Monday, July 2, 2012

Born Of The Spirit

“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  ~John 3:7-9

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! ~2 Peter 2:14
Have you ever just sat down and watched the wind blowing through the trees? I did the other day and it really was quite amazing. I knew, from a long ago science class in high school, the wind was air rushing to fill some low pressure area, but as I watched I realized I couldn't see or hear the wind blowing through the trees. What I could see and hear was the effects of the wind blowing through the trees. Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus, no one knows where the wind comes from or where it is going; it does as it pleases. So does the Spirit of God.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  ~Ezekiel 36:26,27

We cannot hear or see the Spirit of God; we cannot see His coming, or His going. What we do see is the influence He has on the believer. The child of God radiates the effects of God's Spirit in his or her life and those effects are evident to those around them. The Holy Spirit produces effects that are easily recognizable...

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  ~Galatians 5:22,23

We cannot control the wind. Some like to think they can, but I assure you they cannot. Neither can we control God's Spirit and once again there are those who try. I have seen them on TV, false prophets and lying teachers, going around putting on as if they are dispensing the Holy Spirit of God at the wave of their hand, or the blowing of their breath. God's Spirit cannot be controlled! The people attending these services clamor after the so-called preacher for some experience rather than going to God in repentance and faith. The source and the end of the Spirit's journey is God's business not ours.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  ~Romans 8:16

Has the Spirit of God regenerated your heart and given witness to your new birth? The knowledge that we are born again comes from no one else but the Father. No one can give us this revelation and no one can take it away. The work of God's Spirit is to seal and secure the saving work of God and keep us till that day.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  ~Ephesians 1:13,14

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Word Of Hope

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.  ~Psalm 119:49,50

My hope is in the empty tomb!
In the Holy Bible one can find many promises that God has made, and it would seem as if the psalm writer has found one which brings him great comfort. He has asked God to specifically mark His Word so it will be recognized or remembered later on, because it has brought him hope. When the psalmist is afflicted and his life is in turmoil, he thinks on what God has said and it brings him great comfort. The very Word of God revives him and ultimately brings him life! I too find comfort in what God has said...

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”  ~Isaiah 44:6

When it seems the entire world is on a runaway train and things have spiraled out of my control, I find great comfort in the sovereignty of God. Even though Satan rules and manipulates events here on earth, he can only operate within the bounds God has set for him, and ultimately, all he does and attempts, works to the glory of our Heavenly Father! When you consider the evil that we as humanity are responsible for, all the pain and suffering that we impose on one another, you risk falling into despair, for the darkness is very great. Dear Christian friend take heart, for the light of God shines bright and whom shall we fear?

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  ~Psalm 27:1

There is great comfort in knowing God as the psalmist does, as long as you are in a "right" relationship with Him. To know that you are a child of God and your heavenly Father watches over you should bring peace and joy, even in troublesome times, but for those who have not received forgiveness of their sin, knowing God should produce a fear that goes to the center of their soul! If, after hearing the truth of God's Word, one chooses sin over salvation there is no hope of eternal life. To know God without trusting in the shed blood of Christ will not bring comfort, it brings fear...

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  ~Hebrews 10:26,27

All who have trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior, have that promise of eternal life! There is no power on this earth or anywhere else that can separate us from Him. The deceiver of this world himself cannot even remove us from the hand of God and he hates us for it. Though Satan comes against us with all the powers and evil he can muster, God Himself is our light and our salvation, He is our shield and strength, and He is our hope! The psalmist is right; there is comfort in God's Word in which He has caused us to hope...

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  ~John 10:27-29

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Staying In God's Will

Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.  ~Psalm 119:38

Sometimes God's will for our lives is not exactly what we would have chosen on our own.
When we look to God for guidance and direction in our lives, we should not be surprised when He provides it. Sometimes, however, we are confused or unsure what God's will is for our lives and often times the confusion is not in the knowing of His will, but in the accepting. The psalm writer has asked that God would confirm and accomplish that which is promised in His Word, in the life of His servant. God already has revealed to us what His will is for our lives, it is in His Holy Word and it has already been accomplished in Heaven. Our constant prayer ought to be "let Thy will be done..."

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  ~Matthew 6:9,10

The perfect prayer is not one which is long and goes on and on for hours, or one that is eloquent and well spoken, and the perfect prayer is not one which even comes word for word out of the Bible. The perfect prayer is one uttered in the will of God. Yes, God has a plan for our lives. He has direction and purpose for our very being established long before we were even born. Time spent in prayer isn't for us to have a way to plead with God and possibly change His mind, but to align our will with His perfect plan. There is no confusion when, in faith, we submit to God's Word. Instantly we will know whether the thing is of God or not, Jesus said so.

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”  ~John 7:17

If we would only trust God's Word and submit our lives to it, all doubt would flee as to whether it is the truth or not. Jesus tried to explain to the people as He taught them in the temple if someone were to do the will of God, which has already been revealed in the Scriptures, then they would know it was of God. It is when we choose a path for ourselves other than that which God has ordained when trouble and uncertainty creeps in. Doing God's will does not prevent trouble from coming, but doing God's will puts us in a place where we are equipped to handle the trouble. It is like following someone in a rainstorm who is carrying an umbrella. If we walk where they are going we remain dry, but if we step out in our own direction...

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.  ~Proverbs 3:11,12

Yes, sometimes we come under the disciplinary hand of God. When He chastens us we must remember He has our eternal state in mind and will go to extreme lengths to return us to the path He wants us on. Some say God is mean and cruel for the discipline He may use. But which is the most cruel, to chasten one's children for playing in the street or to let them play there until a car hits them? He loves us so much He will cause Himself pain by chastening us. You don't think God feels pain? I invite your attention to the eleventh chapter of John...

Jesus wept.  ~John 11:35

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Word Of God

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  ~Psalm 119:105

Remember there are still unsaved people stumbling in the darkness... and how great the darkness!
I have heard it said God's Word is confusing, hard to understand, contradictory, unfair, and even incomplete. To question God's Word is to question the very sovereignty of God Himself. The psalm writer clearly understood the purpose of the Holy Scriptures; they were provided as a light to shine forth as the only truth available to humanity. God's Word illuminates our way because there is no darkness in Him at all. It is our own inherent darkness which prevents us from fully understanding what God says. Remember the words of the disciple John about the Living Word...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,£ and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  ~John 1:1-5

One result of God's Word is that it will divide humanity. It will forever separate the believer from the non-believer and it separates those who are wise in their own eyes from those who humbly seek God. The Holy Bible divides and separates family and friends. God's Word separates those who love and trust Him from those who love and trust someone or something else. The Living Word of God says so.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  ~Matthew 10:34-37

God knows and understands the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts, after all He created us. He knows all of us are corrupt and we will lie to Him, to each other, and even to ourselves. So then, where can we find truth? Our Father in heaven has provided a way for us to know the truth through His written Word. His Word provides for us a standard by which we can judge all things. The Scriptures provide the only light whereby we can find our way through this life to fellowship with God in the next. If we begin to question the validity, or fairness of God's Word, we are at once on dangerous ground. We find ourselves contemplating the very thing Satan used on Eve when he convinced her to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The serpent planted the seed that maybe, just maybe, what God said isn't so.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  ~Genesis 3:1

It is our pride which causes us to question God. When we begin to think that maybe God was unable to give us something completely trustworthy by which we could govern our lives and learn of His great salvation, we are reducing Him down to our level, or exalting ourselves to His. These words may sound harsh, but we must remember our place in our relationship to God. It is not a relationship of equals, but a relationship between the Creator and His creation. Our salvation comes by God's grace through faith, and faith is casting all doubt aside and completely trusting and relying on God alone. If you truly want to know the truth then cast aside all preconceived notions or things taught by the world and seek God, trust Him for He promises to teach, guide, and save to the uttermost.

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.  ~Deuteronomy 4:29

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dust To Dust

 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!  ~Psalm 119:25

The grave is the ultimate test of one's theology.
You and I are mortal beings, and there are a number of things that can go wrong with these bodies which God formed from the dust of the earth. The psalmist here has come to grips with his own mortality and realizing, although his soul clings to a body of clay, God can revive him. Someday each of us must go the way of all the earth. Because of sin, these bodies are afflicted with pain, sickness, suffering, and then ultimately death. As God has ordained, each of us are destined to return to the dust from which He formed us...

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  ~Genesis 3:17-19

There are some people who never come to grips with the fact they are on a journey which eventually leads to the grave. Every step of the way they struggle and fight against the effects of growing old. Plastic surgery, skin treatments, vitamins, excessive physical exercise, all designed to somehow retain or revive the life that is clinging to dust. This is an attitude of rebellion, and one which refuses to take God at His Word. The life we now experience was given to us by God and it is His to take away. The psalmist understood that and he also understood if there was to be any quickening, or any rejuvenation, then it would come from God; after all He did promise it...

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?  ~Hosea 13:14a

God has a plan for His people and it includes life! The lives we now live are not as they were intended to be. Our lives were never meant to be a day to day struggle filled with pain and sorrow. It is our sin that has a death grip on our bodies, constantly afflicting us with sickness and disease. However, the promise from the Almighty is He would ransom our lives from the grave. He, one day, would redeem us from the power of death and bestow upon us eternal life! The Creator would become the Savior...

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to£ a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,  ~2 Timothy 1:8-10

Praise God for our deliverer, Jesus Christ! Although the grave awaits us, there is now hope for what lies beyond it. Life and immortality await those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ! In one beautiful redemptive act, Jesus offered His life for ours. Let us rejoice today regardless of whatever affliction troubles us, because someday the eternal life Jesus purchased with His own sinless blood will be ours. It will be without pain and sickness, it will be without crying or trouble, and it will no longer be affected by the ravages of time or destined to the grave. Oh yes, earlier I mentioned we are all destined to the grave. The truth is some will not see the grave; their change will not come after they die, but in the twinkling of an eye...

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  ~1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Voice Of Christ

And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.  ~Luke 21:38

The validity of your claim to be a disciple of Christ, is bound up in your desire to hear and obey what He says.
There is an eager anticipation in the heart of a disciple of Christ. We long to hear His voice, something to comfort our anxious hearts and to calm our fear. We rise up early and pour ourselves out in prayer; we read and study His Word, our souls laid bare before Him. We long to hear His voice as the people did so long ago. Should we be surprised then when He speaks to us through his Word?

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  ~John 14:15

Our Savior has spoken with clarity and with simplicity. He has spoken in a manner which even a small child may understand. There can be no excuses, no misunderstanding; He has said our love for Him is evident in how we obey Him. What happens when we finally hear His Word? What is our reaction if one of His commandments strikes a nerve and finds an area of disobedience? Do we turn away from Him, covering our sin with lies and excuses? God forbid, not if we are a true disciple!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  ~1 John 1:9,10

To hide our sin is a temptation, but there is nothing hidden from our Lord. We confess it, trusting in Him to cleanse us and to strengthen us against it. We must never turn away from His voice, even when He rebukes us, because with the rebuke there is healing and strength. He watches over our souls, after all, we are His sheep...

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  ~John 10:27

Yes, we hear Him. His voice speaks to us from the Word of God and we know Him. Jesus said not only do His sheep hear His voice, but they follow Him as well. There are two things the voice of Jesus reveals in the lives of His sheep; obedience and disobedience. Are we obedient to His Word? Do we love Him enough to follow? Listen to His voice now and ask yourself one last question. Have I abandoned my own will, picked up the cross, and followed where He has led?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”  ~Mark 16:15

Sunday, May 6, 2012

God Is In Control

Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?  ~Job 38:25-27

If there are no storms in your life... wait.
As I was writing these words, a thunderstorm was raging all around. The rain was pouring down torrentially, the wind was blowing with great force, and lightning was flashing with thunder crashing all around. This spectacle of God's creation seemed to be a display of unbridled and uncontrollable power. It would seem from our perspective there is little anyone could do against its raw power and overwhelming ferocity. Sometimes our lives, with their turbulent twists and turns, also seem out of control. In our Word for today, God asks Job a question which leads us to the eventual conclusion that God is the One in control.

Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?  ~Job 38:35

Later, God asks Job another question. Whereas, the first question pointed out God even controls the very path of lightning; this question accentuates our own inability to control forces or events. Any thought or perception of control in any situation on our part is only an illusion. It is by the will of God alone we are able to even draw our very next breath... or not. It is by His hand we are guided day by day, like small children being guided across the street. Seeing then, God is in control of everything, doesn't it seem logical to trust His judgment concerning every aspect of our lives?

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  ~Isaiah 41:10

Our problem is we worry and fret too much. Perhaps the reason we worry so, is because we either do not know what God has to say concerning a matter or we have forgotten. Perhaps God's overall point to Job is that even though his life seems out of control and it seems like he is being unjustly punished or abused, God has ordained it to happen for a reason. God promises us that even in troublesome times He is with us, He will sustain us, and He strengthens us. But what does He mean about upholding us with His right hand of righteousness? Perhaps He was speaking of Jesus, the Messiah.

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.  ~Isaiah 59:16