Power Applied-2

When the Holy Spirit brings God’s Word to bear in a person’s life, it is powerful! Picking up from yesterday, we discover in Hebrews 4:12, that Scripture is “….sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.” A sword is designed to penetrate. A two-edged sword would penetrate even more. The Word of God is even sharper than a two-edged sword. It divides soul and spirit. God’s Word to Adam and Eve was, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). They ate and died spiritually but their souls were left alive. These two parts of their existence were divided, one part alive and active in their minds, emotions and wills, the other part, their spirits, were dead to God. Scripture also penetrates and divides joints and marrow. Whatever else is meant by that, God’s Word affects the body. Applying His Word can bring health to the body; violating it can bring harm. I think there is something else here. Scripture cuts through our excuses, rationalizations, cover-ups, our self-deceptions, etc. Failure to apply its Truths damages us physically and spiritually. A sharp instrument can kill. It also can be used to cut into a body to bring healing. In Ephesians 6:17, we learn that, “…. the sword of the Spirit…is the Word of God.” We are to be skillful in its use (II Timothy 2:15). The Holy Spirit gives us the sword to use. When we use it properly, His power will be evident. Selah! Tomorrow we hope to look at a very startling use of the Sword of the Spirit, God willing. Do stop by!   Ron

Power Applied-1

I hope that we’ve understood the means that the Holy Spirit employs to activate His power in and through our lives. This power is for Spirit-led Christians. (There may be times when the Holy Spirit will work in and/or through non-Christians, but this is the exception, not the rule). The power is in the Word! We make a very serious mistake, if we think of the Bible only as a book. This is true even when we think of it as the Book above all books. It is how God uses the Book that we need to understand. Hebrews 4:12 begins by informing us that , “….the Word of God is quick (living) and powerful.” Inspiration, as it relates to Scripture, means God-breathed. God breathed His Own Life into the Words of the Bible. It is His Life that makes the message of His Word accomplish what He determines for it to accomplish. So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it(Isaiah 55:11). Jesus points out, in John 6:63, ….The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.” What we need to grasp is that the Bible is the Voice of God speaking to the heart of man. The message, conveyed via print on paper or electronically or by Scripture that is spoken, is nothing less than the Voice of God! Hadn’t we better listen, respond and share? Selah! Another facet of this power will engage our attention tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

What Does Spiritual Power Look Like?

Acts 1:8 gives us some very important insights. Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The first thing to note is that power and witnessing are linked here. Power (and/or authority) are basically for witnessing. The next thing to take note of is that this power is to be used to witness to Jesus. This leads to the third consideration: the Holy Spirit (Whose ministry is to glorify Jesus) is the One Who empowers. That power does not come from us but from Him! Now, this power/authority may be a gentle witness, softly shared, or a convicting Word that penetrates deeply. If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and use our Spirit-taught understanding of God’s Word to properly apply appropriate Scripture to the particular person or situation, lives will be impacted! One final thing to consider is that we can be a negative or positive witness. We can be positive in the way that we have been looking at, or we can operate in our own strength and have no power and undermine authority. That will be a very negative witness. Selah! Did you notice how that power is available to us? More on that tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

Spiritual Power in the Pew

Assuming that our preachers and teachers are Spiritually prepared and relying on the Scriptures as the only truly reliable source of God’s Truth, what part does the person in the pew have? The lethargy that enshrouds many in our pews today is a tragic shame. Do we really listen? Do we discipline ourselves to apply God’s Word in our lives? Do we study and pray on our own, daily? Is prayer meeting something that we don’t even bother with? Does entertainment, fun, responsibilities and interests mean more to us than a truly personal relationship with God? Could we answer someone who questions how we know that the Bible is God’s Word? Do our lives reflect Jesus or just inflate our egos? Is God just “tucked in” to our daily lives or is He the foundation and center of our living? The “bottom line” is this: do we take God seriously? Or is He merely an interesting sidelight to our usual routine? When we are ready for a vital involvement with our God; when He is submitted to, as Sovereign in our lives, when we love His Word and are increasingly saturated with His Truth so that we can fully trust it and speak it with authority, when the Word purifies our hearts and lives, then we may expect God’s power to touch others. Selah! “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. and everyone that heareth these sayings of Mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).    Ron

Spiritual Power in the Pulpit

It is possible to preach without God activating the message. Let’s consider some reasons for this. The most obvious one is any undealt with sin(s) in the preacher’s life. If this is not the issue, it may well be simply depending on the preacher’s own ability instead of seeking God’s enabling. Another possibility is burying the Word in our thoughts on that Word. Making Scripture itself the major thrust of the message may well bring God’s power into the event. Another concern is when the preacher is not ignited by the Bible’s Truths. If we are “ho, hum” about God’s Word that can be contagious. The Word must set our hearts on fire. There may be other reasons. There is one reason that I want to mention in closing that I am persuaded undermines effective preaching (and teaching). When we think that we have to somehow bring the Bible into harmony with the latest discoveries of so-called science, we make a fatal mistake. This is true also when we try to blunt the teaching of the Word by relegating some of its Truths to a certain time or cultural context, thereby watering its message down to simply interesting history with no real application today. If the Word must be subject to man’s ideas, we are left with no reliable Word from God. Only when God reveals that something is not for today (such as animal sacrifices) are we justified in teaching that. Paul’s command to Timothy in the second chapter of his second letter, Verse 15 still applies today. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Selah! All ideas, philosophies, reasoning, etc. are to be examined in the Light of Scripture. Never is Scripture to be brought into harmony with these!  Ron

Spiritual Power-What Does It Mean?

Power usually means energy and/or ability. It sometimes means “authority.” Spiritual power is usually thought of as God’s energy displayed in miraculous ways. For example, think of God’s power in parting the Red Sea, allowing the Hebrews to escape the pursuing Egyptian Army. Consider someone like Paul. Could Saul ever be a convert to Christ? Are you kidding me? He’s about the most unlikely prospect for conversion that we could find anywhere. God’s power brought him to his knees on the Damascus Road and he became a major factor in preaching Christ. It is true that God’s power is dramatic at times. However, we far more often observe God’s power as Divinely given authority. At the close of Jesus’ teaching, in Matthew 7:28-29, Matthew records, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine; for He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes.” But what did Jesus teach? He preached the Word of God! Anyone of a mind to do so could preach, teach the Bible and have no results. Unless God activates the message, Spiritually, it reaches no further than the mind, if that. So, for Scripture to be effective, it must have God’s authority and enabling. Why, in so many local churches, do we see little or no power in action? Over the next two or three days, God willing,  I’d like to pin-point some reasons why and offer some suggestions as to how we could see more real power. Selah! I don’t believe the power has been withdrawn. I believe it has been withheld!  Ron

Look at Three Trees

Look at this first tree. It is a tree of decision. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve had to decide if they would obey or disobey. Every human being since has lived with the consequences of their wrong decision. Every human being has to make the same decision in his or her life. Will we open our lives to God and His will, or will we decide to ignore God and do what we want? That brings us to a second tree. It is a tree of deliverance. We recognize this tree as the Cross of Calvary. Because of Adam and Eve’s rebellious decision, all mankind is born dead to God. We must decide if we will come to this tree. The Sacrifice on this Tree paid-in-full for all the sin(s) of mankind. Peter, speaking of Jesus, explains, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own Body on the Tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.” Your decision, and mine, to make is this: will we receive the deliverance that Jesus provides and yield to Him as our Lord and Savior or will we decide to continue in our own way and remain dead in sin? If we receive His deliverance, and are restored to God and His Life, we are likened to a tree of delight. And he (the born again child of God) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3). In fact, if God grants us a long life, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon…..They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” (From Psalm 92:12;14). Selah! The wrong decision ruined us; the right decision rescues and restores us, and refreshes us and others.    Ron