Purified by The Spirit of Fire

Would you like to lose weight? I would love to lose a bunch of weight! The question isn’t “if” I can lose the weight, but “will” I lose the weight. Thankfully, I don’t have a condition that requires drastic measures like surgery.

Would you like to be spiritually purified? Perhaps you would love to lose a bunch of things that are dragging your life down, things like sins of the past, sin-habits of the present, and fears of the future.

God provides the ultimate “weight-loss” plan for our spiritual wellbeing:

“Those who are left… will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living… The Lord will wash away the filth… He will cleanse their bloodstains… by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.”

~ Isaiah 4:3-4

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor… and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

~ Matthew 3:11-12

The Spirit is the Holy Spirit and the fire is His inner workings upon the mind, heart, and soul that purifies the whole person. All of the things that weigh a person down are susceptible to the fire, a fire that only destroys the junk while it purifies the gold and strengthens the steel.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to baptize you with an appropriate measure of His purifying fire. You will be a new person when He does!

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#PastorsTip #Isaiah4 #Matthew3 #Purify #HolySpirit #Fire #WeightLoss #Cleanse

The Dance is Visual Music!

God has provided us an entire package of capacities that help us to fully utilize our entire being in the expression of our praise and worship to Him. In this brief devotional we will consider just two of them.

One capacity is that of Music (singing and/or playing instruments) which is a wonderful audible art form that enhances our expressions of praise and worship of our God. Scripture is filled with calls to make music to the Lord, just like in this passage:

“Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise in the assembly of His faithful people…
Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him…

For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory. Let His faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy…”

~ Psalm 149:1-5

For most in The Church around the world music is a time-honored, normal part of praise and worship, and rightly so.

Another capacity is that of Dancing. “Praise His name with dancing” is a visual art form that God has provided through which we can more fully utilize our entire being to express our praise and worship to Him. The Dance is like visible music.

This particular capacity is being fully utilized in different parts of the world, but here in our country (USA), “Praise His name with dancing” has been successfully hijacked by the enemy and labeled by The Church as an ungodly expression, or at the very least unnecessary. Dancing is an art form (like all the other art forms) that has been given by God, and as with any art form it can be twisted and perverted by the enemy.

It is time for The Church to restore “Praise His name with dancing” back to our repertoire of holy capacities that God has given to mankind for full expressions of worship and praise. Sure, it will require Biblical, doctrinal teaching and modeling with the reintroduction of the dance of praise, just as anything else that has been missing for a long time would need a solid reintroduction followed with an ongoing instruction and guidance.

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#PastorsTip #Psalm149 #Music #Singing #Dancing #Worship #Praise #TheChurch

Self-Important Celebrity or Invisible Servant

Invisible servants on earth are visible celebrities in Heaven.

In society and in The Church celebrities have the red carpet rolled out for them, the spot lights and the search lights are on bright and focused on them and their events, and great fanfare and praise is given for their contributions to society and for their ministry to The Church in… entertainment!

Movies, sports, music, books, feel-good preaching, humor, anything that entertains and keeps people distracted from the harsh realities of life and sin is considered praiseworthy.

“Everything they do is done for people to see… they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces…

[But] the greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

‭‭~ Matthew‬ ‭23:5-12‬

Jesus taught His disciples that the world and even “The Church” of that day (represented by the religious leaders) had things upside down. For them “up” had become “down,” and “wrong” had become “right,” and as a result the “visible” had become “invisible.”

The wrong people were “visible” and being considered praiseworthy; it was instead those who were “invisible” and served at the lowest level that Heaven “visibly” saw as being at the highest level and worthy of being celebrated.

In what realm are you considered a celebrity? On earth, or in Heaven? In society, or in Heaven? In The Church, or in Heaven? And in which realm will you walk on a red carpet? The earthly red carpet of self-importance that “visible celebrities” have rolled out for them, or the heavenly red carpet of Christ-like self-sacrifice that “invisible servants” will be honored with in Heaven by Jesus Christ Himself?

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#PastorsTip #Matthew23 #Visible #Invisible #Earth #Heaven #Celebrities #Servants #Entertainment #PraiseWorthy

Complex Heart Combination Locks

What does it take for a person to be welcomed into your heart?

Is your heart protected by a “combination lock,” where a person cannot access your heart until they fulfill a complex combination of prerequisites, like: possessing certain character traits; a superb and unique personality; a select type of humor; participates in a particular social group; has financial assets or income in a high-level percentile of the population… is your complex combination getting longer and longer?

Quite often the complexity of the heart’s combination lock is an indicator of how much hurt a person has experienced in life. Each person is different and the measure of one is not always the measure of another. However, there is the principle of heart-hurt and soul-pain leading to a locked heart that is practically impossible to gain access.

The church in Corinth was exhibiting this kind of lock on their hearts as well. Paul wrote to them, affirming that he and the others in ministry with him had not hurt them. He pleaded with them to open their hearts just as he had done, for a mutually edifying and fruitful heart-to-heart relationship.

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange… open wide your hearts also.”

~ 2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:11-13‬

Even marriages, after years of trials and unforgiveness that piles up, each spouse might have locked each other out. Oh sure, they might say that their heart is accessible, but they have created such a complex combination of prerequisites that access is in reality impossible.

The Song of Solomon addresses a simple situation where one spouse, after being absent, tries to gain access to the other, but due to the long delay in finally opening the door, the spouse left the scene.

“My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him. I arose to open for my beloved… I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.”

‭‭~ Song of Solomon‬ ‭5:4-6‬

How complex is your heart’s combination lock? Reset it today to something simple and basic, based on wisdom and not out of hurt and fear. As for your spouse, give them a key and anytime they draw near to your heart, quickly swing wide the door of your heart to them before they even need to use their key.

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#PastorsTip #2Corinthians6 #SongOfSolomon5 #OpenHeart #PastHurts #SelfDefensive

The Chains We Love

Sadly, some people love their illness or bondage or disability too much to even want [much less seek or accept] healing or deliverance. It was upon the basis of this fact (about some people) that Jesus engaged a disabled person with a prophetically insightful question:

“Here a great number of disabled people used to lie: the blind, the lame, the paralyzed…
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?‘”

~ John‬ ‭5:3-6‬

For those who are sick or disabled and who DO want to be healed, this question seems almost insulting. But, for the person who has fallen in love with their condition, they present excuses for why they haven’t or won’t be healed or delivered. If you read the rest of the story in John 5, you will see that this man also replied with a couple excuses for why he wasn’t healed. It was always someone else’s fault, or the lack of help from others.

Why would someone “love” their chronic illness or disability? For some, they love the victim mentality, feeling sorry for themselves. For others, it is a means of avoiding responsibility for themselves or family. And for still others, it might be an excuse for laziness and a means for unearned income, minimal though it may be.

This “love” for their chronic disabling condition is very different from the other disabled person who is innocently facing the normal moments of fear or anxiety of the new horizons that healing and deliverance would present: rebuilding a new job or career; rebuilding their marriage relationship that suffered from their physical or emotional absence due to illness; reintegrating with their local church and ministry, etc.

But for those who have fallen in love with their chronic illness or disability, it is critical that they approach Jesus with a humble and contrite heart, welcoming His healing and deliverance, regardless of what avenue(s) He might use. An instantaneous supernatural miracle? A medical procedure? A new and permanent dietary change? A prescription medication strategy? A vitamin and supplement regimen? Learning to use a new prosthetic device?

We don’t know all the answers; we hardly even know what questions to ask. But for you and I who are in a chronic state of disability and suffering, let us make sure that everyday is a new day of our saying, “Yes Lord. Not my way, but Your way. Let’s do this!”

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#PastorsTip #John5 #Disability #ChronicIllness #Healing #Bondage #Deliverance

The Gamble of Sin

It is a wonderful experience to be healed, delivered, or restored to a fully functioning body or soul, especially when the debilitation had been a direct result of personal sin. There is nothing quite like having to live life in a tragic condition that is a daily reminder of past choices gone wrong.

After being healed and restored to normal, many say that the past suffering seems like it was just a bad dream. The new life has new dimensions of freedom that haven’t been known for a long time, or if ever.

There can be a temptation to go wild, doing things that should not be done. The new found health has opened the door to a whole new world of excitement, and some decide to “party” in the wrong way, by re-entering into a pattern of sinning.

This is a very real gamble. This principle is taught by Jesus when He healed and warned such a man. He had been disabled (an invalid) for 38 years:

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked…

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’”

~ John‬ ‭5:8-14‬

In today’s setting this same story might be about a disabled Christian that was healed, Jesus then crossed paths with him at a church. While in the church, Jesus gave him a stern warning to “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

“Something worse may happen” is a statement of statistical probability, a distinct possibility, a gamble. When we sin we are rolling the dice, gambling with the entry or return of things like sickness, bondage, or mental illness. Sin is not without a destructive, disabling, or painful effect, either now or later, in this life or in eternity.

Ultimately the gamble of sin is not about “if” bad stuff might happen, but more like “when” bad stuff might happen. The wages of sin will be required, this is a certainty. The gamble is just “when” the pain will begin, in this life or in eternity.

The pinnacle of the advice that Jesus gave the man is in the phrase, “stop sinning.” This is the only way to avoid the gamble of sin.

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#PastorsTip #John5 #Sin #Gamble #Sickness #Disability #Heal #Deliver #Restore #Pain #WagesOfSin