Give It a Rest

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Give It a Rest

Reason #7:  I Am God's Resting Place

Rest is a topic that can be troubling for some of us. What does it really mean? A good night's sleep? A vacation? Time spent with family at a ballgame? The demands of life try very hard to make us feel like we don't have time to rest. There's always one more meeting, one more document, one more email…

It's way too much work to rest.

I have been hearing God speak to me over the last several weeks about rest. I am guilty of taking on more than God is asking me to do sometimes, just like everyone else. When I do that for a while, he is quick to remind me that I should only be saying what I hear my Father say and doing what I see my Father do. And when I take on other people's assignments, the stress, pressure, and agitation I feel grows until I choose to hear God's voice again and follow the steps he gives me.

I've been drawn to a passage in Hebrews 4:6-9. "So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today…So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God."

When I accept the gift of the Holy Spirit, I become God's resting place. 1 Corinthians 6:19 verifies that I am his temple: "Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?"

If I am living a Spirit-led life, and I am his resting place, then I must acknowledge how much importance God places on rest. Making Sabbath a part of my life is important. And this isn't just setting aside a day each week to rest. It's living a life of rest, knowing that when I'm allowing the Spirit to lead me, I'll feel his rest as I say what I hear my Father say and do what I see my Father do.

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Prayer Without Borders

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Prayer Without Borders

Reason #6:  Geography and Language Don't Matter

In some ways, our world seems to be getting smaller. We have access through travel and technology to other countries and cultures in a way former generations did not. But just think of this: There are more than 7 billion people on earth. And that's just those we've been able to count. Among all of those people, there are more than 6,500 languages spoken. Now that's a huge, diverse world!

As born again Christians, we have access to this world in a way that others do not. We get to have a personal relationship with the very God who created all of it. And when we recognize the importance of inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives, we become a part of a worldwide network. There are needs and situations happening at all times of the day and night among the Church, and we can pray for those needs without even knowing about them.

Here's a great testimony of Holy Spirit empowerment:

An English missionary to Africa was home on furlough and speaking at a conference when a woman came up to him and asked, "Do you keep a diary?" He thought it was an odd question but he said that he did, so she began to tell him a story.

She said that two years earlier she woke up in the middle of the night and felt like she was supposed to pray. She didn't know what she was supposed to pray about, so she began praying in tongues. After about an hour, she had a vision. She saw this missionary in a grass hut with native people gathered around him. She saw that he was very sick and watched him take his last breaths. The people put a sheet over his face and sadly left the hut to start the process of grieving his passing.

A few minutes later, she saw the missionary walk out of the hut, perfectly well and healthy. All of the people rejoiced that he had come back to them and it became a testimony of the goodness of God.

The missionary was excited and he asked if they could compare diaries. When they looked up stories and dates – making allowances for time zones – the very thing she saw in her vision had happened to him in Africa at exactly the time she was praying. He had been sick with a deadly fever, died, and came back to life.

While that story is amazing and highlights the power of the Spirit, we must remember that this works on a personal level, too. It doesn't have to cross oceans. There are times I have needs in my life that I just simply can't put into words – or don't feel like I have heard God clearly on how I should pray about them. The Holy Spirit is faithful in those times to guide me and help me cut through the static.

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Trust Fall

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Trust Fall

Reason #5:  I Learn to Trust God More

I’ve played sports throughout my life and been a part of many teams. I’ve had many coaches who have used team building exercises like the trust fall. Anyone remember that? Someone stands on a high surface like a chair, a table, or something even higher and they blindly fall backwards into their team’s waiting arms – at least they hope their team is waiting to catch them! In some cases, the coach even has the team a distance away from the person falling and the team has to rush to catch the other person – talk about trust!

There’s a reason why teams need to learn trust. You have to know, as you’re doing your part in playing the game, your other team members are doing theirs. Together, all of the positions are covered and the team’s focus is absolute.

To live in the fulfillment of God’s will in our lives, he needs our trust. His design is for us to have such a close relationship with him that trust flows out of that daily walk. And when we trust him, we then learn to trust the work of God in others. He designed us for community! We are made to be his Body, with all of the parts working together for his will and helping each other.

How does speaking in tongues factor into this? Exercising trust in various areas of my life builds my faith. Jude 20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!”

As I trust God in one area of my life, my faith is built to trust him in others. And as I gain more trust areas, I gain more faith. Before I know it, I am understanding who he created me to be and walking in the fulfillment he wants for my life.

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Me, Myself, and I

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Me, Myself, and I

Reason #4:  My Motives Stay Pure

It isn’t hard for me to find words to say to God. There’s always something that I need or want for me or for someone else. That’s not difficult at all. But that’s not what I want from my life of prayer. I don’t want time with him to be just about a “grocery list” of all of the items I’d like God to take off the shelf just for me and those I love.

I appreciate that I have the Holy Spirit to help direct my life of prayer. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that he takes over and prays for me. Instead, I choose to allow him to direct my prayer life. With that empowerment, I am able to pray according to God’s perfect will for my life and not just what I think, feel, and want from my own human nature.

Let’s face it. We all have times that we are certain that we know what’s best for us. We pray that we will see the fulfillment of that fruit that we’ve plucked from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the Tree of Life. Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT)

In my life of prayer, I spend each day in connection with God. That’s why I didn’t use the term “prayer life.” For me, it’s more than just a portion of my day that I set aside. I have that time, too, but it doesn’t stay in the prayer closet, so to speak. My life of prayer involves conversation with God, talking to him about my life, speaking to him in the Spirit, listening for his response, and knowing he’s with me through every step of the day. I get to spend my day with my best friend. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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Cut Through the Static

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Cut Through the Static

Reason #3:  I Stay Tuned in

As I go through my day, there are many distractions and responsibilities that call upon my time. I can choose to keep my mind on all of the tasks of my day and block everything else out if I wish. But there’s a much more powerful way to move through my day. I can stay tuned into the Kingdom of God around me.

I like the parable that Bob Hamp shares about the Kingdom of God. He explains that the Kingdom of God is like a radio station. Every morning I wake up to a particular radio station. Now, the physical radio station is not actually in the room with me, but I have no trouble believing that the broadcast is there even if physical evidence isn’t available at the moment. All I need in that room is a receiver for the broadcast. I can walk over to the radio and turn it on, tune it in, and turn it up.

Similarly, my life in the Kingdom of God is like that. The broadcast is all around me at all times. It is in me at all times. All I have to do is be the receiver. Every single one of us is created for that purpose – to be receivers of the Kingdom of God. When you receive salvation, you are plugged back into the source of all life. You can just tune in to the “station” and before long the very life of God is blaring out of us day in and day out.

So when we speak in tongues, it’s another way of being continually aware of the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus gave us this description in John 14:16-17 (MSG): “I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you.”

My friend. My comforter. My advocate. My Lord. Yeah, I’m happy to stay tuned in. It effects every step I take, every decision I make, and every relationship I invest in.

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God the Builder

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God the Builder

Continuing with the topic I started in last week’s blog, I Think the Apostle Paul Was from Texas, I’d like to take a look at reason number two of why every believer should speak in tongues. I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as I am!

Reason #2: It Builds Me Up

In 1 Corinthians 14:4, Paul says, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself...” To edify someone means to build up, to instruct, to improve. Paul wanted the church at Corinthians to understand there was a reason for speaking in an unknown tongue. It wasn’t meant to be strange or weird, but instead to speak in a language to God and to angels. By doing so, we initiate a heavenly conversation that feeds our spirit.

The Amplified Bible version of this verse is eye opening. It says, “My spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays…” God is Spirit. When we pray in unknown tongues, our spirit is in direct contact with God. We are talking to him by a divine, supernatural means. To put it basically, he is putting his “super” on our “natural” as we walk together daily.  

Exercising this wonderful tool we’ve been given by God builds us up. It places new construction in our lives that can be built upon time after time as we grow and change and become more and more like Jesus. And isn’t that ultimately what it’s all about? When Jesus said, And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover,” (Mark 16:17-18) he didn’t mean simply saying the words, “In Jesus’ name” like a special magic spell to accomplish these signs. He was saying we had his authority as sons and daughters of God. And when we believe and agree with that, “these signs shall follow!” Now, that builds me up!

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I Think the Apostle Paul Was from Texas

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I Think the Apostle Paul Was from Texas

As a country boy from Mississippi, there are times I feel like I understand Paul the Apostle’s writings on a deeper level. In 1 Corinthians 14:18, Paul writes, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than y’all.” Okay, so I know it actually says “you all” or “ye all,” but it just goes to show how easy it is to read the Bible out of our own life experiences and in the language we understand.

All humor aside, I am so grateful that I have the Holy Spirit to help me hear God as I read the Bible. When I do this, I can understand what God has to say to me and not just what I feel like it might mean based on what I’ve heard others say, what I’ve studied from scholars, or what my personal form of communication is. I get to hear it in from a heavenly point of view that can resonate within my heart and spirit as I put what I hear into practice.

The Apostle Paul wrote and spoke about speaking in tongues – an evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus stated very clearly in Mark 16:17 that “these signs shall follow them that believe…that they shall speak with new tongues.”

A distinction is made between “other tongues” and “unknown tongues.” When we receive salvation, we have responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to become a believer. A follower of Christ has the privilege of hearing God for what's right for them. Is God saying that speaking in tongues is a key part of your growth in Him? If you're not sure, ask him. He'll be faithful to let you know! The Bible tells us that speaking in tongues builds us up. It's a tool we're given by God.

Unknown tongues are a little bit different. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, an evidence of that is speaking to God and to angels in an unknown tongue. Most people around us won’t understand what we’re saying, instead it’s a special language between you and God.

1 Corinthians 14:12 "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries."

If Jesus and Paul both felt speaking in tongues was important, then I find myself asking God to show me why. I’m well aware that this subject is controversial among various churches, denominations, and professed believers. I don’t personally struggle with believing that speaking in tongues is an evidence of my belief. But how do I articulate why?

I came across an article that brought up 7 reasons why every believer should speak in tongues and I have enjoyed meditating on them and asking God to speak to me on this subject. He’s even added two more! I’m going to share with you over the next few weeks these 9 reasons and what God has been speaking to me. Let’s dialogue about this. I want to hear what God is saying to you!

Reason #1:  It’s a sign that I’m a believer.

Scripture shows us that those who were filled with the Holy Spirit spoke with other tongues as the Spirit of God gave them utterance. I love how The Message version of the Bible says this. “Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.” At the time that the church of Acts was filled with the Holy Spirit, the fact that they spoke in all of these different languages was a sign that something bigger than themselves was at work.

The same can be said today. Speaking in unknown tongues is one evidence of the Holy Spirit being invited into our lives.

These are the signs that shall follow those who believe. I don’t know about you, but I want to have signs following me in every conversation, in every place I walk into, and in every situation I pray about.

My next few blogs will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

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What If...

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What If...

What if I don’t believe that? What if my experience is different than yours? What if I need you to prove it?

It has been so much fun joining together with other Greater San Antonio churches to get back to the basics of our beliefs. We are more than halfway through the Believe Series throughout the city and each step is a celebration. It doesn’t matter what “brand” our church carries, what denomination we are a part of, or if we agree on every single detail theologically. What matters is we believe in what the Bible says, that Jesus is our focus, and how we live our lives is a reflection of Him.

 

Watching this play out among our church family here at New Life has been the best part! The few weeks ago, a member of our church family posted on Facebook a picture of her daughter Charity reading the Bible. Charity had decided that she wanted the Holy Spirit and needed to learn more about it. So, what did she do? She opened up the Bible and started looking at what it said, while asking for the input of her parents. This young lady will have a healthy approach to life’s questions if she keeps on this path!

Our KidsLIFE and Impact Youth are taking this journey right along with us. They learn what we learn. They are taught to hear God just like we are as adults. They are taught that the Bible is important in our journey, along with hearing God’s voice, getting counsel from fellow believers, and having strong mentors.

So this leads us to ask this: What are your questions? How would you go about getting those answers? Give us your questions, stories, and testimonies. It builds us all up in our faith!

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PRAY FIRST - Gideon's Power

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PRAY FIRST - Gideon's Power

We are excited about what God is going to do in our church this season, but we are also excited about what He is getting ready to do in your life personally! God is never done doing new and miraculous things in your life. As long as their is breath in your body, He has purposed your life for greater things. The best is yet to come!

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