4 Holy Spirit-Enhanced Habits

According to Paul, there are only two ways people can live: in the flesh or in the Spirit. That is—(1) operating separate from God, or (2) with a soul/body that is operating with God’s full involvement. 

The trouble is: we’re always—as long as we’re alive—still in the flesh because we need these bodies to carry around our soul and spirit. But changes begin to occur first at salvation (when the connection of our spirit to God’s Spirit is reestablished), and even more so after being baptized in the Holy Spirit (when we are not trying to work out things on our own). 

As a result, we have the same brain, but a mind that is being renewed; the same eyes, but insight that is being expanded; the same ears, but learning new ways to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. 

Remember that Jesus promised that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower us TO BE His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Not just to do things differently, but to have our spirit so enlivened by the Holy Spirit that we are living, breathing, walking, talking witnesses of a life transformed.

Have you noticed that there wasn’t a steep “learning curve” for the disciples of Jesus following Pentecost? Part of that is due to four key habits that the Holy Spirit helped form in their lives. 

  1. Correct biblical application—We immediately see people going from “They didn’t understand from the Scriptures” to quickly applying biblical texts to their current situations. This is exactly what Jesus promised would happen (John 20:6-9; Acts 2:16, 25, 34; John 14:26). 
  1. Intercessory prayer—To intercede is to take someone else’s needs to God on their behalf. The Holy Spirit can help us apply Scripture to our prayers, and can even help us without words at all (Acts 4:24-26; Romans 8:26-27). 
  1. Creative thinking—Christians should be the most creative thinkers in the world (Psalm 119:99; Jeremiah 33:3; 1 Corinthians 2:10). 
  1. Healthy conflict resolution—We’re all different, so not seeing eye-to-eye is bound to happen, but Spirit-empowered Christians will be able to resolve conflicts faster and with better results (Acts 6:1-8; Acts 15:1-31). 

“Your life as a Christian should make unbelievers question their disbelief in God.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen! Your life as a Christian that is living out daily habits that have been empowered by the Spirit should make everyone around you want to go deeper and deeper into all that the Holy Spirit has in store for them too. 

Join me next Sunday as we take another look at what it means when we say We Are: Pentecostal. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Life-Changing Power In The Bible

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

The Life-Changing Power In The Bible

     When the Spirit came with His divine life and quickened the entire Book to my newly enlightened soul, the inner meaning shone forth with wondrous glory. … Whatever I found to be in His Word, I received with intense joy. … Moreover, I have found that those points of my character that were most weak have been strengthened, while strong passions have been subdued, evil propensities have been kept under, and new principles have been implanted. I am changed; I am as different from what I was as a man could be who had been annihilated and had then been made over again. Nor do I claim any of the credit for this change—far from it. God has done great things for me, but He has done the same for others and is willing to do it for any soul who seeks His face through Jesus Christ and His great atoning sacrifice. …  

     An idea has long possessed the public mind that a religious man can scarcely be a wise man. It has been the custom to talk of infidels, atheists, and deists as men of deep thought and comprehensive intellect, and to tremble for the Christian controversialist as if he must surely fall by the hand of his enemy. But this is purely a mistake, for the gospel is the sum of wisdom, an epitome of knowledge, a treasure house of truth, and a revelation of mysterious secrets. In it we see how justice and mercy may be married; here we behold inexorable law entirely satisfied and sovereign love bearing away the sinner in triumph. Our meditation upon it enlarges the mind, and as it opens to our soul in successive flashes of glory, we stand astonished at the profound wisdom manifest in it.

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon 

As Spurgeon experienced, all Christians can experience. Think about this—the same Holy Spirit that inspired the written words of the Bible is the same Holy Spirit in you that can illuminate and apply the words of the Bible to your life! 

Bible-reading, Spirit-empowered Christians should be the most informed, creative, wise people you will ever meet. Not because they have studied nature, but because they are getting to know Nature’s God intimately. The Creator can open up the mysteries of creation better than any scientist or philosopher. 

But we don’t read the Bible just to know God’s Word, but we read the Bible to get to know the God revealed in the Word. He said He would reveal Himself to those who earnestly seek for Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes, your mind, your heart as you read your Bible. 

Everyday Evidence

Last week we learned that speaking in tongues was one of the most noticeable and consistent characteristics of those who were baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

Speaking in tongues as the Spirit enables you is the unmistakable, objective, outward, initial physical evidence. The Bible makes clear that continuing to pray in tongues has huge benefits for both our personal prayer lives and for the corporate church body. But don’t stop there! 

The initial, outward evidence is primarily for the individual Christian—it’s a way of knowing that you know that you have indeed been baptized in the Spirit. But there also needs to be some everyday evidence for others that testifies to them that something is different about your life. 

Consider the disciples of Jesus before and after being baptized in the Holy Spirit…

Their vocabulary

Before being baptized in the Spirit they said stupid things because they didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:5-6) But after being baptized in the Spirit there was no more foot-in-mouth disease. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled them to praise God in an unlearned tongue, He also empowered their natural dialect. The same Greek word is used in Acts 2:4 (enabled by the Holy Spirit), 2:14 (Peter addressed the crowd), and 26:25 (what I am saying is true and reasonable). 

Their spiritual power

Before it was limited, and often thwarted, but afterward, it was limitless and effortless (Mark 9:17-18; Acts 3:1-8; 5:15; 6:8).

Their understanding of servanthood

Before they argued about who was the greatest. Afterward, they gladly gave all that they had to others (Mark 9:33-34; Acts 2:44-45). 

Their boldness in the face of adversity

Before they abandoned Jesus, ran away, and hid in locked rooms. Afterward, there was no intimidating or silencing them (Acts 4:8, 13, 18-20). 

Their understanding of Scripture

Before they had virtually no understanding of Scripture’s application. Afterward, they understood how to apply God’s Word in almost every situation (Acts 2:16, 33-35; 4:24-26). 

Jesus promised that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower us TO BE His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Not just to do things for Him. There’s nothing wrong about doing Jesus-glorifying things, but in themselves, they are too short-sighted. Jesus doesn’t want us empowered to do things, but TO BE a living, breathing, walking, talking witness of a life transformed by His power. That’s the reason why I say to you again and again: Don’t stop at salvation. Press on and press in to be baptized in the Holy Spirit so that you can BE an empowered, transformed and transforming witness for Jesus!

Join me this Sunday as we continue to explore what it means for Christians to be Pentecostal. 

God’s Promises Every Day (book review)

Psychologists tell us that babies are only born with two innate fears, yet many people’s lives are constricted because of numerous fears that they have allowed to creep in. A great way to begin defeating those fears is by learning what God has to say about them, and a great place to begin that journey is with Jack Countryman’s book God’s Promises Every Day.

It’s not very effective to simply tell ourselves, “Don’t be afraid of that.” Instead, we need something with more authority—like God Himself. The Bible is jam-packed with promises that God has given us; promises that will counteract our limiting fears. 

Jack Countryman has put together a marvelous resource to bolster your fight against crippling fears every single day. Each day’s reading begins with a short portion of Scripture, followed by just a couple of short paragraphs unpacking the truth in that Scripture, and then concluding with a one-sentence-long prayer based on that biblical truth. 

Short, but very powerful and effective! The Bible itself says that faith is built by hearing and applying God’s Word, and that’s exactly what God’s Promises Every Day makes so accessible to us.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus refuted every one of satan’s attack by quoting a portion of Scripture. Reading this book every day will similarly arm you to attack the temptations and fears that the enemy wants to throw at you as well. 

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Public And Private

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Public and Private 

   My worth to God in public is what I am in private.

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • Do I spend enough time alone with God, or am I too quick to run off to accomplish my tasks?
  • Am I listening to what God really wants to tell me in private?
  • Am I applying those private lessons to my public life?
  • Jesus spent much time in solitude with His Father; am I spending enough time in solitude with God?

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Be not satisfied, my dear friends, with being saved; desire to know how you are saved, why you are saved, the method by which you are saved. It is a rock on which you stand, I know, but think upon the questions—how you were put upon that rock, by whose love you came there, and why that love was set on you. I would to God that all the members of this church were not only in Christ Jesus, but understood Him, and knew by the assurance of the understanding whereunto they have attained.” —Charles Spurgeon

“I get the impression that some Christians think there are two kinds of history, two kinds of time. First, there is Bible time, and Bible history. Things happened in the Bible that were unique, and that we don’t expect to see happen in normal time and history, where we live, you know, today. Things like God doing extraordinary acts of deliverance, help, and support, or extraordinary empowerments for witness or service. Like Moses leading the people out of Egypt, or Joshua leading them to subdue the land of promise, or David leading an entire nation to build a glorious temple for the Lord. That was then, many Christians seem to think; this is now. But when we think this way we may be cutting ourselves off from one of the most powerful resources for visionary leadership, and that is the promise of the past … Visionary leaders understand that God has done remarkable, nearly incredible things in the past, and they reach back and recall those mighty works of God in order to encourage His people in the present. They recognize that the straight line of the covenant continues from Scripture through Church history right down to our day.” —T.M. Moore

“The psalmist does not yield. He battles unbelief with counterattack. In essence, he says, ‘In myself I feel very weak and helpless and unable to cope. My body is shot and my heart is almost dead. But whatever the reason for this despondency, I will not yield. I will trust God and not myself. He is my strength and my portion’ [Psalm 73:26]. … God has put these testimonies in the Bible so that we might use them to fight the unbelief of despondency.” —John Piper

Yesterday I posted a book review about our brains. Here is 11 things you need to know to keep your brain healthy.

“If homosexuals are bullied, we need to protect them. If they’re unjustly discriminated against, we need to help them. If they’re treated with contempt, the person hurting them should be stopped. If a family member comes out as gay and then is belittled, harmed, or vilified, then the offending family needs to be corrected. If Christians ridicule people who identify as gay or lesbian, they need to admonished. If a church doesn’t welcome seekers of all stripes (including people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual), then it needs to change. But none of these circumstances are reasons to reinterpret Scripture to affirm homosexuality” (emphasis mine). Read more in Bad Reasons To Adopt Pro-Gay Theology.

The Compliment Of Application

As a pastor, sometimes I wonder if all of the time and effort I put into prayer, study, message prep and message delivery are effective. How do I gauge my effectiveness? One word: application.

I love seeing people not just listening, but doing. Applying what they’ve heard and what’s been revealed to them by the Holy Spirit is the greatest compliment a congregation could give a pastor.Sophie

So I am absolutely thrilled to see the incredible folks from Calvary Assembly of God so quickly applying what we’ve been discussing!

My inaugural series was called “I My Church.” We looked at the practical ways the Acts 2 Church turned dechurched people — those who knew about God but didn’t have a personal relationship with Him — into those who ’d their church. How exciting it is to see such immediate application in our community.

Just a couple of examples —

  • The message board in the lobby immediately sported the message “You are the church.”
  • Stephanie helped Sophie get into the act with her new t-shirt.
  • A group of our Impact! students volunteered their afternoon yesterday packing more food boxes than they could count for the needy.
  • Last week we cleaned the house of a woman recovering from hip surgery.
  • Tomorrow we’re helping a family move into their new house.

Wow, am I a proud pastor! I can’t wait to see how God is going to continue to use this group of committed people to change the world!

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