Tag Archive | Holy Spirit

Pursuing Holiness

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do; for it is written, “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

© Depositphotos/ PetarPaunchev

I didn’t grow up going to church. I did, however, grow up hearing about church, and what I heard wasn’t very good. “It’s full of hypocrites, judgmental people who just want your money.” It was all a farce.

So here I am, a Christian, loving God, Jesus and the church He built. Why? How could I go from being taught the “church” is for fools to becoming the church myself?

People are people.

You don’t need to go to church to be judged. That happens in our own families. You don’t need to go to church to experience others hypocrisy. That happens in our places of work. You don’t have to go to church to be asked for money. That happens with our schools, sports programs, and countless non-profits.

We find these people at church because that’s just how people are. We are all pursuing something and we use the means we know to achieve what’s important to us, what we think we really want. In our brokenness we use and misuse the emotions and understanding God gives us. And if we are not careful, we will pursue what’s temporary and short-lived rather than what will last forever.

God is God.

I don’t go to church because of who people are. I go because of who God is. The church is not a building or a place we go. Church is the coming together of those who follow Jesus. In our brokenness we encourage and love one another. We support each other in our pursuit of Christ. And while not everyone who goes to church fully understands the temporary versus eternal, over time the pursuit becomes more clear.

The Pursuit of Holiness

I used to think of holiness as a vague, hard to understand religious term. What exactly is holiness and how do you know when you’ve achieved it? Is it about being perfect or following some set list of rules? And who decides what is perfect or on this list? Hopefully, it’s not the broken people at church.

In pursuing holiness, we are actually pursuing Jesus. It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can even want to pursue holiness. Jesus has set the standard, not the people at church, and it’s too high for us to achieve in our brokenness. We cannot be perfect in this lifetime and yet, in Him, we strive after Him. We strive after His perfection. His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead makes it possible for us to pursue holiness in this lifetime and achieve it in the next. It’s in our pursuing of Christ and His holiness that the Spirit of God transforms us into the image of Christ throughout our lifetime. It’s in the pursuit that the things of eternal importance win out.

Something to Consider…

What do you pursue in your life? You can look at your calendar and your back account, but I challenge you to look at your heart. If one thing in your life could change what would it be? What would be the source of that change?

In our pursuit, we do nothing on our own. The Spirit draws us to Jesus. He softens our hearts to hear and accept His grace and truth, and yet we can choose to participate in this pursuit. What one thing can you start doing to pursue Jesus and come to know holiness?

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A Work in Progress

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6

© Depositphotos/weerapat

© Depositphotos/weerapat

In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, you are a new creation.

And yet, we are still a work in progress.

Perfection is still some time off. The attitude or mentality of perfectionism says I must get it right. I must be fully capable before attempting because otherwise, I will mess it up. I’ll make a mistake. When we think we need to “get it right”, we often try to do this in our own power. When we miss the mark, we condemn ourselves and think this is how God must see us as well.

But we can and need to give ourselves permission to be a work in progress. As Philippians 1 says, the good work being done in us is a result of the power of Christ. God has drawn us toward Himself. He has deposited the Holy Spirit within us so we can know Him more and rely on His power within us.

God knows the healing that needs to take place in your life, in your heart. He knows the habitual patters of how you think, act and respond. God knows what needs to change in you so that you can be transformed into the new creation He  has already created you to be.

You may realize over time that some things are just different about you. You didn’t think much about it, but you see things or do things in a new way. Things you used to do have lost their appeal, while you are drawn to other things, other people, places and activities. Maybe you respond to situations with a new sense of peace or clarity.

There are also thoughts, attitudes and desires that God brings to your attention. He reveals issues and conditions of your heart that need to change. Knowing what God has shown you, with the knowledge and understanding of what He says about it, you now have the opportunity to do it differently going forward. God’s revelation is not a condemnation. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance of old ways and helps us choose to follow His new ways.

As a new creation, you have everything you need to live a life pleasing to God. Be patient with yourself as you trust Jesus to bring forth what He has already planted in your heart.

Something to Consider…

In what ways has God already made you a new creation? How has your thinking, attitude or desires changed since coming into a relationship with His Son, Jesus? Spend some time praising and thanking God for what He has already done.

How is God doing a work in you? In what new ways would you like to experience His work in your life? Be honest with God about what you know needs to change. He already knows and wants to help you make these changes.

As He reveals areas of your life where He wants you to follow His way rather than your own, choose to cooperate with His Spirit and be obedient to what you know He’s calling you to do.

In Every Season

Depositphotos_10073264_xs (2)

© Depositphotos.com/menz11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 8:5, 3:11, 3:1

I’ve been going through a season. I’m on the quiet side when I first meet people, but my husband, children and best friends would say I’m anything but quiet. I can talk for hours, days even given the right circumstances and people. I have an opinion about everything and I am more than willing to tell you if you really want to listen.

There are three things of which I’m certain: Jesus Christ is Lord so I submit my entire life to Him, my marriage is a lifelong covenant so I seek to move forward with my husband in unity, and God loves my children even more than I do so I can entrust them to Him. Every other opinion is subject to change and I willingly admit I don’t have all the answers even if I speak like I do.

But I’ve been going through a season of silence. My last blog was nearly 3 months ago and that was more of a response out of an assignment than my actually having something to say. I have no desire to add to the noise of the world just because I can.

So why am I breaking my silence now?

PRAISE!

When everything feels hopeless, Jesus gives us hope. When everything seems lost, Jesus provides the way.

There is a season for everything. There is a proper time and a proper procedure for everything. And in obedience to Christ, we can walk in whatever season we find ourselves.

And since there is also a purpose to every season, I’ve learned a few things in this season of silence.

Prayer is better than simply talking. As I said, I can talk it up with the best of them. But simply talking about our problems, concerns, stressful situations, and even our joys and celebrations only goes so far. In laying out in the light, openly and honestly, all of our “talk” before God, we actually engage with the One who can do something about our circumstances. We ask God to join us in our struggles, we ask to join God in His solution. We thank Him for what He has already done, what He is currently doing, and for what we trust He will do in the future.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

Silence encourages us to listen more. When we aren’t so busy talking, we can listen with more intention. We can hear the people around us. We can be present in their lives and respond as needed to them. Because we pause to engage with God, if we really want to join Him in what He’s bringing about, we need to be able to hear what He has to say. We need to be able to respond in accordance with His character if we really want to see the fruit of what He is able to do in and through us.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Peace comes when you realize there’s only so much you can say. I admit, I want to try to talk people into understanding, agreeing and complying with my ways. Even more so, I want to talk people into understanding, agreeing and complying with God’s ways. But that isn’t something I have control over. Only God can change, move and transform someone’s heart and mind bringing it into alignment with Him. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can cause someone to call out to Him in their deepest need and trust Him to respond. And only the power of the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus can give me the peace to know when I’ve said enough and trust Him with the rest.

“The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:16-17

Something to Consider…

What season are you in? Do you struggle to find God in your situation? Do you assume things will always be this good? Regardless of what season you find yourself experiencing today, know that God is only a prayer away. He hears you when you talk to others, but He really wants to talk with you Himself. Ask Him to join you. Choose to join Him.

Do you ever feel like you just talk too much? Like you’ve said it all and you’ve said it to everybody? Before we know how to do anything, we learn and practice. If you have a tendency to struggle with quiet, with silence, set your mind to learn to listen. Practice what you hope others will do for you. Give God space to speak so your ears can be fully attuned to what He has to say.

Knock, Knock … Who’s There?

Knocking at the door

© DepositPhotos/ depositnovic

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you any jokes, but I am going to tell you a story.

I don’t like to answer the door. Without getting into the reasons why, let’s just say, if you are coming over, text me … I don’t like to answer the phone either.

But God has been showing me that I need to open doors, not keep them closed. Once when I did answer the door, it was a teenager and his father collecting food for a food shelf. I grabbed some items from my pantry and as they were leaving, they thanked me for answering the door. Even though there were lights on and dinner tables set, no one else on my street had opened the door. They were about to sit down to dinner, but none took the opportunity to feed someone else in need.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.”

So this verse, Revelation 3:20, is the key verse in the lesson I speak on about how we can have faith. The implication of this verse is that Jesus stands at the door of each person’s life and knocks. When we hear Him and choose to open door of our lives to Him, we enter into a relationship with Jesus. The non-believer begins a new life of salvation in Christ.

Now, this verse is about relationships. And it’s true that when we invite Jesus into our lives, we are saved through a relationship with Him. Romans 10:9-13 says:

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

But Revelation 3:20 is not as much about salvation as it is about repentance.

In chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, Jesus is writing letters to the various churches in Asia. This particular verse is found in a letter to the church in Laodicea. Jesus has written this to the church, to believers.

So if these people already know Jesus, have already invited them into their lives and have begun a relationship with Him, why is He standing at a closed door knocking?

The church in Laodicea had everything a city and its people could ask for. There were in essence, healthy, wealthy and wise. And yet, the church was lukewarm to the things of God. In other words, they had become distracted by the things of the world, they had become self-sufficient, self-confident, and they had shut the door on Jesus. They were no longer depending on Him for their needs, no longer inviting Him into their lives, and no longer responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their every day activities. They were caught up in their own desires and activities, not really seeing a need for God’s work in their lives.

But, God doesn’t just work in our lives, He also works through our lives. They had everything they could want and maybe they wanted to keep it that way. Maybe letting Jesus in would have called for them to give up some of what they had, some of what they wanted: the convenience of a comfortable life. All the while their brothers and sisters in Philadelphia, a church just a short distance away, was in great need.

In Revelation, Jesus is preparing His church for His return. And in this verse, He is calling them to repent for the kingdom of God is not only near, it’s here, and it’s coming. There is still time to invite Him back into their lives.

Lately, we’ve been singing “Even So Come” during our worship time at my church. Part of the chorus says, “Like a bride – Waiting for her groom – We’ll be a church – Ready for You.”

So I have a few questions for you:

Have you answered the knock of Jesus in your life? Do you ignore His knock or have to ask “Who’s there?” OR Do you recognize His voice and respond to Him?  Do you depend on Him to provide or do you look to yourself and your abilities to meet your every need? Do you eagerly anticipate the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your daily activities? Do you go out of your way to sacrifice in order to be obedient to the call and love of Jesus in your life?

Church, Jesus gives us an opportunity even as believers to repent and grow in our relationship with Him. He gives us an opportunity not only as individuals, but as a church community to respond to His voice, a voice with which we should be quite familiar.

Jesus is coming soon. He is knocking at the door. Will we find ourselves wrapped up in our own lives or as a church, will we be found ready and repentant, eager to open the door?

Something to Consider…

If you’ve heard the knock of Jesus in your life, but have not yet responded, seriously consider opening the door. See for yourself what He has to say. This isn’t a decision anyone else can make for you. Not even Jesus will force Himself on you. But if He’s knocking, He wants to have a relationship with you.

If you have already invited Jesus into your life, but are distant from Him; if you tune Him out because you don’t think you really need to depend on Him in your day-to-day activities, reconsider His invitation to you. He has shown you His love. He has chosen you to be His representative in this world. He has given you the opportunity to open your life to His knock every day. It’s not too late to repent and begin again by growing in your relationship with Him.