Over the years we thought many would be a friend.
But sharing my heart put that to an end.
Too many things I should not have said.
But I thought they wanted to be reckoned dead.
Obviously rather concerned with what others said.
What does it mean to be Spirit led?
What does it mean to be Spirit led?
So easy to say “Jesus is Lord”.
But a man is proven when cut by God’s Sword.
The day soon comes when each shall stand.
What price will you have paid for the nails in His hand?
The truth is when you make a choice as I did, so many years ago, to live for Jesus, you have no idea where or how things will end up. The only thing I knew is that Jesus is worthy and if I don’t try I will never know. After 40 years of traveling this world in the Spirit of the living Jesus I can joyfully assure any young or old person out there that the Father will, not only come under you, but lead you into the dream of Jacob; i.e. walking in fellowship with the living God. It has surely been a dream to see God lead us by His Holy Spirit into places we never could have imagined. He yearns for and is blessed by anyone willing to obey His Word.
For anyone who has not read this blog before, my family of six adult children, my wife and I are traveling in South America to preach the gospel. Right now the biggest grief we are dealing with is a communist government that runs the city and is constantly trying to stop us. They despise our signs. It is very grieving but it is only consistent with what Jesus says of the world (Lk.21:17/Jn.15:18). I have not dealt with such a hard core communist mentality since Moscow and Honduras.
We were hoping to head to Brazil but are now having problems with Visas. There are three different kinds from which we must choose. Very expensive and complicated. Bolivia and Paraguay also require visas. If anyone would examine the past blogs and they could see how we are led of the Spirit to preach the living Jesus, help the poor and care for prisoners and elderly. We could surely use any support. You could know your money was not going for a “ministry” or “pastor” but directly into the harvest field for the gospel to be preached and men to be saved. We can’t help but wonder at times about all we could do to reach the lost if only we had the money. We would love to go into the Amazon but this would require plane flights.
Winter is soon approaching here and we are extremely grateful for the thousands of aluminum blankets we petitioned companies to donate so we could give them to prisoners and the homeless. We have five prisons coming up in the next few weeks. We all got sick we think from some bacteria in a prison. The Spirit is leading us, along with preaching on the streets and events, to put together beautiful new, end-time performances to reach deep into this horrendous world of prisoners. God commands us to force our minds to remember them “as though in prison with them” (Heb.13:3).
We just got back from a parade of about a hundred thousand college kids to whom we had an awesome witness for Jesus. They did an article and put a large colored picture of the sign Ruth carried in the main newspaper. That day about 3,000 hits on our website (the most we had gotten before was a few hundred) and dozens of people wrote in responce to our message. So many people who share their open hearts. God is a creative Father Who inspires an anointed heart to communicate Jesus, both in preaching and performing, so as to break through a culture that has heard the gospel bylines hundreds of times (See picture below.)
Stop and consider this very common thinking. When most people think of Jesus, they think that getting salvation is IT. If they can just “get saved” that’s it. “Hey, I got Jesus. Now I just got to figure how to get along in this crappy world.” First of all, if there is a God Who deals individually (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Peter, Paul, etc.), Who is love, and if He is a caring Father, would He leave you and I to fend for ourselves? Worse yet, would He put forth His Perfect Son to follow, knowing such a high standard would only further expose our absolute inability?
Every man walks in a body of flesh. It’s like walking in the North Pole in a fierce winter storm with no place to hide. Your Father does not want you to walk this earth out of the ghastly torment of a wicked body of sin and death. So He provided an awesome provision. The Holy Spirit is the only One Who can give you the comfort you so desperately need because His primary ministry is as “the Comforter” (Jn.16:7). Paul says our experience in this body of flesh always ends in death, and he is not referring to physical death here (Rm.7:24/8:6). Feelings of loneliness, depression and self-pity echo within the walls of our flesh every waking moment because deep within our anatomy is a fixated torment. It is the insane battle between wanting to do good and doing evil (Read Rm.7:16-23 to understand what I will be writing about).
I have never heard anyone talk about the Holy Spirit when talking about salvation. Yet there is no edifying way to get beyond the complex struggles in the flesh except by the Holy Spirit. Thoughts about Jesus are not enough. Jesus says “…it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not the Helper will not come; but if I go I will send Him to you”… (Jn16:7,.14:16) and “I DO NOT leave you as orphans… (John 14:18). You need a friend, a helper and One is waiting. The Holy Spirit is a real living Person Whom Jesus is waiting to send upon you. His purpose is to “witness” to all the glory found in Jesus (Jn.15:26). The very thing you are looking for is the One you ignore.
You have two very powerful strikes against you. They are sin, which renders you condemned before God, and, as a consequence of sin, there is a “different law” of evil lodged in every member of your body constantly “waging war” against your mind (v.23). Every morning you wake up to face no little battle. You don’t even realize how much undefined guilt weighs you down.
There are three variations of sin you face each day; sin (you are born with), transgression (violation of the Law) and iniquity (habits inherited from family and culture). Our body is breaking God’s Law 24/7 because it does not worship Him as He demands (Dt.6:5/Mt.22:37). There are countless laws which expose our body as in complete contempt of the holiness of God. Long before you were even born the Divine Umpire ruled “You’re Out!”; of fellowship with God. There is not one thing you or I do that has any importance to God except to walk in His Spirit. Our life on this earth, and our greatest accomplishments, are no more important to God than the fleeting grass in a field (Is.40:6). He says we are “useless” (Rm.3:10).
However, with all this in mind, God implemented a perfect plan for redemption, despite our wicked rebellion (Rm. 5:6). This plan does not automatically happen. Neither is it a guessing game of which abstract doctrines to emulate. Participation in the Spirit of Jesus is the Answer (Phil. 3:10). Nothing will happen without prayer. I am constantly “praying in the Spirit” (because He has taught me how -Rm.8:26) and calling on Him in every situation of life. And nothing will change without quality meditation in God’s Word. If you say “Ya, I know ” but actually do neither then there should be no question why you are void of the Spirit.
Our flesh is not for us. It is “hostile” against us and God (Rm.8:7). If it doesn’t die it WILL rule. It can only die by the work of the Spirit reckoning the death of Jesus to you with your full participation of will (Rm.6:6). Right now you could be thinking “Oh, spiritual stuff is just too hard for me. I have…..umm…well…a… I can’t…..um…well… He just won’t come to me.” This is your flesh. If a simple fisherman could walk in the Spirit, why not you? These early disciples weren’t children of Einstein. They barely had it together. Thus, guys like me have great hope.
Would you not like to walk each day with constant access to a “Helper” offering wise counsel, strength and a character of joy out of which to face this horrible world? Do you really think the power of the blood of Jesus can be had by a whim? To watch the Spirit cover and redeem every mistake is awesome but there is a price of will to pay. Paul uses a very practical word to describe how to obtain something totally supernatural. He doesn’t say “climb”, “morally ascend into”, “earn the right to be in” or “work your way up into” the Spirit. He simply says “WALK in the Spirit” (Gal.5:16,25/Rm.6:4,84).
Use your will. Choose how to walk. Faith is a deliberate surrender of your ways to walk in the Spirit.
The majority of “Christians” put all their emphasis on a claim that “I am saved”. Then they live and strive to do what THEY THINK is right. But the mind CANNOT subject itself to God (Rm.8:7). God is spirit. We need a spirit to relate to the Spirit (Jn.4:24). Jesus mediated a means, through His death and resurrection, by which the Spirit of God can draw us back into fellowship with God through His Spirit. Behind the pretense of so many who claim “I’m saved” is a daily walk of a double-minded man full of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can walk out of one attitude into another.
The truth is that walking in the flesh is far harder than anything Jesus requires to walk in the Spirit. Constant failure and overwhelming guilt are hallmarks of the flesh. Joy, peace and love are the hallmarks of being in the Spirit (Gal.5:22ff). The Spirit is a Person not a standard. He requires your words and heart not obligatory adherence. Right living is not to be attained by the flesh but “reckoned” by the Spirit (Rm.4). It is no accident that the day Moses received the Law was one of the traditions celebrated on the day of Pentecost (Lev.23:15/Ex.34:22). God gave the Spirit to replace striving “to be a Christian”. Romans 8:1-4 perfectly explains everything.
No matter how much you do what is right, the flesh is not able to be right because it is condemned (Rm.8:3). Paul says “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Read Romans 8:12ff). Paul does not separate walking in the Spirit from salvation. He makes them one in the same. God’s Word speaks very clearly that without being led by the Spirit, you are not a child of God. The Scriptures reveal that salvation is not a one-point-in-time experience or a compilation of “right” doctrines in your head. It is walking in the Spirit.
The absence of the Spirit is so obvious Paul could see it in an instant. He met some disciples for the first time and immediately asked ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). The contrast of difference between a carnal and spiritual man is enormous (1 Cor.2:14- 3:1). So much so that one can end in delusion, devastation and hell. Whereas a walk in the Spirit can only end in a new life and eternal life (Mt.7:21-22/Acts 19:12/1 Pt.4:17).
33 AD- caption on front page of The Holy Spirit Times:
TWO WORLDS COLLIDE LAMB FOUND DEAD
The usage of that one little term “the world”, by Jesus, in a context of condemnation, completely changed my perspective when I first understood it back in college (Jn.15:18-19). Up till then I always thought that the world is basically good. On the cross Jesus bore the wrath of God for sin and the wrath of the world (you and I are the world-sin) towards God. Good news. Jesus rose again. Jesus then inaugerated a new world; a Life in the Spirit. This is your only alternative. God knows that our condemned body can not give Him the holiness in which He lives. There is only one thing man can give to God…you. This, you can give Him. (Ps.51:17/Micah 6:8/Is.57:15,66:2).
You must bring something more from within yourself than the daily token motions of fleshly existence. This is why it so hard. Man does not want to be a heart. We want to be an image. We don’t like desperation. That’s why we want nice stuff because it helps delude our actual state. We don’t want to be who are deep within but rather who we have appeared to be. We point to outward behavior and insist that is who we are, rather than believe God to make us a “new creation”. Our hands fall limp rather than reaching forward.
We want to just exist. To be a non-person. No demands. No real faith. Just exist. Go through the motions of verbalizing Christian jargon. Inside we whimper along “Leave me alone. I’m ok. I’m trying as much as I can.” No matter how much you try it will never be enough. Only the Holy Spirit can give to God what He requires. You must stop trying to be the best you can and surrender to His revelation. My friend, when you are caught between two worlds you serve neither nor have the fullness of either. Rather, you are an enemy of God (Jm.4:4). There are no excuses. He already does everything you need. Does it, has it….Him….the living Jesus. People try to impose legalistic thinking into “walking in the Spirit”. Paul says let such ones “be accursed” (Gal.1:8,3:1). The Spirit requires nothing but faith. True faith. Not wishful thinking. Paul says “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Gal.5:18).
Imagine if you had to face a world weight champion in the boxing ring. Paul says “through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God” (Gal. 2:19). The Law beat the crap out of Paul and thus he stopped even trying. He gave up. He surrendered to faith. Then the Spirit comes. The Holy Spirit is not an emotional-pentecostal-hyper-ecstasy. He comes solely by faith (Gal. 3:14).
The greatest obstacle to the Spirit is not you. It is the flesh in which you walk. What a crazy thing. You are living in a body that is trying to kill you. It’s like some bizarre scary movie…but it is real.
Paul speaks of sin as though it has nothing to do with him “so then I am not the one doing it” (Rm. 7:17). He speaks of sin as a despised entity within him. Like a cold, he has nothing to say about it. Sin is in our blood. So how could you possibly eliminate it? This is what Paul writing about when He says God “prepared a body” for Jesus. Jesus had to, in effect, take on and kill the body of flesh because it was defiled by sin (Hebrews 10:5 and Peter in 1 Pt.3:24/Rm.8:13). It was a constant offense and irritation to God. Thus Jesus could render man’s body dead, while yet, through His resurrection, offer us His new body (1 Cor.15:45ff). This is what the cross is all about. This is what Paul means when he says “I have been crucified…” (Gal.2:20). I have surrendered my life, my will, my desires, my fears, my flesh, my everything.
I have no button I push that reads “SPIRIT TAKEOVER”. I have nothing to brag about. All I have is my heart. My faith. Me. Who am I? What do I want? This is the Control Tower for a life in the Spirit. Why does God not glance over my measly existence like He does over the multitudes? This question I can not answer. I can only say that, what most people find very complicated, I choose to find quite simple; surrender. That’s it. It’s everything if you want to walk in the Spirit. Nothing more. Surrender. Not to air. Not to myself. Not to the suffering itself. To Him Who is invisible. The thing that takes a long time for most people to accept is their despicable evil. For me it is a knee-jerk reaction to recognize it. Because I know that in a moment quicker than a blink of an eye Jesus can and will appear. I want to be in Him. He is right there… here.
…in a prison means there is almost ridiculous measures taken to prevent escape. If you are in Christ, you are in His Maximum Security. Jesus went to “ridiculous” measures (fulfilled the Law, perfect blood atonement, appeasement, obedience, sinless, etc.) to secure you in His Spirit. You don’t have to deny your wickedness. You must intelligently understand and discern it. (Consider His revelation of the serpent as our sin in John 3:14. This very symbol (caduceus) is used in the medical world for healing.) There is no way you can escape His maximum security of His love when you are in His Spirit (Rm.8:29ff). Therefore you can freely love others. It is one thing to love those who love you. It is quite another thing to care about complete strangers. This is divine. Our blood runs thick with “ME”.
The beautiful, enchanting reality of a walk in the Spirit, is not described as a method or formula, but as “the wind” (Jn.3:8). Stop. Put your remote controlled life on PAUSE. Be still, even if you are walking in the flesh. You got one life on earth. One you. Isaiah says “ For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Is.30:15)…
To be continued (in the next blog post).