Friday, June 24, 2011

Chapter 8: Spiritual Leadership



In this video, Brian Anthony Bowen reveals Scriptures the Church never talks about which prove that Jesus taught that LGBT people are born this way...and that prove the Apostle Paul ordained Gay Marriage...IN THE BIBLE!

This changes EVERYTHING!
More info:
http://BrianBowenMinistries.com

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While several men were sharing thoughts and scriptures during the weekly Men’s Ministry Rally at Lakewood Church in September 2005, God spoke to my heart with the following passage from His Word.  First, it came to me as a logos word (meaning it leapt off the page and seemed to keep my mind drawn to it).  As part of our conversation on overcoming temptation, I read the scripture aloud and suddenly felt this “knowing” in my spirit that God was not just giving me an opportunity to minister to others with that Scripture, but He was going to begin speaking to me about it personally. Sure enough, over the next 7 years, He began to refer me back to the Isaiah prophecy from Isaiah 56 over and over again, especially concerning this portion of it:

4 For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths and choose the things which please Me and hold firmly My covenant--

5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial and a name better [and more enduring] than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

So now this Scripture had also become a rhema word (meaning that I actually sensed God speaking directly to my heart)!  What was God saying to me?  As I began asking Him in prayer and as I matured spiritually, I began to receive new revelation insight into its meaning and purpose for my life, as well as the life of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people all over the world, and even in the life of all Christian believers.  As the Holy Spirit of God began to illuminate the path I am to walk in, He showed me the beginning sentences and paragraphs of The Bed Keeper, and over the past 7 years, He has led me through to its completion as well, line by line, precept upon precept…just as Jesus said would happen:

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].  John 16:13

Interestingly enough, this passage of Scripture immediately follows this verse:

I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now.  John 16:12 

Could it be that God’s prophecy to eunuchs would come to pass in the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender believers?  Could it have been that this was one of the things Jesus told His disciples that he had to tell them, but they were not yet able to bear them, were not quite prepared to take them upon themselves, and were not able to grasp them then?  It would certainly seem so.  Does that make me a prophet?  I’ve been asked this by several people, and my response is the same, “If I am a prophet, it is by the grace of God for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven…but you can simply call me “Brother.”

As I began to realize that God was promising the Holy Spirit for eunuchs (and that through our belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God) gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people were soon going to be in a position to receive His Holy Spirit, and partake in the salvation Jesus died to give us, whether the Church ever taught it to us or not.

It’s also interesting that so many in the Body of Christ are familiar with the prophecy from Joel 2:28 which Peter confirmed was coming to pass on the Day of Pentecost, most do not seem to also consider the verse immediately after it:

28 And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

29 Even upon the menservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.  Joel 2:28-29

Thankfully, Peter did not omit verse 29 when he referred to it in the account of Pentecost:

17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams.

18 Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God's kingdom].

What did God mean in Joel 2:28 by saying, even the menservants and maidservants?  Had these folks been considered second class citizens?  Were they considered unable to grasp the things of God?  Were they excluded from full participation in God’s house of prayer for all people? 

Even more pointedly, are not eunuchs considered “menservants” throughout Scripture?  And would “maidservants” then include those God prophesied to in Isaiah 54 just before prophesying to eunuchs in Isaiah 56?  And are these not the same people that the Apostle Paul said should marry a person of the same gender in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, as we learned in chapter 2 of The Bed Keeper? 

And finally, could it be possible that even in the face of 2,000 year history of a willful intention of the Church to exclude eunuchs from the congregation, (even to the point of omitting any definition of “born eunuchs” that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19:11-12 from any authoritative Christian study resources), that God was now choosing to set things right by revealing more of His Word through gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Spirit-filled believers?  Could it be true that as God says when beginning His prophecy to eunuchs that indeed,

1 Thus says the Lord: Keep justice, do and use righteousness (conformity to the will of God which brings salvation), for My salvation is soon to come and My righteousness (My rightness and justice) to be revealed.

2 Blessed, happy, and fortunate is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold of it and binds himself fast to it, who keeps sacred the Sabbath so as not to profane it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, The Lord will surely separate me from His people. And let not the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

4 For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths and choose the things which please Me and hold firmly My covenant--

5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial and a name better [and more enduring] than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to Him and to love the name of the Lord and to be His servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath so as not to profane it and who holds fast My covenant [by conscientious obedience]--

7 All these I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

8 Thus says the Lord God, Who gathers the outcasts of Israel: I will gather yet others to [Israel] besides those already gathered.  Isaiah 56:1-8

Could it be that the “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to Him and to love the name of the Lord and to be His servants” could be a reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from other faith traditions like Jews and Muslims?  (After all, gay people are in every race, every nation, every family, and every religion.)

I’m certain some Christians who would continue to resist the message God seems to be revealing to the Body of Christ at this time would respond to these questions by quoting this passage of Scripture:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

But what is interesting even about that portion of Scripture is it too comes just before God says,

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

This of course comes just prior to His prophecy regarding eunuchs being included in the congregation of the Lord.

One thing is certain, if all these things are indeed what God is sharing with the Body of Christ, not only does that mean that Christ is choosing to begin preparing His Church for His return, but these things would indeed have been something Jesus knew His disciples would have difficulty getting their minds around, especially as each came from a Jewish back ground that forbade eunuchs in the Congregation because of Moses’ ban on them in Deuteronomy 23:1.  As He said,

I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now.  John 16:12

For that matter, there are Christian people even today who may not be able to bear or take upon themselves or grasp these things either!  No wonder Jesus said after teaching about born eunuchs said, “Let him who can receive it, receive it.”

The point of me asking these questions at this point is to demonstrate how it would be impossible for anyone in a natural understanding of Scriptures alone to be able to discern all these truths from Scripture.  Only by the Holy Spirit’s leadership have I managed to share all that I do in The Bed Keeper, and my spirit tells me there is even more to share than can be contained in this writing alone.  Only by the Holy Spirit’s leadership in my life would it be possible for 2 rather mundane looking passages of Scripture become a seed that would grow into the fullness of the understanding I now share with the Body of Christ today.  The best part is, while this was the journey the Holy Spirit led me on, every person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, and who receives the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has the same potential to become what Scriptures says we all can become:

1 Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.

2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.

3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].  Psalm 1:1-3

I suppose we won’t know what the verdict is on The Bed Keeper for some time after it is published, but I certainly have faith that it is exactly the fruit that has finally come forth in its season as the Holy Spirit has led me through God’s instructions and teaching, rather than to sit in the counsel of those in the Church who were hell bent on excluding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from not only Church, but indeed the entire Christian faith itself.  

In the past, every time I saw the words “ungodly” or “sinner” I had been conditioned to always think first of gay people.  I had been taught we were just a group of people God had given over to a reprobate mind who had no chance of becoming children of God.  But nowadays, I leave room in my thinking for the possibility that in cases like this passage of Scripture, the “ungodly” and “sinners” it refers to may very well be those who have participated in excluding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from God’s house of prayer for all people….and by leaders set up in positions within the very walls of the sanctuary itself.  As Queen Elizabeth I said, “The pious ones are always the worst.”

I apologize for the side track there, but it was necessary in order to provide an example from my own life of how the Holy Spirit leads us through God’s Word and teaches us all truth.  It’s not that we know everything up front as soon as we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but rather the information is implanted in our spirit, and the Holy Spirit gradually draws it out of us as we continue to yield to His leadership.  Although I believe writing The Bed Keeper is the crowning achievement of my life so far, I can hardly take credit.  To God be the glory.  I didn’t even want to know some of the things I share here, until I learned how I (and the entire Body of Christ) could benefit from them.

Through those two lines of Scripture from the eunuch prophecy, I began to seek and discover my gifts, my talents, and my destiny as a child of God.  I began to seek and discover my role that I believe God has planned for me in the Body of Christ, and I began to realize the awesome role of the Holy Spirit in my life and the life of every believer!  I just didn’t know it would take 5 more years of study, or that it would culminate in this book….but it did!

The main, overarching theme of this chapter of The Bed Keeper is to show how following the leadership of the Holy Spirit is the easiest, fastest and most productive way to be led into our destinies of bearing fruit for Him.  In doing so, God not only promises Bible-based blessings of health, peace, joy and prosperity, but I believe that God wants us to know that is the shortest path from where we are to where we all really want to be….in His perfect will for our lives.  I believe this is especially important in the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to pay close attention to, because Jesus Himself said that gay people are born so, “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

[Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will.  Hebrews 2:4

Friends, think of me what you will, but I cannot deny that in my own personal life, The Bed Keeper is indeed a sign and wonder and a miraculous manifestation of His power as He has imparted the gifts of the Holy Spirit to this believer, according to His own will.  He can and will and is waiting to do the same for ALL His children.

Leading by Listening

The Word of God is replete with examples of God speaking to the human race through a myriad of communication methods.  Before the internet, before television, before digital satellite uplinks and downlinks, there was God! He spoke to Moses through a burning bush in Exodus 19:18-20:

Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, for the Lord descended upon it in fire; its smoke ascended like that of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. As the trumpet blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with a voice.

God also spoke to Moses from the Mercy Seat as we see in Numbers 7:89:

And when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the Testimony from between the two cherubim; and He spoke to [Moses].

Later, in Deuteronomy 5:24, an account of that event reassures us that God still speaks with man:

And you said, Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire; we have this day seen that God speaks with man and man still lives.

Another example of God speaking came a bit more dramatically for Elijah than for Moses. First He spoke through what seemed to be a volcanic eruption, and then something changed. God began speaking to man, in a quieter voice, as we see in 1 Kings 19:11-12:

11 And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice.

Friend, I believe what we see here is the description of a volcanic eruption.  Picture in your mind the photographs of Mt. Saint Helens erupting, and I think you’ll see what I mean.  First the scripture refers to “the great and strong wind that rent (or tore) the mountains and broke in pieces rocks before the Lord.”

In my mind’s eye, I see the photo of Mt. Saint Helens consumed with that huge plume of volcanic ash and rock spewing upward to the sky as the pressure of the molten lava below the surface of the earth finally broke free through the top of that mountain.  Then there was an earthquake, and then a fire (just like the rumblings that explosion caused to go rippling through the land surrounding Mt. Saint Helens.  Then there was a fire, and as we all know, millions of acres of trees, houses, animals, and all other signs of life were consumed by the fiery lava that flowed down the mountain side.

And then the scripture refers to a “small, still voice.”  This is the voice that God speaks to us with today through the powerful indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  God doesn’t have to use natural means of communicating with us any more (although He can; through people, nature and prophetic utterances).  But nowadays, thanks to the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, we have everything we need to hear God’s voice speak directly to us regarding every area of our lives.  This is hearing from God.  This is being led by the Spirit of God.  And being led by God is what makes us His children, and as Isaiah 56 reminds us, He refers to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as “sons” and “daughters.”  This must certainly then mean that just as we read in Romans 8:14 that even we can be His children,

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

And we recall as we learned from chapter 5 of The Bed Keeper, being God’s children and being led by Him can only be accomplished by faith:

Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham.  Galatians 3:7 

This is a subject I think the Body of Christ needs to learn about.  We have all heard that we must “hear” from God, but I believe there are few of us who know how to “listen.”  We sometimes are expecting a volcanic eruption, messages written on walls, miraculous appearances of the Almighty as His voice booms from out of heaven, but that isn’t how He speaks to us today.  Through His Holy Spirit indwelling our spirit, it is now that small, still voice that we listen to.  The best part of that fact is that we no longer need to hear from God only through a prophet, (thought He clearly stated in Joel 2:28 He intends to continue to) but He most frequently speak directly to us individually, Father to Child, through the power of the Holy Spirit, by speaking “in” us, or “to” us, and “through” us…and yes, even if we are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender!

But how do we “hear” for ourselves?  An even more frequently asked question among some believers is “what do I get out of it?” Often times, this question is posed by our subconscious thought life, and I can testify that often times, it is actually the enemy asking what we get.  As Psalm 1:1-3 pointed out, most importantly I think we should focus on what kind of fruit will we bear.  A tree never bears fruit only to create a seed to make a new tree.  No, instead a tree bears fruit to feed multitudes.  So it is with the fruit we bear in our lives for God and His Body of Believers.  While most certainly, we all expect God to greet each of us with “Well done thy good and faithful servant” when we meet Him after passing through this life, it’s important to realize that we cannot do anything for Him well without the indwelling Holy Spirit leading us through the destiny He has in store for our lives.

We see in Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.  Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.

I think learning to discern between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy can be difficult at first, because as the Scriptures say, even Satan will appear to us as an angel of light.  However, there is a very simple test regarding where any thought or teaching comes from:  Does it speak LIFE or DEATH?

So many Christians quote Leviticus 20:13 to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people thinking that the death penalty therein is prescribed for if “a man lies with another man as he lies with a woman.”  What most don’t stop to consider is the phrase “as with a woman” means this passage is speaking to married, heterosexual men who turn to other men for pleasure.  I have had many conversations with Christians wherein I ask them to consider if one of the men was a hapless victim of rape, would that man be subject to the death penalty being prescribed as well, for it clearly states that “both men have committed an offense and their bloodguilt shall be upon them.”

Of course they respond that the innocent victim of the rape would be declared innocent.  But that isn’t what Leviticus 20:13 says.  It makes no provision for an investigation into the facts, or a trial.  It simply renders judgment on both men; no questions asked.  And that judgment is death.  For any Christian to be wise enough to recognize that an innocent victim of rape would be exempted from the penalty (which was actually for adultery being committed by a heterosexual married man), they cannot many times recognize that to indiscriminately judge gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people worthy of death is in fact a violation of Christ’s Law to not judge, lest ye be judged.  Clearly any Christian who believes that Leviticus 20:13 speaks to putting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to death knows not the Scripture’s context, nor are they hearing from God on the matter, as we can discern based on that fact that such a message speaks DEATH, and not LIFE.  

It must therefore be disregarded as a message that proceeded from the Holy Spirit, even though the message is based on a portion Scripture that has been ripped from its context.  That means also that such a message can only have come from the enemy, who is the prince of death, Satan.  We’ll discuss the Scriptures condemning same gender sexual expressions in later chapters of The Bed Keeper, but I think this is an example that most gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people can relate to, and provides an excellent example of when a message that appears to proceed from Scripture indeed does not proceed also from the Spirit of God.

The most vocal God ever gets with us is through His Word. The Word of God is just that; His Words spoken to us through prophets, parables, possibilities, blessings and curses.  I have found that devoting even 1 or 2 hours a day to reading the Scriptures will not only allow you to hear God’s voice, but it will also begin to transform your thinking, or as the bible puts it “renew your mind.”

The Scriptures tell us:

For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. 
1 Corinthians 2:16

We may not be consciously aware of the thoughts, feelings and purposes of the heart and mind of Christ, but ass we explore God’s Word we see how we can learn to “tune in” to the still, small voice of God speaking through the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and find out all the glorious promises that come to us when we do!  Another fundamental way to begin learning how to listen to God’s voice is by learning what He has already said in His Word.  Romans 10:17 says:

17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).

The first way to learn to hear from God is by “heeding the Gospel.”  The word “heed” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: 

(1). to pay attention to
(2). to give consideration to

So we learn that the first way to hear from God’s Spirit in us is to pay attention and give consideration to the Gospel.  We do this by learning what the Gospel says, because as verse 15 says, “faith comes by hearing [what is told].”  The only two ways to know what is told in the Gospel is to read it ourselves, or to hear it preached to us.  

We see that it is very clear that God’s will is to lead us by His Spirit, beginning with the Word of God, and leading us by faith that we build from reading, studying, meditating on, and obeying His Word.  God’s Word already contains most of the direction every believer needs to accomplish the basic requirements of yielding, obeying and surrendering our will to His plan for our lives.  We simply have to do it.

Again, Romans 8:14 tells us:

 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

I think it’s important that we notice the word “led” in that passage.  Being a son or daughter of God isn’t just believing that Jesus died for our sins, it isn’t just believing that God is the Creator of the universe, and it isn’t just being baptized in water or believing that we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and can speak in unknown tongues.  To me this Scripture is clear in its stipulation that we must be led by His Spirit! 

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 says:

12 Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.

13 And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].

14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.

Here, we learn that when we completely surrender to God’s will, we gain the wisdom of God Himself!  Through the Holy Spirit of God, we “realize, comprehend, and appreciate the gifts that God bestows on us. I believe it is no accident that the Scripture lists this “revelation process” in the order that it does.  First we must realize the gifts God has bestowed on us.  A great way to begin realizing what your own spiritual gifts from God are can be found by using the awesome power of the internet.

A key word search on “spiritual gifts assessment” will lead you to many online gifting assessments that will help you determine your strongest talents and gifts by asking a series of questions.  Different tests assess different spiritual gifts, so I highly recommend taking more than one and then pray for God to show you how to determine what gifting “patterns” emerge.  If you consistently see “Teaching” as a gift that you are strong in, most likely you will have a strong anointing towards exercising that gift.  God will reveal to you which gifts you are strongest in as you present each one to Him in prayer.  When you get the awesome sense of peace, or a feeling of “that’s right” in your spirit, you will begin to learn how God responds and communicates to us through peace.

If you don’t have peace, or you have doubt about anything, present it to God and ask Him to show you if it is coming from Him or the enemy. If it is shown to you to be coming from the enemy, ask God in prayer why the enemy wants you to feel that way. Most likely, you will find it is to kill, steal or destroy a gift, talent or ability that God has given you.  The devil knows if he can kill your faith in yourself, he can destroy the plan God has for using your gifts to bring others into the kingdom, as you bear fruit for His glory and honor.  Satan also knows that if he can destroy your faith in yourself, he can also destroy your faith in God.

Next, the Scripture says we will comprehend the gifts God gives us.  The assessment tests will help you define what the different gifts are and some even give you examples of that gift being exercised in various church functions.  But praying and then listening to the small, still voice of the Holy Spirit inside our spirit will provide us with the highest level of comprehension of our gifts and how God wants us to use them.  Note that online tests and assessments are by no means an exact science, but are merely a tool to help begin exploring your spiritual gift cluster.  

You will most likely find that you have not one, but several spiritual gifts, so I highly recommend that you seek the Holy Spirit’s leading before exercising any of them, and before leaping out ahead of God thinking that you must act on the information right away.  I found that He will lead you to exercise your gifts as He chooses, and at exactly the right moment.  The thing I found odd was that we sometimes don’t even realize we’re exercising a gift until we have already done so.  I think this is God’s way of keeping us from being too proud about our “spiritual superiority.”

I found it’s also vitally important to remember that we must always wait for God to move upon us through an inner witness or impression upon our consciousness; a gut feeling that now is the time to act.  Failing to hear God’s leadings is very human, and often means that we will have to start all over again with seeking God and His Holy Spirit’s leading, but I encourage you to not give up. As Paul says, we should covet and cultivate the gifts God gives us, but I have found that most of the time, our gifts are not for our own personal benefit, but for the edification of other people.

Finally, the Scripture says that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will come to appreciate the gifts we have been given.  I believe this word has a double meaning.  While we should be instinctively grateful to God for any gifting that emerges within us, I think that we can also appreciate the value of those gifts by cultivating them.  By this I mean that just as “depreciation” means to lose strength or value, I believe the word “appreciation” as used within this context can mean that by using our gifts, they will “appreciate” in value, strength and fruitfulness, especially for the building up of fellow believers.  I believe that as they do, our gifts will grow and multiply as they begin to add value to the Body of Christ.

As our gifts are exercised through us by the Holy Spirit’s leading, we begin to edify those whom God intended to benefit from our gifts.  For instance, teaching is a highly valued and necessary gift in the Body of Christ.  As more people learn about the Word of God and the ways of Jesus, more people grow up in their awareness of what the Lord has called them to do.  As we bear fruit for Him, we not only edify the entire Body of Christ by actively playing our role, but bearing fruit for God is also a primary goal of every Christian as we see in John 15:8:

When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.

To get a grasp on just how much there is to realize, comprehend and appreciate concerning our faith, let us take a look at 1 Corinthians 2:9-11:

9 What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed].

10 Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny.

11 For what person perceives (knows and understands) what passes through a man’s thoughts except the man’s own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns (comes to know and comprehend) the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

So we again see Scriptural proof that God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit “sounds the profound and bottomless things of God that are hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny.”

While I don’t believe this Scripture is God promising to tells us everything that will happen in our personal futures, I have found in my own life that He will tell me just enough to keep me curious about what’s next for my life, while still requiring me to walk by faith into the unknown aspects of my future.  I believe He purposefully hides them from us in order to build our faith and keep us on a path that follows (and ultimately leads to) Him!

Scripture tells us also why we bear fruit for Him:

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.  John 15:16

And later, John adds,

By this we come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we abide (live and remain) in Him and He in us; because He has given (imparted) to us of His [Holy] Spirit. 1 John 4:13

If you have ever felt that God doesn’t answer your prayers, look back to see if you are bearing fruit for Him.  If you are not, ask Him to show you how and in what ways you may do so.  Ask Him for opportunities to minister to others and be a positive impact on their life.  Then most importantly, ask Him to show you the path which the Holy Spirit is leading you on.  The Holy Spirit will only lead you on a path that bears fruit in your life or in someone else’s life.  You can trust His leadership, but you have to have a willing heart to follow Him.

As you do, I have found you will always bear fruit for God, even if you don’t immediately see the harvest of it.  As we’ll see in some of the next chapters, some of the first fruit we bear with the Holy Spirit’s leadership are the Fruit of the Spirit.  

In his letter to Timothy, Paul encourages him, saying: 

Do not neglect the gift which is in you, that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands up you [at your ordination]. 1 Timothy 4:14

One thing to be certain of is that we never want to use any gift from God in an effort to draw attention to ourselves or to try to display our “spiritual superiority” to others who may not have the same gift we do.  Again, the Holy Spirit distributes gifts individually, not indiscriminately as we learn in Ephesians 4:7:

Yet grace (God's unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ's [rich and bounteous] gift.

We must also remember Paul’s writings to the church that while it is good to have and demonstrate the workings of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, that love is the highest and best way to edify each other, as we see in this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:11:

If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God's love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

We see here that not only does God like diversity, but in fact, the Body of Christ needs diversity, with each person playing their vital role in order to perfect the functions of the entire body as we see later on in Ephesians 4:16:

For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.

To me, this again is God’s wisdom revealing to us that not only does He give each of us our own particular gift, but He does so that each church may have its own particular gifting (faith, healing, tongues, prophesy, prosperity, etc.) in order that the entire Body of Christ grows up in perfection according to His will.  Clearly we have shown that God desires to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into His congregation as we learned from His prophecy to eunuchs in Isaiah 56.  It is also clear that we may have to battle traditional Christian teachings that are based on “out of context Scriptures in order to secure the promises God grants to those of us who believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

One of the most important things for any believer to realize is that we can’t just depend on the Holy Spirit to fight our battles for us, but He will fight with us!  In other words, although the battle belongs to the Lord, we still do the fighting!  We begin to train for these spiritual conflicts with a working knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.  As we study His Word, the Holy Spirit will help us to know what is being communicated to us by God, and how it applies to our lives.  This is illustrated with our next definition of the word “led”:

to tend toward or have a result, such as to study something that leads to a degree

With this definition in mind, I think you will agree that to train for the spiritual battles of life, we simply “study and are led to a degree.”  We study the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit “leads” us to another “degree”…of GLORY! 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us:

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord {Who is] the Spirit.

I learned that if we will continue in the Word, we can then let the Holy Spirit fight together with us to accomplish what the next definition of the word “LED” says which is:

to direct the first of a series of blows at an opponent in boxing

But to be certain, Scripture is not talking about physical, hand to hand combat when it comes to making God’s house a house of prayer for all people, of any other spiritual battle.  These battles are won in prayer, by faith, and with love, as we overcome evil with good.  To illustrate this definition within a biblical context, let’s look at what Paul wrote in the letter to the church in Ephesians 6:10-17:

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides],

11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and deceits of the devil.

12 For we are wrestling not with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and of right standing with God,

15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

If we now tie two more definitions of the word “led,” I believe we can see that the Holy Spirit will indeed help us “stay on the attack” by helping us to simply stay prepared to face the forces of darkness as He enables us, whether those forces of darkness are in our civil society as bigotry continues to prevent us from enjoying full equality, or in church as ignorance of God’s Word continues to prevent us from enjoying full inclusion in the promises of God for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender believers:

to play the first card of a trick, round, or game and to begin play, such as leading trumps in a card game

Again, we remember that when Jesus went into the wilderness, the Holy Spirit had led Him, and that He was full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Each time Satan tempted Jesus, He defeated Satan’s attempts by quoting Scriptures.  This “Sword of the Spirit” is part of the same armor of God that we have through staying in the Word and being led by the Holy Spirit.  By doing so, we can actually be the one to “play the first card of any trick or game” that Satan wants to send our way!

The same thing will happen to us as happened to Jesus; the devil left him until a more opportune time.  Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, Satan’s ace had been trumped before the game even began.  Friend, with the Word of God in your heart and the Holy Spirit leading you, there will never be an opportune time for Satan or any of his demons to defeat us, or God’s Word!  As my pastor is always saying, “We are victors and not victims, and we can do all things through Christ (and the Holy Spirit) Who strengthens us!”  

While I do not consider spiritual warfare fun and games, Satan does, and he plays for keeps!  Therefore, we must allow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s power help us to do what the next definition says:

to bring to some conclusion or condition, such as leading someone to believe otherwise

When Satan comes against us with his lies and deceit, when he tells us that we are going to die from disease, when he tells us that we are going to be poverty stricken, when he tells us that one little compromise won’t hurt us, when he tells us that we’ll never be full participants in the Kingdom of God, we simply have to show him that we “believe otherwise,” just as Jesus did in the wilderness when He repeatedly told Satan, “It is written!”

The last two definitions of “LED” bring us to our next consideration of what it means to be sons and daughters of God:

to lie, run, or open in a specified place or direction, such as walking on a path that leads uphill

So this definition tells us that we aren’t just led, but that we are being “directed.”  Proverbs 16:9 says the Lord “directs” our steps.  But to where?  I think every believer would agree that the short answer is we are being led to heaven, but the first stop is Church.  The exciting part to me is the journey I believe we are about to embark on as members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community begin to fill the world’s churches with new members, as God’s prophecy to eunuchs comes to pass in our lifetime.  It’s already happening in many denominations as they vote whether or not to “allow” members of our community to become ministers of God.  Last I checked, the Word of God said HE appoints some apostles, some prophets, some pastors, some evangelists, and some teachers, and nowhere in Scripture does it say He “takes a vote on it.”  It’s sad that’s how organized religions operates today, but as long as they keep voting for God’s plan for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people being included in His house of prayer for all people, I can’t really complain about how they do so.

But be sure that with the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, the scriptures tell us that God Himself is filling our whole being, and thereby the Church too!  Ephesians 3:19 reads:

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

What could be more exciting to any believer (outside of their salvation) than to know that when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, God Himself floods and fills our entire being?  What could make the journey called life more enjoyable? What could give believers any more power than the Creator of the universe living inside of them?  What could be more fulfilling than the Holy Spirit of God leading us into God’s divine plan for our lives?  What could be more assuring than to know that as His children, we are destined to live in the Presence of the Almighty God for all of eternity?  I believe Paul answers these questions as he unfailingly speaks for and to all believers in the book of Philippians 3:8-12, writing:

8 Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly].

9 For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One).

10 And that I may [actually be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.

11 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

What an awesome example of “surrendering all!”  As Paul so eloquently communicates, it is the preordained destiny of every believer to be made God’s own, or in other words, His sons and daughters.  So what does “being one of His own” mean to the believer?  I’ve answered that question to the best of my ability in this chapter of The Bed Keeper, but the Word of God encompasses more to answer this question than room allows within these pages to write.  This is why the Holy Spirit is given to us, and I believe is why the Holy Spirit must be allowed to speak to our hearts so we can “realize, comprehend and appreciate” the spiritual gifts He imparts to our spirit so we may fully realize, comprehend and appreciate the meanings of God’s Word and how it applies to us in our everyday lives. 

Romans 8:15-16 tells us:

15 For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

16 The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God. And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also; heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.

So we have come full circle back to our understanding of how being led by the Spirit of God makes us children of God, and how by being children of God, we have life and enjoy it to the full, till it overflows with the BOUNDLESS gift of God found only in the indwelling Holy Spirit!

As a son or daughter of God we are led by the Spirit of God into the abundant and joyful life here on earth. This is the intent with which God had originally established in the Garden of Eden. Through our salvation through the blood of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit’s leadership, we become reconciled not only with God, but with the original intent for which He created man (and woman) in the beginning as we see in Ephesians 1:12:

We who first hoped in Christ, and who first put our confidence in Him, have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory.

Friend, I don’t know of any place in the bible that the scriptures more clearly state that being led by the Spirit of God also means being in God’s perfect will for our lives! And this now ties in with our last definition of being led:

to guide a dance partner through the steps of a dance.

This is what the Holy Spirit does in our lives! If you can mentally replace the word “dance” with the word “life” I believe you can now clearly see what the Lord has been showing me: The Holy Spirit guides a “life” partner through the steps of “life!"

When we become baptized in the Holy Spirit, we each become “life” partners with the Holy Spirit!  That’s where enjoying life on earth and in this age comes from for me!  That’s where my zeal for the Lord comes from!  That’s what makes me want to tell every person on the face of the earth the good news of the Gospel!  That’s why I believe we should all be led by the Spirit of God, because in that Leadership we realize that for every Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Christian, the inheritance of Christ (and indeed eternal life with God) begins on the same day we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior! 

It also means we don’t have to wait to get to heaven to begin receiving our inheritance.  We don’t have to wait until we die physically so we can walk in the anointing, the promises, the splendor, the miracles, the wonders, the power, the wisdom and the glory of God!  Being led by the Spirit of God means we are already walking in it every day!  We are already filled with God Himself if we are baptized in the Holy Spirit!  In Galatians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul encourages us to walk in the Holy Spirit’s leadership in order to combat the cravings of our flesh:

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free from but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

However, the degree of fullness of God’s glory that we walk in is up to us! Through quality decisions to live for God, we make the decision to be led by the Spirit of God.

So as we are led by the Spirit of God, we study and understand His Word. As we understand His word, we walk in obedience. As we walk in obedience, I believe God releases more revelation, more insight, more power, more splendor, more miracles, more wonders, more signs, and more anointing into our lives just as Proverbs 4:18 says:

But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches it full strength and glory in) the perfect day [to be prepared]. 

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Fruit of the Spirit is the kind of fruit Jesus is talking about us bearing for God! Abiding in Jesus as the Vine, means we have become connected to the Source of the Life we have as Christians. This is the Source that causes us to bear fruit. The sap of the vine—that invisible life source—is the Holy Spirit as we see in Galatians 5:24-25:

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit].

So the first priority of any Christian continues to be to abide in Jesus, obeying His commandments of love for God and others. When we do that, again we see that the Holy Spirit will lead us if we will “go forward walking in line”. We are being exhorted to follow the Spirit of God. Doing so means that not only will we be in God’s perfect will, but that we will also bear the fruit He desires from us, and He will consider us His children (for all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God).

As wonderful as these promises are to contemplate, it’s important also to know that every aspect of the Christian life is based on faith, hope and love.  Most of us have a firm understanding of love and hope, but what is faith?  

We’ll explore what Scripture has to say about that question in the next chapter!

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Dear Valued Readers,
This blog continues to be a work in progress. As recent revelations and events throughout Christendom have created an increasingly fluid situation, updates will no longer be published at the end of each post, but rather only at the beginning of the corresponding posts so impacted.  As of August 1, 2013, the only updates to appear at the end of each post will be churches that are personally endorsed by The Bed Keeper as a "SAFE SPACE."

Readers may email thebedkeeper@gmail.com to discuss or comment on any posting.  Please note that while all feedback is highly valued and appreciated, it may not be possible to reply to each email.
 
UPDATE 01.15.12:
Lakewood Church officially endorsed as a SAFE SPACE for LGBT people to worship! Details here.

UPDATE 11.22.11:

Eagle Mountain International Church officially endorsed as a SAFE SPACE for LGBT people to worship! Details here.

THANK YOU for your generous support of this work!
 
Let him who receives instruction in the Word of God share all good things with his teacher, contributing to his support.
Galatians 6:6