How Much Spirit Do You Have?

Language often gets in the way of understanding.

We talk about being filled with Holy Spirit. We sing “Spirit break out”. We pray “fall afresh”. We “come in to His Presence”. We ask for more of His Presence. We seek it.

The language suggests something that we can have more or less of, something outside of us, something out of reach.

The truth is, from the moment we surrendered to Christ, His Spirit came to live within us, our newly created (born again) righteous spirit united with His. That is the same – that is EQUAL – in all of us.

We are body, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit.

We all have a body. They may look different, they may work differently, but we all have one.

We all have a body (we are equal in that fact) but someone may become an athlete, or work out at the gym, and become stronger and fitter. They start with more or less the same muscular, vascular, skeletal system as me but theirs sure ends up looking different to mine – because of what they learn to do with it. They grow new muscle. Blood vessels can enlarge or even grow. Bone density can increase. The body can be remodelled.

We all have a mind. Generally speaking, they are the same. Some may seem to function better than others, and weigh slightly differently on the mortician’s scales, but we each have one.

We all have a mind but someone can train theirs. Grow it. Make new synaptic connections. Study. Increase their knowledge. They seem “brainier” than me. Cleverer. We talk about someone having a sharp mind.

We all have a spirit. When we are born again, this spirit is made new. A new one is given to us, we are spiritually a new creation, and Holy Spirit can unite with this righteous spirit we now have.

We all have a spirit. As born again Christians we have a righteous spirit. Equal to each other. So how come some people seem more spiritual? Like the gym going person, or the clever person, some people learn to make more of it, do more with it, Whilst that doesn’t change the fact that we still only have one, the same as each other, that effort they apply means they have become more spiritual, more in tune, more aware – mature in their faith.

It isn’t my spirit that enlarges in me but the old nature that recedes. I can learn to subject my body and soul to my spirit. I can make more room. Like a goldfish in a tank, my spirit will “grow” (develop) to match the size of the restrictions I place on it. A fish with better quality water and a larger tank, will grow bigger than one in poor water and a small fish bowl.

We need to focus on the quality of the “water” and size of the “bowl” in order to allow our spirit to grow. Immersing ourselves in the things of God – Scripture, prayer, worship – provide a better quality environment for our spirit. Enlarging the space means making actual time for God, withdrawing like Jesus did, giving opportunity for Him to speak, to teach, to fellowship with us. When we do these things, we feel stronger, more spiritual, maturer in Christ, because our spirit has grown in strength and is exerting more authority over the weaker body and soul.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, through His Spirit He gave us for that purpose. Nothing is impossible. We have everything we need.

When it doesn’t feel like it, when those Scriptural truths look like a lie in the light of our day to day life and experience, it is the same as when I watch the Olympics and think “I couldn’t do that!”.  Actually, I “could”.  I have all that I need to get started – a body! The drive, the determination, the dedication, the practice, the progression, the strengthening… that is what needs to be added to make an Olympian.

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). I have the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2: 12). The same power that conquered the grave lives in me (Romans 8:11).

What I do with it is up to me.

 

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What is the Truth?

I live in a beautiful seaside town. The guide books describe its vibrancy, the quirky shops, the golden sands, the amazing vistas, and its incredible sunsets.

If you got off the train today however, guidebook in hand, expecting to see all those things, you’d find the “reality” very different.

Thick fog obscures everything. Despite the weather app showing full sunshine and 16c for the day, it is currently only 6c and it feels colder as the damp fog envelops you. It is early so everywhere is shut. What the book describes and what you are seeing are very different.

Which version is true? What is the truth? Is this a beautiful picturesque town or a grey uninviting one? Is the beach amazing? Are the sunsets beautiful?

According to what I am seeing, my experience, the book is lying.

I know many Christians who struggle with what the Scriptures say about life. They hear a preach on the promises of God or on His blessings. Maybe they become a Christian after attending a particular service and they start out with this great hope. Their friend who brought them, and the person who preached, described this fantastic life, full of prosperity and peace, free from sickness and worry.

The guide book to that life, that Kingdom, the Bible, is quite clear. You meet people who confirm that yes the Kingdom of Heaven is just like that. God’s promises are true.

But you are unwell. Your job is tough. Your husband is having an affair. Your friends never call. Life is hard. Financial worries, depression, loneliness… even at church you don’t feel connected. You feel as you listen on a Sunday and hear people saying “amen!” and agreeing with the preacher that you must be doing something wrong… your life doesn’t feel like they describe. Your relationship with God doesn’t match theirs. He doesn’t answer YOUR prayers. Your life isn’t life abundant.

You didn’t get the job you prayed for. Your relationship didn’t mend. The cancer didn’t go and your friend died despite your prayers.

Which is true? The Book or what you can see with your eyes?

You can’t pretend all isn’t grey. There’s no point lying and saying you can see a good future or even just a way out of this place. But just like this morning, despite the true and real evidence of my eyes that say otherwise, the truth is this IS a beautiful town and the skies ARE amazing.

I just can’t see that for myself today.

Will that visitor go home and say the guidebooks lied and there wasn’t a great beach and beautiful skies? Will they deny the truth? Or will they just accept that on that day, today, they didn’t get to see it for themselves?

It is all too easy to drag the Truth of Scripture down to the reality of our lives. When my Dad was dying and I prayed for his healing but he died anyway, I could have denied the truth that God heals. I could have blamed God. The evidence I saw was that God doesn’t answer prayers and doesn’t heal.

When we had no money, facing losing our house, as my husband couldn’t find work, and we were surviving on food parcels from my Mum, I could have doubted God’s promises to supply all my needs, to prosper me.

Those things seemed true. But they weren’t The Truth.

The sun is still shining just as hot in the sky now as it does every day. Yet the fog means I can’t see it and I can’t feel it’s benefits. I don’t blame the sun and say it isn’t shining but instead I recognise that the fog is obscuring it.

Today, identify the fog in your life. Recognise the reality of the things that are preventing you from seeing the Son, from seeing His promises. Determine in your heart that you will believe what the Book says, what the Bible says, about the life you have and all your heavenly Father has for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Use the Bible as your reference point and purpose to live according to what The Word says, declaring it as the truth over your life and in your life.

The enemy wants you to be grey, cold and miserable. Once you are saved all he can do is bring fog in your life. He means for you to miss the beauty around, to bump into obstacles, to trip up, to feel alone.

But rejoice for in Christ, by the power and wisdom of Holy Spirit, we can overcome those obstacles and learn to see through the fog. As you spend more time in His presence, as you seek His face, your vision will improve. You will be able to “see” the truth despite the fog.

Learning to walk with that spiritual vision is like having night vision goggles!

When we trust Him and not our own senses and understanding we get the opportunity to see His promises and experience His goodness regardless of whether or not there is fog around.

That’s the secret to being content in every situation (Philippians 4:11).

The fog will clear. I promise you.

Making Sense of What You See

When I parked up this morning the visibility was good. I could see the wind farm clearly on the horizon and I counted seven ships.

There was one thing I could see that I couldn’t make sense of though. Right on the horizon was an odd shape. It looked like a dark plume of smoke. I watched it for a few moments and realised that it wasn’t moving so knew it wasn’t actually smoke.

I then rationalised that it must be a ship. The problem was that my brain couldn’t, on the basis of the information provided by my eyes (even with my glasses on!), make that shape match a ship.

It didn’t matter how long I looked at it, I couldn’t picture what must actually be there and make it fit what I could see. It didn’t make sense.

Then the sun came out.

Suddenly the object became clear. Of course it was a ship. The outline was now very clear, as the angle it was at meant the white container ship was dazzlingly highlighted by the sun. The “dark plume” was revealed to be simply the other angles of the ship that were in shadow.

It made sense. It was obvious.

When the sun came out it changed nothing about the truth of what was there, but it completely altered what I could see.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5

Everything makes sense in the light of the Son.

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not remain in darkness” John 12:46

When you read Scriptures, they change nothing about the truth of what is around you, your day, your job, your relationships, your hopes, your mental health…. yet they can completely alter what you can “see”.

“For the Word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12

Whatever it is that you are struggling with right now, that thing that doesn’t make sense, that you can’t get your head around, the thing you are wrestling with, shine the Light on it. Find appropriate Scriptures to read. Ask Holy Spirit to remove the clouds and let the Truth of the Word shine on to the situation.

Nothing will change – other than what you can “see”.

Replace the truth of what you see with The Truth of who He is, what His Promises are.

Everything will look a lot better!

Be on your guard though. When the sun went behind another cloud, despite the fact that I now KNEW what was there, the shape I could see went back to being incomprehensible. Not immediately. My brain retained the shape of the ship at first, but after I looked away and then back again, I realised my brain was trying to match shapes again, seeing smoke or leaping whales, instead of what it “knew” was there.

The same happens with us.

A good meeting at church, prayer time with a friend, reading this blog… the cloud clears and God illuminates your situation with His truths. Then your focus shifts again. You go home. The friend leaves. You surf on to another site.

The clouds come back.

The Truth you saw so clearly before now is murky again.

The enemy will always, always seek to fog your vision. It is easy pickings for him.

“…because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

The answer? Being transformed by the renewing of your mind.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Romans 12:2

Read the Word daily. Sit with God daily. However short or long the opportunity.

Keep in touch all day – talk to Him in your head throughout the day.

Keep blowing those clouds away by declaring The Truth, His Promises, every time the clouds start to thicken. Write them out and put them on the walls, on your screen saver, on the wallpaper picture on your phone.

Renewing is an ongoing process.

Who is Waiting for Whom?

I had a clear picture/vision this morning during worship at church.  To my shame, I did not share it at the time.  Sadly, sometimes, the voice of self doubt shouts louder than Holy Spirit and by the time I’d quietened it, the opportunity to share the picture had passed.

I’m hoping sharing it here will still have value.

The picture formed from the juxtaposition of two songs that we sang.  Firstly, “Boldly I Approach (The Art Of Celebration)” by Rend Collective, followed by “Waiting Here For You” by Christy Nockels.

The first song conjured up a vision of the Throne Room – actually a personal vision of mine that I’ve had since the age of 4.  The second song came and suddenly the picture changed as my perspective shifted, and I came out of the Throne Room and in to a waiting room outside.

The waiting room was full.

Many were waiting there for an invitation to go in to the Throne Room.  Despite the fact that they HAD such an invitation in their hands, “good manners” stopped them from just walking in.

Imagine the Queen of England had sent you a Royal Invitation to the Palace.  It gave you a date and time and said that, when you arrived, you were to go straight in to the Throne Room.

You wouldn’t, would you?  You would turn up, in the waiting room, and, well, wait.  You knew in theory it said “go straight in” but no one does that!  Not in to the Queen’s presence! Surely there is an etiquette? A butler?  If you wait around, someone is bound to come past and you can let them know you are there. Ask if it is ok to knock and go in.

Why is it that we are like that with God?

We have in our hands The Invitation. The Gospel. It says we can “boldly approach the Throne”.  It says we are Sons and Daughters.  We have a right to go straight in.

Yet we sing “waiting here for you” whilst God listens from inside His Throne Room, waiting THERE for YOU.  Arms wide. Lap empty.

Others are waiting out here. For them, for a variety of reasons, they wait in the waiting room because that’s what you do when you get summoned but for them, there isn’t an exciting encounter waiting on the other side but judgement.

They sat in waiting rooms outside headmaster’s offices.  Outside the boss’s office.  Outside the divorce lawyer’s office.  Outside the bank manager’s office.  Outside the doctor’s office.

For them, sadly, the experiences they have had means they really truly don’t believe an invitation leads to something good. Whatever awaits them, it doesn’t really fill them with hope but rather fear.

Whilst we wait, the outside door is flung open and some children pile through.  With the noise, bustle, fun and energy of youth they run across the waiting room and straight in to the Throne Room, without even a moments pause.

Go back to the analogy of the Queen.  Do you think, when her children were little, that every time they came in to the room she was in, they stopped and thought “that’s the Queen of England”?  Or do you think they thought “Mummy!”.

When her grandchildren visit, do they wait or do they catch and glimpse and run up shouting “Nanny!” and put their arms out for a cuddle?

They of course get taught as they get older how to behave “in public”, they get taught who Mummy/Nanny is and how important.  But I’m pretty certain the FIRST thing they see when they see her is Mum/Nan NOT Queen.

Holy Spirit is nudging us today, those of us loitering nervously in the waiting room.  He is whispering: “Look up.  Look at the doorway”.

If you do, if you look up at the doorway between the waiting room and the Throne Room you will see it is open.

“Here I am! I stand at the door!” Jesus is calling.  He is the Way to the Father.  He has MADE the Way to the Father.  The written invitation in your hands, the Gospel, is the Living Word who stands at that open door.  There is no barrier between the waiting room and the Throne Room.  This is an “open plan” Kingdom.

God is in Heaven, and Jesus is at His right Hand.  We have to, as it were “go to Him” now, in spirit because He first came to us.  As a man. Immanuel. God with us. Because He came to us we can now go to Him, as spirit, hand in hand with Holy Spirit, in to His Presence. In to the Presence of Father.

Please, please don’t sit in the waiting room.  Don’t picture a door or a barrier between you and Daddy.  Instead become like a child again and run with abandonment to Him, to Daddy, because as His Child you have that right and He is waiting for you.

Kingdom Come

The past few weeks have been quite a ride.

A week ago during the evening service at church, as I was worshipping, I clearly “saw” a spirit from the kingdom of darkness leaving the room. A few moments later I realised with sudden, stunning, shattering awareness that the battle that had been present in my mind for the last 35 years had stopped. The mental torment, the sometimes overwhelming, never less than background noise, interference, hassle, confusion and negative thoughts had ceased.

I realised this first because my mind suddenly went blank. I realised it felt empty. (All this was whilst the worship was still going on around me). Then, just like when a computer restarts,  the screen goes black, then you see the system reboot, my mind “rebooted” and I saw it wasn’t blank or empty – just empty of the depression. 35 years is a long time to carry something, and the reality of its absence was just indescribable.

All of a sudden I had my mind back! It was SUCH a rush! I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, every time now I close my eyes to worship, or to pray, or I am alone and therefore have space to think, I start grinning as – gosh this is so hard to explain – it feels so different inside my mind, so clear, so clean, and I am so present in my own thoughts.

Over the past  week I have filled my mind with God’s truth and presence, through reading Scriptures, praying, worshipping, singing in tongues… Wanting to renew my mind in Christ and clearly mark that space as His and seal the door against the enemy for good.

At the end of the week I was blessed to be able to attend a 2 days basic training in the Bethel Sozo Ministry, and oh boy did that all tie in! I had a series of lightbulb moments as things fell into place. I described it to several people as being like holding up two X-rays or transparencies and slowly aligning then until you could see they were identical.

God’s plan and purpose for me, the reasons behind giftings, personality traits, and the way He had used the negative stuff in my past to turn to His good and strengthen those plans became clear and brought comfort, respite, encouragement and excitement. I have begun to pursue God for one of His gifts, accepting it (only about 30 years after I became aware of having it!), wanting to understand it, grow it, train, learn, explore and use it – and seeking Him for more, much more. Yes I am aware that is a “dangerous” prayer!

At my own, first Sozo on 5th June last year, God did an incredible work and finally broke the lie that I had believed my entire life, reversing it seemed my whole being in the space of a few moments. It was simply life changing. Since that time a new “me” began to emerge. Ways of thinking have been changing. New neurone pathways being created every day and old ones dying out. Reprogramming. Redesigning. Using the original blueprint, God’s plan, and doing away with almost all the framework I’d built myself on over four decades. The depression left last week because seven and a half months later, there was simply nothing left for it to cling to. No wounds for it to use to have right of access to me.

My journey for those months has been charted by the worship songs that have grabbed me, a playlist of songs whose lyrics seem to have mirrored the path I have been on. Right now it is “When you walk into a room” by Brian & Katie Torwalt from the Kingdom Come album (no coincidence that is the title of our evening services..). They write “when you walk into the room everything changes, darkness starts to tremble at the light that you bring” – and that is what happened. His light and more specifically His presence filled my mind after all the vines of experience, incident and trauma had finally died after being cut down in June, and darkness simply fled.

Yesterday evening, at the evening service, one week round from the depression fleeing, I had a vision – as I had been seeking God for the increase in the prophetic – that just stunned me and brought me literally and figuratively to my knees.

I saw with my own eyes the room full of people through God’s eyes.

Father God looked on us and we were a crowd of His children, clothed in white, dazzling like some commercial for washing powder, brilliant white. It was beautiful, moving, uplifting.

Then the vision shifted, and I saw through Jesus’ eyes. It broke me.

Jesus Christ, our Advocate, our Ransom, the sacrifice that took away our sins, looked at the room and saw it full of His brothers and sisters, hurting, broken. He saw pain, sickness, suffering, depression, despondency, fear, and sin. Every one of the things in each of our lives – past, present and future – that He died for, was there for Him to see as He looked at us. Of course, He bore them so He knows them. He knows them. He knows us. Intimately. He didn’t just walk this earth in His own life but by taking all our sins and our unrighteousness He has in fact lived all our lives and so truly, deeply knows us. That’s why He is our Advocate. Because He sees us God doesn’t – Father sees our righteousness in Christ.

On my knees, sobbing, overwhelmed with the debt I can never repay, the vision cleared again to that of Holy Spirit.

As He looked at the room, Holy Spirit saw something totally different, something remarkable. Have you ever watched Doctor Who, one of the modern ones, where they do the regeneration scene? Or a similar scene in a film, where the person is filled or “zapped” with some power, some super power? Every person was a column of light, a pillar of fire. Some had it shooting up and out, some blazed – but we all had it. Every born again person in that room carried it. The power of Holy Spirit. His resurrection power. Himself. As God promised from ages past (Ezekiel 36:27) and as He fulfilled at Pentecost, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19, Galations 4:6… I could go on!)

What an amazing sight it was! It was nothing short of exhilarating.

Again and again that vision is touching me, changing me, challenging me, drawing me. I pray it blesses you too.

We finished the evening with an equally challenging testimony and exhortation from an incredible woman of God, and right at the end I was completely undone when she spoke a Word from God direct to me.

I sit here this morning, in my special place with God, shaken and stirred, incredibly excited. My mind is filling with images and ideas that I would never have entertained even a few months ago and never in the years before. I can’t wait for next Sunday when we launch a new, permanent dedicated prayer space in our church (did you knew barely 5% of UK churches have such a space?) and we begin a week of 24/7 prayer. I shall be moving my special place to that room for the week and I am hugely expectant of what God and I will talk about, what He will reveal, and where He will take me during those times.

No teaching here today for you dear reader, but I hope sharing my testimony and journey will encourage and challenge you.

“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 MEV)

Space Allows For Vision

When I come to my quiet place, I park in such a way that I can see as much as possible from where I am. I park away from the other cars, I face on to the sea, and this gives me almost an 180 degree vista. In front of me lies the vastness of the ocean, visible up to 30, 40 miles ahead on a clear day.

I have looked at this view so many times now that when I close my eyes it is still there. On days when the clouds are low, the rain sweeps in or mist hugs the shoreline, I can still see in my minds eye what is before me.

The space around me and before me is so rare in today’s busy, built up world. I come here because this space blesses me. Because this space gives me vision.

“And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luke 5:16 KJV)

The word for wilderness signifies a place that is lonely, where others don’t come, a place of solitude. That’s the sort of place Jesus sought when He wanted time out just to be in His Father’s presence.

Just as this physical space here gives me the opportunity for a greater vision than normal – seeing 40 miles in front of me instead of just as far ahead to the car in front, or the next building blocking the sky – so it gives me the opportunity for greater spiritual vision. I “see” the things of God so much easier with His glorious creation in front of me, the distractions of the world minimised.

Whether I sit for an hour looking up ships, or watching the changing waves, whether I stay in the car or walk the seafront for the hour, whether I play worship music or sing to myself, whether I read the Word or just sit in the presence of The Word, whether I talk with God or just sit in companionable silence as I marvel at His Works, whether I come with supplication or thanksgiving, whether I hear His Voice or just feel Him there…. This hour blesses me.

Space allows for vision.

May you find space today, and every day.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”  (Matthew 6:6 The Message)

The Daily Dew of Heaven

Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening due to condensation. As the exposed surface cools by radiating its heat, atmospheric moisture condenses at a rate greater than that at which it can evaporate, resulting in the formation of water droplets.” Wikipedia

In the region of Canaan, (today’s Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, northwestern Jordan, and some western areas of Syria) rain rarely fell during the period covered by the Old Testament – indeed the main rain fell twice a year, in the spring and in the autumn (the former and the latter rain). Between those rains the source of life giving water came from dew.

This miraculously appearing moisture was so important to life that it is always referred to as a blessing.

When Isaac gave Jacob his blessing he asked “may God give you of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and new wine.” (Genesis 27:28 MEV). Conversely, Esau would be ” away from the fatness of the earth and away from the dew of heaven from above” (Genesis 27:39 MEV).

When Elijah prophesied drought, he didn’t just say that it wouldn’t rain but also that there would be no dew (1 Kings 17: 1-3). That meant no fresh water, nothing to replenish the wells. Real drought.

We’ve all heard of manna – this was the “bread” left behind after the morning dew evaporated, to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness:

“in the morning a layer of dew was surrounding the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, on the surface of the wilderness there lay a small flaky thing, as fine as the frost on the ground. When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Every man is to gather of it according to what he will eat” (Exodus 16:13-16 MEV)

As well as symbolising blessing, provision, nourishment and God’s grace, dew is also used to describe the life-giving properties of God’s Word:

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
My teaching will drop like the rain,
my sayings will distill as the dew,
as the droplets on the grass,
and as the showers on the herb” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2 MEV)

Gideon of course used the presence or absence of dew on his fleece to test God, to prove the words that He had spoken to him (Judges 6:37).

Isaiah 45: 8 talks about the skies “dripping” righteousness, bringing forth salvation from the earth. This prophecy foretold Christ’s coming, bringing every good thing, every blessing, and salvation.

Hold all those things in mind and consider…

Sometimes we receive the Holy Spirit as the earth receives rain, falling down on us. A tangible refreshing, an anointing, a soaking, maybe during a particular time of worship or after someone has laid hands on us. A clear moment – just like a rain storm.

However practicing the presence of God, being in relationship with the Holy Spirit, produces a difference source of refreshing – dew. Those magical drops that appear, distilling out of the very air around us (Deuteronomy 32:2), out of the very womb of the morning (Psalm 110:3).

This dew of the Holy Spirit appears on us by a process that is of God, not of our doing, but as a result of us spending time in His presence.

Like earthly dew, it blesses, brings forth abundance, nourishes, makes us fertile – and enables us to bless others out of that abundance.

It also leaves behind manna. A tangible something that is our daily bread, sustenance, strength for the day – THAT day.  Dew doesn’t last, like the manna it leaves. This is daily evidence of spending time with God – daily.

So let us practice being in His presence, so that the fruit of the Spirit may manifest in us like dew, and provide us with the manna for each day.