Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's In Your Atmosphere?

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.""
John 20:22

Every one of us must breathe every day. In fact, we must breathe every moment of every day. We don't get to save up breaths for later on. If you don't like the smell of the atmosphere you are in, you can't decide not to breathe and catch up on your breaths later on. Every moment of every day, no matter where you are and what is around you, you must breathe. Of course I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. However, what we don't always remember is that there is a spiritual atmosphere around us all the time just like there is a physical, oxygen-filled atmosphere. 

What kind of spiritual atmospheres do you go through during the day? When you wake up in the morning is the atmosphere of your home a God-filled one where you are able to breathe in the breath of the Holy Spirit? When you go to work or school or wherever your day takes you, do you spend a good chunk of your day in an atmosphere where others are breathing out complaints and criticisms, or thanksgiving and encouragement? You breathe in the same air as them don't you, but do you breathe out the same air as them? Do you breathe out words of criticism or words of praise? 

It isn't always easy to breathe out words of life when you are breathing in everyone else's grumbling words. But Jesus gave us a clue here in this verse in John. The disciples were in the presence of Jesus after He was resurrected. He was talking to them--breathing out words of life. He said, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And after He said that He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit--the very breath of God--into them. They had to breathe His breath in first before they could breathe out. You can't breathe out life until you breathe it in! As a believer in Jesus Christ, you can breathe in the very breath of God--His Holy Spirit--and as your spiritual lungs stay filled with His breath, you can breathe out words of life wherever you are! How do we do this?

When we receive His peace and stay in the presence of the Lord wherever we are, breathing in His Words and the breath of the Holy Spirit, then we will stay filled with His breath. As we walk and talk with Him wherever we are so we continually breathe in His Words, rather than the poisoned atmosphere of the complaints of others around us, then we will be able to breathe out His words into the atmosphere around us--filling it with life instead of death. Life overcomes death! Good overcomes evil! Light overcomes darkness!

Jesus gave us another clue when He continued His conversation with the disciples and said, "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." If we hold on to the hurtful words of others and take offense then we succumb to that atmosphere of death, which is contrary to the Spirit of God who is loving and forgiving. Quit struggling and beating yourself up for giving in to the atmosphere around you and instead breathe in His peace, His breath, His words, and His Spirit. Stay in communion with Him throughout your day, and watch the atmosphere around you change!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"And He Gave Gifts to Men"

Right after midnight, the night of the election in the United States, I woke up with Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke on my mind. I had a very strong longing for him to begin ministering in America. I had heard he was coming to America, however I felt an intense desire for him to begin. I was trying to remember if I had heard he would begin meetings in 2015 or 2016. As these thoughts were going through my mind, the Lord began to show me some things.

First I saw that it's good for us to cry out for the ministry gifts the Lord gives, at that moment I felt the evangelist was especially important. I believe He wants us to understand how valuable these gifts are to the body of Christ--the evangelist, the prophet, the teacher, the apostle and of course the pastor. I saw how important it is for us to value these gifts and to cry out for God to raise up these ministers throughout our land. It's important to have godly politicians, but we must not ignore the value of His ministers, and in some cases they may be one and the same.

Next, I saw as important as it is for us to appreciate ministers of the Lord, it is equally important for us not to become impatient or compromise and settle for false gifts because we grow tired of waiting for the true gifts to be released. Immediately I thought of Aaron and the golden calf. Moses had gone to the mountain to meet with the Lord and the people grew impatient waiting for him to return. They ended up giving all their gold to Aaron who made the golden calf to be their new god and leader. Their impatience in waiting for the man of God to return with the Lord's instructions caused them to turn from the Lord who had miraculously freed them from slavery, bringing them out of Egypt.

After I saw these things, I became hopeful. My feeling was that God was answering the prayers of His people. He will raise up His ministers, but it will be in His timing. In the meantime, we need to continue to pray that He releases these powerful anointed gifts to us. We also need to take time to grow in our understanding of these gifts and realize just how much we need them. In Ephesians 4 we are told that these ministry gifts are given for the equipping, building up, unification and maturing of the body of Christ. However, we must not let impatience get the best of us and cause us to compromise and be deceived by the false.

Jesus said in the last days of this age that there would be many false prophets that would come and deceive many. We need the prophets and ministers of God, however we need the ones truly sent and anointed by Him. Those filled with the Holy Spirit will bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is not to imply that the ministers who are currently ministering are not true, anointed ministers of God, but that there is a greater anointing--a greater depth--to come on these ministry gifts that the body of Christ needs right now. It may be that those who "go to the mountain" to meet with the Lord as Moses did, will be the ones who receive this gift.

Exodus 32, Ephesians 4:11-16, Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-24