Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Indwelling Holy Spirit

John 14:15-17 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Romans 8:8-9 “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

These verses assure each of us that we are actually living “in the Spirit,” because He has come to “dwell in you.” One commentary states that all of this has come about “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit”. This glorious new birth, with sins forgiven and eternal life, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in response to our faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

But also note that “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” It is absolutely vital that we have the Holy Spirit, “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” - Romans 8:14. The question is, just how do we know that we have the Holy Spirit? The answer is, because His Word says so! “He that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me,” said Jesus, “has everlasting life” – John 2:24. Furthermore, we have the testimony of internal peace and assurance. “The Spirit [Himself] bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” – Romans 8:16.

Finally, the indwelling Spirit will increasingly be growing His eternal fruit in our lives—the nine fold fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” - Galatians 5:22-23, and this will testify to others also that we do indeed have the Holy Spirit.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Convenient Time

Acts 24:24-25 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

I once heard someone say that they were going to live life as they wanted, free from the rules, regulations and restrictions of God, then run full-blast into Heaven, accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, receiving forgiveness and sliding in sideways to paradise ... like Creator God was obligated to accept such a demented scheme. His implication was that living a godly, holy and righteous life aligned with God’s sovereign Word, Will and Way (which was designed to allow us to become conscious of our sin) was keeping him from the “good life” and everyone was a fool who didn’t live his “wine, women and song” plan of self-indulgent, lawless pleasures of the flesh. These types of radicals will probably never attend a church in which the true gospel of Jesus Christ was preached. Would this type of person like to hear the Apostle Paul’s reality of Ephesians 2:1-3: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Not a chance, because it defines their life’s desire ... which excludes God … until a convenient time. When is that? It’s an amazing wonder that the grace of God gives second chances. It is by His love and mercy alone that His grace is offered. 

Romans 6:20-23 “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is why Preachers preach, why Christians Speakers speak a conference, why Christians teachers teach, why Christian film-makers make movies, and why Christian writers write. We are in “the age of grace” and the hour for salvation is here. The door of the kingdom of Heaven was opened and God has provided our opportunity to enter, if we would accept the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-8 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Why would anyone want to wait for a more convenient time? Because the “fallen”, God-rejecting world system lives by the sinful desires of the flesh and deceived by the lies of the devil, which would accept the forgiveness and redemption of the Savior, but rejects the Lord that would rule their life, even if it is right and even if it is life. Pastor J. Vernon McGee states that the sinner will never have a convenient time to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mankind does not set the time; God does.

John 3:14-20 “ Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

It has been proven in the history of the human family that people can keep postponing making a decision for Christ until they come to the place where they cannot make a decision for Him at all. That convenient time never comes for a great many of people. The age of grace shall not last forever; Judgment Day is coming and everyone not washed in the blood of the Lamb of God already stands condemned. Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not something to be postponed to a more convenient time. Now is the time!

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Resting Place

Titus 3:4-6 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” 

Certainly one of the most precious doctrines of all Scripture is that our salvation depends not on our own “works of righteousness,” but upon His mercy and grace, given us freely through the atoning work of Jesus Christ our Savior. 

I read that the grand old hymn “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” reflects this theme. Let us use its four verses and chorus to focus our hearts
My faith has found a resting place, Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One, His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument, I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.

Nothing we could do or nothing we or our church could believe can provide a resting place for our faith.

Hebrews 4:3, 9-10 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

The only work which counts for anything is that which the ever-living One accomplished when He died on the cross.

1 Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

This article points out that it is not so much our physical health in view here, but the healing of our sin-sick souls. Since “Christ died for our sins”, there is no more penalty to be paid. Jesus paid it all for all who believe, receive and cleave. Since He rose from the dead, He conquered both sin and its power, and our faith can rest in the peace of Christ; our resting place. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Exceedingly Abundantly Above All

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blessed to Be a Blessing – Part 2

Michael continues: A man and woman of God are Christ-centered. We need to understand who we are, but more importantly, whose we are. In life's decisions, the question is "what's the cost and what's the benefit." Ultimately decisions are not about the cost, but rather about the value. What is it that you value?  The Lord says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you." How do we seek the Blessor instead of the blessing? We seek the Blessor by blessing others. The love of God is made perfect when we give it away. This is the example of Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus prayed to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane, "If there be any way, let this cup of suffering, separation, and death pass from me." He was praying about the injustice of the sins of the God-rejecting world and separation from his Heavenly Father by death. God's answer is that Jesus would have to drink the cup. It's through suffering, pain and death that Jesus paid the price for sin on our behalf. Jesus Christ, for the joy (of our salvation) that was set before him, endured the cross and is set down at the right hand of God. The heart of the gospel is that He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.  

God makes good on His promises. He will make it good on His timetable and not ours.  He will clean the slate and give us grace and mercy for our redemption according to the truth of His Word. The love of God gives unconditionally. When we pray for our enemies, we reflect the nature of God Himself. For in that while we ourselves were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.  

God has set us in the body of Christ so that we can live to be a blessing. We need to be thankful for the opportunities to give and bless others unconditionally. Our attitude of gratitude is based on His sacrifice for sin on our behalf. We love Him because he first loved us. When we come to know our Lord Jesus Christ, we can love others on His behalf. The “narrow way” is living in the land of blessing as we live to bless God by blessing those to whom He has called us to minister. We give and love unconditionally when we live to edify, comfort and encourage others according to the Word of God.

Therefore, the Lord thy God is one Lord. Thou shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength. Honoring the first commandment is "Thou shalt have no other God between your face and my face." When we walk in fellowship with Him, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the true church and the truth of the Word of God. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ made this available. For I was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life that I now live I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave himself for me.  Therefore may our prayer be, "Lord come help yourself to my life ... take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee."

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blessed to Be a Blessing – Part 1

This week, Michael writes that the call to worship for Israel in Deuteronomy says, "the Lord your God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might." As we move ahead upon our “Christian Journey”, we encourage each other to look ahead. We cannot “rest upon our laurels” (meaning to be satisfied with one's past success and to consider further effort unnecessary). When we record our failures, we need to remember that these are the stepping stones to success. When we miss the mark, we can triangulate toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Our mission is to create an environment where men and women can be encouraged in their faith, where our prayer is "Lord come help yourself to our lives." Not looking back to that which is behind, but pressing forward on the life path that God has prepared for us to walk. In this life, mortality is 100%. Between now and then we are encouraged to make our lives count for Christ. The beauty of walking with the Lord is that morning by morning new mercies I see. God's gracious goodness is new each day. Each new day is a clean slate to walk in fellowship with Him. Our sins are not held against us, for He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Our adversary, the devil, is up to his old tricks. We are still in the midst of the spiritual battle that has raged since “the fall of man”. Secular leaders influenced by the "god of this world” – Satan, continue to lead in the wrong direction. The right direction can only be viewed through the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He said, I am the way the truth and the life. It's not what we stand against that matters, rather, it's what we stand for that matters. Therefore, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.  

Jesus, himself, was "narrow minded" when He said the truth, "I am the only way." Today, Christians are attacked for being narrow minded for following the Lord and Savior of the world. They are ridiculed and ostracized by political correctness because Christians follow the truth of “the Word of God” and not “the word of man”. Holiness or sanctification means to be set apart for the purpose intended by the Creator. We are called to be discriminating and to set ourselves apart for the false word of man for God's purpose. God's still in charge whether or not the "priests of secular humanism" and the prevailing religion of our land acknowledge His sovereignty. This is no different than when the prophet Ezekiel reproved Israel in Ezekiel 25: 26, "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean..."  Sanctification starts with discrimination: understanding the difference between the righteous standard of the Word of God and the God-rejecting world's standard, where "everyone did right in his own eyes." In this world, we will be tested every day.  Life is a series of choices. As Joshua said, "Choose ye this day whom ye shall serve.  As for me and my house we will serve the Lord"  

Let’s continue Michael’s message on being a blessing to others: in the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Making Things Right – Part 2

1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”

Pastor Obie continued by explaining to us that it is best to begin with the end in mind and to apply this principle in all of our life, so that when we come to the end of the road, we hear God say: “Well done good and faithful servant.” Plan it out and lay it out (just like blueprints, time, finances, resources and material thought out in advance) with the eternal perspective of Heaven always in front of us as our overriding goal.

Obie highlighted the two main things for us to consider, that we need to make things “right” with. (1) With your relationships. We do not have to wait until our deathbed to make things right in our life. It’s available to all of us here and now. It’s not the quantity of your family, friends and acquaintances in life, but the quality in deep relationships that go beyond simple kindness and courtesies. Dive deeper than mere surface level for connection. But, do not be awkward about it, because relationships require trust and take time. Who do you need to forgive and who do you need to ask forgiveness from? Forgiveness and reconciliation are the objectives, so actively move towards them daily. Sure, we live in a “Dog eat dog”, survival of the survivor lawless culture, but the Christian is not of that God-rejecting world system. Materialistic secular humanists do not think about the reality that the people that you step on as you work your way up the ladder of life, you are going to meet again on your way back down. James 4:17 says, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

The people of God never burn bridges and always remember that God is right there. Do not put relationship-building off. Remember that people follow the Hurst with the coffin to the cemetery; not u-Haul trucks. God places people in your life to nourish both ways. Develop godly routines to improve and grow the relationships in your life.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

(2) With God. Walk in obedience. Make no mistake, delayed obedience is disobedience. God desires to be the Lord of all of your life; not part of your life. This includes your finances, your time management, your entertainment choices, your work ethic, your moral decision-making, your prayer time and your relationships. Discern God’s voice. Spend time with Him in prayer. If you want to be alone with God, then you must choose to be free of internal and external distractions, learning to clothe your soul in divine quietness (even in the crowded marketplace). But, spend time in corporate prayer with your brothers and sisters in Christ regularly. Spend time in the living Word of God. The Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, but it is also the Lord speaking to our hearts through the Holy Spirit to guide and mature the Child of God in knowledge and wisdom for the “right” relationships with the world that we have been blessed to make a holy impact on now. So, spend time in Bible Study also. Spend time in Christian community of your church family for the fellowship of Believers and the equipping of the saints for the work of Christ in the larger community. Walk in the Spirit, making things right.

In Christ, Brian