Are you most comfortable when you know ALL of the rules and feel like you are complying with them and are, therefore, blameless?
Even the rules that Yahweh gave to Israel in order to make them His nation can’t make you able to walk in righteousness. Only discerning the voice of the Ruler will make you have true comfort, and empower you to righteousness.
No one ever became righteous by obeying the laws that God gave Moses. Jesus displayed His righteousness by obeying those laws. He also displayed His righteousness by listening to His Father’s Spirit and complying with every desire He saw in His Father’s heart.
You can do that too. You can listen. You can trust Him to lead you. When you learn to hear your Shepherd’s voice and gain from Him the strength to obey Him, you have all that you need.
You don’t need rules at that point. You have the Ruler.
The Finish Line on your most important project is out of your reach and out of your control. As you approach it, it could change distance and direction. The adventures between where you are and where it is are yet to be surprising. Or astonishing, or disappointing…
The Start Line, however, is right in front of your toe.
Any changes that are made regarding the Prize or the location of the Finish Line can change lots of things about the path to the Finish Line, but the Start Line is always just ahead of your toe.
When I play chess, I think 3 moves ahead. I will do this, she will maybe do that. I will then do this (move 2), she might do that. I will then do this (move 3), she might do that.
I make my move, my opponent makes a move. I then think 3 moves ahead. I don’t just take the two moves left in my last decision about sequence. I completely refresh. New move 1 (maybe I keep the old move, but I decide afresh). Maybe he will do this. Move 2, maybe he will respond this way. Move 3, maybe this response.
Every next move is the beginning of something. Your life can be like that. Every next decision or action can be the new Start Line.
Even if the last move was a mistake. The next move is Start.
A man had two sons. One was anxious to receive his inheritance, so he asked for it. The man gave each son his half of the estate in response.
The son who was anxious went out and wasted his inheritance. The other son stayed home and ran the farm. One day, the anxious son realized that his father had not thrown him out, but that he had left on his own, and could return to the farm at least as a servant. He went back home.
The father was looking for him and saw him coming from a distance. He instructed the servants to welcome him. He threw a welcome-home party.
The well-behaved son was angry that the wasteful son was being honored. He became jealous. He refused to come to the party. When the father pursued him, he complained that the father had never given him even a goat to have a party with his friends, and yet, when the wasteful one wandered back home, he had killed the best animal on the farm!
How much of “he divided his property between them” (Luke 15:12) do we miss regarding the provision we should recognize from our Father?
How much of “all that is Mine is yours” (Luke 15:31) do we not understand to mean that we should have the confidence of well-loved sons and daughters in the household of the King of Glory?
When we have a need, even when we have a desire, we should ask of our Father and expect to be loved and to be blessed.
Keith Greene was a musician, worshiper, and world class evangelist who met Jesus during the Jesus Movement of the 60’s & 70’s. He died in a plane crash while evangelizing in South America.
During his concerts, he would inspire evangelists in the crowd to charge the gates of hell to bring back unbelievers from damnation. He would convince everyone in the crowd who wasn’t an evangelist that they deserved to go to hell for not having a burning desire to evangelize the lost.
He was wrong. Everyone is not an evangelist.
We may never lead anyone through the “sinner’s prayer.” We may never answer a searching unbeliever’s questions. We do all have the privilege of influencing the unbelievers around us, though.
We are sons and daughters of the most impressive Person anyone will ever meet. The more you bear the fruit of His Spirit, the more you are introducing anyone near you to Jesus. Even without Spiritual gifts, Spiritual fruit can draw people to desire to know Him.
Gifts without fruit are just carnal expressions of God’s power. If you had to choose, I suggest you take fruit over gifts.
Happily, you don’t have to choose between the two. Choose both.
There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:10-15 NKJV
I got thrown out of a ministry once for refusing to sign a doctrinal statement that included the idea that a believer has not been baptized in the Spirit of God if he/she has not exhibited “the” evidence of having spoken in tongues. The erroneous emphasis on the gift of tongues being “the” only appropriate evidence of having been filled with the Spirit was what I disagreed with. Some people who Luke described having been baptized in the Spirit prophesied as their “evidence.” (Luke 1:67; Acts 4:31; 19:6)
I suggest that you ask the Spirit for the privilege of both prophesying and of speaking in tongues. As an extra, I suggest with Paul that you ask God that you may interpret tongues. Yours and other peoples’ tongues.
When you get the gift of interpretation, don’t be discouraged if most of what you hear spoken in tongues turns out to be just the noise of people trying to avoid being accused of not being able to prove that they have been baptized in the Spirit. Religion is everywhere…
If you want to know if someone has been baptized in the Spirit, look for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Agape, peace & patience are harder to fake than tongues or prophecy.
In “Knowing Religion,” I said that religion is a product of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul said that God knows how to talk to light. He told it to shine, and it did! God, Who knows more than that about light, is shining light in our hearts so that we have the light of the knowledge of His glory. It is the face of Jesus shining in our hearts.
When Moses asked to have His glory revealed to him, He showed him His back. Maybe, since Jesus was slain from the foundation of the earth, that was His back that Moses got to see. The stripes. Maybe…
We need to know His glory pretty desperately. 1 Corinthians 8:1 was written about good and evil type knowledge. There, Paul said that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Knowing Jesus, and knowing His glory, and bearing His fruit (Galatians 5), will build us up and we can share that power to build others up.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Ephesians 1:15-21 NKJV
All of my life as a believer, I have heard things that sound like, “Well, all the signs have been fulfilled – Jesus could come back today!”
I am not answering with scoffing that Peter warned about in chapter 3 of his second letter in the Book – but I am not expecting tomorrow to be interrupted by Jesus parting the sky.
Two major pictures in the Scriptures that make me think we could put off His return for another 1000 years by continuing to be pitiful are the events around the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5) and what He prophesied in Matthew 24 (v14) about “the end” coming – that the good news about His Kingdom would first be preached to every “ethnos.” We would, today I think, translate that idea to mean every “people group.” It means, in terms John heard in the Revelation (7:9) every nation; every tribe; every tongue.
I expect Jesus to return, and that it will be the most wondrous event the world has experienced up to that point. I believe that we need to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to every ethnos first, though, to open the door to His return.
We have counted the “people groups,” and we know how many have not been reached yet. Only, we are just counting the ones we have reached with the gospel of salvation: how to be a member of God’s Family. We have just realized in the last decade that the good news about the Kingdom is not how to be saved from damnation; it’s how to obey the King.
Hold your arms as far apart as you can. Hold your thumb and pointing finger in your right hand about 3 inches apart. All the space between your pinkies is how many believers there are with Spiritual gifts and, therefore, ministries. The space between your thumb and first finger are how many of them are ministries in a local congregation. All the rest are in education; in the marketplace; in industry; in government, etc.
Most of those people have been told that they are “the laity,” and that they don’t have ministries. They are not qualified due to lack of education and degree to presume to represent God.
Go tell them who they are. Preach the Kingdom. Hasten His return.
In Acts 9, the Spirit of God told Saul to expect a man named Ananias to come to him and restore his sight after he was blinded on his way to Damascus to harm believers.
The Spirit also told Ananias that Saul was expecting him, and that his sight would be restored when Ananias prayed for him.
Being led by the Spirit is only unusual because we are distracted from His voice by lots of noise. If you are not sensing His leading very often, spend time hiding from the demands of the earth and people, and spend time each day getting quiet and peace filled and listen.
He wants to talk to you!
Listening is a habit that is worth developing.
Paul, letter to believers in Rome: “…to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (8:6)
Carnal (flesh-related) mindedness IS death. Instant impact. No waiting. Great for the impatient. Spiritual mindedness IS life and peace. Just as fast, by faith.
When someone mentions the name of someone who annoys you, do you miss the good thing they are saying about the person?
When someone mentions the name of someone who stole from you, do you share the story of the theft?
Thieves and annoying people need to be freed from their failures. They need intercession – prayer for blessing. No one can bless them with more power or with more certainty of impact than one they have wronged.
If your mind is stuck in the past or on the flesh regarding painful relationships and experiences, let your spirit, under the influence of God’s Spirit, lead your mind to higher and better ideas and focus on improved futures becoming possible. Focus on freedom and eternity, and let the Spirit of agape fill you with what He thinks about when those people’s names are mentioned.
Justice and vengeance are not nearly as sweet as sacrificial intercession. That humble, loving kind of prayer reminds everyone in heaven of the cross.
The Spirit will enjoy it. You will learn to!