Spiritual Power by Clinton Bezan

When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, he said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I will give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14. Later, in the temple Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:37-38. What Jesus was talking about in these passages is the Holy Spirit. 

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they were filled with extraordinary power and they spoke in tongues, preaching to the crowd so that everyone including visitors could hear the message of the wonders of God in their own language. This baptism of the Spirit spread with the early Church and continues today. Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 3, how the power of God is capable, “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,” Ephesians 3:20-21. This kind of power gives believers more conviction, more wisdom and more effective witness for Christ which brings more glory to the Father. We are called to seek the power of the Spirit so we can live the Spirit filled life we were designed to enjoy.

If we expect to have an intimate relationship with Christ as a bride desires with her husband, without the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we will be left wanting. By relying on our own efforts to live the Christian life, we will have a flat, impersonal, disappointing, and empty faith experience. Furthermore, we will always be in danger of Satan’s powers of deception and temptation, since it is the Spirit that gives us discernment to understand and recognize the truth of scripture and the power to resist the devil. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17.

The Bible records the history of the Israelites as they wandered in a cycle of obeying God and being blessed followed by becoming complacent in their blessed state and subsequently falling into disobedience and capitulating to the enemy resulting in defeat at the hands of other nations. This cyclical nature of obedience and disobedience continues in our civilization today and reveals the fallen state of man and the immense compassion of God. When we are left to our own devices, and ultimately fail, we cry out to God and he hears our prayers and answers. We then become blessed and become complacent only to fail once more. Man cannot maintain a sustainable, intimate relationship with God by our own power.

God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us to help us endure the temptations of this world as well as to enable us to perform good works of love and compassion and other fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit testifies within us that we belong to God. Jesus said the Spirit will live within us, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. Paul tells us, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:12.

The Holy Spirit within us is something that allows us to have unique fellowship with God. It is something the Jews could never obtain, with the exception of the precious few who walked with the Lord. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit in us is confirmation that we will not only be capable of imitating Christ in our lives, we will one day be resurrected as Christ was. “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11.  Our hope in Christ is not a wishful hope but rather an expectant one, confident in the knowledge that we have a heavenly inheritance. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…..” 1 Peter 1:3-4.

We need to pray to receive the fullness of the Spirit and the fullness of God. By spending time in prayer, we open our hearts and minds to receiving God’s Spirit and experiencing his love. When you open the lines of communication to send messages to God, you also open the lines to receive communication from him. When he does speak to us, we must heed the call and act upon it. If we ignore God when he speaks to us, or resist his calling, he may stop communicating until we are ready to listen. Our restrained hearts and unbelieving minds can effectively shut down the lines of communication.

By immersing ourselves in God’s word, we can displace the worldly distractions that interrupt our focus on God and put on the full armor of God which includes, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17.  For the same reason that diets don’t work until you permanently change your eating habits, if we want to be spirit filled Christians, we have to change our daily routine to include Christ, who is the Bread of Life. We should be expectant that the Holy Spirit within us will fill us with power according to God’s word. We need to speak the word of God in our prayers because God does not contradict himself, and be able to quote the word of God when we rebuke Satan just as Jesus did. “For it is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mathew 4:4.  We must know the word of God, so it is written in our hearts and on our minds (Hebrews 10:16).

As we spend more time in scripture, the Spirit brings the word to life and we understand it more fully and completely as our spirit is awakened within us. What seems nonsense to non-believers, is recognized as both truth and wisdom to the Spirit within us. The deep, multi-layered, hidden meaning in scripture becomes obvious, comprehensive and intelligible. Through the word of God, the Spirit testifies that we are indeed children of the Most-High and that he is our Father. Without the Holy Spirit, however we can gain in knowledge of the Bible and miss the meaning and truth of scripture. The Pharisees knew the scriptures but still lacked the discernment to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The Holy Spirit provides discernment to navigate a life of righteousness.

True believers are Spirit filled believers. In the third chapter of John, a Pharisee named Nicodemus asks Jesus what being born again meant. “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised by me saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8. This is such a critical passage of scripture, yet it is often overlooked. Here lies the difference between true Christians and those who are Christian in name only. This is the reason that so few find the narrow gate!

Christ came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10). He didn’t die on the cross so we could attend church on Sunday and live a life that is no different than non-Christians, continuing to endure a life of sin, to constantly question the reality of God or to struggle through life and at its end be filled with fear and apprehension. When Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished.” He meant it is finished! He paid our debt in full and all we have to do is claim that victory for ourselves by believing in him and allow him to take control.  This is not religion. It is not what most churches preach. The point of this discussion is the sincerity within your heart. The yearning to actually be saved and live the life of someone who has literally been pulled out of the jaws of the enemy and the very fires of hell! 

In Acts 1:8, Jesus is quoted as saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Being Spirit filled is part of the package and a sign of a true believer. Being Spirit filled sets true believers apart from everyone else in the world. It makes you different in ways that religion cannot, different enough that others may ridicule you. But your actions and words will display what is in your heart and show in the fruit of the Spirit, and there is no law against that. Your example will be able to lead others to Christ and will provoke people to ask the reason for your happiness and hope!

The Spirit within us activates our desire to do God’s will. This “mystery” as Paul calls it, is the complete reverse of observing the Law in order to gain God’s forgiveness. What perplexed the Jews became the blessing of the Gentiles. All of the prophesies regarding the Messiah that were never understood throughout the Old Testament and the stubbornness of the people of Israel that made them reject Christ, became the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bless all nations through him. The Holy Spirit was now free to everyone, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:26-27.  

The Holy Spirit is something we are to ask for. Jesus said, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13.

All Christians ought to earnestly seek to be filled with the Spirit so that they are overflowing with joy, celebrating salvation and overcome with the desire to share the gospel with others so that they too can experience this joy. Being filled with the Spirit may manifest itself in speaking in tongues but it doesn’t have to. It may result in total submission and reckless abandon of one’s self to God. It could come gradually, through immersion into God’s word, bible study, prayer, fellowship or worship, or it may include all of these. When we become filled, we empty ourselves onto others in love and seek to be filled again and again in a cycle of servitude, witnessing and blessing.

Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:1. When we surrender to God and allow the Spirit to take control of us, we stop focusing on the things that are of worldly importance and instead things that are of heavenly relevance. We grow in our faith and mature in our Christian walk. To the Ephesians Paul warned, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15-19.

Do not be confused by society’s current trend of emphasizing “spiritual” experiences based on feelings. Our authority as Christians comes through the promise of God’s word. What makes “spiritual” experiences so dangerous for the naïve is, they have no idea what “spirit” they are dealing with and spiritual deception is a field that Satan specializes in. When people empty their thoughts through yoga, meditation or other mediums, they leave the doors wide open for evil spirits to enter and take up residence. The bible teaches, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1. 

Since we are saved by grace and not by works, the Holy Spirit within us inspires us to do that which is good thereby fulfilling the requirements of God’s law. This is impossible to do by our own power. Anyone who thinks they can resist temptation on their own, without the power of the Holy Spirit is both arrogant and disillusioned. It cannot be done. Remember what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, that if you even think about a sin, you are guilty of committing it since you have already committed it in your heart.

We are called to be holy as Christ was holy, and that bar is set so high that we cannot do it without him. Paul spends a great deal of time on this challenge in the book of Romans and specifically in chapter eight. He begins by saying, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8: 1-7

Psalm 139:23-24 reflects the desire to follow the Holy Spirit, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Being open to the Holy Spirit and willing to follow his leadership requires full submission and sincerity in your focus when you discern that he is speaking to you. I have found that I need to respond immediately to his subtle prompting, or the opportunity is lost for the moment. When I see the hand of God in my life as a result of my response to him, it is confirmation that indeed it was the Spirit speaking to me and I gain confidence in identifying when he is leading me.

Once you’ve experienced this it becomes very evident that as you draw near to God, through prayer, reading his word, walking in obedience and sincerely seeking him, your perspective shifts to spiritual thoughts of pleasing God. The things of this world that seemed so important to the old you, quickly fade into the outer circles of your existence and you become focused upon the things of heaven. The realization that your body is just a vessel that will be discarded when you leave this earth changes your outlook to things that are eternal in nature rather than that which is only temporary.

This reorientation of your deepest thoughts requires discipline and commitment to not allowing sinful thoughts to enter into your mind and heart. It is the steadfast assertion of self-control. Not allowing your sinful nature to gain a foothold results in sinful thoughts being displaced by honorable thoughts. Your new mindset will become the new pattern for your life. You will know what true freedom is, knowing there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). You will long for the things of God and want to spend time in his word. As the Psalmist wrote, “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray away from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119: 5-11.

Furthermore, once you have completed the transformation to a Spirit filled believer, you will no longer belong to the world, nor will you “fit” into the world. Your old friends may see you as strange and label you as a religious extremist or fundamentalist. Your values will reflect your mindset as you think about heaven and God and their roles in your life and future. John the apostle wrote, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19.

John goes on to instruct believers, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. Your pride in your possessions, your passion for your favorite sports team, your emphasis on high achievement, entertainment and all the things you may have at one time thought defined you, will no longer seem important and in fact, you may abandon them altogether.

I am reminded of a conversation I had once with a woman who considered herself a Christian, and when I mentioned that I attended weekly Bible studies as well as a weekly men’s prayer group she commented that she wasn’t “that” kind of Christian. Many people identify as Christians however they cannot or will not let go of their worldly loves and passions and they give Christ little or no contemplation outside of Sunday church services. Their lives closely resemble the lives of non-believers in the things they do and the values they hold. When you live in this way, you are unaware of the danger of your folly and the slippery slope you tread upon. I know firsthand because I lived this way myself for many years.

The tragedy of this is the impotency of your Christian walk of faith and the unnecessary hardship you self-impose by denying yourself the blessings God has for you when you rely upon him for your strength and not yourself. There is no righteousness in saying, “I did it my way.” Unfortunately, a multitude of people who call themselves Christians, who have not taken up their cross to follow Jesus, place their own salvation in jeopardy by living this way. Someone once said, “What a heartbreak it would be to live an ‘almost’ Christian life, then ‘almost’ get to heaven.”  Knowing this, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mathew 7:13-14.

One of the greatest opportunities for mission work there is, lies within the Church itself. The misconceptions proclaimed from the pulpit of many churches has led to vast numbers of congregants missing the mark in their beliefs. Our mortality places obvious restraints on the time we have to get this right, therefore it is imperative that Christians are not misled and fully understand the implications of scripture. That is why it is of utmost importance to attend a Bible based church and not rely on your own interpretations of ministry. While attending a Church does not make you Christian, fellowship and accurate teaching provide much needed vibrance and growth opportunities to your Christian experience.

The problem with living by faith and in the Spirit, is it is so simple. Many theologians, clergy and academics find it too simple to believe. They waste time and energy seeking something that isn’t there. In order to receive the Holy Spirit, you firstly need to be thirsty. The learned aren’t the thirsty, the people who are desperate to escape the shackles of sin are. The disciples received the Holy Spirit and were transformed, moving from the promise of salvation through the Old Testament or “old covenant” to the salvation of the New Testament. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit. In the same way that God breathed life into Adam, the resurrected Jesus breathed the Spirit into the disciples after the resurrection. He gave them new life. They became born again. Into a new life of victory over sin, death, the grave and Satan in Jesus Christ.

This is where the paths of religion and faith diverge, and true believers meet Jesus in a personal encounter with the risen Christ. This isn’t just believing doctrine and confessing your belief and then calling yourself a Christian. This is passing from death to life. This is becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus. No one can meet Jesus and remain unchanged. You can go to a church and read doctrine and learn church dogma and never be changed, but when you meet Jesus you cannot remain unchanged.

This is why the doctrine of transubstantiation which declares the presence of Christ in the Eucharist cannot be scriptural. If it was, every person would have a true Christ encounter each time they participated. Sadly, most who partake in the Eucharist as a religious ceremony are left unchanged and unmoved by the ritual. Paul wrote, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Roman’s 8:16.

The disciples did not become effective witnesses for Christ until they received the Holy Spirit. They didn’t make a difference in the world until Pentecost, when they began to speak in tongues and people heard the gospel in their own language and about three thousand people were added to the Church that day. The Bible says the Holy Spirit descended on them with the sound of a mighty wind. Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8.

When you are baptized with the Spirit you gain insight into scripture. The Bible comes alive and you can interpret it clearly and without training, just as Peter immediately began to explain the scriptures at Pentecost.  Speaking in tongues is evidence of this baptism. You are not automatically baptized with the Holy Spirit when you accept Christ. In the nineteenth chapter of Acts, Paul asks the believers at Ephesus if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, to which they replied, “’No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:2-6.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’” Isaiah 29:13.  The Bible tells us how critical it is to seek God with all of our hearts to find him and not to settle for less. On the day of the wedding feast you do not want to hear “I do not know you.” John wrote, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:4.  It is also written, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. Titus 1:17. And finally, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:6. These so-called Christians are actually non-believers.

The eternal perspective of the hope in our hearts sets us apart from non-believers as we refrain from wild parties, drugs and alcohol abuse. We long for Jesus to return and take us with him and to leave this sinful world behind. Peter put it this way, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:1-5.

In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul wrote, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23.  As the world we observe today is even more so groaning under the weight of mankind’s sin than it was 2,000 years ago, believers today can identify with the anguish of witnessing the terrible evil that mankind is capable of and we too, emphatically yearn to leave this world behind and go to heaven to be with our Father. Whether that is through the rapture or inevitable death we do not know but it is our blessed hope.

Not only does the Holy Spirit within us guide our thoughts and actions, he also guides our prayers as we pray according to God’s will. True believers will pray in the Spirit as they are sensitive to the Spirit’s influence upon their hearts, and when they are exasperated beyond words, he will intercede on their behalf, as Paul tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27.

God knows what is in our hearts. He knows before we pray, what we will pray for. The Psalmist wrote, “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4  When we are submissive to the Holy Spirit, we cannot help but pray the will of God. Our desires are his desires and we hope for the outcome that he wills. We long for the day when there will be no more tears, no more pain or mourning or death. All of us as believers in Christ wish for the triumph of good over evil. The final climax of earthly history when evil is cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. 

As your faith grows and your relationship with God matures, you will endeavor to feel that closeness to the Lord more and more. You literally want to walk in God’s footsteps. To know his thoughts. To submit yourself totally to him, so that you can be filled to the point of overflowing with his Spirit each and every day. What’s interesting is that when you get to this point of realization, and the appreciation for God’s grace to you is full and you are humbled to your knees because you know you don’t deserve it, you want to share it.

This is where things can get complicated. In the depths of your soul, you know full well that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was an act of unbounding, immeasurable love. And so, you feel loved, and you want others to experience this overwhelming, all-encompassing love, so you tell those who mean the most to you as well as people you interact with in your community, or work with. However, they still see the old you and their reactions aren’t what you expected. They see you as a hypocrite, someone who used to do the things that you say they shouldn’t do. Because they don’t understand God, they don’t understand you. They accuse you of trying to shove your “religion” down their throat, when all you want to do is share the joy you feel.

Jesus met this same resistance when he taught in the synagogue in Nazareth and was driven out of town (Luke 4:16-30). The divisive effect the Spirit has when you submit to him is what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Mathew 10:34.  Paul goes on to say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

Don’t be discouraged when friends and/or family turn away from you because of your faith in Christ and your commitment to walk in obedience to him. You are born again. You are a new creation. You are called to live for the glory of God and not of man, therefore remain strong and cling to the revelation that opened your eyes and saved you when you first believed. Pray for those who condemn you for your beliefs, that the scales will be removed from their eyes and their hearts will be softened and that God will speak to them and call them to repentance.

God is love. So, we are called to love. Jesus gave us two commands. “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mathew 22:37-40. God loves us so much that he sent his only son to die for us (John 3:16). You Are My King (Amazing Love), written by Billy James Foote, captures the essence of this in its lyrics, “Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my King would die for me.” When we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit we are filled with love. Never stop loving those who don’t agree with you for the choices you have made to accept God’s grace.

As we continue to walk in the Spirit, in submission to God, he fills us more and more and our lives begin to reflect his will and our desire to sin becomes less and less. By spending more time with God, we subsequently spend less time focusing on the things of the world, and the gravitational influence of sin becomes weaker and weaker.  We understand that sin breeds sin but love is contagious and it is love we truly crave.

Paul tells us in Romans 8:14-17, “For those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

God promises great blessings to those who follow Christ. We are destined to spend eternity with Jesus as co-heirs to the kingdom of heaven. We are accepted as family through the blood that Christ shed on the cross, fully adopted and welcomed as blood brothers and sisters. We also have immediate blessings in the freedom we can enjoy knowing we are saved and are able to live a life of true happiness and peace. 

Take courage in the fact that there is no name under heaven higher than the name of Jesus. Paul concludes Romans 8 with the powerful affirmation that Christ is above all. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39.

True believers in Christ are led by the Holy Spirit, that like the wind, blows where it pleases. They are free from religious constraints, free from the shackles of sin and the guilt of sin and freed by the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. True believers live in anticipation of the return of Jesus, filled with longing for his appearing and are confident to boldly proclaim Christ as crucified and resurrected. True believers don’t fear that their destination beyond death is uncertain and know fully well that God will pour his wrath out onto an unrepentant world and end all evil on the coming day of the Lord. 

The apostle John was given unique insight when he was shown what he wrote in the book of Revelation.  Sometimes referred to as the apocalypse of John, it often receives a connotation of destruction or Armageddon. However, the way the Greek language uses apocalypse and the way John wrote, implies something entirely different. Apokalypsis or unveiling is a more accurate meaning for the context in which John wrote. 

With this in mind we can discern that Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. Everything happening in our world is in accordance to God’s plan. What remains hidden to those who are spiritually dead is that God is in complete control and the Holy Spirit reveals this understanding to those who are saved. The greatest hidden reality is that Jesus Christ, who was crucified and rose, is alive today. The lamb that was slain stands in the middle of the throne of God. This isn’t some glimpse into the future, it is present tense. The Spirit reassures us that Jesus is in fact in the process of fulfilling all prophecy. 

The Holy Spirit provides discernment and wisdom in interpreting scripture.  While I have no formal training in theology, I can say with confidence that what I say and write are correct and in agreement with God’s word. I do not consider myself a better Christian than anyone else and my intent is not to condemn others but to highlight the genuine need within the Church to fully repent and acknowledge the Bible as the authoritative word of God. The Spirit within me leads me to truth.  

We can therefore put our minds at ease having the Holy Spirit within us to inspire us to do good works and produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit motivates us to do the right things for the right reasons in a humble manner and to give the glory to God, and not to elevate ourselves. If we desire the accolades of men and want to be seen as a great philanthropist or donate for show or simply a tax deduction, we will not be pleasing God, just men. The Spirit within us leads us to act in love. Paul says it best in the well-known scripture from his first letter to the church at Corinth.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13.

God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is love.

~ Clinton Bezan, author.

Read more of Clinton’s posts on his LinkedIn platform.

Lost In Prayer by Dr. D. Richard Ferguson

We would pray more if we enjoyed it more. But it’s hard. We get distracted and our minds wander. Lost in Prayer is more than a devotional. It’s a tool for guided prayer and meditation on God’s Word. The questions will stimulate your thoughts to enable you to think deeply about the Scriptures, and the prayer prompts will keep your conversation with God moving.” — Dr. D. Richard Ferguson (B.A., M.S.L., D.R.S.)

Lost In Prayer: Psalm 23 from Dr. Ferguson’s book –

Lost In Prayer.

PSALM 23:1-3

Prepare

3Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)

Before attempting to approach the presence of God, we must make sure we have clean hands and a pure heart. So begin today with a time of confession.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me.”
(Psalm 139:23-24)

Ask God to reveal any sins in your heart you have not confessed. Then confess them and ask God to cleanse you. Seek his forgiveness even as you forgive and release those who have sinned against you.

“Turn my heart towards your statutes.” (Psalm 119:36)

Ask God to turn and incline your heart toward what he has for you in today’s passage.

Your Deepest Desire

Earnestness is the key to answered prayer. What is the deepest, most driving desire in your heart today? Cry out to God for that.

Meditate

The 23rd psalm begins with the famous line, The LORD is my shepherd. Not everyone can say that. Jesus spoke of sheep that are not in his fold. As you read the psalm, try to answer this question: What does it mean to have a shepherd-sheep kind of relationship with God?

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:1-6)

What does it mean to have God as your shepherd? The answer is summed up in the first line.

NIV: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

CSB: The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

NLT: The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.

Having God as your shepherd is an absolute guarantee that you will have everything you will ever need to carry out your purpose in life—everything you need to please the Lord by doing his will.

You will lack some things—most things. But you will never lack anything you need. Talk to God about that for a moment.

Of all the things we need that our Shepherd supplies, which one does he mention first?

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)

Quiet rest. Why do you think he starts there? Why is rest the starting point for us to glorify God?

What does it say about our relationship to our Shepherd when we are so skittish that we can’t rest?

What would it look like in your life right now for you to rest in a greater way?

The rest God provides is connected with food and drink.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)

Contemplate the analogy. What benefits come to your body from food and drink?

Now consider what it means to receive those benefits in your soul.

Talk to God for a moment about what it means to receive those benefits directly from your Shepherd.

“He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:3)

What kinds of things happen to your soul that make it empty or depleted or in some way in need of renewal?

What kinds of results would you expect when God renews your soul?

We run low on strength and become weak.
We run low on hope and get discouraged.
We run low on faith and become fearful and worried.
We run low on joy and become enamored with the world’s cheap substitutes.
We run low on love and become self-focused.
We run low on humility and develop inflated self-importance.

Everything we need in life, we tend to keep running out of. But God renews us, restores us, and enlivens us when life itself is draining away. What are some recent examples of God doing that in your life?

Express your gratitude to God for doing that.

The next benefit that comes from having God as your shepherd is guidance.

“He restores my soul. He guides me ….” (Psalm 23:3)

One of the most important signs that you have God’s favor is when he guides you. But what destination does he guide you to? Think of the last few times you prayed for guidance. What destination were you asking God to guide you to?

What is the destination God promises to guide us to in verse 3?

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Most people seek guidance into the most pleasant outcome rather than the path of righteousness. Are there any adjustments you need to make in what kind of guidance you seek from God?

Verse 3 is the first time in the psalm a reason is given for one of the benefits we receive.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

How does God’s guidance make his name famous?

What could you do to contribute to the fame of his guidance?

Pray for Others – Your Pastor

Ask God to enable him to rest in his Shepherd and take delight in receiving spiritual food and drink and guidance.

Pray the same for anyone else the Lord has laid on your heart.

Pray for the kingdom of God to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thanksgiving

Delight yourself in the Lord. Think of two or three of the most wonderful blessings God has given you in the past year. Take delight in him and express your gratitude.

Take it with You

Pick one thought from this meditation that you want to carry with you. What can you use as memory cues in the upcoming day to help you bring that thought to mind at least twice more today?

Dr. D. Richard Ferguson (B.A., M.S.L., D.R.S.) at drichardferguson.com


Dr. Ferguson’s books are the fruit of 25 years of pastoral ministry and biblical counseling, formal theological training at Denver Seminary, and Trinity Theological Seminary, and a deep, lifelong passion for God’s Word.

Dr. Ferguson lives in Colorado where he and his wife Tracy planted two churches and now enjoy their three grown children and five grandchildren.

He currently hosts the Food For Your Soul podcast.

Is There Hope for a Chaotic World? by Clinton Bezan

We live in perilous times. The middle east is a hotbed of divergent nations bent upon a collision course in the near future, with Israel at center stage.  Europe is rioting, Russia, China and the U.S.A. are posturing for military supremacy, and the entire world is on edge. The middle class is shrinking, as the most-wealthy get richer and the average citizen becomes squeezed between rising costs and stagnant income. The poor are getting poorer.  The balance of power seems to be in the hands of a precious few as the top 1% now hold over 50% of the world’s wealth. As uncertainty and perplexity increase, the stage is being set for globalization to succeed in establishing a one world government. Anyone with the magic formula for world peace will emerge as an instant hero and hold the very life of the planet in their hands.  

Woan raising hands to the sky
photo by Daniel Reche on Pixabay

World societal values have become flashpoints of dissent as subjective morality and opposing worldviews vie for validation on social media, in the news and in the streets. The climate change debacle threatens to upset world economies as national perspectives vary, and science has demonstrated its partisan bias to the sources of its funding.

With the population of the planet projected to be 8.6 billion by 2030 and 9.8 billion by the year 2050, our food supply is of critical importance and our production capabilities are about to be pushed to the extreme while our innovation in agriculture will face its biggest challenge in history. There are more people alive at this moment than have lived in the history of the world up until the last 100 years in all the previous centuries put together.

Where do the solutions lie? The debate over the fate of humanity is growing louder and louder and underlying the rhetoric, the insidious thirst for power and wealth undermines the desire for a sustainable earth and humanity’s well-being.  While the principalities and powers that gain from their financial investment in leading the world to believe their short-sighted narrative, most of civilization has been living a great big lie. Scientists have told us that all life has evolved from primordial bacteria, margarine is better for our bodies than butter and the world’s climate is changing at a pace that is about to end in catastrophe. Post modernism has left our society dazed and confused over gender, homosexuality, morality and purpose.

Many people dismiss the Bible as mythical and fictional based upon what they consider to be a lack of evidence for its authenticity or historicity, however when it is held to the same standard as other ancient documents of similar age, it can easily be considered authentic. There are thousands upon thousands of manuscripts with only minor variations in spelling and grammar that testify to the accuracy of the hand copied specimens of the 66 books of the Bible. Yet the Bible is continually challenged and criticized because unlike other literary compilations, it demands a response from the reader and lays claim to absolute truth.

Christians are often ridiculed for believing that Christ will come again soon. Scripture says we should not be surprised by this and in fact it is a sign that Christ’s return is imminent. “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 3:3-7.

It is no wonder that people are perplexed and fear for the future. From a secular perspective, things look rather bleak. The Bible talks about our time in history as the “last days” and describes our world today. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Luke 21:25-26.  Humanity is about to experience events that will traumatize everything that lives and imperil even the very earth and the universe we call home.

The Bible is the word of God and it foretells of the troublesome times upon the world today. So, fear not, take refuge in the Lord! “God is our refuge and strength, an ever – present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3. 

The moral dilemma we face today requires that we draw a line in the sand, in the face of confusion and political correctness. Philosophical secularism and subjective moral reasoning only serve to pacify minds that are in denial that the universe is finite, and we are all guilty of sinning against God. The Bible says “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”, 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Our only hope, in a world on the brink of disaster, is through the life altering love of Christ. Our actions will never change unless our hearts are changed.  

In my soon to be released book entitled “Truth Cries Out” I tackle many existential questions and take a deep dive into the eloquence and hidden truths in the Bible. If you are not positively sure of your eternal destiny, or if you are uncertain about world events and what they mean, I urge you to purchase a copy. In a rational and thought provoking narrative, I will take you on a journey into the very heart of our existence. Be prepared to be challenged. “Truth Cries Out” will be distributed worldwide in the coming weeks by WestBow Press wherever fine books are sold. If you prefer a digital presentation it will also be available as an ebook. Simply connect with https://www.westbowpress.com/bookstore for your copy.

My prayer is that you will be blessed and that your worries will be put to rest.  As Paul wrote, “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 minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.  Through faith in Christ and by walking in obedience to God, we can have hopes for tomorrow that are beyond our capacity to imagine! May God bless you with a courageous heart in a hostile world.  

~ Clinton Bezan

Scripture Quotes by Bethney Stanberry-Jacob

“When we desire change, when we have goals we wish to accomplish; we first need to ask ourselves- why? Why do I want to change this area of my life? Why is this a priority?..

We are obsessed in our culture with self-help, Instagram-able quotes, and tweet-worthy nuggets of wisdom. But none of this will ever bring transformation because it does not address the malady of our heart. The Gospel isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about a sick heart being made well. The work of the Holy Spirit is not a shallow and transient work; it is a deep and lasting work within us. Only when we see what’s in our heart can we cry out to the Lord for his mercy and grace to help us. Only then can we recognize that we cannot possibly attain what we really want in our own strength.

Ask the Lord to show you what is in your heart. He will certainly answer. He wants to heal your heart.”

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12 (AMP)

Read more of Bethney’s blog post on THE WHOLEHEARTED LIFE.


Because of her love for God’s Word, Bethney has opened an Etsy shop she calls THE WHOLEHEARTED HOME where she creates wall art based on scripture. Here are some of her beautiful printable designs.

Bethney has also written a Bible Study called “Greater Grace”. You’ll find that on the BOOKS page.

Blessings,

Lynne

Tracy Campbell ~ Artist

Some of our authors are talented artists too. Many are painters and designers. Tracy Campbell designs beautiful cross-stitch patterns and wall decor as well as creating adorable colouring books for children and adults. You can visit Tracy in her Etsy shop 🙂https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TracyCampbellDesigns

Here is a small collection of her cross-stitches.

Tracy has a large collection and adds to it often so be sure to ‘favourite’ her shop to keep in the loop.

Hari & Rudi by Andrew Ratcliffe

Hari & Rudi in the Land of Fruit

“This book is result of the dream I had in my youth. The details of my dream have helped me very much in my Christian life and now I’m sharing it with you.

This story, an allegory much like John Bunyan “Pilgrims Progress”, tells of two young teens who find themselves on a journey through a curious land learning about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The readers will find their adventure an inspiration full of valuable lessons in life.”

~ Andrew Ratcliffe

https://ratcliffescreativeworld.com/andrews-blog/

Why read a book? by Andrew Ratcliffe

Why Read a Book?

“Why Read a Book” by Andrew Ratcliffe

What was the reason that you last picked a book up from your bookshelf? Was it to dust it? Was it to replace it with an ornament? Or did you open it and read it?

We don’t see so many young people reading books these days. If it comes to that we don’t see so many adults reading books these days either. Too often they are keeping their mind occupied with the virtual world on their phone or an i-pad.

Whytoread.com has revealed that there are 10 main reasons why it is good to read. It will change your life. I have shown nine of those reasons below.

  • Reading enables you to learn new words and expressions. It gives you the tools necessary to help you to explain yourself to others. 
  • Reading will improve your focus and help you to concentrate. You can become so focused on your reading that you will be barely aware of the room in which you are sitting. Does that sound familiar?…

Read more of Andrew’s reasons for reading a book on his blog at https://ratcliffescreativeworld.com/2019/02/05/why-read-a-book/

Happy Reading!

Lynne

Love in Action by Andrew Ratcliffe

Andrew Ratcliffe’s blog is all about creativity, “Do what you love — Love what you do”. He obviously loves to write and he’s written a book for children to show them the fruit of the Holy Spirit, “Hari & Rudi In The Land Of Fruit”. His latest blog post is for us all to put love in action during the COVID-19 crisis.

In his blog, “Love In Action”, Andrew poses a question:

“Is kindness only an act in our lives or is it a lifestyle we are living out especially now in these difficulty’ times with COVID-19. Are we only making sure that our own cupboards are filled up to the brim and emptying all the shelves in the shops or are we thinking about others whom may not have the resources to fill their cupboards with the basic essential items they need to live? “

Read more on his blog at Andrew’s Blog — Ratcliffe’s Creative World


And read about “… two teens in northern England, skip school one morning and come upon a houseboat that’s been docked while the owners go shopping. They decide to explore the boat and have far more adventure than they anticipated when the craft comes loose from its moorings and carries them down the river and into a whirlpool. The boat breaks up and the lads are about to be sucked down to a watery death when they are miraculously rescued and facing an adventure of a far different kind. ...with the help of Joy, Peace, Love, Patience, Goodness and other fruit of the Holy Spirit, they learn important lessons in the Christian life.

A boy hanging of a giant apple
Go To Amazon

Happy Reading!

Lynne

Painting and Haiku by Janis Cox

Janis Cox creates beautiful watercolour paintings and is an avid poet. Here she writes in the form of Haiku with stunning art to compliment the poetry.

“I love writing Haiku because my thoughts are short but go right to the heart of the matter.

My paintings are becoming looser as I let God help me relax and let the paint flow.

I have heard many people say they can’t paint but I love this quote:

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

Hunger

Its flight path straight
The hummingbird heads with speed
Sweet nectar awaits ~ Janis Cox

Continue reading to see more of Janis’ paintings and read her other Haiku. https://www.janiscox.com/finding-fun-in-painting-and-haiku/

Happy Reading everyone!

Twenty-Twenty Vision by Carolyn Wilker

“As a friend put it, after a positive eye check-up early in the year, she hoped that this year her vision could be 20-20. That she could continue to see clearly and also look ahead to the new year with renewed courage.
Symbolic perhaps until we were hit with the coronavirus that has shut down so many businesses and left people, including me, wondering how long this will take to pass us by.


Is it anything like the Israelites getting the word to leave Egypt for the Promised Land, leaving other hardships behind to be faced by the Red Sea on one side, mountains on another, and their former captors coming after them? That would have been a dire situation. It terrified them, and they asked if they would have been better off staying where they were. Not unlike us now.”

Twenty-Twenty by Carolyn Wilker

Continue reading…


Carolyn Wilker is a writer from southwestern Ontario. https://www.carolynwilker.ca/about/ 

Happy Reading, Stay Safe and God Bless ~ Lynne

Help Fight Human Trafficking

A children's book cover about growing with God. By Janis Cox.

Purchase this delightful children’s book and all profits will go to helping to fight human trafficking through International Justice Mission. Shipping is included in the sale price!

Janis will also ship multiple orders to churches and schools.

Let’s end this!

Read Janis’ post about human trafficking.

Blessings,

Lynne

“Fog” by Janis Cox

Trees by a lake in fog
“Fog” by Janis Cox

Fog

God, I am dry
I feel the fog around me
I can’t seem to feel Your presence

You used to be so close
Every morning I would sit
And feel You around me

Now my mind is running
My head is pounding
That special silence doesn’t come

What is wrong, Lord?
Why do I feel this way?
How can I rekindle my prayer lif
e?

Silence

Then a word
A small word
“Ask Me to show you how.”

Lord, I truly want to hear from You
I need to feel that peace that evades me
I want to know You more

Still struggling

Now I hear that soft Voice
My Creator’s Voice
Just rest in Me and I will do the rest

Peace

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Read more by Janis Cox