Sharing GOD'S STORY to prepare the Bride to grow in Christ
Author:Dr Sarah Tun
Dr Sarah Tun began her professional career as a teacher. Years later she became a performing artist and administrator to property development. She felt the Call to write full time in 2004. Dr Sarah has traveled extensively, and lived in New York City (for a year), London England (for a long time) and Hong Kong (briefly) before returning to her home in Ontario, Canada, then to Spain and finally now, has re-settled in her adoptive home of England. She graduated with degrees in Drama, Education and diplomas in Acting and Theology. Most recently she was awarded Honorary Doctor of Ministry and became ordained. Her favourite experience to date has been following her Creator and Lord. She doesn't think Life can get any better! Dr Sarah Tun is author, singer, preacher, writing coach and all-round enthusiast, celebrating and seeking to inspire all of us to quench our thirst for deeper intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit.
The World is full of people yearning to fulfill their destiny. Those of us who are in Christ know where we are going when we die. But do we know how to find our life’s purpose while we are on earth?
All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. He knows us intimately (Psalm 139) and has a purpose and calling for each of us. But how do I discover what that calling is? We begin by asking, “How do I find my life’s purpose in Christ?”
Ready: Wise Solomon advises us in Proverbs 3:6, to seek the LORD for his plans and purposes: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)
Set: A number of years ago I decided I was going to find out who God had made me to be. It took me two years in discipleship training (for a Diploma in Theology) to discover I was uniquely made for a particular purpose, and a further two years of personal study, prayer & fasting, with deliberate tuning and analysis, to find out what that purpose was. I write this post as a springboard for others to seek and discern their personal calling more easily.
There are 9 spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, where you can begin to connect with God and His word to find where your spiritual strengths lie. Also, listed in Romans 12 are God’s 7 gifts of grace. The five fold ministry gifts of Jesus are listed in Ephesians
“The most successful Christians are those who come to know their calling, understand their special gifting, and faithfully stay with that calling until they fulfill their membership ministry.” (Dr Bill Hamon, The Day of the Saints, Destiny Image Publishers Inc (c) 2002, p211)
1. Read the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts of grace, Jesus’ gifts to the church, to learn what gifts God has offered us.
2. Pray and “earnestly seek” God’s gifts. (Hebrews 11:6)
3. Consider your own passions for the LORD. What gifts have you got? What talents and abilities? What gifts do you yearn for. Ask.
4. Deepen your lifestyle of prayer, fasting and eagerly seeking His will to be fulfilled in your life.
5. Connect with others. Pray with them. Together, seek the LORD for His gifts, calling and purpose in your lives.
“Therefore I remind you to stirupthegift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV)
6. Be diligent and be patient. God is faithful!
Go: Study, pray, seek, knock: God has plans for you, and a purpose, and in due time He will make them known to you.
Ready: When I want God’s will in my life, how to I overcome the urge to have my own way? How do I surrender to God’s will? How do I find God’s will and yield my day-to-day life to Him?
Set: I know God’s will is superior to mine, in power, in goodness, in wisdom. But sometimes I just want to do it my way. Sound familiar? Even Paul wrestled with his will, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19) How can I surrender to God, when my will seeks its own way? Our flesh is strong – not just the physical part of us but our soul as well. Our soul or mind is made up of our will, emotions and intellect. But we also have a spirit, which is that which separates us from all other living beings, and is revived through our faith in Jesus. Though the will may seek its own way, our spirit hungers for God. Our spirit is superior in wisdom to our soul, and just as we can be led by our will, so too can we learn to live by the spirit.
1. Daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, seek for God’s will to be done in your life.
2. Surrender your soul (will, emotions, intellect) to your spirit
3. Surrender your spirit to the Holy Spirit
4. Discover the power of your living spirit over your willfulness. Therein is life!
Go: Be refreshed now, and be willing to allow your living spirit to lead you closer to the LORD God and to life as He wills and purposes for you.
What is the difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour?
Life is a journey of decisions and experiences, achievements and mistakes, victories and defeats. When we choose to live a life surrendered to the creator of the universe, we have peace with God, man and ourselves. We have the assurance that every outcome is within His purposes and for our ultimate good. There is a difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour.
Ready: If you have become born again, you are saved by God’s grace, and you have received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) Jesus is your saviour. But have you surrendered your life to his Lordship?
Set: When we allow Jesus to be our Lord it means we follow him, we surrender our lives to his will and direction. Jesus as Saviour means our spirit is reborn; Jesus as Lord means we allow him to lead us, even into the valley of the shadow of death; yet will fear no ill.
To receive all God has for us, surrender is the key. While salvation leads us in to eternal life in Heaven, surrender ensures life on earth is within the Father’s will. When we know we are within the sovereign will of God we have peace – peace that passes all understanding.
If you have hard decisions, are stressed or confused, suffer persecution or prejudice, you can rest assured that the LORD God, in His sovereignty, is aware of it. He has allowed you to be in your current situation for your ultimate benefit. He does not will that any perish. When you surrender to Him, you can be certain that the creator of the universe, with ultimate authority and power, has things in hand. There is nothing that passes His gaze or awareness.
1. Choose to place your life into His hands, surrendering your will to His.
2. Trust God. He loves you; he knows you intimately, and has placed the deepest desires and passions within you and wants them to be fulfilled.
3. Search even the nooks and crannies of your will and yield them to the Father. In this you will find peace.
Go: Surrender! God has the best plans and purposes for us. His protection is complete. He even watches our backs! So, we surrender, knowing ‘not your will but mine Lord’ is the safest place we can be.
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; Thegloryofthe Lord shall beyourrearguard.” (Isaiah 58:8 NKJV)
The truth is God is raising an Army of Believers to fight for the human race against spiritual darkness. We fight to the glory of God, for the Prince of Peace, with the power of the Holy Spirit who operates within and through us.
Ready: The world is becoming a very dark place spiritually. Youth are depressed, trained to believe there is nothing after this life and that freedom is doing what you want. Bereft of hope, so many people are turning to substance abuse as false comfort. These are only two of many areas that reveal spiritual darkness. Prayer and praise, the application of God’s Word in our lives and for others – these are the weapons of our warfare to combat spiritual darkness.
Set: What is spiritual warfare? How do we apply the weapons that we have?
A look at Ephesians 6:10 – 18 will serve to deepen our understanding and preparation. We know the truth (vs 14) and must grow in our own character to have the right to fight the enemy (vs 14). We fight against principalities and powers and not people (vs 12) , instead loving them toward the light of God’s love and His inner and inter-relational peace (vs 15). Faith keeps us strong against the lies of Satan our enemy (vs 16). In our own minds we are confident of our salvation and rightness in Christ (vs 17) further supported by our knowledge and growth in God’s Word (vs 17), our ultimate instrument of victory. The eight verse text is packed full of encouragement and empowerment. Get to know it and stand to fight against the enemy for family, friends, colleagues and strangers, that they might be saved from living death and called to life today.
1. Learn the weapons of your warfare (use Ephesians 6).
2. Grow as God leads you, in truth and righteousness.
3. Walk in peace toward whomever you encounter.
4. Allow God to grow your faith. In all things acknowledge Him and He will ensure your path is straight.
5. Be wary of that which seeks to challenge your confidence in your salvation. The enemy likes to attack our minds to shake our assurance. (Mind = Soul = Emotions+ Intellect+Will)
6. Read the Bible. Learn scripture. Prepare to use it against the enemy.
7. Don’t go in presumption, but rather prepare and trust God’s call.
Remember, it is the Truth that sets people free.
Go: Wait on the LORD. Be ready to speak of the hope you have. Love. And walk in the measure of holiness the LORD has already given you. You need not look for the battle. When you are prepared, it will come to you. God bless and may ‘The glory of the LORD be your rear guard’. (Isaiah 58:8b)
How much does God Love? Let us live by the Law of Love. Let us learn and live in the width and length and depth and height of the Love of Jesus and Father God.
Ready: Can we contemplate the extent of God’s love? And can we measure how that enables us to live in love too? Can we receive the Father’s love and allow it to build us, shape us, heal us and save us?
Set: God lavishes His love upon us. What does lavish mean? It means: to expend or bestow with profusion; to expend without necessity or use; to waste; to squander… profuse; liberal to a fault, wasteful… superabundant; superfluous. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of The English Language, Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, C (c) 1971)
Wasteful? I’ve never thought of the LORD GOD as wasteful, but there it is in black and white. He loves us so much that He wastes to excess His love toward us.
Knowing this, why do we suffer?
We suffer in order to grow. We suffer in order to learn. Sometimes we suffer chemical imbalances in our brains. We all suffer, from time to time.
Wholeness is not refraining from the experience of suffering. But wholeness is the absence of doubt, knowing His love and His truth abound in the universe and in my life, in your life.
Wholeness is knowing there is purpose in each moment of every day, and a purpose to our being here, and a purpose even in our suffering.
Wholeness is rejoicing even in our suffering. Wholeness is trusting God unconditionally. Wholeness may not be attainable this side of Heaven, but I’ll continue to reach for it, knowing God is the author and finisher of my faith and of my life.
3 Steps to living in the Father’s love:
1. Thank Him, even when you don’t feel thankful. The mind is fallible, the heart is not.
2. Praise Him. Praise Him some more. How you praise, where you praise is up to you. I encourage you to be authentic and free, sharing with Jesus your praise.
3. Receive blessing. Whatever follows from your thanksgiving and praise is from the LORD. Believe He loves and honours you. He only sees the beautiful person He has created. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Go: With every breath, know He loves you and is the all-powerful. There is nothing He does not know and cannot do. There is nothing He has created that is not perfect. The Christian Life is a journey between self-discovery and the realization that we are made perfect in His Love.
When people talk about making a decision, and they are wrestling between their head and their heart, I believe they mean the are debating between an intellectual choice and an emotional one. But actually, both our intellect and our emotions are part of our soul, our mind. Neither have anything to do with our heart. Rather, the heart – apart from being the literal pump in our bodies – refers to our spirit, that part of us which is our identity, what makes up the core of our being. For Christians it is the part of us that connects with the Holy Spirit and affirms we are a child of God. For the unbeliever it is dead, awaiting salvation by God’s grace.
Ready: How do we minister to a dead spirit so that it may be made alive again through faith in Jesus?
Set: Relationship and prayer are at the core of encouraging someone who does not follow Jesus to find their faith and to trust in Jesus as God’s son. As we pray for someone who does not know God, let’s begin by praying for the opening of their heart. Let’s minister to their spirit, asking God to revive it, and to soften their heart so that it might become connected to God. When the heart awakens it can receive, recognize, and call out to God.
The way of salvation is through the heart.
1. Pray for your friend or loved one to have their heart opened.
2. Encourage them to reflect alone, to connect with their heart – that core of their being. You may not mention it, but this is the pathway to their personal discovery of God.
3. Befriend them. Be ready to answer questions about your experience of God. But above all, love them: “If I have the faith to move mountains but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Go: Be a light to others in the world, not by talking but by being the love of God and enabling them to soften their heart to the one who loves unconditionally.
A Revelation about Spiritual Maturity, Physical Reality and Miracles: Spiritual maturity means facing challenges without contest. It means fighting the good fight and finishing the race. Today, I believe it also means God enabling us to see into the future and into Heaven at a deeper and broader level than ever before. We are in a new age. Old things have passed. New things have begun. Let’s begin to allow God to use us to shift them.
Ready: God is doing a new thing in His people and we need to be prepared to be ‘blown away’ by His power and presence at work in us. We need to prepare ourselves for a paradigm shift.
Set: We live in a material world. Reality is tangible. But I believe our awareness of reality needs to expand – at least for the spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ, hungry to mature and see God’s purpose fulfilled in his life. This is a time for a paradigm shift.
What is a paradigm? A paradigm is a way of thinking, a way of perceiving our reality based today on our previous experience and the assumptions we’ve developed from those previous experiences.
For example: We base our thinking on certain assumptions, which in turn leads us to make certain decisions. For example, the thought “I’ll eat lunch at noon today because I’ll be hungry at noon today” is based on our previous experiences which established our eating habits . We usually feel hungry at noon and so we assume we will feel hungry today. Because of a pattern in our previous experience, we anticipate or expect we’ll be hungry at noon today.
A paradigm shift is a shift in our thinking, our expectations and assumptions. The example above is trivial. But it leads us somewhere… As we walk out our faith and grow in maturity, God will use us when are prepared. Studying the Word of God, learning to give and receive love and forgiveness, surrendering every moment of our day to the Holy Spirit – all of these are signs of our growing spiritual maturity. Our character is being built. But there is more to this faith-walk. What about the miracles?
For what are we being prepared, if not for more of God’s glory on earth as it is in Heaven?
Friends, I want God to move mountains for the Glory of God and as a witness to the world! Jesus said with faith we could. How about you?
I believe there is something new on the horizon for the disciples of God who wish to fulfill their purpose in Christ. What it is and how it effects our walk with God has to do with our concept of physical reality. There is more to be learned about our physical world and it’s boundaries. In order to move in God’s miracles we need faith. To move beyond our assumptions and limitations and into an understanding of different dimensions, we will be enabled to move in God’s miracles.
Today, humankind’s suspicions about other dimensions and ways of perceiving our world is growing. But we must stay God-centered. Isn’t it time to fully explore the supernatural and otherworldly nature of His universe? How do we move mountains? How do we do greater things than we saw Jesus do?
I believe it has to do with our understanding of reality. Perhaps it is through a Godly-supernatural transcendence of reality that the limitations of our physical world are overcome, and the sort of miracles that Jesus accessed we also will be able to do. Individuals in our secular world today assume what we touch is real. In fact, some people believe “if we don’t see it or can’t touch it, it’s not real.” I’d like to propose a paradigm shift.
What is most real, Believer, is that which we cannot see. Until we live and breathe this truth, we are limited in our faith and action.
Consider scriptures such as the following: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Clearly the literal/physical meaning of weapons is being replaced by the concept of spiritual weapons. I suggest that this transcendence into the spiritual realm can be discovered elsewhere in scripture to help us deepen our understanding of, commitment to, and maturity in Christ.
“But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fitforthekingdomof God.”(Luke 9:52)
When we read scripture from the 1st Century church, do we filter everything based on our current understanding? Let’s consider Jesus’ words carefully, and put it in the in light of a paradigm shift. Let’s go back to what Jesus and the hearers knew.
First, we need to be fit for the kingdom of God. How do we know if we’re fit? For one thing, we look forward (not backward). For another, we relinquish the plow (and the provision by self-effort that it symbolizes).
I have nothing but an inner sense of revelation; I believe the plow also represents the confines of physical reality.
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they hadallthingsincommon.” (Acts 4:32) Jesus encourages us to let our possessions – or family members or significant persons or things – go. As we become unfettered in our mind and will, God may move us into a different dimension where the tangible cannot hold or limit us. But in order for that to happen, perhaps, first we have to let go.
John transcended our reality when he saw the Revelations. Philip was translated in order to meet the Ethiopian Eunuch. Jesus walked on water; he moved through walls when doors were locked, he was translated to be with Moses and Elijah on a mountain. Might it be that, through faith he overcame physical reality so that he was able to accomplish these miracles?
Understanding how his faith worked does not change the fact that Jesus worked miracles. But perhaps in order for us to do ‘greater things’ for the Kingdom, we need to alter our perception of reality so that we can overcome physical – and mental – limitations, and allow God to increase our faith.
Jesus promised ‘greater things would we do.’ The Church seeks to operate in the healing miracles and the food multiplications and to ‘move mountains, but relatively few of us are doing these things. I’m wondering if a key to this is a paradigm shift to our understanding of reality. Can we begin to operate more effectively in the realm of God’s supernatural power when we have an improved understanding of God’s different dimension(s)? Is it through this revelation that we can defy the natural world and it’s natural laws – which are subject to God’s laws? Are we being called to overcome the physical world in a Godly way?
The 1st Century believers may well have done this; perhaps we need to do this in order to bring the fullness to earth as it is in Heaven, the fulfillment of what Jesus promised for his Church, and bring it all of the glory to God.
Steps to enabling a paradigm shift from a tangible focus to the supernatural: 1. In God’s timing, willingly surrender your worldly goods in principle (I’m suggesting you don’t literally give away everything, but through Holy Spirit’s conviction upon you – if it should come to you – surrender all of your worldly goods to God). This way you break free of any hold they may have over you. 2. Pray and ask God to bring us all into a deeper experience of His love and glory. 3. Seek the will of God: Does He want you to move in the supernatural? Ask Him to take you there in the Spirit. 4. Go (physically, literally) to a place local to you where a miracle is needed. Ask God to show you Truth and how to bring it closer to whomever you are with: in hospital, in the street, or in your home or workplace. Be open to whether the miracle will be measurable in the physical realm or internal. 5. Pray for a miracle.
Go: We can’t manufacture miracles. We can’t even manufacture faith. But we can ask God for both, and we can grow in our understanding of how He can make these as accessible to us in a greater way, as He did for the 1st Century Church.
‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.’ (William Congreve) And it can do so much more!
Ready: We sing songs in church, and that’s nice. But what is worship really all about?
Set: Whether singing old hymns or new tunes, worship is a serious issue. Worship is much more than singing songs at the beginning of a church service, or enjoying a praise CD in our cars on the way to work. Although those experiences can be fulfilling, worship is a lifestyle and as we engage with our Heavenly Father, we can offer a sweet fragrance to Him and simultaneously thwart the enemy’s intentions. When we walk in a lifestyle of worship, we enjoy peace of mind, freedom of expression and joy in the Spirit.
Is worship a form of spiritual warfare? This question, “Is worship a form of spiritual warfare,” is one of the most commonly asked questions by today’s Christians.
If the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self-control, then any exhibition of these fruits will be sweet to the LORD and sour to the enemy. There are prayers of intercession, and declarations to transform our present circumstances to God’s will; there are prayers to heal hearts, overcoming poverty and oppression, and to protect the land and its heritage. But one of the most basic battles we can wage against the enemy is to enjoy this life and whatever circumstances we face (Philippians 3:1). As we worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth, it pulls down the enemy every time!
1. Celebrate your life, with or without a music track.
Go: Enjoy every moment of the LIFE the LORD has given you today, knowing the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual.
“For the weaponsofourwarfareare not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:14)
Are you in the habit of hearing from God His plan for your day? In the hustle and bustle of our lives we are full of ideas and tasks, and short on time. Prayer might be a deep part of our lives, but are we praying as effectively as we could be? Are we seeing God moving in our lives? Is His will being done on earth?
Ready: I’d like to suggest that in God’s wisdom and power, He knows better than we do how best to use our time and energy. So, this week, let’s pray God’s Word and His Will into our lives.
Set: The LORD’s prayer is so familiar, and so full of guidance and wisdom. For example, we pray, “Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” But why do we do that? Beyond the advice of Jesus, we pray this because God is sovereign; He knows what is to happen before it happens, because He is outside of time. There is nothing on this earth that escapes His notice, and everything that occurs gives us an opportunity to grow. It’s common sense then, to invite His will to come to pass in our lives. When we pray, let’s pray ‘not my will but Yours’, because His will is full of insight and goodness.
1. Be still and ask God what He wants to say to you.
2. Wait. Listen. Look. Where is God directing your attention?
3. Pray as you feel led to pray – even if, and especially if, it’s something you hadn’t been thinking about.
4. Ask God to do His will and invite Him to use you as a means to executing it on earth.
5. Take courage in the fact that you may have a surprise today. Be on the alert and surrender your time and attention to the possibility.
Go: Rather than asking for our ‘to do’ list to be accomplished or for our needs to be met, or even for His direction in our lives, let’s ask ‘What is Your will?’, be ready to follow His lead and pray, ‘Your will be done’. Then, let’s watch what comes to pass in our lives!
Praying for what God wants – Interceding for God’s Will on Earth: What does God want… and how do we know? As we walk with God, we learn His word and His thoughts as He has expressed them in the Bible – and to us personally. We deepen our relationship with Him and our understanding of who He is. Then, we learn to hear His voice and to pray how He wants us to pray. Ready: Let’s deepen our relationship with God and our knowledge and understanding of His Word.
Set: There is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3) and we as intercessors must learn the difference. Whether we are a very new Believer or have prayed for family members for as long as we can remember, each of us has a call to pray. What does God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” actually signify? There is so much to say about intercessory prayer. It is different from personal prayer in that it is tapping into God’s will for the moment, isn’t it, and praying His desires for the earth. We might be called to pray for our nation, for another country, or for circumstances beyond our full comprehension or experience. But whatever the issue, we are called to prayer. In Heaven, there is no pain, no suffering, no conflict. In Heaven, the victor is enthroned and angels bow before Him in worship and adoration. I for one would like the same to be on the earth. It will come one day (Revelation 21:4) and in the meantime we can pray that God’s will is done so as to hasten the time when the earth will be full of the glory of the LORD. In order to intercede we can do the following in the long term: 1. Become abundantly confident with scripture. Memorize verses that you enjoy as you read. Study the Word so that you know the law, history, poetry, prophets of the Old Testament/Old Covenant. 2. Learn the stories Jesus told, the miracles he performed and the difference between the Two. Learn how the Holy Spirit moved after Jesus ascended into heaven. Discover how Paul communicated to the various churches so that they would learn God’s will for His church. 3. Find the similarities and differences between Paul and the others’ who wrote letters in the New Testament/New Covenant. 4. Pray with fervor, enthusiasm, commitment on issues that you care passionately about, asking God to lead you in understanding His will in the situation.
Go: Study the Bible, pray as you feel led and don’t be concerned about ‘getting it right’. God wants us all to grow. Growing means trying and being willing to learn as we go. If everyone waited until (s)he was ready to pray, there’d be precious little praying going on.
Creation is Grand… isn’t it? For the benefit of those who don’t recognize creation, we may start by calling it natural beauty, to avoid unnecessary debate. How do we enable people with little concept of the all powerful nature of a loving God see creation as we see it?
Ready: It’s time to share our perspective of God’s natural creation. Yes, He created it supernaturally, but human beings experience it naturally. Let’s reach out from where others are and enable them to discover for themselves the awesomeness of creation.
Set: The world has tremendous natural beauty. We see it in the sky, earth and sea. When I look up at the clouds and imagine the handiwork of God, making rain form in fluffy pillows of unusual shapes, I experience wonder! When I look at the stars at night, or the shimmering moon, I am sometimes dumbfounded at their beauty. Then there is the sunrise, and the shining day, or the setting of it to consider…. and that’s just the sky! What about the waters, the earth and vegetation, and the marvelous array of living creatures. These are all proof of God’s creative hand. Romans chapter 1 is full of God’s downloading of our natural understanding of His creation. But many friends today don’t see things this way. How do we engage in a way that will help them to see things as we see them? It isn’t through debate, as personally stimulating as that may be for some of us. It is through the awesomeness of God Himself. 1. Tap into God’s natural beauty yourself. Find a specific place – even if it is simply a piece of sky – to share with another person. 2. Pray. With whom is God asking you to share this place and experience? 3. Take this friend who does not believe, to this naturally beautiful ‘place’. 4. Ask them what they see and experience in nature. Just listen, tapping into their perspective.
Go: Prayerfully consider who to share God’s earth with today and invite them to join you for a ‘walk’.
How to beat fear in 3 steps: Most of us are afraid of something aren’t we, but it isn’t an enjoyable way to live.
Ready: Would you like to end fear creeping into your life forever? God’s love has already wiped it all away.
Set: The Bible says ‘fear not’ 365 times… that’s once for every day of the year. Why? Because it’s natural for us to fear. Except now that we are alive in Christ, we no longer have a reason to fear. We are supernatural beings! Fear is beneath us. How then, do we stay on top of fear? It’s through love… for when we experience perfect love there is no room for fear.
The opposite of fear is not courage; the opposite of fear is love. Fear can only get a grip on us when there is a lack of assurance that we are loved. The perfect antidote to fear is God’s love – because God is in charge of the universe and He has promised to bless any who make Him their God (Genesis 12, 17).
Steps to Beating Fear:
1. Acknowledge the Sovereignty of God: There is nothing that escapes God’s gaze or His power. All circumstances flow from his desire to bless His children.
2. Embrace the perfect love of God, who knows you intimately (Psalm 139:14) and will protect, defend, guide and teach you in all things, through the Holy Spirit.
3. Press forward, into God’s purposes. ‘Straining forward and focusing on what lies ahead’ enables us to overcome the temptation to fear.
Choose to walk in the knowledge that God loves you and is in charge. He knows the beginning from the end. There is nothing to fear.
How can we avoid worrying? Isn’t it just a part of life? No, actually, with Christ it doesn’t have to be.
In Christ, your identity is sure and your purpose is secure. Your living spirit has overcome worry. Whether you have a long ‘to do’ list, major surgery or a pile of unpaid bills, you can ignore those things concerning you and get on with life. Believe-it-or-not, Jesus didn’t worry. And so we don’t have to either.
Perhaps one of the most famous passages of Jesus’ teaching is his word about worry, from the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:25-34 reads: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?…” (NKJV)
We who believe in the Father and the Son can trust the Holy Spirit’s power to enable us to overcome the habit of worry. It robs us of the joy and freedom that Jesus died to give us. Here are four steps to accomplish this:
1. Decide to dwell on life-fulfilling thoughts. As Paul wrote in Philippians 4, ‘Whatever things are true, whatever things noble….. just….. pure….. lovely….. meditate on these things.’
2. Praise God, listing some of the things you are thankful for and some of the promises He’s made.
3. Read a passage from the Bible. Read it again. It’s amazing how our spirit will rise up when we feed it the Word of God.
4. Allow fear and control to slip away from you. At the root of fear is the desire to control… to protect ourselves. But when we have the Creator of the Universe watching over us, what more protection do we need?
A little self-discipline and a lot of the Holy Spirit enables us to overcome.
When we recognize our worries, we can give them up. Trading them in for God’s promises is definitely an upgrade!
How to keep the Stress Out of Life: Your spirit made alive by your faith in Jesus is a key to living a peace-filled life.
We want abundant life, as peaceful and free from stress as the life Jesus led. But we don’t generally experience that, do we? Why not? And if not, how can we get to the sort of peaceful existence Jesus lived?
Our flesh is powerful. The mind, and in particular our will, doesn’t always want to cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit. When we are surrendered to God the day runs smoothly; when we choose to control our day, it can be rough. We don’t live in a vacuum; we can’t control our circumstances nor everyone around us. Control is an illusion and trying to maintain it is like rolling a very large boulder up a very steep hill. Trying to stay in control creates stress. On the other hand, surrendering our will to the supernatural sovereign God of the Universe allows for His timing and His encounters. In my experience, I’ve accomplished more and had a more satisfying close to the day when I’ve lived with a plan that is surrendered to God.
We can say we surrender… but how do we stay surrendered to God beyond a moment of prayer in the morning (or the night before)?
Fortunately we are not on our own. We stay surrendered, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
1. Select a passage of God’s Word and read it. It might be a single verse or a chapter; the length doesn’t matter.
2. Rest in His Word. Read it and read it again.
3. Fight an urge to resist “resting” by telling God – out loud – that you surrender your will to Him today.
4. Recognize a key step….
Did you surrender your will to your spirit and then your living spirit to God’s Holy Spirit? We have a soul and we have a spirit. Your spirit and soul are not the same thing… Here’s how: Our soul is our mind: will, intellect and emotions. But our spirit is another part of us – the part of us that makes us different from animals. It is what completes us in God’s image.
God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27, 2:7) and it is our spirit which enables us to live and move and have our being in Him. It’s a huge topic for future posts. But here I’ll split a hair… (for more see LarusWalk post The Soul and Spirit within)
Just as through our faith in Jesus we have been given eternal life, so our spirit has been given new life. The Holy Spirit is God’s comforter, helper and convicts us when we need it. In between our soul and God’s Holy Spirit is our living spirit, surrendered to God and empowered by Him. Our spirit is unique to us, ready to enable us to walk, not by might nor by power but by His Spirit. Surrendering our will to our spirit is a key to walking in Life, Love and Peace – daily. So, knowing this…..
5. Surrender your will to your spirit, and your spirit to God. Inviting your spirit to have leadership over your soul makes surrender a whole lot easier.
6. Wait. Listen internally for God’s prompting. Perhaps during the waiting you’ll feel a spontaneous urge to sing or to praise Him in some way; go for it! Or maybe there will be a sigh. It is all a part of your private surrendering process.
Go: Now go, give your day to the LORD, and see how easy the day – even with all it’s responsibilities – can be.
Ready: How can you find and sustain intimacy with God so your mind is renewed and your spirit is toned to lead you? There is no formula to use to become more intimate with God, but it is intimacy with God that will keep you super spiritually fit. You will never deepen your relationship with Christ by filling your brain with my words. So, I’ll keep it short to give you the time to go away and apply – that is spend time with God – so He’ll renew your mind and transform you with His Spirit, so you become more like God.
Set: Start with God’s Word. Choose a scripture and spend time with it… Try Psalm 23 or Philippians 4:13 to start with.
1. read it 2. roll it around in your mind
3. focus on whatever part of it jumps out at you asking, ‘what does this mean for me today?’
4. chew it – memorize a phrase or listen to your inner heartbeat: that part of you that knows that you know that Jesus Christ is the most real part of your life.
5. Ask God to reveal Himself to you… and wait.
6. Thank Him – just thank Him for being who He is and for anything else that is bubbling up inside of you.
7. Stay as long as you like – or go if you must – but go knowing the God of Heaven, Creator of the universe is filling you with His Holy Spirit to make you strong.
Go: Now go! Choose a peaceful physical space and go into the Word of God. From this moment forward, settle for nothing less than intimacy with your Heavenly Father.
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
There are two keys in this life that I have found that help me to I walk – ultimately to soar – in spiritual victory, so that I am able to rejoice in all circumstances. These two keys are worship and warfare.
Knowing when to worship and when to fight in prayer, knowing how to do both of these things, are vitally important to all believers, so that we are all able to fight the good fight and to finish the race set before us.
To live a life empowered by God, discovering and fulfilling God’s call on our lives, is a task of hard work and surrender. But in all things we are more than conquerors. As we are sanctified, so are we prepared to stand in the front line, to live the spirit-filled life, ready and able to do that which He has willed and purposed in us to do.
I have found tremendous help in my journey from key experiences, ministries and individuals. From time to time I will make direct reference to them. Rod and Julie Anderson, Founders of the Prayer Foundation, I’d like to thank you straight up for being great teachers, friends, and mentors. Your word to me to ‘keep a sweet spirit’ has been instrumental in my growing and deepening relationship to the LORD.
Food for Thought:
Who has God placed in your life that has helped to bring you to this point in your life right now?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2; bold – mine)
When God created man, he created him in his own image. That means we were created with a body, a soul (intellect, emotions, will) and a spirit. The difference between human beings and all other animals, birds, reptiles, fish, is that unlike any other, we have a spirit. There is no question that animals have a will; just consider dogs and cats for a moment. Dogs want to please their masters – that is their will; cats want to be pleased by their masters – that is their will (for the record, I’m very much a cat lover). As to intellect, animals – whether by instinct or intelligence – can care for their young. And all creatures have emotion, witnessed by the grieving of a dolphin or a dove that loses its life’s partner, or the soulful mourns of a coyote at dusk. But animals do not have a spirit.
The soul is often called the mind. The spirit is that which comes only from God and which was ‘lost’ in Adam’s sin. Those who are born again in Christ have their spirits renewed, and receive the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter, our counsel and who convicts us of our sin. Often in scripture the spirit is referred to as our heart, just as the soul is referred to as our mind.
To make the distinction between soul and spirit is going to be very important in coming weeks and months as we seek the renewing of our minds. I want for you; I desire that you discover the unique calling and purpose God has for you, both corporately and individually. It is God who renews our minds, and it is through His Spirit we receive counsel and revelation. What part does our spirit play? As we study scripture and digest its meaning – not by my revelation, for I am not a teacher of God’s Word – but by your own revelation from the LORD – we will learn and grow in preparation for God’s call on our lives. And we will discover that by surrendering our soul to our spirit and our spirit to the Holy Spirit, we will be better able to surrender our will for our lives to God.
As believers we have confessed our sinful nature, have made a commitment to follow Christ, and are doing our utmost to live lives worthy of the fact we’ve been called by God. But we stumble, we fail, we get up again. This will always be the way. And yet, as we study to show ourselves approved, as we surrender our will to our spirit, and our spirit to that of the Holy Spirit, we will gain and become more and more like Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. How will we know this to be true? The fruit of our lives will be changed.
So, as you go forward over the coming days, I’d like to encourage you to study the word, and choose to allow your spirit to overcome your thoughts, will, emotions at times of stress, inconvenience and challenge. Let the world see in you all that God has for it is Him we live and move and have our being.
“Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:14-16).
We who love Jesus are called to ‘preach the gospel’. But our love and character are means to declare the saving grace of God, as well as our words.
I’d like to suggest that words are powerful, but so too are our actions, our behaviour and our demonstration of love. In some relationships, we have been clearly asked not to talk about God. Those minds and hearts appear closed. If it is God’s intention to open them, we must let God show the lead.
I’m not personally a great proponent of friendship evangelism… the notion that we befriend people so that they will eventually become Christians can be manipulative. However, we often meet people who are not open to the gospel but whom we connect with naturally, see regularly and have opportunity to befriend. I believe if it is not through words we are called to convey the gospel, than certainly it is through our character.
Our witness then is not only through our words, but also through our behaviour, our interaction with others, and the sharing of our perspectives. As our ways draw closer to God’s ways, as our thoughts become more like God’s thoughts, then others will truly see the reflection of God through us. That is one form of witness.
So, over the coming weeks, we’ll open up issues to look at what God’s Word says, or what lies up with scripture, so we walk as Christ walked, doing only as the Father bid him. Opinions may be crushed – but let those be our opinions being crushed by God’s revealed perspective. Let there be no room for legalism, condemnation or judgment for we are not to judge those who are unsaved but to walk in love so that they might see God.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
God’s Salvation brings us to a place of assurance and security. We know He loves us unconditionally, and forgives our rebellion and every other wrong we’ve ever done. Recognizing His sovereignty, we believe there is nothing that occurs outside of His will. He is ultimately in charge, and there is a purpose in everything that happens around and to us.
But we have lived in the world, experienced pain and disappointment. We’ve learned to think differently to God. So inevitably, there is thinking to be renewed, pain to be healed, and fear to be erased. God can do ALL things and there is nothing beyond His sight or understanding.
Though in an instant we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus His son, it can take longer to walk in the wholeness that Jesus offers.
As we look into God’s Word, and look into God’s mirror to see our reflection through His eyes, we are encouraged to love ourselves as He loves us. Then we become the whole person God created us to be. And then we can fulfill the purposes God has for us.
Over the coming weeks and months, may this blog be an encouragement to you, the reader, to grow in the likeness of Christ: fully restored in your mind (intellect, emotions, will) and with the unique personality and character God has implanted within you.
Larus Walk is a group of blogs from Larus Press, inspiring, equipping and empowering you to fulfill your Identity and Purpose in Christ. Wholeness, Witness, Word and Worship&Warfare are the four strands that build us, enabling us to soar.
THE INTERNET: The Void – a musing
There are times when the internet is not my friend. Sometimes a void fills my mind and I am incapable of being creative. It happens when I’ve been on the internet for too long.
My greatest desire is to write words to captivate an audience of people desperate to think deeply about themselves, their circumstances and their world. People like you… and me.
But sometimes my mind has been so pacified, so washed by internet usage that the deepest I can get inside myself is face level – I am filtered from my imagination and mental clarity where I am enabled to swim in the wide sea of ideas, passions and questions.
When I can’t get passed the filter, can’t get underneath the blank existence of meaningless drift, I live in a fog of confusion, boredom and vapidity whose only feeling is that of dullness… manifested as a glimmer of frustration in interminable boredom.
Oh that the Void did not exist. Oh that my brain would not succumb to the numbness of internet superficiality. Oh.
The Void is our enemy. Its identity is busyness, superficiality, shallow habits of mere existence on the screen and beyond.
Humanity deserves more than living in the Void. She deserves philosophy, faith, desire, curiosity, hope. These exist underneath the Void, where there is a fullness the Void cannot comprehend. This is life.
Life and the Void do not co-exist. Life is pain and passion; the Void is dull formulation and nothingness. Life seeks to ignite; the Void lulls the human spirit into detachment and docility.
Here’s to the internet, bringing the world together, bringing revolution, praise and peace. But avoid the Void that is death: vague, colourless, thoughtless despair.
The human spirit is vital and so it is vital we keep it alive. You… and I are much more than the Void. The human spirit lives in creativity. Let us create! That’s how we’ve been designed to be: created by the Creator to create.
Ah purpose! Reflection has brought purpose into focus: the filter is lifted; the Void is overcome.
I breathe easier in this moment. As the fog is lifting, I experience again the open window into life!