Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hardness of Heart


Hardness of Heart

As children of God, we have been granted the greatest of privileges. We are “the temple of the Holy Spirit” by way of the Divine Indwelling. We carry something of God’s Kingdom within us, and as a result, our lives become a manifestation of Christ-likeness. In other words, our lives become an outward expression of this inward experience.

What can hinder the outward expression of the inward experience?

There may be several potential hindrances; however, one in particular seems to be confronted by Jesus toward His disciples.

“But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18).

Is your heart still hardened? It is vital to recognize how a hardened heart affects our ability to accurately perceive and understand the Kingdom of God. In fact, the passage also speaks of the ability to see and hear what the Spirit is attempting to communicate. We must receive revelation in order to walk in understanding. Revelation involves the heart (spirit); understanding is based on mental faculties. God communicates Spirit to spirit with man. As revelation comes, it must reach our mind to be understood. Our eyes and ears must be “tuned in” to see and hear what God is doing and saying.

In the Scripture passage above, we see that Jesus was speaking in regard to the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. Yet, the disciples asserted that He spoke of bread because they were hungry and only had one loaf! They did not even remember how the Lord had abundantly provided the loaves and fish in the recent past.

Is it possible for our hearts to become so dull and hardened that we fail to remember what God has already done on our behalf? YES!

Hardness of heart can also cause us to fall back on our own reasoning in times of challenge. Just look at the disciples!

Our perspective becomes skewed because we fail to see and hear accurately. God’s Word and Spirit are no longer bringing revelation, and thus, we do not understand. Wisdom becomes distant as problems become bigger than God’s promises. Hardness of heart affects our relationships with God and others. We become frustrated, angry, disappointed, critical, and the list goes on . . .

Yet, there is a very simple solution:

“Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3).

There is only one way for this hardness of heart, this “fallow ground,” to be dealt with properly. We must experience God’s powerful presence on a consistent basis.

“The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

If we will humble ourselves, confess our sins, and draw near to God, He will draw near to us. God resists the proud; He gives grace to the humble. Keep in mind: “grace” involves divine influence on the heart, the reflection in the life. The Lord will never reject or ignore us when we come to Him with a contrite heart.

We must get into God’s presence until we EXPERIENCE God’s presence. The hardness will fall away, and the Potter will do His work of molding and shaping. The inward experience will become an outward expression, and we won’t have to work so hard at pleasing God!

Until next time . . .

Grace & Peace,

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Kingdom Within


The Kingdom Within

Past articles have focused primarily on “The Divine Indwelling,” which refers to the Holy Spirit abiding on the inside of the believer. The evidence of God’s Spirit residing on the inside of us can and should be seen through a variety of ways.

Apostle Paul reminds us, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

We now possess and are to be possessed by God’s righteousness, peace, and joy by virtue of the Kingdom being within us.

Jesus primarily taught two realms of the Kingdom: the Kingdom within and the Kingdom “at hand,” or around us. There are various passages in the Gospel accounts where we find this revealed.

God’s Kingdom is in us and needs to be demonstrated outwardly. Ultimately, this involves the work of the Holy Spirit. The “Divine Indwelling” is essential if we are going to demonstrate the Kingdom to a lost and hurting world.

Clearly, two ways in which the Kingdom is revealed through our lives include both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. If we are “led by the Spirit,” we will not “fulfill the lust the flesh” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16).

In other words, we will not portray behavior that is contrary to God and doesn’t (and cannot) please Him. The presence of the Holy Spirit and Kingdom of God will influence the way we think, and this will be manifested through the corresponding action seen in our lives.

To be sure, there are many things that can and will hinder this manifestation. Just as we are admonished to “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27), we are likewise warned to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14).

The need for surrender has been discussed previously. The degree to which we yield to the Spirit determines the degree to which we will manifest the Kingdom of God outwardly. Though it is possible to put on a “mask” or act a particular way when we around certain people, sooner or later what is inside will be revealed in our character, behavior, and even relationships. If we truly desire to manifest God’s Kingdom in our lives, we must submit to the “Divine Indwelling”!

The fruit and gifts become the natural outpouring. We do not have to “work” at being more like Christ. We simply must learn to yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to glorify the Lord in our daily walk.

Paul urged believers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is best accomplished as we experience God’s presence in our daily lives and learn the fine art of submission to the Spirit; for just as the Son of God came to glorify the Father, the Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son.

If you feel as though this message has spoken to you, then you’ll definitely want to read the upcoming blog as well. Next time we will discuss what may well be the number one hindrance to the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in and through our lives.

Until then . . .

Grace & peace,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Divine Indwelling, Part 2


The Divine Indwelling, Part 2

Jesus came to restore all that was lost as a result of man’s original sin. Through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension the full price of redemption was paid. As a result, man could again experience God, the Creator, just as he had in the Garden of Paradise.

As we place our faith in Christ’s finished work, we are restored back into relationship with God and can now receive “the promise of the Father,” the divine indwelling. Christ sent His Spirit to live in us. He, the Spirit, could now be man’s comforter and teacher.

Believers, having expressed faith in Christ, would now function as God’s own temple on the earth. The Kingdom of God was to be revealed throughout the world as individuals experience God’s divine influence on their hearts and reflect it wherever they happen to be. Ordinary folks can receive power to change the atmosphere in which they live. As ambassadors, we represent God’s kingdom on the earth. He has made us to be “kings and priests” in order to exercise dominion here and now.

How can this be accomplished in our lives? First and foremost, we must receive revelation as God’s Spirit communicates with our own. This takes place in what is referred to as our “inner-man"—our center-most part—the heart. This spiritual revelation then must be given opportunity to communicate truth to our minds in order for us to experience transformation from a worldly mindset to a kingdom mentality.

Additionally, we must give place to the Spirit and allow Him to manifest His ways, will, and works through our lives.

Jesus made reference to the fact that the kingdom of God is within us. Apostle Paul gives us a general description of what this is and how it looks.

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

Righteousness means we now have “right standing” before God. It also means to live in “right alignment” with Him. To be sure, this gives the opportunity to experience true peace in any situation. It is also cause for lasting joy, which is our source of strength. Christ even gives us His joy in order for our joy to be full.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).

Now, in simple terms, there are three basic “kingdoms” that must be recognized: the kingdom of God, the kingdom of darkness, and the kingdom of “self.”

We are always representing a kingdom through daily living and all situations. That is what ambassadors do. Typically, as Christians, we are demonstrating either God’s kingdom or our own.

When God’s kingdom is being manifested, the fruit of the Spirit will be openly displayed. This is evidence that we are “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

To be “led,” literally means to be “under the influence,” especially as it pertains to the mental faculties (Thayer's). As a result of this divine influence, we can reflect the character of God as true “sons,” or children, who have received the Father’s discipline.

We no longer have to labor or strain to show that we are God’s very own. The supernatural becomes natural. We have opportunity to display outwardly the fruit of the kingdom within us. All we have to do is yield our lives to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. There is more to be said about what this looks like in our day-to-day experiences and relationships.

True success and victory are found in ultimate surrender to the Divine Indwelling!

Grace & peace,

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Divine Indwelling


The Divine Indwelling

One of the greatest—perhaps even THE greatest—honor of being a born-again believer is that of being the “temple of the Holy Ghost.”

Consider for a moment what God has done through the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. We cannot possibly fathom the depth of this with our carnal minds. However, the Lord brings us to a place of being qualified to live as His dwelling place on the earth. Only the perfect blood of a sinless Savior could accomplish such a remarkable task.

When Jesus hung on the cross and declared, “It is finished,” the veil separating man and God was torn from top to bottom. Unholy man could now enter into the most holy place. Not only that . . . that which was “unholy” would now become the temple of that which is Most Holy.

In the words of Jesus, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Christ did not come simply to grant us forgiveness. Rather, the Son of Man was made flesh to fully restore all that was lost due to man’s disobedience. Again, it is almost impossible to consider all that is involved and included when we think about “that which was lost.”

It is God’s will to walk with His people again just as He and Adam did in the garden. The Lord desires that we experience and enjoy a deep intimate relationship as one. We have been recreated in the very image and likeness of God; this is the result of the new birth. The Lord now takes up residence on the INSIDE of man in order for us to reflect His goodness and glory.

By definition, that is part of what “grace” is all about. This word speaks of “divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life” (Strong’s).

One benefit of “grace” is that of experiencing God’s divine influence in our hearts, our inner man. As a result, we are empowered to reflect that which is divine. Believers can now be filled with the Spirit of Christ and live in complete harmony with the God of creation! The Spirit will lead, guide, and direct our steps when we yield to His will and not simply our own. He is our Comforter, Teacher, and Guide through this journey of life.

"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19).

We will take this further next time. Until then . . .

Grace & Peace,