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.”

The Heart of Valentine’s Day

In a few days we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. A day symbolized by a heart. A day to celebrate love. A day to express feelings of the heart. Hearts can be blessed by an outpouring of love. Hearts can be broken by love withheld. Human love can be unpredictable. It can be positive at one moment and negative at the next.

God’s love is different. Here the words of God’s heart to your heart in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” This is unconditional love!

Today we are thinking of the heart as our loving organ. With our heart, we sense love and share love. This intangible organ may need some repair to be all God designed it to be. Let’s take time to explore scripture relating to the heart while celebrating a special day about love.

Condition of the heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23
If we need to guard our hearts, there must be potential for our hearts to waver in the wrong direction.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21
The heart reveals what we value.

Commandments for the heart.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
A challenging commandment first given in the Old Testament.

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:29-31
When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded with 2 commandments relating to the heart and love.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.
Psalm 119:10
May this be our response to God’s commands.

Correction for the heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9
Watch out! There is both good and bad potential within our hearts.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
Although a cheerful heart may be what we desire, it may not always be what we feel.

Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.
Hebrews 3:8
The hearts of the Israelites were hardened when they rebelled against God. We must be careful! If it happened to them, it can happen to us. Heed this warning.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV
If God finds hardness in our hearts, He does not condemn us. He promises to soften hearts. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
The Lord does not leave us with hardened or broken hearts.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me . . .to heal the brokenhearted. . ..”
Luke 4:18 NKJV
Jesus proclaims that healing hearts is part of His ministry.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23
Asking God to search our hearts is a good starting point to truly know our heart’s condition.

Consecration of the heart.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.
John 14:1
There is hope for our hardened and broken hearts.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:9-10
Salvation is the most important heart issue.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11
Knowing and following God’s Word is the best way to keep our hearts pure.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8
A wonderful promise!

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14
May this be our life goal!

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7
Peace is the gift God places in our hearts. It is available on Valentine’s Day and every day!

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psalm 9:1-2
What a wonderful aspiration for Valentine’s Day and every day!

 

 

 

 

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!

Quiet Quilting

My grandmother made quilts. Time and effort were invested in these works of art. Larger fabric swatches were cut into individual pieces. These pieces were hand sewn together to make larger blocks. Stitch by stitch, pieces became blocks and blocks became quilt tops. A layer of batting was sandwiched between the quilt top and backing. The three layers were attached to a quilting frame. Then the layers were hand tied with a special quilting thread producing the finished creation.

I still have a couple of Grandma’s quilts. I decided to retrieve them from storage. I looked closely at each fabric piece that became a part of these artistic masterpieces. Many of the pieces looked familiar.

So many memories tied together creating one quilt. However, I discover more than memories. I also find spiritual symbolism. God’s handiwork creates human quilts.

I perceive a sacred quilt pictured in I Corinthians 12:12-31. I highlight a few of the verses. (v12) For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (v14) For the body is not one member, but many. (v18) But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (v20)But now there are many members, but one body. (v25) so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (v27)  Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

Paul describes the various parts of the human body knit together to form one body. Then he compares this concept to multiple members making up the body of Christ. I am looking at numerous fabric pieces combined into one quilt.

As a child, my favorite cover was a crazy quilt. This patchwork of fabric displayed multiple colors, shapes and sizes. All were sewn together. There was no evident design in the finished product. However, I recognized many of the quilt pieces as fabric from dresses worn by my grandmother and mother. I even noticed some swatches of material from dresses I wore.

As I closely examined the fabric squares, rectangles and triangles of Grandma’s quilt, I suspect the shape of some fabric pieces may have been determined by a tear or rip in the original material. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are quilted into God’s comforter irregardless of our past. He accepts us as we are. He forgives our sins and works us into His pattern of humanity. We become a block of His sacred quilt.

I remember a childhood song that proclaims “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight.” God created people with different skin colors. All are part of His carnal coverlet. No two people have exactly the same physical build. However, all are loved by God. People vary in ages, but all are very welcome in God’s heirloom quilt.

Another comforter in Grandma’s quilt collection was composed of uniform blocks. It was a hexagon flower garden quilt. Each block was composed of various shades and patterns of one primary color. The same quilted design was evident in each square. Some exhibited brighter and bolder colors while others were more subdued. Some swatches were solid colors while others had busier patterns. However, the same octagon floral design was evident in the final outcome of all the blocks. Although there was diversity among the quilt blocks, there was also unity.

Spiritually, each person’s life becomes a unique block of God’s creation. The Holy Spirit works quietly in each of us preparing us to be a part of God’s quilt. Swatches of the Spirit’s fruit and gifts are evident. A different personality is prominent in each living square.

After looking at the tops of my grandmother’s quilts, I turned them over. The back was the same on all the coverlets. Each one was one solid color. Not very interesting but practical. The middle layer of batting added weight and warmth to the complete comforter. The warmth of the final quilt was primarily determined by the type of batting used.

Just as a fabric quilt has three layers, there are three layers in God’s quilting creation. We have spent considerable time describing the quilt top and finding ourselves as individual blocks.

Now, what is the backing? There is a song entitled He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. It refers to little tiny babies, brothers and sisters. It sounds like a lot of quilt blocks held in God’s hands. Our Heavenly Father may be our quilt backing. Maybe His love represents the middle batting. I envision the Holy Spirit as the yarn or thread that binds all together.

My grandma was a quilter who made fabric quilts. God is the Master Quilter creating His sacred quilt of humanity. He is quietly quilting the events of my life and your life into personal blocks. His human quilt is continually being worked upon. However, we have the promise that one day it will be beautiful and complete. According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God makes everything beautiful in its time.

It is cold outside today. I think I will cuddle under a quilt to keep warm. How about you? Would you like to snuggle under a quilt and allow the Holy Spirit to do some quiet quilting in your life?

Dark Outside – Light Inside

It is wintertime. This means short days and long nights. It is part of the rotation of the seasons. The winter solstice is past, so the daylight is beginning to increase very gradually. There is hope for sunshine. However, during this darker season, many people encounter depression. There are both physical and spiritual causes of discouragement. What season are you experiencing spiritually? Are you in the light more than the dark regarding what God is doing in your life?

Although it is physically dark outside, we can still see in the light spiritually. I want to share some scriptures that will help us focus on the light of God. His light is not seasonal – it is available every day.

And God said, “Let there be light,”
and there was light.
Genesis 1:3

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 18:28

The LORD is my light and my salvation–
whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
Psalm 89:15

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
Proverbs 20:27

Light is sweet, and it pleases
the eyes to see the sun.
Ecclesiastes 11:7

let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:5

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:4-5

I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.
John 8:12

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made His light shine in our hearts to give us
the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
II Corinthians 4:6

for you were formerly darkness,
but now you are Light in the Lord;
walk as children of Light.
Ephesians 5:8

You are all children of the light and children of the day.
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
I Thessalonians 5:5

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

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God’s special possession,
that you may declare the praises of Him who called you
out of darkness into His wonderful light.
I Peter 2:9

God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. . . .
if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light,
we have fellowship with one another.
I John 1:5&7

I prefer more light both physically and spiritually. However, just as we survive the dark days and nights of winter, we will also live through the dark days and nights of the spirit. We have the promise of eternal light and life. Revelation 21:23 says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”