Anointed To Minister

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week I shared this key thought: The Holy Spirit’s empowerment ignites and then alines our light-bearing to a disaster-prone world. 

Despite what some people try to say, this empowerment from the Holy Spirit isn’t just for a select few. Jesus not only prayed for all of His followers to know this, but Peter also brought this out in his Pentecost Day sermon (John 17:20-23; Acts 2:21, 38-39). 

So why are some people not baptized in the Holy Spirit? I think there are numerable reasons, but allow me to share four broad headings: 

  1. They have impenetrable hearts to the Holy Spirit’s wooing (Acts 7:51)
  2. They are ignorant of the fact that this baptism is available to them (Acts 19:1-2) 
  3. They have impure motives regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-19) 
  4. They are too impatient (Luke 11:9-13)  

(Check out all of the above passages by clicking here.)

The bottom line: God wants to baptize you in His Spirit, Jesus wants you to be anointed with the same power He used, and the Spirit wants to bring out greater Jesus-exalting fruitfulness from your life. 

Two years ago in this series, I said that when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in a Christian’s life: In > On. 

In the Old Testament, Samson had the Spirit of God ON him, but he never allowed the Holy Spirit to come IN him and make important changes. Three times we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14), but after every one of these times we see Samson reverting to his childish, selfish, pouting ways again. 

By contrast, consider the life of Jesus. After He was baptized by John we read that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and “led by the Spirit.” That word for “full” means complete or lacking nothing. Jesus yielded to the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to lead and direct, as well as supply everything that was needed for ministry. Just a few verses later we read that “Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit.” And in His first recorded sermon, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah about the Holy Spirit anointing Him for ministry (Luke 4:1, 14, 18). 

That word for “anointed” is chiro, from which we get the word Christ. That is the same root word in us as CHRISTians. 

We see this in Peter, Stephen, Barnabas, and Paul (Acts 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9). And then Paul writes that this anointing is for all Christians—“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us [that’s the word chiro again], set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). 

The anointing that characterized the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38—“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him”—is the same anointing for ministry for all CHRISTians today! 

So…

Don’t dabble—dive in! 

Don’t settle for on—allow the Holy Spirit fully in! 

When we are yielded and baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have the anointing to shine brightly for Jesus in our generation. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

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The End Of Our Struggle

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Christmas time finds me sampling a whole lot of delicious treats, and I’m not complaining at all! But I’m a pretty simple guy, so one of my favorite treats is just plain old peanut butter. I love it! Sometimes I stick my spoon right in the jar and eat a big spoonful. 

But then there’s the age-old problem: How do you get peanut butter off the roof of your mouth? You can use your tongue or try blowing on it. Or you can use your finger! 

But then there’s another problem: How do you get peanut butter off your finger? Blow it? Shake it? Or eat it! 

Hmm, now I seem to be back to the original problem: How do you get peanut butter off the roof of your mouth? 

Maybe you’ve tried to solve one problem, only to create another problem. And then when you solve that problem you find yourself right back where you started! Round and round it goes! 

The Israelites were facing much the same situation. They sinned, God punished them through King Nebuchadnezzar, they tried to rebel, they were taken into captivity, and then they were finally allowed to return to Jerusalem after 70 years. But they still weren’t in charge of their own fate. First it was the Babylonians calling the shots, then the Medians, then the Persians, and then the Romans. Luke begins the birth story of Jesus with the words “in the days of Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1). 

The Israelites were waiting for God to restore their Promised Land to them. Some people believed a miraculous champion was going to come on the scene (much like Samson of old), and some thought a new anointed king from King David’s line would appear and rally an army to himself. 

We can understand this because of one of the prophecies from Isaiah 9 that talks about a warrior and God’s zeal. 

That word “warrior” got people pumped up! As did the promise that “the zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this”! For many, this was their proof that God wanted His people to rule this Promised Land for themselves 

We’ve been going through a series called People Will Talk, and these voices of a miraculous champion or a new king from David’s line were loud voices to be sure. But interestingly, the Bible doesn’t record much of what these loud voices were saying. 

Also among the people of this time there was another group that were called “the Quiet in the Land.” These were people who didn’t talk very much, but instead they clung to the promise spoken by God Himself of the Messiah. One of these quiet ones was a man named Simeon.

He was called “righteous and devout” and someone “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Which meant he carefully attended to the prophecies of Scripture. The Amplified Bible says that Simeon “lived in prayerful expectancy [of] the Lord’s Christ. 

I left out an important part of that prophecy in Isaiah 9—something that I think the loud ones overlooked or downplayed too. In between those words about “warrior” and “God’s zeal” we read this: “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given. The government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). 

What does the “Prince of Peace” have to do with a warrior? Quite simply, when Jesus the Messiah came, the struggle was over. Jesus was the Warrior King who defeated the enemy of sin that kept us out of God’s presence. 

The loud Israelites believed God wanted His people to rule their Promised Land for themselves. But God wanted a people exclusively for Himself. ALL people—Jews and Gentiles alike—regardless of where or when they lived! 

Jesus is the way into God’s presence. He told us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). 

You can try to solve your own problems, but only Jesus can bring the ultimate salvation. In the Christmas carol Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, check out the lyrics of the second stanza:

Born Thy people to deliver, 
Born a child and yet a King, 
Born to reign in us for ever, 
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. 
By Thine own eternal Spirit, 
Rule in all our hearts alone; 
By Thine all sufficient merit, 
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

A relationship with Jesus means there is no more struggle of trying to solve our own problems, or figure out how things are supposed to work, or pushing down one problem only to have another one pop up. We come to the One and Only One who can raise us to His glorious throne forever and ever! 

Advent is a celebration of the end of our struggle because Jesus has made the way for us to have peace with God. 

And that means a very Merry Christmas indeed! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Advent series People Will Talk, you can find links to all of them by clicking here. 

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True Prosperity

…and so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). 

When I look up “prosper” in the dictionary, the first entry says, “to be successful or fortunate, especially in financial respects.” This isn’t even close to the Old Testament Hebrew word for prosper! 

God makes prosper a dependence on Him. Mammon makes prosper a dependence on self. 

The Hebrew word tsalach means: 

  • to overcome obstacles (like crossing a river) 
  • to be empowered by the Spirit of God to overcome an enemy (like Samson did) 
  • to flourish like a plant growing to full harvest 
  • to have favor with man so that good can be done for others (Nehemiah 1:11) 
  • to finish well (2 Chronicles 7:11) 
  • to be poured out; to be a conduit of God’s blessings to others 

Prosperity God’s way is being blessed to be a blessing to others.

Prosperity is never for me, only from God through me. 

Prosperity from God helps me overcome obstacles for others, defeat enemies for others, bring in a good harvest for others, have earthly favor that will benefit others, finish well for the sake of others. 

I’ll say it again: True prosperity ISN’T for me, it’s only from God through me! 

Hezekiah showed how God’s prosperity came through him to benefit others: 

  • he did “what was good and right and faithful before the Lord” 
  • he lived “in obedience to the law and the commands” 
  • “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” 

In light of this definition, I have no problem praying, “God, make me prosperous. As I seek You and work wholeheartedly, flow through me to bless others!

Poetry Saturday—What Do You Have?

Moses had a staff.
David had a sling.
Samson had a jawbone.
Rahab had a string.
Mary had some ointment.
Aaron had a rod.
Dorcas had a needle.
All were used of God.
What do you have? —Max Lucado, in You!

Is Sin For Me Sin For You?

In our recent Q Series, I was asked a great question: If God has told me that something is a sin for me, does that mean that it is a sin for everyone?

Using a personal example from my life, and using two biblical examples (in Samson and John the Baptizer) I shine some light on this question …

You might also be interested to check out some other Q&As regarding the Bible, end-times prophecy, parables, and prayer.

Fight (book review)

FightThere’s something about the way Craig Groeschel writes that energizes me to take action. And since Fight is especially addressed to guys, this book has me really fired up!

Near the beginning of Fight, Craig explains the goal of the book this way—

“If you read this book, you will uncover who you really are—a man created with a warrior’s heart in the image of God—and how to fight the good fight for what’s right. You will find the strength to fight the battles you know you need to fight—the ones that determine the state of your heart, the quality of your marriage, and the spiritual health of your family.”

And, ladies, Craig has something to say to you too: “Ladies, if you are still reading, don’t miss this. The man you want isn’t the guy who wins tough-guy fights but the man who knows his weaknesses and fights in God’s strength. He won’t be perfect. But God will be perfecting him.”

Using the life story of Samson (from chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges in the Bible) as the backdrop, Craig sprinkles in some of his own life’s stories with some powerful, take-action-now truths. It’s a fun and enjoyable book to read, but it is also a bare-knuckled wake-up call for Christian men to be real men. Or as Craig says it, “Don’t try just to ‘be a better man.’ Be God’s man.”

Not only did I need to hear these concepts and be reminded again of the type of man God has created me to be, but I can’t wait to walk through these principles with some other godly warriors as well.

Guys, you need to read this book! Ladies, please encourage the men in your lives to read it. And then both of you can stand back and watch the godly transformation take place as a God-honoring warrior emerges and begins to fight for what’s right.

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

God’s Originality

Have you ever noticed all of the different ways that God reveals Himself to people? He is original with every original person.

I love looking at the Aha! moments that people have. You know, the moments when the light comes on and they understand Who God is to them?

  • When Jethro heard how God delivered Moses and the Israelites from Egypt he said, “Now I know that the true God is greater than all other gods.”
  • When Elijah raised a dead boy back to life the boy’s mother said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that you only speak His words.”
  • When Naaman was healed of leprosy he said to Elisha, “Now I know that there is only one true God.”
  • When David recalled all the ways God has delivered him from certain disaster he sang, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed.”
  • When Peter was delivered from prison by an angel he said, “Now I know that God did this.”

(check out the references for these examples by clicking here)

God reveals Himself uniquely to everyone because we’re all unique originals.

“Let God be as original with other people as He is with you.” —Oswald Chambers

Here’s the problem with God’s originality: We try to make our unique experience with God a universal experience for everyone else. We think that because He did it such-and-such a way for us that everyone ought to experience it the same way.

Wrong!

Think about the deliverance from lions in the Bible. In Samson’s case, God gave him supernatural strength to kill a lion with his bare hands; Benaiah went into a pit to kill a lion with his club; Daniel never even touched the lions, and they couldn’t touch him either.

Imagine if Samson was there with Benaiah: “Hey, brother, if you’re going to go after that lion, just wait on God to give you supernatural strength. If you really had faith, you would lose that club!”

Imagine if Benaiah and Samson were giving lion-killing advice to Daniel: “My friend,” Benaiah might say, “Please use my club.” And Samson would interrupt, “How many times do I have to tell you? No clubs!” Yet in Daniel’s case, God wanted the lions alive.

Perhaps you had your “Now I know” moment after a prolonged struggle in a particular area. Your tendency would be to tell others, “Get on your knees and pray and pray and pray. Pray really hard! It might take years, but God will eventually help you breakthrough.” Perhaps God wants to deliver someone else instantly.

Perhaps your “Now I know moment” came while reading from the King James Version of the Bible. Your tendency is going to be to hand out KJVs to everyone. Perhaps God is going to speak to someone through the New Century Version.

Let God be original with you. Let Him uniquely work with others too. Don’t make your “Now I know” experience the theology which rules everyone around you.

I’m so glad God is unique with every unique individual because each of us is a one-of-a-kind original!

Be An Intrusive Friend

Yesterday I talked about how to defeat depression in our personal lives. Maybe you’re not battling depression yourself, but since anti-depressants are one of the most prescribed medications, there’s a good chance that someone you know is dealing with depression. Beyond medicine or counseling, one of the greatest antidotes for depression is a friend: an intrusive friend.

In 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was running scared and slipping into depression, there is an important verse at the beginning of the story—Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there (v. 3).

One of our most natural reactions when we’re battling depression is to withdraw from others. It’s natural to want to be alone, but it is one of the worst things to do. Throughout Scripture, powerful people became vulnerable to attack when they left their friends behind—Samson, David, and Peter are prime examples. Even Jesus was tempted by the devil when He was alone in the wilderness.

So if it’s natural to want to be alone when depression is raining on our souls, a true friend will have to be an intrusive friend … a tenacious friend … a persistent friend. I love the lines in the Toby Mac song “Face Of The Earth” that say—

Now Hope Road is calling
Let’s pack you up and move
‘Cause real friends are willing to intrude
So I’m gonna push you in because I wanna love you well
Let the ghosts of your past rest

If you have a friend who is starting to become distant, dropping out of activities, or spending more time alone, these may be the warning signs of depression. Don’t let him be like Elijah and leave you behind, but love him or her enough to intrude in his or her life. Your encouragement just may be the best anti-depressant he/she will ever receive.

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message)

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. (1 Samuel 23:16, New Living Translation)

No Cowardly Lions, Please

cowardly-lion2

When Jacob was blessing his sons (Genesis 49) he called Judah a lion’s cub. From that time on the men of Judah were known as skilled and fearsome warriors. Years later The Lion of Judah, Jesus, would come from this noble tribe.

But during the time when the judges ruled Israel, Judah and all of Israel “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (Judges 13:1), and “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

As a result, the mighty lions of Judah became the cowardly lions.

Samson is a well-known judge. He is known for his single-handed exploits against Israel’s enemies. As a result of his victories against them, the Philistines moved into Judah’s territory arrayed for battle.

In response, the mighty lions of Judah muster a force of 3000 warriors. This should look good to the warriors of Judah, since the Philistines came to the battlefield with just 1000 warriors—after all, 3-to-1 seems like good odds.

But instead, the cowardly lions of Judah decided to take all 3000 warriors to confront just one man: Samson. They went to him in the cave where he was staying, not to ask him to join them in battle against the Philistines, but to ask him to surrender to the Philistines.

Samson agreed.

But when the Philistines approached Samson “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson” (Judges 15:14). He picked up a donkey’s jawbone and killed all 1000 Philistines. And when they saw God’s power at work in Samson, the mighty lions of Judah jumped into the fray all around Samson!

Uh, actually, no, they didn’t.

The cowardly lions of Judah were nowhere to be found. When Samson had finished with the Philistines, there was not even one lion of Judah around to give him a drink!

They all ran away.

It’s amazing to see what the Spirit of God does for someone. God’s presence in Samson gave him victory when the odds were 1000-to-1 against him. The lack of God’s presence in the lions of Judah made them cowardly lions even when they had a 3-to-1 advantage and had Samson on their side.

“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. … For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!” (Deuteronomy 20:1, 4)

Don’t try to go to battle on your own. Even if you think you’re a mighty lion, you will end up like the Cowardly Lion if God doesn’t go with you.

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