Extra Ordinary!

I have an extraordinary God who makes extraordinary people”
Smith Wigglesworth

This statement recently caught my attention. I have been meditating upon it.

Synonyms for extraordinary are exceptional, amazing, marvelous, outstanding, and phenomenal.

God being extraordinary is not hard for me to comprehend. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – all extraordinary characteristics. The fact that Jesus died upon the cross for our sins is extraordinary. This is beyond what an ordinary person would do.

The possibility of our being extraordinary is more difficult for me to understand. When I look at a crowd of people, myself included, I see ordinary people.  

I see ordinary people because I look at their outward appearance. I only see from an external perspective. God sees differently than I do. I Samuel 16:7 says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” The Holy Spirit makes the difference within the heart. When the Holy Spirit dwells within a person, there is an internal change. He or she becomes extraordinary. Jesus promised in John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” 

Paul writes in Ephesians 4:16, “I pray that from His (Jesus Christ) glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.” Inner strength is extraordinary strength.

The Lord says in Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” Any ordinary person can exhibit might and power. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we accomplish extraordinary things.

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV says, “(God) is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” This power is the power of the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT declares, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”

In Romans, Paul distinguishes between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh refers to what is ordinary and the Spirit describes what is extraordinary. Romans 8:5 and 9 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. . . . However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Romans 12:2 advises, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” As we yield to the Holy Spirit, our minds are transformed from the mind of the flesh to the mind of the Spirit – from the ordinary to the extraordinary. I Corinthians 2:16 states that we then have the mind of Christ.

Paul says in Philippians 4:13 NKJV, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul does not stop with just saying he can do everything. He explains that he can only do all things when Christ gives him strength. His ability to only do ordinary things expands to extra ordinary things with the Lord’s help.

I John 4:4 tells us that greater is He who is in us (the Holy Spirit) than he who is in the world. Worldly people are ordinary. The Greater One who is in us makes it possible for us to be like Him. Smith Wigglesworth says, “Our incapability has to be clothed with His divine ability, and our helplessness has to be filled with His power of helpfulness.”

Since our God is extraordinary, we can become extraordinary. Romans 8:14 tells us, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” We are part of an extraordinary family!

 

Persevere in Baking and Living

I baked a cake this morning. First of all, I measured and combined all of the ingredients. The cake batter was a thin mixture that I poured into a pan. Then came the baking process in the oven. A change occurred while it was in the hot box. A baked cake holds it shape and stands alone. If it had not baked long enough before I took it from the oven, the middle of the cake would have settled because it was still doughy. Cake is not cake until it is baked.

Living life can be like baking a cake.

I combined flour, sugar, eggs and a few other ingredients to make the cake batter. God has certain ingredients for His recipe for life. Romans 5:3-5 states, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Perseverance, character and hope are a few of God’s ingredients. Similar to how I poured milk into my cake batter, God pours love into our lives.

Although not as sweet as sugar, perseverance is a life ingredient. However, perseverance can also be part of the baking process.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Trials can put us in a hot box that feels like an oven. However, we are to persevere to become mature in our faith. As our faith matures, we will become like a baked cake. We will be able to stand up for our beliefs in God. We will not be lacking in anything. We will not fall in the middle like an under baked cake.

A few verses later, James 1:12 declares, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James mentions a test. Often I stick a toothpick in the middle of a baking cake to test if it is thoroughly baked and ready to come out of the oven. We may need to be tested to see if we are worthy of the crown of life the Lord has for us.

I Peter 4:12 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” A test results in a testimony. When we go through fiery trials, we come out with a testimony. Revelation 12:11 says that we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Galatians 6:9 NLT warns, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Like a cake that needs to be removed from the oven at the proper time, so will we overcome our difficult situation at the right time. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God knows the proper time for all things.

God is making something beautiful out of our lives. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God will not allow us to be burned to a crisp. Lysa Terkeurst writes in It’s Not Supposed to be This Way, “God doesn’t expect us to handle this, He wants us to hand this over to Him. God doesn’t want us to rely on our own strength. He wants us to rely totally on His strength.” Let us proclaim Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

If I had not put my cake batter in the oven, I would not have created an edible delicacy. The dough had to bake in the oven. So it is for us when we are placed in the hot box of life. Romans 8:38-39 says, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Lord will always be with us while we are going through a baking and making process. In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes as the voice of Jesus saying, “I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of my gifts; find Me in every situation.”

I want to highlight one more scripture that relates to perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,.” Whether it be baking a cake or walking through difficult situations in life, we are encouraged to persevere. We need to keep the proper perspective. God is not doing this to us, but He will use it for our good. We can persevere with the promise of God’s help.

Just Like Dad

You are just like your father!”

These are six powerful words. Have you ever spoken them? Have you ever heard these words spoken to you? They can create either positive or negative feelings. Since we will be honoring fathers this coming Sunday, let’s think about the potential meanings of this proclamation.

You are just like your father!”

These words may refer to a likeness in physical appearance or emotional temperament or spiritual beliefs. If there is a good father-child relationship, this phrase can be received as a compliment. The father may be fulfilling Proverbs 22:6 NKJV, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.A father’s positive influence is invaluable.

The same words have painful potential if the father and child do not have a good rapport. A dad’s behavior by words and actions greatly influences his children. Colossians 3:17 is a good reminder for all fathers, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

You are just like your father!”

This statement may be one of the best compliments anyone can receive! Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.This gives everyone the privilege of being just like their father – their Heavenly Father of whom they can be proud. I John 4:8 says, “God is love.” Love is the nature of our Heavenly Father. We have the potential to love if we are like our Father. I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.Fathers love children and children love fathers.

Jesus sets a good example of a loving father in Mark 10:13-16. In verse 14, Jesus says, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.And in verse 16 “He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

Fathers, you have the potential and the privilege of being just like your Heavenly Father. However, this trait is not something to be taken lightly. Galatians 6:7 warns, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Unless an earthly father is a positive role model for his children, he will not be known as being just like his Heavenly Father.

Fathers, you have the best role model for fulfilling your responsibilities of being a dandy dad. Be “just like your Heavenly Father” so your children will be honored to hear the phrase “you are just like your father” spoken to them.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads!

Progressing Spiritually

I am challenged by Sarah Young’s statement in Jesus Always, “Your life is a gift from Me, consisting of millions upon millions of moments.” I stop to ask myself, “How do I fill my millions of moments? What opportunities exist within these multiple moments?” Jesus’ response to my questions is found within more of Sarah’s words, “Fill your moments with My presence.”

Millions upon millions” is a phrase that causes me to think about several spiritual progressions.

Glory to Glory
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
I Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

In Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior, Graham Cooke says we are always learning how to be changed from glory to glory into God’s likeness. “In Christ” is our starting point. “Christ in us” is our finishing point. We move from the first glorious state of salvation to our destiny as sons and daughters of the Most High. Cooke points out that each stage we pass though reveals more of God’s nature. The New International Version of I Corinthians 3:18 uses the words, “being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.

Daily, the Holy Spirit promotes Christ to us and Christ in us as the hope of glory. Our Heavenly Father deals with us through the context of eternal glory. Glory to glory.

Let’s consider another progression.

Grace upon Grace
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

Hebrews 4:16 says, “We draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is grace – and then there is more grace. There is an inexhaustible supply of grace always available to us!

The New International Version uses the phrase, “received grace in place of grace already given.” This could mean that old grace is replaced with new grace. As we grow from glory to glory, our understanding of grace increases. So, we gain new grace. We can never deplete His supply of grace. God always extends grace upon grace.

Faith to Faith
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;
as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH
Romans 1:17 NASB

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Our faith grows as our walk with the Lord deepens. We go from glory to glory as we receive grace upon grace. This results in our growing from faith to faith. Ephesians 2:8 declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Faith is not passive. Right words, right thoughts, right actions – all allow us to grow from faith to faith.

Line upon Line
Precept upon Precept
Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message? . . .
For precept
must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line. Here a little, there a little.”
Isaiah 28:9-10 NKJV

II Timothy 3:14-17 validates the words of Isaiah. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Our understanding of God grows when we repeatedly read the precepts and lines of scripture. Hearing the same Bible stories again and again influences nd increases our faith. Throughout our spiritual walk, we continually gain a deeper knowledge of God’s Word.

Little by Little
The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.
You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once,
or the wild animals will multiply around you.
Deuteronomy 7:22

Whatever progression we may be encountering, we will always go from level to level little by little. This can be difficult because we want what we want now. We do not like waiting.

The writer of Deuteronomy refers to “little by little” as the means by which the Israelites would conquer their enemies in the Promised Land. God told His people that He was going to deliver them little by little. He knew that if everything happened at once, it would not be good for them. He was taking them on a journey and teaching them to trust Him and follow His leading.

Victoria Osteen has written, “I believe God is doing the same with you and me today. He is leading us, little by little. He’s teaching us to trust, little by little. He is revealing His plan, little by little. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Don’t get frustrated when things are not happening as quickly as you’d like. Just thank God that you are moving forward. Trust in His timing. Trust that He has your best interest at heart. Trust that He is leading you into victory as you keep moving forward, little by little!”

We are given millions and millions of moments to grow in our relationship with the Lord. Moment by moment we progress into His presence. However, we must remember that we never experience any of these progressions in our own power. In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord says,Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.Receive the power of the Holy Spirit! Allow the Spirit to lead you from glory to glory through grace upon grace so you may increase faith to faith. Learn line upon line and precept upon precept. Little by little, you will draw closer to God because James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.

Let us fill our millions of moments with God’s presence!

I conclude with the words of the old hymn Moment by Moment by Daniel Whittle.

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

(Refrain) Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I under His care;
(Refrain)

Never a heartache and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger, but there on the throne,
Moment by moment, He thinks of His own.
(Refrain)

Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus, my Saviour, abides with me still.
(Refrain)