Category Archives: Devotional

Offended by the Holy Spirit?

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A Devotional by Mike Bickle:

“The Holy Spirit intentionally offends people”

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:21-24

In contrast to the polite, shy, gentlemanly image we have of the Holy Spirit, He intentionally offends people. It pleased God that the Gentiles were offended by the foolishness of the gospel message and that the Jews were tripped up by the stumbling block of the cross. Paul warned the Galatians that if they required circumcision as demanded by the Jews, then "the offense of the cross has ceased" (Gal. 5:11, NKJV). The implication is that the gospel is sometimes offensive by God’s design. By offending people with His methods, God reveals the pride, self-sufficiency, and feigned obedience that lie hidden in people’s hearts.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, prepare me for the times when Your Spirit offends me or others. Remind me that You may choose offense to reveal my pride, self-sufficiency, or feigned obedience.

Response: I freely admit that there are times when I have been embarrassed and offended by the Holy Spirit usually when I need to make some changes in my life and particularly my attitudes. It seems to come at the most inopportune times and calculated to make one look rather silly which in reality we all are in comparison to the Lord.

It is tragic that sometimes we may back away from making those changes and letting the Spirit have it’s way with us. Some of us would rather make up theological reasons why we don’t need to respond. Believe me I know that one too. After you get a Doctorate in Theology you really think you know something but in reality you have only gained fancy ways of talking about what you really don’t know.

The Holy Spirit is real good at helping you see how ignorant you really are no matter whether you are highly educated like a Paul or practically wise like a Peter.

Come Holy Spirit, Fill us today and show us your ways.

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Kingdom Culture: The Lord is Always with Us

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home
Image by freestone via Flickr

Phil 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -ESV

One of the most important lessons that all of us need to realize as Christians is that our Lord is with us through it all–good and bad. He is there when we lose our job, he is there when we fight with our wife, he is there also when we respond to his Spirit and reach out to others around us.

He is there through thick and thin. He promised us that he would be with us to the very end of the age. We might be facing tough times right now, but if you take a time out and read what Jesus and his Apostles lived through, we probably aren’t facing circumstances quite as severe as they did–as least not those of us in America. Some Christians are and we may face similar trials in the future.

Remember Paul and Silas in prison singing? The Lord was with them that night. Peter- when the chains fell off?

It reminds me of the testimony of a modern day Christian pastor that I personally know who was thrown into a Cambodian prison during the ‘killing fields’ era when all Christians were rounded up and killed. As he waited for his execution and after he was beaten every day and left for dead in his cell he began to sing: “I have a river of life flowing out from me…”.

Eventually all those in cells around him were converted. They took him out of the prison since he seem to be causing so much touble among his fellow prisoners –put him in a hospital to bring him back to health so that they could tortured him some more and get him to reveal the identities of fellow Christians.

A East German (supposedly Communist) doctor who was actually a closet Christian helped him escape. He found his way to Southern California and pastored among the Cambodian community here until the Lord sent him back to re-establish the church in Cambodia (which is another story). The point is this Cambodia bother testifies that the Lord was with him in all of those situations and continues to be. A real lesson for us all.

The Lord is at hand and with us through it all.            *Top

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Kingdom Culture: Be Reasonable and Considerate

Jesus in Dallas

(Picture by adonis hunter / ahptical via Flickr)

Phil 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -ESV

In the ongoing culture around us the motto is- “looking out for number one”. In many ways Christians have been no different than anyone else. Put me in a car going down the freeway and most of the time it’s ‘do to others before they do to me’ –not exactly the Golden Rule that Jesus had in mind.

Even in churches, some of the meanest people I have ever had the misfortune of coming across have been supposed Christians sitting in the pews. Over the years when teaching classes I have occasionally been pulled into battles over minutia that didn’t amount to anything more important than a slight disagreement over eschatology followed by a severe tongue lashing. Anyone that has been posting on the internet for a while can attest to how ungracious fellow Christians can be sometimes.

It really is time for Christians to be different. For too long we have been pulled along with the culture—but this culture is no longer Christian and the prevailing values no longer reflect an underlining effort to do good. Actually increasingly what is ‘good’ according to the scriptures is now increasingly being called bad and what is evil is now starting to be considered good. In my lifetime I have lived long enough to see everything turned on its ear.

It is time for Christian to reflect a ‘Kingdom Culture’ which is increasingly at odds and different than the dominant culture around us in America and the Western world.

We may pray every day—”Let your Kingdom come let your will be done”—it is time for the Kingdom to become a reality in our everyday living. We should stand out as gentle, reasonable, and considerate folks letting our lights shine as beacons into the increasing darkness.

This doesn’t happen over night but only as we allow the Holy Spirit to come in and dwell with us as we do our daily tasks—going down the toll road, shopping in the store, and reaching out in kindness and civility to those working around us. As a beacon of light that will draw people to you and the Lord which should be reflected in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit’s light break through.           *Top

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Kingdom Culture: Peace in the Midst of Chaos

Christian

(Picture via Wikipedia)

Phil 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -ESV

For many Christians the chaos that is going on around us in the economy and everyday living is closing in on them and robbing them of their joy and victory in Christ Jesus. With our harried lives of here there and everywhere it is sometime difficult to fit the Lord into our busy schedule—at least it is for me sometimes—and even harder to rejoice in the midst of it all.

Nevertheless, the counsel of these verses is very clear –we are to rejoice always in the midst of it all. You might say– ‘Well Michael- you don’t know what I am going through right now’—and that would be true but neither do you know what I am facing.

It is good for us to remember what Paul was facing when he penned these verses in the first place. He was under arrest facing the Roman Justice system. What ever we may be going through it has got to be better than that. The message transcends the centuries and the Holy Spirit confirms it in our very hearts:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.                             

(To be continued)           *Top

 

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Overcoming the Strategy of our Enemy

image In his devotional for today- “The Enemy’s Secret Strategy”-John Bevere says the following about the goal of our enemy Satan to marginalize Christians:

Hollywood, religious people, and our culture have painted a warped and limited image of God’s people. What is the distortion? We have an enemy named Satan, who is called "the ruler of this world," "the prince of the power of the air," and "the god of this world." He influences the world’s systems and sways the minds of those who do not belong to God. He has fallen angels and demons to help carry out his grand strategy.

The sad fact is that too often the church has limited Satan’s chief strategy to certain behaviors, like trying to get people to drink alcohol or watch sex scenes in movies. He’s much more crafty than that and uses a wide variety of snares and diversions. We’ve missed his primary purpose. Because what he fears most is Christians discovering who God’s made them to be—extraordinary people with abilities to carry out remarkable and unusual feats. This should be the image society has of Christians.

Response: You can see this everywhere in America today and particularly in Europe and the UK. Christianity is being marginalized and most of the time falsely identified with a couple of ‘far right’ issues now considered out of the mainstream.

However, the reality is that when accurate polls are taken Christians are still the real mainstream in this country but a great delusion is reining over this land and the Western world. Christians have allowed the enemy and in some ways have helped him to redefine and marginalize the church.

The media now portrays Christians as mean, angry, and judgmental folk who care more about their antiquated beliefs than about people. 

We are living in times where what is ‘good’ is now sometimes considered bad in this society and what is scripturally ‘bad’ is now the goals of many. Nevertheless we should let our lights shine in the darkness and do everything we can to make life better for ourselves and those we come in contact everyday.

Christians need to accurately portray the gospel and the Kingdom in our everyday lives blessing everyone who comes in contact with us—this puts the lie to how our enemy defines Christians and breaks through the deception and prevailing delusion.

May we let the Holy Spirit enliven us and let us become the example and face of Christ in a fallen and deluded world.         *Top

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