Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Intimacy and Interaction In the Spirit

As an educator, I do count the change of pace that summer brings as a bonus. Since I have become an administrator, the summers are still busy... but I always look at it as 'project based' and it definitely isn't the hectic pace of the regular school year.

So each June, I know it is very important to make my time in God's Word priority.  I usually pick a few themes or topics that I really want to dive in.... but this year, though I thought I was going in one direction... He threw me a curve ball and I have been meditating and exploring something totally unexpected.... life in the Spirit.

My most dangerous area of wandering is when I walk through life on my own.... it happens gradually... imperceptible... but time and time again, I have seasons where my life with God is more theoretical than actual. I love the concepts..... I can pontificate on the principles.... but though God's ways are on my lips...my heart is in full idol making mode and I have place myself in the driver's seat.

Along with this... in my spiritual development, I don't take time to acknowledge the Holy Spirit.. I don't know why. Now, I don't want to sound confusing here.. I know that God is One... and when I pray to the Father..the entire Trinity is involved... the Spirit is praying and Christ covers.

But what is being 'impressed' on me this summer is that if I want to grow in my intimacy with Christ..I need to pay more attention to His residence in my heart...which is the Holy Spirit. What moves the theory of the gospel to powerful reality is God's Spirit.


Let me spend a minute to write about why drifting from the Lord is so dangerous and costly. When God's Word is just a concept, I may be loving God with my mind...but my heart can grow cold and dead in a hurry. Without an active and intimate heart level relationship.... the very first thing that disappears is power.

John 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (ESV)

It doesn't take long for me to lose energy for God when I ignore the Spirit.

Why that is so deadly, is that my indwelling sin is always active and lurking.

I need supernatural power to always fight my ever present sin nature- my selfishness, my laziness, my gluttony, my idol addictions....

Once the power supply is cut and I stop the posture of repentance in my life and give sin too much room to bloom, it isn't long before my sense of conviction is gone, my spiritual senses are dulled, and I am wasting precious time sidelined from very important kingdom living and work.

It doesn't help that as soon as the enemy sees my lounging, he turns off the attacks and softly rocks me to slumber and sleep.

How in the world I get so far off track do quickly always surprises me, though it shouldn't.

And left to that state, I can go weeks/months playing the Christian game, saying all the right jargons, smiling and being sweet- but I am not laboring in prayer, not thinking about the Lord, not acknowledging Him, not sharing with others, not serving, neglecting personal and corporate worship... and dangerously vulnerable to serious sin.

But I also feel SO TIRED.... so I read less, exercise less, eat more.... and my physical fatigue is just an outward symptom of internal deadness.

Now, I get tired a lot even when things are going well...but it is a different type of fatigue... being exhausted after a great effort is SO much different than the weak, lifeless, bored lethargy that accompanies spiritual slothfulness.

ewww.... enough of that... that is the disappointing real me apart from the grace, love, and power of Christ. The old man me is a pitiful creature... I do not ever even want to think of the shame and misery, doubts and depression, loneliness and losing that would accompany my existence if I were left to my own devices.


So when I think about Re-connecting after a time of drifting, I alway seem to run through a litany of "R" words.....

We don't talk about this word, but it is the initial spark of life of the new birth. Without God' Spirit, we would not have a chance.
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (ESV)
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (ESV)
If I ever look back and see any spiritual fruit of obedience, it is nothing for me to take pride in...it is a work of God and I am eternally and humble grateful!

This has been the drumbeat of June for me this year. I have already written on this twice... but the desire to grow more intimate with God's Spirit requires me to TURN AROUND...change the things that have been driving Him away and pushing Him out.

Repentance is God's consistent clarion call to all.....
Acts 17:30–31
[30] The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, [31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV)

Revelation 2:4–5
[4] But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. [5] Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (ESV)

Matthew 3:2- John the Baptist: “Repent, the kingdom is at hand”
Matthew 4:17- Jesus: “Repent, the kingdom is at hand”
Mark 6:12- Disciples: “ proclaimed people should repent
Acts 2:38- Peter: “Repent and be baptized”
Acts 17:30- Paul: “Command all everywhere to repent


Finally, Repentance has a goal...obedience and holiness which pleases and glorifies God. This is also the final release of the enemy's accusation of shame.

I have already given credit for the beginning of this process to the writing of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield- here is how she writes it.... a DAILY posture of a believer:

"Sin must be dealt with in a posture of Christian combat, not in expected or celebrated defeat and failure. We are to use the full armor of all the means of grace that God gives to us. This (daily posture) teaches us that conversion gives you freedom from the crime of sin and gives you the liberty to respond to God's grace of conversion through repentance and obedience.... it was then that I got it: repentance and the love of God- and the obedience to His law that grows from them- were the missing links between shame and grace."

By the way.... any movement of repentance in my life is THE SPIRIT working in me.


Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (ESV)

Life is wearisome and we live in a world of decay. The God shaped hole in our hearts causes even the best things to grow dull and old. We are in need of renewal... and God is the one who brings back the newness... if we are willing to wait on Him.


Do I want revival? It seems like a simple question. But I am not so sure. A.W. Tozer argued that a revival of the current Christianity would be a tragedy which would set the church back a hundred years.

 But YES- I want revival..in my heart and life, but OF COURSE YES, I want to see it in my church, school, state, nation... world.

Selfishly, I would love for my children to see a massive outpouring of God's Spirit in such a way that it is tangible.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (ESV)

Talk about intimacy and interaction with the Spirit!

When we think about a revival, I am always mindful of what B.B. Warfield shared about his experience as a Princeton student from the years 1868-1871:

“It was said in our time that no class in Princeton ever passed through its four years without experiencing a religious revival. Our class formed no exception. Our revival came near the end of our Junior year. Almost all students remarked at some time of the “means of grace’ .

Revival is prayed and prepared for:
1-  Study, Preaching and Commitment to Practice the Bible
2-  Corporate Worship
3-  Vigilant and vigorous discipline
4-  Prayer and witness of students themselves, resulting in conversions


Intimacy and Interaction with the Spirit bubbles up in joy...'rejoice' is not only an enthusiastic and strong response... it literally means 'reclaim great joy and delight".

And when I think of rejoice, I always think of Paul in the Phillipian jail.... in chains? rejoice because the gospel is going forth.... preaching in pretense? rejoice, Christ is being proclaimed..... the end is near? REJOICE
Philippians 2:17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (ESV)
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. (ESV)
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (ESV)


So when I am beat down and weary.... I am running low on my intimacy with God's Spirit...but as I apply these "R" words.... I find Holy energy and Godly Rest.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

So please pray for me to work through the "R" words.... with a goal of being intimate with God's Spirit and ever mindful that my body is His temple.

1 Peter 2:5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (ESV)

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