That Amazing Third Person-Part 3

Of course, all of these things that the Holy Spirit does, and all that He means to us, is only possible because He is God, the Holy Spirit. We’ve considered His role in bringing us to salvation and learned that He works in our lives from the moment we are saved. We have thought on the security and assurance given to us who have been born again. Today, let’s look at a sampling of how He works: He teaches (I Corinthians 2:13). He guides (John 16:13). He comforts (John 16:7). He reveals (John 16:13-14) He enables (Acts 1:8). He purifies (Acts 15:8-9). He produces Spiritual fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). What can you add to this list? What would we do without Him? In her hymn, “Since the Comforter has Come,” Eliza E. Hewitt has musically touched on today’s subject: “Since the Comforter has come, ev’ry door is opened wide, and I welcome Him to reign within my soul;  He has brought the things of Christ and has shown them unto me, and my life is under His full control. Since the Comforter has come, I’ve been guided into truth,  He has taught me ev’rything I ought to know; and to my remembrance brought precious sayings of my Lord, and He leads me in the paths that I should go. Since the Comforter has come, there is peace within my heart,  I have rest from fretting, worriment and care;  I have pow’r to testify to the Lord who loves me so, and my faith is mounting on wings of pray’r. The Comforter has come to abide;  The Comforter has come to abide; of my fully yielded soul  He has taken full control, for the Comforter has come to abide.” Selah! When He comes to abide, He comes to stay. He is resident in us; let’s be sure He is president over us!    Ron

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That Amazing Third Person-Part 2

Yesterday, we explored how the Holy Spirit is the One Who performs the miracle of the new birth in those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. We touched on how He daily does a purifying work all through the lifetime of each one who is born again. Before conversion, He convicts and convinces:  “And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11). He reproves (convicts, convinces). He makes us conscious of our sinfulness and that we are sinners. He speaks of righteousness. We become aware of God’s perfect righteousness and our own lack of righteousness. Then, we learn that Christ’s righteousness is credited to those who are born again. Once credited, the Holy Spirit does that lifetime work of making us righteous. We learn of judgment beginning with the prince of this world. By extension, all sin(s) will face judgment. Thank God that Jesus bore our judgment on the Cross! When we receive Jesus, we learn: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). He paid an infinite price to buy us! He has put the seal of ownership on us: “….  after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (From Ephesians 1:13). What God seals, He will never lose!  All who have been sealed are given: “….the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (From II Corinthians 1:22). The “earnest” is God’s guarantee of our future and our inheritance. How could it get any better than that? “I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus since I found in Him a friend so strong and true; I would tell you how He changed my life completely – He did something that no other friend could do. All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me, all my heart was full of misery and woe; Jesus placed His strong and loving arms around me, and He led me in the way I ought to go.”  From: “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus“-by Charles Weigle). Selah! No one can ever break the seal  on, or void the guarantee to, those who have truly experienced the miracle of rebirth!   Ron

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That Amazing Third Person-Part 1

Do any of us who know Jesus as our Savior and Lord have any idea just how much the Holy Spirit means to us? First of all, He lifts up (exalts and honors) Jesus. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all (men) unto me.” The Holy Spirit lifts up Jesus by the preaching of God’s Word. It may be a sermon, the witness of a Christian, a book, a video, a tract or some other means. When that happens, we are drawn. Tragically, not all will come. Most will “dig in their heels” and resist and reject the drawing of Jesus. However, in John 6:37 Jesus said: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Who does the Father give? All those whom He knew would exercise their free wills to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. When a person comes to Him, the Holy Spirit regenerates that person. Then, the Holy Spirit places that new life (the life of God) in that individual. He Himself comes to abide in us. Using God’s Word, He undertakes the purifying of our lives for the remainder of our time on earth. And all this is just a part of all He does for us! Don’t miss tomorrow, God willing, when we’ll hope to discover more. A hymn that comes to mind is: “He Abides” by Herbert Buffum. In it, he tesfies: “I’m rejoicing night and day as I walk the narrow way, for the hand of God in all my life I see; and the reason of my bliss, yes, the secret all is this: that the Comforter abides with me. Once my heart was full of sin, once I had no peace within, till I heard how Jesus died upon the tree; then I fell down at His feet, and there came a peace so sweet; now the Comforter abides with me. He is with me everywhere, and He knows my every care;  I’m as happy as a bird and just as free; for the Spirit has control;  Jesus satisfies my soul, since the Comforter abides with me. There’s no thirsting for the things of the world—they’ve taken wings; long ago I gave them up, and instantly all my night was turned to day, all my burdens rolled away; now the Comforter abides with me.” Selah! Every moment of a true Christian’s life is to be lived in the Presence of the Holy Spirit!  Ron

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Our Daily “Workout”- Part 2

Any “works” that we might come up with by our own strength, power, or ability are “dead” works. It’s like taking good fruit and tying it on to a dead tree. With no life from the tree, it can’t be lasting fruit!  It is only when the Holy Spirit performs the miracle of spiritual rebirth that God’s life enters into our inner being. When His life is given to us, He will produce real spiritual fruit. Philippians 2:13 tells us: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of (His) good pleasure.” However, Verse 12 charges us with this responsibility: “….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Our “workout” is to work out what He has worked in! How do we do that? We take the water, milk and meat of the Word of God and use it to nourish that new life. God uses these to increase the impact of His new life in us. We begin to grow in grace; Christ is controlling more and more of our lives. God begins to form His character qualities in us. Faithful and prayerful attendance on Scripture is the means to work out what He has worked in. Let us share the fervent desires expressed in Thomas O. Chisholm’s, “Oh, To Be Like TheeLet these desires be ours: “Oh! to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer; gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear, Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming, now to receive th’ anointing divine; all that I am and have I am bringing, Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading, pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love, make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, fit me for life and Heaven above. Oh! to be like Thee, Oh! to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.” Selah! Seek His face, saturate your soul with His Word, draw strength, wisdom and direction from Him and look to Him for enabling to apply and obey Scripture. Then look at what He worked in and helped you to work out!   Ron

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Our Daily Workout-Part 1

A physical workout can be skipped; a spiritual workout cannot be completely omitted. We may do a very minor spiritual workout but, if we are going to be in spiritual shape, we need to work out vigorously. How, you might reasonably ask. Before I try to answer that, there are a couple of matters that need to be considered. We can do no “good” works that give us favor with God. After we are saved, we can do none that will keep us in God’s favor; we can do nothing to earn that favor. In short, no “good” works of ours are of any value, whatsoever! Nevertheless, we are ordained to walk in good works: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). It is His workmanship that brings about good works in our daily walk. This is ordained and He alone must receive the glory! However, when He does the work, there is value and, amazingly, rewards to us for what He has done. How these good works of His work out in our lives will, Lord willing, engage our attention tomorrow. For now, think carefully on these words from “Rock of Ages“- By Augustus Toplady: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die. Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.” Selah! Can you imagine the joy when you see God working wonderful things into and out through your life? Ron

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Works Versus Works!

Let’s start by looking at “dead” works. What are “dead” works? They are works that come about by self-effort, reformation and are defined by whatever code of morals that we have developed. We take pride in being “good” people. We look down on others whose standards are not as high as ours. We assume that since we are decent, caring, law-abiding people and our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds that God (if there is a God) will most certainly reward our good deeds with granting us Heaven. This is a weak illustration, but may help: I work hard, use great skill, create an artificial flower that is so well done that it seems to be real. I’m so sold on what I’ve done that it seems like I can smell the fragrance. The harsh reality is that there is no life in it; I have only produced something that is dead. God’s response to our “dead” works is found in Isaiah 64:6: “….all our righteousnesses (are) as filthy rags….” When our works come from God, He takes pleasure in what He has done “in’ and “through” us. God, the Holy Spirit, bringing God’s Word to bear on and in our lives, makes a “living” flower of His good works. Ephesians 2:10 speaks of this: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” As He works in our lives, He receives the glory; He alone deserves that glory! We would do well to pray the prayer that is given to us in the music of, “Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in Me,”- By Albert Orsborn: “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wonderful passion and purity;  O my Savior divine, all my being refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” The answer to this prayer, honestly prayed, will produce the fruits of righteousness! To God be the glory! Selah!  Let this verse from Fanny Crosby’s, “To God be the Glory,” be our experience: “Great things He has taught us, great things He has done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; but purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!”  Ron

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The Source of Salvation

How would you explain salvation? Most would probably say: “You are saved by faith.” However, a close study reveals that that’s a misunderstanding. Ephesians 2:8 reveals the source of salvation: “For by grace are ye saved….” Titus also brings this out clearly: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Where does faith come into the picture? Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:8. Note the underlined: “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” How can we have faith? Faith is not something that we do! Continue in Ephesians 2:8 and again note the underlined: “….that not of yourselves: (it is) the gift of God.” God grants us a “measure” of faith. Romans 12:3 mentions: “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” In II Thessalonians 3:2, we read: “for all (men) have not faith.” Is this a contradiction? No, it’s a distinction. As best as I can, let me explain it this way: God offers to all a measure of faith. When a person receives that measure and starts to trust in His heart; when that trust grows, he or she experiences salvation. (A word of caution is needed: this kind of trust [faith] is not going to go away. It may be challenged, dimmed and wavering. If it is true faith, it will not stop trusting)! The “all” spoken of in the Thessalonian portion, as not having faith, are those who do not have “saving” faith. Their measure of faith is temporary. It is not acted on and vanishes.  These thoughts from Haldor Lillenas’ hymn, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” underscores the source of our salvation: “Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled, by its transforming power, making him God’s dear child, purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity—and the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me. Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea; higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain, all-sufficient grace for even me! Broader than the scope of my transgressions, greater far than all my sin and shame;  Oh, magnify the precious Name of Jesus, praise His Name!” Selah! God brings salvation and enables us to trust. Then, we can “savingly” trust. When we do, He works on, in, with and through us all through life.    Ron

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The Burial of Faith

I suggest that “faith” be buried, put away, forgotten! Now, before you organize a protest against any suspected heresy on my part, let James explain: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 1:17). Dead faith is useless and should be buried so that it will not be relied upon as being “living faith.” Well, you might ask, “what is living faith?” “Living faith” is faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord! It is a faith that works. It is a faith that brings results. It is a faith in Jesus that is unconditional. Simply believing facts only adds to knowledge but changes nothing. The facts have to be acted on. If Jesus is to be our Savior, it’s obvious that we need to be saved from something and that “something” is sin. If He is our Lord, that means submitting to His Lordship. It means yielding the control of our lives to Him. The Holy Spirit, using God’s Word. initiates a lifelong process of saving us from sin’s power and influence and He motivates and strengthens us to live Godly and righteously. Living faith (genuine faith) will bring these results into our lives. Anything less will not do! However, dead faith is often called for by sincere believers. Wanting to make it simple for people to be saved, they teach and preach that believing the facts and receiving Jesus into your heart assures Heaven forever. Little or nothing is called for about a surrendering of our lives to Jesus. Until we do that, our “faith” is dead faith and leaves us spiritually dead. It is obvious from his hymn, All to Jesus, I Surrender,” that Judson W. Van De Venter understood “living” faith: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessing fall on me. I surrender all, I surrender all; all to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Selah! A “few” with “living” faith will  strengthen the church; many with only “dead” faith will weaken the church. Ron

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The Wonder of God and the Focus of Men

There are two choices that we can make about where we focus our time, money, energy, abilities and desires. We can focus on the wonder of God or on ourselves. We know, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that God’s wonder must come to be our supreme focus. How many times do we stop and evaluate if God is our primary focus? Do we acknowledge that He should be our focus and then slip into the routine (rut?) of making ourselves our primary focus? Easy to do and hard to change the focus on self. However, making Him the major focus of our lives is a discipline that is at the heart of true discipleship. For us to get the right focus and enjoy the view of God, sharply and clearly, requires self discipline. We must give quality time and effort to listening to Him, studying Him, learning about Him, etc. Top priority is time in His Word and authentic prayer. We are not only to think on Him, we are to worship, praise, love and appreciate Him. We need to discern His Presence and learn to gaze on His Person and glory. Once this focus is begun, there are other means to deepen our focus. We can learn from and be motivated by the lives of others who have become caught up in His wonder, His splendor, His glory and His grace. Jesus is the One Who enables us to truly “see” God. John understood! He wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory….).” (From John 1:14). John also quoted Jesus: “….he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (From John 14:9). This hymn expresses the wonder of His Person: “To Jesus ev’ry day I find my heart is closer drawn; He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn; He’s all my fancy pictured in its fairest dreams and more; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar; He’s fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star; He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o’er and o’er; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. My heart is sometimes heavy, but He comes with sweet relief; He folds me to His bosom when I droop with blighting grief, I love the Christ who all my burdens in His body bore; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. The half cannot be fancied, this side the golden shore; O there He’ll be still sweeter than He ever was before.” (“Still Sweeter Every Day,”-By William C. Martin). Selah! “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to (give) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). Our focus cannot be on the world and ourselves, and on God at the same time! You and I must determine which is to be our highest focus!   Ron

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Two Kinds of Contentment

The right kind of contentment is a blessing. The wrong kind can be “numbing” and rob you of purpose. For the sake of this article let’s think in terms of positive and negative contentment. Negative contentment is characterized by attitudes like these: “You can’t change it, so live with it!” “Whatever will be, will be!” “So just go with the flow!” Only a genuine Christian can really have ongoing positive contentment. This kind is characterized by these responses: Paul: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, (therewith) to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Psalmist: “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Paul to Timothy: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:8). This is not a blind trust to avoid reality but confidence in the love, control, wisdom and faithfulness of God. Our Heavenly Father knows when to give and when not to give. Al Smith reminds us in his hymn by this name, “Surely He Will Care for You,” that He will take care of His own: “Why do you let the troubles of tomorrow bring sorrow to your heart, and burdens too? For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you. He knoweth and careth, each burden He beareth;  For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you.” Selah! Remember that to worry is a breach of trust. We’ve been wisely taught that “Worry is assuming responsibility that God never intended us to have.” (From Institute in Basic Life Principles).     Ron

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