Friday, April 11, 2008

God's Calling

This morning in my devotions, I read about Paul in Acts 16:6-10 "Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7 Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia,[a] but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.

9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we[b] decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there."

Paul and Silas listened to the Holy Spirit's promptings, they obeyed. And because they were obedient, they played a very significant part in starting a new faith community in Macedonia. The had their own route they wanted to take, but the Holy Spirit stopped them from going that way and He showed them His way to go.

As a believer, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, all believers are, and our utmost desire should be to please Him. Ephesians 2:22 says this "Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit." But then further on in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 30 it says "And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,[a] guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption." When I don't listen, if I ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to His still small voice, I grieve Him and I stop the blessing that God wants to shed upon me for being obedient to Him. When I obey, God will use me in mighty ways, and He will bless me in ways I could never imagine. May we hear the inner promptings of that still small voice so that we may make God's will our choice -- even if it takes us out of our comfort zone -- God does mighty work when we're out of our comfort zone, that's when we're relying on Him and not on what we know and are comfortable with.

Then after this, I read John 20:19-23 "That Sunday evening[a] the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” I had never noticed this before. Here Jesus breathed on his disciples the Holy Spirit the first time he appeared to them after his resurrection and before he descended into Heaven. But the words, "as the Father sent me, so I send you." - this spoke volumes to me! And then He said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." WOW! Jesus didn't want his disciples doing anything on their own - he was giving them the power to do it - the same power that was in him! This speaks to us here as followers today too. Whatever God has asked us to do, our authority comes from Him and Jesus demonstrated by words and actions how to accomplish what God has called us to do - as the Father sent Jesus, now Jesus was sending his disciples - sending us. In order to do this work, this calling, I need the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit - I cannot and am not able to do it in my own strength because my weaknesses, failure and human nature come into play and I mess up big time. If you remember in Genesis 2:7 where God breathed into man, Adam, the breath of life "Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person." WOW! Each day previous to this, God spoke, HE SPOKE, and the flowers, trees, water, living animals, light and darkness, sun, moon and stars, mountains, all came into being just by speaking it - whooogh, and there it was. Can you imagine the angels?? What a show it must have been, how glorious! But then, God didn't speak man into being, He got down on His hands and knees and formed him specifically - with the Hands of God! Then He leaned over and breathed into Him the breath of life. WOW! Amazing God we serve. So, God breathed life into man at the very beginning, but now over here in the New Testament, in the book of John, we see Jesus breathing on the disciples the breath of the Holy Spirit. God's first breath made man different from all other forms of creation. Now, through the breath of Jesus, God imparted eternal, spiritual life in His followers - this breath gave believers the power to do God's will here on earth. God has breathed His Holy Spirit into my life to do His will. Oh God, how thankful I am for what You have done for me.

I then read Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Do you see how this all works together?? It excites me to no end having read all these verses today in my devotion time. God has such wonderful plans for me, not to harm me but to give me a future and a hope. It's gonna be so exciting to find out what all those plans are! It has been such an exciting journey already - He has done amazing things in my life. He knew how much my spirit needed to read these words today and to have these devotions that spoke so clearly into what is happening in my life right now.

To tie this all in with what has been happening in my life. :-) I've gone through some health issues and have been recommended to stay away from wheat, sugar and dairy. Well, that has been a lot of my diet so it was not easy to give up. But, have I ever been feeling much much better and also losing weight - big bonus. :-) My blood is being cleansed and so is my soul. I've been on a cleanse for the past couple of weeks - 4 days of which I was unable to eat any food, just drink a certain drink to flush out my system 4 times a day for 4 days. That hasn't been easy but it sure has felt good. Well, I've just completed those 4 days this morning. It's been interesting to me that during this time that I've had to fully rely on God for strength to do this, He has also been having me walk through a journey with a friend whose desire is to be baptized. For the last couple of weeks, we've been meeting one on one and studying God's Word together and what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ, to accept God's gift of salvation, to be baptized and to follow God's calling in living our lives as a Christian, as a believer. What a blessed journey we've been on together and oh how much I have learned from this time of study in the Word of God. Lydia has been in the "Believing God" study with us and is now in "The Truth Project" study with us. We have walked through a lot together and have both grown immensely in the Lord. When I told my pastor that her desire was to get baptized, he said to me, "So, when are you going to baptize her?" Well, that sent me on a journey like no other. My first reaction was, "me? why me? it's your job, isn't it? your the pastor of our church?" God was calling me, through my leader, through my Pastor, to baptize this woman who I have been journeying together with through these studies this past year. I felt very unworthy, incapable and I guess fearful because I didn't want to mess up or cause anyone to stumble. Lord, how can I do this when I am so imperfect? I have no qualifications, no Bible school teachings, no experience in this area. But through verses in His Word, God has shown me that it is not only Pastors that are to baptize. Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He was telling all His disciples to go tell everyone about Him, to go to all the nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those are the qualifications. But my strict traditional upbringing still nagged on me that this was not my job. God has shown me that this time, He is calling me to do this for Him. Father, send me, I'll go, I'll go for You, to bring You honor and glory.

God is so good! He prepares us so completely when He calls on us to do His Will, not ours, but His. He has been equipping me these past couple of weeks, through this body cleansing, through meeting with Lydia and studying His Word together and through spending time alone with Him in prayer and reading the Bible. God is faithful, ever so faithful! So as all these toxins and impurities have been cleansed out of my system during this time, so God has also been cleansing and filling my soul with His promises, His desires for my life and His Word, the Bible. I am ever so grateful that I am never called to carry through with something that He will not give me the power and the strength to do. He is at work in my life, in the lives around me and sister/brother, He is at work in YOUR life right now too. Trust Him, cause He is gonna do great and mighty things in your life.

How Great is Our God, sing to me, how great is our God, for all will see how great, how great is our God! Worthy is His name, worthy to be praised, His Majesty, how great is our God! Amen?? Amen.

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