Not ashamed

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…

Romans 1:14-17

Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. He was not ashamed of being a follower of Jesus. He was not ashamed of telling people about Jesus and about salvation. He was honored to get to be adopted into the family of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He was honored to have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in him. Talking about the gospel was as natural to Paul as talking about his shoes or his elbow.

When we talk about Jesus to those who do not believe, we don’t need to be timid about it. Talking to others about Jesus is like talking to your kids about sex. If you are ashamed and awkward and embarrassed about it then you nonverbally communicate that this topic is shameful, awkward, and embarrassing. But if you talk about it as it truly is – a good gift, normal, natural, a blessing – then your nonverbals will communicate the same.

To Timothy, Paul’s protege, Paul wrote this at the end of his life:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 

2 Timothy 1:7-9

We’ve been given a Spirit of power. We’ve been given the gospel which is the power of God for all who believe. We’ve been given a Spirit of love. So we don’t need to be embarrassed or timid or ashamed of the testimony about Jesus. Even if we get ridiculed for it, we can endure such a small bit of suffering by the power of God. After all, we have been saved, rescued, restored, redeemed and made a new creation in Christ. We’ve been called to a holy life, not because we were worthy, but because of God’s own purpose and grace.

Who are we to remain silent about such a gift?

Faithfulness Rewarded

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:22-23

In the Parable of the Talents, the man who was given two bags of gold and gained two more was given the same response by the master as the man who was given five bags of gold and gained five more. The master’s response was based on faithfulness. The question for the master was not how much they had been given but what they did with what they were given. They were faithful servants who had been faithful with what they had been given, so the master rewarded them for it.

The other day our oldest son was asking about the difference between GT/Advanced classes, honors classes, and standard classes. My wife was a high school teacher for years before teaching at the college level, so she launched into descriptions of how they might be different.

One thing we both made clear to him was that when colleges look at a student’s grades, an A in an honors class is better than a C or D in a GT class. Likewise, an A in a standard class is better than a C in an honors class. We were trying to make the same point that the Parable of the Talents makes: Faithfulness receives a greater reward than giftedness. And the more we are gifted, the greater the responsibility is to be faithful.

This applies to so many things in our life. God wants us to be faithful with what we have whether it is a lot or a little. This is true for money, relationships, spiritual gifts, opportunities, etc. And, often, the more we have, the more difficult it is to be faithful with it. We all say we want more money, but God will be looking for faithfulness if we get more money. Faithfulness with a lot of money can be more demanding than faithfulness with a little, just like getting an A in a GT class can be more demanding than getting an A in a standard class. Jesus said it this way:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

This is why James warns about being a teacher. The greater the giftedness, the greater the responsibility it is to be faithful with that giftedness.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 

James 3:1

And this doesn’t just apply to the responsibility and gift of teaching God’s word. It applies to other gifts of the Spirit as well. Whatever gifts and anointings we ask God for, we need to remember that He’s looking for faithfulness not giftedness. We may want to be more gifted than we are right now, but we will also be held accountable for being faithful with the gifts we are given. The more gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to us, the more anointings placed on our life, the more that will be required of us in order to be faithful.

This truth should sober us when we look at people who are incredibly gifted. It is great to admire them, but we need to admire them for the right reasons. Rather than just being enamored with the level of their giftedness, we should look instead at their character and be in awe of how they have stewarded these great gifts. We should be impressed with their faithfulness, knowing how difficult it would be to be faithful with that level of giftedness.

If we’re not faithful with the gifts that we already have, what makes us think we’ll be faithful with more? If we’re not faithful with the money we already have, what makes us think we’ll be faithful with more? If we’re not faithful with the opportunities and responsibilities we already have, what makes us think we’ll be faithful with more?

God is a Good Father so he loves for us to ask for more. But He also doesn’t want to crush us with the “more” that we’re asking for. As we ask for more, let’s also ask for the capacity to be faithful with it. As we ask for more money, let’s also ask for more wisdom in how to faithfully manage it. As we ask for more gifts, let’s also ask for a strengthening of our character so that we can be faithful.

Children of God

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering sin order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:14-17

Every person in the world is loved by God. Every human being is created in God’s image. Because of this, some people think this means that every person is a child of God. We’ve heard people say, “We are all God’s children.” Yet, that isn’t what we read over and over again in scripture.

Every person is invited into the family of God, but not everyone has accepted that invitation. Scripture is clear. We aren’t children of God from birth. We become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. When we receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God.

So while everyone is loved by God, not every person is a child of God. It takes faith in Jesus to be adopted into the family of God. Paul said it this way to the Galatians:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29

There are some key phrases in that passage. “In Christ Jesus” we are children of God “through faith.” And, “if you belong to Christ” then you are an heir in the family of God. These are important qualifiers. We must belong to Christ, through faith, in order to be considered a child of God. John says something similar in his Gospel:

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:12-13

According to John’s Gospel, the right to become children of God is a special right. It is not automatic. It is something we become. And the ones who have been given the right to become children of God, born of God, are the ones “who did receive him” and “believed in his hame,” that is, Jesus. The message is clear. We must receive Jesus into our life and believe in Him in order to become children of God.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 

1 John 3:1-2

Notice that there is a separation between “the world” and the “children of God.” The world has a hard time with children of God because it had a hard time with Jesus. This distinction would make no sense if everyone in the world was automatically a child of God. Yes, everyone is loved by God. Yes, everyone has been created in God’s image. But no, not everyone is a child of God, not until they give their life to Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit.

The old platitude that “we are all God’s children” may sound nice, but it’s just not true. All are invited into the family of God, but not all have accepted the invitation. We are not automatically children of God. We become children, adopted into the family, through faith in Jesus. Through that faith in His name we receive the Holy Spirit, who is our sign and seal that we are in the family of God.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…

Ephesians 1:13-14

New Worship

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:19-24

Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along. Many of them hated each other. Yet, Jesus finds Himself near the town of Sychar in the middle of Samaria. Not only that, but He was by Himself in the middle of the day with a Samaritan woman with a questionable moral history. And in the middle of a theological conversation, Jesus delivers to this unlikely learner a massive revelation.

Jesus had come to usher in the Kingdom of God. With the presence of the Kingdom comes many changes. One of the changes was in how we worship. No longer would worship be through sacrificial animal offerings at an altar. No longer would it be orchestrated through the old covenant system of priests and ceremonial cleansing. The new worship in this new covenant would not be in the Temple and by the Law but, instead, in Spirit and in truth.

Worshiping in Spirit is what happens when we point our attention and affections toward the Father and are ushered into His Presence by Jesus through the Spirit. If we have given our life to Jesus, our spirit is united to the Holy Spirit in the same way that a husband and wife become one within marriage.

For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:16-17

Worship becomes the physical expression of intimacy between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it happens when we pray, or sing worship songs, or read scripture, or serve others. Other times it happens in quiet moments where we experience His Presence as “God with us.” Because we are now the Temples of the Holy Spirit, worship happens wherever we are. It happens whenever we submit our will to His. It happens whenever we lift our heart to God in gratitude and praise.

Worship happens in Spirit and also in truth. This means part of worship is receiving truth from the Lord and coming honestly before Him without deception or pretense. Worshiping in truth means we bring all that we are before the Lord. We bring our failures and our victories. We bring our hopes and our disappointments. We bring our strengths and our weaknesses. We stand before Him naked yet unashamed. And as we bring everything to Him, we receive truth–the truth about who He is and the truth about who we are in Christ.

This mindset changes how we engage in our church services on Sunday. When we sing worship songs, we are not just singing. There is a progression of true worship. We move from singing a song to praising God. Then we shift again from just praising God to actually engaging in His Presence. Many in the church still haven’t learned to worship in Spirit and in truth. They are still stuck on the first part of the progression. They stand there somewhat bored, singing a song, thinking that is worship.

These folks wonder how those other people in the service can be so passionate about a song. How can that person have tears streaming down their face over a song they’ve sung so many times before? How can that other person be so excited and exuberant, lifting their hands and getting emotional? Is it that they just really like singing? Is it just a love for music? Are they emotionally unstable people who lack propriety?

No.

It’s not about the song or emotion or music. It is that they are worshipping in Spirit and in truth. They are passionate about their Savior and Lord who rescued them and set them free. Their emotion is an overflow of the spirit to Spirit connection that is happening in that moment. Their tears are not about the song but about the Presence of the Living God in their midst.

Jesus experienced extravagant worship from a woman with a sinful life. The Pharisees who were present couldn’t believe what they were watching and were appalled by the indignity of it. Jesus then taught us something about worship as He addressed the Pharisee who was the host:

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

Often those who are worshipping in Spirit and in truth are the ones who understand just how much they’ve been forgiven. They are the ones who understand just how undeserved their adoption into the family of God really was. They are the ones who see clearly the great debt of sin that was wiped clean by the blood of Jesus. They are the ones who are desperately dependent on the Lord for His provision and His sustaining grace. They are the ones who know how much they are loved by the Father and want to passionately love Him in return.

Telling Secrets

Then he told them many things in parables…  …Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Matthew 13:3, 9-13

In front of a gathering of people, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower. A farmer scattered seed and it fell in four different places. The seed on the hardened path was eaten by birds. The seed on the rocky soil sprung up quickly yet died for lack of soil. The seed among the thorns grew but was eventually choked out. Finally, the seed that fell on the good soil produced a harvest. Jesus concluded this parable by saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The disciples wanted to know what we want to know. Why was Jesus speaking in parables? So Jesus explains why He does this.

Jesus’s teachings contain the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But Jesus has to be careful who obtains these secrets. He’s looking for the seed of the Kingdom to fall into good soil. So, the principle Jesus is applying is the same one we see in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In the Parable of the Talents, those who were faithful with little were given more. The one who was not faithful with little, even what little he had was given to someone who would be faithful with it. Jesus is looking for good stewards, those who will be faithful with what they’ve been given. Those who will believe the word and apply it. Those who will cultivate the seed in good soil.

Jesus states the principle plainly, “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.” Whoever has what? Good question. Jesus already told us. Whoever has “ears to hear.” They will be given more.

Then Jesus follows with, “Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Whoever does not have what? Good question. Whoever does not have “ears to hear.” They will not be trusted with more, and what they did have will be taken from them. He’s not talking finances here. He’s talking about revelation, truth, secrets of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus then describes people who don’t have ears to hear the secrets of the Kingdom. He says that they can see with their eyes, but are blind to truth. He says that they can hear with their ears, but their hearts are deaf to the what God is revealing.

Jesus wanted to reveal the secrets of the Kingdom, but He wanted to do it for people who would be faithful with it. He wanted the secrets of the Kingdom to be revealed to people whose hearts were like good soil, soft hearts, surrendered hearts. He wanted secrets of the Kingdom to be concealed to those who weren’t ready for them, so He spoke in parables. Like Jesus said in Matthew 7:6, “Do not throw pearls to pigs” or they will not only trample them but turn and tear you to pieces.

And this reveals two secrets about hearing God. When we talk about hearing God more clearly, we aren’t talking about literal volume. Imagine a radio tuning in to a radio signal. There is the tune knob and the volume knob. The tune knob in the Kingdom is surrender. The volume knob in the Kingdom is believing God. The more we surrender and obey, believing what God has already said, the more we continue to hear from God. The more our heart is soften to the Lord, the more His parables–the words He speaks directly to our hearts–make sense.

God didn’t want the secrets of His Kingdom in the hands of people who were hard-hearted and didn’t believe. He didn’t want His secrets in the hands of the arrogant and prideful. So Jesus spoke in parables. Jesus hid the secrets of the Kingdom for us, not from us. Those who are willing to go low, willing to surrender, willing to believe with soften hearts, they will be given a truckload of truth, a reservoir of revelation. Those who live in skepticism and unbelief will not.

If you are wanting to hear more from God, if you want Him to reveal things to you, if you want Him to unveil secrets of the Kingdom to you, the first step is repenting of an unbelieving heart. Ask God to forgive you for your unbelief, cynicism, skepticism and doubt. Ask Him to soften your heart. Then ask the Holy Spirit to speak clearly to you and set aside daily time to listen. Listen for pictures and words that the Lord brings to your mind. And whatever He shows you, be a good steward of it. Be obedient. Stewarding what He’s already said is key in receiving more.

Words and Tongues

I went through most of my Christian life not engaging with the practice or the issue of praying in tongues. Then, a few years ago, I entered a new season of my walk with the Lord where I began to pray in tongues. As someone who did not grow up in a charismatic church, this transition caused me to do a lot of research on the issue. I have been asked on a number of occasions to bring clarity to this issue.

But what has been surprising to me is how Christians can be so concerned with tongues (both positively and negatively) and yet so few Christians are concerned with the damaging effects of our words. This is an imbalance that must be corrected in the church.

Whatever interpretive controversy there may be around speaking or praying in tongues, there is no interpretive controversy around what the Bible says about our words. Our words matter. Our words are powerful and can do serious damage. Yet, many Christians, especially on social media, act like verbally destroying people they disagree with is okay. It’s not.

The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…

…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

James 3:6, 8-11

Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

Proverbs 11:12, 17

The bottom line is that the Bible has many scripture passages that talk about the damage that can happen from our words. Over and over again in the New Testament we are instructed to “bless and do not curse” and, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil“(Romans 12:14, 17). Yet, how many followers of Jesus are heeding this instruction from the Lord?

Instead, we want to argue about things like the gift of tongues. Isn’t that ironic? We argue about praying in tongues while never stopping to control our own tongues.

If you have confusion about speaking in tongues, you can go to this link where I taught a seminar on the Supernatural Christian Life. On Week 6, I spent the whole session unpacking the gift of tongues. In summary, I believe the gift of tongues shows up in 5 different and distinct ways in the church today. Each of these is for the building up of the church or the believer. None of these expressions of tongues make someone more or less spiritual than anyone else.

Personally, I celebrate the gift of tongues as an incredible gift from the Lord. Praying in tongues has been a powerful tool in my own life. But if we, as the church, want to focus on something even more powerful, let’s learn how to speak words of life that build up and encourage people. Let’s learn to bless those who curse us.

Residential and Occasional Gifts

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

There is some confusion in the church about the gifts of the Spirit and how they operate. One point of misunderstanding revolves around gifts of the Spirit like healing and miracles. The comment usually goes like this, “If someone has the gift of healing, why don’t they just walk around and go into hospitals and just heal everyone.” The logic is that if they have the gift, they should be able to use it whenever and wherever they want. People often think of “gifts” as no more than supercharged abilities that we can control at will.

But this shows a lack of understanding of how many of the gifts of the Spirit work. All spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit are not always fully controlled by the will of the person who has them. It is true that some gifts are “residential” in nature in that they are always able to be accessed and used by the person who has that gift. Examples of a residential gift would be the gift of mercy, gift of hospitality, or gift of teaching. In nearly every setting, a person is able to access this gift and use it for the glory of God. The gift seems to “reside” in the person in a way that doesn’t depend on a special request of God. The person is a kind of reservoir for the gift.

Other gifts are “non-residential” and are sometimes called “occasional” gifts by theologians. By occasional they don’t mean temporary or rare. They mean that these gifts show up in particular occasions and can’t be fully controlled by the person who has this gift. Examples of “occasional” gifts are gifts of healing, gifts of miracles, gift of prophecy, etc. Those who have operated in these “occasional” gifts usually have to request that the Lord move through them in that way for that particular situation. The gift is there, but it is not released automatically. It must be released by God through the person. Rather than a reservoir, the person is simply a conduit of the gift.

We could say that a person with one of the non-residential gifts has to wait on the Lord and has to invite the Lord to use them as a conduit in that moment. When we say they “have” the gift of healing or miracles or prophecy we don’t mean they own the gift and control it at will. We mean that we have seen the Lord regularly use them as a conduit of that gift. And as a person grows in a non-residential gift, they are used more and more often to be a conduit. It happens more regularly.

With a residential gift, a person can use it all the time. Growing in that kind of gift doesn’t mean that it happens more regularly but that, when it is used, it is used more powerfully. Meaning, the effect of the gift when it is used grows in impact.

We could use modern technology as an analogy. Having a residential gift is like having the song on your hard drive. Having a non-residential gift is like having to pull it down from the cloud. Either way, you have access to it, but it’s a different kind of access.

Knowing this distinction about the different gifts is important so that we can learn to cooperate with the Spirit in the operation of the gifts given to us. Different gifts require a different kind of cooperation. When we know this, we can wield these gifts for the sake of the Kingdom of God and for the glory of the name Jesus.

Hearing Clearly

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

A common misconception is that as we grow in our ability to hear the Lord speak to us, He speaks louder. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. It takes time and it takes risk to step out in faith when we believe He is telling us to do something or say something. But as we grow in the discipline of hearing His voice, it’s not so much that He gets louder but clearer.

What I mean is that the volume doesn’t always get turned up. It’s more that the other thoughts in our head start to carry noticeably less weight. It starts to become more clear when it is the Holy Spirit and when it is our own thoughts.

In fact, growing in our maturity doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit speaks louder but that we will obey even when He speaks softer. Maturity is when we will obey even the most gentle impression from the Spirit without needing a loud, booming thought interrupting our own thoughts. We become like a highly sensitive weather vane, easily moved and directed by the slightest breeze of the Spirit.

This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Acts 8:27-29

When we think about a child listening to the direction of a parent, the same principles apply. If a parent has to repeat the directions loudly, multiple times, it means the child’s obedience is lacking. Yet, if the child responds quickly with a simple and soft request from the parent, it is clear that child has developed the discipline of obedience (and likely has a good, loving relationship with their parent). The child doesn’t need the parent to be loud. Even through the noise of a crowded room, that child can clearly discern the voice of their parent making the request. It’s not about volume but clarity.

Sensitivity

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 

Romans 1:21

The Bible speaks of a process where our heart either becomes softened or it becomes hardened. Obedience over time softens a person’s heart toward God. A sensitivity to the Holy Spirit develops that allows us to follow His lead without having to be shoved. The hope is that with a gentle whisper from the Lord, we’ll step out and do what He asks. Paul described this process to the Galatians:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

Galatians 5:24-25

Yet, the opposite can happen as well. The more we resist the Lord–the more we do our own thing and follow our own way ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit–the more our heart will harden. Obedience will become more and more difficult.

Paul told Timothy to beware of false teachers whose “consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). What an image! Our conscience, which should be soft and tender, sensitive to the touch of the Spirit, can become so hard and numb that it loses all sensitivity, as if seared with a hot iron. Exposure to sin over time is what does this.

However, as your connection with the Lord grows and as your faith matures, you’ll notice a sensitivity develop. You become both more sensitive to the Light and to the darkness. Do you know that feeling of the top layer of skin being removed to reveal the new, raw skin underneath? This is what happens to our conscience. This is what it means to live with a circumcised heart.

Practically, this sensitivity is necessary to get better at sensing the leading of the Spirit. If you want to follow His promptings and hear His voice, this kind of sensitivity is necessary. It is not emotional sensitivity, although it will affect your emotions; it is spiritual sensitivity. And what you’ll notice is that things will start to bother you that never used to bother you.

What I have found in my own life is that this sensitivity has led to me being able to sense things in the spirit realm much easier. I can sense when darkness is around. I can more easily sense when someone is being deceptive. I can sense when a demon is tormenting someone. I can more easily sense when the Holy Spirit wants me to do something or say something. 1 Corinthians 12:10 calls this “discerning the spirits.” But it comes with a down side.

I can’t watch many TV shows or movies that have dark content in them anymore. It used to be that I couldn’t watch horror movies. Now it is so much more. Dark themes of violence, death, murder, abuse, sexual immorality, homosexuality, (even foul language) and the like bother my conscience at a level that is uncomfortable. If I watch something with that kind of content, I feel like I got slimed. I can feel the darkness and demonic influence behind it. Sometimes I am even given revelation into the twisted mind that wrote the scene I just watched, and it is deeply disturbing.

When we get comfortable with sin, we start to get comfortable with darkness. It stops bothering us. We start to feel quite at home in things that are macabre and disturbing. Our hearts and minds harden to it, and we lose our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Participation with darkness, even in entertainment, can grieve the Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:30-32

We all say we want to hear the the Lord better. We all say we want an interactive relationship with the Holy Spirit where He guides our steps and speaks to us clearly. But do we want all that comes with that? It will requires a new level of sensitivity in your spirit that will make you sensitive to both the Light and the darkness in the spirit realm. It will require a new level of cleaning things out of your life, including what you are entertained by. It will require protecting the tender, sensitive heart and not letting it be hardened again by sin or letting it be slimed again by the world.

Jesus Passed By

Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:14-15

In the Greek language, there is two words for “time.” Chronos is the word you use when you ask, “What time is it?” This is chronological time. But when Jesus said, “The time has come…” He wasn’t using this concept of time. Kairos is the Greek word for time that means “appointed time” or “opportune time.” Kairos speaks to a moment that is pregnant with opportunity and possibility. Jesus was speaking about a kairos moment.

Part of being a follower of Jesus is developing a sensitivity to the Spirit so that we can discern when these kairos moments are happening. These are burning bush moments (like Moses had in the desert). These are moments where God’s Presence or God’s activity invites us to stop and turn aside.

In the Gospels, these kairos moments would happen as Jesus would pass by. People sensed that the moment was pregnant with possibility as Jesus walked by them. Those who had eyes to see, those who didn’t want to miss the moment, responded with spontaneous faith or quick obedience. They understood that there was a window that had been opened up to them, yet knew that the window of opportunity would be closing.

When Jesus passed by blind Bartimaeus, he didn’t let the moment slip away. Though he was blind, he had eyes to see the moment in front of him. Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, “…have mercy on me,” and it led to his physical healing. (Mark 10:47)

When Jesus passed by the woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, she didn’t want the moment to escape her. She had to try something. She had to take the risk to reach out and touch Jesus’s cloak. Because of her spontaneous faith, she received from the Lord what she had always longed for–healing in her body and restoration of her life. (Matthew 9:20-22)

While Jesus was passing by, He stopped to focus His attention on a man blind from birth. Jesus made some mud with His saliva, placed it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. It must have been a confusing moment for this man. Yet, the man sensed that it was a kairos moment. He could have pushed Jesus away. He could have ignored Jesus. Instead, the man responded with quick obedience. In doing so, he was completely healed as he washed the mud from his eyes. This is the man who proclaimed to the Pharisee investigators, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:1-34)

We too are faced with moments where Jesus is passing by. The Holy Spirit will invite us to step into these moments with spontaneous faith and quick obedience. These kairos moments are pregnant with possibility if we are willing to have eyes to see them. These moments don’t last forever. They are short windows of opportunity. Jesus is passing by, inviting us to partner with Him in bringing about His Kingdom on the earth. The Holy Spirit is prompting us to step out with a word or to take a risk with an act of obedience.

When the kairos moment is upon us, what will we do? Will we miss the moment?