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Taking Scripture Meaning to New Heights

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Have you ever been stumped by a verse while reading through the Bible? I know I have on many occasions.

What about your attention? Have you ever been drawn to a particular verse as you read through a chapter? This is one of my favorite ways of knowing the Holy Spirit is guiding my understanding and directing my pathway. I love “attention” verses. I often write them down and focus on one a week to get a full picture of God, His attributes, and what He is personally saying to me.

This month our church is reading through the book of Mark – a part of the Gospel Era showcasing the fulfillment of the promised Seed God spoke of in the Creation Era. The book is a narrative filled with the life of Jesus, His mighty miracles, delivery of parables, and His death and resurrection. Over and over, each chapter reveals the love story of God which gives us all hope and “good news” to share with the world.

During this time of reading, several verses have captured my attention and deepened my understanding of the Lord. Over and over, I see God’s hand working to reveal His goodness and love in markable ways during Christ’s earthly life. I particularly love how Christ addresses the “legal” acts of the pharisees as He separates the difference between head knowledge/rule followers and a heart of love devoted to living by faith in God.

As many of you know, I am a large advocate of elevating God’s Word to the highest level of understanding and saturation. Many of Refining ministries’ workshops, Bible studies, and retreats are geared to helping followers discover ways to absorb Scripture to the fullest. So, I was captivated by this week’s sermon at our church when Chris Lopez shared a simple way to dig deeper into a focal verse.

He directed his thoughts to Mark 6:2 (NLT)

The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 

Then, Chris shared how he narrowed down his view by noting words that stood out to him: amazed-wisdom-power-perform. He carefully discovered the Biblical definition of each word and then rewrote the verse using the definitions as a substitute for each word. Here’s the video clip.

https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkx2GzEzbikZVf4sgqUp4p493zXjxaFJw3h

What a great tip!

I decided to give it a whirl and revisit the key verse for Refining ministry:  “I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.” Jeremiah 24:7 NLT

recognize means acknowledge

return means come back

wholeheartedly means completely and sincerely devoted

Defined to read: “I will give them hearts that acknowledge me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will come back to me completely and sincerely devoted.”

WOW! What a wonderful way to dig deeper into God’s Word and search for true understanding. Thank you, Chris, for sharing!

I hope this tip helps you take your Scripture comprehension to new heights.

2023: A New Approach

Happy New Year! Can you believe it? We have entered 2023. Thank you for supporting Refining Ministry this past year and being a blog follower. We hope it has played a part in your spiritual growth and encouraged you in your relationship with the Lord.

We are pleased to announce a new approach to studying the Bible in 2023. After several years of offering Bible studies entitled “Experiencing the Power of God’s Word” and conducting small focused sessions online, we felt led to go beyond the normal cycle of Bible study. Therefore, we are spending the entire year offering an opportunity to enhance Bible literacy through a chronological view for anyone wanting to join us.

Here are some primary reasons:

  • Build a relationship with God through His Word, process Scripture and gain personal insight.
  • Digest the material through weekly online meetings with others.
  • Engage without a workbook to exercise the belief in knowing only God’s Word can produce spiritual growth and change.
  • Allow the Lord to meet us everyday exactly where we are as we process the greatest love story of all times.

We will use 2023 as a time to focus upon 14 Biblical Eras through the Tyndale Chronological Study Bible (NLT). This is NOT a promotion nor are we receiving any proceeds. We are simply using this as a resource to guide our journey together.

You are invited to join us on the journey through this amazing chronological study Bible! Grab a copy and jump on board. It is a wonderful opportunity to do life together with a group of ladies across the United States! I know several have expressed a desire to read the Bible in chronological order, but wanted a group to stay accountable and encouraged. The time has come!

Personal message us OR send an email to refining.journey@gmail.com if interested. We will be happy to forward the details and online link.

LIFE: How did Judah fall so far away from God?

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Have you ever asked yourself this question: How have I drifted so far away from God? I know I have and more than once.

In the book of Jeremiah, we see Judah with a terminal disease-sin. They refuse to turn to the Lord and do everything within their so called “Human-power” to heal themselves only finding it to spread and eventually destroy.

Jeremiah spent forty years trying to convince these people of the consequences of their actions. However, they let their pride get in the way. Killing children, abusing others, having many gods, engaging in false worship, being self-centered, and loving self-indulgence were just the beginning of the many items they placed as a priority over holding true to God’s principles. They refused to listen and seemed to categorize Jeremiah’s messages as nonsense.

How did God’s people end up in this place?

As we studied part two of Jeremiah, I began to ponder this question. What caused them to drift so far away? Why did they refuse to turn back? Could the end results have been different for them?  

Then I reflected on my own life. (OUCH! I think the Holy Spirit made me do it!)

Pride-yes that word-the source of my drifting much like the people of Judah. Let’s be honest here: pride, arrogance, haughtiness, fear of man, etc. can decrease our level of honor for God and His Word at times. Pride has a way of clouding our judgment. Therefore, we ignore the warnings, disregard the consequences/truth, and often pretend there isn’t a disconnect with us and the LORD.

In Jeremiah chapter 35, we are introduced to a group of nomads, the Rekabites. They were known as “principled people”-a stark contrast to those in Judah during this time. These tent dwellers were faithful and steadfast. They had an exceptional quality of obedience and remained true to their set principles and values. Regardless of the temptation, they kept their promises. Their word was backed with follow through. WOW! God could count of them-what a beautiful display of a high level of respect. The Rekabites were far from haughty nor filled with self-pride.

Going back to my own assessment- God loves me so much to allow me to be broken and struggling many times over. Why?-because of self-reliance, portions of pride, and “what’s in it for me” approach to life. Oh, how I could easily become like Judah, but my heart cries out for a different life. I want to be a principled person, living as a nomad in this world, with an outstanding level of discipline and obedience for my precious Lord and Savior.

What about you? What about the legacy you are leaving behind? Where do you find yourself in life? What stands in your way of being 100% committed and faithful to God?

The Lord is definitely refining me and sharpening my motives to live a life more reflective of the Rekabites. I know the lie of self-sufficient and believing God’s truth and help isn’t needed 24/7 is directly from the enemy-pure evil. I boldly ask Jesus to be my war club and break the bondage held by the enemy. I crave true rest and complete presence of the LORD in my life.

May we each strive to be heroes of faith as we walk through this LIFE by digesting God’s Word on a personal level. I pray Scripture stirs your heart and opens the door to closeness with the Father. What a humble privilege to be encouraged by the mighty principled people found in God’s Holy Word-even the simple nomads.

 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Hebrews 11:32-34 (NIV)

Can a Leopard change his spots?

Written by Robin Gonzales
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If you are like me, you grew up hearing the phrase “Can a leopard change his spots?”

This is something I have even used myself when describing someone who was cheating or being deceitful in some way.

It was not until recently when we were studying Jeremiah that I discovered the phrase actually came from God’s word. Jeremiah 13:23 (NIV).

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

What was God trying to say? Is he saying if you are a sinner, you will always be a sinner–there is no hope for you? NO!

We are sinners and will continue to make wrong decisions until the day we leave these fleshly bodies, but Jesus is our source of hope. He paid the price and took on ALL of our sins so we could have a relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

God is trying to make a point. As humans, because God gave us intelligence and the freedom of choice, we think we have the power and ability to govern our own lives and we are self-sufficient apart from God. When in fact, we are reliant on God for everything. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the sun that rises and sets each day.

Reflect on this quote from A. W. Towzer’s book, The Knowledge of The Holy, “Probably the hardest thought of all of our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. Commonly, we represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world, but the God who worketh all things needs no help and no helpers.”

Without God we cannot even produce the desire to change our character let alone do anything good for anyone else as Philippians 2:13 (AMPC) tells us.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

Paul puts it like this in Romans 7:15-18 (AMPC)

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

My intention in this writing is to give you hope. For me, it gives me confidence in knowing God himself is working in me to create the desires. It is God producing the power and making a way for me to live out His plan for my life. Knowing He takes an interest in me at all is pretty amazing! 

I am forever grateful He did not leave me where he found me, He sees my heart and knows me better than I know myself.  God is not limited by time or space.  I love that He can see the finished product of me!

God has provided all that is needed, but the choice is still yours and mine. God can change anything!

Noting the Promises of God

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (NIV)

In all of your earthly relationships, who do you place the most trust in? Do the words loyal and faith describe their character? Do they primarily have remarkable follow through with their promises to you? Have they or will they let you down at some point?

I once was advised by a church leader to never have expectations of humans, then I would never be disappointed by them. Well, as much as this appears logical, how could one ever develop an intimacy and deep friendship with no expectations?

I am of the opinion most people choose their circle of friends, you know-those beyond acquaintances, based on trust and dependability. Why would you ever entertain a close association with someone if you didn’t have some type of faithful expectations? How could you truly believe what they said or promised if there wasn’t some level of trust?

Good news-you never have to question the promises of the LORD. He is forever constant in fulfilling and has proved this over and over. Just compare Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment.

His character is steadfast. God is the only relationship delivering constant, dependable trust. It is His character-loyal, faithful, devoted, and reliable. What a privilege to call Him friend.

When reading Scripture, search for those promises made directly by the father. These guarantees and assurances furnish hope on a big scale. Why? Because you can count on it, my friend! Believe it, trust it, and know it will happen. They are oaths made by the LORD himself.

These promises enter our minds as only information as we read and discover them. But, if we take the time to study each one intimately, God exposes His love for us and declares truth we can certainly hang our hat on. (Oops, that might have come from my Texas upbringing) It provides an insight of eternal hope and builds an even greater scale of confidence in the creator of our soul, Elohim.

As you find the promises of the LORD in your independent reading, decide what your plan will be.

  • Will you highlight them a different color than everything else in your Bible?
  • Will you write them in a special journal filled with nothing but God’s promises? (I call this God’s victory file. It comes in handy on those days the enemy is larking and working overtime. It helps call him out for who and what he is, a liar!)
  • Maybe you are a prayer journal lover. You can write the verse/s of promises directly in your prayer journal book with complete reference. Then pray out the promise/s into your life and those around you.

These three ideas are only the beginning to honoring the promises of the father. Each promise is a revelation you can expect to happen. They embody a powerful force, capable of crushing the attempts of evil. (Think about Jesus’ responds when tempted by the enemy.)

I would encourage you to devise a promise plan right for you. Determine a method of noting these assurances. Highlight them, write them, pray them, use them to encourage others, and cling to them for a lifetime. You may already have a strategy working for you in this area. How could you possibly enhance it?

You can always trust God’s assurances to be prevailing, mighty, effective, impressive, and everlasting! Who else delivers such guarantees?

Oh yeah, one more thing-have expectations of the Father. They will always be fulfilled BEYOND human standards and in accordance with His immaculate plan. Pinkie promise! 

Exceeding Text Elevation: More Than Typography

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Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Warning-moment of truth!

Looking back at the time in my life when a devotional Bible seemed ideal, I was cracking open God’s Word maybe once a week. I used God’s Word to find verses highlighted during a bible study, sermon, or devotional. Mainly, just to find Scripture presented in a different translation because I felt mine was easier to comprehend.  

Unfortunately, my craving and value for His Word had gradually faded outside of church and beyond the daily devotional conveniently appearing in my inbox each workday morning. It crushes me to tell you this. Nothing captivated my heart to dig deeper into the Bible at the time. The surface level reading seemed sufficient. I was satisfied with my limited exposure. I probably would have even justified my actions as proficient at the time. (If you are in the education world, remember proficient is good for an evaluation rating.)

Permit me to explain. See, my focus and a large portion of my energy was spent on a multitude of earthly loves. A period of time where I wanted to move up in my career, make an impact in the community, be the perfect wife, participate in a ton of events, and the list continues. BUSY-Being Under Satan’s Yoke! I had goals and ambitions. I had very little time to sleep let alone get past the mere printed text after I read it once. (Lesson learned, but that’s another book!)    

After going through a season of discipline, my love for God’s Word grew exponentially. It rebirthed the same hunger I exhibited as a child. I even wanted to revert to finding a closet, grabbing a flashlight, snagging the bed pillows, propping myself on top of a wooden toybox, and getting lost in God’s Word. Oh, the sweet craving of Scripture was back. This newfound reverence and desire finally outweighed everything in life.

Without a doubt, the Bible is more than text on a page yet, many copies of God’s Word are only consumed as print on a page. The potential elevation level of the text remains flat, especially when the Bible remains closed. Even when being read, God’s Word can often become a checkmark on a “To Do” list.

Unfortunately, I know this Scripture relationship all too well.

It is read, but not consumed.

It is treasured, but no life value displayed.

It is highlighted, but not truly understood.

It is set apart from any other writing, but so many other books are used.

It is God’s own voice, but everything else is heard above and beyond it.

It is paired with good intentions, but the follow through is overshadowed by “life”.

Yes—you could probably add more statements and I dare to say they too would probably be familiar to my past.

So, how do we break free from these chains? What can we do to ensure our relationship with God and His Word are more than lip service? Where can a person start? I am not sure I can answer these questions for each reader, but I can share my journey and the ways God captured my heart for Scripture.

It began with a simple prayer of asking the Lord for help to grow closer to Him and know Him more. The Holy Spirit reminded me if I truly wanted more of God and less of me, I had to love His Word as much as I loved Him. It required me putting skin on Timothy 2:15, which states, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (NIV).

From this humbly plea, my quest to investigate the importance of Scripture was birthed.

Since then, I can personally attest Scripture is the very words of God:

Living

Miraculous

Powerful

Set Apart

No matter the print arrangement, the Bible is filled with life instructions, promises from the LORD, filled with His attributes and characteristics, and many examples of what-to-do and what-not-to-do.

It is clearly a beautiful love story revealing a God who gave His blameless Son to die for our sins. Book after book of the Voice of God is printed for our engagement and supported by the Holy Spirit’s ability to convey its wisdom.

So much more than typography—an opportunity to go beyond text elevation!

Happy Salvation Birthday!

A gracious gift from God
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What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (Message)

Salvation. What is it to you?

For me, it was definitely a new life! A birth into a new family and a new identity where I am loved and treasured. It is a regeneration I took for granted for years. I precious gift freely given that took decades for me to really appreciate and fully understand.

His grace choose me and I didn’t deserve it by any means.

The LORD really captured my attention through the mountain of trials. Dates began to unfold-new births in our family, more anniversary dates to remember, and many dates of death. A moment in time and I could quote them one-by-one. Why? Because I deemed them important.

Yet, you could have asked me my salvation birthdate and I would have had to ponder and ponder and ponder. The date in my life where I received a magnificent gift from God and I couldn’t remember. When I realized this, it broke my heart. Why had I let this become a fading memory?

This beautiful salvation Christ brought you and I is often forgotten. It seems “life” gets in the way and clouds our memory of a treasured date-the day we trust in the LORD and join God’s family. How this must break the heart of the father!

Today I choose to remember. I celebrate the beautiful gift and give thanks to all who will listen. Jesus is in charge of my life for eternity. I trust in His words and rely on Him to live my life. He is the only reliable source of hope and joy. I rely on Him to change my heart and keep me ever grateful for August 8th.

I pray God will fill me with the desire to always say YES to His calling and purpose. May I never forget this date and the price paid for it.

Thank you LORD for my beautiful gift. HAPPY SALVATION BIRTHDAY!

Do you know yours?

Are you Intense-Red Hot-Ever Present?

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Hello friends. For all of those out there experiencing true summer heat, fall should be here in about 65 days. Yes, that does seem so far away when the average temperature is around 105 or higher! Global warming has become front and center for many this year.

Intense-red hot-ever present

Refining ministry just completed the series entitled “Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets” this past Monday night. We have been on a journey studying each minor prophet for quite some time and would like to thank every person who joined us throughout this timeframe. The depth of understanding, sharing, and growth has been outstanding on many levels. (And to think we only meet online for one hour each Monday night!)

Our last study was over the book of Zechariah. The Read Scripture overview describes it as a roller coaster ride. It is filled with visions, prophecy, harsh judgment, and direct commands to name a few. Yet, Zechariah is intense-red hot-ever present in all that he delivers. He is known as the most apocalyptic and messianic of all minor prophets.

For me, Zechariah was a book which had to be digested one bite at a time. Symbolism, terminology, customs, prophetic aspects of the second coming of Christ, interpretations of visions, rituals, and the list goes on. There were times when even the commentaries and study resources were overwhelming. However, I am so thankful for Zechariah on many levels. It made me reflect on my life with the main question:

Are you intense-red hot-ever present for the LORD?

Zechariah presented his audience with hope, encouragement, warning, instructions, and the glimpse of a future King. Over the past seven weeks, I went chapter by chapter looking for direct instructions of how I could increase my spiritual walk and intensify my relationship with God. Zechariah allowed me to reevaluate my spiritual priorities and take a closer look at my daily habits.

Today, I would like to share the list with you. As you read over each item, let it wash over you and encourage you in your personal walk. Allow the Holy Spirit to highlight a couple of areas where you can crank up the heat for the LORD then take it to God in prayer. Enjoy!

  • Exercise the listening muscle
  • Be still to hear God’s voice
  • Watch out for worldliness (externally & internally)
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Return to God quickly when you stray
  • Embrace the fire (life trials)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit
  • Stay in God’s Word
  • Encourage others to invest in Scripture
  • Recognize sinning religion (a state of spiritual disobedience)
  • Only God is holy to judge
  • Have diligent obedience
  • Worship is more important than performing a religious ritual
  • Have a sincere desire to know God
  • Fully surrender your heart to the LORD
  • Carry out His commands with a joyful spirit
  • Speak truth
  • Live peacefully
  • Exercise justice
  • Love God’s ways
  • Seek only the approval of the LORD
  • Do not be afraid because God is your defender
  • Deal with sin barriers
  • Stay under the LORD’s authority
  • Intentional spend time with the father
  • Find your identity in God
  • Connect with like-minded Christians
  • Carry out God’s work at all costs
  • Stay dependent upon the LORD

Thank you, Zechariah! I loved the summer message:

God is intense-red hot-ever present for each of us!

YIKES! Change Found Me

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Romans 12:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Happy HOT summer my friends. Boy, the change in weather occurred recently-it was 109 degrees this past weekend. I wasn’t ready for it nor the fact that it came with 20-30 mph wind gusts. It made me want to skip over the next three months and go straight to fall.

But this isn’t the only change that found me over the past week. I went from a headache to a full-blown sinus infection in less than 24 hours. Having a fever during the intensive heat was draining and once again I found myself wanting to skip over the next few days and go straight to feeling better!

And then…a change I knew would come sooner or later yet, for some reason I didn’t think it would heavily impact me. In less than a week, I have a new direction in my employment along with several others in my department. Change-I normally like it! Can I just skip to September 1st and know the end results of all of this?

Yes, I like change and I am an advocate for change. I find freshness and excitement in learning and experiencing new things. However, I want to be the agent of change and I would prefer it be on my terms! My first reaction when change finds me—well, let’s just say over time it seems to get better.

As I sit here mentally preparing for a job interview, God’s wisdom washes over me. He reminds me that none of this surprises Him. He allowed some overnight changes for a reason. The LORD gently reminds me that He is in control and my future is secure in His hands. No change on earth will alter His great love for me nor the overwhelming attributes of His character. I have a steadfast Father who has my back!

What about you? How do you handle change? When you journey from mountain top to valley low to long straight plains and repeat again and again, do you ever want to skip over the waiting, healing, unknowns, transitioning, etc.? Do you have a hope outlook or a doom and gloom perspective when unwanted change comes?

God really shared His perspective for me in all of this.

Change found Jesus Christ. He went from a perfect man to a shredded form of life in a matter of a few days. The weight of the world was placed on His shoulders. His earthly life was taken in the most painful manner and given a resting place in a tomb. Life on earth was turned upside down and a new covenant was established. Yet, it came with brokenness and blood. A change that made a way for all of humanity to be saved if they would only believe. Change found him because God loved us.

Through it all, God stayed steadfast. The LORD kept His promises, and He gave the world a Savior, the Messiah, a fulfillment of prophesy and full depth of love. Where would we all be if it wasn’t for the change? And Christ submitted to the call of change.

Romans 8:6: The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Perspective of God towards me – Relax! Change has found you for a reason. Don’t skip the experience and take each step in full confidence that I have worked out your pathway. You don’t need to be afraid, upset, or nervous in the days ahead. Live each moment with hope in ME. I will not change, and I will be beside you always. Now, go face that interview!

Dots and Dashes by: Robin Gonzales

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Hello friends. Mine is a voice you don’t hear too often unless you join us weekly for Refining’s bible studies online.

I have recently retired from the job I had for what I like to call the second act of life. The first act was my childhood, young adult life, and motherhood. As I begin the third act, I have had a chance to sit back, relax, think, and adjust to the new normal. It is a bit strange, but also very exciting as God moves me in a new direction.

I have realized all of the things prior to now have been my training ground for things to come. . .

Have you ever identified with a Bible character? Refining recently finished the book of Amos. He was an ordinary person who loved God and wanted to share what he had learned. I really identified with him. He was an ordinary guy (farmer of fig trees and goat herder). God called him to go and speak to his people.

Amos was much like people we know: our pastor and his wife, a great prayer warrior, the spiritually gifted song leader or friend. Some of them even fortunate enough to receive specialized training; yet all of them, including you and me, are in the school of the Holy Ghost. A specialized training for God.

As we each receive our training under the Holy Spirit’s authority, He has been given several tasks to ensure our instruction. His job is to purify, consecrate, and set us apart to bring honor to Christ and empower us to witness to others.

You may be asking-so exactly how does He go about this? The Holy Spirit works within you and changes you by the dots and dashes of ordinary life-every situation, circumstance, and relationship.

__ __ * ___ ___ ___ __ ** ** *** * ___ ** ___ ___ ___ ***_ *

The small dots are everyday life. How you react to people and circumstances: putting the grocery cart back where it belongs, stopping when the light turns yellow instead of running it, not interrupting people when they are talking. And maybe changing the things you like to listen to, read, watch, who you hang out with, or the places you want to go.

The larger dashes are challenges in life. Maybe not enough money to pay the rent this month so you have to lean into faith that God will direct and make a way. Or it could be life has gotten really busy, you are feeling stretched, and you are having to lean into God’s peace to help you sort out, prioritize and eliminate what is not essential. Maybe you are wanting a spouse, family, new car, house, or job and God is making you sit in the waiting room because He has not released you to move forward.

Those dashes even include times when we have flat line seasons filled with suffering. You know, those times when it is hard to see more than a few inches in front of you and usually filled with loss and hardship. Death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, or serious illness. These are the times when we seem to recognize God really showing up and even seeing ourselves grow in faith by leaps and bounds.

Yes, the dots and dashes of life. The training ground for the Holy Spirit. It is these areas in life where we learn to listen, be still, discover perseverance, and grow in relationship with the LORD. But, why does it seem as though the most growth occurs during times of struggle and hardship?

God would love for us to lean into him and grow without the hurt and pain. So, what keeps us from doing so? Maybe the problem is we become “too busy” living life when things are good. We don’t look for God or spend time in His Word. We forget to pray or thank him for all of the blessings we are enjoying. We become complacent and prideful thinking we have everything under control.  

But when God pulls away just a little, and allows us go our own way, we fall very short and things go wrong. It is then we begin to look around and realize we have forgotten our first love, the one who cares for us, and our need for him in all things. THEN…we look up and call out!

And being the good Father that he is, God steps in…

now we are back on the pathway of learning and growing in faith.

As we continue to walk with the LORD and follow God’s leading, our relationship begins to mature. We learn to be good students of a master teacher, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works within us (and does it quite well I might add) and over time we become people the Holy Spirit can use to draw others to Christ.

When we become aligned with God’s will, we become plugged into the Holy Spirit’s mighty power to turn our dots and dashes into a glorious testimony for God’s kingdom.

Yes, we are all enrolled in the Spirit’s training when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior. There is no doubt, the Holy Spirit is working! When we tap into His power there are NO LIMITS to where God can take us and who we can reach for His kingdom. Every dot and dash along with all the gifts and abilities we have been gifted and the Holy Spirit within us, we can truly do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

So, during this Pentecost season, let us remember God sent His Spirit to empower us to do even greater things than He himself did while he was in human form on the earth (John 14:12).

Just imagine the possibilities because of our dots and dashes!

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