Something, Everything, Nothing, All

“Alas! is it not often true that our work comes between us and Jesus? What folly! The very work that He has to do in me, and I for Him, I take up in such a way that it separates me from Christ. Many a laborer in the vineyard has complained that he has too much work, and not time for close communion with Jesus, and that his usual work weakens his inclination for prayer, and that his too much intercourse with men darkens the spiritual life. Sad thought, that the bearing of fruit should separate the branch from the vine! That must be because we have looked upon our work as something other than the branch bearing fruit. May God deliver us from every false thought about the Christian life. …

“The relationship between the vine in the branches is such that hourly, daily, unceasingly there is the living connection maintained. The sap does not flow for a time, and then stop, and then flow again, but from moment to moment the sap flows from the vine to the branches. And just so, my Lord Jesus wants me to take that blessed position as a worker, and morning by morning and day by day and hour by hour and step by step, in every work I have to go out to just to abide before Him in the simple utter helplessness of one who knows nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing. … If I am something, then God is not everything; but when I become nothing, God can become ALL.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender (emphasis added)

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8 Quotes From “Promotion”

PromotionPromotion by Rick Renner is a book to help both ministry and for-profit business organizations make better personnel decisions. You can read my full book review by clicking here. The following are a few quotes I highlighted.

“When choosing people for promotion, it’s important to understand that nothing is more important to God in the life of a leader then his heart. The heart takes first place over gifts, talents, education, and everything else.” 

“A person who is satisfied with little will never achieve much. On the other hand, a person who has a desire for excellence will never be satisfied with a low level performance in his or her life.”

“Any person who does just the required minimum should never be considered for leadership. … So be very careful not to over-spiritualize the selection process when choosing leaders. Don’t ignore telltale signs in a candidates natural life that alert you to a lack of desire.” 

“It’s normal for people to occasionally misunderstand. But when staff members misunderstand their leader’s instructions 99% of the time, something is wrong with the way that leader is communicating with those under his authority. His followers cannot be wrong all the time.”

“You should not look for a candidate free of problems, but for one who knows how to turn to God and manage life’s challenges according to Scripture.”

“Never forget that when you’re a leader, the most important pulpit you’ll ever possess is the testimony of your own personal life.”

“You’re never going to find a perfect person. … So never forget to let mercy triumphs over judgment. But if your peace is disturbed because of things you see occurring in a potential leader’s life, don’t ignore what is bothering you. Pay attention to what your spirit is telling you. Perhaps he or she is the right leader, but it isn’t the right time yet. It’s better to be slow and sure then to move forward without the inner conviction that you’re on the right track.”

“You may have a more visible position than others do during this earthly life, but your value to God for eternity is no different than anyone else in His Body.”

Remain

Remain
(click image for a larger view)
Jesus says, REMAIN in Me,
And I will REMAIN in you.
The branch must REMAIN in the vine; there’s
No fruit unless you REMAIN in Me.
If you REMAIN, you’ll bear much fruit;
If you don’t REMAIN, you’ll wither up.
So REMAIN in me, and
My words will REMAIN in you.
Stay and REMAIN in Me.
If you obey, you’ll REMAIN in My love, just as
I REMAIN in My Father’s love
And My joy will REMAIN in you. (John 16)

Counterfeit Or Authentic Spirituality?

Spiritual battleCharles Spurgeon said, “It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but satan’s work is just the opposite of this.”

Oswald Chambers said it even more succinctly: “satan counterfeits the Holy Spirit.”

It’s true that whenever there is an authentic move of the Holy Spirit, satan will try to pervert it or counterfeit it. He wants Christians disempowered, so he will do all that is within his power to get us off track, especially in regard to the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That’s why Scripture tells us, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, NLT)

Did you know that the Secret Service―who is tasked with tracking down those who counterfeit U.S. currency―spends more time studying authentic currency than they do counterfeit currency. Why is that? Because there are many ways to make a counterfeit bill, but only one way to make the genuine article! So these agents spend so much time handling and studying the authentic, that they can spot a fraud in a split second.

If we are going to test everything related to the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to focus on all of the counterfeit displays, but simply get to know the authentic. Here are six authenticating proofs we can look for to know the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our lives is genuine.

Our live are producing better quality and more fruit

When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. (John 15:8, AMP)

We are experiencing empowered spontaneous ministry

Notice in the first Pentecostal church how the Spirit-baptized Christians just did ministry whenever and wherever (see Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37). They didn’t form committees or discuss strategies; they just did what needed to be done to make Jesus known.

We have an increased sensitivity to sin

Things bother us now that didn’t bother us before, because we don’t want there to be anything in our lives that strains our relationship with God (see Galatians 5:16-25).

There’s a noticeable growth in our spiritual maturity

In Acts 4:8-13 the religious leadership was astounded at how Peter and John showed spiritual maturity beyond their training. The Holy Spirit helped them to pull out and apply Scripture to the circumstances they faced.

We experience greater sensitivity to God’s promptings

In Acts 16:6-7, we see the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and his companions from preaching the gospel. He was directing them to the perfect time and place for their ministry. This reminds me of the Old Testament promise: “Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a Voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)

We have a greater desire to tell others about Jesus

The Holy Spirit empowers us to tell more and more people about Jesus with greater boldness than we had before (Acts 1:8 and 4:31).

Don’t worry about trying to study the fakes. Get to know the authentic move of the Holy Spirit, and you will have no problem knowing what a genuine move of the Spirit looks like!

I am continuing my series called Come Holy Spirit this upcoming Sunday. If you are in the area, I would love to have you join me.

Remaining

In John 15, Jesus uses a Greek word that gets translated in the English as remain fifteen times. If anyone uses a single word that many times, you know it must be important. The same Greek word is also translated in and last in this same passage. The word means:

  1. continually present (in reference to time), and
  2. not leaving a certain orientation (in reference to state or condition).

The big idea Jesus is trying to convey here is connectedness. So I’m asking myself, Is my life so connected and reliant on Christ’s life, that it is nearly impossible to perceive two? Do we look and operate like one? Is my life completely sustained by His life? When people look at me, can they tell I am remaining in Jesus?

This same Greek word is translated living in (John 14:10) when Jesus says, “It is the Father living in Me, Who is doing His work.” When we see Jesus, we see the oneness — the remaining — between Father, Son, and Spirit.

This same remaining oneness is possible for me because of the promise of a Helper. Jesus said the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) would be with you (John 14:16). This is the exact same Greek word. The word is used again in the following verse: He lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit helps me look more and more like Jesus. He helps me remain. He develops the oneness.

Oh, marvel of marvels! To be one with Jesus! To remain … to last! To have Him in me, and I in Him!

I want to remain more deeply, more “onely,” that God may be glorified in the lasting fruit that my remaining will allow Him to produce.

Eternal Fruit

I love John Wesley’s commentary on this verse in the Gospel of John —

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you. (John 15:16, Amplified Bible)

From John Wesley’s Notes On The Bible:

  • I have chosen and appointed you — for this end, that ye may go and convert sinners.
  • That your fruit may be lasting — that the fruit of your labors may remain to the end of the world; yea, to eternity.
  • That whatsoever you ask — the consequence of your going and bearing fruit will be, that all your prayers will be heard.

Leading others to an eternity with Jesus, bearing fruit that lasts forever, and having complete union with Christ in prayer. Wow! What amazing privileges followers of Jesus can have!

Thursdays With Oswald #50

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.

Beautiful Grapes

     If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us—and we cannot measure that at all.

From My Utmost For His Highest

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Holy Spirit wants to bring to maturity ALL of these fruit in my life. Not so that I can pat myself on my back and say, “Look at how fruitful I am!” But so that God may squeeze me out where He needs me.

So I’m pondering…

  • Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to develop this fruit?
  • When I am fruitful, am I allowing God to squeeze me? Or do I run from this?

What good is to be a Christian without bearing fruit?

What good is it to have the fruit but not let God squeeze it?

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