We believe that Jesus is alive, and The Spirit of God is pursuing people daily for them to encounter the love that He has for them. God is speaking to those who are willing to listen to His voice. Jesus said that He did nothing on his own, but only what He saw The Father doing. Jesus was empowered by The Holy Spirit. And He promised that God would send the Spirit to be our helper.
The work of Holy Spirit is to testify about Jesus. His mission was to glorify The Father. As members of the family of God, we have been given the tools to do the same and be agents to a broken and hurting world for the glory of God. Holy Spirit is One who empowered Jesus and is the One who empowers us.
What does it look like to be fully surrendered to the leading of Holy Spirit in our lives? It is dying to ourselves and living for the glory of God. It is placing a higher priority on the voice of God than the opinions of others (or even ourselves). Today, be encouraged to live your life to its fullest and bring glory to the One who has made a way for you. Live a victorious life being Empowered by The Spirit. You can walk it out with His help.
Are you influencing the world or is the world influencing you? I believe that many of us can answer yes to the first question, but how about the second one? How much impact do you have on the area that you live in? Can an entire city become transformed by a single righteous person?
Proverbs 11:11 tells us that “through the blessing of a righteous man a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” We all have a part to play when it comes to making a difference in our community and the lives of those around us. We are all shifting the atmosphere in one direction or another. In order for us to shift the atmosphere in a positive direction, I would like to offer 5 things to remember when influencing positive change:
You are Righteous in God’s eyesonce you have been “born again”
Paul wrote to the Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Father God sees Jesus when He looks at us. He sees a finished work and Jesus’ righteousness, not our own. I believe that when we are in right standing (righteousness) before God that He not only pours out His favor and blessing upon us, but also on those who are in close proximity to us. Maybe that is unsaved family members living in your household or maybe it is a group of people on a plane or bus that you are on. They are all blessed just because you are there, and the favor of God is upon your life. We know from Genesis chapter 18 that Abram pleaded with God for the city of Sodom. God answered Abram in verse 32 saying that He would not destroy the city on account of just ten righteous men. As I look at America and the division that has taken root in this country, I am reminded that there are many more than ten righteous people who love the Lord in this country. There are many people who serve God every day and are walking in love as we are all commanded to do. They are all favored by God and His blessing is also on those around them. God also sees you as righteous and will bless those who are close enough to you to get some of the overflow of His goodness in your life.
2. Guard your heart and mind in Jesus
Do not allow yourself to become distracted by the negative. If the enemy of your soul can get your focus, then it becomes easier for you to entertain or partner with a divisive spiritual climate. Though there is a great deal of focus placed on turmoil by the world culture, there are many good things happening every day all around us. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, anything that is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things and The God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8
Though there is a great deal of focus placed on turmoil by the world culture, there are many good things happening every day all around us.CLICK TO TWEET
It is too easy to focus on the polarizing issues of the day and either resign to either a hope-deferred mindset or engage those who do not agree with you in a combative mindset. In America the political spirit has many people (even many Christians) taking sides and opposing those who do not agree with them. The onslaught of political ads during election seasons has become an overwhelming barrage of mud-slinging that produces more of “putting down” the opponent than promoting a candidate’s actual agenda. People are quick to side with those who hold similar views and throw their Christian beliefs aside when engaging the opposition of their political affiliation. Now having said that, I am about to throw some real gas on this fire. There IS a racial and social divide in America. I am sensitive to the fact that there is no doubt the presence of social injustice at work in this country. However, we see all too often where the fires of divisiveness are being stoked by what is shown on TV, talked about on radio, or read about in the news. I see protests for racial, social, and gender equality happening to raise awareness for a cause. In some cases, it inflames the passion of those who do not agree with this form of protest to the point that you wouldn’t even know that they were Christians by reading their posts on social media. The fact that I am even writing this likely has different people responding differently internally, based on their view of what is “right or wrong” in their own eyes. Guard your hearts and minds, beloved. Do not get distracted or engage the trap to pin us against one another.
3.Have a heart for Reconciliation
“God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 1 Corinthians 5:18
We do not need to land on one side or another when it comes to public opinion. Extend grace toward those who do not agree with your views, just as God has extended undeserved grace to you. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 18:21-35. When we make the conscience decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are giving up our right to voice an opinion on who is right and who is wrong. Doing so would be us operating out of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Jesus bled, died, and rose again so that we wouldn’t have to live out of that tree. Instead of partnering with the divisive spirit that is working towards tearing relationships apart, Christians should be rising above political, cultural, and social differences to walk in unity with those who might think differently than them. This does not mean that you must agree with those who oppose your views. There are certainly some non-negotiables to the faith that cannot be ignored. However, Christians should absolutely be motivated by love and not by being “right” concerning their view on a matter. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of tearing one another down.
Being right or wrong doesn’t make you any more or less powerful of a person, but walking in unity with others will always release power. In Genesis 11:6 God Himself says “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this [building the Tower of Babel], then nothing they plan will be impossible for them.” Unity is key to changing the atmosphere in your community. It works both in positive and negative influence.
4. Walk in a Mindset of Hope
Proverbs 13:12 says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Why would you ever want to agree with the hopelessness that you see in today’s news cycle? Stand on the promises of God and remind yourself that God is not capable of lying. Followers of Jesus should be a company of people who live their lives longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled. Jesus himself is a promise fulfiller! Now, the promises of God are a whole other subject that can be discussed at a different time. But you should know what God’s promises are, and you should celebrate when you see them being fulfilled. The second half of Proverb 13:12 says “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Living out of this tree is the gift of God when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. Believe for the greater outcome and see the best in others. Learn to view others through the lens that God sees them through. This may be difficult at first, but it is key to being an agent of change and walking in a mindset of hope.
5. Focus on the one in front of you
So, can one righteous person transform an entire city? I don’t know, but what I do know is that we can all carry personal revival in our hearts. If you have ever been around someone who carries a faith for revival you would agree with me that what they carry is contagious. One person can influence one person and so on. When you begin to believe for something together with others in agreement, there is power released in the spirit. Influence those who are in your sphere of influence and God will grow that sphere.Be a positive influence on those who God has placed around youCLICK TO TWEET
Remember that you are righteous in God’s eyes. Guard your heart so not to be caught up in the things of this world that entice and distract you from your purpose. Walk with a heart of reconciliation and a mindset of hope, seeing the best in others. Be a positive influence on those who God has placed around you and He will cause a “ripple effect”. Being a difference maker starts with a single person who is willing to make a difference. Nothing is impossible for God so imagine how we can collectively transform our cities by coming together in this common purpose. Look around; those around you are already being blessed.
Creation all Around us is Singing the Praises of His Glory
In today’s environment most of us are living very busy lives. We are working more hours, longer days, and we are more attached to technology than ever before. We labor all week in our occupations while waiting for the weekend that is filled with personal activities and is over before we know it. Sometimes we need to pause and reflect on the world around us like the saying “Stop and smell the Roses” instructs us to do. Do we see that God is in the mundane day to day grind? He is there, and He is speaking to us daily, like an adoring lover who just wants to be noticed. If we are listening, we will hear Him.
Take a Look Around
While taking a pause from the burdens of daily work, I am writing this while on vacation. Many of us take a trip for a few days during the summer to gain some rest and relaxation. I am sitting on an island beach watching the waves come upon the shoreline. My thoughts shift back and forth as I ponder the vastness and magnificence of Creation. The sea goes on for as far as I can see, just like the sky is only interrupted by the occasional cloud that passes by. On the horizon, I can faintly see the skyline of a city on the mainland, but only if I am focused and looking for it. So many buildings are just a speck from my perspective when I glance at the horizon. If I were not looking closely, I would not even notice that they are there. In each of those city structures, there are multitudes of people. I assume that most of them are going about their day to day lives, and many of them are not aware of the magnificent love that Jesus has for them. Many of us think and act as if this world rotates around us. We are guilty of believing that we are the center of everything; however, the vast greatness of God goes beyond our understanding. His love for us goes beyond our ability to see, fathom, or comprehend. Like the city on the shoreline, if we are not aware of His love and focused on it we could very easily not even notice that it is there.
So many buildings are just a speck from my perspective when I glance at the horizon. If I were not looking closely, I would not even notice that they are there.
To be honest, I think that my favorite thing about the shore is the breezecoming off the ocean. There is a constant, steady breeze that gently washes over me as I take in the scene. It is not overpowering or abrupt. It is constant and unwavering, relentless in its continual movement. It brings relief from the hot sun as it creates an atmosphere of comfort and tranquility. Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is always in motion. Though we cannot see Him, we know that He is there. We can only see and feel the effects of His passing by or through us. He is known as the Comforter, and like a gentle breeze on a hot beach, He is the perfect element to create an “I want to be in this place” kind of atmosphere. He is relentless in His pursuit of us. He is the first person of the Godhead that any of us encountered because no one receives the revelation of who Jesus is without Holy Spirit engaging them first. On a hot sun-scorched beach, everything around you is reflecting the sun and intensely magnifying the heat, and there is little that brings more comfort than this steady, cool, relentless breeze.
A Higher Level
While the breeze brings some relief from the heat and reminds me of the Spirit, there is one thing that intensifies the cooling comfort of the continual wind, and that is getting wet. Once you have submerged yourself in the water, the measure of relief from the heat is increased. It is the same wind, but the breeze seems cooler once you have been in the water compared to when you were dry. The spiritual parallel here is that a baptism of the Holy Spirit is an upgrade from just being aware of the Holy Spirit. Even when you were still dry the breeze kept you from being overcome by the heat. However, now that you have been drenched by the water, the wind does much more than relieve you from the heat. You go from a place of just getting relief, to a place of being able to thrive in an overheated environment. In this picture, the Holy Spirit is both the water and the wind. He is the wind because He is the source of comfort and relief when we live in a world of trials that try to consume our peace. He presents a way for us to not be overcome by the heat pressing in from every direction. He is the water because once we have been baptized into Him, there is an increased ability to overcome our environment or situation. You not only survive the heat, but you thrive while in it!
As I sit on the beach and look out at the sea, I am staring down a concrete pier that was constructed for boats to come in and dock. The pier is basically a concrete wall that divides the sea at the shoreline. The water on the right of the pier cannot touch the water on the left of the pier. On the left side of the pier the water is clear, and I can see the ocean floor at depths of 30-40 feet. When in the water I can see fish swimming right up to me and the beauty of God’s creation leaves me speechless. On the right side of the pier, however, is a complete body of water polluted by seaweed. The water is brown, and you couldn’t see your feet if you were to stand in the water ankle deep. You see, the waves of the ocean are bringing the seaweed onto the shoreline. In doing so, it corrupts the space where we would seek refuge from the heat, the place where we get wet! The brown water on the right side of the pier is like the sin in the world and our lives. If the Devil can take the one thing that helps us to thrive in an overheated trial of life and corrupt it so we never get wet, then he has successfully prevented us from experiencing what it is like to thrive in our current situation. Far too often, believers settle for the breeze and stay out of the water. The breeze is nice, and it brings comfort. There is nothing wrong with the breeze, and we should all appreciate it on a hot day. However, there is a greater level that God has for us to experience, and He has made a way for us all to get wet if we choose to.
Like the concrete pier, Jesus has solidified an impenetrable wall that keeps any pollution from entering the space that we occupy. This is not to say that we live perfect lives once we come into relationship with Jesus, but what I am saying is that it is His Righteousness that God sees when He looks at you or me. Jesus allows us to receive a fresh baptism of clean cool water, and once you have experienced being soaked you will never want to be content with settling for “just the breeze” ever again. He has created a safe environment for us to experience the thing that will position us to thrive in our situation. I will also add that being in the water is much more fun than sitting in the sand!
He (Jesus) has created a safe environment for us to experience the thing that will position us to thrive in our situation.
While sitting here among many others on a crowded beach, I figure that some (maybe most) fail to see the skyline of the city on the water’s horizon. Similarly, many fail to acknowledge God’s unfailing love or experience it in their own lives. Likewise, I wonder how many people sitting on this beach take for granted the constant breeze itself. Their focus may be on something else and they are unaware of the supply of relief and comfort that is unwavering. It is harder to ignore because it is constant, but even when it is hitting us right in the face like the wind, many of us fail to see God providing the resources we need and the fact that the Holy Spirit is tirelessly pursuing us. Lastly, it seems impossible to ignore the great atoning sacrifice that our Lord Jesus has paid for us. As I look at the water on the left and the right side of the pier, I figure it is impossible for people not to recognize the difference. It is so obvious in the natural: brown water vs. crystal clear water. Yet, many people fail to understand how Jesus has separated us from a life of sin and death, putting us in a positional advantage to thrive. Creation all around us is silently singing the praises of His glory. I pray that God gives us eyes to see it in the everyday environment that we live in. His glory covers the earth and is all around.
Recognizing when God is moving and Partnering with that move of God
Have you ever looked around and seen that the world has changed a lot from the time when you were growing up? It appears pop culture has changed a great deal from when I was young, and even a greater deal from when my parents were children. Even looking at just a few years back, I can see a significant difference in what was socially acceptable compared to today where almost anything goes.
Embracing the Shift of God
In just one generation, they have seen more technological advances than many generations before them.
I sometimes think about how much our grandparents have witnessed in their lifetime. They witnessed the transition from horse and buggy to us putting a man on the moon. In just one generation, they have seen more technological advances than many generations before them combined. I have been told that 80% of people do not embrace change well. How do you handle change when it happens?
People are creatures of habit and most of us live pretty routine lifestyles. We wake up, eat breakfast, go to work or school, come home, eat dinner, spend some time doing an activity that we enjoy, and go to sleep. We develop a comfort zone, where we live within the confines of things that feel safe and familiar to us. So, when a change in our day to day routine happens, it causes some sort of an emotional response. Some people get angry when their comfort zone is penetrated by things beyond their ability to control, while others become frightened of the unknown situation that they find themselves in. Many people simply wish that things were the way that they used to be and never truly embrace change.
Now, change is all around us and it can be seen even if we are not looking for it. The four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter are a picture of how our environment shifts. We must adjust with the season that we find ourselves in, or we will not thrive in it. If we were to dress in our swimsuits during the winter wishing that it was still summer instead of wearing pants and a coat, we would be foolish. Ecclesiastes tells us that “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun”. We should be mindful of the “big picture” around us and try to see what God is doing in the season that we are in right now. We also need to be watching for signs of the next season, so we can adapt to the shift before it is upon us.
I love watching those shows of people living on the frontier in Alaska. They are always working at preparing for the season that is ahead of them. During the summer, they know that they only have a few short months to prepare so that they will be ready for the long winter. They are intentional about what they are doing to put themselves in the best position possible for what life has in store for them in the next season. They enjoy the season that they are in, but they are always looking forward and preparing for the shift.
Like those living on the frontier, we too must be anticipating the thing that God has in store for us. We cannot “live in the past” and expect to thrive in the “now”. Adapting to the change around us helps to keep us relevant for the thing that God is doing in the world. We do ourselves and those around us no good if we are stuck in the past. Remember that the Israelites complained about wanting to be back in Egypt while Moses was leading them to the Promised Land? They were unaware of what was ahead of them, and they were focused on being where they had been. If we fail to adapt and embrace change, then opportunity to partner with Heaven will pass us by. Religion says that we must do things a certain way, because we have always done them that certain way. This is why there are so many denominations with differing perspectives on the Christian faith. But what if we were to blow with the wind as the Spirit moves? What if we were to look at today and seek out the thing that God was doing? When a shift happens and we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory we should embrace the fact that God is doing a new thing and be glad to be included in it. Don’t miss out on the great adventure that God has for your life by being stuck in the last season.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
God separates the wheat from the chaff. Within our lives there is always a sifting taking place. We must let go of the things that He is taking away and embrace the new things that He is providing for our lives. The one thing that will never change is God’s word. Isaiah 40:8 tells us that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Stand on His word and hold on to His promises. Also, be willing to allow the Spirit to lead you into places that you have not yet experienced. It may be out of our comfort zone, but our comfort zone expands as we are led by the Spirit. I am looking forward to experiencing the new thing that God is doing in our midst.
I like to have nice things. When I am preparing to purchase something I usually lean toward getting the better, more expensive model that has more features and offers more longevity. I don’t see as much value in buying something that will wear out or break shortly after the purchase. With that said, sometimes I feel that we live in a “throw away” society. A place where many people buy something as cheap as possible and then toss it once it has lost its value. Everywhere I look, there are discount dollar stores filled with items that will only last so long. In either example, there is a cost that we are willing to pay to obtain the item that we want to have.
It is Free, but it will Cost you Everything
All other relationships will not last; there is only one eternal relationship that you must be certain of.
Jesus speaks to his followers in Luke 14 about the cost of being His Disciples. He basically said that if we are going to follow Him, we are going to have to be fully committed. He requires a devoted commitment if we choose to follow Him, and He wants us to count the cost first. How many of us can say that there are other things in our lives that we put before Jesus? What we place our focus on is what we worship. We may not like to admit it, but in one case or another almost all of us have to say that there are things in our lives that compete for our attention.
When was the last time you counted the cost? Here is what Jesus said in Luke 14:26-27: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
In this statement, we are given a very clear model of what type of disciple Christ is looking for. In His reference of the cross, Jesus is foreshadowing events yet to come when He made this statement that requires total self-sacrifice. The message is clear – “Cling to Me alone and forsake all others to do so.” All other relationships will not last. There is only one eternal relationship that you must be certain of.
As believers, we must count the cost of being followers of Jesus, and we must be willing to face whatever is in store for us when we decide to follow Christ. There will be times in our walk where our obedience to His voice must outweigh what our own will desires. In those instances, we have a choice to make, and that is to echo the words of Christ in the garden when He prayed to His Father “Not my will, but your will be done.” In the context of Luke 14, Jesus referenced one who plans to build a tower, the fact that they must associate a cost, and they must budget enough funds before starting such a project. A person who starts to build but cannot see the project to completion or is not capable of supporting the needs of the task leaves an unfinished product for others to see. This person is then open to ridicule by those who see a building left unfinished. Jesus also spoke of a king who evaluated his ability to overcome his opponent before making war against an adversary. If that king determined that he could not overpower his enemy, then he would send a convoy to them and make peace rather than proceeding into battle. The point is that we must first evaluate the cost.
God has forgotten our past and is only interested in our future.
There is a mandate for us to evaluate ourselves and determine first that we are willing to give it all up before we follow Christ. While Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient for all, and it is the Father’s desire that none shall perish, Jesus still calls those who follow Him to be devoted to him alone. In Heaven there is no allowance for serving two masters. In Luke 9:42 Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God”. Once you begin to walk in tandem with Jesus, there is no looking back. God has forgotten our past and is only interested in our future. There is no cost, nor could we ever earn what He has paid for if we tried. We cannot earn our way into heaven and eternity by completing a certain list of requirements. Relationship is a free gift for those who are willing to receive it. What is required, however, is a devotion which costs us everything that we value and hold dear. We must ask ourselves where our heart focus lies.
Jesus wants to be our first and only love. He desires to be our top priority and He leaves no room for competition. His love for us is jealous of any other loves we have. To follow Him means to go wherever He leads us. He always provides a way for us to choose Him, but many of us prioritize other things ahead of Him. Again, where our focus lies tells us what we are worshipping. In some cases, many of us fail to let go of our past and move forward with Him. I urge you to cling to Him and don’t look back. Jesus is not interested in our past. He is only interested in our future, and the plans that He has for us. Choosing a future with Jesus contains both challenges and blessings. All the blessings He has for us will outweigh the challenges in the end by far.
Take a moment and evaluate the cost that Jesus paid for us. He paid the ultimate price to win us back from death, which speaks to the value He places on each one of us. Now count the cost of following Him. Reflect for a moment on how much we value the relationship we have with Him. Is it a dollar store value, or is it something we must invest in that will last the test of time?