Guilt and Shame

From the upcoming book ‘Freedom in Heaven’ …

Guilt and shame rob Christians from the joy of the Lord. What is this ‘joy of the Lord’ and how is it obtained?

Let me illustrate by describing three different people …

You’re a prisoner in jail for what you consider a minor offense. In your mind, you do not deserve prison time. One day, you see an avenue of escape and so you take it. After a daring dash, you find yourself wondering the city streets. Are you free? The answer of course is ‘no’. You’re a fugitive and will spend the rest of your life looking back over your shoulder.

You’re an ex-con who has paid your debt to society. By spending time in jail, lost is the life you could have lead. Lost are the opportunities that could have led to prosperity. Lost is a future free of the verdict of a convicted criminal. Yes, you may now live your life outside of prison, but are you free? The answer of course is ‘no’. No matter how hard you try to shake it, as a human being who you are a summation of your past. The stigma of being an ‘ex-con’ will follow you for the rest of your life.

You’ve been arrested for a minor offense. You stand before the judge awaiting your sentence. You are stunned to hear the sentence is death. Off you must go immediately to the death chamber. Are you free? The surprising answer is ‘yes’. Your life guilt and shame is coming to an end. Everything will soon be over.

For you see, the ‘joy of the Lord’ means a clean slate. It awaits us after death as we are raised again to new life. The key to the ‘joy of the Lord’ is death. It is not God’s plan to rehabilitate any of us. It is His plan to kill us.

Romans 6:10-14
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin, shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

As a Christian, you are not a sinner who somehow escaped punishment. You are not an ex-con who continues with the stigma of past sins. You are a person who (like Jesus) has lived and is living a sinless life. How do I live such a life? Every morning, ‘reckon yourself to be dead’. The mistakes made yesterday were by a person who died last night. That person no longer exists. His errors, his faults, his shortcomings died with him. By faith in the power of God, know that this is true. Walk into the new day as a new person.

Romans 8:9-11:
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Holy Spirit who dwells in you, not only will raise you up anew, He also causes our nature to be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness. I’ve talked a lot in this book about the ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe it is a ministry that needs to be better understood and gloriously praised. What I am now highlighting is the incredible ministry of Holy Spirit. It is the ministry of raising the dead. It is the ministry of giving new life.

Freedom from Sin

1 John 3:7-9:
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin”. The passage above and specifically verse 9 have always been a challenge for me to grasp. I’m a born-again, Holy Spirit filled Christian and yet, I am not perfect. I still make mistakes. On occasion, I still step outside God’s best for me and afterwards feel I must repent and pray asking for forgiveness. Verse 9 seems to expect Christian perfection.

I am comforted by a couple phrases that are in the passage. First notice; “He who practices righteousness is righteous”. In other words, righteousness is something we practice and so get better at during our lives. We grow in our maturity as Christians. Second notice; “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested. Per, Webster; for something to be manifest means: 1. To be readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight, and 2. Easily understood or recognized by the mind.

And so, the 1 John passage which at first glance demands perfection, upon meditation prescribes the path to spiritual maturity desired by all Christians. And what is that path? For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. The works of the devil in the life of a Christians are destroyed as we perceive, understand and recognize Jesus in your mind.

Psalm 27:4:
One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.

We must desire one thing above all else; “to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple”. Such beholding, such inquiring is still very much available to you and I this day. This available heavenly access is what Jesus bought and paid for us when He died on the cross and rose again.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God … let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Yes, I believe the Bible is literally true. I believe and have experienced that there is a throne of grace and that I can approach it for mercy, grace and help in time of need.

There is a battle going on in your mind. Like a puppy looking for something to chew, your mind and imagination craves for something to crew upon. This is how God made human beings. We are meant to have an active, creative imagination. Give your mind and imagination Godly things to chew upon. Take the offensive in the battle for your mind.

The word ‘sanctify’ means to set aside for a Godly purpose. Sanctify your mind and imagination to God. Set aside time every day to picture and imagine God and heaven in your mind. You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.

James 4:8:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

As you draw near to God, He will draw near to you! Imagine a picture of heaven and God will give you a bigger picture. Imagine a picture of a Godly, blessed life and God will give you a bigger picture.

How do I know that I’m seeing heaven in my mind and imagination? It is because God continually shows me things beyond my imagination. I take the first small step. God continues with leaps and bounds!

The Message of Freedom

Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

By this proclamation, Jesus began His public ministry in Galilee. The message of the good news of Jesus Christ is the message of freedom, of setting all of us free to be the sons and daughters of God that we are meant to be.

Galatians 4:31 – 5:1:

So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Freedom is not something you need to strive to obtain. Freedom is something you have based on parentage.

Matthew 17:25-26:

“What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”

It was (and still is) customary for those entering a place of worship to pay a ‘temple tax’. Though in the Matthew 17 story, Jesus had Peter pay the tax, Jesus used the event to drive home the fact that, as God’s children, we have free access to the Father. A member of the royal family is free to come and go to and from the palace and royal courts. In the story, Jesus had Peter pay the tax so as not to offend the tax collectors. A coin miraculously appeared in the mouth of a fish. As children of God, not only are we free from religious taxation, but God will provide for our daily needs as well.

The advent of Jesus

From the book “Peace in Heaven” …

The advent of Jesus was an advent of peace. All of heaven was astonished at His birth. The prime characteristic that differentiated heaven was being brought to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. I need to be reminded routinely of just how incredible the event was! The men of earth could thereafter experience heaven on earth. They could now experience the end of striving and conflict. They could experience peace.

Luke 2:14 records the reaction of the multitude of the heavenly hosts at the birth of Jesus.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

And to whom was this glorious message first proclaimed? To the high and mighty? To the shakers and movers? To the religious elite of the day? To the educated and learned scribes? No. It was proclaimed to shepherds. To the outcast fringe of society who lived their lives humbly trusting God for their provision. It was proclaimed to the lonely who spent their days separated from the hurried madness of society. To those whom society looked down upon because they spent their nights surrounded by the stillness of the night and the gentle sounds of the flock. To such who daily positioned themselves in quietness and stillness, God first introduced the Prince of Peace.

Fruit in Heaven

Exciting news! The tenth book in the ‘… in Heaven’ series is now available from Amazon is both eBook and paperback formats!

For those not familiar with the series … Each book is meant to help cultivate and encourage personal meditation and contemplation. In other words, each are tremendously helpful in learning about and experiencing Jesus Christ.

This latest book from author Jon Clendenin contains fresh revelation and experiences in the heavenly realm that teach and inspire on the topic of cultivating spirit fruit and ultimately the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Check it out!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?C=144QRFVK63ZV2&K=A1S747MFJQC2LD&R=2APUPZLNRPY6H&T=C&U=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fdp%2F0998392006%3Fref_%3Dpe_870760_150889320&A=KCOKT6QV5VGCNO6T0RMNTBTECLMA&H=6GQFRUIJAARWAAOLYBRMMKP2ABOA&ref_=pe_870760_150889320

 

Gentleness and Speaking in Tongues

From the upcoming book “Fruit in Heaven” …

The key to the gift of speaking in tongues is a gentle spirit that is willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If the gift of prophecy comes from being bold as lion, the gift of speaking in tongues comes from being gentle as a lamb. God wants us to be both. God wants us to get to the point where we quickly respond to gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. For it is in the following of gentle promptings that an abundant joyful life comes.

During a recent time of worship at a Christian conference, God gave me a vision of the gift of speaking in tongues. And I looked and the Lord showed me the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through the landscape of heaven. I could see and feel the weight and power of the wind. The wind had substance. It had the ability to move mountains. The Lord then showed me that the wind was being driven by the gift of speaking in tongues. The gift has the ability to move mountains in the spirit.

When the Lord Jesus taught that “if you had faith as a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20), He was referring to the reality of the gift of speaking in tongues. The truth of God is true on different levels. Though I do believe that mountains can move in the physical, I also believe that Jesus was speaking of a needed spiritual reality available daily to believers. Mountains in the natural are not our daily problem. Spiritual mountains are the real problems. We routinely put barriers and obstacles in the way of our spiritual journey. They’re hindering our walk with the Lord. In some cases, they have stopped the journey all together. If your spiritual walk feels ‘stuck in one place’, the answer is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.

There are tongues and voices to be used in your daily prayers. For example, voices of rejoicing, of sorrow, of laughter, of pleading and of repentance should all be a part of your daily prayers. The normal speaking of tongues is available for the daily need to express words and thoughts that go beyond the limitations of natural language. There are emotions that go beyond words that need to be expressed to God. Such tongues have great impact in the realm of the spirit. They move the heart of God. I used the phrase ‘normal speaking of tongues’, because these are different than the gift of speaking in tongues. The gift of speaking in tongues is imparted to speak to a specific situation. Normal speaking of tongues are private. The gift of speaking in tongues is public. It is the public declaration of the will of God to move and to change the spiritual landscape of a group, a church, a geographic area or even am entire nation. If private gift of tongues is the ability to speak to God from the heart, the public gift of tongues is the heart of God being declared to His people.

As I mentioned, it was during a recent time of worship at a Christian conference that God gave me this vision of the public gift of speaking in tongues. During the singing, I could feel the power of the wind of the spirit. I knew that God was moving. (And yes, during the singing I was feverishly typing on my iPad. Forgive me. I’m a writer.) At the end of the worship time, as the music had quieted (and yes, I had put away my writing), The public gift of speaking in tongues was suddenly heard. It was the Lord declaring His intention to create ‘a beachhead’ upon the spiritually dry geographic area in which I live. It has been my cry and the cry of many other Christians in the area for such to happen. And so, the declaration was of great comfort. Yes, Jesus! Come and change the landscape! Blow Holy Spirit! Move the mountains that hindering the advancement of Your kingdom!

The Fruit of Self-Control

From the upcoming book “Fruit in Heaven” …

Would it surprise you to know that the key to operating in spiritual gifts is the fruit of self-control? Many see Charismatic (those who operate in spiritual gifts) Christians as being out-of-control. In 1 Corinthians chapter 14, Paul begins with the exhortation to (verse 1) “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy”. Yet, near the end of the chapter, Paul concludes with the fact that “the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (verse 32). His point being, the key to being prophetic (or exercising any spiritual gift) is learning to recognize when your thoughts (or feelings) have originated from God and when they are from your self. And, when those thoughts are from God, you have the self-control to not mix your own words and thoughts into the delivery/translation of God’s words and thoughts.

How can you distinguish between the two? The more you spend time in the spirit, silencing your own thoughts, the more you can develop hearing the voice of God. In such times, you will start seeing what He sees, feeling what He feels, being touched by what touches Him. The more time you spend in silence with God, the more you can easily distinguish between God’s thoughts and words and your own. It’s that simple. And, it is available to all Christians. Do you want to be able to spot the counterfeit? Then spend time with the genuine.

The reason charismatic Christians get excited is that they are experiencing God, the ultimate ‘non-yourself’, the ultimate ‘other’ in your life. It is a lie from Satan that Charismatics have no self-control. In fact, the opposite is true. It is only because they can control self that allows God to operate unhindered in their lives.

The key to operating in spiritual gifts is learning to recognize God’s voice/thoughts and your own voice/thoughts and then learning to control-self so that your self does not hinder the voice and work of God. Those Christians who have not learned this distinction and discipline have fallen into the trap of a life without self-control.

Faithfulness – Vision

From the upcoming book “Fruit in Heaven” …

Proverbs 29:18 : Where there is no vision, the people perish. (KJV)

To fully develop the fruit of faithfulness in your life, you must also develop your spiritual vision. In an organization, without a sense of common purpose, objectives and goals their members will flounder. In the body of Christ, without a vision of heaven and of the spiritual realm, church will lose direction and purpose.

1 Corinthians 15:29: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul, a man who faced daily trails (2 Corinthians 11:28), assumed that Christians possessed faith/hope for today but just needed to be reminded (through his letters) of our eternal hope. For, what I find in many modern Christians is the opposite. There is a common hope/belief in a heavenly future and yet very little belief in the need for faithfulness in the small daily things which are the stuff of life.

“I’m a Christian. So, I believe I’m going to heaven when I die. But, today I’m too busy with work and family obligations to think about God.”

When you spend time developing your spiritual senses, you begin to live your life from a spiritual point-of-view. Your priorities will change. What you spend your time and money on will change. Your attitude towards your daily activities will change. You will begin to be faithful to the little things that are important to God, for you will begin to see them as He see them. You will develop the fruit of faithfulness in your life.

Poor in Spirit – The Kingdom of Heaven in our Lives

From the book “Peace in Heaven” …

Matthew 5:3:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is the kingdom of peace. The first step towards a life lived within your inheritance as a child of God, within the kingdom of peace, is a recognition of how poor you actually are in the spirit compared to the vast spiritual riches available to you in heaven.

The Apostle Paul’s prayer recorded in Ephesians 3:18 is that we would “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” It is God’s desire that we be filled with peace to such a degree that it passes all knowledge or understanding. He wants His children to exhibit a supernatural peace that will baffle and astonish the world around them.

God desires that we be filled “with all the fullness of God”. What an incredible statement!

Peace that “passes knowledge” means supernatural peace. It means peace in the midst of any storm.

In the midst of a storm that threatened to sink the very boat carrying Himself and His disciples (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus was asleep on a pillow! When awoke by His disciples, Jesus rebuked the wind and caused “a great calm”. Jesus is not only our savor; he is the example to be followed by every child of God. Supernatural peace is available to every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, that means like Jesus we have the power and authority within us to rebuke any storm and to calm the waves that threaten to rob us of our peace. This is because the same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead also lives within us. (Romans 8:11)

Jesus is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Every storm that threatens to rob us of our God given inheritance of peace must bow to the lordship of Jesus Christ. “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith. His rebuke is a reminder to us all that, as children of God, we have power over the spiritual atmosphere that is around us.

We are called to be peacemakers. We are called to be light in dark places.

Don’t let anything or anyone rob you of your peace.

Sit in His Presence

From the book “Pathways in Heaven” …

When God starts to deal with your old nature He heads straight for the center of all you hold most dear. Allow Him to bring you the cross in the very center of who you are. Don’t grumble and become agitated when the process starts: Silence and peace will help you much more than being upset.

You will be tempted to speak out in a humble tone of voice to tell others of your problems. Watch out for this! A humility that is still talkative does not run very deep. When you talk too much your self-love relieves its sense of shame a little.

Don’t be angry about what people say. Just follow God and let them talk. As far as people are concerned, you will never be able to satisfy them. Silence, peace, and union with God should comfort you from all that people speak against you. You need to be determined to do right in your present situation – but at the same time your quick temper requires checks and balances. Come to God often just to sit in His presence and renew yourself. Nothing is as important as lowliness of heart, and detachment from your own opinion and will. Stiffness and harshness is not the spirit of Jesus Christ

Francois de Fenelon (1651-1715)
French Roman Catholic Archbishop
Taken from the book ‘100 Days in the Secret Place’
Copyright 2001 – Gene Edwards, Published by Destiny House

The above excerpt came from a letter written by Archbishop Fenelon. His fatherly voice and practical advice is part of the inspiration for this book. His writings remind me we are all very much a work in progress and we need to be reminded to ‘Come to God often just to sit in His presence and renew yourself.’ God is working deep within all of us to bring us to maturity as His sons and daughters.

All of us are on a spiritual journey. It is important to know the pathways we are on have been traveled by others before us as well.

What is God showing you about heaven?