How I get my free refills 

Do you feel the fire of enthusiasm burning inside your spirit? If you answered “No” to this question, it might be time to take your spiritual temperature and figure out how to get your excitement back. When we first get saved there is a joy attached to our new-found life. That excitement is the fire of the Holy Spirit burning deep down inside. God’s Spirit brings joy and enthusiasm. His presence pours life into us. Does that fire die? Does it go away? It shouldn’t but it often does. There is an initial filling of the Holy Spirit and then we need many refills. Compare it to a strong coffee that gives you a jolt because of the caffeine it contains. After a while the effect of the coffee goes away and you need a refill to get that feeling back. The Holy Spirit is way superior to a cup of coffee but you get the idea. A refill of the Spirit is what will give you the joy again and the enthusiasm that once was so vibrant in you. The bottom line is your spirit longs for the fire. Are you fanning the flame correctly?

Exacerbating the explosive presence of the Holy Spirit is a much recommended notion. We are meant to lead lives that display the fire of the Lord in us. We are meant to maintain a healthy level of enthusiasm for Him. I am not talking about going out on the streets and preaching the Gospel. If you feel strongly led to do that you should. The fire of the Spirit does give us the zeal to spread the Word. However, that zeal should be directed towards the Lord first. Considering what He did on the Cross we ought to be constantly grateful and excited about what He accomplished for us on Calvary. How do we get there? This is where the refills come in handy. One cup of joy will not sustain us for long. The enemy hates our joy and he will throw traps on our path to prevent us to stay joyful. He will use anything and anyone to steal what belongs to us. Let’s explore what the refills should look like. 

Imagine that you are at the diner of your destiny and your cup has run dry. You are left with no coffee. You then ask the waiter for a refill. If you ask the Lord to give you a refill of the zeal you once had for Him, He will gladly do so. Praying for a refill of the Spirit is the way to go. “Ask and you shall receive” goes a long way. The problem is we often don’t know what to ask for and as a result we miss out on major blessings. You can also help yourself to another cup of enthusiasm by grabbing the pot of joy yourself and pouring its happy content into your cup. One way I get my own refill is by isolating myself. It’s just me and the Lord. Once I get into that private space, it’s game on. I have learned to wait on Him. Sometimes the presence comes on fast, sometimes it takes a while but the goal is to not give up. The refill process starts as soon as I am in isolation with Him. It might take a while to manifest. I start with singing. I cry my heart out. I open up to Him and I transition into prayer. I stay in admiration and I continue with praise. Just like David, my cup doesn’t stay empty for long. Find out how you can get free refills. The Lord is a giver and generous is one of His middle names. With Him you will never go thirsty and the fire will keep burning for His glory!

Suggested reading: Acts 2:1-5; Ephesians 5:18; Hebrews 11:6

Advertisements

I believe in signs and wonders 

I believe in signs and wonders. I believe that if you are open to them, God will manifest them. I also believe that it is good to keep our natural eyes and our spiritual eyes open to His signs and wonders. I did pray to have signs and wonders in my life a long time ago. Now what I do every day is thank God for His signs and wonders. I thank Him that He loves to be part of our lives and He loves to wink at us with a sign. In John 4:48, Jesus said “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Signs and wonders are often meant for unbelievers but they are also ways to boost believers’ faith. I expect them every day but I don’t go looking for them in everything I see. Sometimes they dawn on me after the fact. Here are a couple of signs and wonders that could encourage you to be receptive to God’s signs. 

Sunday was a gorgeous day here in Connecticut. Sunny skies and high 80’s is what was in the forecast for the day. My friends and I had decided to go to the University of Connecticut in the afternoon to reminisce and see how the campus had changed since we had graduated. Uconn is close to 2 hours away. When we arrived, it was cloudy and it started to rain a little bit. We noticed a beautiful double rainbow. I don’t remember ever seeing one like that. My friend’s wife had never seen one. I took pictures and texted them to a friend who said it was a sign of blessings. I liked her explanation but I thought there was more to it. I didn’t think about it too much. The next day as I was posting my daily message online, I saw that the illustration I had used for my message on Sunday had a rainbow in it. I like to illustrate my messages with pictures I find online. It had taken me forever to find that illustration. I couldn’t find anything that would be a good representation of kindred spirits so I used a picture that said “God’s covenant” and it had a double rainbow in it. This was at 7:30 am and we saw the double rainbow around 5:30 pm. Wow!

The double rainbow was an unexpected sign for sure. Another sign that I have mentioned before is the man at Walmart. Last fall I ran into a total stranger at Walmart who told me he could see the Lord in me. He said he could sense that I believed in God and he could feel the anointing on my life. I wasn’t wearing a shirt that said Jesus or anything. I remember being lost in my thoughts just walking to my car. A few months later I saw him again. He recognized me right away. This time he was with his pastor. The pastor said I had a word of encouragement for me. He said that the Lord had told him that something I had been waiting for would happen before the end of the month. This was in February. The month was ending the following week. When I got home, I found an email from my bank saying that the home equity loan I had applied for had been approved. I had tried with another bank and it had not gone through. Now, the paperwork was filled out a few days later and the whole matter was taken care by the end of the month. The money was available the last day of the month. What a wonderful sign that left me wonder! Signs and wonders are not a thing of the past. Let’s be open to them. God has many of them in store for us!

Suggested reading: Daniel 4:2; John 20:29; 1 Corinthians 1:22

The hand that touches God

If I had to recount the number of times God has made a way when there was no way in my life, I could fill up a book. It would be a big book and at this point I would be ready to write volume 2 because there is just so much. God intervenes. The bad times tend to make us forget the good times easily but we should be celebrating and remembering all the good things that have happened. It not only boosts our faith but it gives God the glory. Today I want to encourage you to hold on to your faith. Hold on to the promises. Remember what got you here in the first place. Your faith can work wonders. It is the hand that touches God’s heart. God is merciful and full of grace but faith is an active ingredient in the recipe of success. Use this week to rejuvenate your faith and to give yourself the boost that will get you over the edge of victory. Nothing can stop you if you believe. Put the negative thoughts to sleep and awaken the faith that can get you anywhere. 

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5). These verses are talking about people like you and me. We are people of faith. With faith we can make it anywhere. We can make it in the valley and we can make it in the streets of desperation. There is no mountain too high. Our faith is the passport that gives us an entry into all the countries of life. We don’t need a visa to enter the promised land. Faith gives us free access. Faith overcomes the world. It doesn’t mean that we fight against people. It means that with faith we can defeat all the obstacles that the world presents. It’s not in our own power. What we have to do is believe under all circumstances and God does the rest. We are overcomers but God is the One who does the overcoming!

I have heard of people using scriptures that deal with conquering and overcoming to justify how powerful they are. It’s not about our ability to change things. It’s about our ability to believe in the Savior who changes things. We shouldn’t believe that thanks to us our problems will be solved. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is more about Christ in us than us being strong. We can do all things because of Him. Christ gives us the power and the strength to do things if we believe in Him. If we stay in faith and we acknowledge Him in all we do then all things are possible. I like to say that when we see ourselves as the “I” in Christ that’s when things happen. He is in us but we have to be in Him as well. We are the “I” that stays in faith and the “I” that remains in Christ. Let’s keep trusting and exercising our faith this week. Our faith will always touch our Father’s heart!

Suggested reading: Philippians 4:13; Galatians 2:20; James 1:6

Having a kindred spirit connection with God

The first time I heard the expression “kindred spirits” I have to admit that I wasn’t completely sure what it meant but it sounded intriguing. “Kindred spirits” are people who share the same interests, beliefs and who have a special connection. Do you know anyone you have a special connection with? I am not talking necessarily about a spouse. There are people that can be very close to you because of a connection that the Lord placed between them. Jesus had a close connection with John, one of his apostles. They were kindred spirits. In the book of John, John refers to himself as “the friend that Jesus loved.” Why would God make it possible for people to have a strong bond? Well there is power in unity. We are invited to join forces with others in the Bible. Two is better than one. If you don’t have a special connection with someone, pray that God reveals that person to you. Could it also be that you have kindred spirit connection with the Lord?

David and Jonathan are earlier examples of kindred spirits in the Bible. Their bond was powerful. Imagine how a strong connection can bridge gaps in your life. God can use that connection to build powerhouses that will serve Him in unison. Two people relying on the Lord and motivating each other is a great combination. God will put some talents in one of them and different talents in the other person. Now when they come together, watch out world! David and Jonathan had what is called a covenant of friendship. 1 Samuel 18:3 records that “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.” We have a covenant with the Lord as well. Let’s explore it. 

A covenant is an agreement, a bond, or a promise. You and I have an agreement with the Lord. We have a bond and similar interests. As believers we should develop that bond. God is Spirit and our spirit has a covenant with His. Have you ever thought about that? The Lord made a covenant with us because He loves us as Himself. Being kindred spirits with the Lord means that we have the same interests and beliefs. Paul and Timothy were kindred spirits who had the same interests as the Lord’s. Paul describes his bond with Paul by saying “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:20-21). He is saying that he has no one else of kindred spirit other than Timothy. Take time and ponder how you and the Lord are kindred spirits. Focus on His interests and strive to make them your own even more. You have a bond that is worth developing!

Suggested reading: Genesis 9:15; Luke 1:72; Acts 7:14

The importance of maintaining a teachable spirit 

I have been on a “spirit kick” for three days now because I believe it is important to understand how our spirit functions. I have established that our spirit doesn’t function to its fullest potential unless it is connected to God’s Spirit. If our spirit were a student, it would need the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to graduate. On its own it would have a hard time going up the spiritual ladder. Our spirit would go up a few notches but it would either stay there or regress. The Holy Spirit is the best educator there is. He is thorough and He has all it takes for us to grow nicely. He knows all the best lessons that will move us forward. He tailors the lessons to our needs. He comes down to our level and He has the patience of an army of angels. Getting an education from the Holy Spirit brings more riches than the world can ever give. The Spirit always teaches about what matters to the Lord the most. Love is His first lesson. Love 101 by the Spirit of God is a course we should take over and over again. No one can ever totally master all the materials. 

Maintaining a teachable spirit is key. A teachable spirit absorbs wisdom and knowledge. A teachable spirit resembles the kid who sits in the front of the class and who loves to learn. He listens intently and he asks questions when he is confused. He doesn’t question the authority of the teacher and he shows a lot of respect. He reads and studies a lot. His goal is to learn as much as possible so that in turn he can teach others. He understands that the best way to learn is to master what is being taught in order to help others with that material. Our spirit ought to adopt that attitude. 

A teachable spirit acknowledges that we are the clay and God is the potter. This implies that we are ready to be changed and to be molded the way the Lord wants it to be. It means that humility is our priority and we are willing to put our ego away. If the Lord says “Go right”, we go right. If He says “Turn left”, we turn left with no resistance. A teachable spirit surrenders to God’s will. There is tremendous power in surrendering. A teachable spirit gives in to the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are lessons that are always welcome. The teachable spirit learns them so well that they become a part of him. Let’s maintain a teachable spirit. The Holy Spirit is always teaching us. Are we willing to sit down quietly and take notes?

Suggested reading: Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 5:9

Things that can make our spirit weak

Yesterday I talked about ways we can make our spirit stronger. There are also ways we can make it weaker. I would say that making it weaker is very easy but yet it is not always detectable. There is a direct correlation between the body, the mind, the spirit and the soul. It’s a quartet. When we accept the Lord into our hearts, our spirit gets renewed. It gets a new lease on life in a way. Our mind doesn’t get renewed and our body doesn’t either. It is true that we might have a certain glow about us or people see a physical difference that they can’t pinpoint. When our spirit is good, the rest of the quartet tends to be impacted by the goodness that is going on deep inside. When our spirit is not doing too well, the rest follows suit. Before long we start to look unkept. Our mind paces up and down and our emotions are harder to control. I suggest getting to know the triggers that weaken our spirit. What are the negative agents that make our spirit fragile?

I mentioned before that staying close to God makes us strong so distancing ourselves from Him will do the opposite. Sometimes we don’t realize how weak we get until something comes up and tests us. Healthy faith relies on a healthy spirit and a healthy spirit is a balanced spirit that knows that God is the source. There is a flow from God that takes place as we stay connected to Him. He is the sea that feeds the rivers of our lives. His presence flows into our being and brings peace, joy and love. When we depart from His presence by turning our back away from Him, we sabotage the flow. God is always around but it is up to us to acknowledge Him in all we do. If we give God the appetizer of our day but we save the main course for ourselves, we can’t expect Him to deliver the desserts of joy and peace.

A “touch and go spirit” is a spirit that leans on God at times and that leans on its own understanding in other times. We don’t want to be touch and go individuals. We want to be people who know how to touch the hand of God so that He goes before us and prepares the way. A lukewarm person won’t get the best that God has to offer because he or she stays pretty neutral in the faith realm. Touch and go weakens the spirit. 

Another way we can weaken our spirit is if we don’t take care of the whole quartet. If we neglect our body, our spirit will suffer the consequences. If we don’t get a grip on our mind, the negative thoughts will drop into our spirit and take away its stamina. If we let our emotions get the best of us, our spirit will get the blues. Keep the quartet positive and in harmony. Let your spirit follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. He is the perfect orchestra director. 

Music is a great influencer on our moods. Have you ever noticed how certain songs make you feel a certain way? Find out what songs give your spirit a boost. Some songs can get stuck in your head and drive you away from God due to their nature. Relaxing music invites your spirit to find more peace. Praise and worship songs do wonders for my spirit. Sad and soppy songs drag my spirit into the pit. Lack of sleep and hunger are two other factors that weaken our spirit. When I feel fatigue, I remind myself that my spirit is not at its best and I get some rest. Make a list of the negative agents that drain your spirit. It will help you recognize the signs of when your spirit needs help. 

Suggested reading: Isaiah 40:29; Mark 14:38; Romans 4:19

What a strong spirit can do to your mind

Have you ever been in a situation where someone said something mean to you and you had no comeback? You just couldn’t say anything because you felt bad or you were too embarrassed. We teach our kids in school that sometimes no comeback is the best comeback. We tell them that if you have nothing good to say you shouldn’t say anything at all. A smart comeback is not just necessary when we are dealing with people but we also need one when we are dealing with our head. As you know, our head is a place where anything goes and the thoughts come fast and furious. Our own thoughts, negative thoughts and positive thoughts are all jumbled into the melting pot of our mind. How do we deal with the wild parties that take place in our mind? The Bible indicates that out of the fullness of our heart, our mouth speaks. We all speak to ourselves in our mind. There is an inner dialogue, an argument and someone is going to win. If you never win the battle of your mind, it’s time you filled your heart with enough ammunition to fend for yourself. 

When I learned that the heart and the spirit were mentioned interchangeably in the Bible, it helped me understand how to treat my spirit better. Our spirit is a vital part of our being that can communicate with God because God is spirit. Our spirit is connected to our body, mind and soul. They all influence each other. It is important to develop a strong spirit because a strong spirit will resist the flesh and will follow the Lord. The best way to develop our spirit is to stay in unison with the matters of the Lord. Our heart longs to be close to God but our mind would rather stay in a more carnal realm. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Think of it as the mind chasing after the pleasures of the flesh and the spirit seeking God’s face. The goal is to bring the mind and the flesh under submission and let the spirit blossom. 

Once you get your spirit stronger, you will have an array of great comebacks when your mind is jamming negativity into your head. I find that getting familiar with the Word of God is a good way to get my spirit more solid. The more I know, the more wisdom I can use to combat the negative thoughts. We spend a lot of time remembering and memorizing things that won’t always come in handy but some verses can have a huge impact and serve as pure rhetoric when arguing with our thoughts. I picture my spirit as a mass, a semi-invisible cloud-like mass. My spirit gets its colors from what I put in it. I can put praise, worship, prayers, The Bible in it and my spirit will have the most beautiful colors possible. As the bright colors shine their light into my being, my mind gets illuminated and receives transformative knowledge. It gets enlightened and it starts aligning with God’s truth. Now when mean thoughts traverse my head, I have all the comeback I need. I have God’s comeback. His comeback puts any negativity back in its place. Get your spirit stronger and you will have a healthier mind!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 26:41; Romans 12:2