This is the quote: “Your feelings rob you of your greatest place of anointing.” Simple statement, controversial statement maybe for many of us. Honestly, I see freedom in this statement when we allow the Holy Spirit to move freely to reveal hidden thoughts, plans, and motives in our hearts. This statement can be true in any of our lives through feelings of unworthiness or pride. Sin has no boundaries of how it is used against us to deny the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s plan in our lives.
I experienced this in my life many times but, thankfully, I had people in my life who prayed for me, encouraged me and mentored me so that I was able to hear the Holy Spirit speak in my heart. I’ll give you a laugh at how this worked at one point in my life. I was so on fire for the Lord and wanted to serve Him so much but I had this “thought” in my head that I could not move out in ministry until my husband did, and he had no interest in being moved into ministry. Nevertheless, I continued participating in Bible studies and prayer meetings. Then one day my mentor asked me if I would consider leading a “Small Group Bible Study”. Before I could say no, the Holy Spirit blurted out “I’ll pray on it”! The look on my face must have been shock because so was everyone else’s, but they all burst out in laughter. I sat there stunned.
As I promised I went home and prayed on it and as I read the scriptures and listened to what God was speaking into my personal life, I received the call to move out of my comfort zone and move into this new path. I was not to listen to the lies in my mind. The Holy Spirit lead me to women in scripture that He had called that impacted many. There was Mary of Bethany who I fell in love with and was taught trust, submission, humility, love and obedience. Mary of Bethany also taught me the value of being seated at the feet of Jesus and listening and learning. (Luke 10:39,42) She taught me that even though there are many “things” that need to be done, we need to be in the presence of the Lord to know when to do them. Remember when she poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet? (Mark 14:3-9) She wasn’t ashamed to pour her love out on Him and didn’t care what anyone else thought! And she didn’t count the cost, He was worth everything! I believe she understood what Jesus was teaching about His death before anyone else because she stopped whatever she was doing when He was there and listened very carefully. She stopped her plans and sat quietly, taking in every word He spoke. Listen to these amazing words spoken by Jesus about Mary of Bethany, “She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” (Mark 14:8-9; John 12:7-8) Mary of Bethany knew the difference between "loving" who Jesus was, and truly being "in love" with Jesus!
Then there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a quiet woman who treasured in her heart the prophetic words of the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:38,46-55; 2:18) and the priest and prophetess (Luke 2:25-38). These women taught me to trust in difficult circumstances and how to praise Him in all things. “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) (emphasis mine)
Lydia was a business woman who loved God but when she learned of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His shed blood to redeem her sins, she believed and gave not only of her money to support the Apostle Paul and those ministering with him, but gave her house to begin a church! She was bold in her faith but humble in her being and served the Lord in every way He led her.
Ruth taught me that when you hear the truth, there is no excuse to not pursue it at any cost. She left her home, her family, everything familiar to her because her mother-in-law, Naomi, had shared with her about the Lord God of Israel. She heard how God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians and lead them into the promised land. She heard how God defended His own and how the terror of Him was upon those who were not His. She was hungry to know and follow this powerful God. When Naomi told her to return to her family because she was going back to Bethlehem Ruth would not go back to her family! Her words say it all, But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
I’m reminded of the verse in scripture, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” “ (Luke 9:62) Ruth heard, believed and could do nothing else but pursue the only One who was over all! She had to be where He was! And, in turn, she became the wife of Boaz and is in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ! This is a prime example of our text today. Listen to this verse, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine)
And, of course, there is Esther. While I have experienced many challenges that I did not understand, I still have yet to experience the one major one that Esther faced of being in a position to save a nation. But she is a prime example that we do not know how God will use us to be His vessel. If she had not been in love with the Lord God in her heart and been molded by His word to have a humble spirit, when she was captured and taken into the king’s court, she would not have found favor in the sight of the eunuch. She was different from all the other women because of her relationship with Almighty God. All the beauty treatments in the world cannot change the inward heart and make it beautiful. We must allow the word of God to transform us from the inside out, or our life will be powerless. I could name others but I believe you are beginning to see the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that it is not about “us”, it is all about Jesus! JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! There is a cost to following Jesus. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells His disciples what that cost is… “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” I do want you to hear this next statement very clearly. The Lord confirmed my hesitation in that I was not ready to move out into a calling UNTIL HE CALLED me, and this was His call, not mine! But if I hadn’t been willing to submit to the authority of Christ and seek His will, I would not have heard His will and would be walking in sin and rebellion. It may seem as if there is a subtle distinction here, but bottom line is that whenever we are not in alignment with the plan of God, we are walking in sin and that sin can impact our eternal future. Let me ask you a question, do you ever have a “check in the spirit” about a thought that comes to your mind? If so, do you take it to the Lord for clarity?
Now, let’s look at Saul in the New Testament. This man was zealous for the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! He was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was taught by the leading teacher, Gamaliel. He was young, he was ambitious, he was of the right lineage and he was out to make a name for himself! And he had achieved that, today he would be the talk of all the preachers...have you heard about the up and coming preacher named Saul? Believers were afraid of him because of what he would do to them. Remember Stephen, who was one of the chosen ones to serve the meals in the new church (Acts 6-7)? He was filled with the Holy Spirit and in his serving he lead many to believing in Christ. Saul was the official in charge of his stoning!
Saul was a product of “religion”. Oh, how easy it is to follow the letter of the law and miss the One who wrote the scriptures! Remember, it was not only the books of Moses that the rabbis and religious sector studied, it was also the Psalms and the Prophets. So they knew that God had in very detailed descriptions foretold of the coming Messiah. But they chose to ignore portions of their choosing!
So this young man felt that persecuting the followers of Yeshua in Jerusalem was not enough, he asked for letters to take with him to the synagogues of Damascus that he could capture any followers of “The Way” and bring them back to Jerusalem. It was when he was on this self-appointed journey that the Lord chose to meet Saul on the “road to Damascus”.
Before we go forward to what happened in this encounter, let’s look at Saul a little more closely in relationship to our topic. Can you see where Saul’s emotions were in control of his life? Yes, God had a plan for Saul’s life, but Saul was completely worthless to God in the state of mind he was in! His emotions were robbing him of having any understanding of the scriptures! Without understanding of the scriptures and being full of pride to make a name for himself, he was never going to step into “the anointing/plan” God had for him!
Many people get really excited about the “anointing/gift” and they quickly turn to their own devices to try to achieve what only God can do. I believe one of the most critical aspects of the Lord’s inviting us into Saul’s testimony is to learn how to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh! How to allow the victory that Christ has already won be the force in our life that leads to victory not only in our life but in those that the Lord brings into our paths.
I have always been amazed at the Lord’s response to Ananias’ fear about going to lay hands on Saul. Listen to the Lord’s response: “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16) Wow!
How many of us would sign up for this ministry? Dear ones, what I am about to say may make many of you very uncomfortable. That is not my intent. The intent of the Holy Spirit is to open the eyes of your heart to receive the WHOLE TRUTH. If we truly want the Holy Spirit to teach us as we read the scriptures we will need to understand that Jesus tells us that we can’t follow Him fully without being totally surrendered to Him and His word. (Romans 12:1) That surrender causes a transformation where God can now begin to take what He created in us and create a design/plan for His glory. A surrendered life means that someone has to die so that they can live. When we truly meet Jesus we no longer are the master of our lives! I urge you to read II Corinthians 4:6-10.
Saul is a true testimony of the change that God desires to do in our lives when we meet His Son Jesus Christ! Notice that Saul’s name (which was Hebrew) is also changed to Paul (his Roman name) which also testifies of his change. Paul actually means “small”. Saul no longer saw himself as an important and powerful Pharisee demanding respect, but instead saw himself through the cross and understood that he was nothing without Christ.
Paul had a difficult ministry and suffered much, but I learned something very important from Paul that is very essential for one who is a believer. Circumstances and emotions are no longer to be our master. The Word of God is my life giver! The life is in the blood of Jesus! No matter what I am facing, God is with me; not as an equal, but as the Lord of All! (Romans 14:9) He is the giver of life! (John 14:6) My relationship with Him is as His disciple in every area of my life! Yes, in John 15:13-15 He does use the word “friend” but notice that there is a qualification for that relationship to be ours. “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) I learn as I sit at His feet. So did Paul. The Lord took him to the desert for over three years to teach him the LIFE and TRUTH in a whole new way!
One of the most powerful portions of scriptures for me that had a great impact on my life was when Paul and Silas were in prison singing praises to God at the midnight hour. (Acts 16:22-30) They had just been beaten (illegally because they were Roman citizens), for teaching about Jesus and casting out a demon, taken to the lower part of the prison and put in shackles. They were bleeding profusely and in much pain. Emotions for the wrongdoing done to them could have easily taken over their thinking. But instead, they chose to praise God! God showed up inside that prison! All the prisoners were listening, I am sure in pure amazement. And then the whole prison was shaken with an earthquake and no one moved. I personally believe that the presence of God was so strong that they were not able to move.
What was accomplished by all this suffering? The jailer and his whole household was saved! (Acts 16:27-34) There are no lengths to which God will not go to accomplish His plan! But He chooses to use His true surrendered disciples to carry out those plans. And without the power of the Holy Spirit there would not have been this testimony. If Paul was still “just zealous” as he had been as Saul, he wouldn’t have been singing praises and God would not have come down in such a testimony!
Beloved, are you where God wants you? Are you sitting at His feet? Or, are you busy running around being “zealous” and doing things in your own power? (Revelation 2:4-5) There is a work that man can do that is good, but if it is empowered by the Holy Spirit’s leading because God has appointed you for that work, it will be amazing! I truly believe that is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke these words, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
The yoke is the power of the Holy Spirit. You are “yoked” to Jesus in the midst of the storm and it is the power of the Holy Spirit who makes that yoke easy. It is like being in the eye of a hurricane which is peaceful but devastation is all around you.
Jesus said that He must go away that He could send the Holy Spirit to teach us and bring to remembrance all things, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (John 14:16) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26) “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)
Abba, I thank You for reminding us today that there is an eternal message in Your plans for our lives! Forgive us as we often take lightly the Word You gave us and use it for our own purposes. Your way is truth, life and eternal. Your Word gives me hope and joy. I receive strength through Your Word which speaks directly to my spirit through the Holy Spirit. It is alive today! Without You I am nothing! Thank You for the testimonies of those who have gone before us to bring us direction, encouragement and hope. I bow down before You today and thank You that You are God and there is no other! Your ways are perfect even when I don’t understand them. Holy Spirit continue to warn me of apathy, apostasy and even busyness which leads me away from the cross. Thank You as You continue to remind me to look UP and know that I am seated in Christ at Your right hand! The victory has been won and I long to stand before You and hear You say “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Have Your way in me! I pray all these things through the blessed name of Jesus Christ! Amen.