How to Become Your True Self

by Bella DePaulo Ph.D., Harvard | According the “self-concordance theory,” the most important thing we can do to become our true self is to pursue the goals that are right for us.

When those of us who are single at heart try to explain that to other people, we are sometimes put on the defensive. How can we possibly choose to live single? The whole idea of being single at heart, as I define it, is that for some people, living single is the way they live their best, most authentic, and most meaningful life. But how do you know what way of living is right for you?

The question of how to become your true self and live most authentically is one that pertains to every aspect of our lives, not just our choices about marital status or relationship status or parental status. All of our goals and aspirations, from the biggest and broadest to the smallest and least significant, are part of the calculus of living a good life.

According the “self-concordance theory,” the most important thing we can do to become our true self is to pursue the goals that are right for us. If we choose wrong – if we pursue goals that do not reflect who we really are, what we care about, and what we are good at – then even if we achieve those goals, we are not going to feel happy or fulfilled.

In a recent issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review, Kennon Sheldon reviewed the social science research relevant to the question of how we choose goals that best serve our quest to become our true self. Here’s what I see as some of the implications of the research.

When you set a goal or make a plan, how do you feel about it?

  1. Do you feel ambivalent about it?
  2. Do you find that you just can’t get yourself to follow through?
  3. Do you disparage your own goals or plans when you are talking to other people?
  4. Do you feel pressured by other people to pursue the goals you chose or the plans you made?
  5. Do you feel constrained to pursue particular goals (for example, getting a law degree instead of a degree in English literature because you think you will need the better salary that a law degree might bring)?
  6. Do you worry that if you do not pursue a particular goal or plan, you will feel guilty?

Or do you feel entirely differently?

  1. Do you really enjoy pursuing your goals or plans?
  2. Do you identify with what you are doing? Does it seem like what you are doing reflects who you really are?
  3. Do you find what you are doing interesting? Meaningful?
  4. Is it challenging in a way you appreciate?
  5. If you are doing something in some sense because you have to (for example, you are doing your job because it pays), do you sometimes find that it is so engaging that even if you didn’t need the money, you might want to do it anyway?
  6. Are you more attuned to your own feelings of growth and self-improvement than to other people’s evaluations of how you are doing?

If the second set of feelings describes you more accurately than the first set, then you are probably doing a good job of becoming your true self.

Are you the kind of person who springs into action immediately or do you take time to pay attention to how you are feeling? Sheldon believes that this “trait mindfulness” is important. It is defined as “the general disposition to be attentive to one’s feelings, desires, sensations, and emotions – to simply observe one’s reactions and emotions rather than being pulled immediately into action or reaction.” Research suggests that people who are more mindful in this way are more likely to pursue goals that are consistent with who they really are.

Similarly, people who “follow their gut” rather than trying to be overly rational may also do better at choosing the goals and plans that are right for them.

Are you surrounded by people who make it easy to be your true self?

Self-concordance theory is mostly about you and not about other people. But the people around you can be important in making it easier for you to become your best self rather than standing in your way.

In the workplace, you are doing well if you have a boss who tries to see your perspective, who tries to give you choices, and who provides meaningful rationales for any advice that is offered.

That’s true in sports, too. In studies of athletes at all different levels, researchers have found that leadership style matters more at the highest levels: “Having a supportive coach may be especially important for elite-level athletes, so that they can remain in touch with their original motivation to compete.”

In our everyday lives, some of us are fortunate enough to have friends or relatives who know us better than we know ourselves, and have our best interests in mind. They might know before we do when we are pursuing a goal that is never going to make us happy. If we are super lucky, they will know how to tell us that in a way we can hear.


Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1979) is a social psychologist and the author of Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (St. Martin’s Press) and How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century (Atria), and other books. Atlantic magazine described Dr. DePaulo as “America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience.” Her TEDx talk is “What no one ever told you about people who are single.”

 

Author of Living Single.In the spirit of the book, Singled Out, Living Single is a myth-busting, consciousness-raising, totally unapologetic take on single life. At this blog, we discuss just about everything about single life — except dating!
Bella DePaulo’s website


ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is Faith a Blind Leap that is Required of Christians?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | You will be in good company with all the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 if you exercise faith in God today.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. It is not only Christians who exercise faith; every human being exercise faith on a great number of things each day. The water we drink, food we eat, cars we drive, buses we ride on, airplanes we fly, chairs we sit on, depositing money in the bank, sending children to school, etc. Almost everything we do requires faith and when we do not have faith in a given situation, we refuse to act on the right thing to do.

We have faith in people and anything that has a track record of being reliable and consistent. The object of faith for the Christian is God who has proven Himself as reliable, consistent, dependable, unchangeable, everlasting, has never and will never fail. He created and sustains the whole universe with perfect precision. No one who has put his faith in God has been disappointed. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God has given you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Jos. 23:14. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Mk, 13:31. Jesus is the Light and when we trust in Him, we walk in the light. Anyone who does not trust in the Light is certainly taking a blind leap into eternity without hope. You will be in good company with all the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 if you exercise faith in God today.

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Weekly Spiritual Digest: How Can a Loving God Send Anyone to Hell?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | God is the very definition of love and therefore He cannot do anything that is unloving. The Scripture tells us that God IS love; hence, everything He does is an expression of that perfect love. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

God did not create HELL for human beings but for Satan and the fallen angels. However, anyone who buys into Satan’s ways chooses to voluntarily follow Satan to Hell. Heaven and Hell are two eternal destinations, and everyone gets to choose where he/she will spend eternity. The choice may or may not be expressed verbally but it is lived out daily.

  • God does not want anyone to go to Hell and He has done everything possible to accomplish this objective without infringing on our free will to choose (Deut. 30:19).
  • He gave His Son as a substitute to die in our place so we will not have to go to Hell. (Rom. 6:23).
  • He has delayed His return to earth to judge the world giving us plenty of time to repent (1Pt. 3:9).
  • God continues to warn us about hell (Mk 9:43-38).
  • He once destroyed all sinners by flood and only Noah and his family were saved. God also destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and only Lot and his family were saved (Jude 7).
  • All the Israelites 20 years and older that left Egypt for the Promised land died in the desert for their sins except Caleb and Joshua (Num. 32:11-13). God is not only a God of love but also a Holy, Righteous, and Just God who judges people in fairness.

What will He say to those He has already judged and condemn? God does not send people to Hell; people choose to go to Hell on their own. He loves you and you do not have to go to HELL.

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Prayer Points: Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus

by Dr. Omobukola Olaoye | The God Who Directs the Lives of His Creatures is doing a New Thing in Me this Year! Rom 13:1-5; Nehemiah 1

March 2019 Prayer Points
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is LORD,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Thanksgiving

  1. Proverbs 16:9-11 – Give glory to our living God who has the final say. It is He who directs the path of individuals and makes a person’s heart desires come true. Praise Him who establishes authority on earth.
  2. Acts 17: 27-31 – Thank Him, who is not far from us, the one in whom we live, move, and have our being. Thank Him who gives us the opportunity to repent and be saved, if you are saved. If not, you can believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, right now.
  3. Job 12:9-13 – Praise God of wisdom, power, counsel and understanding whose does wonders here on earth. Give glory to our God whom we can trust for direction and guidance.
  4. Psalm 29:1-11 – Ascribe Glory to our God is enthroned in heaven and on earth. Our God whose voice will speak a new thing in your life and in nations this year.


IN CHRIST ALONE – Written and recorded by Tilly Harder (YouTube)

Prayers

  1. Exodus 18:21-25 – That the Lord will help us obey Him (as individuals, families, church, and nation) to choose:(Nehemiah 1: 1-11)
    1. Able men – physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, academically, and spiritually with sound mind who are genuinely concerned about the people and are ready to lead our homes, jobs, church, and nation.
    2. God fearing men who will pray for the people and allow Christians to worship and serve God freely. Not men like Pharaoh or Ahab who deprived men from serving God and caused their nations to serve idols.
    3. Trustworthy men who will serve whole heartedly. Not men who will sell out their people because due to corruption, but men who will fight corruption and injustice on all levels in truth.
  2. Exodus 18:13-20 – That the Lord will change our situations for good this year (at home, work, church, and the nation), as He makes us men and women full of wise counsel, and as He helps us respond to His call to be burden-lifters like Jethro.
  3. 1 John 5:14 – Finish today’s prayers by thanking God for answering all your prayers.

Pray that even though you try to do everything in your own strength the best way possible, you still fall short of God’s Holy standard  – but you know that in Christ your sins that were scarlet have been washed white as snow – through Jesus cleansing blood.

Dr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye
Dr. Omobukola Olaoye is a Home Healthcare Quality & Management Consultant; Administrator for A Premium Healthcare Solution, Financial Director of ECWA USA DCC.



Do Christians Need to Speak in Tongues?

by Christianity.net.au | Don’t get me wrong, tongues are still a gift from God and still good, but the exact problem the Christians in Corinth had was that they played a game of one-up-manship based on who had the better gift, and who followed the ‘better’ Apostle – and that’s why Paul hammers them in I Cor 3:1 as “mere infants in Christ”.  Don’t let whether you speak in tongues or not shake your confidence in Christ! (image, Pixabay)

 

I am wondering about ‘speaking in tongues’. A friend of mine has just given me a book called ‘Heaven is so Real’ by a woman called Choo Nam. In this book, she claims Jesus has taken her to heaven many times and she tells the reader that Jesus tells her she must pray in tongues. Are we Christians who don’t speak in tongues missing something or are we not good enough Christians for God to give us tongues to use? I have found many mentions of speaking in tongues in the Bible and just am quite confused about the whole thing. – Anonymous

Regarding speaking in tongues, the Bible never tells us that we must speak in tongues.  A good passage is 1 Cor 12:27-31:

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[a]? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts”.

The obvious answer to his rhetorical question (in bold) “No, of course they don’t!”.  This idea is picked up earlier in 1 Cor 12:7-11, where different gifts are given to different people as the Spirit determines.  This is a really clear answer from the Bible (yay!), the Bible doesn’t tell us that we must speak in tongues.

Which brings us to the second part of your question about whether Christians who speak in tongues are some how superior to those who don’t, or whether we’re missing something.  Back in the first passage the last verse says that we are to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (V31).  But V28 tells us that they are more like the gifts of apostleship (which you and I aren’t!), prophecy, teaching etc…  In fact, tongues are last on the list!  The gift of administration is even above tongues in this ordered list.  Sometimes it’s easy to over-emphasise tongues because they look impressive, when really God values other things more highly.

Don’t get me wrong, tongues are still a gift from God and still good, but the exact problem the Christians in Corinth had was that they played a game of one-up-manship based on who had the better gift, and who followed the ‘better’ Apostle – and that’s why Paul hammers them in 3:1 as “mere infants in Christ”.  Don’t let whether you speak in tongues or not shake your confidence in Christ!

Finally, I think it’d be really good to be encouraged by what Christianity is all about.  Have a read of this:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in CHRIST”.  (Eph 1:3)

If you have Christ, you have it all!!  That’s worth remembering I think.

Christianity.net.au is an Anglican Media Sydney production, started in 2005. Sydneyanglicans.net is the official website of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church and a division of Anglican Media Sydney. Click here to learn more about Anglican Media Sydney.



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is Jesus Really God?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Only God is the omnipresent Spirit who can hear and answer prayer, but Jesus said in John 14:13, “If you shall ask anything in my name I will do it.”

The question, if Jesus is really God has caused different reactions ranging from excitement, confusion, anger and outright rejection by Christians and non-Christians alike. The existence of Jesus Christ is a no contest. He lived here on earth; His genealogy is known. Where and when He was born and the life He lived have all been documented by historians. The claim that He is God is the bone of contention. Here are four reasons to aid our understanding in believing that Jesus is God.

  1. Testimonies that Jesus is God.
    1. The Prophets: Isaiah & John the Baptist: Isa 9:6; 7:14; Jh. 1:1-3
    2. God the Father: Heb. 1:8 & Ps. 45:6.
    3. Jesus Himself: Jh. 8:58, 10:30.
    4. Jesus’ Disciples Jh. 20:28.
  2. Jesus has all the attributes of God – A few will suffice:

    1. Self-existing Jh. 5:26;
    2. Eternal Is. 9:6; and Is 46:9
    3. Holy Jh. 8:46;
    4. Omnipotent Phi 3:21;
    5. Omniscient Jh. 16:30;
    6. Omnipresent Matt. 18:20; Judge. 2 Tim 4:1.
  3. Jesus did things only God can do.
    1. Created the world. Jh. 1:3; Col.1:16.
    2. Raised the dead and Himself too. Lk 7:14, 24:7
    3. Forgave sins. Lk 5:20;
    4. Promises eternal life. John 3:16; Lk 23:43
  4. Jesus Accepts worship – due only to God.
    1. Disciples worshiped Him Matt. 28: 9;
    2. Every knee will bow in worship Ph. 2:9-11
    3. Saints, Angels, 24 Elders, 4 Living Creatures worship Jesus. Rev. 5

Every religion admits that Jesus was a prophet, righteous and sinless but reject His deity. He did not leave us that option. We either voluntarily worship Him now or involuntarily do so when it is too late.

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



3 Kinds of Spiritual Vision You Get Through Fasting

by Apostle Guillermo Maldonado | To minister effectively, I need to stay on the spiritual cutting edge. And fasting is an important way I maintain my position there. (images, Cloud – Pixabay)

There are three kinds of spiritual vision we can experience as we consecrate ourselves to God in fasting. The first is “inner” vision, which is something you see in your mind’s eye. The second is “open” vision, where you might see something in the physical atmosphere as if on a television screen. The third is “ecstasies.” This is where you begin to see into the spiritual world, as in spiritual visions or “trances” (such as the apostle Peter experienced in Acts 10:9–16, or the apostle John experienced in the book of Revelation); in this type of vision, it is often as if you are in a state between being awake and being asleep.

Remember that, when He operated as a human being on earth, Jesus needed spiritual clarity in His mind and heart before confronting Satan in the wilderness (or anywhere else). However, Jesus prayed and fasted not only for spiritual strength to defeat the enemy but also to commune with the Father, receive revelation and act on what was revealed to Him. For example, Jesus stated, “Then Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, likewise the Son does” (John 5:19). God desires us to function in the same way—seeing what He is doing in the heavenly realm, and then doing the same thing on earth. He wants to work through us to bring what is in the eternal realm into the physical world as manifestations of His kingdom.

We see an excellent example of this process in the life of the prophet Jeremiah, who wrote,

“Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’
And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well. For I will hasten My word to perform it” (Jer. 1:11-12).

In answer to the Lord’s question, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” the prophet replied, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” Jeremiah’s spiritual vision was sharp, and this enabled him to see into the spiritual realm to what God was doing. He saw what God saw. And the Lord told him, “You have seen well. For I will hasten My word to perform it.” In the original Hebrew, the Lord’s reply is essentially this: “Because you have seen well, I will accelerate and perform My word.”

Today, God wants to make sure we, too, are seeing what He is seeing, so we can receive all that He has for us and be able to fulfill His purposes. I try my best to remain sharp in the Spirit, so I can receive God’s revelations to me. For instance, sometimes, I am enabled to see when spiritual danger is coming and what I should do about it; other times, I am enabled to see what is truly going on in someone’s life, beneath the surface, that is causing a particular problem. To minister effectively, I need to stay on the spiritual cutting edge. And fasting is an important way I maintain my position there.

Whenever we can see what God shows us, we are able to obey His will, receive His blessings and walk in victory. When I was ready to buy the property where King Jesus Ministry now stands, I stepped onto the land, and I saw, in the Spirit, the building that would become the sanctuary, educational classrooms, counseling rooms and more. What did I do? I started leaping! I started running and repeating, “I see it!” And God said, “Because you saw it, it’s yours. I will accelerate it.” He accelerated the process so that it was complete in under two and a half years. God will do the same for you—if you see something in the Spirit and accept it in faith, you will receive it, and God will accelerate the process.

To give you another example, I prayed for five years for God to do creative miracles, such as generating new organs and other body parts in people, because I felt that was included in my calling to minister the supernatural power of God. During that time, I saw a lot of healings—but not a lot of creative miracles. Then the Lord said to me, “Until you see them, I am not going to accelerate them.” So I went into a fast, and, remarkably, I saw in the Spirit a woman’s breast regrowing after having been surgically removed. God said, “You saw it; now I will accelerate it.” Since then, I have seen many types of creative miracles in my ministry.

If you see something in the Spirit and accept it in faith, you will receive it, and God will accelerate the process.

Apostle Guillermo Maldonado is the founder of King Jesus International Ministry—one of the fastest-growing multicultural churches in the United States—which has been recognized for its visible manifestations of God´s supernatural power. He is a spiritual father to 338 churches in 50 countries, which form the Network of the Supernatural Movement (formerly called the New Wine Apostolic Network). He is also the founder of the University of the Supernatural Ministry (USM). Apostle Maldonado has a doctorate in Christian counseling and a master’s degree in practical theology. He resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife and partner in ministry, Ana, and their two sons, Bryan and Ronald. Visitwhpub.whitakerhouse.com/breakthroughfast.



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is Christianity too Narrow?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The assertion here is that Christianity has many restrictions and is not inclusive. People want a borderless Christianity. The fact is that every institution that is worth its salt has restrictions and is inclusive only under certain conditions. Christianity is not different. We generally view God’s laws as restrictions from enjoying something good. Which is not true! God’s laws are barriers to protect us from hurting ourselves while enjoying all the good God has made available to us.

Christianity is a relationship with Christ and everyone irrespective of race, age, gender, abilities/inabilities, sinners, etc. are accepted unconditionally. All roads may lead to Rome, but only one Road leads to God – Jesus Christ. Religion is humanity’s attempt to reach God while Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humanity. God is the initiator and not man and He says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matt. 7:13 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Those who argue that Christianity is narrow are not sincere. They willingly accept restrictions in other areas of life. They only know about Christianity and have never experienced the true freedom that being in Christ brings.

Regardless of how Christianity is viewed, the question remains,  are you ready for a committed relationship with Christ knowing God personally came down to look for you and bring you into His Kingdom? So, what is the point of this argument?

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Prayer Points: Jesus is Here Right Now

by Dr. Omobukola Olaoye | Our God Who does What Pleases Him is doing a New Thing in Me this Year! (I Kings 17:1-24)

February 2019 Prayer Points
Jesus is here right now to set you free and give you peace of mind that you cannot find anywhere else. All you have to do is surrender all to Him for the Salvation of your soul.

Thanksgiving

  1. Psalms 115:1-3 – Give glory to our living God who is the source of all blessings. It is He who brings rain and makes rain cease. He sits in heaven and rules in the affairs of men. Praise Him whose love and faithfulness endures forever.
  2. Ephesians 1:3 – Thank Him, who is not only the source of our physical blessings but also the source of our spiritual blessings in His Son Jesus Christ. Thank Him for the Salvation of your soul, if you are saved. If not, ask Jesus to be your righteousness, now. He is here.
  3. Psalms 103:1-5 – Praise God who is the forgiver of our sin, our healer and our redeemer.
  4. 1 Chronicles 29:12 – Thank God in whom lies all the power to bless and do a new thing in your life this year.

Prayers

  1. Genesis 22:1-14 – That the Lord will (Vs. 2-16)
    a) make you obedient to His commands.
    b) provide for your needs regardless of how impossible your needs might be this year.
    c) also make you a source of unending blessing to those in need, regardless of what you have this year.
  2.  2 Chronicles 4:8&9 – That the Lord will deliver you (and your loved ones) from all challenges that may come your way this year in the course of serving God (Vs 17-24).
  3. Jeremiah 33:3 – Finish today’s prayers by thanking God for answering all your prayers.

Pray that God who reigns in His mercy will bring us to that table where those that are saved in Jesus Christ will feast forever in His heavenly Kingdom, now and forever.

Dr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye
Dr. Omobukola Olaoye is a Home Healthcare Quality & Management Consultant; Administrator for A Premium Healthcare Solution, Financial Director of ECWA USA DCC.



How does God give spiritual gifts? Will God give me the gifts I ask for?

by Got Questions | An overview of these chapters reveals that the apostle Paul taught love was the most excellent way that all believers were to seek. In addition to love, God gives spiritual gifts to help one another in the church and to reach those outside of the church (image: Pixabay – Dove hand trust).

It is clear each believer has at least one spiritual gift. First Corinthians 12:6-7 notes, “there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

This same passage teaches spiritual gifts are given for the common good. In other words, gifts are shared according to what best helps the larger body of Christ rather than for the self-improvement of the individual. Spiritual gifts are given to use for serving others.

No one has every spiritual gift. First Corinthians 12:8-11 notes that one person is given a certain gift, and another person is given a different gift. A believer may have more than one spiritual gift, but no believer has every gift.

How does God decide which gift to give? Will God give me the gifts I want? First Corinthians 12:31 states, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” Does this mean I should seek out additional gifts?

The answer is found in part in the verses that follow 1 Corinthians 12:31. Paul notes, “And I will show you a still more excellent way” to conclude chapter 12, followed by a chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13. First Corinthians 14 then discusses prophecy and speaking in tongues (or languages) as two important gifts because of their ability to reach unbelievers and help believers grow.

An overview of these chapters reveals that the apostle Paul taught love was the most excellent way that all believers were to seek. In addition to love, God gives spiritual gifts to help one another in the church and to reach those outside of the church. He concludes with, “But all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Both showing genuine Christian love and the practice of spiritual gifts together in church gatherings are to take place with respect and order that honors God and helps others.

One final note also provides a profound look at God’s care in designing us with certain gifts and abilities. When God called the prophet Jeremiah to serve Him, He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Though this passage was written specifically to Jeremiah, God prepared us before we were born to serve Him in a particular way as well (see Psalm 139 and Ephesians 2:10). We need not compare our gifts or abilities to those of others. We are called to grow in love and to serve according to His will with the abilities He has given us.

 



The Truth About the Holy Spirit and How I Can be Filled

by Rev Philologus O. Irukera | Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23)

If you are like me, you are probably wondering like Gideon, at the height of Israel’s humiliation, subjugation and oppression by the coalition of enemies (Judges 6:11-13), why is the Church so ridiculed, weak and seemingly unable to fulfill her Biblical mandates today? Where are the aura of God’s presence and power in the Early Church that elicited fear, respect and goodwill from unbelievers (Acts 2:42-47)? Where are the famed divine exploits through both the leaders and members of the Early Church in our time (Acts 5; 6:8-10; 8; 12-13:3; Rom. 16:3)? Coming closer home in ECWA today, why do will find it difficult to replicate the faith exploits of our forefathers and the missionaries that brought to them the Gospel of Jesus the Christ? I presume the answer boils down to just one factor: the quality and depth of our relationship with God through His Spirit. This informed, sustained dynamic relationship with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit is the heart of the topic of this workshop. Being a workshop, it is expected that this meeting would be interactive. However, it would be impractical to venture into being exhaustive with just an hour long meeting. Hence, we shall depend on the Great Helper Himself to direct us to His choice of area of emphasis as we proceed. Also, some questions have been prepared separately to aid and stimulate discussion on the topic under consideration.

I. Truth about the Holy Spirit

The Bible is replete with information about the Holy Spirit. For example, right at the beginning in Genesis 1:2, the Bible reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation story. Let us briefly consider some revealed truths about His identity and activities in the Scriptures:

  1. Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a mere force or influence as some sects would have us believe, but a person with all the related qualities of will, emotion and intellect. Hence, Holy Spirit may be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and His will or instruction resisted or obeyed (Acts 7:51; 13:1-3; 1Thess.5:19). He knows our ways even, our darkest secrets and rebellions (Acts. 5:1-11).
  2. Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. John 14:26; 16:7, 14-15; Acts 5:3-4, 9. Apostle Peter identifies Holy Spirit as the omniscient God whom Ananias and his wife conspire together and lie to. Co-equal and co-eternal both with the Father and Son yet, the Holy Spirit never works against them. He is in unity with both the Father and the Son because His works conform to their will and interest.
  3. Holy Spirit was the agent of creation. The Hebrew word ruach translated as Spirit of God in Gen. 1:1-2 can also be rendered as breath of God in reference to God’s power breathing out creation. Interestingly, Jesus Christ whom John identifies as the Word (ho logos) who is God that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14) is also credited with the creation of the universe in Col. 1:15-16. These truths about the Son and Holy Spirit confirm that the creation was a united effort of the three God-heads. So, now we know that God’s call, Let Us make man in Our image, was directed to the Son and the Spirit (Gen. 1:26, HCSB). So focusing on Gen 1:1-2, it is certain that the creation was brought into being through the relentless power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Holy Spirit is also the agent of new creation. Apostle Paul describes those who have been saved through the blood of Jesus Christ as new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In His famous nocturnal meeting with Nicodemus, our Lord Himself describes the new creation experience as a state of being born again (John 3:7). He describes it again as being born of the Spirit, to reveal the identity of the Holy Spirit as the one who is behind this life altering spiritual experience in Christ (John 3:5-8).
  5. Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. About forty people of various backgrounds, status, educational levels and living across many national boundaries over a period of about fifteen hundred years penned the books of the Bible. Though their education, personalities, experiences and skills were influenced their writings, 2 Timothy 3:16 clarifies for us that these books of the Bible are God-breathed. Apostle Peter clarifies it further for us by stating that these men spoke or wrote from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This fact proves the Holy Spirit as the real Author of the Scriptures.
  6. Holy Spirit is the promised Helper. In John 14:16-17, 26 Jesus promised to send a new helper to be with His disciples after His departure. Jesus calls this helper paracletos. This word is unique to Apostle John’s writings. It is strictly used for the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel as cited above and is translated as helper, counsel and comforter. It is also used in reference to Jesus Christ in John’s first epistle and translated as advocate (1 John 2:1). Paracletos simply means a person called alongside or called to one’s aid as helper (or comforter, a Latin equivalent), advocate, intercessor or counselor. Jesus makes it clear in John 14:16, 17 and 26 that the Holy Spirit is the intended Helper and not Mohamed as some Muslim apologists spuriously claim. Note that the Helper is sent to be with the disciples, and to live inside of them forever. These and many more that Jesus indicates in verse 26 prove that the late Mohamed the prophet and founder of Islam has never been and cannot be the promised Helper.
  7. Holy Spirit as Gift. Peter in his Pentecost sermon boldly and passionately pleads with his listeners to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit as the promised gift (Acts 2:38-39). It is hard to believe any less considering the total package the Holy Spirit instantly brings into the life of a newly saved sinner. The following will do to drive this truth home:
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Rom. 6:2-4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 2:19-22; 4:3-6; 5:30. Otherwise known as Spirit baptism, it is that divine act of the Holy Spirit whereby He baptizes or joins or places the new believer into the body of Christ, the Church- consisting other believers and Christ as the Head. Through this baptism you mystically become part of the body of Christ, His Church regardless of your denomination.
  • Indwelling of the Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24. It is the gracious act of the Holy Spirit whereby, in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of John 14:16, 26, enters and permanently dwells in every repenting sinner. It is permanent! That is why it is not possible for a redeemed sinner (Christian) to lose the Holy Spirit.
  • Sealing work of the Holy Spirit: 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2Tim. 2:19. This is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby at conversion, He affixes on every penitent sinner, the divine stamp of approval and ownership as a guarantee for immediate, ultimate and total salvation.
  1. Practical works of the Holy Spirit. There are other experiential works of the Holy Spirit especially, in the life of Christians. Below listed are some of them:
  • He convicts: John 16:8-11. Holy Spirit exposes the sins of the world, thereby convincing and convicting to bring to shame and possibly repentance, the person being reproved.
  • Guides into all truth: John 14:26; 16:12-16. The Holy Spirit teaches and gives biblical insight to believers as well as brings such into remembrance when it is exactly needed.
  • Empowers and gifts believers various spiritual gifts for service. Acts 1:8; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12. The presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian will condition him/her with the ability to exceed his/her natural ability. Hence, the Lord’s instruction to His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they experience the Holy Spirit before they proceed on the work He assigns them. Also, the Holy Spirit by virtue of His indwelling of believers gives at least, a special ability, otherwise known as spiritual gift, to every Christian to serve or edify the body of Christ (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-13). Christians are saved in Christ for a purpose. We are saved and equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve one another with our spiritual gifts, seeking to build-up one another in faith until we all mature and conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So, no Christian can afford indolence, doing nothing in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  • Intercedes. Romans 8:26, 27. Though the exact interpretation of this verse has been a subject of debate among some Bible students, what is not in doubt is that the Holy Spirit is the dependable Helper of Christian in his/her prayer relationship with God. When in prayer and words fail us in articulating the needs that are sensed in our spirits, the Holy Spirit is always on hand to help those saints who would let Him. He does not replace us or take over our responsibility to pray. Rather, He is our partner, our enabler and helper.
  • Infilling of the Holy Spirit. The prerogative of infilling of the Spirit rests with every believer. The decision is yours to make; hence the call to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18, Gal. 5:16). However, the Holy Spirit is always eager and ready to cooperate with every believer to help him/her remain under the influence and control of the Lord. And when we slip, yes, when we lose the infilling of the Holy Spirit due to our foolish and carnal ways, grieving Him (Eph. 4:30), He’s always there, faithfully waiting to help us recover the loss if we truly repent in total humility and submission.

II. Meaning and Reasons for Infilling of the Holy Spirit

Meaning of Infilling of the Holy Spirit:

Certain phrases in the New Testament give hints and shades of what constitute the infilling or the filling work of the Holy Spirit. Such include controlled by …the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 5:18), live by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:16), crucified with Christ …..living by faith (Gal. 2:20), Let the word of Christ dwell in you…(Col. 3:16), …walk in the light …(1John 1:7). They all point to the state of total obedience, surrender and submissiveness under the dominant will and control of the Holy Spirit. So, the filling work of the Holy Spirit can simply be explained as the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit whereby He continuously fills and exercises divine control of the life of a Christian as he consistently and progressively surrenders.

Reasons for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit

One may ask: why is it necessary for a Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit? The following deserve our careful consideration:

  • It is commanded in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul’s call to the Ephesians (5:8) not to be enslaved to fermented drinks but instead be ruled by the Holy Spirit comes standard here. So does also, Gal. 5:16 call to Christians to live strictly under the control of the Holy Spirit to avoid falling under the power of sinful desires of flesh.
  • The responsibilities attached to our calling in Christ necessitate that we be filled with the Holy Spirit to succeed. In our service to the dark and dying world on behalf of the Lord, we are expected to shine our light of Christ for all to see (Matt. 5:14-16). As salt we are to demonstrate the sweetness that life in Christ offers and as well as morally and socially season the society to minimize decadence (Matt. 5:13). We are sent to bear witness to Christ as the Savior (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). And to the body of Christ, we are called to use all the gifts and blessings at our disposal to edify or build up one another in faith (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-13). We are called and equipped in Christ to produce spiritual fruit to the blessing of others and to the pleasure and glory of the Father (Gal. 5:22). The infilling work of the Holy Spirit is the key to our being successful in all these responsibilities. For it is through the filling work of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to succeed.
  • The reality of dangers attendant to Christian pathway necessitates that we be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not promise His disciples bed of roses. If anything, He clearly forewarns them to be prepared for difficulties (John 15:18-16:4). Apostle Paul in Ephesian chapter 6:12 acknowledges our struggles against enemies beyond flesh and blood. Therefore, he encourages Ephesians to embrace the infilling work of the Holy Spirit as the only proven pathway to victory (6:10-13). Paul also recognizes the enemy within every Christian to be the sinful nature that seeks to derail our spiritual growth and ascent. To disarm this enemy and forestall the inherent danger, Paul encourages all to surrender to the life under the leadership of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18).

Practical Steps toward Being Filled with the Holy Spirit    

Now to the question of how a Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The prescription given here is not exhaustive. It is based on the insight gleaned from the Scriptures and from the accrued wisdom of other saints who have trod this path before us.

  1. Desire sincerely to please God. This is a desire for practical holiness. Matt. 5:6 calls it a thirst and hunger for righteousness. Our Lord calls those who nurture this type of crave blessed with a promise of satiation. The desire to please God does not end with mental activity. It must find culmination in definite and deliberate positive actions described in Psa. 1.
  2. Confess every unconfessed sin the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance. Trust and thank God for the promised forgiveness of confessed and forsaken sins (I John 1:9). Do not revisit or re-confess the sins that the Lord has forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Heb. 8:12). Rather sincerely confess and forsake every sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of and move on with total trust in Him for the promise of forgiveness.
  3. Practice genuine and complete obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23).
  4. Surrender totally your will to the full control of the Holy Spirit. This is a step above obedience; it is total submission. This is Paul’s intention when he says he has been crucified with Christ and that the selfhood in him lives no more but Christ living in Him (Gal. 2:20). Rom. 12:1-2 calls it, offer your bodies as living sacrifices …renewing of your mind. In 1 Thess. 5:19 it is not put (ing) out the Spirit’s fire. Surrender to the authority of the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit.
  5. Crave to know God intimately more. Despite the fact that he was very close to God already (Numb. 12:6-8), wanting to know Him more, Moses pleads with God, Now show me your glory (Exod. 33:18). Same goes with Paul who craves to know Christ the more (Phil. 3:10). This is one crave every Christian must not outgrow!
  6. Embrace active fellowship with other saints. This is the clear position of the Scriptures (Heb.10: 25). The rising preference for virtual church under the guise of modernization is disconcerting and inimical to the vision and purpose of Christ for His Church, His body (Eph. 2: 14 -22; 3:14 – 4:16). Nothing should replace physical coming together of His saints for wholesome fellowship. Also, every believer must make it a habit of making deliberate preparation spirit, soul and body, for every fellowship with other saints and our Father just as He instructed Israelites to do in Exod. 19:10, 11.
  7. Be actively involved in the communal life of your church. The Spirit has endowed every truly born again with at least one spiritual gift. Identify it if you don’t know yours and promptly seek to use it for the mutual building up of members of the household of faith (1 Thess.5:11; Jude 20). Don’t be a bench-warmer in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  8. Delight in the word of God. Follow the example of the Psalmist in Psa. 119:9-16. Develop acute interest in it and like an infant, crave the pure spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:2-3 NIV). Don’t just read and study it but meditate on it and as well, let it be on your lips (Josh.1:8). Above all, in the words of James, our Lord’s brother, be doers of the word and not hearers only (Jas.1:22, HCSB).
  9. Cultivate the habit of reading Christian materials. Religious publications like magazines, expositional works on Bible characters, biographical works on living or dead exemplary Christians and the likes could be of great help.
  10. Christian audio/visual materials. Christian drama, documentary and music can be of great benefit for spiritual development if wisely used. At the dedication of Solomon’s new temple, good music released the glory of God that filled the temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14. Music with spiritually rich lyrics potentially, will not only positively appeal to God but can be spiritually enriching to His people.
  11. Pray continually. (1 Thess. 5:17). It is one thing to truly desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit while it is another, to actually and effectively act on the desire. This is due to the complexities and rebellious inclinations of man. Our Lord understands this too well, when He counsels sleepy Inner Circle, Watch and pray….The spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Matt. 26:41, NIV). Pray continually for the help of the Holy Spirit as you endeavor to align your will with and surrender totally the rule of your life to the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

Holy Spirit is not a mere force. He is fully God in unity with the Father and Son. Holy Spirit is very active in the world out there and in the Church elsewhere today. He is our helper who desires to make His presence and power felt in our lives for our good and to the glory of the Father. Because of our persistent rebellions, we have considerably limited the impacts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our lives today. The results are the waning glory and drying river of goodwill that we used to enjoy among men. We now have defeat and restriction in places we ought to have been victorious and unstoppable. We no longer impact the society for the Lord like our forefathers did. The reason is not farfetched. We have not allowed the Holy Spirit the free reign and rule that He is supposed to have in the Church and in our lives. But if we humble ourselves as a people, if I repent and turn submissively to the rule of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in my life, then there will be an end to the era of Ichabod. The renowned acts of the Holy Spirit in the days of yore of our fathers and mothers in the Way (Acts. 9:2) will again be replicated in our own very time. Sinners would be won by loads into the kingdom of God. Fear will grip and awe strike the world all over. And the work of God will be revived again in our church family and in individual lives. Only if we would be ready to say yes to the infilling work of the Holy Spirit! Only if I would jettison my big idol of carnality and you your petty idols of pride, greed, self-centeredness and the likes! If we would surrender to the lead and control of the Holy Spirit and submissively cry, Have your way now Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus! Then we will experience those blessings and benefits of infilling of the Holy Spirit which include peace, joy, practical victory over sin and over power of darkness. We would be empowered to overcome befuddling odds and limitations of life. Above all we would become bold and effective witnesses of Christ, bringing in the bounteous sheaves of ripe harvest of souls like the early Christians (Acts 4:13-20; 5:12-14; 8:4-8) and our forefathers in ECWA did.

For the Church, and indeed ECWA, to regain her lost glory, power, fruitfulness, goodwill and respect from the society, we must all go back to the ancient path of total surrender and submission to the leading and control of God the Holy Spirit. For you and me to experience the authentic Biblical prosperity, we must personally allow the Holy Spirit to rule our will and affect. For Him to fill us, we must give Him the total control of our lives. May the Lord help us all as we do so. Amen!

References

Online Sources

Begg, Alistair. (May 12, 2018). Five Truths About the Holy Spirit. June 20, 2018

www.ligoner.org/blog/five-truths-about-holy-spirit/

Bright, Bill. (n.d.) The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. June 22, 2018

https://www.cru.org/us/train-and-grow/transferable-concepts/be-filled-with-the-holy-spirit.7.html

Walvoord, JohnF. (January 8, 2008) The Filling of the Holy Spirit. July 4, 2018

https://bible.org/seriespage/11-filling-holy-spirit

Books and Bible Translations

Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006.

Cabal, Ted. (G. Ed.) The Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007.

Green Sr., Jay P. (G. Ed.) The Interliner Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English. 2nd Edn.

London: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986.

Griffiths, Michael. Cinderella with Amnesia: A Practical Discussion of the relevance of Church.

Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975.

International Bible Society. The Holy Bible (NIV). Colorado Spring: Biblica, 1984.

MacArthur, John F. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.

Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011

 

Rev. Philologus IrukeraRev Philologus O. Irukera is a trained and ordained minister.  He is an assistant minister at ECWA Church in Maryland.



Jim Bakker Is in Tears as He Shares This Prison Revelation


Be aware this is a vision/dream but Heaven is Real
Kevin Sorbo’s latest film is about a man who dies for four minutes and experiences the afterlife. Televangelist Jim Bakker says this concept is one he was obsessed with in prison.

Watch the video to see how it affected him.



Experiencing the Presence of the Lord

by James W. Goll | We need to spend time resting in God’s presence, going back again and again, falling in love with God all over again.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Resting Around the Ark of God

You hear a lot these days in the church about “soaking.” Some people object to it because that term is not in the Bible. (Of course, a lot of things we do are not directly stated in the Bible. Sunday School, bus ministry and electric guitar music among others are some examples.)

But the soaking concept is there—it’s all over the place. It’s in almost every book of the Bible, including 1 Samuel. You can see it in this familiar story:

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no vision coming forth.

At that time, Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyes had begun to grow weak that he could not see), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was.

Then the Lord called to Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called to me.”

And he said, “I did not call. Return, lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

The Lord called Samuel again. So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

And he answered, “I did not call, my son. Return, lie down again” (1 Sam. 3:1-6).

Where did young Samuel lie down? Where did he sleep? He “was lying down in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was” (1 Sam. 3:3b). Little Samuel had been brought to the old priest Eli by his mother, Hannah, and he lived there in the temple, ministering to the Lord and learning about God. At night, he lay down to rest near the ark itself.

And when the voice of the Lord was released, but Samuel couldn’t yet discern that it was God’s voice, what did Eli tell him to do? He told him to go lie down there again. He didn’t keep him wherever he was sleeping, and he didn’t send him somewhere else to do something. In essence, Eli told Samuel to go and soak up some more of God’s presence so he would recognize the voice of God when he heard it.

This is instructive for us. Like Samuel, we need to spend time resting in God’s presence, going back again and again, falling in love with God all over again. We can be changed, and not just temporarily stirred up, by returning to our first love (or by finding that first love if we’ve never tasted it before). We can learn to recognize His voice and we can experience personal revival. Out of that renewal, we can obey His voice as we minister.

Hide and Seek

When you seek Him, you will find Him. Imagine for a moment that you could spend a day with Jesus—just the two of you. If that’s too much time to imagine spending with Him, imagine spending only an hour with Him. Imagine that it’s right now, right this minute. Just you and the lover of your soul. Just be …

Go ahead, soak in His presence. If it helps to put on a quiet worship CD, feel free to do that. You can find Him in ever so many ways. One of my favorite ways is hiking alone in the woods or, while I was growing up, walking on the railroads tracks outside my parents’ house in rural Missouri. You can find Him in the love letters (the Bible) that He wrote for you to read. You can see Him in the flowers that are blooming and in the creation that’s groaning around you. You can see Him in the body of Christ. But draw closer still. Yes, draw closer to His loving heart.

While going through my cancer battles, I would simply put on some great “healing, soaking music” and rest in the presence of the Lord right in my bed. I found Him waiting to meet me every time.

Get alone with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Rest around the ark, like Samuel did. Take a “selah” pause from the hectic pace of this life. Rest, wait, repose, reflect on the One who loves you more than you love yourself.

Worship. Listen. Respond.

  • Get still before Him in order to commune with Him. Read Psalm 46:10, 2 Samuel 7:18, Revelation 3:20 and Habakkuk 2:20.
  • Draw near to His heart. Read James 4:8; Psalm 42:1-2; Isaiah 55:1-3, 6; Psalm 65:4; Psalm 73:28; Psalm 84:1-4, 10; and Hebrews 10:22.
  • Seek His face. Seek God for God’s sake. To become an effective intercessor, I encourage you to engage yourself with the Lord, in order to be able to engage yourself in the work of praying. Read Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 27:4, 8; Psalm 63:1-8; Hebrews 11:6 and Jeremiah 29:11-14.
  • Just spend time in His presence. Become an Exodus-33-aholic like Moses. Read Exodus 33:14-15, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 89:15, Isaiah 29:13, Isaiah 63:9, Lamentations 2:19 and Jude 24-25.

Have Plenty of Oil

Keep that oil replenished. Keep your lamp trimmed and ready. Get to know God. Address Him by one of His many names. You can find over a hundred of them in His Word. Sometimes one of them will capture your heart. Stay with it a while, even for the rest of the day.

I remember one time when I landed on “Friend of Sinners,” and the Holy Spirit just fastened it onto my heart and unfolded it to me. You can get to know God—and you can minister His presence to others—when you address Him by various names and get to know Him through His Word. (See Matt. 11:29; Jer. 9:23-24 and Phil. 3:8, 10.)

If you count all things as loss in comparison to knowing Him, that’s getting oil in your lamp. Read Philippians 3:7-8, 1 Chronicles 21:23 and 2 Samuel 24:24. It’s also a great trade!

Allow yourself to be overwhelmed with the amazing person you are speaking with. You are talking with Him, not merely to Him; He is speaking back to you. The God of the universe likes to hear your voice. Read Romans 5:5; Psalm 143:8, 10; Isaiah 54:10; Lamentations 3:22-25; John 17:23b and Romans 8:35-39.

Gather Strength in the Eye of the Storm

You’ll be more effective as an intercessor when you maintain your private “watching and waiting” times with the Lord. You’ve got the lamp in your hand already—God gave it to you when you were saved. Now it’s time to gather the lamp oil and keep it fresh.

It’s like being in the eye of the hurricane, where you can regather your strength and your resources for the next onslaught. Your strength is in Him. Sit, rest and sleep right at His feet. Gather strength from being in His presence.

The oil of His presence will soothe your wounds and aching muscles. It will lubricate your joints and limber up your mental processes. It will tenderize your heart.

Seek Him. Soak Him in. Let Him prepare you for what’s next.

Closing Prayer

Father, I present myself before You in Jesus’ great name. I come as an intercessor, but this time all I want is more of You. Let my words be pleasing to You. Awaken my soul and spirit to hear Your voice. I love you and I want to love You more.

I want to be like young Samuel and learn to rest around the ark. I want to soak in Your presence. Draw me close to You. Let me hear Your heartbeat. Pull my deepest heartstrings. I want to know Your voice and mirror Your ways. I choose Your ways over mine.

Give me oil in my lamp and grace me to be a wise attendant in these days I live in. I come to You with expectancy and joy. Amen!

 



The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers

by Dave Doran | The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others.

One of the great blessings of my current ministry is that I get to teach seminarians each week and preach in the chapel regularly. I often try to preach from texts of Scripture that I think will help shape the ministry mindset of future pastors and missionaries. Yesterday, I chose to preach from Matthew 7:1-5 and urge the men to guard themselves against the hypocritical mindset which the Lord confronts there.

The first part of verse 1 is perhaps one of the most often quoted and misused texts of Scripture. “Do not judge” is an oft-abused trump card in debates. It seems clear that Jesus is not against judgment, but against a certain kind of judgment. The context makes that clear–just a few verses later He tells them to watch out for false prophets and that they can know them by their fruits, something which obviously requires the exercise of judgment. John 7:24 is helpful in differentiating the two kinds of judgment, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Jesus is confronting a wrong kind of judging in Matthew 7:1-5, not all judgment.

Specifically, the reason that our Lord points out the hypocrisy of the judges in Matthew 7 is because they are not genuinely concerned about sin or about helping other people. If they were concerned about sin, they would deal with their own first. The fact that the person ignores the beam in his own eye while worrying about the speck in his brother’s eye shows that. If he really cared about sin, he wouldn’t ignore his own. If he really was concerned about the other person, he would take care of his own sin so that he could see clearly to help him. By ignoring his vision-impairing beam, he makes it clear that he really isn’t trying to help the speck-afflicted brother, but thinks himself better than him.

The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others. Phony, hypocritical concern about sin doesn’t deal with our own first, it focuses on the sins of others. My charge to the future pastors and missionaries was simply to not allow that phony spirit to invade their lives or ministries. If we, as leaders, are going to be genuinely serious about sin, then that starts by looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word.

It is much easier to point out where others are falling short than to admit and address our own errors. As leaders, though, refusing to acknowledge and act to correct our failures not only reveals a flaw in our character, it undermines the credibility of our claims to be concerned about wrong. How can anybody take the claim that we want to do what is right (by dealing with other people’s problems) when it is obvious that we don’t (by not dealing with our own)?

Few things, from my vantage point, undermine the leadership of parents, pastors, or ministries more than this kind of hypocrisy. The parent who quickly and strongly rebukes a child for wrong, while ignoring his or her own failures as a parent eventually loses the trust of the child. A pastor who confronts sin in the lives of church members, but fails to confront it in himself undermines his own spiritual leadership. A ministry or organization, for example, that exists chiefly to point out the disobedience of other people and ministries, but refuses to correct its own failures as aggressively loses its credibility by demonstrating that obedience isn’t really the controlling principle which governs it.

Jesus answer for judgmentalism is not to reject proper judgment, but to exercise it first with regard to ourselves. If we really care about sin, we’ll deal with the beams before we talk about specks. We’ll start in the mirror, not in somebody else’s eye.

David M. Doran, Senior PastorPastor David M. Doran has been the senior pastor at Inter-City Baptist Church since 1989. He leads through sound biblical preaching and teaching both in the church and at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Claudia, have four sons: David (wife, Abi), Daniel (wife, Melissa), Dillon (wife, Emily), and Derek (wife, Jen). Connect via E-mail Pastor Doran

 



Transformation Through Walk for Water

by Iain Chester, ELCA Youth Gathering | As we look toward Houston and the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, I am excited to see the ways in which God will transform us, our world, and our understanding of one another.
My first experience of the ELCA Youth Gathering was less than two years ago in Detroit. I learned quickly that a Gathering is unique and that there is nothing quite like worshiping in an NFL stadium filled with 30,000 people. As children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman walked out on to the stage during worship, she summed it up perfectly saying, “You are incredible.”

My role at the ELCA Youth Gathering was to help with ELCA World Hunger’s Walk for Water. This interactive experience invites participants to learn more about access to clean water by following the story of someone who does not have easy access to clean water. Participants can feel what it is like to collect water by carrying a five-gallon jug of water (about 41.5 pounds when full).

Looking out at the crowd, Marian Wright Edelman challenged us saying, “With your energy we are going to transform America and make it understand that God did not make two classes of children.”

Since the Gathering, many congregations, youth groups, and high schools across the ELCA have hosted their own localized versions of ELCA World Hunger’s Walk for Water. I believe that this experience, taken home by so many who came to the Gathering, has been a small part of the transformation Wright Edelman spoke about.

Congregations and youth groups have also been part of transformation through giving. Many who attended the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering brought gifts to support ELCA World Hunger’s Walk for Water. To date, over $1 million has been raised to support ELCA World Hunger water-related projects. This transformation all began at the Gathering and will continue to provide clean drinking water like spring boxes and boreholes, support for irrigation systems, education about sanitation in rural villages, and so much more.

God did not make two classes of children, some with access to clean water and others without.

As we look toward Houston and the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, I am excited to see the ways in which God will transform us, our world, and our understanding of one another.

Iain Chester is a writer and member of Team ELCA. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with more than 3.8 million members in 10,000 congregations across the nation and the Caribbean. You may donate to Team ELCA here.