Hosting the Holy Spirit

While our niece and husband were visiting from California, we invited our family for a picnic. We had a wonderful time together. As people left, they thanked us for hosting the evening. We felt hosting was our privilege. We were thrilled to be with family.

I know how to host a family picnic. I prepare a meal and welcome people into our home. However, hosting something or someone can have a spiritual as well as a physical application.

I want to explore the meaning of hosting the Holy Spirit. Bill Johnson describes hosting His presence as carrying the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Johnson has written a book entitled Hosting the Presence and often speaks on this topic. He highlights Jesus as our example of what it means to host the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist water baptized Jesus. Matthew 3:16-17 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!’ When the Spirit descended upon Him and took up residence, Jesus became the host.

In John 5:19 NKJV Jesus says, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. Jesus was able to do what the Father did because He was carrying the Spirit’s anointing.

In John 15:5 NKJV, Jesus goes on to say, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.Johnson points out that just as Jesus had to host the Presence to do what the Father did, we must host the Spirit’s presence if we are to do what the Lord desires us to do.

Jesus informs us in John 14:16 NKJV, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. Our Helper is the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 6:19 says,Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Holy Spirit resides in us. That means we host Him, or carry His anointing.

Paul says in Colossians 1:9, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.This knowledge is imparted to us when we host the Spirit’s presence.

Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer asking for the Holy Spirit’s power to fill every believer. Or, we can say for every believer to host the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays for the Ephesians, and us, to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.He continues in verses 16 and 17, “I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, to be strengthened with His might literally means to become mighty by His power.

Graham Cooke is another author and speaker who refers to hosting the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Cooke says that our responsibility of hosting His presence is to fulfill the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus prays, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.When we host His presence, we bring heaven to earth. Cooke says we must live from heaven to earth if we are to fully glorify God.

In Luke 4:18 NKJV, Jesus declares, The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.When we host the Spirit of the Lord, He is upon us just as He was upon Jesus. This verse emphasizes specific ministries we will be privileged to carry out when we carry the Spirit’s presence.

We also host His presence through praise and worship. Psalm 22:3 says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. We can encounter the Lord when we praise Him during personal quiet times. David says in Psalm 16:11, “You (the Lord) make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. We can also experience His presence through praise and worship with other believers. The Lord says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.

I want to conclude with a couple more comments by Cooke and Johnson.

In Coming into Alignment, Graham Cooke quotes Exodus 33:14 where God promises, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Cooke encourages us to practice hosting His presence and invest our heart in Him. He says, “Stop pursuing the presence of God and start hosting Him!”

In The Resting Place, Bill Johnson writes, “There is no greater privilege than being a host to God Himself. Neither is there a greater responsibility.” He concludes his book saying, “We have been chosen to be His external dwelling place. We have been chosen to host His Presence.”

Aone but Not Alone

Quarantined! Isolated. Social distancing. Remain where you are. Wait.

Not our favorite words. However, they describe our current situation created by COVID-19. Negative connotations come to mind. But, God may have other things in mind. We will look at two situations in scripture where God used isolation. We might even say that God occasionally quarantined people.

JESUS IN THE WILDERNESS

The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist is recorded in three gospels. (see Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:3-11, Luke 3:21-22) The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and He was sent into the wilderness for 40 days. (see Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-14, Luke 4:1-13)

The Spirit remained with Him while He was in the wilderness. When He returned to Galilee, He went to the synagogue. There He picked up the scroll and read Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus declared in Luke 4:18-19, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit was with Jesus. Jesus was prepared for ministry.

DISCIPLES IN JERUSALEM

After Jesus’ resurrection and before His ascension, He had a few instructions for His disciples. Acts 1:4-5 says, “And while they were gathered together, He commanded them: Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard Me discuss. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” I wonder, was Jesus quarantining the disciples?

In Acts 1:8 Jesus reveals why He was asking them to isolate themselves and wait. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Jesus had plans for these men to share the gospel throughout the world. However, they needed the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill His plans. They needed some isolation before invading the world.

The disciples were obedient to Jesus’ command. Acts 1:12-14 says they returned to Jerusalem and stayed in the upper room. While being set apart from the daily activities of the city, verse 14 says, “With one accord they all continued in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.They spent more time in prayer since they were not interacting with other people. Good idea!

The disciples were quarantined in Jerusalem until they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4 says, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

In Acts 2:14-39, Peter preached his first sermon under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He referred to Joel 2:5-8 saying, “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. . . . And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

All the disciples were now ready to go into all the world and share the gospel. In Jesus’ name and with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to cast out demons, speak with new tongues, and lay hands on the sick who would recover. (see Mark 16:15-18)

2020 PEOPLE IN COVID-19 QUARANTINE

The disciples’ quarantine was climaxed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. A note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible says, “The Book of Acts is the story of the disciples receiving what Jesus received in order to do what Jesus did.”

Our current time of quarantine and isolation in our homes may be the setting where we will receive what Jesus received in order to do what Jesus did.

COVID-19 has caused us to be separated from the world. Let us use this time as an opportunity to receive a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. Social distancing requirements allow us space to cultivate intimacy with the Lord. Both Jesus and the disciples experienced the help of the Holy Spirit during times of isolation. So can we! Jesus said in John 14:15-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” “Forever” includes 2020.

We can no longer count on what we previously took for granted. Income, health, social activity, employment are insecure. I believe God will use this isolation time to teach us to rely only upon Him. He is our Savior Provider – Healer – Protector – Deliverer.

While we are separated from the world, we can be more attuned to hear the Spirit speak. There are less distractions because scheduled commitments have been erased from our calendars.

Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Marilyn Hickey has pointed out, “The Holy Spirit causes us to want to walk in righteousness. The Holy Spirit bears an inner witness that gives us peace. There is a bubbling of joy in the Holy Spirit that nothing else in this life can bring.”

May we take time to soak in the oil of the Holy Spirit and be permeated with His presence. The Spirit is preparing us for what is yet to come. We are alone, yet we are not alone.

 

Miracles We May Be Missing

Miracles? With all the news we hear about the COVID19 pandemic, how can I mention miracles? Because miracles are happening! There are unseen miracles all around us! Pandemic refers to something that is prevalent over a whole country or the world. So, let’s declare a pandemic of miracles!

I want to share three situations in which we can see miracles if we are willing to look for them.

1. As highly contagious as the coronavirus is, it is a miracle there are not more people who have contracted the disease. Statistics change by the second. However there continues to be more births than deaths. Remember, COVID-19 may be contagious but so is hope.

2. It is a miracle how many people have recovered from this deadly disease. Let’s share the positive statistics rather than the negative death toll.

3. As believers, the greatest miracle is eternal life after physical life. John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I John 5:5&11 declares, “Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. . . Whoever has the Son has life.” Last Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. Think about the resurrections being experienced by believers who have died.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God. But, how strong is your faith today? Do not be discouraged if you are asking questions. The Bible is full of stories of individuals who grew in faith through trials. Use this time to allow God to deepen your faith.

In Mark 5:21-43, we have the account of Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter. The verse that jumps out at me is verse 36. Don’t be afraid; just believe. God is speaking these words to us today. Hear these words as a challenge – not a command. God knows our human tendency to be afraid. Feel Him tenderly draw you into His arms. Hear Him whisper in your ear that He loves you. He is offering you a solution to your feelings. He is extending you faith to replace your fear.

Are you struggling to believe Him wholeheartedly? Think about the story in Mark 9:14-29. A father and Jesus are talking about faith. Listen to verses 23 and 24. If You can?” echoed Jesus. “All things are possible to him who believes!” Immediately the boy’s father cried out, I do believe; help my unbelief!” Is this where you are today? You believe, but you feel like your faith is being shaken. You want more faith. Sometimes we have to realize what we lack before we can receive more. God will use this time of uncertainly to increase the certainty of our faith.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.II Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Both scriptures stress that sight is not a part of faith.

Beth Moore has written, “Attempting to exercise you faith according to what we can see cancels out that very faith. . . . Our faith must rest on God’s identity, not His activity. . . . When you don’t know what God is doing, you can find stability in Who He is.”

Let us strive to fulfill II Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The unseen miracles that are happening around us will only be visible through our spiritual eyes. I remember a chorus we used to sing. “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You!”

Max Lucado writes, “Feed your faith, not your fears. If you feed your faith, your fears will starve.” Lucado also points out that the critical principle for seeing the unseen is to ignore what people say. Believe what God says. Look for the positive. Don’t just listen to the negative.

Matthew 12:20 tells us, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” If you feel like your faith’s flame is flickering, don’t give in to fear. Remember what took place in Acts 2. The disciples couldn’t figure out what was happening after Jesus left them. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire and set their faith ablaze. Jesus promised in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy ‘Spirit is our teacher and helper. God does not expect us to develop a deeper faith on our own. He helps us. II Timothy 1:6 tells us to fan the flame. Allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to fan faith’s flame in you.

Because of COVID19, we may identify with Paul in II Corinthians 1:9. “Indeed we felt we had received the sentence o death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.If this is your feeling, please remember Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The growth of our faith may be unseen at the present time – just like the unseen miracles around us. However, God is at work. When we are honest with Him about our faith and feelings, He will not desert us. Psalm 145:18 says, The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

Currently, Waymaker is one of my favorite songs. I am reminded of one particular line. “Even when I can’t see it, You’re working!”

Think about Joseph and all he endured because of his brothers. (see Genesis 37) Yet later in life, he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I believe the day will come when we can declare this verse relating to the coronavirus. It was meant to harm us, but God will use this difficulty for His glory.

Is your faith growing? Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Even a tiny bit of faith is powerful with God. I recently read online, If a tiny virus can do this much damage, imagine what mustard seed size faith can do.”

Sarah Young writes as the voice of Jesus in Jesus Always for March 26. “Seek to see Me in the midst of your circumstances. Look for signs of My unseen Presence as you walk along the path of Life. Gratefulness opens not only your heart but also your eyes. When you know Me intimately, you can find Me in myriad tiny details as well as in the big picture of your life. Take time to notice all My blessings – small and large – and to thank Me for them. This practice will help you enjoy My many gifts. . . . Also ask Me to train you in trusting Me more consistently. Well-developed trust enables you to go across treacherous terrain without grumbling. The more challenging your journey, the more frequently you need to voice your confidence in Me.”

My Reader, join me in repeating Psalm 34:3-5.Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces shall never be ashamed.Let’s stop giving COVID-19 so much power. Let’s magnify the Lord who has all power and authority! 

Are you ready to embrace the words of Joshua 1:9? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Yes, God promises to be with us even when we do not understand – even when doubts creep into our thoughts. Remember the instructions we are given in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God! However, I do not want to demean any of you who are currently suffering in any way from this horrible virus. You are in my prayers! Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.You may not see it yet, but God has some unseen miracles for you as well. I do not know the answers to all the physical and spiritual questions being asked. However, I want to believe for more of the miraculous for all of us.

NO Spiritual Distancing!

 

Social distancing has become the latest description of how we are to interact with others. COVID-19 has interrupted all of our lives. Social distancing has been introduced as a way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Six feet between us and others. No hugging. No touching.

Although my and husband I have not been going out in public, we have been going out for walks. Others are doing the same. We smile and shout hello as one couple stays on the sidewalk and the other couple moves to the street. More than six feet apart!

A few days ago, it was our granddaughter’s birthday. We wanted to give her a gift. We went to their home and handed her gift through an open window. We chatted for awhile. Charity and her family were inside and we were outside. More than six feet apart!

Later that evening, I was reading Max Lucado’s He Still Moves Stone. The affects of social distancing were still on my mind. Lucado wrote about Peter keeping his distance from Jesus after Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Luke 22:54 says, “Then they seized Jesus, led Him away, and took Him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed at a distance.

Lucado expounds, “He (Peter) was loyal . . . from a distance. That night he went close enough to see, but not close enough to be seen.”

Hmmm. Peter was social distancing! It was not long before Peter regretted his actions of not staying close to Jesus. Let us not be guilty of spiritual distancing.

God is not interested in spiritual distancing. He wants to be close to us no matter what our world situation looks like. There is no need for us to keep a safe distance from Him. He is not afraid to give us a hug. In fact, He wants us to come closer to Him at this time.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Yes, I cannot help noting that God is telling us to wash our hands. He is referring to spiritual hand washing. Currently, we are constantly hearing about physical hand washing. A way to avoid spiritual distancing is to be cleansed spiritually.

James 4:7, says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Satan is the one from whom we must practice social and spiritual distancing. He is trying to disrupt our lifestyle, but he will not succeed spiritually.

Psalm 145:18 declares, “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

In Give Him 15 for 3/2020, Dutch Sheets shared the following. “Draw near to Him in a place of abiding. Abiding is being vitally united to Him. As you draw close to Him, listen to His voice and not to the voice of fear and chaos that so many media outlets are causing and promoting. He will speak to areas that He is causing us to think differently in, and even give us new ways to walk out our faith during this time. . . .  He is our refuge. Spend time with Him and draw near that His glory will be your canopy and shield.”

Psalm 91 is a good Psalm for us to declare over our families, church fellowships, nation and world. I will highlight a few verses. Verses 1 and 2 say, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” We can actively abide with the Lord as described by Dutch Sheets. Verse 4 tells us, “He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.We can’t get much closer than under God’s wings! Verse 9-12 promise, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling— My refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.Verse 15 declares,When he calls out to Me, I will answer hm; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him.No space for any spiritual distancing!

For medical reasons, social distancing may be necessary at the present time. However, this only accentuates the need for NO spiritual distancing. Joshua 1:9 encourages us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

The Lord promises no spiritual distancing throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 31:6 emphasizes, “the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Matthew 28:29, Jesus says, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The Lord calls out to us in Zechariah 1:3, “’Return to Me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.

My Reader, declare with me Psalm 73:28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.

A Trinity Quilt

Previously, I shared about the beautiful human quilt God is creating.  (see post for January 29) As I continued to mediate upon the craft of quilting, another possible spiritual quilt came to mind. Last week, I described God as the Master Quilter. This week, I envision God being the quilt. How about a Trinity quilt?

Like most quilts, I visualize the Trinity quilt having three layers. One layer is God the Father. Another layer is God the Son. The third layer is God the Holy Spirit. I think of the hymn Holy, Holy Holy by Reginald Heber. The last line of the first verse declares, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

Genesis 1:26 is the first scripture that reveals there could be such a thing as a Trinity quilt. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.’” The pronoun “us” reveals the triune nature of God. Then, in His image, He created mankind with a spirit, soul and body.

Matthew 10:16-17 says, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” God the Father reveals Jesus as His Son and the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. The perfect picture of a Trinity quilt!

Let’s take time to examine in depth each layer of our quilt.

Here are a few verses that highlight God as Father.

One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all
Ephesians 4:6
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,
Matthew 6:9
(Jesus’ words when teaching the disciples how to pray.)

We move on to a few verses denoting Jesus as the Son of God.

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
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son
also to have life in
Himself.
John 5:26
And I will do whatever you ask in My name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:13
(Jesus’ role as God’s Son.)
He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:17

The Holy Spirit is described in the following verses.

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter,
that He may abide with you for ever.
John 14:16 KJV
(Words spoken by Jesus)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I
(Jesus) have said to you.
John 14:26
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Titus 3:6 NLT

More scriptures help develop a symbolic Trinity quilt. The following reveal a few possible quilt qualities.

Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” In earlier days, feathers were often used as the batting to add warmth to a quilt.

In Exodus 12, we read about the Israelites placing the blood of a lamb on the door frames of their homes so the death angel would pass over their dwellings. Hebrews 9 tells how much more powerful is the blood of Jesus Christ. Today, we can plead of blood of Jesus over our lives. We can be covered by the blood of Jesus just as we can be covered by a quilt. In both instances, we receive protection.

In John 14 and 16, various translations use different words to describe the Holy Spirit. The Old King James Version refers to the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. A comforter is another term for a quilt.

I particularly like Jesus’ words in John 15:26 as a description of the Trinity quilt. “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me.

We are still in the middle of winter. Cuddling under a cozy quilt is very inviting. However, no matter what the weather, we can abide under the warmth and protection of the Trinity quilt. Scripture encourages us to do so.

I believe I Peter 1:2 offers us this unique quilt.  “Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

II Corinthians 13:14 invites us to curl up under the quilt of the Trinity by saying, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

However, we are to do more than huddle under this quilt. Matthew 28:19 encourages us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

When we nestle under the Trinity quilt, something special happens. Spiritually, we become one with God. Beth Moore describes it by saying, “when the will of the Father and the will of the child converge as one, the cloudy pillar of God’s glory settles on her shoulders like a down comforter.”

May you be enfolded in the Trinity quilt!