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,