I know the moment I got saved, the Holy Spirit entered me, but years later I was asking to receive the filling of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-4). It didn’t happen immediately, but I didn’t give up or become frustrated because I knew that God wanted to give this to me. All I had to do was ask.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)
At that time, I didn’t understand the purpose of being filled. All I remember is that I heard a very close friend of mine pray in a heavenly language and I wanted that. What I didn’t understand was that God wanted me to do more than just speak in tongues.
My pastor started teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost last month and when I began to compare my life with those who were filled in the bible, I realized something was wrong – not with them, but with me. I had been walking in fear for years, but those who were filled, walked in the spirit of power, love and a sound mind. What was I afraid of? Was I afraid of being ‘fully’ led or controlled by His Spirit? Did I really think I was in control of my life? (Well, I need to fire myself because apparently, I haven’t been doing a good job of managing my life).
I also noticed the repeated cycles and patterns in my life – the ‘tricks’ I kept falling for. I realized the inconsistency and unfaithfulness. I would start a thing, but never finish. I know the Lord sees that I’m trying to live right. I’m trying to do this and I’m trying not to do that and that’s good, but the thing that God wants to do in me and through me will not be done by my power or might. It will only be done by His Spirit.
I now realize that I was no different than the Israelites in the wilderness. What I’ve been trying to do for 40 years, God could have done in 11 days – by His Spirit. It shouldn’t take you 40 years to forgive someone! It shouldn’t take you 40 years to walk in your calling! (I’m just saying).
It’s not that I’m not saved. I am. It’s not that I didn’t receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. I did, but God wants to complete the ‘good work’ He started. It started with salvation, but He wants to do so much more in my life and in the life of others. He wants to anoint me with the Holy Ghost and power so that I will go about doing good and healing those oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). If I am filled with His Spirit, I will be led by His Spirit (Luke 4:1). If I am filled with His Spirit, I will walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
For years, we’ve had ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ programs and we’ve talked about walking in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. And I do believe that there are Christians who are trying to walk in these areas, but they are trying to do it without the Helper (John 14:26, NKJV). We have been trying for years to do things for God – without God. The reason why Jesus prayed to the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us is because we needed help, but we’ve been trying to live without His help. I don’t care how hard you try. You’re not going to see the fruit without the Spirit because it is the Spirit who bears the fruit – and His fruit doesn’t come and go. It remains (John 15:16, Galatians 5:22-23).
When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, He ‘turned’ him into another man and this is what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us – change us. I believe a lot of us (including myself) want change, but either we’re afraid to change or we’re afraid to trust or both, but we’re missing out on so much. The Holy Spirit wants to teach you how to pray. He wants to guide you into all truth. He wants to give you gifts. He wants to empower you so that you may shine as lights, be blameless and be the sons/daughters of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
God has shown some of you what He’s going to do through visions and dreams. He has promised you things through his word and through prophecy and like Mary, you’re wondering, How shall this be? How will this happen? The same answer the angel told Mary then is the same answer for your situation now. The Holy Spirit (Luke 1:34-35).
My prayer is that we will all want change and want to be changed and may all the things you’ve been trying to do in your own strength for years be done this year – by His Spirit.
Not by power, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).
There was a man who was given a great responsibility to help rear and train up God’s only Son and our Savior, Jesus.
His name was Joseph. He is described as a just man (Matthew 1:19). He was engaged and he respected his fiancée. He made the choice to wait until his wedding day, but while they were engaged, he found out that his soon-to-be wife was pregnant – with Someone else’s child. I’m sure he was hurt and disappointed by the news, but he didn’t embarrass or humiliate Mary. He didn’t publicly disgrace her. I believe he was afraid what other people would say or think of him (as they weren’t married yet), but he was also concerned about Mary – how she felt and how she would be treated.
Joseph had planned on calling off the engagement quietly, but God had a plan, too. Joseph was about to walk away from favor and from his ‘good thing’. He was about to give up before he received his deliverance, but before he could do anything, God sent an angel to Joseph. Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20).
Joseph obeyed the angel. He didn’t push Mary away. He protected her. He endured the difficult times (with her). He didn’t leave her when she needed him. He didn’t allow her to have this baby alone in a stable. Not only did they go through some things while Mary was pregnant, but they also had to go through some things after Jesus was born. God gave Joseph and Mary what He promised, but it was a fight to keep, guard and protect the promise. Joseph couldn’t be lazy. He couldn’t procrastinate. He couldn’t do what God told him to do when he wanted to do it. He had to pick up his family and flee to Egypt during the night – when it was inconvenient, when others were sleeping – because Herod wanted to kill the One who would give life to many. When God told him to move, he moved (Matthew 2:13, 19).
Although the bible doesn’t tell us all that Joseph went through, I know it wasn’t easy. In fact, I’m sure he cried or wanted to cry sometimes, but he held on because he believed what God said. He believed that Jesus was born to save all men.
He cared for his wife, but he also cared for Jesus. Do you remember when Joseph and his family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover? Jesus was twelve years old at the time. When they left the celebration, they didn’t realize that Jesus wasn’t with them. They turned back around to Jerusalem and after three days, they found him in a temple, hearing and asking the doctors questions. When they couldn’t find Jesus, this not only affected Mary, but it affected Joseph, too. His mother said to him, Son, why have you done this to us. Your father and I have sought you sorrowing (Luke 2:48). If Joseph could care for a child who was not his biological son, surely God can send a man to a single mother who will care for her children like they are his own.
God gives some the gift of a husband or wife, and others he gives the gift of being able to stay happily unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:7, TLB).
According to the above scripture, to be married is a gift, but to be ‘happily unmarried’ is also a gift. If God gives you a husband or a wife, He doesn’t want you to treat this gift as we would a toy or a new car. After a certain number of years, some of us want something new or something better, but God doesn’t want us to treat people the way we treat things. He wants us to value what He gives us because what He gives us doesn’t lose value.
This makes me think about the prodigal son. His older brother said he was living with prostitutes (Luke 15:30). When the prodigal son returned home, he told his father he wasn’t worthy to be called his son (Luke 15:19), but what he didn’t realize was the moment he humbled himself and repented to his father for what he had done, everything was restored back to him. And guess what? He was still his father’s son. His father hadn’t changed his mind about him. The reason why the prodigal son was doing the things he did with his body was because he didn’t understand his value, but the good news is he never lost his value. And he didn’t lose his position either (Luke 15:22). He just left it.
He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32).
The above scripture tells us what we should be doing while we’re single. Are we faithful to God in this area of our lives? What are we doing with this gift (of being unmarried)? Or maybe we don’t see it as a gift. Are we happily unmarried or are we only happy when we have someone?
Joseph was a good man, a good husband and a good father. He was the type of man that most women would desire to marry. To those ladies who God has promised a husband, there is a ‘Joseph’ for you, but why would God give us (I’m including myself) a ‘Joseph’ if we’re not willing to become a ‘Mary’? Have you ever thought that what you’re expecting from your future husband is what God expects from us, His bride? It was just as important for Mary to be obedient as it was for Joseph to be obedient. Ladies, there is nothing wrong with having standards, but it’s not right to desire for a man to be to you what you fail to be or become for God.
Mary didn’t allow herself to be used by different men, but she offered her body to be used by God. She may have not understood everything Gabriel told her and we know she was afraid (Luke 1:30), but she obeyed. She didn’t resist God. She didn’t fight God. She submitted to Him. Be it unto me according to your word (Luke 1:38). For some of us, that’s been the problem. We’ve been saying yes to what we should be saying no to, and saying no to what we should be saying yes to.
I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve gotten involved in relationships that I should have never been in, but so have some of you. I also know that just like the prodigal son’s brother, the enemy will condemn us, remind us of all the things we’ve done wrong and try to make us feel not worthy to be married or remarried again, but God is not looking at what you did then. He is looking at what you’re doing now.
Well, how much longer do I have to wait? I’m not getting any younger. Maybe you’re not waiting on your husband. Maybe your husband is waiting on you. James 5:7 speaks of the farmer who is patient. The reason why he is patient is because he believes that what he’s waiting for is ‘precious’.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, I just want to remind someone today that no matter what you’ve done in the past and no matter how many men have touched you,
You are still precious.
You haven’t lost your value.
And you are worth waiting for.
In Mark 1 and Luke 4, we are told about a man who had an unclean or evil spirit. He wasn’t at home or hanging out in the streets. He was at church. I don’t know if this was his first time going to the synagogue or if he was a faithful churchgoer. Why was he there? Was he looking for answers? Was he looking for help?
Like a lot of Christians today, he probably looked like he had it altogether on the outside. I say this because he wasn’t described like the demon possessed man who wore no clothes, cut himself and lived in the tombs (Mark 5). The church members and the teachers probably didn’t know what this man was dealing with inwardly. Every Sabbath, scribes would teach the law, but none of their words gave life. No one was healed. No one was raised from the dead. No one was delivered from yokes, burdens, devils or oppression in these meetings.
The spirit that was in this man was like the serpent that was hiding in the cold until Paul laid a bundle of sticks on the fire (Acts 28). No one was ministering to this man the way Jesus had ministered to the woman at the well. He told me all that ever I did (John 4:39). This man sat quietly in a cold synagogue until the word came in the form of a burning fire.
Can you imagine the looks on their faces when they heard what was speaking through this man? Those who knew him knew that it was not him speaking. Can you also imagine how they felt when this man was set free? Well, it didn’t take long for the news to spread. When Jesus left the synagogue, he went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law who was sick with a fever. Mark 1:33 tells us that “all the city” was waiting at the front door to be healed of something.
Jesus was different. He wasn’t like the scribes who just preached a good word and sent everyone home. He spoke with power and authority. He demonstrated what he preached. Signs and wonders followed. He just didn’t say what He heard his Father say, but He did what his Father did (John 5:19).
I grew up going to church because I didn’t have a choice. I had to go, but now as an adult, have you ever asked yourself, Why do I go to church? Some of us go to hear a good word and to be encouraged for the week and that’s good, but what about the person who sits beside you, in front of you or behind you? There is someone in church hurting, but you can’t see their wounds. There is someone crying, but you can’t see their tears.
Thank God for pastors, but they can’t do everything. Just like how you expect the pastor to show up when you are in the hospital or show up to the funeral when your loved one has passed away or show up to preach on Sundays, the pastor needs us to show up. Every gift is needed. Some of us are like the man at the pool who was waiting for someone to put him in the pool when we should be walking by now and helping others to get in the pool.
God wants what we hear in church to be demonstrated outside of the church. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22). I don’t think we realize how much people are watching us – at work, at home, while you’re driving your car. They see your attitude. They see how you treat your spouse and your children. They are following our lives – and not just on social media.
The writer of Hebrews warns us to not stop meeting with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). Go to church. You don’t know who needs strength or encouragement. If you only look at church as a building to go to when you need something, you’ve got it all wrong. Your presence is very important. We need you to be present and functioning. As I said in my last blog, if Elijah hadn’t showed up – if he hadn’t done what God told him to do, the widow and her son would have died.
I think about the times I struggled to get out of bed to go to church. Now, don’t get me wrong. I sometimes struggle to go to work too, but I get up because I want that paycheck. Unless you are self-employed, most of us don’t show up to work when we want to because we would be fired, yet we show up to church when we want to. I’ve learned that those times I didn’t want to go church was when I really needed to go the most.
The next time you attend church, go with an expectation – not just to get something, but to give something. Give a hug. Give a smile. Let someone know that God hasn’t forgotten them. Let them know that God still loves them. You don’t know what people are dealing with. Let them know that God is not punishing them or that He’s disappointed in them. Sometimes as Christians, we act like the disciples, who when they saw a boy that was blind from birth, they immediately assumed it was because either the boy sinned or his parents sinned, but it was so that God could show others what He could do for this boy as well as for them.
I haven’t always treated everybody right. At times, I’ve been judgmental and hypocritical, but I’m learning to give to others what God has given me. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be the reason why someone falls, but I want to be the reason why they get back up again.
Going to church was a ritual for me. It was something to do, but now I see it as an opportunity to be.
Don’t just go to church. Be the church.
I know this woman who always talks about not having enough money. Well, one day I decided to give her a gift. It wasn’t much, but something is better than nothing, right? Do you know what she said when I handed the money to her? I don’t need it. Trust me. This woman wanted that money and had someone else offered it, she would have taken it, but because it was coming from me, she rejected it.
How sad it is to ask God to send you help only to reject it because it is coming from a person that you don’t like or from a person that you don’t want to receive help from. I’m realizing now that God has answered many of our prayers, but because it didn’t come in the form or in the person that we wanted it to, we rejected it. Sometimes pride is the thing that keeps us from receiving ‘answered prayers’. Pride says, I know what’s best for me. My plan is better. I can do it better than God. Too many me’s, my’s and I’s will lead to trouble.
Do you remember the widow woman from Zarephath? She needed help. There was a famine and her husband was dead. She was a single mother preparing their last meal. Not only did she lose a husband, but she lost hope. She wasn’t just preparing a meal, but she was preparing to die. God heard, He saw and now He was sending help, but in the meantime He was dealing with her. Before the answer had arrived, God had already commanded the woman to do something (1 Kings 17:9).
The widow didn’t know Elijah. To her, he was a stranger – and I think that was a good thing because sometimes we become too familiar with those who have rule over us and instead of honoring them as prophets of God, we treat them as mere men. Jesus didn’t just give men or women, but he gave gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:8). According to Luke 4:24-26, there were many widows in Israel during the famine, but God didn’t choose them. He chose a widow from Zarephath. He sent Elijah to a woman who was not his ‘own people’. Had it been another widow, she may have been like the woman at the well. Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God can give you. And you don’t know who I am, the one who asked you for a drink. If you knew, you would have asked me and I would have given you living water” (John 4:10, ERV). But that wasn’t the case with the widow of Zarephath. She recognized the gift of God.
It was the same with the Pharisees. They knew the Old Testament scriptures. They read about the coming of the Messiah, but when He came, they didn’t recognize Him. He came unto His own and His own received him not (John 1:1). He didn’t look like what they were waiting for. He has no stately form or majestic splendor that we would look at Him, nor [handsome] appearance that we would be attracted to Him (Isaiah 53:2, AMP). He was called Beelzebub. Some thought he was John the Baptist, Elias or one of the old prophets. To them, He wasn’t the Son of God. He wasn’t the Savior of the world. He was just the carpenter’s son. And sometimes we are just like the Pharisees. When God sends us what we need or what we’ve been praying for or what we’ve been waiting for, we miss it.
While the widow was gathering sticks, Elijah asked for a little water in a vessel. That wasn’t a problem. She could do that, but as soon as he asked for a morsel of bread – now that was a problem. First, she told him what she didn’t have. Then, she told him what she did have. I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse. I’m sure Elijah knew she felt uneasy and unsure about giving him what he had just asked for so he told her to not be afraid. Fear not. Go and do as you have said, but make me a little cake first.
It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know and this is one of the reasons why Christians struggle with trusting God. We really don’t know Him the way He wants us to know Him. Just because you grew up in church and you’ve read the bible from Genesis to Revelation, doesn’t mean that you know Him. If you knew Him, you would trust Him and if you trusted Him, then you would obey Him.
The thing God is asking you to do (or give) is little, but it will bring about something big in your life – if you will trust Him. Elijah assured the widow that she would not run out, but that she would run over – but first, she had to believe. She trusted God with her last and gave it to the man of God first. Let each one give thoughtfully and with purpose just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift (2 Corinthians 9:7). As a result of her giving, faith, patience and obedience, she, Elijah and her house ate for many days (1 Kings 17:15).
Look closely at the picture above. You can recognize what those gifts are right away because of their shape and form, but if they were disguised in a box covered with wrapping paper, you couldn’t easily recognize them. Many of us have rejected and walked away from blessings, breakthroughs and answered prayers because of the wrapping, but the gift isn’t the wrapping. That’s just the covering. That’s just flesh. The gift is inside of the wrapping.
Prayer: One version of Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was looked down on and passed over. We admit today that there are still areas of our lives where we look down on Him and pass Him over because our evil desires and lusts look more attractive than Him. Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. We repent of pride, self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. Father, help us to recognize the gift of God and help us to recognize You at work in our lives. Give us understanding where we lack it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.