Inhabit or Inhibit?

Inhabit” and “Inhibit.” Two words. Only one different letter in spelling – a tremendous difference in definition. Inhabit means to live in or occupy a space. Inhibit means to hinder, restrain, or prevent an action or process. We have the choice of whether to allow the Lord’s presence to inhabit us or to inhibit His work in our lives. This is a very sobering thought.

INHABIT

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” – I Corinthians 6:19
If each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit inhabits or lives within us. When the Holy Spirit inhabits us, He helps us live a holy lifestyle.

Ezekiel 37:27 NLT promises, “And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” How can we be confident that the Holy Spirit inhabits us, when we cannot see Him? Psalm 22:3 KJV says, “The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.” While praising the Lord, we gain a deeper understanding of His character and nature.

The way to not inhibit, or hinder, the plans and purposes of God is to allow Him to inhabit and live in us.

INHIBIT

When the Holy Spirit inhabits us, we grow spiritually. We choose whether or not to accept the Holy Spirit’s help. Pastor Bob Reeves of Calvary Assembly of God has said, “Only God can create growth, but we can inhibit growth.”

In God Is Good, Bill Johnson says “God is a sovereign God. He reigns over all and everything belongs to Him. Nothing is outside of His reach or concern. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. But is He in control? This is not a question of His ability or His power and authority.” Johnson believes it is more accurate to say God is in charge than that He is in control. For example, although we are in charge of our homes, not everything that happens under our roof is necessarily our idea or is approved by us.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2 NAS
God gave us a free will and our choices affect His work in our lives. We can inhibit the Lord. He has given us abilities and it is our choice as to how we use these abilities and gifts.

INHABIT NOT INHIBIT

Do not quench the Spirit.” – I Thessalonians 5:19
It is possible to inhibit, or stifle, the Holy Spirit who inhabits us. So, I search the scriptures to find out how to avoid inhibiting the Spirit.
Proverbs 3:5-7 instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”
James 1:6 says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
We must not rely upon our limited understanding nor doubt God’s ability.
The Lord spoke to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

Inhabit or inhibit – one little letter makes a big difference. Think about the letter “A” in inhabit as focusing upon the Almighty God. In contrast, think about how the “I” of inhibit as indicating what I can do.

It is our choice. We can lift up our hands in praise and yield to God’s plans. Or, we can take things into our own hands and leave God out of the equation. Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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Ownership of the Cross

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take up your cross, and follow Me”

My Reader, join me in meditating on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples when He spoke these words.

This directive is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. We are going to focus on four specific words Jesus articulated.

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples over 2000 years ago. Today, hear Him speak them to you.

Take up your cross, and follow Me.

Jesus was explaining to His twelve followers that He would soon suffer, die upon the cross, be buried and then raised to new life three days later. They didn’t want to hear it! They didn’t understand it!

To the disciples, the cross meant the most painful death in the most humiliating way. Having spent the last 3 ½ years with Jesus, the disciples loved Him. They did not want to think about crucifixion.

They pictured how the Romans forced the criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. In their minds, they heard the ridiculing comments shouted by the crowd as the convicted men shuffled to their execution. The Jesus the disciples knew did not deserve this!

Then, Jesus dropped another bombshell upon His disciples.

Jesus not only said that He would be crucified upon a cross – He told each of them to take up his own cross. This became more personal.

Was Jesus asking them to be crucified with Him? No.

However, in a sense, He was prophesying what was in store for His closest followers. Although not recorded in scripture, it is historically documented that 10 of the 12 disciples died as martyrs. Peter asked to be crucified upside down on the cross because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Following Jesus cost these men their lives. Each man took up his cross and followed Jesus.

Take up your cross daily and follow Me.

Luke included the word “daily.”  A person only dies once. This eliminates the thought that Jesus was asking His disciples to follow Him to Golgotha when He would be nailed to the cross.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

For me, taking up my cross may mean dying to my desires rather than dying a physical death on the beam of a cross. The New Living Translation uses the words “turn from your selfish ways.”  Every day we are to live a selfless lifestyle of surrender and sacrifice. Colossians 3:5 NLT says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Then Galatians 5:24 NLT says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Take up your cross and follow Me.

Jesus addressed the command “take up your cross” to anyone who wanted to be His disciple.

No longer was Jesus only talking with His twelve disciples. This becomes more personal! He is speaking to us, One on one.

When Jesus died on “the cross,” it became “my cross.” He took my sins when He was nailed to the wooden cross. His cross had my name upon it. Now it is my responsibility to accept Him as my personal savior. Ephesians 1:7 states, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Jesus extends the cross to you and me. We must personally embrace the cross. That is why Jesus calls it “your cross” that He invites us to take up.

Take up your cross and follow Me.”

After each of us accepts our cross, we are called to daily follow Jesus for the remainder of our lives. Galatians 2:20 NLT says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

We follow Jesus by stepping into His plans and purposes. Philippians 4:13 assures us of being able to follow His footsteps, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Neither you nor I know what will be required when we become His follower.

There are still martyrs today who are required to physically die for Christ. If you want a reminder of this, go to Voice of the Martyrs.  Please pray for these followers of Christ.

take up your cross, and follow Me”

My Reader, are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus whatever the cost?

Take up your cross and follow Me” involves embracing the totality of the cross. It means accepting  that Jesus died upon the cross paying the price for your sins. It means understanding the sacrifices it may require. It means following the path wherever Jesus leads. It may even cost your physical life.

Whatever “take up your cross, and follow Me” may entail, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

 

Recycle Your Mistakes

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Even your mistakes can be recycled into something good through My transforming grace.”
(quote by Sarah Young in Jesus Lives.)

Is Jesus actually saying He will transform my goof-ups into good stuff? Will He convert my failings into something favorable if I give Him the chance? Romans 8:28 NLT says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Yes, “everything” includes my mistakes!

God convicts me of sin, but He does not condemn me. I may feel like I have committed an unforgivable sin. It may appear to me that my whole life should be thrown into a trash can. However, God sees my shortcomings differently. He desires for me to throw away my sin in the trash can by confessing it. But. He wants me to place my life in the recycling bin. 

To confess means to admit that I have done wrong. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

In addition to confessing my sin, I am to repent of my sins. To repent means to turn away from what I have confessed as sin. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Recycling is repurposing. Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.” When I dispose of my sinful habits, the Holy Spirit transforms my former life into a new life that glorifies Him. He recycles my habits.

When throwing something away, I have the choice of putting it in the trash can or in the recycling bin. There is no further use for what I throw in the trash can. If I place items in the recycling bin, they can potentially be used differently.

For example, did you know that recycled plastic bottles can be made into t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, sleeping bags – even carpeting? Ten bottles make enough plastic fiber for a t-shirt and it only takes 63 bottles to make a sweater. I wonder how God will repurpose what I place in His recycling bin.

When a potter molds clay into a vessel, he reworks it numerous times. If it does not turn out exactly as he wants, he scrapes the clay off the potter’s wheel and begins again. Notice what he does with the clay. Rather than throwing it in the trash can, the potter repeatedly refashions it until it is exactly what he wants. He may trim off a few rough clay edges and throw them in the recycling bin.  Those he will reuse later. He never throws away a valuable piece of clay. He recycles.

This is a wonderful picture of what God does with our lives. Job 33:6 NLT says, “I was formed from clay.” Then Isaiah 64:8 declares, “Yet You, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” The Lord never throws us into a trash can. He always recycles us! He kneads our strengths and weaknesses, shaping the vessel He needs. II Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

 Relying on God’s grace, we can be recycled from imperfection to perfection – from trash to treasure. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” according to II Corinthians 12:9.

 Philippians 1:6 says,being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Christ is in the recycling business! 

My Reader, do you realize that God can use your imperfections in His kingdom? Learn from your mistakes and let the Lord recycle them. Do not throw your life in trash can. The recycling bin offers a better purpose.

 

 

HELP!

the Lord worked with them
Mark 16:20

Do you feel overwhelmed with what you are facing today? May these five words encourage you. But first, let’s take a look at the rest of the story.

While Matthew and Mark both end with “The Great Commission,” in Mark 16 Jesus chastised the disciples because of their unbelief and hardness of heart. Despite everything they had seen, everything they themselves had done, they still struggled with unbelief. Amazing. And then Jesus commanded them to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He even stated, “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Wow!

Although their faith was lacking Jesus had a job for them to do, and He would equip them to do it. “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.” Mark 16:20.

Matthew 28:19-20 records Jesus instructing them, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus promised to always be with the disciples and to help with whatever He asked them to do. But He was leaving; how could He promise that?

Jesus told the disciples: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” John 14:16-17.

Luke 24:48-49 says, “You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Jesus was speaking of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the one who would always be with the disciples and be their helper. All of these accounts substantiate the fact that the Lord will help us do what He wants done.

Jesus still calls us to go into all the world with the message of the gospel, just as He commissioned the first disciples. And He still promises to work with us. We are assured of His help because of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is why Paul could say in Philippians 4:13 (and we can say), “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Christ empowering us with His strength is how He works with us. Philippians 2:13 NLT declares, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”

Today when I observe family challenges, situations in our country and struggles throughout the world, I definitely see the need for that empowering presence, God’s Holy Spirit working in us. While we may not know what the Lord will ask of us, we have the assurance of His help through the Holy Spirit.

M personal desire is to allow the Holy Spirit to think and love and live through me. And my prayer for all believers is the same as Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” As believers, we all need help doing God’s work. And, we have been given a helper, the Holy Spirit.

 

A Valentine for 365 Days

Universally, the heart is a symbol of love. However, on February 14, the heart is commercialized in more ways than one can imagine. Greeting cards are created in the shape of hearts decorated with lace and flowers. Heart-shaped boxes enfold decadent chocolates. Bouquets of red roses with a plastic heart stuck in the middle are advertised. Even fluffy stuffed animals portraying love are for sale. Whatever the expression of love, there is always a heart included with the sentiment “Be My Valentine.”

Why magnify love only one day of the year? True love lasts longer than one day. Love is more than a few romantic words composed by Hallmark. Love is more valuable than commercial stuff. God’s love is lavished upon us 365 days of the year. (see I John 3:1) God is love according to I John 4:8.

Let’s make a few comparisons between what God says about love and what the marketing industry sells.

The Greek language has several unique words for love. Agape is God’s love – selfless love. Eros is passionate or romantic love. Valentine’s Day focuses on Eros.

Here are images of angels. Cupid is the valentine angel. In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of erotic love. A cupid is described as a winged being symbolic of love.

In comparison, we see an image of Michael, God’s archangel. Micheal is a warring angel who fights for us. (see Revelation 12:7-9) In Revelation 5:11, John heard the voice of “thousands upon thousands and tens thousand times ten thousand” angels. Too many angels to count! Psalm 91:11 a  loving verse telling each of us about our personal guardian angel. Weapons are evident in these images. In the valentine image, Cupid is shooting an arrow with his bow. On many valentines, there is an arrow of love aimed for the beloved’s heart. Is this truly romantic?

The other image is symbolic of the sword of the Spirit – part of God’s armor. (see Ephesians 6:18) The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Offensively, God’s Word can penetrate the unbeliever’s heart allowing him/her to experience the love of God. Much more powerful than an arrow!Is love costly? Looking on the back of a valentine card, one discovers how expensive a particular piece of folded paper can be. Is Eros love worth this amount of money?

Agape love cost Jesus His life. That’s costly! Romans 5:8 NLT says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And I Corinthians 6:20 says, “God bought you with a high price.”Pictured above is an old-fashioned valentine. On a flimsy piece of paper, a cute little angel says, “It would be heavenly to have you for my Valentine.” Although this might be a sweet sentiment, there is no sincere commitment.

In contrast, God reveals His love for us throughout the Bible. In Revelation 21 and 22, the angel of the Lord shows John the new heaven and the new earth that will last throughout eternity. The Lord’s love endures forever.  (see  I Chronicles 16:34)

So, forget the commercial hype of Valentine’s Day. Concentrate on God’s  love. Listed below are  scriptural love notes from God. (Emphasis is by the writer.)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.
I John 4:7

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
I John 4:8

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But
the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us
and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2

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We Quit – God Doesn’t

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Earlier today, the Lord led me to several scriptures that may not necessarily be correlated. However, the Holy Spirit connected them for me. Please give me a few liberties with what I share today.

I began reading II Kings 4:1-7. This is the story of the widow who possessed only a little oil. Elijah instructed her to collect jars from her neighbors. Then she began pouring her oil into the containers. The oil never ran out until she ran out of empty jars.
Could the widow pouring oil into containers be symbolic of my pouring out prayers to the Lord?

 Next I read Psalm 56:8 NLT that tells about the Lord collecting tears in His bottle.
My prayers are often cried out to the Lord in tears.
Can I make the analogy of God keeping my prayers in a bottle? 

Finally, I read Revelation 5:8 that says golden bowls are full of incense – with prayers being the incense. Angels present these bowls to Jesus in the throne room of heaven.
I wonder if Jesus responds to my prayers by pouring out His answers to me from similar golden bowls.

Putting these three scriptures together, this is what I envision:
All my prayers are kept in God’s bottle with my name upon it. At the appropriate time, Jesus tips the bowls of prayers. He pours out His answers in my direction. The number of prayers answered depends upon the number of prayers I have prayed (how many bottles I have filled).

If this is true, why does it appear that not all of my prayers are answered?

It certainly is not because of God’s inability. Luke 1:37 NKJV says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It must be me. The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”

Sometimes I quit praying before God answers.

I am reminded of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s experience. They prayed and prayed for a child. No baby was conceived. Finally, they decided their prayers would not be answered as they desired. They were too old. They quit praying.

They gave up, but God did not.

Reading Luke 1:5-25, I find out what happened.
While Zachariah was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a son named John. Zachariah couldn’t believe it! How? Why at this time?

Scripture says that Zachariah and Elizabeth were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (see Luke 1:6) I believe God wanted to entrust them with a particular infant who would grow to be a man with a message.

God foreknew that He would send His Son, Jesus, to live as a human on earth. Part of His strategy included another man, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for His Son. Two baby boys had to be born during the same historical time period. God did not answer Zachariah and Elizabeth’s prayer earlier because they were to be the parents of John the Baptist.

Although Zachariah and Elizabeth may not have been faithful to continue to pray their petitions, God was still faithful to answer their previous prayers. God had the answer in His hands, ready to be released at the appropriate time.

I love this concept! God answers prayers we no longer pray.

God collects our prayers in a bottle. They are as sweet as incense to Him. God has no limit to the number of bottles He will fill. Our part is to keep pouring out our prayers to Him. At the appropriate time, He will pour out His answers – answers that will glorify God and be for our good.

Two Applications of TLC

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TLC – the abbreviation for Tender Loving Care. TLC – the first letters of each word for The Lost Coin parable. Is there a correlation between these two definitions of TLC? Let me share this parable with you and then make a few comments.

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin,
does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully
until she finds it? “When she has found it, she calls together
her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have
found the coin which I had lost!’ “In the same way, I tell you,
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinne
r who repents.”
Luke 15:8-10

The woman does three things after losing her valuable coin: (1) Lights a lamp. (2) Sweeps her house. (3) Searches for the coin carefully. With each action, she hopes to find what she has lost. Success! She then invites her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her. I see myself in this parable from two different perspectives.

I am Like the Coin

I am the lost coin. The woman symbolizes Jesus. In the parable, the coin was probably lost because it slipped from the woman’s hands and rolled away. If I do not cling to the hand of Jesus, it is easy for me to stray and become lost. However, I am priceless to Jesus. I am worth more than any coin’s monetary value. Jesus cherishes me. How does He search for me?

First, Jesus not only lights a lamp but He is the light Himself. In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” He is the brightest light that shines throughout the world. He can find me wherever I go.

Secondly, He symbolically sweeps the floor, or foundation, of my life. Dirt symbolizes sin. James 2:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Then John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Putting these two scriptures together, I learn that I can get rid of the filth and dirt in my life by allowing Jesus to sweep away my sin.

Thirdly, Jesus is constantly searching and seeking not only for me but for everyone who is lost. Luke 19:10 declares, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

I am Like the Woman

Another way for me to look at this parable is to put myself in the position of the woman who lost the coin. This time, people lost in sin represent the lost coin. Do I consider lost lives valuable enough to ask Jesus to help seek them? Does my life exemplify Jesus to those with whom I interact?

First, I must light my lamp. Matthew 5:16 encourages me to be a witness to the lost. Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Next, I need to think about sweeping the floor. I do not do anyone a favor if I allow others to sweep the dirt or their sin into a corner. The Psalmist asks in Psalm 94:16, “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” And James 5:20 says, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Last, I must be diligent to search. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:20 NLT, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” When searching for those stuck in the muck in sin, I am a witness for Christ. I encourage the lost to come to Him. Everyone is valuable to the Lord. He seeks our help to seek and find those who are lost.

From Jesus’ viewpoint, I am a valuable coin. Jesus also wants to use me as a woman who searches for what is lost. Both perspectives are valid.

Thank you, Lord, for TLC! The parable of The Lost Coin is a perfect example of your Tender Loving Care!