this and all other capacities of their personal lives surrender their lives to You just as they are. May Your transcendent peace transform them from the inside out as they continually trust in You!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

3 Confessions by Depressed Christians You Need To Know

This is an excellent post containing a very important message, particularly in light of the numerous misconceptions surrounding this vital topic.
In my humble opinion, the Church needs to be better educated on issues related to mental illness. This is so that we are better equipped on how to minister to the needs of believers who have some form of mental illness.
Mental illness is stigmatized enough in our current cultural landscape; the last thing believers need is more ignorance from their Church Family.