Living in the VICTORY of the Holy Spirit!

 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately praying for the Lord to fill me with the strength and tools I need to be able to do His work and not lose heart. And not only to do His work…but to do it *well*. In particular, I have spent a lot of time praying for Him to fill me with JOY in all the varied situations we find ourselves in, and His LOVE for the people we meet — a love that would compel me to reach out to them, and not be content to just let them pass by on their courses to hell.

But then, one day, I stopped in the midst of my prayers. I suddenly realized that each of these things I was pleading for — joy, love, peace, faithfulness, etc. — they are all fruits of the Holy Spirit, as Galatians 5:22-25 says:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Okay…” you might think, “I know those verses. I’ve sung the fruit of the Spirit song since I was three. I know all that already. What is so groundbreaking about that?”

Well, I sang that song all my life too. But here, just take a look at some more verses with me real quick…and then I’ll explain it:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13 ESV)

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 ESV)

“….and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 ESV)

 

The Holy Spirit IS the power that we need to live victorious Christian lives, full of vibrancy and light! HE is the source of all JOY, all LOVE — all that we need for serving the Lord! Without the Holy Spirit, we do a pretty poor job trying to live righteously and godly in our own strength. We don’t need to try to manufacture these things in our own hearts — we can’t ever muster up enough faithfulness or love to live as God’s hands and feet in this world. We don’t need to spend hours and hours pleading with God to make us more loving, kind, or joyful! In fact…we need to get past our self-focused prayer times, and start using our prayer times to storm the devil’s fortresses, and set the captives free! We weren’t saved to feel good about ourselves. We were saved to serve our King…and to rescue others! And the fruits of the Spirit aren’t so people can think about how wonderful we are – they are to cause us to be better, bolder, more selfless soldiers who don’t back down from advancing the Kingdom of God! The Holy Spirit comes in to win victories for the Lord!

So…how do you get the power of the Holy Spirit then…if I just said that we need to stop our self-focused pleading every day for help to stop doing the things we know we shouldn’t, and start doing the things that we should…???

 

LET THE HOLY SPIRIT TAKE CONTROL.

Yep. That simple. Each of us has a “driver’s seat” of our lives. There is one of three chauffeurs. It’s either going to be yourself, the devil, or the Holy Spirit. Now, the devil is no gentleman. He just barges in whenever he can find a crack to squeeze through. But the Holy Spirit IS a gentleman. And He will never force His way in. He will always wait to be asked. Kinda’ vexing. 😉

So for starters, we must ask the Holy Spirit to actually not only fill us, but to take control of our lives, that we might actually BE the hands and feet of Jesus, doing HIS will, and not our own on this earth.

However, for the Holy Spirit to actually be ABLE to take control, we must be willing to surrender anything that is contrary to God’s Spirit within us; anything that would hold us back from being completely surrendered to His will and heart. In fact…any time we feel like we are lacking the power we need to serve the Lord more effectively, or when we are lacking the vibrancy and joy that we know belonged to those who have gone before us as they served — people such as Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, Jackie Pullinger, Jonathan Goforth, D.L. Moody, Reese Howells, etc. — it is likely that there is something we are holding onto. Something that we have not been willing to let bow before the Lord.

And this is why I was so excited to begin thinking this way. Instead of pleading with God to give me more joy in my life, I can take hold of the Holy Spirit’s power in my life in a deeper way…and it comes from surrendering my heart and life more fully to His service!

How do you receive the Holy Spirit? Well, there is much division over things of this nature. Some believe there is no more Holy Spirit (I have already seen this disproved enough in my life that I don’t even consider it a valid argument any more), some believe that you automatically receive the Holy Spirit when you become a Christian, others believe it is a separate experience. Whatever the case, if you are already a Christian, it cannot hurt to just humble yourself before the Lord and be honest with Him. Just say something like, “Holy Spirit, I desperately need you in my life. I need you to live through me, to give me victory over my flesh, and to cause me to be fruitful in the Lord’s service. I invite you to take control of my life…and I want you to live through me, to do the things that the Father needs done on this earth. I also understand that it will mean surrendering my own desires and the things in my life that are displeasing to you…and I don’t know where to start…but I want to be willing. Please come in. Please make me willing…and please show me the things that are in my life that are hindering me from serving you with total abandon, and then, root those things out so that there’s not one particle of them remaining, but only YOU.”

And that is where I, too, am at today. Eagerly expecting the Holy Spirit to begin to work through me in a deeper, more effective way; making me more one with the desires of God’s heart. I want to be His hands and feet. Do you?

 

Stay-At-Home Daughters?

Beautiful blonde girl outside in a field with sunlight on her hair.

 

There has been a widespread movement in the last 10 years or so, mainly stemming from the “Patriarchy Movement”, which, summarized, is all about fathers stepping up to lead their families. That is a very noble goal, and I heartily endorse fathers taking the leading of their families in seeking the Lord more seriously. However, there were a number of things attached to this movement that were full of errors…and there is one in particular that I would like to touch on right now: The “Stay-at-Home Daughter”. 

I have an interesting angle of viewing this issue, because I am personally very glad for what the movement did for me, while, at the same time, being very aware of its faults…which can be very seriously destructive to those who might otherwise be fruitful for the Kingdom of Heaven.

A number of years ago, when I was about 16 or 17, I read a book by the Botkin sisters, called, “So Much More”. It opened up a whole new world to me, which I had previously not even considered could be possible. Through the book, the sisters were encouraging girls, instead of leaving home as soon as possible, to stay at home and learn how to be a home-maker, help their fathers with his work, be active in helping their siblings and serving at their churches, and to grow their intellect by personal study and pursuit of the arts at home. There was a lot to the book (it was about 3 inches thick), but the basis was, you stay at home until you marry, and serve your father.

Now, for my own life, this was an important book for me to read at the time, because I was being told I needed to go to college because I had so many “talents and gifts”, and was looking at getting into debt about $100,000. But I count this book to have been a mercy of God for me at the time, because I was able to present it to my parents and talk about the very real possibility of NOT going to college — something I’m not sure they really seriously considered before. And having a precedent of someone else having done it was a real help and encouragement to them that maybe I wasn’t totally crazy. And now I look back and am only thankful that I never went to college, never got into loads of debt, never wasted 4 years of my life, and never got sidetracked from seeking the Lord as so many Christian kids do when they head off to college.

However, after this is where it begins to fall apart. While, in many cases, it can be a good, and right thing for girls to stay at home, and help their family…it is NOT something that the Bible says MUST happen in order for us to be walking rightly before the Lord. Many people mistakenly hold onto these “stay-at-home-daughter” teachings as being akin to the 10 commandments. But they’re not. Not even close. In fact, there are many times that NOT staying at home until you’re married, and learning to be a home-maker can be BETTER! Here are some reasons that I personally feel this movement falls short of what Jesus’ heart is for us.

 

1.) When you have no siblings and your dad works in an office…um…what do you do??

I had one brother. My dad had a 9-5 office job. So for me to be at home “helping” my mom, and learning to be a home-maker meant…well…I was at home, spending a lot of time in my room doing whatever I wanted, and reading good books about good things that I hoped someday I would be like, but doing nothing actually really worthwhile with my time. I folded some laundry and washed our few measly little dishes. I had my checklist of meals I wanted to learn how to make. (Don’t even remember what they were now.) I vacuumed. I did most of these things only half-heartedly. I tried to think about how glad the person who married me someday would be. But you know what? I just wasted a lot of time focusing on myself. Can I just say something straight out?? Ok, here it is: You do NOT need to learn how to be a “home-maker”!! All you need for that job is a willingness to do what needs to be done, and the ability to read directions…and maybe a few basics on how not to burn water, and what to do with a hunk of raw chicken. It comes naturally after you are married. I’ve learned the most important things I know since BEING married, and having my own home. Not that I didn’t learn good habits and such from my mom…but I wasted a lot of time thinking I couldn’t do anything until I got married, when I could have been out serving the Lord…or even simply being a LOT more serious about my relationship with HIM.

 

2.) All these things keep your heart always dwelling on marriage and relationships instead of seeking the Lord and being able to selflessly seek His will and direction for your life. I know…because I was there. Everything I did was in order to make myself more “marriageable”. Every time I did something to help out it was only because I wanted to get married someday, and I wanted my parents to think I was “prepared” enough (and of course, to impress the guy too, whoever he was). It also gives you a rosy picture of what your “perfect dream” family life will be like — that thing that becomes what you seek after and look to later in life for your happiness. But…what if God calls you to be a missionary? What if you never have a place to call home? What if you never even have a proper oven? Will your heart be crushed to pieces…or will you embrace these things as being just normal acts of denying oneself in the course of duty and service to our King Jesus?

The purpose of our lives should not be to “get married”. What happens when you get there?? Does everything cease? Do you magically become a different person? No, the purpose of our lives should be to be wrapped up in seeking Christ, and proclaiming the gospel. The things you spend your time on now are what you will be 20 years from now.  You can so easily waste a lot of time “perfecting” yourself in many useless pursuits just to simply be able to say you are accomplishing just as much as someone who has gone to college, without having gone yourself. You wind up filling your time with things that really have no bearing on your spiritual state, and are of no real use to anyone else, time-fillers that are just empty fluff. But that is not the point of life! Do you really want to spend your life playing the harp or being able to read latin? We need to be careful that we do not waste our single years sitting around waiting to be married, or filling the years with the pursuit of things that seem “fun” or “praiseworthy”, but don’t last – and we need to be equally careful that we are not putting marriage and/or a relationship in such a high place in our hearts that we would jump out of the course of serving Christ in a heartbeat, simply to be “in love”. Our priority must be first and foremost to use our time wisely, saving the lost while we have opportunity! Singles — serve God TODAY. Don’t spend another day without throwing yourself at the feet of Jesus, and asking Him to use you however HE wants. Pray until God gives you the strength to say, “I want to do whatever you want, Lord. I want to go wherever you want. I want to pour out my life for others. I want to rescue the perishing. EVEN if it means that I am never married. Giving my life to YOU is more important to me.”

You do NOT have to wait until you are married before you can serve God. You do not have to wish your parents were serving God so you could too. You do not have to resign yourself to simply washing dishes and folding laundry for the rest of your life.

Now note that I am not saying that these things are bad, or aren’t necessary. They are important for keeping any household running — even if you are single forever. But there is also more to life…and God has MUCH work to be done, and is so glad for any who will lay aside seeking their own gain in order to serve Him and reach the lost. There are stories of many ladies who laid down their own pursuits in order to follow the call of the Lord…and God was able to do AMAZING things with these ladies – most of whom were single! Read about Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, Jackie Pullinger, Amy Carmichael, and Katie Davis, for starters! You will be SO encouraged and inspired! All it really takes for God to use you is a mustard seed of faith, and the determination to not look back or hesitate when He calls.

 

3.) Perhaps the most fatal twist of this movement is its strong but subtle undertow which drags our hearts into seeking after all the same things of this world that every non-Christian is striving for: money, praise, power, dominion, acclaim, storing up an earthly “heritage” for future generations, and building yourself an earthly legacy. When we spend our time dreaming about marriage, preparing ourselves to be marriageable, and and trying to prove to the world that we are just as successful as the person who went to college and got $200,000 in debt, we will inevitably have our hearts drawn after the fleeting benefits of this present world. But friends, Jesus IS going to return soon! All of our 100-year plans, and storing up wealth for future generations is going to look very trivial. “Set your mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth…”; this is where God wants our hearts to be dwelling. What are we doing to invest ourselves in ETERNITY?? What are we doing to make sure as many people as possible are going to be there with us?

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

The most important thing we can do with our life is to “lose” it (meaning: it will have none of the acclaim and praise of the world for what we invest ourselves in — it will look ridiculous to those who are chasing after their “best life now”.) for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the call that Jesus Christ Himself has put on you. Yes, being a wife and mom are noble things indeed…but what is more noble? Laying your life at Jesus’ feet. Throwing away earthly success and praise for the sake of following the call of the Lord to reach the lost. Acknowledging and embracing the shame that will inevitably come from family and friends who had other plans for you. And yet…your obedience to the call of God, may in fact BE what God uses to alert them of His soon coming as well, and to get them to think further than just the fleeting success of this world.
Katie Davis obeyed the call of God on her life to leave everything she knew and loved in America to go to Uganda and share living water with the poor and destitute there. Her family resisted, were angry, and would not support her or give her their blessing. But God. God used her obedience to soften their hearts…and now they are partners together in this amazing work, reaching the orphans, and the destitute. Because of Katie’s obedience, now her whole family will receive an eternal reward for the work that is being done.

The thing I most desire in all the world is to hear Jesus say to me, “Well done,” when I see Him face to face. That is worth more to me than all the riches of every treasure in this world.

So daughters, please honor and respect and love your parents. Please serve them all you can, pray for them without ceasing, and keep your hearts always soft toward them. But please…please pray; earnestly seek the Lord for HIS guidance and will for your life. Parents are humans too, and even our best intentions fall short. Your parents’/family’s/friends’ plan and dreams for your life very well may not be what God has been calling you to do. God always wants the best for us…but He wants the best for everyone…and He cares about each individual who is slipping off into hell because no one reached them with the gospel. Could you be that person who will reach them? Ask God, and really take the time to seek Him until He makes it clear to you. And then, take the first step, whatever that is. Don’t hesitate, because the longer you hesitate, the harder it may be for you…and you may find yourself years down the road, with nothing changed, and no fruit in your life…and by then, the door that was once opened may be closed. Or Christ may have come back by then. So please take these things very seriously…and ask God to give you the power of His Holy Spirit to do what He sets before you to do.

You will never regret “losing” your life for Christ. Those that lose their lives for His sake WILL find them. They will find that every loss, and every surrender is their gain, both in this life, and in eternity.