JUNE 9, 2020
Do you want to know whether you are in the flesh or in the Spirit?
Do you want to know if you are pleasing God or at war with Him?
You CAN know!
Years ago I came home from work and Nancy said, “You need to go into (one of our daughter)’s bedroom. She’s throwing a fit.” Before I walked in, I said, “Lord I don’t have anything. But I’m trusting you.” So, I walked in and said, “How ya doin’?”
She said “Terrible.”
Everything was wrong. To her this was a major crisis. It was some great injustice and her temper was totally justifiable in her eyes.
So I asked her a question:
“On a scale from one to ten, how are you doing in walking in love right now?”
She said zero.
I said, “Okay, how about Joy? One to ten, how are you doing?”
“How about Peace?”
I want through all nine fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23 and she rated herself a zero on every one of them.
I said, “Did you realize that, if you have a zero for each of those, then you’re walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit?”
I don’t remember what she said next, but I do remember the complete change in her attitude. The storm was passed by. She was no longer in emotional turmoil.
Through her finding out she was in the flesh, she was able to locate where she was emotionally and spiritually, where she wanted to be, and that it was her will that would get her there. She chose to walk in the Spirit and instantly received the reward of choosing to walk that way. She had peace, joy, love and all the rest.
So, friends, how are YOU doing?
Are you walking in the Spirit or the flesh?
On a scale of 1 to 10 rate yourself
How are you doing when it comes to walking in:
Romans 8:5-9 “For they that are according to the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. Now if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.”
You get to choose.
Last year I put together an album of my instrumental music with healing scriptures spoken over the music. My desire was that people would either hear and be healed or at least that it would build their faith to be healed by God’s available healing power.
I really want everyone to be healed. I believe God does too.
We’re actually working on a book and a class on this topic.
I hope you enjoy this track.
Just sit back and close your eyes while listening.
If you want to hear the rest of the album, you can purchase the CD here on this site, download it from iTunes, Amazon, stream it on Spotify and many other outlets.
Years ago I worked at Tyndale House Publishers and was able to spend time with Dr. Ken Taylor, the founder of the company who wrote the Living Bible. One thought I had about him was of all the people who ever read the Living Bible, who got the most out of it?
Dr. Taylor did.
He wrote it.
So, I decided to try this method of Bible study. Paraphrase the verse and see if you can get all of the original meaning into your paraphrase.
Here is my attempt at Isaiah 61. See how you think I did.
|Isaiah 61:1||The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;||The presence of God is with me. His Spirit is on me empowering me to proclaim the gospel to those who are so weak and poor. I have a commission from Him to wrap up and bandage the hearts that have been shattered and to tell the captives that they are now free.|
|Isaiah 61:2||To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;||Jubilee has come! God is ready to set the record straight, to balance the scales, to right the wrongs and bring deep comfort to those whose hearts are mourning.|
|Isaiah 61:3||To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.||Here’s how He’s going to fix it: for those whose lives seem nothing but ashes He’s going to make them beautiful, green and full of life. For those who are weighed down with heavy sadness, just like a brand new garment He’s going to adorn you with praise! These children of God who God does this for are going to be planted firm in Him, like beautiful, fruitful trees. Giving God constant glory.|
|Isaiah 61:4||And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.||After God affects these people in this way, the effect they will have on others will be amazing. Places that have been totally destroyed, just like their lives were will be restored as well as they are. The generational curses on families will be broken. The blessing has come.|
|Isaiah 61:5||And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.||You’ll be amazed at who God will send to help you. People from foreign countries and those you don’t even know will feed your flocks, plow your fields and tend your vines,|
|Isaiah 61:6||But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.||because you will be too busy for that. People will call you Priests of the Lord and Ministers of the Most High God. The wealth of those who don’t even know God will come looking for you. God has appointed it to you. Their glorious riches will be yours.|
|Isaiah 61:7||For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.||For all the shame, pain and confusion you’ve endured God will give you double blessing. In your land you will have twice as much blessing as the pain you endured. Oh the joy that will be on them! It won’t end.|
|Isaiah 61:8||For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.||I, your God, love fixing things this way! I hate when people try to work their own salvation. I want to do it for them. I want to do the cutting so they don’t have to. It’s my covenant with them and it will pass down to their kids,|
|Isaiah 61:9||And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.||Their children will be known all over the world. Everyone that sees them will be confronted with how much I’ve blessed them. They will acknowledge the ones I have blessed as chosen by me.|
|Isaiah 61:10||I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.||Lord, I am overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness for everything you’ve done. I’m completely clothed and protected with your salvation and you make look great in your eyes with your gift of righteousness. I feel as well taken care of as a the groom at a wedding; I’m totally decked out. Or like a bride covered with her dress and beautiful attire; your salvation on us is so beautiful.|
|Isaiah 61:11||For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.||It’s amazing how soil grows what’s sown it; the seeds bud and flourish. Just so, Lord, you are causing your praise and glory to spring up throughout the nations because of how extravagant your salvation is.|
Lord, I see all of these Father’s Day posts, while I’m thankful for being honored. The thing that bothers me is the number of people who’s father has passed and they are sore lamenting the loss of their father and missing him everyday. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be the one who is missing. I don’t want my kids to lament me not being there. Give me wisdom God. I want to affect their lives in a positive way, I want them to be thankful, but I do not want them to miss me everyday.
Many words, meant to be said, were unspoken. Many hearts that needed to be known were left closed. Many that needed a touch from their father were left alone. Son, you have spoken into their lives. You have ministered my love. You have done well Son.
While you can’t control how you will be remembered, you can influence it.
Keep loving Son.
Keep empowering them towards confidence and accomplishment.
Keep directing their hearts to love others.
That outward focus will leave them satisfied at your departure.
Son, I’m with you.
We have much loving to do.
Let us work while we have the light.
Move forward in me son, without shame and without apology.
Impact this world with my love and my wisdom.
That is your commission.
Romans 10:17 KJV
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
There’s something about that first time you hear the good news. When someone finally explains it to you and you actually get it. Understanding has come. Something is being revealed to you. It’s actually more than just the person who is speaking to you or the preacher you heard. There’s another voice coming through. Someone’s knockin’ at the door; the door of your heart. Someone wants in.
15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah,
for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood,
but by my Father in heaven.
Somehow through this process of Jesus spending time with His disciples and Peter pondering all these things, somehow in all of that God ministered to Peter. Somehow Peter heard God. Somehow he got a revelation from heaven. Jesus said that he didn’t get it from a man.
God is speaking to you too. He loves you and He wants you to hear His voice. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to be close to Him. He wants to be able to make your life into an amazing beautiful work of art. He wants to draw you close to Him. Then through you He wants others to be drawn close to Him.
Revelation 3:20 says:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Sounds like He’s seeking you, the question is are you willing to be found by Him? Are you willing to seek Him too?
Jeremiah 29:13 says
“And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
If you seek Him it won’t be long before there’s a collision between the two of you. And what a glorious thing that will be. He loves you. Let Him find you.
Gardeners are amazing! They keep watch over their plants and over everything in their garden to make sure that it is in order and working right. One thing that they are very careful to watch out for is if anything is dead. They’re checking to see if there’s any brown leaves on any of their plants. If there’s brown leaves, that means something has died. When they see that something has died, they trim it off.
In your life are there any brown leaves? Are there any places that aren’t bearing fruit the way that they should be?
Proverbs 29:18a “Where there is no vision, the people perish”
This passage of scripture states clearly why there might be death in some of the things you are doing.
Let me illustrate.
I love playing guitar. I’ve written several songs and recorded a few CDs. I love playing at parties and in front of people and at church. My wife especially loves my playing. She wants me to go back out and play in the restaurants like I used to, just because she knows how much it blesses people.
But I have so much on my plate. It’s very difficult to choose what I’m supposed to keep my eyes on. I am the pastor of a church, I run Joseph Barlow Ministries, we have 7 children, we have a home group on Wednesday nights, we have healing class on Saturday morning. We are trying to manage a very busy schedule and there is a lot going on. Rest is sometimes something that you have to steal; at least it seems like that.
So what about the guitar playing? My guitar has been sitting in its case.
I haven’t played it in a little while. It feels like a brown leaf sometimes. I want to write songs I want to go back into the studio. But I’m letting too much get in the way of that.
What is happening?
I am letting the vision dissipate. I’m letting it lose its appeal in my heart. Sometimes you have to stir yourself back up. You have to stir up the vision. When you stir up the vision, the desire gets stronger. You have to imagine what it would be like if your desires were coming to pass right now. Is that something worth working for? Maybe!
You, like me, need to make some decisions. We better decide what are the visions we want to keep in place in our life that will motivate our actions and drive our plans forward. So list the things you want to do. Then list the things you have to do. How well do those two lists intersect? It’s time to start trimming. It’s time to reestablish vision. If we don’t do the trimming then disappointment and the clock will do it for us.
Let’s make the main thing the main thing.
But, for you, what is the main thing?
What is it you were sent here for?
Are you doing it?
God has an amazing ability to keep us. When we endure so many trials and wonder how things are going to turn out, it’s amazing that His power is still there keeping us. He is so loving and faithful! Its not so much that He loves us, which He does, but He also wants to love others through us. For Him to do that, we need to survive and stay in place. In the Bible Paul calls us living stones; we are alive but we are put in place like a stone that’s used to build a wall. People being in the right position is a powerful thing.
This year Nancy & I will be pastoring for 10 years. We are still in position. We have had some wonderful times as pastors, but we have also had some very difficult times. Somehow God has been able to sustain us. He’s kept us alive. We haven’t missed a meal. We haven’t done everything right and there’s some things that we’d change if we could do it again, but God’s faithfulness is what deserves the real acknowledgement here. It’s God’s sustaining power. We would have been knocked out of this a long time ago, but God kept us here. He placed us here. He wants to love through us. His faithfulness to us is not just about His love for us. We’re confident of that. But His faithfulness and His sustaining power are also because God has a plan and a desire; He wants His representatives to be loving on His behalf. He wants those who will represent Him to be accurately in place.
There is such a huge wave of needy people and God’s heart’s desire is to envelope all of them with His love, His wisdom, His healing…all of His goodness. He must have people in place who will allow His love to come through. There are so many that are so hungry and needy for His love. He must have us in place.
He is the mortar that holds the living stones in place. When God gives you an assignment He wants you to stay there. The Devil will provide many opportunities for you to give up that assignment. But God will also provide His sustaining power. So many things pass before your eyes; so many problems that make staying in place look impossible. But staying in place is exactly what God wants us to do. His faithfulness is here to see you through, to help you and to keep you in place. If we focus on the problems then their chance of overcoming you increases. If you focus on God then His promise of surviving and thriving are yours.
Now when trials and storms come, remember that they don’t last. We don’t live in a constant storm. There are times of peace, hopefully sustained periods of peace. If you’re living in a constant storm, you may consider whether you are in God’s will or not, or you may consider that you might be missing a piece of wisdom for the way you are doing things. If you turn down a one way street going the wrong direction, you will face continuous opposition until you turn around. God has a place of peace for you; a place of productivity, of meaningful service, of significance and plenty.
Let God position you. Be faithful to Him. Let His faithfulness sustain you.
Here it comes again. That same old temptation is back to try to take you down, to pull you away from God, to fill you with depression, condemnation and especially a guilty conscience. Remember, as I heard a preacher say years ago, ‘Sin is not the problem. Sin is the answer. But it’s the wrong answer.’ You see you may have an itch and you want to scratch it, but you need to see if your answer to that itch is God’s answer. Or else you may be falling into a trap.
Satan doesn’t parade answers to your itch in front of you to help you. He doesn’t tempt you because he likes you. He’s trying to kill you.
In John 14:30 Jesus said about Satan, ‘he has nothing in Me.’ You could say it another way, ‘He’s got no hooks in me.’ He tries but he is not successful in tempting me. There is nothing left in me to tempt me with.
1Peter 4:1 “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”.
Can you imagine being done with temptation? Being in a place where Satan has no hooks in you? Being literally unresponsive to the temptations paraded before you to get you to fall? Can you imagine that? Most likely your flesh can’t imagine that. Your flesh still wants to have its own way. But this verse in 1Peter 4 says that he who has suffered in the flesh is ceased from sin. Does that mean if you’ve been persecuted with bodily harm for the Gospel that you have an immunity to being tempted? It could mean that. (Stick with me, I’ll unpack that.)
So there are two kinds of suffering in the flesh to discuss then: there’s the persecution where someone has received bodily harm and there’s the kind where we cause our own flesh to suffer through fasting, denying the flesh its appetite. Paul talks about putting the flesh under. He talks about beating it and making it his slave.
We can be ruled by the demands of the flesh, the itch that screams at us, the desire that tries to pull us off. Or we can rule over the flesh, put it under, make it obey us. But fleeing something is not as good as pursuing something. Often times when trying to avoid temptation people try to ‘turn off the darkness’ instead of ‘turning on the light’.
What do you desire? If its godly, pursue it. If its not godly, not only should you not pursue it but you should change your desires. Set your heart on something good instead of something negative. Most often you will pursue what you desire. If you pursue godly desires, temptation is nowhere in sight. Instead of turning off the darkness, turn on the light of good, godly desires. Set your affections on things that God wants. Desire them, and desire them strongly. Now pursue them. That’s turning on the light.
When I was in high school, my younger brother and I were in the same math class. He was smarter than me in that topic and more motivated. I didn’t have a problem with being in the same class with my younger brother. It never bothered me. I had my own strengths and was happy that he had his. One of my strengths was guitar playing.
In our Catholic high school we had all school masses (basically a worship service) on some regular basis. As a guitar player, I joined the team to lead the singing. Sometimes I would do a special song right after communion for the whole school. On one particular day, I sang a somewhat popular song and the student body responded very favorably; they loved it. On my way to math class right after the mass I was congratulated and complimented frequently by my peers. It was a great feeling being appreciated.
When I sat down in class, my brother was sitting right behind me, then it happened: a pretty girl in the class came up to us, turned to my brother and asked “What’s it like to have a brother who’s wonderful?” I was very angered by her question. Although I didn’t show it, I was livid. Didn’t she understand what she was doing? Didn’t she understand the place she was putting my brother into? I wasn’t concerned for me. I was concerned for him. She was placing him into what I’ll refer to as negative space. She was highlighting the space I was in and making it clear that he dwelt in the opposite space of me – the negative space.
I never discussed with my brother how this affected him. I’ve never brought it up until this writing. I hope he didn’t let this become a defining moment for him. That would be sad to let someone else’s limited perspective define you. Choosing the negative space as your identity isn’t about you. It’s about the other person. If you do this, you and the world will never find out who you are.
If you live in the shadow of someone, or think you do, don’t let yourself be defined by what you are not. Don’t take the negative space and say “that must be who I am.” No! You are a unique and awesome individual not to be defined by someone else, but by who God made you to be. Discover your own characteristics.
If you define yourself by negative space, then you take the definition of that other person and choose the opposite and say “that must be who I am.” So if I play guitar, my brother then would have to reject playing guitar, whether or not he had an innate talent or skill. If I chose Christ he then would have to reject Christ to maintain his identity. If I am straight he must choose to be gay to maintain his identity.
Can you see how faulty and tragic this can be? I believe this happens all over the world and throughout the human race over and over. We must give people the freedom to be who they are, and the affirmation of that as valuable.