Inflow of Power

Late Edition for Wednesday 8/31/11:
 
"….ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (From Acts 2:38). Yesterday, we pointed out that the source of power is the Word of God. We indicated that we "plug in" to that power when we hear God's voice speaking to us in the pages of Scripture, and we listen, act, apply and obey what He tells us. However, the inflow of that power comes to us through our fervent and receptive prayers. It starts with our salvation. We have no guarantee that our prayers are heard (except the prayer for salvation) until we come to Christ in repentance. The moment that we open our hearts and lives to Him as Savior and Lord, some wonderful things happen in our lives. First, the Holy Spirit came upon us. That happened on the day of Pentecost. When He came, He immersed us (enveloped us; baptized us) into Christ's Body, the Church "For by one Spirit are (literally: were) we all baptized into one body…." (From I Corinthians 12:13). He placed us in Jesus and then He took up residence in us. This indwelling is "….the gift of the Holy Ghost." The next step is to be filled with the Holy Ghost. We can be filled with the Word of God in an intellectual way (and that may be the starting point for some). However, we need to be filled with the Word of God in the Spiritual way. This means that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us with the Father, through Jesus. The other part of that is that the Holy Spirit is bringing the things of God into our minds and hearts via God's Word. That is the power but only when we appropriate it. Here is where the breakdown most often occurs. Sinning, lack of confession and change, not paying attention to God, letting other things have a place of greater importance in our lives than He does, stops the power from operating in our lives. The remedy for this is to passionately seek to put Him first in our lives, at any cost, and to grow  more and more intense in our complete devotion to Him and His will for our lives. When this is actively pursued, we can expect the Holy Spirit's power to be released into us and flow out through us. Until we reach this level of commitment, we can expect little, if any, power to be manifested to and through us. What are we waiting for? Selah! "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).     Ron

Power Availability

Late Edition for Tuesday 8/30/11:
 
While I was feeling sorry for myself, because of no electric power, this thought came to me. I am "fussed up" because of no electrical power; why am I not much more "distressed" when I lack contact with Spiritual power? Electrical power is waiting to flow into my home as soon as the connection is restored. Is this not the very same idea in relation to Spiritual power? It's there waiting for the connection to be restored and ready to flow into my life. It's stating the obvious when I remind myself that sin breaks the connection. It does, but what else is involved? The disciples were told in Acts 1:8 that, "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." We (after Pentecost) have something even more wonderful! Consider this: We are  "….to be strengthened with might (power) by His Spirit in the inner man." (From Ephesians 3:16). He came upon us; He now dwells in us. I repeat my question: What else is involved? Let me suggest two things. 1). I am so busy that I forget to "plug in." How do I "plug in?" It's so simple that a lot of us, perhaps, miss it. You and I "plug in" when we connect with our Bibles in a meaningful way. When we listen to the voice of God through His inspired writers and recognize that He is speaking to us and expects us to listen, apply and obey what He is telling us and we hasten to do that, then we are truly "plugged in." The connection is established! 2). In some ways this is worse than the first reason for no power. We are so distracted with our cares and responsibilities that we are not even aware that we are not connected. Satan has successfully diverted our attention into secondary areas. This will take the discipline of a determined disciple, with His help, to re-order our priorities so that the most important thing in our daily lives is for His resurrection Life to flow into us, through us and out of us to impact others. "Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, here 'mid earth's sin and sorrow and care; Men lost and dying, souls in despair; O give me power, power in prayer!" (Albert S. Reitz). "Emptied that Thou should-est fill me, a clean vessel in thy hand; with no pow'r but as Thou givest graciously with each command. Channels only, blessed Master, but with all thy wondrous power flowing through us, Thou canst use us every day and every hour." (Mary E. Maxwell). Selah! How much do we really want this? What real effort will we commit to make certain that we are truly "connected?"    Ron

A Poem and a Prayer

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above. (Robert Robinson).
 
The author of this hymn "felt" what many of us "feel" and sometimes experience. It is a tragic thing when our love weakens, grows cold, and we wander into the barren land of "backsliding." The following poem (and prayer) is a warning of how it can happen and what our response must be. I hope you find it helpful.
 
Losing Our First Love
 
I never planned it to happen,
It just gradually took place;
I didn't realize I was failing
To daily seek His face.
 
I had many responsibilities,
Caught up in the frantic pace;
Little by little I forgot
To draw on His wondrous grace.
 
I never meant it to happen
To neglect His Word and prayer
So very busy and distracted,
I didn't notice; was wholly unaware.
 
Then those haunting words, "Thou hast
Left thy first love," jarred my cold heart,
But His words of love touched me:
"Come back, make a fresh start."
 
"Remember, repent and return," He said;
"On the altar rekindle the fire;
Put aside the distractions and duties;
Make Me your Supreme Desire."
 
I will correct my priorities,
Put Him first in my day;
Richly express my love to Him,.
Listen to His Word and pray.
 
I want to walk in His presence,
Listen to what He has to say;
Give Him my faithful obedience,
Never again from Him to stray.
 
             R.A.P.        
 
 

Cold Formality or Love on Fire?

How loosely we use the expression, "I love…" "I love a good steak!" "I love this car." "I love my favorite weather." "I loved that movie," etc. How loosely are we using the word love, when we say, "I love the Lord!" or we say, " I love God?" It's one thing if a religious person says that but when a genuine Christian says it, does he or she mean it? Do we love Him or do we like Him? Do we only like Him and/or think favorably of Him? Are we anxious to be with Him? Do we look forward to hearing what He has to tell us?  Do we find genuine pleasure in pleasing Him? Do thoughts of Him thrill us? Do we derive real joy when we are able to be of use to Him? These are a few things to help us to discern between a certain amount of fascination with Him versus a powerful, loving, obsession with Him. Even some atheists are capable of respecting His character. Liberals often acknowledge Him as a great teacher. Do we truly love Him or just respect Him? Do we "talk Him up" or do we keep quiet? In other words, are we embarrassed to testify to what He means to us or are we ashamed to let people know how wonderful that He is? If we have a valid relationship with Him, let's spend as much time in His Presence as we possibly can. Let's determine to learn everything that we can about Him and how to bring joy to Him. His love for us is beyond our capacity to fully grasp. Let's love Him more and more and aim for loving Him "….with all thy heart, and with all thy all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." (From Luke 10:27). Selah! It's time for "feeling good" about  Him to give way to a solid gold loving involvement with Him! Jesus said to Peter, "Lovest thou Me more than these (others do)…?" "…Lovest thou Me…? "Lovest thou Me…?" (From John 21:15-17). Three times Jesus asked Peter! How many times would He ask us and what would our truthful answer be?    Ron

Is Now the Hour?

Immorality has always been around but it has been held back somewhat by the dam of "limits." That dam is showing serious cracks. Drinking, drugs, smoking, gambling, profanity, swearing, filthy stories, crude language, lying, illicit sex, etc. are breaking down the dam. We've had the "spill over." We are on the edge of being inundated by poisoned waters. The river of evil is at flood stage. Few people seem to care. In fact, many of them may be part of the problem. An attitude of "Who cares?" is pervading our society today. "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe (Noah) entered into the ark and (they) knew not until the flood came, and took them all away…." (From Matthew 24:38-39). By then, it was too late! Some other things are going on: earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, mud slides, plagues, starvation, etc. There is a lot of turmoil in the middle east, like a pot about to boil over. Nations are at war and in distress. Law enforcement is like a soldier with one arm tied behind his back. Then, consider this, many churches have grown cold, others spiritually weak. Few churches, comparatively speaking, still have the moral courage to challenge the culture and to sound a clarion call for personal and corporate holiness of heart and life. Cheap evangelism has brought too many folk into our churches who may not even be saved but who are embraced with open arms and allowed positions of leadership or service. More people, more income. True believers, enjoying entertainment, and being fed spiritual Pabulum, and discouraged by the lack of a healthy diet of sound expository preaching and teaching, have grown cold and passive. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). In this passage, iniquity abounding and love growing cold refers primarily to the Tribulation Period. Nevertheless, what we are seeing today may be the prelude to the full-blown expression of these drastic conditions that will take place then. Therefore, my question is: Is now the hour? Are we close to the "Rapture?" Selah! "….Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (From Ephesians 5:14). We desperately need an old-fashioned Holy Spirit revival. Ron

“Character”

Some believe that righteous conduct produces character. I believe it's the other way around. It takes character to motivate righteous conduct. Character is an admiral goal for all. I see it beginning with a strong desire to be morally upright. One develops habit patterns of honesty, purity, reliability, decent language, kindness, generosity, hard work, etc. A saved person or an unsaved person can build this kind of character. However, the Christian has a greater responsibility and privilege. While developing habit patterns like those above, His desire is to see the character of Christ reproduced in himself. Did you notice that I wrote "reproduced?" Only the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, can create Christ's character in us. In order for this to be accomplished, we must saturate ourselves with Scripture. As we study Him in the Bible, something goes on internally. We find ourselves longing to walk closely with Him, to talk with Him (prayer), to love, to have intimate involvement with the Father, to forgive freely and quickly, to live in daily victory over sin and wrong; in short, to be like Jesus. As we probe the Bible (and let it probe us), we must discover its principles, think on them, perhaps write them down, apply them and obey them. As we do these things, He is implanting His character in us. "….The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…." (From Galatians 5:22-23). Think each one of these through, look for them "lived out" in the life of Jesus, prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit's enabling to make each of these a daily practice in your life and His character will begin to manifest itself in and through you. Selah! He starts living out His character in us and through us. Beginning at our conversion, He increases this activity over our lifespan, as the Word takes hold. When we see Him, we shall be like Him completely!!    Ron

Enough and Then Some!

"Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up" (Matthew 16:9-10)? Jesus fed these crowds miraculously from a very small amount and still had a lot left over. God was concerned about physical nourishment and Spiritual nourishment and He still is. These physical miracles suggest some interesting spiritual insights. Jesus didn't use much to start with. However, it was available to Him. Thinking about the Bible, I marvel that something as small as a book is used by God to feed multitudes, Spiritually, for thousands of years. A complete Spiritual menu (revelation) is there for us, to furnish us with Spiritual health. It doesn't matter if we use a little or a lot because there is always enough and then there's always some left over for more nourishment. A word of caution is important here. If we eat little, we will be Spiritually weak. We can eat as much as we want and with this food it is wise to round our plates over. It is also very important to thoroughly digest our meals. Remember, we are to a large extent the product of what we eat. If we feed on the junk food of the world, we'll lose our Spiritual appetite. We don't have to fear that we'll ever run out of this food, the supply and availability is limitless. We can even store a lot of it up (meditation and memorization) for use later, if we might not be able to get to the supply. Selah! Have we been eating well?  "…Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good…." (From Isaiah 55:2).       Ron