The Deep Divide | Problematic Politics

2020 has been a bit much. I don’t think any of us expected this year to bring all the challenges, chaos, and craziness that we are all experiencing every single day. Everything that is thrown at us seems to deepen the political divide in our nation. Add to that it’s an election year and it’s difficult to see any ending to the ceaseless arguments anytime soon.

We all have differing opinions and we are all right to have whatever opinion we hold. I’ve struggled this year because, while I do hold some opinions that differ from the popular ones in my circle, mostly I don’t see anyone seeking to understand each other. In fact, what I see most is pretty toxic.

Now, most of my social media friends hold a republican perspective, with only a few holding an opposing view. So, what I am seeing is probably not balanced, but what I see from much of the far right is presenting their viewpoint in an angry posture, attacking those who don’t agree. I would go as far as to say that much of the republican party comes across as bullies, in the past week I have seen my friends calling people, sheep, nazis, and libtards. Not just one or two people either. This display of aggression has left me grieved. I definitely struggle to see the love of Jesus in the midst of our political landscape.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Proverbs 18:2 (NLT) Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

I just want to remind us of these scriptures today. Sometimes the more we talk the more damage we cause. I do believe we have a big problem in our culture today of airing our opinions, but not taking any time to understand the perspective of others. We absolutely are guilty of assuming what they believe and arguing against our own assumptions rather than their actual opinion. Perhaps that’s what makes it an argument rather than a discussion?

Here is what I know, foolish people think they have all the answers and proceed recklessly, while the wise seek to understand. I can’t help to think of what I often refer to in my own head as “new guitar player syndrome.” Many times when asking a young musician about their skill level they will broadcast that they are SO GOOD, hyping up their own abilities. Then during the audition, it becomes clear that they are actually pretty terrible. They don’t yet know enough to realize how much they still have to learn.

Here is the bottom line. When you think you are the expert, you stop learning— when really you should work the hardest to continue learning. Information is constantly changing, or flat out wrong. Our culture is constantly shifting. Forming a balanced opinion takes a lot of work. It takes genuinely listening to opposing views. It takes getting information from more than one source. Honestly, many times news networks aren’t even reporting on the same stories, and when they do it’s so different. How can anyone form a balanced belief by only listening to one side of an argument? Ask any parent with multiples kids

One final thought, and this is just something I can’t help but wonder. There is a clear divide between the younger generations and older generations. It’s only getting wider. What if it is partly because the younger is still listening and seeking to learn, while the older are more prone to filtering their information through preferred beliefs and bias? I don’t have any studies or evidence to back up my theory, just something I’m thinking about.

I hope that we can all take the path of wisdom, seek to genuinely listen and learn. I would love to see a united nation, where it’s okay to have different opinions. I would love to see discussions rather than arguments. But most of all I would love to see people of love and understanding, even in the midst of disagreement.

Heart In Action

I grew up in an environment that placed emphasis on being right with God, but little emphasis on what that looked like interacting within our world. The extent of impact from my point of view was, “tell people about Jesus.” Should we tell people about Jesus? Yes! Unequivocally, yes. However, I believe that is not the full extent of how the gospel affects our actions. 

My understanding as a kid lacked balance, what I saw demonstrated was that your prayer life was more important than the way you treated people. How you lived was only important in that you did not sin. In fact, abstaining from sin was far more important than anything else going on in the world. I was told Jesus is the solution to all the problems of the world, but never taught to get involved or to help be the solution, only to pray.

So, when you think of living the Christian life what do you think of? Do you have images of church services, singing worship songs, prayer meetings, bible studies, Christian fellowship? Those are certainly a part of the Chrisitan life, but is that the extent of the images you have? Is your mind also drawn to images of meeting needs, helping the poor, standing up for the oppressed, fighting against injustice?

I confess, too often my mind has failed to connect the second part to my faith and I fear I am not alone. Your prayer life is important. Living a holy life, free from sin is important. However, what good are your prayers and righteousness if it doesn’t drive you to take action? Is your faith only about YOU avoiding hell with no thought of the state of the world?

In the book of James he is incredibly clear that faith without works is dead, yet the message I was drawn to is that it doesn’t matter how much good you do if you don’t have a relationship with God. Now don’t get me wrong. That statement is true, but it’s unbalanced and incomplete. Out of our relationship with God, our lives should produce many good works.

Too often the world doesn’t know we are Christians by our love and the works that love produces, but by our political stances, our boycotts– honestly I’m pretty sure the church invented cancel culture– our condemnation of sins and our fight to protect our rights and religious liberties. Again, I’m not suggesting all those things are unimportant, but is it building God’s Kingdom?

We often uphold “truth in love” and “wounds of a friend” to attack those we disagree with, but the reality is we do not love them and they are not our friends. Is it possible we have a reputation for being bigoted and hateful because… we are? Do you really show love to all people? Or rather could all people feel that love from you? I can certainly remember a time in my life when I would have said, I love gay people, but they would have felt no love from our conversation. I was too afraid of affirming sin to truly demonstrate love for a gay person.

We live in a world full of political causes and stances. As a church, we tend to pick one or two and ignore the rest. I’ve seen people shamed for supporting causes other than pro-life, as if supporting something else means you don’t support life. I believe God gave us a voice and we have a responsibility to use that voice. To actively show love to our world and stand up against injustice, whatever form it takes. To reach out to the poor, the downhearted, the outcast. To actively meet the needs in our community. To live wholeheartedly for Jesus. To demonstrate to the world the love that God has for them.

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of scriptures to think about.

Psalm 78:34-38 (NLT) When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. 35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,  that God Most High was their redeemer. 36 But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. 37 Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant.

Amos 5:23-24 ( NLT) Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

God isn’t looking for lip service. God isn’t looking for a good church service. He is looking for people to stand up for righteousness. To truly represent Him in every corner of the earth. To have a heart for God means to have a heart in action. Let’s pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus. Let us spend time in His presence and may we take His presence with us everywhere we go. May the world come to know Jesus because of how we live our lives. May we actively demonstrate His love to the world, heart in action.

Life Changing Moments

We are drawn to the sensational. We love memories of significant moments and to be sure there are key moments that define our lives, or at least have the potential to. Most of us who have grown up in church have fond memories of summer camps or conferences that we look back on. The moments that challenge us, where we encountered God and left never the same.

Yet, we are also aware that most of the time those moments weren’t as life-changing as we thought. They ignited a passion inside of us for change, that within a few weeks or even days of returning to our normal routines had completely dissipated. That’s because true life-changing moments are not the big memorable moments. It’s the small moments, the small choices made consistently that mark our character.

Anyone can have an “altar experience” a moment when confronted with the truth of God’s Word, where the Father draws us and compels us to surrender ourselves to His ways, leaving our old life behind. Yet, that moment does not change you. Rather, it gives you the opportunity to change. It’s what you do when you leave the altar that truly is life transformative.

There is a story in 2 Kings chapter 5 that I love. Naaman has leprosy and travels to see the prophet Elisha in hopes of a cure. Naaman was considered an important man, yet Elisha doesn’t come to meet him, instead, sending a messenger instructing him to bathe seven times in a dirty river. Naaman is incensed.

2 Kings 5:13 (NLT) But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’”

Naaman was prepared to do something big and worthy of his station, but he was initially unwilling to do something so small and seemingly insignificant. How many times are we the same way? We have a great need from God and we pray for a miraculous moment. We need direction so we pray for divine revelation. We don’t know where to turn so we pray for divine intervention. We are often looking for big moments from our great God.

Could it be that more often God is looking for us to do something seemingly insignificant? I believe the insignificant done consistently will transform your life more than any big moment ever could. Consistent prayer and time studying God’s Word will change your life. the reason we struggle to be consistent is that we want instant results. We want to have some huge emotional experience. We want to suddenly have that lightning bolt of revelation. Those moments may come, but rarely do they come right away. True passion of pursuit is displayed over time.

This principle is the same reason many give up on their new year’s resolution to get in shape. We expect a few hard workouts at the beginning of the year to have unreal results and after a few weeks of being sore, seeing no results, we lose motivation. Physical growth and spiritual growth are not so different. It’s the consistent who see results.

I challenge you today the same way I challenge myself. Where have I become inconsistent in my daily pursuit? How often have I prayed this past week? How often did I engage in God’s Word? I believe “How often” is more important than “how long”. Start small and consistent. You can increase the length as you become more consistent.

I don’t know what you are looking for in your walk with God, what you great need is, but I am confident God can and will meet that need. Just don’t give up. Keep praying. Keep investing in your relationship with God. Keep studying His Word. Life change is not found in the big memorable moment, but rather the small everyday decision to pursue Jesus.


 

Hey, thanks for reading today’s post! I briefly talk about this concept in my latest youtube video breaking down the lyrics to my favorite song, “One” by sleeping at last. This video is also the first I’ve posted that really hits the tone and vibe I’m hoping to create on my channel. If you have a few minutes, check it out. If you find value in the video then like, comment, and subscribe- every little bit counts. Thank you guys!

Living What We Learn

If I believe what Jesus did then I will certainly do what He says. That was the thought process behind a series I recently did with our students on the teachings of Jesus. There is something so powerful and fundamental about really focusing on His teachings with the intention of applying it to our lives. Not just hearing His words, but living them.

After all, that is the difference between the wise man and the foolish man in Matthew chapter 7. (I actually recorded a sermon on this at home last month, I’ll post at the end if you want to watch it.) Both men heard the teachings of Jesus, both men built houses- or if we drop the metaphor built their lives with ever decision they made. We’re no different. We hear God’s instruction through preaching, our devotions, podcasts, blogs (thanks for reading), and more. We make decisions every day about how we will spend our time, who we will spend it with, what thoughts we will dwell upon and those decisions determine the strength of or foundation.

I’m sure, like the two men in Jesus’ story, our houses all look great. Then the storm comes and it always reveals how strong our foundation is. If we, like the wise man, have intentionally applied and lived the teachings of Jesus then our foundation is strong and the storm does not have power over us. If we are more like the foolish man and neglected to let the teachings of Jesus transform the way we live, talk and love then we find ourselves with a crumbling foundation and begin scrambling, calling out to God trying to repair it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be scrambling trying to fix my roof in the middle of a hurricane or a blizzard. I’d much rather make repairs before the storm hits. Ok, I would hire someone to make those repairs, but I can’t hire someone to fix my life. That responsibility lies with myself. Except I’m no more capable to fix my life than my roof, so I must surrender to Jesus and follow His path instead of my own.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about knowledge in the church. In my denomination, there has been a history of biblical illiteracy, valuing spiritual experience over scriptural understanding, but that is starting to change. I hope that we all continue to pursue greater knowledge of God’s great Word. However, let us be careful not to chase knowledge for the sake of knowledge. As we spend time daily in God’s Word, I pray our goal is not just to learn about God, but to let that knowledge empower us to live for God.

Psalm 86:11-13 (NLT)Teach me your ways, O Lordthat I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. 12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, 13 for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death

I love that it says, “teach me…that I may live.” If our knowledge doesn’t inform the way we live then it is completely useless, and it shows we are fools. The wise receive knowledge and live better because of it. My prayer today is that we would grow in the wisdom of God. Live by the instructions Jesus gave to us and truly be people who build the Kingdom of God.


 

If you enjoyed this blog post, then you might enjoy the message I preached last month, check it out on my youtube channel Chris E Lewis.

A Friendly Warning | New Devotions Coming Soon

I’m excited to let you know that on Sunday I will begin posting devotions again. I recently added writing back to my morning routine, because I realized it’s good for me. Devotions will be published on Sundays and Thursdays at 5:00 pm, and I’ve already written the ten posts that you’ll read during the month of August, so it’s only fair that I give you an idea of what you can expect.

Well, perhaps it’s more of a warning. Most of my content will be devotional content similar to what I’ve posted in the past. However, some of it will contain tint of challenge and underlying frustration. The reason is, well, I’ve been frustrated. A lot has happened in our world recent times and it hasn’t exactly brought out the best in everyone. Apart from that I’ve been shaken, challenged, and grown a lot in the past few years. I have a lot of thoughts that I feel like I haven’t been able to freely express.

Why? Well, honestly because as I’ve grown and challenged my thinking it’s clear that I have some beliefs that challenge the conservative Christian narrative. Now let me be clear, I am a conservative Christian. None of what I am talking about violates scripture or the core principles I’ve held most of my life. However, it definitely has challenged my approach to listening and learning. I’m at a place where I want to be challenged, because without resistance there can’t be growth. As a result of striving to really understand all sides of issues, I definitely think differently about things than many others in my circle. I’m ok with that, but it’s I don’t expect everyone in my circle to be.

Still, there are some things that I have to say. I will make my best effort to say it with grace and be as balanced and clear as I can. For a long time, I have felt like I’m only allowed to talk about political perspectives that the majority of Christian churches agree with even though I’m not convinced scripture does. The one thing I am most frustrated with is that we (and this isn’t exclusive to Christians, it might just be a natural human trait) have an incredible ability to judge differing opinions without understanding what is being said.

Romans 12:16-18 (NLT) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

A friend of mine was having a theological debate not too long ago, but they couldn’t get anywhere. She was telling me about the theological her friend was trying to discredit and I was super confused. The idea he was fighting against wasn’t something the she nor anyone I know actually believes. My response was simply this. “So, they’re making up what you believe and arguing against it?”

“Yep.”

This is something I have seen in many disagreements in differing political and theological stances. We make assumptions about what they believe and we fight against it with all we have, never really knowing or understanding what they really believe. The conversations goes nowhere, but offenses have been created.

We also have a nasty habit of only paying attention to information, facts, and data that line up with the narrative we believe. When something goes against our belief, then we either dismiss, discredit, or distort it. We ignore it, call it false, or twist it to fit our narrative instead. It’s ok to disagree and have differing opinions, but until we learn to have honest discourse, where we can recognize opposing views as legitimate, we will only continue to create division in not only our country but our churches as well.

My heart is to see a unified body of Christ building His Kingdom. In a lot of ways, the church is becoming more unified than it has been in recent years. Some denominational boundaries are becoming less important. People are recognizing that we can learn from each other. However, as some things improve it makes the areas where things are stuck, or even moving backward, that much clearer.

Again, most of my content will still be devotional in nature. My primary objective is still to challenge us all to daily pursue Jesus, developing a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. However, out of that relationship with Jesus, the way we interact with the world will change. It is my hope that we can show the world the love of God and maybe that starts with the way we talk to each other. If the world looks at the church and can only see our divisions, our crazy, our hatred (perceived or not) then it serves to show we have some work to do.

Honestly, at the end of the day maybe what I have to say isn’t even that controversial. What I do know is that I needed to write and it has been incredibly freeing for me to do so. If you feel inclined to read, thank you for doing so. All I ask is that you are patient with me. If I post something that you disagree with, disagree well. Respond respectfully and make every effort to respond to what I say, rather than assumptions about what I said. I’ll do the same.


Thanks so much for reading! I also just launched my youtube account TODAY where I will discuss movies, music, and life. I am hoping to create a community of hope and positivity as I discuss things I’m interested in. If you’d like to support it and check it out the link is youtube.com/chriselewis. I’ll also drop my channel trailer below. Every like, view, comment, and subscribe is a huge help.

When Things Don’t Work Out

You were so close. Everything you wanted, everything you’d been working for was right within your reach. Then it was gone. You had thought this would be the moment your dreams came true and suddenly things just didn’t work out the way you had expected. We have all experienced varying degrees of this phenomenon. A job that didn’t meet expectations, a sporting event we had expected to dominate, a relationship that fell apart, friends who betrayed us, the list could go on and on.

Expectations get crushed and then comes the hardest part.

Moving forward.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

When what we were longing for fails to come to pass we become disheartened, weary and prone to giving up. When we put forth our best efforts and things still don’t work out we begin to question why we should even try. It is at this juncture that our that our future is forged. Will we give in to the weight of failure or shine with resilience.

Recently I experienced a season where it just felt like nothing was working out. I questioned everything. I doubted everything. I felt like giving up, or at the very least wasting all my time with the meaningless, empty things in life. My prayer time was dry, so why pray? I’d read His Word only to feel as if His voice had abandoned me. Sleep seemed to escape me at every turn, I felt restless and void of hope.

Still, I endured. I took stock of what had helped me grow in the past and made myself accountable for how I would spend my time. I limited my time engaging in entertainment and forced myself to persist in prayer and study. It did not seem as though I would ever feel normal again, but I refused to stop.

Eventually breakthrough did come.

If I have one message today, it’s don’t give up.

I don’t do this too often, but I wanted to share an excerpt from my journal. In the midst of my dark season, I wrote this. It started with me just trying to figure out what in the world I’m feeling and turned into a prayer of sorts.  I share in the hopes that if you find yourself in a similar season, you might be encouraged. You are not alone and eventually light will shine through the darkness.

Don’t give up.

Endure.

I’ve always been a positive and healthy person. I’ve experienced painful situations, but throughout I always felt like me. I dealt with them, processed them and moved on. I don’t feel like myself anymore. It’s like my personality is dampened. There are small moments where I feel normal, then they are replaced with feelings of isolation, sadness or anger. Last night I felt healthy. Now, once again my sleep is disrupted and I’m angry. Scared. Lonely. I can’t crawl out of this pit of despair. I’m numb, apathetic and just lost. Hope seems far away and I don’t know where to turn. Is this depression? Is this normal? Am I just broken? I’m not myself, this is not normal for me. God feels like a ghost. Will this last forever?

Maybe I’m the ghost. Shipwrecked and abandoned on an island, far from familiar. Lord, revive the dead in me. If only I could salvage something within my soul to renew a sense of security. A soul compass to point in the direction of healing. A spiritual saline to cleanse and renew my withered heart and find life again. Lord, revive the dead in me. You alone are the source of life. In You alone is there hope. Can I crawl close and rest in Your shadow? A reprieve from the elements threatening to tear away my identity. Can You remind me of Your voice? The voice that calms the sea. The clarifying voice of creation. Though I feel lost, deep down I know the only way to be found is to get lost in You. Lost in wonder. Lost in the magnitude of who You are.

How far from home must I have wandered for You to feel so small? When did I leave? When did I set out to make my own way, to build my own house apart from You? Tear down the walls I’ve built. The walls of false comfort. The very walls meant to protect me destroy me, cutting me off from my source of rest.

Revive the dead in me.

May I return to the home of Your presence? How long will You feel distant? How long must I wander in the vastness of this void? Fill me. I don’t know how long I can endure before the crippling call of failure lures me into its clutches begging me to forsake it all. Fill me with Your life. Do not delay. Forgive me of any sin and help me to endure.

May the horizon of hope fill my vision again.

Amen.

I Need Friends and So Do You

Psh, I don’t need people! We like to tell ourselves that sometimes. People leave us hurt, rejected and many times we feel like we’d be just fine without them. If like me, you’ve thought that before, you’re wrong. We need people.

Five Months ago everything in my life changed. I moved 1200 miles away from the place I had lived most of my life. As a single guy, this meant leaving behind not only everything familiar, but everyone I’ve ever known as well. Moving to a new state, by yourself means starting completely from scratch when it comes to friendship. Yes, I can stay in touch with those people I’ve known and loved for years, but they can’t satisfy that need within me for genuine relationship. I can’t go get coffee with them at a moments notice. For that, I must find new relationships.

There is a need in all of us for relationship. In some seasons we are very aware of it, while in other seasons we might get by with minimal contact, but it is certainly only a season. Eventually, we need genuine friendship.

We are busier and more connected than ever. The number one reason for not making time for relationships is that we are too busy. Between school, our jobs, our family and keeping up with social media, television, movies and books who has any leftover time to invest in new relationships or even keep old friendships alive? We are constantly in contact with people over social media and that is more than enough to fill my emotional need for human companionship. Except that it’s not.

More often than not, these online relationships leave us feeling hollow and a bit lonely at the end of the day. The tendency is to invest more time on social media to try and find the soul fulfillment we so desperately long for while neglecting the real face to face relationships that actually bring it. The result leaves us feeling more isolated than ever before.

The Bible says this about isolation.

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

The more we withdraw from face to face relationship with people, the easier it is to lose perspective in life. When we are isolated, we make decisions that we otherwise would never make. Isolation leaves us longing for something to fulfill the need that is lacking. That need causes us to pursue unhealthy desires that deep down we know will leave us empty.

True friendships, however, satisfy something deep inside of us. Maybe it’s the laughter. Maybe it’s the part of us that comes alive as the discussion goes beneath the surface. Deep friendships do something deep within us. It reinvigorates us and brings us energy. We can never replicate that kind of soul fulfillment with superficial or online relationships.

How would your life change if you made an intentional effort to build room in your life for deeper relationships? It doesn’t have to be an impossible time commitment. It can be as simple as grabbing coffee once a week or getting breakfast before work.

We are all built differently and have different needs, but everyone has this internal need that can only be satisfied with friendship. My challenge for you today is to spend less time trying to satisfy that need with entertainment or social media and begin to invest in face to face friends. Remember, don’t rush! It takes time for a friendship to grow deeper, but don’t stop trying to keep your life full of friendship.

You need it and so do I.

Red Lights

There are moments in life when God is sending green lights and you have the all clear to move. In those seasons you better move because God is opening doors and you can be confident His favor and blessing is on your life. Other times God sends red lights and is instructing you to stop. You’ve probably already guessed the right thing to do is stop, but come on don’t we sometimes wanna blow through the red lights? We’re having so much fun moving forward, we feel so productive, God is blessing us why would we slow down?

Because He is telling you to, that’s why.

You can be sure if God is instructing you to stop there is a good reason. When we ignore His instruction to stop and instead keep moving forward, we will find that His hand of favor and blessing will be removed and the road ahead will begin to get difficult. We will wonder why we aren’t seeing the same results. Why? Because before we were moving forward in obedience to God and now we are moving forward in opposition to God.

Jeremiah 7:23 (ESV) But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’

Life is made up of seasons. Some seasons are about seizing divine opportunities while others are about preparation. In every season through our purpose should remain the same. Obey the voice of the Lord as He leads us through the path of life.

Why am I writing about this today? At the beginning of the year, I very strongly felt the Lord leading me to begin writing and I have been using these devotions as the vehicle to fulfill that goal. This weekend, as surely as I felt that prompting to begin I have felt that it is time to stop. I can’t tell you why I feel that, only that I do.

For many of us, we like to have all the answers right away. However, that isn’t how God works. His word is a lamp to our feet, not a floodlight. We usually only ever see a little bit ahead of where we are going and rarely the final destination. I do not know if this means to stop writing always and forever. More than likely it is only for a season. I have learned to really enjoy writing and I don’t believe the Lord is finished using me to write and teach His Word.

All I know is that for the foreseeable future I will not be publishing consistent weekly devotions. I do believe the Lord is leading me into a new season, even if I don’t yet know what that season is.

Since this is the final one I am publishing for a while let me leave you with what I believe is the most important thing we can do. Listen for His voice and obey it! Obey every Word He speaks. Treasure His words and regard His Word (THE BIBLE) with the utmost respect. Read it, study it, meditate on it, apply it to your life and live it out every day without compromise.

It is without question consistent obedience to the voice of the Lord that will transform your life.

I want to thank those of you who have subscribed and/or been faithful readers. I am appreciative of your kind words and encouragement. I pray you will continue to grow deep roots as you pursue the Lord. I pray you will be a people fully equipped to build the Kingdom of God right where you are.

Listen for His voice and strive with all you are to obey the Lord.

Divine Impartation

Recently I had a new experience. As I slept my mind awakened and I felt the Lord say, “If I asked, would you get up.”

I thought for a moment and replied, “I would, but why?”

“I need you to get to work an hour early.”

I opened my eyes for the first time to see the clock. It was exactly 1 hour and 5 minutes before the time I would normally wake up! I don’t normally have conversations like that with the Lord, but sometimes when I’m just barely awake I hear the Lord more clearly than when I’m fully conscious. I got out of bed and began my morning prayer time.

I was reading a book about the anointing and as I closed it tears filled my eyes and I found myself on the floor hands raised and weeping in the presence of God. I can’t say for certain right now what He was doing in my life, only that He is doing something new within me. Had I not obeyed and began praying I would have missed out on the Lord’s impartation in my spirit.

If there is one thought I can pass on today it is this.

We need the Holy Spirit.

I think of John the Baptist. We know he was Jesus’ cousin, but he did not know that his cousin was the promised One until He saw the sign. In the first chapter of John, the author tells of how John the Baptist describes the moment he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove. 

John 1:33 (ESV)  I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

I love that everything Jesus did, He did not do as God, but as a man operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore this same Holy Spirit He gives to us. Yes, the scripture tells us Jesus is the one who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

1 John 2:27 (NLT)  But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

I love that the Holy Spirit is our teacher! We must learn again to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. When we read the Scripture we are not reading just to fill our head with knowledge, we are reading to hear the voice of the Lord for our lives. When we don’t understand something, we shouldn’t just shrug and say I didn’t know. We should ask the Lord to teach us.

I am not suggesting we never ask other people to teach us, only that we should rely on the Holy Spirit inside us. Even when we are learning from another, their lesson should bear witness to the Spirit within us. We can recognize false teaching because He will help us.

I believe we are not hearing His voice like we should for two predominant reasons. First, we are too busy and too distracted to listen. We are surrounded by noise constantly. Thanks to our smart phones we schedule ourselves to the MAX and have little time left to just sit and listen. We also are constantly bombarded with entertainment, from news media to social media, and from music to television we are constantly filling our minds with information and noise. However, none of it is useful for eternity.

The second reason we struggle to hear His voice stems from the first reason. We are not taking the time to really study His word. We barely have time to read it, let alone meditate on it, thinking about what it means and how it applies to our lives. Recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit is learned, not innate. We learn to recognize it because it always, and I do mean ALWAYS, lines up with the Word of God.

When we learn to recognize and listen to His voice we will see an undeniable increase of Divine moments in our day to day living. I don’t want a mundane Christian life, being sustained from church service to church service. I want to live a life full of Holy Ghost encounters that not only leave me transformed, but leave the world shaken and in awe of the mighty power of God.

This is what is available to us when we put aside everything else and truly make our focus one primary thing, Jesus.

Increased Reliance

Life is not always a positive experience. People offend you, circumstances change, we don’t always win and things don’t always go our way. Your attitude in many ways determines how you will respond. In life, we all have set backs, but some people quickly rise above them while others seem to constantly complain about what could have been.

If I hadn’t lost money on that decision, I would have kept going.

If that person hadn’t offended me, I’d still be in church.

If things had only gone different, I’d have been a huge success.

Negative changes in circumstance simply mean we get to increase our reliance on God. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can absolutely control what happens in us and how we respond to those around us. When hard times come do we roll over and give up, or do we turn to the Lord for guidance?

I guess we have to ask ourselves, “What is the end goal?” As we grow in physical maturity we see increased independence. We set out on our own to make our own way in life. However, with spiritual maturity, as with many spiritual matters, it works differently. As we mature we don’t grow more spiritually independent.  Instead what we should see is an increased reliance on God.

I have this one certainty. No matter what happens to me in life if I can be in the presence of God then everything is fine. If I find success, but don’t acknowledge God then it is all for nothing. I read this scripture this morning in my morning Bible reading.

Psalm 27:4 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lordthe thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

No matter what life may throw our way, fair or unfair, we can rely on the presence of Jesus to see us through. Often that means we have to move past our anger, frustration, and negativity to see Him.

The verse of the day in YouVersion Bible App (I just love that app) said this:

Psalm 84:10 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

My life goal is to please God, not to obtain by the world’s measure success. I would rather be small in His presence than great and never know Him. A lowly career that pleases the Lord is better than a lofty career that pursued only to please myself.

Not too long ago I had one of the worst youth services I’ve ever had. Everyone seemed extra distractable, there were interruptions right as I was trying to make my big point. In the aftermath, my mind was jetting about in many different directions. Was my sermon just not good? Should I have done something different? Where did it derail? In the end, those questions could drive me crazy! 

It was a bad week and it would be so easy to be down about it. However, next week is coming. Instead of being devastated over what could have been, I choose to focus on what will be. I study, I pray and I seek the Lord’s direction, and creativity for that service.

My challenge for you today is simple. Don’t let the negative moments in life, no matter how big or small, keep you from remembering the Lord. Instead of focusing on the giant problems, focus on a much greater God. Rely fully on Him. Even if you are in a season where you are struggling to see hope, remember God will not let you down and He is never far away.