THANK GOD FOR THE GIFT OF HIS SPIRIT

Before getting in front of the guys at jail tonight I was in booking talking to the Chaplain. As I walked toward the door to head down the hall another minister, talking with the Chaplain said, “Gonna have fun tonight?” I responded, “I know I am, I don’t know about the others.” That’s how it is though isn’t it? We choose whether to have fun or not. In fact we choose lots of things in life. This actually tied into what I shared with them later about not being controlled by our emotions. Our spirit joined to the Holy Spirit is really the one in charge.

I shared a little bit about myself and how I came to be born again and turned to John 14. After sharing with them about Jesus’ promise to send the comforter we turned to Galatians 5. We read “Walk after the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the desire (lust) of the flesh.” From there we went to Hebrews 4:12 which has become one of my go to verses as of late.

So Jesus promised the Spirit, Paul told us to walk after the Spirit, and the author of Hebrews told us God can show us how to differentiate between the soul and spirit. You know it’s easy to tell someone you just need to walk after the Spirit. The problem occurs when they haven’t a clue what that means or how it looks in the real world. This is precisely what I wanted to talk with them about tonight.

It seems there are many, many Christians walking around in the flesh simply because no one has taken the time to teach them. I’m not saying I’m the expert here, but I have come to a few conclusions on the matter.

When the term flesh is used it means we are living in our soul/body realm as if we are independent of God. In other words, if we are walking in our souls, or flesh, we are being lead around by our emotional and intellectual inclinations as well as our bodily appetites. The best I can tell is since God created us humans to dwell in, His plan was to be the Lord of our lives and rule from our spirit, but when Adam sinned he, with the help of the enemy, turned mankind inside out. Man began to live life according to how he felt or thought and whatever dictates his body demanded, leaving the spirit out in the cold, as it were.

Apparently Adam’s disobedience caused our human spirit and God’s Spirit to part ways. Adam no longer had God to lead him because he had bitten into the deception that he could be “like God.” Rather than being like God he actually became little more than a glorified animal. Animals of course are lead around by their instincts. Adam found himself being lead around by his bodies’ need for sex and food. Of course this is not the life God intended for us, and thankfully He didn’t leave us to it, but instead he sent his Son to make us the whole human being we were always meant to be.

As I spoke with the guys in jail tonight I spent most of the time talking to them about the difference between soul and spirit. I put three plastic chairs in front of them one for each part: spirit, soul and body. After giving them a visual of what man looked like after sin, I showed them what we are like now that the Spirit of God has come back into his Temple.

The first example I grabbed the body/soul chairs and had them bumping up against each other saying, “Hey, I’m hungry, that doesn’t seem to add up, I don’t feel well, I want sex, I’m mad…” Showing that’s all you can expect in that realm. Without the Spirit of God there can be no real peace. Once the Spirit of God joins to your human spirit there is a resurrection. Your formerly dead spirit is enlivened. Now your spirit joined to His Spirit is in charge and the body/ soul has to take a back seat. They are no longer given free reign, and they have to submit themselves to God.

For the most part all of the guys really seemed to be listening. For my final illustration I sat one chair by itself and told them it was a pretty woman. Of course that takes a little bit of imagination, but they were following me. I told them the enemy will use our sexual desires to entice us into sin. Of course they all chuckled but knew I was telling the truth. On the other hand I said, “God is looking at the same situation saying “Look to me, look to me.” You see these types of situations are always an opportunity to sin or an opportunity for faith. It is up to us to decide. We either go with our flesh or with the Spirit. The beauty of the whole thing is we now actually can see these things for what they are whereas before we were simply living according to impulse and cravings which always meant sin.

Thank God for the gift of his Spirit!

Louie

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DON’T TRADE ETERNITY FOR THE TEMPORAL

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve lived in the best possible scenario. They had their choice of any of the trees to eat from except one and of course they chose that one. Jesus’ temptation, on the other hand, was the worst possible scenario. He was in the wilderness or desert and had gone without food for forty days when the devil tempted him. So we can see God has reached down as far as anyone could ever go. I think one reason is so no one will ever be able to say, “But God, you don’t understand how bad I had it.” No one will ever say that because Jesus was born in the worst possible situation and he died in the worst possible way. He lived his life through some of the worst in order to assure everyone they have a savior who understands the situation they are living with and he can indeed sympathize with our weaknesses.

There is always so much to learn when studying the temptation of Jesus. There are three distinct areas in which he was tempted. First on the body level he was hungry after not eating for forty days. It sounds reasonable to turn stones into bread but it wasn’t God’s plan. On the soul level he was provoked to throw himself off of the pinnacle of the Temple. Surely God won’t allow you to be hurt. I think this was on the soul level because it appeals to the pride of life. Last but not least the enemy tempted him on the spirit level. He showed him the kingdoms of the world and promised them to him if he would only worship him.

Bodily appetites, soulish pride and spiritual adultery are the three areas in which we are all tempted. It struck me that even though Jesus won this battle in the wilderness the enemy attacked him throughout his life and ministry in these same areas. The people intended “to come and take him by force to make him king” so he withdrew to a mountain alone.[1]

Great crowds followed Jesus because he fed them. Jesus responded to them by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…”[2] In other words, I didn’t come here just to fulfill your physical hungers.

Peter, at one point, sounded like the enemy and Jesus had to rebuke him. Jesus told his disciple how much he was going to suffer by the hands of the elders, priests and scribes and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Jesus saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” This is the voice of the enemy telling Jesus you’re the Son of God nothing bad is going to happen to you! Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting you mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”[3]

The always present, underlying message from Jesus is don’t spend all of your time and energy on the temporal. After all it isn’t wrong to want to eat, be safe or even to be successful in life what is wrong is when we elevate those things above our eternal purpose and destiny. This reminds me of the story of Jacob and Esau. If you remember Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup. Even though Jacob gets a reputation for being a rascal he did have an appetite for the things of God. So I guess the overall lesson here is “Don’t trade you eternal identity and destiny for a temporary satisfaction.”

[1] John 6:15

[2] John 6:26-27

[3] Matthew 16:21-23

Written by Louie

SICK AND TIRED

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Mister “Sick and Tired”
Photo by Tracey Lewis

I received a call this morning from Joyce Zander concerning her 88 yr. old auntie being in the hospital. She wasn’t sure if she would be at jail tonight, so she made arrangements for a deputy to accompany Tammy and me if we still wanted to lead the service. We both agreed and waited and prayed for a healing. When the time came we were all available as God provided the way. Starting out with praise and worship with Nicole Mullins was a perfect start.

When Joyce called my name, I asked the ladies if they were sick and tired of being sick and tired and many hands went up. I was asking this because there is rest that God promises us in Hebrews 4:1, if we would put our faith in Him. I talked about when God made the whole earth in 6 days; the last thing He made was man. So think about this, man’s first day on the planet was to rest. But somehow we think if we aren’t busy, worried or in control, then it won’t get done, but that is simply not true.

The point I was making was how we are always going to be tempted to get out there into the drama. There is always going to be something we are going through. Hebrews 4:12 talks about how the “Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” In our soul, there is always movement, like our joints and thoughts. That’s okay. In our Spirit is the center, where the marrow and our intentions are, that’s where we draw life from. The struggle is good for us because we are growing up into maturity. God is looking for a son to take over the family business, but do you have the passion, and concern like the Father does. Can He trust you with the inheritance? How does He find out? How does He show us? He works this out through our trying and failing and then finally our resting in Him. The good news is we can have rest in our Spirit at the same time our soul is a mess.

That was the theme of the counseling tonight, it seemed. There is so much drama going on in the cell and a few of these ladies are asking me what they should do about it. One of my girls makes fun of herself along side the ones in the cell making fun of her. The other girl said she moved to the suburbs to stay out of the drama; meaning the cell is split in two categories, “I moved from the ghetto to the suburbs, Miss Tracey, they read their bible in the morning in the suburbs and have popcorn prayer before bed at night.” She told me.

Although I listened to five ladies tonight, but there is one in particular I wanted to tell you about. This lady has been through the tough stuff. Her whole adolescent life she wanted and craved attention from her mom and dad, but never got it. When she had her own children, she made sure they got what she wanted growing up. However, since her daughter has been alive, she has been in and out of jail and not bonded with her. The little girl is now 11 years old and knows how to work the system to her benefit. This lady I am talking about almost lost all hope of breaking the generational curse. But God is calling her name and He has her undivided attention. She told me as she was leaving her cell to meet me, she thought, “He, (the Lord) is going to speak to me through this church lady”. I heard her say, that she has hope. There is hope in Jesus and I saw something in her tonight I have never seen, and was happy to see the change. A smile came over her and brightened up the room. It was getting late, like midnight late, so we plan to get together next week right after services.

I could tell she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, but now we were both just tired.

Written by Tracey

WATER, WIND AND WHALES

There are many earthly things the Bible uses to illustrate heavenly or spiritual things to us. For instance water is used frequently when speaking of the Spirit of God. Jesus told the woman at the well “Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but this water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) Jesus is contrasting earthly water with spiritual water. He’s telling us the spiritual water will not only quench our thirst it will actually enable us to quench the thirst of others. Water is sort of like electricity in that it will follow the path of least resistance so we just have to be willing to receive. The woman’s response was probably like most of ours would be; she said, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty …”

Wind is another example used to define the Spirit of God. Jesus told Nicodemus “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) And of course there is the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost found in Acts 2 where it says, “There came a noise like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” The first mention of the word Spirit in the Bible is found in the 2nd verse of Genesis it says, “…the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” This word Spirit is actually translated from a Hebrew word that means breath, exhalation or to breathe. So it only makes sense that Jesus would use wind to illustrate the Spirit and the pouring out of the Spirit would have an accompanying wind. Isn’t it great God never leaves himself without a witness? Sometimes we are blind to it or don’t take the time to notice, but there is always something around that shouts God’s presence.

We live in two different realms at the same time. One of them is the earthly, or natural realm, where matter is found such as: houses, cars, trees, stars and the animal kingdom. The other is the Spirit realm where we find God, angels, demons etc. I for one believe everything in the seen realm was created out of the unseen realm. God said, “Let there be” and there was. So it’s only sensible that we can see glimmers or traces of the Spirit realm within the earthly. “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)

My most recent thought about how we can see the spirit realm in the natural is a whale. I don’t know very much about whales really, but I do know that even though they live their entire lives in the ocean they have to come to the surface to breath. Whales are in fact mammals and do not have gills like a fish. They have to swim to the surface every so often in order to breathe. It dawned on me that this is somewhat of a picture of the believer. We live in the world and yet our real life comes from above in another realm all together. I once heard it put like this “We are resurrected spirits living in a fallen body.” Just like the whale, we live in both realms at the same time. We live in a fallen body, in a fallen world but our real life comes from another place. The thought of a whale swimming to the surface in order to take a breath is like us praying. We, just like the whale, require air (the Spirit) from above to live.

Written by Louie

DRAWING THE LINE IN JAIL

I just spent an hour in jail, but it may not be what you’re thinking. I went there to share my testimony and the Word of God with about thirty men. The sign up sheet went around while I shared with them what Jesus Christ has done in my life. Several of the men have heard my testimony before, but some had not; so I gave them a condensed version. Telling your testimony can be the most important thing you can say to someone. Because people can always argue about the Bible and interpretations, but they can’t deny or argue about what’s happened in your life.

In addition to sharing my testimony I also taught them about how we humans are made of three parts- spirit, soul and body. I read them Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Using primarily this verse I showed them soul and spirit are definitely two different things.

There is a fascinating lesson here I read in a quote by Norman Grubb. It’s as follows, “Paul simply likens it to the difference in our bodies between joints and marrow. Marrow is the life of the bones. Marrow is likened to our inner spirit— union where our selves are joined to His Self, and from which our new life flows. Joints are the means by which the marrow—life operates in outer form. They give flexibility. So our spirit joined to His Spirit, where our knowing who we are is the permanent flow, expresses itself by our outer forms of soul.
The soul, like the joints, gives outer emotional expression to our spirit—love, and mental reasoning’s and explanations give expression to our inner spirit—knowing. Thus, soul emotions and reasoning’s are of vital value to our Christ manifestation, but can equally be penetrated and assaulted by Satan on either feeling or thought levels. A great many of our unsolved problems find their answers as we continually differentiate between soul reactions and spirit—fixed—condition and replace the soul disturbances by recognition of our true being as He. Spirit is like the sea —— total and beyond disturbance. Soul is like the restless waves, but we are like the sea. So also is the difference in this verse between “thoughts” (variable soul level, good or bad) and “intents” (fixed spirit—life purpose).”

In conclusion I told them God created us to be joined to him spirit to Spirit. In this way we, in our spirit, are to hear from God and let the Spirit take the lead in telling the soul and body what to do. Our problem occurred when Adam disobeyed God. He lost connection to the Spirit and the order of his life, and subsequently ours, was flipped upside down. We became ruled by our bodies and souls to the neglect of our spirit. This is precisely why we need to be born again. We had to have God’s Spirit placed into our spirit in order for us to function in the manner God intended.

All in all I think most of the guys were helped tonight. One of them even said out loud in front of everyone “We needed this, we need more teaching like this, and we need our minds renewed.” I agreed and thanked them for listening. As we all stood to pray before leaving one of the guys on the front row asked me if he could close us in prayer. Usually I don’t like to let one of them do this because it sometimes causes jealousy or other problems between them, but tonight I thought it seemed right. I told him he could, and he prayed for everyone in the jail, their spouses, children and court cases. I have no doubt God was in the service tonight.

Written by Louie