SCRIPTURE NEEDS TO CHANGE OUR LIVES

Another life changing message from Francis Chan about how Scripture needs to change our lives. He explains how it has and is changing his own life. Francis is now ministering in places such as Myanmar to the poorest of the poor and he and his family are happier now than they have ever been. For most of his ministry Francis says, he did not believe in the supernatural, that has changed dramatically now as he ministers in places where they have never heard the Gospel before. Now! everyone he touches are healed. The power of God is evident as he goes where God leads. Is it any wonder why Francis is happier now than he has ever been.

HOLY SPIRIT’S GUIDANCE

The “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), when taught as merely a set of godly character traits (which they are) (and we need to pursue them), stops short of the ultimate purpose of those traits.

The Amplified Version translates the words “fruit of the Holy Spirit,” as “…the work which His presence within accomplishes.” The Holy Spirit’s presence guides us (as a coach) and guards us (comforts: “strong; fort”) throughout each day and in every decision. As we yield to that work of God’s Spirit (“be filled” Ephesians 5:18), God lives, not merely within us and for us, but through us.

Reimagine discipleship as the ongoing filling of the Spirit (“keep on being filled”) to reveal God’s will through God’s Word. Refocus evangelism as the work of the Holy Spirit to connect each disciple to the needs of the people (family, friends, strangers), the places (work, play), and opportunities (activities, events,) God has called them to serve … resulting in the showing and telling of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit’s internal presence is always purposing towards an external expression of the character of God, revealed to the lost and the least through our unexpected actions and uncommon reactions. Each “fruit” is a gift we bring as we walk a bridge into a conversation to pray for someone or a situation, care for them with acts of service or mercy, and share the Gospel of faith in Jesus.

The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, goodness (a life full of virtue), faith that prevails,  gentleness of heart and self control (strength of spirit).

The purpose of the fruit of the Spirit is not to make us nicer neighbors; it grows within us to make us loving neighbors who enlighten people to the problem-solving, life-transforming character of God. “This is how God loved the world” (John 3:16): look to what Jesus did, look at how Jesus-followers live and give, serve and sacrifice.

Gifting the fruit of the Spirit is intended to be a daily reality for every authentic Christian, not only for those who have the gift of evangelism or the calling of an evangelist. Valuing the fruit of the Spirit as a witnessing tool can be a huge encouragement to believers who deeply desire to share their faith but often hesitate or have been ineffective. Making disciples who reproduce by sharing their faith must include equipping them to simply look for ways to express the love of God through the spiritual traits they most often or easily exhibit. Some display the love of Christ best through acts of kindness and mercy, others as peacemakers. Every Christ follower needs to seek the discernment of the Spirit into how the Spirit is most effective; which “fruit” (character trait) seems most prevalent and effective in which situations?  

Fruit-of-the-Spirit evangelism is walking God’s love over a bridge into a situation or experience with the gift of joy or peace or patience or kindness, goodness, faith, gentle humility, or restoring control. Love motivated gifts, suited to a person or relevant to a problem, bring practical blessings that point lost people to hope that breeds faith…sharing stories can easily ensue.

Instead of looking first at what we should “do” to evangelize (methods), what if we looked at the focus of our prayers for others? Which fruit of the Spirit predominates our intercession? What passion is stirred within us when we are led to care for people; their problems or possibilities? When does our presence result in conversations about spiritual issues or opportunities to share life stories?

Another great article from Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM
How To Equip UnWitnessing Christians to Share Their Faith

TESTIMONY OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE

For me, prison ministry is a no-brainer,” he says. “I’m going to do that until the Lord calls me home. … I want to help the parole board see that people can change. … I want our senators and lawmakers to have a different mentality, and I want the people who are coming home to have the resources they need.

The above quote was made by Jon Kelly the same man who made the following quote

“I was always high every day … always in fights, always getting shot at or shooting at somebody,” Jon Kelly says. “I for sure did not think I would make it past 16.”

Growing up in north Philadelphia with a single mother and a little sister, Jon was the epitome of a disrespectful, troubled teen. He grew up in a rough neighborhood. Multiple schools—including a disciplinary school he says was “like prison, but you get to go home”—couldn’t keep him out of trouble. He dropped out by ninth grade.

Jon began selling crack cocaine when he was only 12 years old, but in his teens, he decided it was more lucrative to rob drug dealers. “I thought it was a good thing,” he says. After all, “I wasn’t bothering law-abiding citizens.”

One night, Jon and his friends went to a drug dealer’s home and robbed him. Things got out of hand, and in the process, one of the group shot and killed their victim.

Jon remembers the day he was arrested. It was a Friday—March 15, 2002—and he had just turned 19 two months before. He was arrested for his role in the murder and brought to jail, but it was overcrowded from the city’s violent crime. The only place with room for Jon was in isolation, or solitary confinement.

A couple of the corrections officers would talk to Jon from time to time. That first week in jail, Jon was so bored he asked if either of the men could bring him something to read. The officers handed him a New Testament. On the cover were the words, “There’s hope for you. Jesus cares.”

“I read God’s Word for the first time,” Jon says, “and I haven’t been the same since.”

pastor jon kelly
Jon Kelly today

Today, Jon Kelly is the pastor of Chicago West Bible Church, a 2-year-old church he helped start after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Moody Bible Institute. He is married and has two children.

“It’s been an amazing journey, and I praise God for that,” Jon says.

Only God can change lives like Jon Kelly’s and provide the people and the resources to make use of that life for the benefit of God’s Kingdom.

Only Holy Spirit led lives are both transformed by God to produce the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self-control and be available to be used by the Holy Spirit using the gifts of the Spirit – Revelation Gifts – Words of Wisdom, Words of Knowledge and Discerning of Spirits, Vocal Gifts – Prophecy, Tongues, and interpretations of Tongues, Power Gifts – Faith, Healing and Miracles.

HOLY SPIRIT GIFTS

This is a follow up article to my post entitled “Be An Overcomer Having The Mind Of Christ“. Can I suggest you read it first if you have not already done so. It provides information on all the Holy Spirit gifts and the essential role the Holy Spirit has in every believers life.

Without a doubt, speaking in tongues is the most controversial Holy Spirit gift mentioned in the New Testament. Should believers ignore it, oppose it, or embrace it? There are many legitimate questions regarding the gift of tongues that deserve a thoughtful, biblical response. The most significant.

1. Is speaking in tongues for all believers?

The most important thing you need to know about speaking in tongues is what Jesus said about it, and He did not mince His words in Mark 16:17: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues.” Jesus declared that tongues is a supernatural sign that can and should accompany everyone who believes in Him. God does not give His children any bad gifts, so we shouldn’t fear or ridicule the gift of tongues. The gift of tongues was the most common spiritual gift in the New Testament church. The Bible tells us in Acts 2:4 that all of the original 120 disciples at Pentecost spoke in tongues in the Upper Room: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Also, Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that he wanted every believer to pray in tongues (for personal edification) and prophesy (to edify the church): “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.”

2. From where does it come, what is its origin and purpose?

The gift of tongues is a heavenly language which the Holy Spirit downloads into your spirit that enables you to communicate directly with God. However it is important to remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels. but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

In 2006, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five people while they spoke in tongues. Their research was published in The New York Times. The leader of the study team was Dr. Andrew Newberg, who arrived at this conclusion:

“We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain. Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. …Our brain-imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.”

When they prayed in tongues, their frontal lobes, the willful part of the brain we use to think and control what we do, were quiet. The language center of their brains—the part we use to speak in our native language—were quiet as well. The people were not in a trance; they were fully aware of what was happening. The researchers were unable to pinpoint which part of the brain was controlling this behavior of speaking in tongues. Dr. Newberg went on to say, “The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening. … The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them.”

Speaking in tongues is clearly not a fabricated language, as these scientists have confirmed. It is a spiritual language given to us by God to communicate with Him.

3. Did the gift of tongues cease after the first century, or is it still active today?

The doctrine of cessationism is firmly entrenched in Reformed Christianity. This is the belief that the apostolic and charismatic gifts (including speaking in tongues) ceased after the original 12 apostles passed away. However, several notable early church fathers—such as Justin Martyr (100-165), Irenaeus (115-202), Tertullian (160-220), and Origen (185-254)—recorded that the spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, were still active in the church in their days, long after John had passed away around 100 AD.

Peter proclaimed in Acts 2:39 that the gift of tongues is for everyone who is called by God: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 13:8-9 that when that which is perfect comes, tongues will cease. That is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible teaches that no one is perfect except Jesus. When Christ returns, we will not need to speak in tongues to communicate with God because we will be with Him. But until then, the gift of tongues is available to any believer who desires it.

4. What are people saying when they pray in tongues?

The Bible reveals five main things that happen when believers pray in tongues:

1. They are speaking directly to God. 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” Tongues is an intimate and direct line of communication with God.

2. They are declaring God’s wonders. Acts 2:11, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” When we pray in tongues we are actually declaring the wonders and mysteries and majesty of God.

3. They are praising God. Acts 10:46,For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” Even if we don’t understand what we are saying when we speak in tongues, we are praising God in the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:16).

4. They are edifying themselves. 1 Corinthians. 14:4, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” Praying in tongues is like a spiritual workout—it builds you up and makes you stronger spiritually.

5. The Holy Spirit is praying through them, declaring God’s will. Romans 8:26-27, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express…because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Praying in the Spirit will bring revelation and insight into God’s will for your life.

If you desire the gift of tongues, pray for it in faith until you receive it. Jesus said in Luke 11:13, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Sometimes we have to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, and knock and keep on knocking until we receive our answer to prayer.

If you already have the gift of tongues, use it every day. In 1 Cor. 14:18, Paul boasted about how often he prayed in tongues: “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” Tongues is a real language, and as with any language, you have to use it in order to increase your fluency and vocabulary.

Are there excesses and abuse with the use of the gift of tongues? Yes, of course, and they need to be corrected, but don’t throw out the baby with the bath water by rejecting the gift of tongues altogether. Let us take the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:39 to heart: “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (emphasis added.)

This article is an abbreviated version of the article from Charisma News by Brian Alarid entitled Things You Need to Know About Speaking in Tongues. He is is the lead pastor of Passion Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and an area coordinator for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association/My Hope.

available as an ebook on Amazon

BE AN OVERCOMER HAVING THE MIND OF CHRIST

  1. The Holy Spirit gives us access to the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit disciples us with the mind of Christ and brings us into spiritual maturity. Jesus told us that we would accomplish the impossible because the God of the impossible abides within us. 
  2. The Holy Spirit wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. He will also make available the Gifts of the Spirit (all nine) as needed to do whatever task is before us. Gifts of the Spirit are not earned by our merit but are God-given to those who desire them. There is no such thing as a secular job for Christians. With the Holy Spirit resident in our lives, all is sacred. If we ask, He will assign spiritual gifts to a job, regardless of where we work or what realm of society we’ve been given influence over, ministry happens! In other words, when an auto mechanic, architect or housewife becomes spiritually in tune, he/she is in the work of ministry.
  3. You are an overcomer! If you take hold of the truth that Jesus made it possible for your Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable you to conquer anything that stands in your way, you’ll begin to harness the power that overcomes crises, transforms lives, and radically shifts culture.

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HOLINESS IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE MIRACULOUS

Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan they consecrated themselves. Before the Israelites took Jericho they circumcised the men. Before they defeated Ai they cleansed the sin from their camp. Holiness was needed for God to work the miraculous.

Ezekiel has a vision where the holiness of God pours out from the temple like a river, revitalising and purifying all the land it comes into contact with. Isaiah has a vision, where he enters the temple impure but is purified while he is there by a burning coal – a physical embodiment of God’s holiness.

The holiness of God is a term used in the Bible to describe both His goodness and His power. It is completely unique, and utterly all-powerful. In fact, the Bible gives us examples showing God’s holiness is so overwhelming it was perilous to approach Him.

These examples of God’s holiness purifying impure things all lead up to Christ. Christ, who is God’s holiness in human flesh, goes out into the land, healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons – all of which are examples of God’s holiness now purifying the things it comes into contact with. God’s holiness is a powerful force that must be treated with the utmost respect.

Related image
Jesus casting out demons from Jesus Film Project

In Hebrews 9 and 10 it tells me that the sacrifice of Jesus, the blood of Christ, is what sanctifies and makes me holy – once and for all.

 Not only do I need Jesus, His blood sacrifice and the Holy Spirit, I also need the Word of God. Jesus, in His prayer to His heavenly Father in John 17:17 said, “Sanctify them, make them holy through Thy truth. Thy word is truth” (paraphrased).

Ephesians 5 says that God wants to cleanse and sanctify the church by the washing of water of the Word. It is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses.

At the same time, God’s holiness is a gift, able to heal a broken and impure world. Best of all, as followers of Christ, the Father has now sent the Holy Spirit to indwell our spirit, to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter. We can’t be holy without the Holy Spirit. He enables us to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, we are told, we often grieve Him, and quench the work He wants to accomplish in us and through us.

Do you want to serve God? Understand, we need holiness to serve Him.

“As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [Whatever you do.] because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Is there some filthiness in disposition or attitude in your heart? Is there some bitterness or resentment or complaint? God says, “You clean it up.” Is there something that we are doing in our lifestyle that is demonstrating the lust of the flesh? Clean it up! We are to walk in holiness, fearing God, recognising our accountability to Him.

Among believers there is to be a practical holiness where we cleanse ourselves, where we get right with God. There is nobody who is going to cause you to stop sinning but you. There is nobody who is responsible for sinning but you. You will be tempted and baited and enticed by the enemy, but if we sin, we need to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness, on an on going basis, to keep our relationship with God intact. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

We ask God to forgive us not to be re-justified but to walk before Him in confidence that Christ has paid it all.