The way we live on this earth, determines where we will spend our eternity. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ and only by choosing Him as Lord and Savior, will we go to where He is, as we read in:
John 14:2 "Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
The gift of salvation is free to us because Jesus truly paid it all. But it costs us everything to keep it.
We have to learn to surrender all to the Lord, giving Him our all and all. If our hearts are not 100% His, the part that we keep as "ours" and not His, will take over the rest; unconfessed or repeated sin, pride, bad habits, lust, whatever comes fist at taking God's place (any idols) will give the legal right to the devil to attack and rob us and will come between us and God. Paul is very firm in addressing the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The quicker we repent after we sin against God, the faster we are forgiven and the enemy has less room to hurt us. We must realize that we are born-again and our spiritual man (inner man) is completely new and transformed by Holy Spirit who came to dwell in us when we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, the less we will fall into the temptations that the enemy brings on our path.
Let's take a look at what Paul said about himself: "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27).
We need to feed on God's Word and spend time in the Lord's presence on a daily basis to renew our minds and erase the old "worldly programming" from the life we lived before Jesus became our Lord, and even much of what we learned growing up.
I am not pretending to have all the steps, but the following are some keys that helped me and many others along our journey with Jesus.
1. Receiving God's Word while we read it, through the Holy Spirit, not only by our comprehension... will turn it into a fountain of life. The Spirit of God will make it real and full of life for us, He will quicken our spirit and cause the word to impact and change us. The Word of God is not to be understood by the brain alone, it takes the Holy Spirit who hears it from the source (Father God), to make it clear to us. The Bible was written by God' s people that were directed by Holy Spirit. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16).
Jesus also said:
John 16:12-15 “I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. He will give me glory, because he will take what I say and tell it to you. All that my Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit will take what I give him and tell it to you."
It is essential that we invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us, as we read and study the Scriptures. He will reveal it to us, layer by layer, according to the spiritual maturity level we have at the time we are reading. And as we return and read again the same verses, we will get them deeper and deeper. Even the disciples, after spending approximately three years with the Lord, Jesus told them that they could not handle all He had to tell them, but Holy Spirit would tell them the rest when they would be able to receive.
2. Denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily and following Him. These are our daily actions that we must do to live the life of obedience to our Lord. God cannot do it for us. It is up to us.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
The Greek word used here for "deny" is aparneomai, which means to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. When we came to Jesus, we renounced the old sinful life and chose to live a new righteous life in Christ. Jesus wants us to deny what our old carnal nature would do, and be obedient to the Bible and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we are still living in earthly vessels, we will never achieve living perfect holy lives, but the “desire of our heart” is to obey God in every way. The more we know and grow in Jesus and as the anointing of Holy Spirit increases in us, we will do better and better in time.
Taking up the cross, had a very clear meaning to the disciples in their day and age. In the cultural context of the time, the Romans made the criminal carry their own cross, as an act of tacit acceptance that their death sentence was just. So, for believers, taking up their personal crosses daily, means accepting that our carnal nature has to be put to death daily and that it is an act of justice, in order to live in obedience to Christ and not unto our own selves. Jesus Christ though He never sinned, took the Cross for us and died in our place to pay for our sins.
3. Fellowship with the Lord, worshiping and getting into His presence as often as possible. Strength and power does not come through “just any prayer to any god,” it comes from the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and we access Him more by praying in the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:18 (GNT) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (saints meaning: all God's people).
Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
It takes time to tune out all noise of life, the worries, thoughts, fears etc. and letting it all go and inviting the Holy Spirit to take control. Sometimes listening to praise and worship music helps us focus on the Lord and forget about everything else. The Lord is in us and around us, but our minds and business of life inhibit us from getting quality time in the Lord's presence. Until we slow down our hearts and minds, we cannot get to where we need to be in the Lord, in the Spirit.
The more we live and walk daily in God's presence, the less time it takes to clear our hearts and minds, and be more clearly in His presence and not need worship music us as much to help us get there. We will know when God is manifesting His presence more, because being closer to Him causes us to long for holiness, for obedience and to please Him more than ourselves. In times like these, we learn God's will and hear Him better about what we need to change or what we should give up or something we are supposed to do. The more “our will” becomes “His will,” the more we will ask what He wants us to ask and we will receive all that we pray for. And this happens only with the help of the Holy Spirit, as Paul says in:
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
4. Never give up on what God has called us to do. While living in God's will and plan for our lives we are secure and His hedge of protection surrounds us, so that the enemy cannot attack us more than God allows him to. You may say that you don't really know what God has called you to do. One thing we are all called to do, is sharing the gospel to all people and making disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15)
There are people in this world around each of us, that may not ever set foot in a church or revival or even give Christian programming the time of day. But they are within the reach of each of us in the body of Christ. They are our mission field. Every soul reached for Jesus is very precious.
5. Let's keep reminders of all the answered prayers and good that the Lord has done for us.
Joshua 4:4-7 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever."
The practice of keeping journals and/or records of our prayers as the Lord has heard and answered our petitions, can prove to be very useful as a reminder as we go through hard times again in the future. It helps us to remember the victories and God's faithfulness. Reading the records again, helps us remember the joy we had in each time of victory and our faith will be encouraged and fortified. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He helped us in the past and He will help us again! Living right for our Lord is our insurance that nothing will come or be allowed to stay be between us and Lord that would have the potential to interfere with divine intervention. Our Lord reigns for ever!
There are hundreds, even thousands of promises of God in the Bible, that ensure us that God "will not leave us, nor forsake us." His Word is true and we can stand on it!
We also need to realize a deep truth about our carnal nature. Our will to rule over the carnal nature must be stronger than it.
As we live and grow in the anointing and leadership of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to crucify the carnal nature and this is a daily process that needs effort and perseverance. The more we seek to have fellowship with Holy Spirit and ignore the desires of the carnal nature, the more we become closer to the Holy Spirit and will please God more. The Holy Spirit will never force us to spend time with Him or to teach us all at one time all that we will ever need to know. He does it when we invite Him and He helps us when we ask Him to help. He reveals what we need to know and understand, when we admit that we need Him to do so. Jesus Christ, after He ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us daily with His anointing and teach us what we need to know as we grow in the Christ.
1 John 2 :27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
We must keep our relationship with the Lord #1 priority.
If we lose His anointing from our hearts, we will lose the hunger for more of God, the thirst for His Word, the passion to enter into His presence and the desire to do His will. That is a dangerous place to be at. If we do not become aware of the state we are at, we will only continue to go down the hill of self-destruction. This is how many Christians who did not pay attention to the signals of their ”spiritual man,” got off from the ”narrow path” little by little and eventually were back to their old life without Christ.
We need to pay attention to our level of hunger in the spirit, to keep ourselves alert to the danger of getting off the right path. If we lose our hunger and we realize it, we need to ask Holy Spirit to cause us to hunger and thirst for more of God. All He is waiting for, is our desire to get back to where we should be! Thank You, Holy Spirit!
What are we expecting to find when we seek God?
The presence of God is His glory, His nature, His everything. He comes to dwell in us at salvation, through the Holy Spirit. At that moment we start to know God and we feel His power in us. The Holy Spirit first comes to convict us of our need to be saved and once we become saved, He comes to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit starts to transform us, helping us become more and more like Jesus, if we cooperate. As we worship the Lord, as we commune with Him, pray to Him, read His word and long for His presence.... the Holy Spirit will renew our minds and we really will become more like our Lord and Savior.
If we truly want to have more of the presence of the Lord, we must forget about the physical world and all the baggage. If we give our hearts 100% to the Lord in prayer, worship, and adoration; He brings us into a more open heaven atmosphere... where there is pure relaxation, peace, love and joy.
If our focus is still on our problems and busyness of life, if we are tense and stressed; then we will not be able to clear the atmosphere to enjoy the fullness of the presence of the Lord. We have to decrease, so that He can increase.
David realized that we cannot be close to God without His help. And the Lord will help when we call out for Him. God created us with free will.
Psalms 80:18-19 Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!
We also need to be aware of what Paul has said in:
1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Having a right attitude, a right heart “puts us on and keeps us on the right path.”
Only when Jesus becomes more important to us than sin, does the real broken heart finds forgiveness. Only then can we really experience and receive what Jesus did on the cross for us! The blood of Jesus cleanses us completely. The kind of true repentance that cause us to hurt brings spiritual change. When we realize how much it cost and hurt Jesus to pay for our sins on the cross, it keeps us from going back to the sinful life. It takes time and perseverance to learn to walk in the Spirit; the kind of life where we die daily to self and walk in victory over the carnal nature (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Once we are born-again and become temples of the Holy Spirit, we can live free from the bondage of sin and live Spirit-led lives. We truly have it ALL in Jesus!
Jesus showed us the way to real freedom from sin and any chains from our past:
John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
If we always remember what we have been saved from and the wonder of what we have been brought into; and if we continue a life honoring the Lord and living in submission to Him, we will end our race on this earth victorious!
Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
A prayer in closing: We invite You precious Holy Spirit, to continue to change us so we can become more like Jesus, teach us and lead us into all truth, so we can live to please our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ!
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