Holy Spirit

by Laura Enslen

“Holy Spirit you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by your presence Lord.”

This song, if I was honest, could make me feel uncomfortable in the past. I felt like, in some of the lyrics, we were expecting an experience to happen, or we wanted something for ourselves in this worship time. As I look more closely, I see the words “Your glory God is what our hearts long for.” In a study I recently did, the author states, “The Spirit always points you to Jesus, never to just have an experience, but always to Jesus.” This song is calling upon the power of heaven to work in and through us, for the glory of God!

The Spirit of God in Hebrew is Ruakh-meaning breath, wind, spirit. It is God’s personal presence. In Genesis 1:2 NIV “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Spirit was ready to bring about creation. God’s spirit (The Holy Spirit), invisible like breath and wind, brings life, energy, and healing where there was once death, void, and destruction. This same Spirit caused the flood waters to recede in Genesis 8, parted the sea in Exodus 14, empowered Joseph to interpret Pharoah’s dreams, and gives the Prophets messages. In the New Testament, the Spirit comes on Jesus at His baptism, and when Jesus ascends to heaven, He states that He will send the Holy Spirit to come and fill each believer with “power from heaven.” Luke 24:49 NIV.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11 NIV We get to be a part of new creation, and we can allow this same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead to empower us in our daily lives. To serve those around us, to share the gift of Jesus Christ and His mercy and salvation, and to live our lives on purpose for His kingdom. May the Holy Spirit work in each of us this Lenten season and help us take each step forward anticipating the return of our Lord and Savior!

Lord, I ask that you help me to acknowledge and listen to your Holy Spirit, whom you sent to dwell with me as a believer. Help me to listen to the still small voice, allow the Spirit to comfort me, and participate with the Spirit’s work here on earth. Thank you for loving me so much that you made a way for us to be together forever. May I know the breath of life you have breathed into me, and may I share that with those around me. Amen.


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Trials

by Pastor Savenit Polo

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.“ (James 1:2-4 NIV)

A few days ago, I had a conversation with the senior pastor of my church, whose assistant I am. In our conversation, he stopped for a moment and asked me a question. “Have you ever thought about leaving the pastoral ministry?” That question made our conversation very personal.

The Holy Spirit led him to tell me that trials need to come. Trials not only come in the lives of pastors and people who hold positions and have great ministries, but they also come in the lives of those who are making the effort to follow Christ as his disciples.

That is why James says in his chapter 1:2 “My brothers, count it all joy when you find yourselves in various trials”. The author uses the word “when”, which ensures that the trials will come. They will also be diverse but if we trust in the Lord, the result will always be favorable.

As long as we are in the world, we will face trials, but we can count on our God whose power can help us walk in victory.

Question to ponder: What trials are you facing today?

 

 


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Know Your Enemy

by Barb Schumacher

Sun Tzu, a famous Chinese general, military strategist and the author of The Art of War, has said, “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” And while Sun Tzu was not writing about spiritual battles, there is a measure of truth in his words to us as believers in our war against our adversary, Satan. If we know him and recognize his deceitful ways, we are able to resist him, watch him flee and win thousands of battles against him in our lives, with the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Recently, our AWANA lesson for the T&T clubbers (ages 3rd through 6th grade) was titled “Satan.” I had told the kids to be ready to discuss this topic at our next AWANA Wednesday, on February 9. As I left the building on February 2, I felt a little hesitant to discuss the topic next time.

What if the kids don’t understand enough about Satan?

What if they are afraid of him?

How can I best discuss this topic so that the kids understand that they can know their enemy, and be victorious in thousands of battles against him?

As always, the AWANA materials were “spot on” in providing good lesson plans and discussion questions. And from that lesson, I would like to share some truths that the kids and I took away from that evening.

  1. Satan hates God and is His enemy and ours. He does all he can to stop God’s plan. He wants to get anyone he can to hate God also.

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

  1. Satan is a deceiver and a liar. He wants to deceive us and cause us to distrust God.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”

 

  1. Be aware, but don’t despair! God has given us armor to “put on” to defeat the devil’s schemes in our lives.

Ephesians 6: 10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

 

  1. In every war, there is a winner and a loser. When it comes to God and Satan, our all-powerful GOD is the clear winner every time. And at the proper time, Satan will be sent to eternal punishment in hell.

Revelation 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

 

  1. We are Victors with Jesus if we trust Him to be our Lord and Savior. We do not need to fear, but we need to put our hope and trust in God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

After a “soda can crushing experiment”, great discussion, and memorization of powerful Scripture, our AWANA kids and grownups alike left our meeting feeling buoyed and ready for battle with our adversary. How good to know that believing adults and children can know (recognize) the enemy and also know that we are on the Winning Team with Jesus – in every battle of life – even thousands of them.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have already defeated the enemy and that we are victors with you, as we put our faith and trust in you completely.  Help us each day to put on the armor of God, so that we are ready to take our stand against the devil’s schemes. We trust you to lead us and guide us each day of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Noise

by Deb Trojak

It may be shocking to hear this, but I am surrounded by noise and distraction on a regular basis. Laughing, screaming, shouting, thumping, crying, banging, caterwauling – you name it, I probably hear it on a regular (if not daily) basis. Because of this steady stream of cacophony, I can easily get overwhelmed. There are so many things clamoring for my attention, that sometimes it’s hard to filter what is important and what is just literally noise.

The more I’ve thought about the abundance of noise in my life, I’ve realized that it’s also true in my spiritual life as well. This world is such a loud place – both physically and metaphorically. The amount of distraction I get bombarded with daily is crazy. (And I’m not just talking about the six small people who live in my house.) I can spend a lot of my time looking at social media. What I watch on tv, or read about, or listen to can have a huge impact on where my head and my heart end up. And I can allow what other people say to have more influence over me than what God says.

What am I listening to? And what am I allowing to speak into my life? Do I pay too much attention to the social media posts that make me wish I had what I think someone else has? Am I too focused on the negative thoughts swirling in my head? Is fear the voice that I’m listening to as I read news articles and wonder where the world is heading? I can often feel like I’m drowning in a sea of all the things clamoring to get my attention…when really, there’s only One voice I should be listening too. 

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is about Elijah. After God has defeated the prophets of Baal by sending fire from the sky, Elijah flees for his life and winds up in a cave on the mountain Horeb.  He’s feeling very alone and afraid, and God speaks to him. “So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. It came about when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13 NASB)

I often expect God to speak in huge, noticeable ways. I want the earthquake and the fire to command my attention, and yet He tends to do the opposite of what I assume. There are lots of reasons for this, and one of them is He wants me to pay attention. There are very few things I have actual control over, but I do get to choose what I listen too. Am I going to be distracted by the noise of the great and strong wind? Or am I going to be like Elijah and recognize the voice of God?

In John 10:27 NASB He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  Sheep are not the most brilliant animals on the planet, but they at least know their shepherd’s voice. And if I’m being honest with myself, I do know His voice. It’s in the Scriptures that I need to be digging into and keeping in my heart. It’s gentle but firm. And it’s always there when I choose to pay attention.

So, what are you listening to? What are you allowing to speak into your life? Are you allowing all the other distractions and noise to drown out His voice? Or are you paying attention?


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Scripture Reading: March 5 & 6

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ’He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:1-11 NIV)

 

 

 

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” 

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13 NIV)


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Do You Bow?

by Mary Reigart

I kept asking God what He wanted me to write this year. I listened and as a result started with scripture rather than casually putting it on at the end.

Ephesians 3:14-21 is a great prayer for the Ephesians and for CABC (as Pastor Josh has told us).

 “For this reason, I bow before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives his name. I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwelling your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. And now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us”.

Do you bow enough before the God of the Universe?

Rather giving up something for Lent, maybe we could give more time to our Lord and Savior?

During this challenging, polarizing time, doesn’t unification sound amazing? If you are feeling alone, divided, or confused–this scripture calls the whole family to hear. Christ’s last plea on Good Friday was for Unity.

Never forget about the Holy Spirit- the helper, healer, comforter. We sing “The same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in us”! That means you and me. Now talk about good news!

He calls us to be rooted in love–not Valentines Day love, but His love..to grasp just how big and wide and deep it is. Grand Canyon, look out!

A love that surpasses knowledge is great because fear of failure can make me feel afraid to trust God’s perfect promises or commands.

I have a great imagination-but I can’t comprehend His. After all, He did create everything, including the manatee.

Maybe this Lenten season I can remember the words of Holy Scripture. Or my favorite part. About how He loves me.


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