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Monday, January 25, 2021

Daily Devotional January 25 - Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth - 6th Stage - Empowered

 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:"  Acts 1:8

We learned that the first step in our spiritual growth is to be called.
We learned that God takes the one who was called that answers the call and washes them clean.
After God calls us and we are washed, God begins a work in us, by strengthening us.
We learned that God strengthens us in the inner man so He can prepare us.
And what God strengthens and prepares, He fills.

Why does God fill His people with His Spirit?
To empower them for service.

Note: If you are of the mindset that there is only one stage or two stages of spiritual growth, fine. The idea of separating the stages is to see the correlation between man and God through communication and service. The Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth represent the maturing of the Christian and the use of the new and profound (truths, enlightenment, inner peace, power) to best serve God and man and to reveal through actions the reality and availability of the living God in your life. 

In the nine stages of spiritual growth that we have been discussing, being empowered comes after being filled.  This power that we receive cannot be taken lightly, because God does not give power that is separate from the giving of Himself.  If we get this one point straight, we will be positioned to be empowered. See, God does not empower you to make you powerful, God empowers you to fulfill His will in you, by you and through you.  God does not empower you so that you will have power, God empowers you so that you will yield your power to His power.

As a matter of fact, there is no power given to you apart from God working in you, by you and through you. God doesn't give you power and then you go and wield it. You go and God wields His power in you, by you and through you.

Does it really make any difference how we look at it? This sounds like semantics. Yes it does make a difference how we look at how the power of God works in your life.  God takes His power seriously.  It amazes me that there are still people that think that God let's people get His power and that they can misuse it.  No way. God knows the end from the beginning and God does not allow those who will turn away to be empowered.

God doesn't try us out to see if we can handle it or to see if we will be faithful to Him. God doesn't give us His power and then after we misuse it, take it away.  God doesn't change His mind, (the Bible word is immutable), nor does anything go out from God that returns void.

Too many Charlatans are operating under 'simulation' power, the imitation power that satan uses to defraud the real power of God. This mimicry of God's holy power is cloaked under the disguise of an angelic presence.
God does not empower frauds.
God does not empower those who are going to use His power for self aggrandizement.
God does not let His Spirit be used to corrupt, or manipulate, or abuse, or discourage, or defame, or to harm or defraud.

satan disguises his power in an attempt to emulate God's power: to confuse, disorient, harm, cause hard feelings, discourage, elevate, cause doubt, uncertainty, cloud the issue.  satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to:
circumvent the right time - There is a time that is right. There is a time that is pre-mature.  And there is a time that is too late.

satan wants to circumvent your entrance into your place with God.
satan wants to circumvent your children's entrance into adulthood and bring them in early.
And satan wants to circumvent your acceptance of the things of God so that your ability to be empowered by God will be stripped from you. It's true, even today satan is trying to hold back those who want to move forward with God, but satan has convinced them that they are not worthy, it's too late - you've made too many mistakes.

satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to: circumvent the right passageway.  The bible says in John 10:1, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."  Even Christians are trying out other paths. This is a travesty and those who are dabbling with other paths to God, shall find at the end of that alternate path, the god of that alternate path. satan has developed more than 4,000 other paths to keep us off of the one true path.

satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to: circumvent the right decision.  How many times did we make a decision contrary to what we knew was best for our lives? Just once? The influence of satan in our lives is far too great, and if you think about it, you know it is true.

satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to: circumvent the truth with philosophy.  satan is a liar. God is truth. There is no correlation between them. There is never agreement between them. There is never cohesion between them. Philosophies that steer us from a right view of God are to be shunned, not entertained.  A man or a woman embedded with a little of this philosophy and a little of that philosophy will not be empowered by God. To receive the power of God, we must lay aside foolish philosophies, fables, myths, illusions, distortions, fantasies, notions, and writings from romantic spiritualists.

These writers write of dreams, as if dreams were the stuff real life is made up of, when it is the other way around: Real life is the stuff dreams are made up of.

To honor and entertain the foolishness of vain and ill-informed philosophers will only hinder and impede the journey to that place of spiritual enlightenment that we are seeking.

The Word of God contains the truth and the life and the light that we are seeking. All other writings can only reflect the truth at best and completely distort it at worst.  satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to circumvent the truth with philosophy.

satan makes his spiritual power look like it is from God to: circumvent proper authority guidelines established by God with his authority structure: Like to:
Take the authority away from Christ as the head of the Church and give it to a religious leader.
Take the authority away from your pastor and give it to other institutions. (Counseling and advise)
Take the authority away from the husband in the household and give it to whomever is the strongest.
Take the authority away from the biblically authorized marriage and give it to the sexually perverse. (Same sex marriage)
Take the authority away of a parent over their children and give it to the government. (abortion)

satan will circumvent what God has for you every time you give place to him and you do that not only by commission (making decisions contrary to the will of God) but also by omission, (not making decisions that should have been made long ago).  Really, how much ground do you really want your adversary to have in your life? It is easy to say none, but to exercise the disciplines necessary to bring that statement to fruition is much more difficult. As a matter of fact, it is impossible. That's why you need to be empowered.

God empowers you for many reasons and God's empowerment helps you to develop your skills and talents - All this so that you can fulfill the will of God for your life, while you are being fulfilled in your calling in life.
Let me ask you something.
Is there power in the name of Jesus?
Who is that power for?
Is there power when you can sense the presence of God?
Who is that power for?
Is there power when you read or hear a new truth from the scripture?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in knowledge?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in our assurance of salvation?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in prayer?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in obedience?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in the blood?
Who is that power for?
Is there power in the cross?
Who is that power for?

In everything that God reveals His power through; In everyone that God gives His power to;
God empowers you to fulfill His will in you, through you and by you.

I want you to sense the connection between God empowering you and your operating in and of the power of God, and that the two become one; in that, God does not empower someone in whom He knows will not use the power for His purpose, nor can that someone operate in the power of God apart from God giving them the power to operate in, because the power of God is not separate from God. 

God intricately weaves His will with your will, and that is what it means to be empowered.

When God empowers you it is to empower you spiritually so that you will be more aware of the spirit realm and less aware of the physical realm, but primarily for the purpose of accomplishing something in the physical realm.

You are not empowered to receive the gifts of the holy Spirit, because the gifts of the Spirit are given. You are empowered to operate in the gift.

You cannot operate in a gift of the Spirt on your own power.

You can however, appear to operate in a gift of the Spirit in your own power, but the results are not spiritual, but carnal.

In this life, you and I will always be faced with two choices:

You have the choice to receive and operate in the power of God.
You have the choice to receive and operate in the power of satan.

There is a third group that thinks that what they do they do under their own power.  There is no truth in this, because in the spiritual realm there are two distinct powers, and two powers only, the power of God and the power of satan.

The reason I am teaching this particular truth, is so that you will fully understand that in the decisions that you make, youe either are in agreement with and endorse the power of God or you are in agreement with and endorse the power of satan.  This idea that it doesn't matter is not scriptural. 
  • God empowers you to discern, that's why mature Christians often have more discernment than new Christians.
  • God empowers you to overcome the wiles of the wicked.
  • God empowers you to love one another like Christ loves you.
  • God empowers you to stand up and speak with boldness the Word of God.
  • God empowers you to go.
  • God empowers you to take charge of your future.
  • God empowers you to build up the kingdom of God.
  • God empowers you to individually build up the body of Christ.
  • God empowers you to complete what you started.
  • to wait for/on Him.
  • God empowers you to do what cannot be done without the supernatural intervention of the Almighty.
  • God empowers us to take back territory.
  • God empowers us make us more like His Son.
It takes the power of God working in you to pull out of the attraction to the world system, and God warns you what happens if youe continue to deny God His place -i. e., to work in you, by you and through you.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth - 5th Stage - Filled

 "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." 

Acts 4:31

And who God Calls He washes, and who God washes He strengthens and who God strengthens He prepares and who God prepares, He fills.  And that is what we are looking at today, being filled

Can you imagine being filled without being prepared. It would be like filling up a clay pot before it was cured. The filling would break the vessel.  When God prepares us and we respond positively by preparing ourselves, we are then filled.

The reason that it is so important to understand how God fills us is so that we will be able to recognize the real from the fake. There is a real and there is a fake.  Let me give you a biblical definition of being filled with the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit is the receiving of an increase by infusion of the Spirit of God, abundant and sufficient, (more than our regular supply), to meet the task at hand with ample provision.  Filled as used in the scriptures in every verse where the phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit", is used, is the words (pletho) and (pleroo), and it means:
Imbue - permeate or invade
Influence - a power indirectly or intangibly affecting a person or cause of events.
Supply - To make available for use; to furnish and equip with what is needed or lacking.
Replete - Plentifully supplied; abounding.
Finish a task, (but not finished, as the end of all tasks)
Accomplish
Complete
Make full
Perfectly supply

  • Being filled with the Spirit is not being full of the Spirit as if there were no more Spirit to receive. 
  • Being filled with the Spirit is not a second work of grace, but it is a second work and a third work and a fourth and a fifth and so on.
  • Being filled is to receive an increase (of the Spirit of God that we already have).
Unlike we may have heard in times past, being filled with the Spirit is not the kind of filled, like as if we take a cup and fill it up with water and when the water reaches the top the cup is full and we cannot put any more in it, and if we do it is wasted.  The filling that God does is to empower us to meet whatever circumstances come our way or what circumstances that we are in, in the name of Jesus Christ.  The filling that God gives us, can best be compared to using our strength to accomplish a particular task, like moving a pile of wood. For the little logs we need little strength and for the big logs we need big strength, but for the logs that are too heavy to pick up, we need supernatural strength.

And that is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. God gave us the Spirit of God at the moment of salvation and that giving of the Spirit is always available for use and to operate in and through - but the filling of the Spirit is for the specific purpose of accomplishing the impossible, or accomplishing specific tasks associated with building up the body of Christ or expanding the kingdom of God or for the glorification of God.

God indwells our being in the person of the Holy Spirit and God does this at the moment of salvation.  Being baptized with the Holy Spirit is to be empowered for service and being filled with the Holy Spirit is when God imparts unto us more of His Spirit for a specific purpose or for specific purposes.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our propensity for sin is not eradicated as some teach, however it is subdued and controllable, because we have been strengthened and prepared to stave off what used to rule us and control us.

The truth:

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are filled up with the Spirit of God for use and that as you operate (walk in the Spirit) you are continually filled as you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

But to think that the believer is filled in the sense of not being able to be filled more is to believe an erroneous truth.  Filled as used in scripture is more akin to a continuous infilling that takes place over and over again than a one time event that takes place and makes us more heavenly than those who have not been filled.

Baptism into the Spirit

Water baptism is the outward expression, (public profession) of an already existing inward work.  It is true that in some cases when the non-believer becomes a believer, that they are baptized into the body of Christ, baptized in the Spirit, and filled with the Spirit of God at the same time. One of these times was at Pentecost after Jesus had ascended - And there are at least three other occasions mentioned in scripture where this phenomenon took place.

But in all other scripture references, these experiences happened separately. In some cases the Holy Spirit was poured out onto believers before they were water baptized, like in Acts 10:44-48.

In Acts 9:17 Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit and the blindness from his eyes was removed and then he was immediately baptized in water.  This was in A.D. 34

God does not leave His people to handle the tough times on their own, He fills them with Himself for the occasion, for the moment, for the tasks at hand or for the tasks ahead.

Every believer has received the indwelling Holy Spirit, but not every believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit or filled with the Holy Spirit, because not every believer has determined in their heart to make full use of their time, money and energy for the purposes of God.

Being filled with the Spirit is not complicated and it is not for one group and not another.
Being filled with the Spirit is for you and for me.
Being filled with the Spirit is a work of God for the prepared man, woman, teen or child.

You are filled to accomplish certain tasks that if you were not filled you could not accomplish.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Daily Devotional January 24 - Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth - 4th Stage - Prepared

 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."  1 Corinthians 2:9

The first stage of spiritual growth is Called.
The second stage of spiritual growth is Washed
The third stage of spiritual growth is Strengthened
The fourth stage of spiritual growth is Prepared

God prepares for us... - God prepares us for...  and we prepare for God.

God prepares for us

God prepares for us: The universe and the earth and all of its beauty and its riches. And if that were all that God did for us it would be a great gift.
  • God prepares for us our body, our emotions, our mind and our spirit - to partake of His creation through (natural law) and to receive from His intervention (supernatural law).
  • God prepares for us a path and shows us the way.
  • God prepares for us His Word and reveals it openly to live by and rely on.
  • God prepares for us blessings, wealth, abundant living, our spouse, our children, our parents.
  • God prepares for us opportunity and adventure.
  • God prepares for us Himself, that we would come to know more than the creation - that we would come to know the creator.
  • God prepares for us a mansion, the new Jerusalem, heaven.
  • God prepares for us principles that work, every time.
  • God prepares for us everything we need and even more to operate in the Spirit.
God prepares us for
  • Each stage of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development, by strengthening us in each stage of our development.
  • God prepares us for the hard times, the down times, the dark times, the empty times, and the lonely times, as well as the good times.
  • God prepares us for the times when things aren't going right - tough times when it seems like there is no resolution.
  • God prepares us to meet situations face on. And by preparing us, we don=t lose our cool - we don't mouth off without thinking - we don't jump to judgement quickly - we don't speak too quickly.
  • God prepares us for what is coming up - that unexpected meeting at the most unexpected time, when someone is hungry for God and you have the words because you have been prepared.
  • God prepares us by empowering the written Word of God to confirm the indwelling Word of God.
When you sense that you are being prepared, you sense that the purpose that you were called to is starting to be unveiled.  You start to see how God took the experiences of your past, (good and bad) and transformed them into your own personal preparation for what is about to come.  Preparation is that stage of spiritual growth where purpose and destiny come together to create revelation and vision.

When God is preparing us
  • We sense a connection with God unlike any before. 
  • We sense that God chooses to allow us to participate in what He is doing and that helps us to understand our true value and worth to God - that God would use the likes of you and I and not only be satisfied with it, but be pleased in it. 
  • We sense that in each of these rather regular activities, God has a plan that includes these activities to get us from where we are to where God is taking us.
  • We sense that God is in it.  We begin to see the mundaneness and the monotony of the repetitious nature of every day activities as an act of God. And when we see, where we are at, knowing that God is in control, we start to appreciate the little things that we have been taking for granted for years.
  • When we sense how God is working in us and through us while we are where we are - The way we start to look at what we do every day is transformed from what was an unknown journey, without rhyme or reason, into an unfolding mystery where trust and faith take form.
  • When we sense that God is preparing for us incomprehensible blessings in this life and the one to come, and we sense that God is preparing us for the unpredictable future, then we want to prepare ourselves, in cooperation with all that God is doing in us and through us.
  • When we see all that God has prepared for us and all that God is preparing us for, we desire to prepare ourselves to live in cooperation with God.
Another word for prepare is to be made ready.
God prepares for us.
God prepares us for, and
We prepare for God:

Here's where the rubber meets the road. God has prepared for us immeasurable promises and blessings.  God has prepared us for what we are going through at this time in our life and God is preparing us for what is about to come. But with all that God does for us, in us and through us, without our cooperation and consent, without our agreement and understanding, without our commitment to the things of God, and without adequate inner preparation, when we meet with opposition - even though we have been empowered by God to overcome the opposition - if we are not prepared in the inner man of ourselves, we cower or draw back or fail. 

When we are saved, we are made heirs with Christ of all that God has. In the salvation experience we received many spiritual gifts.  The lists of the many blessings, truths and principles that God has already bestowed upon us has been given to us, but not until we see them and understand them can we operate in them.  And this happens as we prepare ourselves for God.

What God has prepared for you and I and what God has prepared us for is revealed as we prepare ourselves for God.

What can we do to prepare ourselves for God?
I'm glad you asked.

Right here is where many Christians turn back to the world.

They don't mind a bit that God calls them and washes them and strengthens them, but the preparation stage of spiritual growth is where God starts to put into our hands decision making responsibility.  It's the first time in our spiritual journey that God starts to ask us questions.

 

Let me take you through a short path so you can see this important truth.
Did not God say to Adam in Genesis chapter 3:9, "...Where art thou"? Did God ask Adam where he was because God did not know where Adam was?
Did not God say to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:9, "...Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Did not Jesus say to Paul in Acts 9:4, "...Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?"

God doesn't ask us questions so that He can get to the bottom of the problem,. He asks us questions to provoke us to think or to reveal us.  And it is in this provoking and revealing that we are found out. We are uncovered. Just how much we love God and how much we serve the body of Christ is pulled from us by God for the purpose of unraveling who we are. - Not to embarrass us or to put us down or to dishearten us or to discourage us, but to reveal us.

So if God has asked you or I questions like:
  • What are you doing in that place?
  • Or What can you live without?
  • Or Are you available the next 100 Sunday nights?
  • Or Are you willing to set that aside in your life?
  • Or Are you ready to go over the threshold of fear and tell the world about Me?
  • Or What's a good time to meet with you?
  • Or Are you sure you want to risk your marriage?
  • Or Have you done what you said you would do?
  • Or Are you sure they need to know that about so and so?
And if you are thinking these are hard questions - there are those deciding moments when God asks:
Will you go there for me?
Will you set aside a little time to study My Word each week?
Will you pray about your ??????? problem and let me help you through it?
Are you ready to die to self, and let Me reign in your mortal body?

God doesn't ask these and many other questions to hurt us or to make us feel bad, or to degrade us - No, every time God asks a question, it will be so that we can have a clear vision of who we are.  It is part of being prepared

But there's another part of being prepared that is exciting and wonderful.
  • It's when God gives us more responsibility to handle the things of God, because we are faithful stewards in what we have.
  • It's when God takes us to that next level of commitment where God says, go ahead, take it around the block yourself, like the first time our parents let us drive the car.
  • It's when someone is hurting and you have a word for them. You don't have an idea what to say, but what you say is what they need to hear.
  • You have an encouraging word at a discouraging time.
  • You aren't afraid to practice the faith that you have been blessed with.
  • You don't care if so and so thinks your too radical, you can=t stop the flow of God working in you and through you, because you have felt what it is like to operate in the Spirit and you no longer fear letting God make a fool of you for His sake.
Wait, someone has cancer, someone has a tumor, somebody just lost a child, a good friend is dying - and before you were prepared, you would hide from the opportunity to be present or to be a part of the healing process or the grieving process, but now that you are prepared, you stand by their side - not always knowing the outcome, but always knowing the one who does.
  • Before we are prepared we worry about most anything.
  • Before we are prepared, we have doubt that lingers and hangs around taunting us and condemning us.
  • Before we are prepared, the enemy accuses us and we let it get to us.
  • Before we are prepared, we are able to go this way or that way as we are led by the circumstances or the situation we are in.
  • Before we are prepared, we are easily led to live below our calling.
  • Before we are prepared, we say one thing and do another, because it's still more important to us what we look like than who we are.
  • Before we are prepared, we still think that we are the owner of what we have instead of the steward of what God has.
Can you sense in your spirit that God is tugging on your heart to give up a little more inner space than ever before?  That's part of being prepared.

Tomorrow we look at the fifth stage of spiritual growth, filled.

Daily Devotional January 22 - Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth 3rd Stage - Strengthened

 "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  Ephesians 3:16


After God calls us and we are washed, God begins a work in us, by strengthening us. That work that begins, God finishes.  Philippians 1:6 says "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" 

You and might start something and not finish it or start something and can't finish it, but God doesn't start anything that God does not complete.  Please keep that thought in your mind when it just doesn''t look true.  What God began in each you, God will complete in you, by strengthening you along the way, in a way that best suits what you need at the time. (If you are at all like me, you are probably saying, I really have a hard time with believing that all that befalls me, somehow helps me.  But God has proven Himself to me so many times that to doubt would just prove futile.)

God does not strengthen you in ways that are incongruent with His plan for you, but God graciously strengthens you in the areas that you need at the time.  God is always strengthening you, not just so that you can refrain, sustain and maintain:
Refrain from the unnecessary indulgences of the past
Sustain the blows of life's everyday difficulties
Maintain your growth without too much backsliding
God is also, always strengthening us, so that we can go to higher ground. 

There is a season of battling the flesh, but God strengthens you to bring you out with power to overcome.  There is a season of playing war games with reason and logic, where doubt comes your way, but God strengthens you to take you out of that state of mind into the glorious mind of Christ.

There is a season of legalism, self-promotion, or high-mindedness, but God strengthens you to rise above your self and God gives you a glimpse of Himself to take you higher.
There may be a season in your life (maybe right now) that you need the strength that only God can provide to carry you through.  If so, don't spend another minute trying to go through it on your own strength, when the strength of God is available and plentiful.  That work that God begins, God ends and the ending that God brings about is better than any ending that you can bring about. 

But between the great beginning we have with God and the unexplainable ending, there's the in-between time where you live today - And it is in this in-between place where the strengthening of God should/must become what you seek after every day.  Keeping true to your understanding of your whole being:  Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual

We find it true that when our physical body is strengthened, the emotional, intellectual and spiritual components of our whole being are affected positively.  Just the same when we are strengthened emotionally, the physical, intellectual and spiritual components of our whole being are affected positively.  And when our mind is strengthened, the physical, emotional, and spiritual components of our whole being are affected positively.  And last, but not least, when our spirit is strengthened, the physical, emotional and intellectual components of our whole being are affected positively.

There are some things that we can do, to strengthen our body, our emotions, our mind and our spirit and there are some things that we cannot do, that only God can do.  You need a balanced understanding of what your part is, so that you can get on with life doing those things that make you and keep you strong in your whole self.  And you need a balanced understanding of what God's part is, so that you can use our strength in cooperation with the strength that comes from God.

You also need to understand that some of your strengthening is from God, and you receive that strength apart from anything that is of you except the yielding of your will to God's will - the yielding of your strength for God's strength.  Apart from God strengthening you with the strength that only comes from God, the strength that you have of our own is of little value, but in cooperation with the strength that comes from God, the strength that we have of our own is of great value.

Try to remember that you were created to do everything in cooperation with God.
You were created to be completed by God.
In and of our own strength apart from God's impartation to us of His strength:
You can lose the battle
You can fail to complete your tasks
Your marriage is in jeopardy
Your child rearing skills are insufficient
Your ego will take control
You are far less likely to take wise council
You become hardened to godly accountability
You begin to think that you are the strength
It is this completion of us by God that the non-believing world does not understand. 

There are three philosophies that try to explain our existence without a personal relationship with God.
  • There is the group that doesn't believe that God exist at all, therefore the thought of any completion by God or personal relationship with God, is not an option.
  • There is the group that believe that God is, but that we are completed, simply because we exist. The need for personal relationship or being completed by God is just as foreign to this group as those who don't believe in God at all.
  • There is also the group that believes that God is and that God does, but God does what He does dis-attached from us - That God operates entirely on His own and we operate entirely on our own.
In all three of these prevailing world philosophies, God is distanced from man and man is distanced from God. But the truth is:

God is not distanced, but very near
God is not obscure, but very clear
God is not apart like some say
No, God is with us and here to stay

God did not create us to be on our own
God made us to be His home
God did not design us to be apart
God made us to reign in our heart

I know there are those who explain away God's part
But it's only to hide their hardened heart
But even those who turn their backs
God doesn't let fall through the cracks

No, God created every soul, to see and understand
That there's more to life than what is in a man
Only someone who has never seen what God can do through man
Could ever want their life to be outside of His hand

The truth is that God is very near
And God speaks in such a way that we can hear
And what we do with what we hear is how we show
That God is close, so very close, for all to know

God will not be blamed when people cry to let them in.
God will not be found guilty of not providing payment for their sin.
God will not have to make excuses for those who choose another way.
Because God revealed Himself to everyone, every day.

We need the strength of God in this life. We all need God's visitation on our frail bodies, our erratic emotions - our frivolous intellect and our young spirits.  There is a place in our walk with the Lord, where the Lord is our strength.  That is a good place to live.  Tomorrow we look at the fourth stage of spiritual growth which is - prepared.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Nine Staqes Of Spiritual Growth - Stage 2 - Washed

 "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"  Titus 3:3-5

This session we are going to look at the second stage of spiritual growth, being washed. No greater gift will you and I ever receive than the gift of salvation.  When you are washed by God, it is as simple as when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and also as profound as having spiritual surgery; where God removes from you everything that has attached its self to you, that is not from God (either by omission and commission):

Everything that is not of God
Everything that is not from God
Everything that you did against God and man
Everything that you didn't do but should have done
Every evil thought that you ever had
Every act of immorality
Every act of impropriety
Every decision that you made where God was not considered
All carefully removed and disposed of.

You would think that when God removes from us everything that is not or was not of Him, that there may have been times when there would have been nothing left.  But God doesn't just remove that which is not of Him, God imparts into us, that which is Him, the Holy Spirit.

When we accept the call of God - God sets in order a series of events: Some things happen instantaneously and some things take place over a period of time. This is what the Bible calls being born again, being saved, i.e., the salvation experience.

The salvation experience can be marked by day and time, and yet, the salvation experience is more.  The salvation experience does not stop at that moment in time that we are saved/washed.  It continues on and on and becomes more and more to us and provides more and more for us and asks more and more of us.  Those who teach and those who believe that the salvation experience is rapped up in a moment in time, (whereby receipt of salvation is the end of their quest for God), will be utterly disappointed when they find out that the quest for God begins at that special moment in time, but never ends.

Those who think of the salvation experience as a brief and ordinary experience in the life of a sinner, have been made to believe this by those who have devalued the price that God paid to secure our salvation, because the scriptures speak of an entirely different experience.

There is more to getting saved than just being forgiven of our sins and getting a ticket to heaven:
Two things happen when a decision is made without adequate information or let's say, without full disclosure.
1 The person making the decision might change their mind once they find out the truth,
2 Or, the person making the decision is short changed of vital information that could and will make all the difference once they find out the truth.

In the Church today we have the unsaved teaching the unsaved how to get saved, and the results is devastating. The best example of this phenomenon is found in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

When I read this for the first time, (many years ago) I decided that I would find out for sure what God expected of me for me to have His salvation. I did not want to be found in the camp with those who were rejected. I knew the scriptures were true.  How could there be this great dichotomy between those who thought they were saved and those who really were? I found the answer. Salvation is provided so that we can stop operating apart from God.

God isn't looking for us to become something or to cast out demons or to do many wonderful works, or to prophesy some great message.  God saves us to know us, and in the experience of salvation alone, we come to know God and God knows us - and apart from the relationship of listening to and responding to God, other spiritual tendencies have no real value and will win us no favor with God.

When we talk of salvation, we should reveal everything that we know to be true about our experience of salvation.  And for our own internal wisdom we should be thoroughly acquainted with the provisions of God through salvation. We should tell the unbeliever that God forgives sins, washes us clean and provides for us entrance into heaven - But we should also tell them:

That God will be taking up residency in their heart and purifying them, as with fire - 1 Corinthians 3:13-15
  • That no longer will they be their own, but they would be bought with a price - 1 Corinthians 6:20 & 7:23
  • That their minds would be renewed day by day, until the things of God became primary - Ephesians 4:23 & 2 Corinthians 4:16
  • That they would become a new creation and that all things would be new, and we would forever think differently, but we would be required to stay in our old body - 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
  • That they would be called to take up their cross and follow Jesus - Matthew 16:24
  • That they would not always know what to say, but the Holy spirit would give them the words to speak - Luke 12:12
  • That they were to pray without ceasing - 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • Abstain from all appearance of evil - 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  • To give to everyone that asks - Matthew 5:42
  • That they would have to turn the cheek - Matthew 5:39
  • That they would have to go the extra mile - Matthew 5:41
  • That they would have to love their enemy - Matthew 5:44
  • That they would have to bless those who curse them, do good to them who hate them, pray for those who despitefully use them - Matthew 5:44.
Those who teach that you can be saved and stay the same as you were before, that you can receive Christ and be friends with the world - they have done no one justice. Even a child, not only deserves, but demands better than that.  Stay with me tomorrow as we investigate the third stage of spiritual growth - Strengthened.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Daily Devotional January 20 - +Nine Stages Of Spiritual Growth - 1st Stage Called

Note: This is the most important series I have ever written. Please take time to read each stage carefully and see if your spirit is moved by this information.  Please comment.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."  1 Timothy 2:1-4

There are nine stages of growth.
  1. Called - Searching for God
  2. Washed - Found the Saviour 
  3. Strengthened - Studying the Word 
  4. Prepared - Adhering to the truths learned in scripture and looking ahead to see what God is going to do with you
  5. Filled - At the crossroads of decision to never turn back
  6. Empowered - Ready for specific service
  7. Inspired - Continually following the leading of the Holy Spirit
  8. Authorized - Ample biblical knowledge to be trusted to make the right decisions under pressure 
  9. Anointed - God and man cooperating in will and purpose
These nine stages of growth are real points in time that can be marked by day and time, but they are also landmarks in time that overlap one another and weave in and out like a weavers knot.  The order of these nine stages of growth are for the purpose of learning practical truths from scripture, truth upon truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, in hopes that you will learn to desire the natural sequence of development that God ordained for you.

To jump ahead of the perfect balance of life that God has designed puts you in a place where you have no power or authority. 
To be ahead of God's intended plan only brings uncertainty and discouragement, doubt and pretense.

Just the same, to fall behind and crawl through life, uninspired and unmoved by God makes you feel unworthy. Low self esteem and depression are signs of falling behind where God wants you to be. Irritability, fault finding, an argumentative spirit, irresponsibility and disrespect are some of the signs of falling behind where God wants His people.

Jumping ahead of what God has ordained and falling behind what God ordained, both keep you out of alignment with God's plan for His people.

Each of the nine stages of development builds upon another and another upon another to take you from where you are to a place closer than you have ever been before, not only to God, but to understanding and developing your own personal experiences under the light of God's plan for your life.

There is much discussion about who is able to apprehend the truths of God. You will find that this writer believes that each and every individual is created to receive all that God has prepared for them. There are those who cannot, for whatever reason, (physiological or mental), those chemically imbalanced or mentally incapacitated), receive and respond to God's call.  God has provided grace for all those who cannot, of their own volition, move toward God; the unborn destroyed in the womb, babies that die an untimely death and those who cannot comprehend. But for you and I, who have been enabled to act upon our own will - we have a duty and a responsibility to God, to not only participate in His plan, but to have a deep residing understanding of His plan.

Not everyone wants to grow in Christ, but if you are one that has found God, but now you want more of God, you will enjoy every word of this treatise.  This is a discussion of the process that God takes you through, precept upon precept, faith to faith, glory to glory to make you more like Christ."

Preparing for the Anointing
The first stage of growth in the quest for fulfilling God's call in our life is to be Called.
There are two kinds of calling:
One is the call to every man, woman and child to come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.  And the other is our calling in life, that vocation or talent or skill that God has nurtured and advanced us in, to set us apart for the furtherance of the gospel.
The first calling is for our soul to be united with Christ.  And the other calling is our calling in life, that vocation or talent or skill that God allows us to be in or work in, while we are fulfilling our calling in Christ.
Of the two callings: the call to a personal faith in Jesus Christ and the call to use our talent and skills in a specific vocation - this study is primarily concerned with God's call for you and I to come to a personal faith in Christ.
It is important to understand that God calls us. First of all, when we understand that God calls us, we understand that God communicates with us. And it is this beginning of communication through His calling that each of us find our way to the cross.  

The Holy Spirit is guiding each new believer to the cross to meet Jesus. Without this first contact, without hearing the call of God to recognize our condition as a sinner and to turn from the direction we are in and head back toward God, we will never have spiritual ears to hear as God guides us through the rest of our life.

You may not think about it very much, but when God calls you, and you accept God's call, God sets in order a plethora of events that change your life forever.  God's call is the beginning of a relationship with God. Our relationship prior to the call was one of questions and doubt, because we were searching for a spiritual God using carnal devices, our natural senses absent of the influence of the Holy Spirit , our natural understanding apart from faith.  But once God calls a man, a woman or a child, God sets in order every provision necessary for us to accept His call and become and heir and joint heir with Christ of all things pertaining to godliness.
There are those who think that when they are saved that God does not impart His holiness into them and that it doesn't matter much whether or not they live a life that reflects the experience of having the God of the universe come to make His home inside of their being. I am not one of them.  I believe the scriptures and the scriptures are clear - that when God calls and we answer, there is a marvelous transformation from one way of being to another.

If we are called are we compelled to accept?  No. The bible says in Matthew 22:14 at the end of the parable of the marriage feast, "For many are called, but few are chosen."  Catch this: If you know the story of the marriage feast, you know that those who were chosen are those who came. No one who came when they were called were turned away, but not everyone who was called answered the call.

Why did God do it this way? Because God wanted to make sure that you and I would always understand that God is the initiator of everything.  God is the initiator of thought, feelings, creation and life. Every physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual response that you have is response to what God created to prove the existence of God and to nurture your relationship with God. Every call from God to man is a signature of His love toward us. Without it, we would wander in vain exploring the endless array of invalid philosophies. And at the end of a lifetime of unfulfilled experiences, there would be no solace, no contentment, no answers.

I want you to sense with me, that the call that you received to accept God's call to become a Son of God is not like any other call, not like any other experience and not to be compared with anything.  The call from God is the first step of many in the life that God has prepared for those who love Him. 
Why do so many Christians think that the call of God was owed to them? Many act like they are doing God a favor by accepting and receiving God's infinite supply of His creation and Himself. 
  • You must unlearn any thought that you have ever entertained that made light of so great a salvation.  
  • You must unlearn any idea or concept that equates the gift of God with the empty promises of false religions and vain philosophies.
  • You must unlearn whatever keeps you from seeing how precious the call of God was to you.
When God uttered the words to you, "come," it was the beginning of unexplainable life.  The life that God called us to is often misunderstood, but even with a cursory look at the Word of God, a deep meaning can easily be discovered.  You were called with a holy calling.

 And even though you might not understand why everyone doesn't answer the call of God, you should rest assured that God in His infinite wisdom has made the right choice in calling you.  

Forever give up the idea that you have to know why there are so many religions, so many philosophies, so many lost.  You were called and because of that calling, you can trust that God has not abandoned or ignored any race, any creed, any hemisphere, any anyone. God is no respecter of persons. God is far more interested in the salvation of the lost than you and I are.

If you could trust that God knows what He is doing - If you could get beyond trying to figure out the hidden mysteries and stick with what God has ordained to be revealed - you would then be working in cooperation with God and doing what God called you into; Seeking Him further, sharing the gospel and giving your testimony.  The call of God is precious and full of power.  Within the same breath of God that called us out, God called the worlds into existence.  You must start your journey into the depths of God's great provision for your personal and collective development with awe and reverence.

The way we enter into a relationship is often how we come out of that relationship.

Would you to take time this week to recognize the significance of your salvation.  Take some prime time to evaluate your life. Let that evaluation determine if you have allowed God to fully develop your understanding of what you have been called to.  God called while you were searching.  When you and I accepted the call from God to become a child of God, God washed us.  Tomorrow let's look at the second stage of spiritual growth, washed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Daily Devotional January 19 - Seeking God Without Compromise

 "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him."  Lamentations 3:24-25

I'm thinking this isn't something you don't want to consider. You can be religious and never have a second thought about what I am about to unfold. It is better to never have known, than to know and ignore. I'm just saying, maybe you want to pass on this one.

To seek after God and not find Him, not only in the quiet of meditation, but also in the noise of the day, is proof of how distanced we have become from a pure and holy life.  In our busied life, we manage to be unavailable. God is always available, but we make ourselves unavailable by our actions.  We have managed to disassociate with the never changing Spirit world, for a moment of attention from the ever changing material world.

I am going to help you make some crucial decisions in your life today, because the teaching of the truth always weeds out the heart.  In your heart, you will make a decision today.  When God speaks to your heart, one of three things happen:
  1. You remain unchanged - unmoved by God's Word for us, not at all stirred up, encouraged or empowered - the true sign of cultural or carnal Christianity.
  2. You turn away and do not let what God said to become true in you, even though you hear the voice of God - even though you know it is right - even though you know that God is dealing with you for your own benefit - even though you know the consequences of not adhering to what God is saying is devastating - you turn away.
  3. You are drawn closer. you are positively affected down in your soul.  You make up our mind to allow God to weed out every thing that is not of God, by God or for God and you allow God's Word to give you the answers of the moment, the day, for your career, your ministry, your direction, your life.  You make a way for God to have His way;  when God speaks to your heart you are drawn closer.
That's why I can say, you will make an important decision today.

The trappings of the seen, (the visible world) have all but blinded us of the unseen, (the invisible world).  The pleasure of the moment has caused a thick fog to pass over our good sense.  The desire for immediate gratification has all but eradicated our vision for the long haul.
A wise man or woman will enjoy the moment without compromising the future.

God-thinking is for those who have decided to seek out those things that bring peace and comfort, financial security, joy and happiness - without filling their tomorrows with unpredictable troubles and problems, without compromising their future.

God thinking is for those who want to give up more of the:
temporal
short lived
ever changing
thrown together
not well planned out
I'll worry about the consequences later, mind-set

and replace it with the:
eternal
long lived
stable
well planned
thoughts developed through prayer and communion with God

We mustn't deny God entrance into the affairs of our life.  And we do deny God entrance into the affairs of our life when we are outside of the will of God.  Jesus Christ came into this world and lived, died and rose again to empower us to live above the fray.

Too many Christians are willing to ignore the warning of the pastor.
Too many Christians are willing to ignore the lure of the world.
Too many Christians are willing to ignore the signs of the times.
They paint their own picture of the way things are and the way things should be:
  • without consultation from wise counsel
  • without instruction from scripture
  • without prayerfully considering the results of their actions
  • without recognition of God's Sovereignty.
To say that we believe that God is sovereign, and live like He is distant and unconcerned, is hypocrisy.
Jesus didn't think much of hypocrisy during His earthly ministry and He doesn't think much of hypocrisy right now.

We need to kick out that old kind of thinking, that says, just because we cannot live a sinless life, like Jesus Christ did, that somehow that equates to our having no ability or power at all.  That since we have fallen short in times past, we must constantly, and without refrain, continue to fall prey to the ploys of our enemy.

We have been empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to overcome the world, not succumb to the world.  We are to be in the world, not of the world.  Our success isn't in living a sinless life without a Savior, it is living our life, empowered by a sinless Savior.  If living an empowered life is something new to you, there is no need to be ashamed. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Religion has taught believers that they cannot win over temptation.
Religion has taught believers for centuries that the move of the Spirit of God was only for a short time.
Religion has taught believers that they must go through a mediator to apprehend God.
Religion has taught believers that they cannot understand what they read.
Priest's and pastors, ministers and teachers have been teaching a powerless gospel to a faithless people for centuries.  And now we have self-proclaimed apostles and prophets, ascended masters and spiritual guru's teaching a magical genie kind of God.

It's not true that the power of God has been removed from us and neither is it true that God performs silly magical feats for the ignorant and unlearned to reveal Himself.  God is self-disclosed and cannot be hidden. God's power is evident in all power and God's creation is evident in itself. God's supernatural intervention is also evident by His ever present ability to change the hearts of men.

If you want to know why so many people are messed up, think about all the untruths that have been spoken about God the Father, the Holy Spirit and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And if you want to know why so many Christians are living out their lives without evidence of the presence of God in their life, just think about all the untruths they have been taught about themselves.

It's no wonder our society is so messed up. They believe in a God that is either powerless or genie-like and they believe in themselves as either broken beyond repair or self-sustaining.
Erroneous thinking produces powerless results.

Jehovah God, El Eloheim, El Adonai, El Shaddai, the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Christ is not to be mocked by man's feeble and inferior attempt to explain God outside of holy scripture.  God is not powerless (just because in the lives of the disobedient, it appears that God is impotent), nor does God perform magic to a jeering crowd of spectators, (at the whim of the prophets sceptre).  God's supernatural intervention in the lives of men and women is not to be likened to the scheming manipulations of men.

So let's set the record straight.
Let's replace any and every erroneous thought that we have had or have about God with thoughts that produce sound doctrine.

1. The power of God is available and operating in the lives of men and women, teens, children and even the unborn; All to the glory of God, for the purpose of empowering His saints to overcome the world and serve God with a holy life.

2. God is not genie-like and performs no magic, but God is all powerful and performs magnificent miracles at His discretion, (all for the glory of God and to benefit God's finest and foremost creation, you and I.)

3. You and I, those who have been born again by the Spirit of God are not broken beyond repair, but we are empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, not only for the sake of receiving the gift of eternal life, but also to make us able to withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one and to be able to stand firm in the faith against all odds.

4. We are not self-sustaining, but ever in need of substance created for us by God. We are ever in need of God and God's creation to sustain our life and spirit.
The best way to accomplish this is to seek God without compromise.