Repent. Believe. Receive.

Acts 19:1-6  (NLT)

19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers.“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.

“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

“Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked.

And they replied, “The baptism of John.”

Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”

As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.

 

Like so many things in my strong-willed life, I was saved bass ackwards.

Lemme explain:

I was a privileged kid that grew up in a middle-class household with married parents and a sibling who went to church every Sunday (and sometimes other days of the week). believe

I was a privileged teenager who moved to the bible belt and got “saved” and “sprinkled” in a “sanctuary” adorned with stained glass windows and golden lacquered name plates of financial donors on the pews.

I was a privileged bride who married a groom whose parents were also married believers.

I was a privileged college graduate who lived in a big city with a variety of denominational and non-denominational churches to choose from.

I was a privileged citizen of a state and country founded on Christian principles in which the law allows freedom to practice whatever religion I choose.

But at the age of 23, this privileged girl was still going to hell.

For eternity.

Yes, I had heard the gospel.

Yes, I had engaged in religious activity that was required by religious leaders.

Yes, I had tried to obey the law of Moses (well, in action- but not in heart).

But…

I did not repent.

My heart had not been made right with God (because I didn’t think that I had been wrong).

I just confessed Jesus with my mouth on a Sunday morning at the altar of a building (but the altar of my heart didn’t believe).

I just got a few drops of water on my head and a fancy certificate of baptism, but I wasn’t saved.

I was still a sinner- a deceived sinner that was wrongly identified as a saint.

Lord, forgive me! Forgive the church! Forgive the church leaders for not making me a disciple; teaching me to obey all your commands and baptizing me into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Mercifully, however, God intervened, like He did on the road to Damascus with a sinner named Paul. Only my conversion was in our bedroom while sitting on our king-sized bed (yep- I met the King of kings on our king-sized bed!). Nine months pregnant and feeling like a beached whale, I was blinded by the light that entered my soul. I was deeply grieved over every sin I had committed against my Creator. I began to pour out the wretchedness in my heart, confessing in detail, every commandment I had rejected. I repented for my rebellion against the Father, which grieved His heart. At that moment, I believed Jesus died, was buried and resurrected for ME. I confessed Him as Savior and I was later baptized under water.

I was now saved from eternal damnation! I would live eternally in heaven when I died on this earth, but I had not received the Helper. I had not received the One who would lead me into all Truth (John 16:13). I had not received the One that would empower me to obey the Lord. I had not received the fire that would cleanse me from unrighteousness. I had not received the One who would gift me with supernatural power to minister to others. I had not received the One who would enable me to make disciples, teaching them to obey His commands and baptizing them into the Father, Son AND Spirit. Instead, I reverted back to religious activity in my own strength. Not only that, I was promoted to leadership in our church.

Lord, forgive me! Forgive the Church!

Mercifully, however, God intervened again, but not like He did with the believers in Ephesus when Paul asked if they had received the Holy Spirit. Instead, I was at home, praying in the living room with my husband when God answered my pleafor help in trusting Him as Savior AND Lord. Heaven opened and spiritual fire poured down all over my body. Overwhelmed with the force of power that was rising from the depths of my spirit, I ran to our bedroom, opened my mouth and began speaking in tongues. The unknown language I heard initially scared me; I didn’t know if I was possessed by demons or possessed by Pentecostals!

Yes, I had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I received the Helper. I received the One who would lead me into all Truth. I received the One that would empower me to obey the Lord. I received the fire that would cleanse me from unrighteousness. I received the One who would gift me with supernatural power to minister to others. I received the One who would enable me to make disciples, teaching them to obey His commands and baptizing them into the Father, Son AND Spirit.

My friend,

Have you heard the Good News? Have you repented of your sin against the Father? Have you believed Jesus as Lord AND Savior? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Do not be deceived as I was. Don’t think you’ll inherit the Kingdom of Heaven by obeying religious laws. It’s only by His grace that you can be saved. It’s only by His power that you can be baptized into the Father, Son AND Spirit. Don’t wait! Repent. Believe. Receive. Do it today.

 

 

It’s time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I met with my therapist today. I’ve been needing to for a long time, but, well, life, or….. my stubborn will just didn’t want to. He’s the perfect Therapist. Always available. Always willing to listen. Always dispenses wisdom. Always gives me practical things to do to reemphasize His plan for my life.

I sipped on my ½ regular, ½ decaf cup of coffee this morning like I usually do. I talked to the Holy Spirit about what He already knows; I’m struggling in this season. I’ve been wrestling in it for a long time. 7 years long. I’ve pleaded. I’ve whined. I’ve complained. I’ve bartered. I’ve justified. I’ve cried. I’ve thrown adult sized hissy fits. Not one of those things has led me out of the season that I’ve wanted to be over for a long time. 7 years long. So, after I finished pouring out my complaint (Psalm 142:2) again, I read another chapter of Psalms and devotions from Spurgeon, Chambers and Tozer. Then I got up to begin the practical portion of my therapy; de-cluttering and re-organizing.

I LOVE to de-clutter and re-organize our home. It helps to de-clutter my mind and re-organize my emotions. It helps me to see all that we possess and be grateful. It helps me to see what is no longer needed and to grieve the loss. It helps me to see what needs to be thrown away, so that I can embrace something new!

It's time.jpg

Let me put this right on out there: I am severely impatient. When I see a new season approaching, I want it to happen yesterday. I don’t want to wait until tomorrow. Not so ironically, I married a man who approaches life much differently. He’ll ponder and wait and wait and wait. It makes me coo coo for Cocoa Puffs! NOW is the time! No need to dilly dally in today’s season- let’s just MOVE ON! Yet, God in His infinite sense of humor has not only given me the gift of a man who changes seasons slower than I do, but He’s also given me the gift of prophesy so that I can see seasons that are coming in a long, long, time. He’s trying to teach me to be still, to know Him, to realize He has made everything for its own time. He knows His work from beginning to end. He lives outside of time, and He’s planting eternity in my heart so that I will embrace each season from heaven’s perspective.

At the end of today’s session, I heard the Spirit whisper, “it’s time to quit searching, it’s time to throw some things away.” He’s already given me the answer to my endless questions. He’s already shown me the next season, but I must wait for His time to transition into it.

In the meantime, it’s also time to take out the trash which is full of junk that nobody needs, and deliver the pile of household goods that somebody does.

May I ask you a question?

Genesis 2:4-9

This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs[b] came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 

The Lord planted a garden.

A garden.

Not a desert.

Not a frozen tundra.

Why?

The garden is where life began. The garden is where abundant life existed. The garden is where God walked and talked with man. The garden is where the Lord tended the soil of man’s heart. The garden is where the enemy slithered in. The garden is where man doubted the goodness of God. The garden is where man trusted a created being instead of the Creator of heaven and earth. The garden is where man sinned. The garden is where Jesus suffered as His soul was “overwhelmed and crushed with grief” (Matthew 26:38). The garden is where our Lord and Savior surrendered His will to the Father to redeem mankind.

The sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve no longer dwell in a perfect garden, but the garden of our hearts (soul & sprit) still remain. The heart is planted by God. The heart is where we walk and talk with Him. The heart is where the enemy lies to us. The heart is where we doubt the goodness of the Father. The heart is where we trust the liar instead of the Way, the Truth and the Life.

May I ask you a question? garden.jpg

How’s the garden of your heart? (or is it a desert or frozen tundra?)

Is the Lord there?

Are you walking & talking with Him?

What’s the condition of the soil?

Are there rocks & weeds?

Are the birds eating the seed?

What’s growing?

What’s dying?

What’s producing good fruit?

What trees need to be cut & pruned?

What trees need to be uprooted and thrown in the fire?

God the Father created the garden. Jesus was there. The Holy Spirit was too.

God the Father created you. Jesus was there. The Holy Spirit was too.

God the Father planted the garden of your heart.

Jesus wants to tend the soil & sow the seed.

The Holy Spirit wants to be the spring that waters the garden of your heart, which will produce a great harvest for others to “taste and see that the Lord is good”(Psalm 34:8).

Will you let Him?