The Presence And The Power Of The Holy Spirit

The burden of my heart lately is that God's people be filled with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. With all that is going on in these current times, we truly need His presence and His power operating in and through us. Jesus doesn't have us here just to occupy space, and tread water. You and I are here to make an impact on our world! Oh, how we need His presence and His power to do so!

Many Christians believe that once a person is saved, that's all the Holy Spirit they get. But there is more. Certainly, salvation is the greatest event that could take place in any person's life. Salvation assures our righteousness in Jesus, and our place in heaven forever. But what about the rest of our lives here on the earth? You and I have come to know Jesus, not only for our sakes, but for the sake of those God wants to impact through us! I recently heard someone say of the Holy Spirit, "He is in me for my sake. He is upon me for your sake." Our destiny is to impact the world we live in with the love of Jesus in order to bring them to Him. This requires the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives....24 X 7. 

Jesus is the greatest example of how the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit (in Him and upon Him) impacted the whole world. As Savior of the world, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit had to be a part of His very essence. In the same way, we will see how the same applies to you and me. We need both the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit as we follow Jesus, and His example for us.

Let's look at Jesus from the very beginning of His life on earth. The angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary (Luke 1) and announced to her, "...You will conceive in her womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus." Can you imagine how this young teenager felt when it was said to her that she would give birth to the Messiah, Savior of the world? I respect her response. "How can this be since I am a virgin?" Gabriel responded, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." Clearly we see the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' life, even from conception. Later when He was born of the Virgin Mary, He was literally born of the Spirit, and born of a woman. In the same way, when we are "born again", we too are born of the Spirit of God, even though we were born also of the flesh. Just like Jesus, from the day the Holy Spirit begins to deal with our hearts, His presence is a part of our lives.

Jesus' life from birth demonstrated the presence of the Holy Spirit. But there was more. How wonderful it was that Jesus was literally born of the Spirit of God. Still, there was more. Jesus didn't come only to demonstrate the presence of the Holy Spirit. He also came to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit! When He was 30 years old something happened that launched Him into 3 1/2 years of ministry that changed the world! What happened? He was baptized in the Holy Spirit, which means He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17)

When Jesus was baptized in water, the heavens opened, down came the Holy Spirit upon Him, and as God expressed His approval, He called Jesus "My Beloved Son". There is so much happening here. But I want to key on one thing: The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. He was already born of the Spirit. But even Jesus, born of God, needed not only the presence, but the power of the Holy Spirit. I know I am born again by the same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb. I am as "born of the Spirit" now as Jesus when He walked the earth. But if Jesus needed to be empowered by the Spirit, so must I. Listen to the very next verse in Matthew 4:1. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Even though Jesus was born of the Spirit, the Bible doesn't say He was "led" by the Spirit until after the heavens opened and the Spirit came down upon Him! 

Why did He need the baptism in the Holy Spirit if He was born of God? Why did He need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit? You must understand what Jesus gave up even before He came to the earth. (Philippians 2:5-7), "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Jesus being equal with God, existed in the form of God. Yet He emptied Himself to come to earth as God's bond servant. He could not come as God, the Son (2nd Person of the Trinity), so He came as the Son of God, who was conceived of by the Holy Spirit, born of God, and born of a woman. Think about this. After Jesus, was baptized in water, when the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." The confirmation here is that God wants to powerfully anoint those (who are born of Him) with the power of the Spirit!

And one more thing about Jesus. He said, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me." (John 8:42) Any and everything Jesus did was directed by the Holy Spirit, who was now upon Him. He was so empty of Himself, He desperately needed the Holy Spirit to empower and lead Him every minute of every day. He is our example.

Just like Jesus, we must empty ourselves to become His servants. Upon simply asking, we become born again by the same Holy Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb, and later endued Him with power from on High! We must be so empty of ourselves, and the world, that we desperately depend upon Him for our every move. Some say, "The baptism in the Holy Spirit may be for you, but not for me." Yes He is for you. You just need to believe that He is for you. Simply ask Him to empower you as a servant of Jesus Christ. He will! Just believe it!

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2: 1-4) This is the infilling that will change your life, and your world! It will move your relationship with Jesus from mediocrity to a raging wonderful spiritual fire! This is the power the church must have in these current times. Ask Him for it, believe, and receive the precious baptism of the Holy Spirit! He is eagerly waiting for you!

(The Presence and The Power of the Holy Spirit (Part 2) coming soon.)

A Message To The Church

If you know me, you know I am not a doom and gloom proclaimer. However, when I feel God has spoken to me, I jump on every opportunity to share it. And sometimes what God speaks can be scary. It is really not to scare us, but to motivate us to action by revealing the seriousness of a situation. The awesome thing about our God is that He always warns us of impending situations, and tells us what we must do to avoid such situations. The ball is then in our court. Whether we heed Him or not determines the outcome of the situation.

The situation is that our nation is at a major crossroads due to the upcoming mid-term elections. The left is determined to impeach President Donald Trump, especially if the Democrats gain control of the congress in November. If you are a born again Christian, whether Republican or Democrat, you need to pray that this will not happen. Why? Because it is quite evident that Christianity (along with the nation of Israel) will come under heavy attack if the "Left" gains control.

Because our nation is founded on the Christian principles of God's Word, when Christianity has flourished in our nation, it became a blessing and a light to the world. It's not that God cares more for the United States than other nations. It's that God has been able to use a nation established upon Him, to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus. This is very significant, and demonstrates that God so loves the whole world.

From my Christian perspective, I am convinced that God has given the United States of America a reprieve in President Trump. Our nation was headed far away from God at breakneck speed under past leadership. It seems as if the direction was set and established. The Republican and Democratic establishments were uniting for the purpose of destroying our autonomy as a nation. Patriotism was promoted as being politically incorrect. We were rapidly becoming part of the new world order, (aka., One World Government). But then, out of nowhere, Donald Trump wins the Presidential election! This completely derailed the vision of the left. And the truth is, the battle wasn't over, it had just begun. Everything President Trump represents is doom for the left. They (along with the Republican establishment) abhor him. The left is committed to destroying President Donald Trump because He abruptly put a stop to their progress. His very presence in Washington will cause much of the corruption in the swamp to be exposed. For some, President Trump represents the end of a dishonest and corrupt political career. Why? Because he truly cares about the citizens of our great nation.

If God put President Trump in place, only God can remove Him. However, for that to continue to be the case the church must pray. You see, God is warning us now that our future is in danger. We cannot be passive anymore and assume someone else will pray. Believer, you must pray! You must set aside the time and the energy to pray. You must set aside your political affiliation and pray for God's move in the upcoming elections! Understand that your freedom to live for Jesus and proclaim the Gospel is in grave danger.

Paul said to Timothy, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." (See 2 Timothy 3:1-9) He went on to say that men will love self, money, be boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, malicious gossips, etc. He said some will even try to appear godly, but will be exposed because of their lack of supernatural power. We cannot lay down in our prayers just because the Bible predicted these difficult times. Paul went on to refer to Jannes and Jambres opposition of Moses as opposition of the truth. He compared them to the present day (last days) folks listed above. Listen to their outcome: "But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also." (Vs. 9) God is beginning to expose the deeds of those who oppose Him; those who want to bring down our nation ultimately so we cannot proclaim and share the Gospel of Jesus within and abroad.

And finally, VOTE in the upcoming mid-term elections. And pray! If you are truly a born again Christian, vote according to the principles of the Word of God, not some political platform. God's principles are forever. Our political preference dies when we do. And when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we will answer to Him for our works as believers in the earth. Did I obey Him, or some political establishment platform?

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How's Your Antsy Level?

I recently was traveling from Gainesville, Georgia to Elkmont, Alabama. I like to travel, but I get a bit antsy when delayed a bit. Being on a Saturday I figured traffic through the ATL wouldn't be bad at all. I was wrong. When I got in the downtown area, everybody within several counties decided to show up! What's this? I mean all the pro teams were out of town for the weekend. I kept my focus on Jesus however, as He compelled me to view some of the sites that normally I can't view because of the rush of traffic through the area. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the buildings were gleaming under the blue skies. I hadn't noticed before. I actually began to enjoy it! I finally got through metro ATL, and headed out of town on I-20.

My plan was to shorten the trip by avoiding Birmingham. I took some backroads to I-65. The drive was beautiful. This route took me over some extremely beautiful lakes, and through some foothills. This was cool. Just before I crossed over I-59 I discovered a Starbucks in a truck stop. What a great place to refuel, I thought to myself. (Actually I said it out loud.) Oh, and I would get some gas too!

I made it to I-65 North avoiding Birmingham and putting me only about 45 minutes from my destination. As soon as I got on the interstate the traffic came to a complete stop! No! Yes! A complete stop! When it did move again, it was only for about 20 feet, and then it would stop again. As it turns out, it was road construction. Road construction? On a Saturday afternoon? This was totally and completely UNACEPTABLE!  I could feel my antsy level beginning to rise again. But then something happened. I looked to my right and beheld the most beautiful sight (see photo above). My antsy level began to sink rapidly! As a matter of fact, it disappeared. God's peace began to overwhelm me. I hadn't noticed before, but I was stopped on a long bridge. It was the bridge over the Tennessee River. What a view God provided for me, simply to make my travel more enjoyable! Is He good or what! (The preceding was actually a statement, not a question.)

Knowing God by being a follower of Jesus Christ is the greatest adventure of my life. Having the Creator of the universe do seemly insignificant things to make my day better shows me I am infinitely significant to Him! By the way, after I had taken in the beauty of the Tennessee River from an exalted view; and after I had taken a couple of photos, the traffic started moving again. I arrived in Elkmont a happy, blessed traveler because of God's simple goodness toward me!

That's the way our God is. He loves you and me. He's a good, good Father. He cares for you, and what you may feel is insignificant.  But remember, nothing about you is insignificant to God. He loves you and wants to bless you in special ways.

Here is my recommendation to you. This comes from my own personal experiences. The next time your antsy level starts rising, look around. Listen and observe. God wants you to see something; something that will bless you to the bone! He's a good God.

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Something For Nothing?

I have spent some years working in retail management. I could probably write a book and fill it with unique encounters I had with customers. Once a man approached me (as a manager) and asked me if he was getting a discount on his purchase. I asked him why. His answer was that he had to walk from the men's department (where currently the register was closed), to the women's department to an open register. The distance was about 25 yards...maybe. Let me add that at that point of the day traffic was very slow. It was normal for us to leave certain registers closed until later in the day when traffic increased. My answer to him was a pretty solid, but extremely nice "No". His was reply was, "You can't blame a guy for trying!" I thanked the gentleman for his business and he went on his way. Actually, this particular encounter was a little humorous!

But then there are those customers who can really be unreasonable about getting something for nothing. In my early days of retail I encountered a customer who brought back a completely flattened, rather large, 6-volt flashlight. This brand offered a life-time warranty. However, one condition not covered was neglect. It was quite obvious to me, this flashlight had been extremely neglected! As a matter of fact, the man told me he had run over it with his truck. When I told him I couldn't help him because the flashlight did not simply stop was flattened like a pancake, he demanded to see a manager. The manager came and told him the same thing I told him. He jumped up and down, screamed, and said "This is false advertising! You said this had a life-time warranty!" My manager tried to show him where it clearly said neglect would not be covered. Then he began to argue that this was not neglect. He just didn't realize the flashlight was lying in the middle of his driveway. Sounds pretty much like neglect to me! My manager finally gave in to the guy and gave him another flashlight just to keep him from making a scene. If this man was right in the head (which I am sure he was), he knew he was taking advantage of the situation and getting something for nothing.

So let me share one more encounter. A man came in with an item that was literally destroyed. His angle was that our receipt said "Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back." He said he was no longer satisfied with the item. It was obliterated! He tore it up. He wanted a new one. Forget warrantees. Some how he had torn it up and thought he should have a new one. And because it was torn up, he wasn't satisfied with it anymore! We ended up having to give him a new one, and if I remember correctly, it was so old, we didn't have anything close! He took advantage of an honest promise on the back or our receipt that was made to help folks who really needed it. Oh, did I mention, several years back the company took that saying off the back of the receipts due to so many people taking advantage of it the wrong way. Those who were truly honest, and truly deserved help were the ones who lost out on that one.

The desire to get something for nothing permeates all cultures. I would say it is part of the human, fallen nature. There are certain "worldly" traits we should grow out of, especially if we are followers of Jesus Christ. I know someone is thinking "The grace of God is a free gift." Yes it is. But is it really something for nothing? I don't think so. Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) So on the one hand, you can gain the whole world, but because you forfeit your soul it profits you absolutely nothing. On the other hand the last part of that Scripture says that in order to save your soul, you give everything. Here's another way to say it. If you gain the whole world, in light of eternity, and in light of God's kingdom you really have NOTHING. And what will you give in exchange (salvation) for your soul? EVERYTHING!

The truth is, God's grace is a gift we didn't deserve. But to receive and walk in this gift, we must give Jesus everything. So God's gift of salvation is not something for nothing. The price for our sins is the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. To receive this gift my entire life becomes His. Oh, but what a deal!

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