Who are you, Lord?

TimesAreChangingHolySpiritFireMarch 26, 2016

“The times, they are a-changing.” Odd day, today. Odd atmosphere. Odd time frame. Out of sync somehow. Out of order.

For several nights in a row I’ve had dreams to remember again, dreams with actual story lines and spiritual components. There I am, sharing a testimony with someone I don’t know, helping someone in need, or traveling somewhere I don’t recognize. Suddenly I’m in an unfamiliar scene, speaking to people, helping somehow.

There’s an urgency in these dreams, as if events are too quickly unfolding and time is growing short, too short!

It’s Saturday, according to the calendar. According to the television news and the daily morning newspaper, today is Saturday. But it doesn’t feel like Saturday. Just like yesterday didn’t feel like Friday, or any particular day. It just feels odd. Like waiting for the other shoe to fall, odd.

My conversations with the Lord lately have been mostly about Him. Who are you, Lord? I asked him a week or so ago. Others have asked that question through the ages, of course. I can understand their curiosity; I’ve always been curious myself. I’ve written down my own feelings and beliefs about Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit on many pages.

But this time I wasn’t studying for an article to write or a class to teach. I just wanted to know for me, myself, my own spirit and soul and mind. Who are you, Lord? Who ARE you? Tell me about You, yourself. How do you describe yourself?

Well, he’s never been hesitant to answer my questions before and he wasn’t this time. He has told me a lot over the days since then. Sometimes it’s hours long, these conversations, as patiently he pours out words, mental images, descriptions and explanations.

  • Protector. We went back to before I was born and from that time until today, he revealed to me things I never knew. Dangers avoided. Tragedy averted. Angels in many guises, many sizes, guarding and guiding. That extra nurse in the newborn nursery. That man you passed in the street while walking downtown… not a man really, he just looked like one.

That pretty lady in the dime store, that young boy on the bicycle, those ordinary looking people driving by in their family car. Angels, looking out for Father’s beloved children. Who knows who all those people are in the grocery store, the gas station, the mall? Some of them just aren’t people at all, and we never suspect.

  • Provider. Provider of material and spiritual things, blankets, hamburgers, books to read, shoes and socks and jeans and tee shirts, cars and gasoline. Roof. Sidewalk. Grass. Brainpower. Intellect. Fascination with new things. Emotional connections. Friends. Relatives. Jobs. Interests. Hobbies.

It’s not just employment and paychecks, it’s everything and anything, needs and desires, comprehension, realization and enlightening – mental acuity, talents, abilities, spiritual hungers and satisfactions. The list is so very long! People, places and things. Place to be born, place to grow up, place to work and play. Every stick of everything in every place, every room of every house I’ve ever lived in, and there have been a lot of those, from birth to now.

  • Teacher. Who was your first teacher? He asked me. I didn’t have to think too hard – mama of course, and daddy, grandmother Mimi, grandfather Da, even younger brother Harold. Many aunts and uncles, nursery workers at church, Sunday School teachers, kindergarten teachers, grammar school… their faces began to roll slowly through my mind, although some of them I hadn’t thought of in years.

This week, he asked, have there been teachers this week? Oh yes, but mostly online nowadays, I thought. Well, no, not the most important one: Holy Spirit is always teaching! Wonderful teacher, bringing to mind the Word, the scriptures. New insights, new understanding of his unchanging Word. Ever present, ever available.

  • Lover. I could feel the soft baby blanket wrapped around my infant self, feel the rocking chair gently moving. I could feel the hugs and hear my squeals of delight as daddy tossed my toddler self up into the air a little, feel the rush of air as someone patiently pushed the yard swing a bit higher. I could hear our competitive laughter as we played scrabble and Chinese checkers in the evenings, brother and me trying our best to out-do the experts – i.e. the grownups in the room.

I saw, really saw the behind-the-scenes sacrificial love of my parents, their authentic affection for each other and for us. I also saw the many mistakes I’d made, looking for love in all the wrong places… but then he showed me the more recent years, my wonderment of being cherished, understood and appreciated by his hand-picked marriage partner.

There was a day or so of “other stuff” kinds of prayers and answers, time to digest and meditate before I asked again.

Who are you, Lord? The atmosphere in my room seemed to sharpen as swift moving images of the past became images of the present and the future – near future perhaps.

  • Warrior.

Involved. Complex. Complicated. Detailed. Power. Weaponry. Tactics. Strategy. Stealth. Flexibility. Overt. Covert. Strength. Martial arts. Intelligence. Individuals and teams. Network. Deception. Commandos. Rangers. Seals. Ground troops. Air forces. Submarines. Navy. Marines. Listening. Undercover. Civilian and military. Paramilitary.

Inside every believer in every field of work, Holy Spirit is there. From news reporters and editors to theologians, entertainers to computer coders, hand-to-hand fighters to stealth pilots; from legislators to secretaries, school boys to “little old ladies,” from insurance agents to secret agents, manufacturers to assembly plant workers, industrial spies to MI5.

Members of national and international commissions, committees, think tanks, NATO, UN, EU, governments and militias, rebels and patriots, and everything else you can imagine on every continent, in every nation.

Anywhere there is a Christian, there is the Holy Spirit observing and working from the inside. Linking. Networking. Educating and training, instructing and directing. Filling in the gaps. There is no such thing as a closed nation to Holy Spirit. Whisperer; fire starter; warrior.

I may wait a bit before asking that question again.

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What’s it all about?

Catchy tune, poignant words. “What’s it all about, Alfie” is a 1966 Burt Barach song, written for the movie Alfie. It was a sad movie. I saw it when it first came out and was sorry I did.

But those words ring around in my head these days as I read so many prophecies, so many news stories, so many opinions from political pundits and religious experts.

Here’s another catchy tune, from 1971. It has better words, straight out of the Bible:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In the last few weeks, I have watched the Holy Spirit demonstrate the kingdom of God in a variety of ways. Here’s a few instances:

A young college student was tormented by fear after his dad died in his sleep several months ago, terrified that his mother would also die suddenly and leave him an orphan. Unable to shake this dread, he was calling her at work multiple times a day just to be sure she was okay. They both knew he needed help. He needed deliverance. His mom came to me for help.

Several friends of his family gathered around him after church a couple of weeks ago. We commanded the tormenting spirit to leave and spoke God’s peace and joy to him, as the evil spirit of fear completely left him. Then we prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he was. It has been marvelous to see what the Lord has been doing in his life since that morning. Freedom!

This past Sunday our pastor didn’t preach a usual sermon or teach a usual Bible lesson – he read long passages of scripture from Isaiah and Matthew, the prophecy and fulfillment of Jesus’ crucifixion.

“It was for you,” he said. “All of it was for you.” Then as he waited the Holy Spirit moved across the congregation, bringing several people forward for prayer. One young woman had decided to accept Jesus’ sacrifice and to say, “Yes, it was for me!” It was wonderful to join in praising God for her new life in Christ.

Not all the work of the kingdom I’ve been observing recently was in church altars or aisles. Last week in a local retail business, I had the privilege of laying hands on a 50 year old man for healing, and then for him to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and was facing weeks, perhaps months, of radiation and other therapies.

The power of God fell in that room. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so palpable, those observing were in tears – including me. We knew God was beginning something remarkable in him, even as he complies with his doctor’s plans for treatment. He was already an intercessor for his family and friends; now he will be interceding for his physicians, hospital staff, other patients and their families, all the new needy people he will encounter in this new chapter of his life.

The 54 year old son of friends had what should have been routine hernia surgery some weeks ago, but complications led to the build-up of fluid in his chest and then to non-healing of his surgical incision. Soon he was critically ill – an infection had developed in his blood.

He fell into a coma-like state and his family sent out an urgent request for intercession. His doctors weren’t optimistic for his recovery, but his family refused to be pessimistic as we spoke life, healing, wholeness, total and complete normal function to his body. Now only a short time later he is awake, talking and very hungry! After weeks of IV’s he is eating regular food – such a dramatic improvement that only the Lord can get the credit. And the glory!

In this last month there have been so many other opportunities, other occasions for the Lord to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are right toward him. He’s waiting for his people to take him where he wants to go and let him do what he wants to do. What he’s always done – demonstrate His kingdom.

If instead of looking at what’s wrong around us (in church, in government, in business, in family) let’s look at how we can manifest the kingdom of God in our part of the world. Letting Jesus use our eyes to look through is truly “eye-opening.” So many hurting people surround us every day, people who need help. God’s help. Our help.

When we see them that way, we’ll intervene. We’ll intercede. We’ll open our mouth and let the Holy Spirit fill it, extend our hand to convey God’s peace in the midst of turmoil. We’ll lay hands on the sick and see them recover. Speak the command and see demons flee.

That’s what it’s all about.

 

I have all sufficiency

Abundance“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (II Corinthians 9:8 NKJV)

That is my confession.

  • God – the creator and sustainer of me and everything else that exists
  • is able – He has the power, present-tense (and He’s not just able, He is willing)
  • to make all grace – not just a little but all favor, every sort of gift you can imagine
  • abound – extend his favor to the very fullest of full, way more than needed
  • toward me – toward my self, mind, body, soul and spirit, whatever concerns me
  • that I – in order that, with the purpose, direction, goal, aim, end result
  • always – every moment of every day and night, 24/7, 365
  • having – actually possessing here and now, not someday in heaven but NOW
  • all sufficiency – enough for any and every thing I may encounter
  • in all things – spiritual and material circumstances, situations, events, happenings
  • I may have – possess, own myself, not just see it, but have it
  • an abundance – more than needed, more than enough
  • for every – each and every, singly, individually or corporately
  • good – as defined by God, beneficial, blessing to me and others
  • work – effort, labor, action, behavior, assignment, job

So how do I get from He is able, to He is willing, to He is doing it?

By faith. God’s own faith that he himself gives me free of charge, and now since he dwells in me, that he gives me from the inside out.

By believing him. By taking him at his word, that he loves me, he inhabits me, he wants me to work WITH him and not just for him, he wants us to be one in purpose, mind, wishes, and behavior.

It’s up to me after all is said and done. I can choose to accept his faith, I can decide to believe him or not  believe him. He leaves that decision up to me.

I’ve decided. Today I accept it. Today I believe what he said, and today I choose to live it.

Sometimes we’re a garden hose, sometimes a kitchen sponge

The apostle Paul didn’t start out to be scripture writer. Or a Roman prisoner. Or a shipwreck survivor. Or a fugitive.

He didn’t intend to be anything but good at his job, using his life-long religious training. And he was good at his job – very good. Certain he was following God’s will, Paul became good at stomping out this new Way, this rebellious faction threatening the stability of his way of life.

Even though Paul’s way of life was not ideal, having to live under captivity and rule by a foreign, godless Roman king, it was relatively peaceful. A “Pharisee of the Pharisees,” well educated and trained by the renowned Gamaliel, Paul was at or near the top of his chosen profession. Influential. Powerful.

But then… on the road to Damascus… things changed. Over the next few years Paul went from being a Pharisee to a follower of Jesus, then an evangelist sharing his personal testimony, a teacher expounding Christ in all the scriptures, a pastor shepherding his growing flock through perilous times, to an apostle traveling the civilized world establishing a chain of churches as he went.

How did he fulfill all those roles, moving from place to place, from his own culture, society, and nation throughout the rest of his life? He described that assignment as “being all things to all men” in order to win some of them to Christ. (I Cor. 9:22)

Paul could relate to the Jews as a Jew, because he was a Jew. And he could relate to the Romans as a Roman, because he was a Roman citizen. No matter the people, place or circumstances, Paul found a way to get the message of the Kingdom across. At various times and in various places, he served as the Holy Spirit’s

Conduit / Sponge / Radiator / Magnet / Thermostat / Fire-starter

And probably many other things.

GardenHoseHow do you transmit God’s intentions to somebody else? His desire (intention, wishes, will) to interact with them, by way of you?

I used to pray to be his conduit (visualizing a garden hose), a pipeline for him to transmit through. Or perhaps an electrical cord, plugged into Him as my power source.

Conveying his interest, his passion and compassion to people by way of words, prayers, lessons to a class, touches, simple conversations, emails, blog articles, meals if they’re sick, money if they need it, books to read, answers to questions, references to needed materials, smiles, encouragement, hugs – you name it – he finds a way to do it.

Whenever I meet someone on purpose or by accident, I pray, Lord, help me to help them. Then whatever comes to mind or just seems appropriate, that’s what I do.

spongeSometimes I change that prayer to Lord, make me your sponge, because sometimes I’m the one in need. My own sinuses are clogged, my ankle hurts or my back itches. Every cell in my body needs his healing touch.

Maybe my mood has taken a nosedive, something has gone wrong with my finances, or my family, or my car – and I need the Lord to fill me up before I can help somebody else.

So I ask him to fill my mind, my spirit, my soul, my body, my very self with his presence. And then ask him to “squeeze me out” like his kitchen sponge, when I come across someone else who needs his presence, wherever they may be.

Occasionally I need to be his radiator, radiating out from me his interest, grace, love, compassion and power when I’m not in a position to actually say or do anything in particular. Like when driving down the road and I see someone walking or riding a bicycle, or another driver who the Lord indicates is a bit needy today – I just let the Holy Spirit pray through me whatever it is he knows they need right this moment.

It may be while walking down a grocery store aisle. I’ll see somebody at a distance that I do not know, another shopper or a clerk. I can’t know what their life is like, whether they know the Lord as their savior or not. But I can let him radiate his love and kindness through me by way of a smile or a friendly “hello,” just a simple gesture. He will take it from there.

Lately I’ve discovered that the Lord can make us a magnet, too. Sometimes I’m in a meeting at church, sometimes in a mall store – and for some reason unknown to me, a person I don’t know begins to gravitate in my direction.

I’ll smile and say Hello, How are you, and generally they will say a few sentences. When we go our separate ways, I’ll say, Have a blessed day and they will thank me – having no idea that little interaction was God’s doing. I’ll continue praying for them for a little while, until the Lord seems to say, Okay, that did it.

Occasionally that happens with someone I know. One church friend made a bee-line to me before the service started recently. “I just had to come hug you. I always feel better when I hug you,” she said. It wasn’t a thank-you for anything, I think she just felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and wanted to be near it.

ThermostatYears ago I realized that believers could be thermostats and not just thermometers. When the atmosphere at home or work seemed tense, agitated, frustrated, or just “off” in some way, I discovered my own attitude could make a difference.

Instead of entering into the disorder, I could add peace to the situation by my demeanor, a silent prayer, or quietness. It didn’t completely solve problems all by itself, but it did make positive changes in the way those problems were approached.

FirestarterAlong the way, from time to time the Lord also uses people to be fire-starters. He does something through them, their words, their prayers, their commands or their touch, something so supernatural that a fire is ignited in the souls and spirits of desperate or doubting people.

People need to know that God actually does exist, Jesus is for real, and he loves them. He will use the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to do that, perhaps a miraculous instantaneous answer to prayer, something so undeniably supernatural that it can only be explained by God’s intervention.

See What Paul Did While Weak https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/what-paul-did-while-weak/.

Just reading through the gospels and the book of Acts, it’s obvious that Father God has a multifaceted delivery system. Now as then, no two people are alike, no two cultures are alike, no two eras are alike. Whatever will convey his heart and his message, that’s what he uses.

Sometimes we’re his garden hose, sometimes his kitchen sponge.