Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 19 Obedience

Our verse this week is the second in the series on witnessing

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 8

I’m still working through some of the teachings regarding the Holy Spirit in the Epistles. This all started with a study of the book of Acts and I thought it important to investigate what the epistles teach.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. That is, the Holy Spirit sets us apart for God’s exclusive use. In the Old Testament, items that were going to be used for the service of God were dedicated and set apart for use in the temple. Once they were dedicated in this way, they were not supposed to be used for ordinary purposes. In our lives, the Holy Spirit is the one who sets us apart for God’s use. I Peter 1:2; 2 Thess 2:13 and Gal 5:22

The Holy Spirit prays for us. Romans 8:26 tells us that we don’t know what to pray for and so the Holy Spirit prays for us according to the will of God. I used to think the verse said that “when” we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays. But Scripture says that we definitely don’t know what to pray for and therefore the Spirit has the ministry of praying for us. He knows what the will of God is and He knows what our heart needs. That should be a great encouragement to us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 18 Witnessing

Here it is week 18 of our Memorization Monday series and the topic for this and the next two weeks is witnessing.

Our verse today is I John 1:3 “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Am His and He Is Mine

Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know.
Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen!
Birds with gladder songs o’er flow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast!
O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear – I am His and He is mine.

His forever, only His – Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heaven and earth may fade and flee, Firstborn light in gloom decline,
But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 17 Obedience

Well, somehow memorization Monday slipped into Tuesday.

Here's the verse for this week based on the topic of obedience.

Hebrews 5:8 "Though He was a son, he learned obedience through the things which He suffered"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 7

In my study of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, my thoughts turned to the epistles to learn some of the key teachings there. If you want the complete study guide that I prepared for my Sunday School class, you can find it here. This won’t be a complete discussion but rather some of the key points that stood out to me.

In Galatians 3:5, Paul tells us that the Spirit is received by faith. There are no works or human effort that will cause the Spirit indwell us, but rather it is through faith in the same way that salvation is through faith.

One of the things that we know with our mind, but is incredible to really think about is that the Holy Spirit indwells us as Christians. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the “spiritual” indwells the “physical”. It doesn’t make sense how that can be but it is clearly what scripture teaches in the following passages: I Cor 3:16; I Cor 6:19; Gal 4:6 and Romans 8:16.

A third truth that we’ll review today is that the Holy Spirit is a “down payment” on the rest of our salvation. He is a guarantee of what is to come. He seals and secures us for eternity. A person who gives a down payment has to be prepared to lose the down payment if he can’t follow through with the rest of the purchase. In the same way, God is so committed to our future salvation and glorification that He is willing to give us His Spirit as the down payment for that commitment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This-N-That: New Year's Resolutions

An article by Henry Morris in Days of Praise brought up some interesting points about New Year’s Resolutions. He begins by connecting the making of New Year’s resolutions to a Babylonian custom. I don’t know enough about history to know if that is true or not, but he goes on to point out that after centuries of attempts by the church to fight against these pagan practices, they were eventually “Christianized” by the church. Or perhaps we should say the church was “paganized” by those customs.

While all of the above is probably true, I wonder why we sometimes go to lengths to put a negative spin on something that can be a positive thing. Perhaps resolutions did begin in Babylon, but on those occasions when I have made some New Year’s resolutions, it didn’t have anything to do with the pagan origins of the practice. In a similar way, when I put up a Christmas tree, I don’t do so with any thought of support to pagan background such a tree may have had. Didn’t Paul say to eat “whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; because the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.” I Corinthians 10:25, 26

In Romans 14:5 Paul writes, “One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” He continues, “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” In other words these things that are not clear cut should be left to individual consciences as we seek to glorify the Lord through our lives.

Morris mentions the fact that when we make resolutions we need to be careful that such promises must be genuine and from our hearts. We must also remember that when we vow, God expects us to follow through. In other words we should not make vows lightly.

These points are true except for the fact that in my mind a resolution is not a promise or a vow. A resolution is a decision. Perhaps we hear a sermon on prayer and are convicted of the fact that we need to pray more. We decide to take steps to do so. We may not make any promises or vows, we may just decide we are going to try to do better. That is a resolution. Why put fear in people’s hearts that they shouldn’t make a resolution because perhaps they may not keep it?

It seems to me that the beginning of a new year, whether it be January 1 or on our birthday is a perfect time to reflect on the past and make some necessary adjustments in our personal disciplines. Neither the fear of pagan history nor the fear of not being able to follow-through on our decision should keep us from making God-honoring adjustments in our life.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 6

What is the difference between being filled with the Spirit and being baptized in the Spirit? Is there a difference?

I Corinthians 12:13 tells us that “in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” We learned earlier that in those passages that say that John baptized with water but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the word “with” is really the word “in”. John baptizes in water, Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit. The passage in I Corinthians 12 tells us what that means. “In the Spirit” we’re baptized into the body of Christ. In the case of John, people were baptized in water into repentance. So I would define the baptism of the Spirit this way: Spirit baptism is that operation of the Spirit whereby a believer is placed into the body of Christ.

From the I Corinthian passage we can see that this baptism is true of all Christians. We have all been baptized in one Spirit. It’s not something that certain spiritual Christians experience.

The filling of the Spirit on the other hand seems to be something that can take place over and over again. We are told not to be drunk with wine but to be continually being filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) Comparing the filling of the Spirit with wine makes me think that just as a person who is drunk is influenced and controlled by the wine, we should rather be influenced and controlled by the Spirit. There can be times when we don’t yield to that control and other times when we do. God would have us be controlled by the Spirit.

It seems to me that being filled with the Spirit is almost always related to speaking. If you look up the following verses, you can see that almost every one of them says something about speaking right after it talks about being filled. Even in the Ephesians 5:18 passage follows up the exhortation to be filled with the Spirit with “speaking to one another…”.

See Acts 1:16, Acts 5:32, Acts 8:29, Acts 13:1-4, Acts 16:6-7 and Acts 20:23

From this I gather that God would have us be controlled by the Spirit so that we could faithfully speak the truth of God’s Word to others.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Memorization Monday - Week 16 Obedience

I hope you all had a good Christmas time. We are at week 16 of our Bible memorization plan. This is the second of three verses focusing on obedience.

This week’s verse is John 15:10, 14

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hymn of the Week - Rejoice the Lord is King!

Rejoice the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice!

Jesus the Savior reigns, The God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift u your voice!
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail – He rules o’er earth and heaven;
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given.
Life up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord the judge shall come
And take His servants up to their eternal home;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

On the Death of a Friend

A good friend died this morning. Such events always make me step back and reflect on what God has taught us about life and death. This lady found out four weeks ago that she had cancer and today she is gone from us.

One of the first things I think about when I see suffering and death up close is that God is serious about the curse He has placed on us because of sin. Ezekiel 18:20 reminds us that the soul that sins shall die. I’m not suggesting my friend is a worse sinner than I or anyone else. We have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. Even those of us who have believed on Christ for salvation have bodies that are getting older and will eventually die if the Lord does not return first. We learn from the Apostle Paul, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:22, 23

I received the call at 6:30 this morning. “Roger, Eileen just died.” It reminded me of the time Jesus told His disciples, “Lazarus is dead.” But later He told Martha, “Your brother will rise again. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:23-26

That was the question that kept repeating itself in my mind throughout the morning, “Do you believe this?”

I answer with the man who cried out with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Study with Me - Acts Lesson 5

One of the things that has been kind of intriguing for me in my study of the book of Acts is order of events and accompanying signs related to the coming of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that there is no one pattern that is normative for the church.

Here’s a summary of what I find. Look up these passages and see if you would list it differently.

Acts 2:1-4 Filled with Spirit then spoke in tongues

Acts 2:38 Repent, be baptized, forgiveness, receive Holy Spirit

Acts 8:14-18 Received the Word, layed on hands, received the Spirit

Acts 9:17-18 Apostle Paul – hands layed, received Spirit, baptized

Acts 10:44-48 Holy Spirit fell, tongues, then baptism

Acts 11:14-18 Heard the word, Spirit fell, God granted repentance

Acts 15:8-9 God knew the hearts, bore witness, purified hearts by faith (this all refers back to Cornelius’ conversion.)

Acts 19:1-6 Baptism, hands layed, tongues

I’m not sure what to make of all this except to say that Acts is a time of transition between the focus on the Jewish faith and worship and the gospel going to the gentiles. To me it makes it obvious that we shouldn’t be dogmatic about how things are supposed to happen. God has a way of doing things according to His own will and purpose and He doesn’t fit into our man-made categories.