By His Spirit All Things Are Possible

6 Feb

I’m reading “Life in His Hands – A Devotional” by Jill Holler and wanted to share this quote with you. It says so well and so gently what I have been attempting to share over many posts.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

HAS GOD CONFRONTED you with the undeniable reality that apart from Him, you can do nothing? Has He displayed the limitations and weaknesses of your human nature vividly upon the canvas of your life?

If so, when faced with such knowledge, our reaction may be to close our eyes to the truth. However, recognizing how vastly inadequate we are without God is the tipping point of a life lived fully in His power. For when we come to the end of ourselves, God takes over and supplies us with all we need to live abundantly for Him. God is the vine; we are the branches. If we stay connected to our lifeline, there is no limit to the amount of eternal fruit that we can produce for Him. Life-giving power springs up naturally from His being, and it can flow right through us to grow His kingdom here on earth. The results of remaining in Him will be a bountiful harvest that is beyond what we can imagine.

In contrast, if we begin to believe that we can make it on our own and try to sustain ourselves, we will quickly see just how fruitless our efforts will become, for no branch can bear fruit by itself (John 15:4). Without God, our lives become withered and dry, void of the eternal.

What a great blessing it is, therefore, to realize that we can do nothing apart from Him! When we stay forever connected to the one who sustains us, we will experience true, fruitful living. Through God, the source of everything good, we can become all that He has created us to be: a blessing to those around us and servants who advance His kingdom purposes. What glory we can bring to God as we let Him work His power through us! As we make His Word the foundation of our life and our relationship with Him our greatest priority, we will produce fruit that will glorify God’s name and have an eternal impact on the world around us. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2 In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)”

Start reading this book for free:

Me again adding my final thoughts: doing God’s work in our own strengths, talents, perceptions is just another religion. True Christianity is being led by his Spirit, releasing him to work through us what we could never do on our own.


The Seventh Glorious Fire

30 Jan

What if this Sunday someone stands and sounds a trumpet: taht-ta-da-DAH? Then across the room another sounds: taht-ta-da-DAH. Once more in harmony. Then someone else stands and announces, “THE KING IS IN THE HOUSE.” And before you have a chance to entertain your what-kind-of-stunt-is-this thought, a tsunami of awe and wonder floods the room. What if?

We see it with Moses

The baptism of fire of God’s glory is coming, and this should not be a surprise, it’s the seventh and final category of fire types I’ve found in the Bible. For a glimpse of what it might be like, step back into time with me to about 1446 BC. In Exodus 3 we find Moses knelt before the burning bush—a bush engulfed in a fire that didn’t kill the plant. The leaves didn’t even curl from its heat. God spoke to Moses from it and gave Moses his mission.

Later in chapter 19, Moses climbed Mt. Sinai. The mountain was covered in a cloud, thunder, lightnings, fire and smoke. The Israelites probably reasoned among themselves that he wouldn’t last ten minutes in all that. After forty days, they turned to Aaron and told him to make them a god to follow and “let’s get out of here. Moses isn’t coming back” (my paraphrase). But then he appeared walking down the mountain, carrying two stone tablets written on by the finger of God.

Approximately two years later and following Moses’ instructions, the priests put the final piece of the tabernacle in place. The fire and cloud that had been leading them through their travel came down and filled the tabernacle. Moses knew he would survive entering the fire of God’s glory. He had been there before. When he exited his meeting with God, his face shone with a light so bright he had to cover his face with a veil. And, it wasn’t this one time. Scripture records this happened every time Moses entered God’s fire of his glory.

And in the beginning of the Church

The first-generation Christians experienced a spiritual equivalent. The anointing upon the Church at first stupefied the religious leaders. Jealousy and fears then warred against the Church. With each generation the light dimmed until it looked like it had been extinguished. Then the period known as the Reformation ushered in a restoration process. Bit by bit through the centuries old truths came as revelations, bringing to life things forgotten from the original Church.

When the last detail ordered by the Lord is put in place in his tabernacle made from the lively stones of men, when the corporate Christ stands in the unity of faith as one, when the fullness of time has come; God’s fire of his glory will fill his house once more. Christians are looking for Jesus’ return. This is not it. Rather, God’s glory filling his Church makes the way ready for his return. In those days he can receive his bride without spot or wrinkle.

And when we think we can’t hold more

John prophesied Jesus would baptize in Spirit and fire. These seven purposes of fire do a complete work in believers’ hearts so the power in their lives becomes clear to all that the work is from God, not of men—his standard raised in the flood of evil. It’s a time when what we accept by faith to be spiritually true becomes true experientially. Our challenge–and it is a challenge because the flesh wars constantly against the Spirit–is to let the different fires do their perfect work. To not only allow, but also to pray for it. Oh, to hear, “The King is in the house.”

Burning Fire on the Altar of Worship

23 Jan

In my last blog, I stated the first mention of fire in the scripture protected the Tree of Life—or perhaps we can understand it as protecting man from himself by keeping him from that tree. This blog describes an earlier fire seen by inference instead of by name, but it stands as a core element of God’s message from the beginning to the end. The fire of sacrifice brings us near to the last fire.

Peeling Back the Layers

As we look back through the pages of history, burnt sacrifices surface as part of religious ceremony in many nations and cultures. While ordered by God’s law given to Moses, Israel cannot claim exclusionary practice (think of Elijah and the contest with the prophets of Baal). So where did it all begin and spread throughout the world?

We know Moses records God’s instruction in the Law, but Genesis records the practice in place long before the first Passover. Abraham in obedience to God’s command took his son Isaac to the mountain to there sacrifice him to God as a burnt sacrifice. Before Isaac’s birth, Abram made a sacrifice to the Lord because of the promise given him. God sealed the promise as a flaming torch passing between the animal halves, burning up the sacrifice (Genesis 15).

Burnt sacrifices, however, predates Abraham by hundreds of years. In Genesis 8, Noah and his family exited the ark. His first act was to build an altar to make a sacrifice in worship and thanksgiving for what the Lord had done in preserving their lives.

And before Noah, the first detailed account of a sacrifice in worship is in Genesis 4. There we read that Cain and Abel brought their offerings to sacrifice. God accepted/approved Abel’s but rejected Cain’s offering. Anyone not know how that ended? Could God bring judgment for or against any expression of honor or worship without a standard already being set? If it had been set, when would that have been?

The Earliest

Right after the fall in Genesis chapter three, God made clothing out of animal skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (the physical evidence of their sin). Expand that in your minds. God killed an animal (probably two—one for each of them) to cover their nakedness. The first sacrifice for sin. We’re not told what animal he chose, but in keeping with the rest of scripture, I suggest it was a lamb. Remember, Abel’s accepted sacrifice was a first-born lamb. I don’t think it is a stretch to assume God instructed Adam and Eve about continuing the sacrifice as a repetitious reminder of their fall, their need, and God’s promise and provision. Their obedience served as training for Cain and Abel who then continued the practice on their own.

Being the first mention of fire in the Scripture has significance when we consider it as God’s priority. While we might first think of judgment and death, God thought of turning the heart of mankind back to himself. When wronged, we might want heaven’s fire to rain down on the one who hurt us, but God wants a fire in the person’s heart to restore that one to fellowship with him.

My Worship: Most Like Cain or Abel?

I often need to repent over my diluted worship. Like Cain, I bring to the Lord worship that goes through the motion without real meaning. I have walked out of church scoring the singing or the preached message. “The music really struck a cord with me today. I felt really moved by it.” Or, “Did you think the music was a little off today? That one song seemed to take us away from what I think the Lord was wanting to say.”

Are you ready for this? Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” True worship requires sacrifice. Daily we face choices to humble ourselves before the Lord or to try to force our ways. Letting the sacrifice fires touch our hearts in surrender to his will pleases the Father.

Open Up to Sacrifice Fires

Psalm 24:3-4a “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…”

All fires bring us here to this place.

Protected by Fire

16 Jan

It is so fresh to be able to turn the proverbial corner on this discussion of God’s fire. Having shared about the consuming fires, the next one comes with a couple of surprises. At least it did for me when I dug into it: the fire of protection.

I knew of its use, but the extent of it—put into perspective—surprised me. When Israel left Egypt, God protected his people with a pillar of fire. The protection was manifested in three distinct ways.
1. With their backs to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army bearing down on them, God’s pillar of fire moved between Israel and the enemy army. It held the army back until all of Israel had safely crossed the Red Sea.
2. A pillar of cloud by day and one of fire at night lead Israel. Fire gave them light in their travel so they would not fall or encounter other dangers.
3. When either pillar stopped, Israel would set up camp. The pillar of fire at night gave light in the camp so Israel was protected from any enemy—man or beast—attempting to enter their camp by cover of darkness.

Pretty cool, huh? I didn’t need to look them up. However, when I did reread the account, I was reminded that this happened every day from the time they started out of Egypt until they crossed into the promised land. Forty years times 365 days. Surely, this added to the reasons the nations feared Israel passing through their land. All could see Israel’s God was with them. He guarded them jealously and fearsomely.

When I think of the length of time, the awesomeness of its appearance, and the faithfulness of God in it; I wonder why God’s judgment comes first to mind when his fire is mentioned. If you haven’t caught the thread, let me state again that God intends his fire for our good.

One overlooked fact (the second surprise) strengthens this argument/conclusion. The first mention of fire in the Bible is found in Genesis chapter three. After throwing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, God set an angel with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life. We are told God was concerned what man might do should he decide to take of its fruit and live forever.

We can interpret symbolism in this passage to indicate Jesus is the Tree of Life. Creating the protective fire to separate the Tree of Life from mankind assured its unveiling until God’s appointed time.

However, it can also be that the fiery sword protected man from himself. He had taken the huge step to be at odds against God and to try to be a god himself. Imagine how wicked mankind could become if he could live forever. And, being subject to death stood as the main obstacle to being a god. As it was, men lived 600, 700, 800, 900 plus years until the flood. God said at that time he was going to limit their lives to 120 years. By the time the Psalms were written, life expectancy was reduced to three score and ten, with only a few living beyond that. Even cut that short, there seems to be no limit to the evil men can design.

Since the beginning, the fire of protection had such a major role in God’s story. It stands to reason it will have its part in the promised baptism of fire, as well. I don’t know how it will manifest, but I pray my eyes are opened to see and recognize it when it happens.

When Is a Fiery Trial Not One?

9 Jan

On Mountain Top

Whew! We made it through the holidays. I guess I’ve experienced almost every emotion around them over the years. The wonder, the nostalgia, the warmth and love, the joy of having family together again, and the emptiness of seeing an empty chair. There have been times I simply wanted to skip them altogether. Have you ever felt that? Not this year, though. Excitement about being with those who could make it to our Christmas gathering filled our hearts. One son finally was able to make last minute arrangements, but the other son told us he had to remain on base until sometime in January. We got a head start on celebrations when our son in army training walked out from backstage to greet us at the church Christmas Eve service.

To the Valley

We had a beautiful Christmas, but New Year’s Eve brought us back from our euphoria to the harsher realities of life. A feared event in one daughter’s life moved from possibility to reality, and we were in a fiery trial. We can’t escape them, friends. They happen. Sometimes they happen at the worst possible times. Sometimes traumatic. But they happen.

Peter and Paul warned Christians to expect them. And not only expect them, but also know that God is still in control despite appearances. Some Christians evidently had been told (as is the case in America today) that Christians have been set free from them. Somehow we have a blessed life void of hardships. Experiencing such difficulties must mean you have hidden sin in your life. Here are a few quotes that indicate otherwise:

Matthew 5:45 “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Hebrews 12: 7-8 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Fourth Example or Aspect of Baptism of Fire

If you have been following my earlier posts about the fires of destruction, judgment and purification; you would be right in asking why I list fiery trials as another fire of the promised baptism of fire. The answer is quite simple. The fiery trials have two definitions. We call major disruptions, traumatic events, and illnesses our fiery trials. Some may be so severe that we are tempted to doubt or even leave our fellowship with other believers. But these events are those common to man. No one is exempt from having these in our lives. For that reason they cannot be the fiery trials that are part of the baptism of fire promised to believers.

Peter takes the discussion to a different level as he writes his first letter to the churches. Persecution of Christians was still ramping up, and he wanted to give a word of direction and encouragement. We read this in 1 Peter 4:12-16:
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

I love it when he clarified two types of persecution against believers: that caused by peoples’ reaction to seeing Jesus in us and that caused by our bad behavior with claims of doing it in Jesus’s name. So, am I saying I believe fiery trials in the form of persecution of believers is coming as part of the baptism of fire? Yes, I am.

I am because judgment begins in the house of God.

I am because Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle.

The Simple Truth

And I am because we turn our hearts to seek God’s face when difficulties arise. God desires a people who seek his face constantly, but our flesh wars against the spirit so we let down our guards and don’t realize it when we begin to slide away from him. The entire history of Israel and the church has included times of apostasy and falling away. With Israel, God sent other nations to war against his people, to bring oppression, and all forms of hardships until they cried out and turned their hearts again to him. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians that these things that happened to Israel were given for our examples to learn from.

To the persecuted church James adds, “ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4).

Now is the time for us to exercise our faith that we might be able to withstand the temptation to doubt or turn away when the true fiery trials come. Be strengthen by his spirit and the power of his might in us. The baptism of fire is coming. The last three types of fire we will look at are more fun and should lead all to say with John, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

Reminder: We are being trained to royalty

2 Jan

Just as the growing royal family in England must be trained on how to conduct themselves, so we as members of God’s royal family must be trained as well. To that end, I am going to share something I read this past week reposted on Facebook by a friend of mine. As a note of disclosure, I am not familiar with this Mario Murillo’s ministry, so I am not endorsing it in any way. However, his blog gives a concrete example of what my series of blogs on the coming baptism of fire points us to. I believe as Jesus’s return draws ever nearer, his church will both be called to and raised to a new level of holiness.

I say “called to” because I sense that, as he did when we first believed, he is inviting us to enter into a greater and closer relationship (walk) with him and in his kingdom. Our first love will be restored and in far greater measure. We’ll know freedom and cleanliness in ways we’ve never imagined.

And I say “raised to” because he will begin judgment in his church. The baptism of fire will usher in his glory filling his temple (his church—us). The following blog expertly and graciously shines a penlight on our path toward being royalty in God’s kingdom.

Will be back next week

26 Dec

We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog with this very important event.

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