You should not expect to receive anything from the LORD…- from James 1:5-8
Who should not expect to receive anything?
The one who doubts…
God is challenging me to remember some times of breakthrough. Times that he broke down walls hindering His Spirit. It came to mind this week in my bible study group. A scripture came up that took me back in time to a good memory. It was from John 7. In it, Jesus spoke loudly to a large crowd and said,
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Jesus was at a “Living Water” festival when he said this, which in Jewish culture is a holy festival known as the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a time of year they are to celebrate for 8 days the harvest that God provided that season. Part of their celebration ended up including thanking God for sending living water from Heaven to water the crops and sustain their lives. Jesus used this opportunity to boldly declare that He was the living water sent from Heaven. He wanted people to know that He was the drink that would not only satisfy all physical need; but would produce a continual flow of living water to renew hearts within. Radical.
I remember being so intrigued by this scripture about living water flowing within. At that time I was a Christian for maybe 3 years, too young of a believer to hold too firmly to any limiting belief. I had just rededicated my life to God after repenting of treating Him like a genie in a bottle and of major disobedience. He gave me a new start filled with grace by promoting me in my job (when I should have been fired instead), moving me to a beautiful ocean setting in San Clemente, and establishing me in a strong bible believing church (Calvary Chapel Capo Beach). His forgiveness towards me was such a relief and lead me to surrender to His promptings. I felt that He was emphasizing that I was to learn how to study the Bible and be in fellowship groups. So for the first time I was beginning to really look at scripture in context, to consider what it was saying, apply it, and to pay attention to how the Spirit revealed Himself in believers around me.
At that time, if you asked me, I could say that I felt His presence here and there; but I could not say I felt a “flow” within. At this time I was attending 3 Sunday morning services, a mid week service, and a Sunday evening service. You would think I would have been quite familiar with a flow of His Spirit within from all that church time; but I was not! Church hours do not add up to more spirit. It can quite easily add up to more lifeless religion.
God wants relationship, authentic and surrendered, in order to "flow" within us. And I had just come off a season of major disobedience. So while He was being very good to me; He was also going slow with me. We do not realize that God is much like Joseph in the way he tested his brothers before there was freedom of fellowship again. see Genesis chapters 42-45. God can go slow with us, keeping us in a place to test our motive and cause us to yearn for more. It worked with me. I was very thirsty within and needed strong, satisfying drink. I wanted more of anything more to receive. I wanted any promise Jesus spoke of and this one for living water flowing within intrigued me. I believed God could produce that flow of His life giving spirit within me in greater measure. I didn't limit myself with belief that I was already filled and there was no more. I did not put up hands that said "no", I put up hands which freed me to be filled up to receive new life... again.
Now some are probably already arguing in their head how unscriptural this statement is. And to those I say “phooeeeeey on youeeeeey”. I’m very aware of the biblical position of believers being filled with the Spirit at the point of belief; and the argument that the flow Jesus is talking about references the Holy Spirit entering believers who have faith in Christ. Yes I believe that; and experienced that filling at the point of belief. But then my flesh and will disobeyed the leading of the spirit and I spent 3 years experiencing a quenching of the Holy Spirit’s presence. I never questioned my salvation; but I desperately longed for more of God and the promise of more.
Now 22 years in to my relationship with God, I see how boring the Christian life becomes when we stop believing for more. And I’m feeling challenged to not surrender to belief that limits God. I feel very strongly about stoking childlike faith in prayer that produces maturity. That may seem contradictory; but it is not. Remaining childlike keeps you in a place of awe and wonder. It also produces greater trust in God and strengthens a life that is founded on the radical truth of Scripture. And it keeps life in the Spirit dynamic to produce a supernatural wisdom that is necessary for the intensifying spiritual battle of our times. Don't look down on little children; God vanquishes the enemy through their cries, Psalm 8:2. Plus, God answers childlike requests and promises to those who delight in Him, He shall give them the desires of their heart.
“Most Christians have lost the life of their heart and with it, their romance with God.”
― John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God
What happened to my prayer for living water flowing within? Well He answered of course! I started feeling His presence like water within! And I saw that He tied it to my delighting in Him and surrendering. He was lifting me out of a deep depression in this season and healing deep places of brokenness. I kept clinging to Him, praising Him, longing for more, and letting Him wipe every tear. I remember telling one of my pastors that I was beginning to feel the flow within. I remember how happy and joyful that new reality felt! I remember how thankful I was that the life of Jesus was flowing within me in a palpable way! I remember realizing it was something no one could steal from me; but was indeed SOMEONE I could quench and grieve within, 1 Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30. The contrast was a critical lesson for me to get.
Do not quench the Spirit- 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
What quenches the Spirit? Well there are lots of flesh based things to list, some ideas found in both scripture sections just referenced. But my conviction for today is about delighting in God and being responsive to God revealing His truth to you. And realize God is outside of our box of neatly packed convictions.
I can share another example of God upending spirit limiting theology which teaches that believers are only filled once. Around 2006, I was now in New York, and was leading a prayer ministry at my church. One of my team members became insistent on me being “filled with the Spirit”. In her terms it meant that I needed to speak in tongues in order for this to be true. I knew this was not biblical; but did I argue with her and dismiss her? I was very tempted; but I felt God softening me to go along with what she wanted to do. I caution that at this point, I was pretty grounded in biblical truth and felt like He had readied me to love her through her strong conviction and be open to whatever God did. I knew she loved God and was being sincere. So I positioned myself in childlike belief and longed for more.
We arranged that she would come over to my apartment for the “speaking in tongues” to happen. Note, that 8 years prior I became a Christian in a church that encouraged speaking in tongues. I had already prayed for it several times with no obvious manifestation of the gift of tongues. I had studied 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14 regarding gifts of the Spirit and had come to the conclusion it wasn't a gift the Holy Spirit was giving me. But either way, I decided not to be held to that as a conviction and submitted to praying what she wanted me to pray; and longed for whatever God would deposit. I followed all her instructions. I waited. Nothing happened.
However, in the middle of the night I woke up with a phrase that I was speaking on my lips. I quickly got a piece of paper and wrote down phonetically what I was repeating; because I had no idea what it was, if anything at all. I asked for interpretation, 1 Corinthians 14:27. It took awhile to decipher and find correct spellings; but God helped me. It sounded Hebrew so I searched each word one by one and discovered it was indeed Hebrew language! Here is the phrase:
“El Yah shabbach ni ach.”
This may not be in correct grammatical order for Hebrew. I have no idea. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that God was answering my openness for more, honoring kindness I expressed towards my friend, and joyfully giving me one of His promises. This phrase translates as:
“My God is Jehovah who soothes, stills, and calms wailing, mourning brethren.”
These Hebrew words are found in Strong’s Concordance as H452, H7623, H5204, and H0251.
Powerful! I was awe struck and humbled from of measure of unbelief regarding tongues. It still makes me tear up (in a good way) when I read what it means. The God of Heaven filled me with more of His heart in order to more deeply root me in truth. He is ALMIGHTY and He is a God who heals emotions and soothes the souls of his people! That message is meant for you because the Spirit is distributed for the building up of the body of Christ, i.e YOU!
How sweet is that? How romantic? How beautiful? Fall in love with God! Long for more!
Are you one of His children? If not, may you have urgency to call on His name to be supernaturally adopted as one of His own. Do you know the flow of His life within? If not, may you consider what is quenching or grieving the Spirit. Have you lost hope? Is your faith lukewarm, stagnant water? Do you limit your belief in your head and hold stubbornly to theological positions that stifle the Spirit? Have you lost childlike wonder? Would you say you ever had it? How much unbelief is hidden within your scripture positions? Is God neatly packed in your box? He escaped your box a long time ago when He rose from the grave. Nothing contains Him. Unbelief is something to meditate on and confess to God. Unbelief quenches the Spirit.
Matthew 13:57-58- And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Be very careful not to dishonor the miraculous Savior. Be not offended at his all surpassing power. Honor the Father who talks to His children and tells His children to ask for more.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” - Luke 11:11-13
There is no reason to fear the Spirit. God is a God of order, 1 Corinthians 14:40. He knows our frame. He is not a God who wreaks havoc within. He is tender, gentle, and wants to soothe, calm, and still you within. This is done by His Spirit. Invite more. Long for more. Believe Him for more. Sit with Him; learn how to spend time with Him. Meditate on His Word. You are invited to a Sabbath Day’s walk with Him on Saturday June 16th to do just that. Visit the calendar page for more information and to sign up! Believe for more! Set aside strong head argument and confess hardened heart in order to soften to awe and wonder, see how it affects how He flows within!
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!