How Not to Quench the Holy Spirit

First Thessalonians 5:19 commands us to not quench the Holy Spirit. We must first understand that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who magnifies the Lord Jesus Christ, convicts, comforts, and empowers. To explain the meaning of “quench”, the Amplified Bible defines it as suppressing or subduing the Holy Spirit. The New Living Translation says to not stifle the Holy Spirit, while Phillips’ translation says “never damp the fire of the Holy Spirit”.

By putting this passage of Scripture into context, how can we not quench (stifle, subdue, or suppress) the work of the Holy Spirit?

  1. Recognize and respect spiritual leadership in the church (I Thess. 5:12, 13). Scripture teaches that we should appreciate the labor of the pastor and esteem him in love. This does not mean to idolize the pastor or put him on a pedestal.
  2. Be at peace among yourselves (v. 13). Dissension between church members as well as dissension between church members and the pastor will suppress the move of the Spirit. Spurgeon said, “Do not despise His operations, either in yourselves or in your brethren. Do not quench Him by neglect, much less by open opposition.” Someone else said, “The Spirit’s Fire is quenched whenever…the fervor He kindles in the heart is dampened by unspiritual attitudes, criticisms, or actions.”
  3. Warn those who are unruly (v. 14). This is in an effort to restore the unruly person. When they don’t want restoration, Matthew 18 calls for church discipline. It’s funny how we find it okay for police to pull over those who are disorderly, but we think that the church should overlook someone who is doing harm to self and others in the church. If I see you throwing your life away and I don’t say something in love, I should be ashamed of myself. That means that I really don’t care about you like I should.
  4. Comfort the faint hearted and uphold the weak (v. 14). If the church doesn’t do this, it is nothing more than a country club.
  5. Be patient with all (v. 14). This is a tough one that I bet some wish we could erase from Scripture. Do we really need to be patient with everyone? God said it; I didn’t make it up. This is a work of the Spirit of God as we grow. We should be patient with all because we never know what they are going through.
  6. Refuse to retaliate (v. 15). Vengeance belongs to the Lord, and He does a much better job. So, leave your hateful comments off Facebook and your mouth off the phone line😀.
  7. Strive for what is best for everybody (v. 15). This does not mean people-pleasing. This is about unity. As a pastor, I have to pray and make decisions about what is best for the whole. I cannot make a decision to pacify one person or group at the expense of the church’s unity.
  8. Be a person of praise (vv. 16, 18). This is a command that is God’s Will and to be done IN everything. Warren Wiersbe said, “An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit.” Billy Graham said, “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart.”
  9. Stay in an attitude of prayer (v. 17). Philippians 4:6 commands us to pray about everything. Ephesians 6:18 teaches that prayer is an offensive weapon we can use against the devil.
  10. Embrace and obey what the Bible says (v. 20). We are not to despise prophetic utterances – the forthtelling of God’s Word. He gives us these guidelines to help not hurt us.
  11. Test all things (v. 21). Don’t foolishly believe everything you heart. Test it! If it is good, don’t let it go.
  12. Abstain from every form of evil (v. 22).

Guzik said, “We can quench the fire of the Spirit by our doubt, our indifference, our rejection of Him, or by the distraction of others. When people start to draw attention to themselves, it is a sure quench to the Spirit. Though there is a sense in which fire can not be created, we can provide the environment in which it can burn brightly.”

Don’t quench the Holy Spirit! Give Him full room to have His way in your life and those around you.

Trust Your Gut

Trusting your gut sounds like I’m giving you permission to eat whatever you want whenever you want. That is not close to what I seek to communicate here. Many of you have probably been advised to trust your gut instinct, especially when it comes to taking a test. If you’re anything like me, you look at the True/False or multiple choice questions and over analyze. When I do not “trust my gut”, I most often get the question wrong.

For believers, that “gut” is the Holy Spirit. He is God indwelling you to give you guidance and direction in areas where the Bible does not come out and say “You are supposed to marry Bob” or “You are supposed to stay home and go to technical college”. The Holy Spirit can reveal to you to prevent from making a bad business decision or getting into a long-term relationship with the wrong person. He can also show you when something is wrong when it looks “spiritual”.

To give you a personal example…I was in college and was approached by a friend who sensed demonic oppression. A group of us gathered together at curfew and prayed. One night before we prepared to pray, someone knocked on the door and told him his girlfriend was on the phone. My “gut” (discernment from the Spirit of God) told me that she was the root of his demonic oppression. I found out through another source a few years later that I was right. I did not know her and wanted to ignore that “gut”. I have learned that I cannot ignore the Spirit’s promptings.

I would advise you to pray, study Scripture, seek godly counsel, and walk with God daily. You will build your discernment muscles and become the person God wants you to be.

Prayer Partners or Those Who Have All the Answers?

As I walk through different seasons of ministry, I will post a prayer request that I share with various pastor groups on Facebook. I did that last night and was blessed by the responses I read last night. They were encouraging. Some people gave some helpful suggestions, and they did so in the proper manner. Then came this morning….

I looked at Facebook this morning to see a comment from one who was quick to tell me what he observed from the church social media sites and what I needed to be doing. To keep from starting a public war, I sent him a private message and explained to him that he needed to know more about the context of our situation before offering his “solution” (without stating it this way). He toned down in his response but was still semi-omniscient in his response.

Here are some helpful thoughts when someone asks you to pray for them:

  1. Do just that – PRAY for them! Don’t say you’re going to do it and move on.
  2. Don’t try to fix the situation! Unless GOD gives you a word, just be there.
  3. When it is a public prayer request, privately address the person if you feel the need (not want) to speak.

I’m sure you could add to the list. Be the one who is a blessing rather than the one that the devil tends to magnify because he was the “minister” of discouragement. Come alongside. We all need somebody to lean on!

Things to Remember When “Going to Church”

Many of you will “go to church” within the next 24 hours. Here are some things to remember that might help you get the most of it:

  1. Jesus is the reason you are going. So what if no one compliments your new earrings or your man bun!
  2. Jesus is the reason you are going. So what if the music wasn’t upbeat enough for you or the pastor’s jokes weren’t funny enough (or he didn’t tell any)!
  3. Jesus is the reason you are going. So what if no one spoke to you!
  4. Jesus is the reason you are going. So what if no one asked you to take certain stage by being on a committee or taking up the offering. (You wouldn’t like our church because we don’t pass a plate. We have an offering box.)

You don’t go for what you can receive but for what you can give. Give God your best praise! Give God your best offering! Go with the mindset that you are there to give, and you will be surprised what you receive in return.

The Royal Wedding

I was not among those who awoke early to watch it live, but nevertheless I was among to who wished to watch it later. The royal family has not been without its challenges and pressures because of the spotlight and all the accompanying rules and regulations as to what is “proper”. Those who marry into this family take on a level of pressure, so I pray for protection over Duchess Meghan as she enters this new role as Duchess of Sussex.

Now to my comments about the wedding…

No royal wedding will take place without all the pomp and circumstance, but Meghan Markle brought an element of non-British culture to the ceremony. Because she is an American whose father is Caucasian and mother is African-American, I am glad she wove her own culture into the wedding. (I’m sure this was not without criticism, and I could tell that elements were not welcome by the aristocrats. Oh well!) Here is what I appreciated most.

  1. The pastor who preached proclaimed Jesus. Religious formality without a strong proclamation of Christ is common in British culture. I could see the joy on Meghan’s face as she listened to this passionate proclamation of the Lord Jesus.
  2. I also appreciated the gospel choir who sang “Stand By Me” and “Amen”. I wish this diversity existed in our rural Southern churches.

I pray that God will protect this couple from the pressure of royal life. May their love be stronger than the opposition that has and will come their way.

Don’t Be Embarrassed!

In a day and age with churches full of programs for every age, one who attends a “small church” can be embarrassed because their church does not have the resources to have big facilities and all the frills of the larger church. I began in a small church about the size of the one I now pastor. I couldn’t get my friends to attend because we didn’t have a youth group full of activities. Young and median adults would not attend because it was a primarily older congregation, and they could not relate to them.

Then I went “big time”. I went to a church of 100, then 225, then 425, then between 500-600. I thought I was something being a young guy on staff in these bigger churches. My first pastorate averaged between 80-100. I thought it was a nice beginning with a good salary. Then I returned to my roots.

I remember my first Sunday leading worship in a church of 25. The congregation was older, and I was one of the few who was remotely young. We had a few bring their grandchildren. At first, I did not realize what this group had to offer. Though they had passed their “glory days”, they had a lot of love to give a hurting guy like me who was going through a divorce. The church is now vibrant and has found new life. After that experience, I went back into a church of about 150 only to long for the community and love I had before.

Today, I lead the faith community that God is slowly developing. It is full of people who love each other. As God gives, we add ministries. I saw this very appropriate verse in an Instagram post: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬). God has just begun what He wants to do in our church. If God could revolutionize the world through 12 disciples, imagine what He can do with approximately 25-30 people.

So when your resources seem to be small, don’t be embarrassed! If God could feed the 5,000 plus with a little boy’s lunch of fish and bread, He can multiply what you have too. God still performs miracles! Believe Him!

Image from didyouknowfacts.com

What Will People Say?

As we launch into a new season at Overcomers Church, God is leading me in a rather unconventional way. It is very biblical yet not cultural. As much as I have tried to fit in with the culture, I knew from the beginning that God has called us to stand out. We are the light of the world according to Matthew 5. While God is leading the ministry in a new direction for this season, the devil keeps tossing doubt my say. I have asked the question, “What will people say?” Do you know what? It doesn’t matter what they say! We are getting ready to fulfill the Great Commission in a far greater way, and God will be completely honored. Do you know what really matters? How God feels as His people obey Him!

So guess what? I might be shaking in my boots because the near future is going to look a lot different than the last 16 months, but He will give peace, power, and fruit for our labor. I can’t wait to look back and say, “Look what the LORD has done!”

Image from digest.bps.org.uk

Writer’s Block

As I was reading thru blog posts this evening, I could identify with thereforegodamaris.com and her latest post. She spoke about her passion for writing and how she desires for it to minister to people, glorify the Lord, and meet needs. This is why I blog. It began as a voice when I had none and later became an unexpected tool.

Over the last few weeks, the creativity has diminished. We all have these seasons of ebb and flow. One minute, we are on top of the world and have it together. The next minute, life is hectic and we do well to survive.

When we hit those moments in life when we have no words, God can make sense of it all. Read this truth from Romans 8:26, 27 – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” The Spirit of God prays for us and in our place.

I remember a very low time in my first pastorate. My life was crumbling, and I was devastated. I was so low that I showed up to preach without a clue what God wanted for that day. The music finished, and it was time for me to step to the stage. All I had was my Bible. I paused, and God filled my mouth. I preached from my own brokenness, and only 2 people in the building that day knew the hell I was going through.

I want to assure you that your block (whatever it may be) is only for a season. Maybe it is a season of grief or hardship for you. Rest in the Scripture that says “Weeping May endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Hallelujah and Amen!

Image from blogs.longwood.edu

Distractions

I recently had to step back and take a look at my life. Many opportunities arise, but some of those are distractions. Here are a few things I have learned about weighing out if distractions or God-sent or hell-sent.

  1. Not every GOOD thing is a GOD thing! Just because it is good doesn’t make it right. People do lots of things that feel good only to reap consequences that leave them with regret.
  2. That consistent nudge telling you to run the other direction is most likely the Holy Spirit. It is called conviction – letting you know that God does not want you involved. Don’t ignore it!
  3. Give it time! Do not make a hasty decision! God will either confirm it through Scripture, prayer, and godly counsel or He will reveal that He has no part in it.
  4. If it is hindering you from giving God and family your best, you need to either remove it or better budget your time.

Do an inventory of your life today! If certain activities or people in your life are distractions keeping you from what is most important, it’s time for a change. You may even have an unhealthy attachment to whatever it may be, but a distraction is a stronghold that must come down in the name of Jesus.

Life’s Battles

Due to sickness, I was unable to be at church today. Thankfully, someone is preaching for the month as we transition to life with another child. This transition has been a tough one. We got back home Tuesday, found out on Wednesday that the baby has high bilirubin (requiring him to sleep with a light called a “biliblanket”), and my wife was readmitted to the hospital on Thursday with a kidney infection. She returned home on Friday. Needless to say, my wife and I are dealing with sleep deprivation (her more than I) and low immunities. People have been wonderful to us, and for that we are grateful.

Some may consider these life’s battles. If they are battles, they are most definitely minor in my perspective. There are people today who are waging some serious war. Their marriages are under attack. Their children are under attack. Their finances are under attack. The list goes on.

This song puts things in perspective. It may look like we are surrounded by our enemies or our situations, but we are surrounded by God’s presence which fills the whole earth. Let this minister to you. Believe this truth!