Tag Archives: spirit led life

Having Your Reigns Pulled

If you’ve ever ridden a horse, you know they’re fairly easy to control with the reigns. A slight tug on the right makes them go right. A slight tug on the left and they go left. Pull your feet into their side just a little and off you go. I used to ride horses in the Sahara Desert near the Saqqara pyramid in Egypt. This horse was fast and fun to ride. I’d ride her over dunes and through small valleys, up and over as fast as she could go. All was good until I went over one dune and she could see the pyramid. Immediately, she would go into memory mode and start walking toward the pyramid. No matter how hard I pulled the reigns, she wouldn’t turn. I would have to dismount, cover her eyes and lead her to where she couldn’t see them so I could ride some more.

You’re probably familiar with the story of Jonah and the whale. He was told by God to go to Nineveh and preach, but he didn’t want to go. Instead he boarded a ship and went the other direction. A bad storm came to try to get him to change directions, but he stayed the course. The storm got worse to the point they started throwing things overboard as God tugged on Jonah’s reigns. Finally he admitted he was the culprit and asked to be tossed overboard. He’d rather die than to go to Nineveh. God prepared a great fish to swallow him until He could lead Jonah to where He wanted him to go. Even there, Jonah had to have his reigns pulled a few times and even felt some spurs to the side to encourage him to move. We like to point at Jonah without looking at how we disobey God’s leading, but God has to pull on our reigns too.

God has a plan for you and for me. We were created with purpose, and God is constantly revealing it to us if we’re looking and listening. He’s constantly pulling on our reigns to keep us on track. In Psalm 32:9, God says, “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track” (MSG). We get distracted like my horse in Egypt and become fixated on things of the flesh rather than the tasks God has for us. God pulls and pulls on us to go where He’s trying to lead, He will do whatever it takes to get our attention (just ask Jonah). You’re probably not in danger of being swallowed by a fish, but thankfully God will use people and things to guide us back to our purpose. Take it from me as someone who’s had their reigns pulled a few times, it’s better to obey and to stay on track. Follow the tugging of the Holy Spirit today and go where He leads.

Photo by Marylou Fortier on Unsplash

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Pleasing God

I was able to attend a Christian school for junior high and high school. During my freshman year, one of my teachers told us to get our Bibles out and a pen. He had us open them up to Romans 7. We were instructed to read it once, then go back through it with our pen. Each time we read the words, “I, me, my, myself,” etc., we were to circle them. We were then told to read Romans 8. After we read it, go back through it and circle, “Spirit, God, Jesus, Christ,” etc. Once finished, we had to go back and count them in each chapter. There were a lot of circles in my Bible between the two. Towards the end of chapter 7, Paul wrote, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (NLT). He then said he was a wretched, miserable person trying to live like a Christian on his own. He wrapped up that chapter by asking, “Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?” He then answered his own question with Jesus.

Chapter 8 starts off by reminding us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I love that he included that because so many times we condemn ourselves because we fall prey to what Paul was talking about in trying to follow Jesus by willpower alone. He then starts writing about the battle between the Holy Spirit and our flesh, and how they’re always at war because they have two different goals. One is to please yourself, and the other wants to please God. He then makes a bold statement saying, “For if you live by its (the flesh’s) dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It becomes clear at this point in the chapter that we must learn to let the Spirit lead our lives if we’re going to live how God wants us to. It becomes a matter of who we choose to listen to.

As I read Philippians 2, it talks about us needing to have the mind and attitude of Jesus. He lived a Spirit led life doing what God wanted Him to. After encouraging us to live the way God wants us to, he encourages us in verse 13 with, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God is at work in you and me, helping us to live Spirit led lives. We don’t have to try to do it on our own. His Holy Spirit resides in us, guides us and works in us to build us up into the people He’s called us to be. If you’re struggling like Paul wrote about at the end of Romans 7, remember that Jesus is working in you to free you from the mindset that you can do it on your own. Let God do His work in your life. Give the Holy Spirit control. Then remember that there is no condemnation for you. There will always be a struggle with your flesh as long as you live in it, but God’s Spirit is in you, working to give you the power to live a life that pleases Him.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Trusting Grace


My six year old son has been asking me a lot of questions about sin lately. He asked me if I sin. When I told him that I do, he wanted to know why. I explained that I don’t want to, but sometimes I do. It’s just part of being human and having sin live inside us. Then he wanted to know if it upsets God when I sin. I told him that it does, but God is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we confess them to Him and are sorry for doing them. Then he wanted to know if he sins and the circle continued. 

I love that he’s already concerning himself with wanting to live a life that pleases God. I also want him to understand that sin is an ongoing problem in all of our lives. There is no one who is perfect and can keep from sinning. This problem is outlined perfectly in Romans 7. Verses 17-20 say, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; i decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway” (MSG). It’s the struggle we all face.

No matter how much anyone of us want to live a sinless life, we eventually fall short and sin. Paul is very clear in this chapter that the problem is not us, but the sin that is inside of us. We are all dependent on God’s grace instead of our ability to live sinless lives. I love how Romans 8:4 puts it. “The law always ended up being a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.” Trying to live a sinless life doesn’t fix the problem; it only covers it up. Living a perfect life is not our goal. Learning to trust God’s grace is.

God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working in us is the remedy to our sin problem. When we try to put a Band-Aid on our sin and do things on our own, pride comes in. The answer is to quit trying to live a sinless life out of sheer will power because we can’t. God’s Spirit is living in us and working in us. We must learn to live Spirit led lives, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in the life that He wants us to live. The Spirit wants to lead us into a life of freedom instead of constant condemnation because we fail constantly. Rip off the Band-Aid and let God heal you from the inside out.

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A Living Sacrifice 


Do you know someone who says they’ll do something, but when it comes down to it, they rarely do? Maybe their intentions are good, but once they see what it’ll cost them in time, labor or money they back out. All of us at some point have been guilty of promising to do something and then failed to follow through. That’s because lip service is easy. Our mouths often write checks they can’t cash. The problem is that we do that to God more than anyone.

Being a Christian is more than the initial prayer we prayed at salvation. We have to shed our old life because Christ has given us a new life. We go from having self led lives to Spirit led lives. In Romans 12:1, Paul wrote, “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer” (GNT).

God is asking us to sacrifice ourselves as worship to Him meaning that we should give Him our whole life. It’s very costly to be a follower of Christ. I’m reminded of David when he wanted to offer s sacrifice to God at Araunah’s threshing floor. David offered to buy it in II Samuel 24, but Araunah offered it to David for free as well as the wood and the oxen for the sacrifice. In verse 24 David replied, “I will not offer the Lord my God sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” He understood that a sacrifice to God should be costly.

It cost us nothing to say words with our mouths, but it cost us everything to offer our lives as sacrifices. I once heard someone say that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. It’s time each of us started offering God more than lip service and offered Him ourselves. If we want to live like new creations, we’ve got to take up our cross daily, sacrifice our selfish desires to it and follow Jesus as a living sacrifice. 

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The Holy Spirit


If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit plays an important role in your life. He was a gift provided to us from Jesus to help us live the life we are called to live. Because the Holy Spirit is the least understood part of the God-head, many Christians tend to be afraid of it. My pastor says, “The Holy Spirit isn’t weird. People are weird.” Because of how the Holy Spirit has been represented by so many through the years, we tend to shy away from talking about it or incorporating His gifts into our lives.

Because of that, I believe so many of us are missing out on the fullness of the life that God has for us. Today, I want to bring scriptures in the Bible that describe the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives. The New Testament is full of verses to help us understand and incorporate this integral part of our Christian walk. My hope is that each of us will live our lives to the fullest through the Holy Spirit as we know Him and His role in our lives.

1. But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
Acts 1:8 AMPC

2. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.
John 14:26 GNT

3. 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!
Jude 1:20-21 MSG

4. 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.
Romans 8:26 NLT

5. We have not received this world’s spirit; instead, we have received the Spirit sent by God, so that we may know all that God has given us. So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit. Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit. Such a person really does not understand them, and they seem to be nonsense, because their value can be judged only on a spiritual basis.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 GNT

6. “For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]. So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].
Romans 8:3-4 AMPC

7. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Galatians 5:16 NLT

8. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
1 John 2:27 NLT

9. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC

10. The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
Ephesians 1:14 GNT

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The Wilderness


I’m on a trip to Israel. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my insights from going to the places throughout this country that was written about so much in the Bible. One of the first things you notice here in Israel is how tough the terrain is. It’s a very mountainous country, but these aren’t friendly mountains. They are covered in rocks and they protrude from the ground in an unforgiving manner.

As we drive through southern Israel, you can’t help but think how difficult it must have been to travel by foot. Not only is the terrain rough, but this time of year, it’s very hot. As we traveled from Masada to Jericho to Jerusalem, we stopped to look at the Mount of Temptation. It is where it is believed that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and was tempted by the enemy. If in fact it was the place, it would have made a difficult fast nearly unbearable.

Matthew 4:1 says, “THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil”. It’s important to note here that He was led by the Holy Spirit to go into this place. The wilderness is a tough, unforgiving place, but when it is the Holy Spirit leading us, we can trust God will protect us and give us everything we need.

It’s not always comfortable where the Spirit leads us. Sure we like it when God leads us to the mountain top, but that mountain isn’t always a beautiful mountain. The road can be hard, and the mountain can be rough. The Spirit will often take us to seek and to save the lost. In many cases, they are in the wilderness of life themselves living a rough life. To find them, we have to leave the green pastures and endure rough terrain.

With the leading of the Holy Spirit we cannot fail. Of course, His definition of success and failure may be different than our own. We only see in part, so we can only know in part what God’s plan is. He sees the bigger picture and knows what needs to happen in order to accomplish His will. Our responsibility is to follow the Spirit’s leading wherever that may be, even if it’s the wilderness. If we are willing to trust Him, and to follow His leading, we can rest assured He will not let us fail in the wilderness.

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Choices And Obligations

  
Have you ever felt you were obligated to do something you didn’t want to do? For me, when those situations occur, it always happens when something better is going on and I have to pass on it in order to do something I felt obligated to do. That causes frustration, disappointment, and a bad attitude. I spend the whole time thinking of what I could have done instead of being stuck doing what I felt obligated to do. It’s very disappointing to say the least.

Have you ever felt that way spiritually? Have you felt obligated to do something you knew wasn’t right or that God didn’t approve of? We all have at one time or another because we’ve all failed God. In every situation or temptation, we have a choice. We can do what God wants or what our sinful nature wants. Many times we choose what our sinful nature wants while knowing what God wants. After a while, we can begin to think we can’t beat the sin, so we give in to it every time.

James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (NLT). When we do what’s wrong when we know what’s right, we have the same emotions we do when we do something out of obligation over desire. In Romans 7, Paul talks about the struggle of wanting to do what’s right, but not being able to. When that happens, we realize we are a slave to sin and feel obligated to do what it wants instead of what God wants. In those moments, we can feel frustrated and disappointed in ourselves.

Coming out of that chapter of failure to do what God wants, I like what Paul reminds us of in Romans 8. He said, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” You and I don’t have to have those feelings of disappointment. We don’t have to feel like we let God and ourselves down. We are not obligated to sin just because that’s what our mind and body wants. We can choose to do what God wants and forego the guilt and disappointment that comes from doing what’s wrong.

We don’t have to be slaves to our sinful nature. Christ has set us free from the law that binds us to go against God. He has placed His Spirit within us to bring the freedom to choose what God wants us to do. Once you accept Jesus as your savior, you are no longer obligated to do what you used to. You are no longer a slave to sin. You have been set free to live a Spirit-led life free from your obligation to sin. If you’re struggling still with slavery to sin, pray that God would give you a Spirit-led mind so you’ll be set free from slavery to sin and do what God wants.

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