Archive for the ‘For Brand New Christians’ Category

NOVO Statement of Faith-On the Money!

June 6, 2016

NOVO (latin for “to make new”) Ministries has a mission statement that is succinct and spot-on. Each of these could be a lesson all its own! I encourage you to look up the Scriptures that are listed with each subject.

WHAT WE BELIEVE…

About Scripture:
The Bible is 100% true and is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit guided men to write down words from God – the Bible is the supreme authority for our faith and practices. (2 Timothy 3:16; Deuteronomy 4:2; 2 Peter 1:21)

About God:
God is one God Who exists eternally as three distinct Persons Who are of the same substance: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God loves every single person. God is holy, just, absolutely perfect, and lives in Heaven. (Colossians 1:16; Matthew 5:48; Deuteronomy 4:35)

About Humanity:
Adam was created in the image of God. By voluntary choice, he sinned; and now all of humanity is sinful by nature and practice. Sin is anything thought, said, or done that breaks God’s Law. Every single person has sinned. The punishment for sin is death – eternal punishment in Hell and separation from God forever. (Genesis 1-3; Colossians 1:16, I John 3:4, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Hebrews 9:27)

About Jesus Christ:
God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son, to die on the cross as a Substitute for the sins of humanity. His sacrificial death was payment and justification for God’s forgiveness of sin. After His death on the cross, He was buried in a tomb. He rose again the third day, having conquered death and sin. (I Peter 2:22; John 10:30; II Corinthians 5:21, I Corinthians 15:3-4)

About the Gospel:
The Gospel means “Good News.” Because of Jesus’s shed blood and substitutionary death, we can be forgiven of our sin, born again of the Spirit of God, and have a personal relationship with God. The Gospel is life-changing; a relationship with Jesus Christ is irrefutably powerful and utterly unique. (John 5:24; Romans 3:28; Eph. 1:3; John 17:23)

About Salvation:
There is no work, good deed, habit, or action that can earn God’s love or forgiveness or provide propitiation for sin. Only through faith and trust alone in Jesus Christ’s saving work on the cross can we repent of our sins and be made right with God, receiving forgiveness of sin, being given a new, redeemed nature, and entering in a personal relationship with Him. Baptism is an outward expression of inward change. It signifies a believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is the first step of obedience after a believer receives Jesus as Savior. (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:20; Acts 3:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4; I Corinthians 12:13)

About Satan:
Satan is a personal being that opposes God and works unceasingly (tirelessly, constantly) to keep people from knowing and serving Him. (Revelation 12:9; Ephesians 6:11-12; 1 Peter 5:8)

About the Church:
The Church is the Body and Bride of Christ. It is made up of all those who have believed the Gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. (Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:3-6; Galatians 5:13-15)

About the Holy Spirit:
All who have been saved receive the Holy Spirit to empower, direct, correct, and lead them as they follow Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 9:15; John 5:24; Romans 3:28; John 17:23; Galatians 4:6-7; 5:16; Acts 1:8)

About the Christian Life:
All believers are called to follow Jesus Christ. Their purpose is to glorify God in the way they live and make Him known to the lost world. They are called to fulfill the Great Commission. (Philippians 2:1-5; Matthew 28:19-20, Galatians 6:10; 1 John 2:15-16; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 2:10, Mark 16:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

The Spirit Within

June 4, 2015

Introduction

Revival is an interesting phenomenon. Much like the Lord’s Supper, it is a time in our lives when we stop and evaluate where we stand with Christ. For some, it will be a time of reflection about our walk with Him. For others, it will be a time to check their hearts to see if they walk in the faith.

This time of reflection may sound like an ominous time of introspection, but for true Christians, it is really a boost of confidence. You see, a true Christian walks with Christ constantly and habitually. In fact, Christ lives in and with us 24/7. How and why does He choose to have such a close relationship with us? Let’s look and see.

 Chapter 1

The Final (Exam)

The evangelist Ken Freeman gave us a test in order for us to examine our lives to see if we are in the faith. This test was a series of five questions and is based on 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” Here is what Ken calls, “The Final Exam.”

  1. The Holy Spirit initiates salvation.
  2. You must realize that you are lost, without a Savior, spiritually ruined, totally unable to help yourself.
  3. You’ll never know you need God until He makes you aware of your need. We need saving faith-trusting Him enough to surrender everything to Him.
  4. There is no salvation without repentance; it calls for a change of mind, direction, and purpose.
  5. These truths are evident in your life: Love, joy, and peace. You understand that you are Not Guilty, Forgiven, having a peace that passes all understanding. Forever!

If you got a red flag when answering any of these questions, you need to take a close look at your relationship with Christ. This is NOT a test you want to fail! Let’s look at the questions more closely.

  1. The Holy Spirit initiates salvation.

Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” It is the Holy Spirit Who makes us aware of our sin. It is He Who draws our attention to our spiritual need. Jesus also said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The term “poor in spirit” means that we realize we are bankrupt spiritually; we have no spiritual insight, strength, know-how, or weapons whatsoever. We don’t even know that we are lost! WE NEED JESUS!

  1. You must realize that you are lost, without a Savior, spiritually ruined, totally unable to help yourself.

This realization is part of the process that the Holy Spirit initiates within us. We realize that we are separated from God and that without His help, we cannot reach Him.

There are several passages that describe us in our natural state. One is Ephesians 2:1-3,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

Another is Titus 3:3.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”

Sin separates. Colossians 1:21 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Sin steals, kills, and destroys. (John 10:10a).

Has there been a time that you came to the realization that you were separated from God? That there was something between you and Him that you couldn’t fix or overcome? That realization is the work of the Holy Spirit in your life showing you your sinful condition. We realize that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked spiritually (Rev. 3:17). We need a Savior. WE NEED JESUS!

  1. You’ll never know you need God until He makes you aware of your need. We need saving faith-trusting Him enough to surrender everything to Him.

Hoping that things will work out in the end won’t cut it. If you think that God will weigh your good deeds against your bad ones and then say, “Come on in!” it doesn’t work that way. If all made it to heaven, why did Christ have to come and die in our place? It’s MUCH more dire than we could ever know! The lengths to which Christ went for our sakes is beyond imagining. It is imperative that we understand this concept.

In Revelation 20:11-15, we find a desperate picture of the final destination of those who never trust in the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Notice in verse 12 that books were opened. The first set of books are the books of works. The next book to be opened is the book of life. If your name is not found in the book of life, then you WILL be judged by your works. Let’s get something straight: It would be like going in to take a final exam for Trigonometry or Theoretical Science without having ANY of the preparatory classes or studied any notes–or even gone to class at all! Worse, everything that you tried to do right was judged as wrong because you did it in your own power. Worse still, you KNEW that there was another way (God’s), but you ignored it!

Belief and trust go together, but they are not the same thing. Belief is intellectual assent. “I believe that the chair is real,” but no action has been taken. Trust is when action is taken. “I believe the chair is real and I shall now sit in it.” Action was taken; connection was made. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” When we come to Christ for salvation, we must rely on His finished work on the cross. We bring nothing to the table. It’s all Him. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

  1. There is no salvation without repentance; it calls for a change of mind, direction, and purpose.

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” To be sorry for our sins doesn’t mean that we are sorry we got caught, but that we regret doing them. Jesus calls us to turn around (repent) and walk His way. With Him. On His terms. It’s called Lordship. He is more than a boss, more than a commanding officer, even more than an earthly father because He comes to live inside us. All the others do is influence us, but their influence is “on” us rather than “in” us. The difference is profound.

The word, “confess,” means “to acknowledge, to own or admit as true.” Jesus knows our faults and sins. They are laid wide open to Him. We are merely agreeing with Him that they are there and need to be dealt with. “Renounce” means “to give up or put aside voluntarily, to repudiate, disown.” We must hate our sin and give it up. We will spend the rest of our earthly lives learning how to do this very deed!

As Christ comes inside, He gives us a change of direction and purpose: His direction, His purpose. We don’t even have to know why. Many times it is clear once we get to the other side of the issue; some things won’t become clear until we reach eternity and can see it from heaven’s side. Walking with Christ calls for us to trust every day and all the time.

  1. These truths are evident in your life: Love, joy, and peace. You understand that you are Not Guilty, Forgiven, having a peace that passes all understanding. Forever!

By using Scripture to define these terms, we get a clear understanding that they all are done for us!

Forgiveness:

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” Acts 2:38

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Peace:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Eternal life:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21

In fact, ALL of them are done for us except number four, which is repentance. We must act upon His conviction (#1), accept our lostness (#2), believe His Word (#3), and then repent (#4). Then He will forgive us and give us peace and eternal life (#5).

Did you have a check in your spirit on any of these points? If so, you may have head-knowledge of Jesus without actually having Jesus in your heart and life. Most people raised in church fail either number 1 or number 4. The Holy Spirit must move in our hearts convicting us that we need Him before we can ever come to Him. Then, when we do profess Jesus, we must give Him everything, our entire lives.

As my pastor, Bryan, says, “He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.” Make sure that you pass all five points!

Acts 2:38 ends with, “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” What does that look like? How does that compute with our lives? Let’s dive into God’s Word and see!

Chapter 2

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Relationship. Salvation IS relationship. Yes, it’s about having our sins forgiven; yes, it’s about missing hell and gaining heaven. But, if heaven is where God lives, and God lives inside you, then heaven is within you! Your eternal life has already begun! The whole reason Jesus came was to re-establish the relationship between Himself and mankind. HE took that which was preventing us from knowing Him and got rid of it: sin. You ask, “How does God come to live inside us?” NOW we’re getting somewhere.

When a person comes to Christ the Holy Spirit comes to make His home in him! When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He came to live in YOU. You may have heard it as Him living in your heart (the seat of our psyche and emotions). We are actually accepting His invitation for us to live in His heart! Here is the transaction:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having  believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of  those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Eph. 1:13-14

There is NO WAY to separate Savior from Lord; it is because He IS LORD that He can be Your Savior! As we delve into Scripture and look at this wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit, keep in mind that His goal is to transform you on the inside into someone who is just like Jesus. He wants us to learn to be loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and have perfect self-control. He wants us to trust Him fully and immediately (which comes from practice and experience), and to be a Fully Formed Follower of Christ.

Quick Side-Note: Many in Thessalonica listened to Paul and received the message of Christ, but it was the Bereans who were called nobler because “they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11. I highly recommend that you look EVERY Scripture up in your own Bible and make sure that what I say is according to His Word. Go ahead and highlight them; write related Scriptures out to the side. This procedure is called “stringing pearls of wisdom.”

We begin with an if/then statement of Jesus,    “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey  my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23. IF we love Him, THEN we will OBEY Him. IF we obey Him, THEN His Father (God) and He will come and live in us. How? Through the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is how we describe God. He is not just God, but God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is Three-in-One. That’s about as good an explanation as you can get. If He were explainable, then He wouldn’t be a very big God. “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me [Jesus].” John 15:26. The One who comes is the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus was very specific about the Advocate. Look at John 16:7-15.

Verse 7: “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go,  I will send him to you.”

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is, as Andy Stanley calls it, a Brand New thing. Before the cross, all believers went to the temple to meet with God Who resided in the Holy of Holies, an inner room with a curtain that was 30’x30′ and was six inches thick. But when Jesus died on the cross–well, read it for yourself:

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46.

What was THAT all about? Until that moment, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies and meet with God–and then only once a year. Now, EVERYONE has access to God. BUT, it wasn’t so much us having access to God at the temple, but of God now having access to US! When you trusted Christ and He came to live in you, you became a mobile temple! Now you know the significance of the pillar of fire in the desert that led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21-22) and the tongues of fire that came to rest on the disciples in Acts 2:1-4,

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Those tongues of fire were like the dove that came from heaven and rested on Jesus when He was baptized. God the Father, because of His Son, Jesus, came to them in the Person of the Holy Spirit from His heavenly temple to dwell in them. Thus, they became the first “living temples.” Paul said in         1 Corinthians  3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” It doesn’t get any plainer than that.

Verse 8: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”     John 16:8-11

These verses give us a picture of all that Jesus did on the cross:

  1. He will now convict all people personally through His Spirit.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” Romans 1:18-19.

  1. He, through the Spirit, intercedes for us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

  1. He sealed Satan’s fate.

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  Revelation 20:10.

Verse 12: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”

There is only so much information that we can receive at one time through our senses. Have you ever gone to an event where you had sensory overload? The disciples needed the Holy Spirit inside to help them digest what Christ was saying. All of His insight came with His Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2).

Verse 13: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

With the Holy Spirit inside, He can reveal truth on a much more personal level. This verse also tells us that the Holy Spirit has direct and complete access to Jesus Himself. 1 Corinthians 2:10-15 explains it:

“But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?    In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

It is His mind with which we ought to think. Easy to say; hard to do.

Verse 14: “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”

This verse assures us that it IS Jesus that we are hearing.

 Verse 15: “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

Another Trinity verse. Father = Son = Spirit. As we can see, Jesus was coming back to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Pretty awesome, huh?

Chapter 3

The Initial Job of the Holy Spirit

When we trust in Christ to be our Lord and Savior, responding to His Spirit, confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believing (trusting in and relying on His power) that God raised Him from the dead, the Holy Spirit immediately does certain things:

  1. He brings us from death to life (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
  2. He picks us up and puts a new song in our mouths (Ps.40:1-3).
  3. He cleans us up (Titus 3:5).
  4. He puts a robe and sandals on us, and the ring of sonship on our fingers (Luke 15:22).
  5. He throws a party! (Luke 15:10, 23-24).
  6. He signs adoption papers (Ephesians 1:5).
  7. He seats us with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).

When we look closely at the five questions of salvation (see chapter 1), we find that all but one are taken care of by the Holy Spirit. HE initiates the process, HE makes us aware of our sin and separation from God, HE gives us the faith to believe, and HE gives us love, joy, and peace.

Let’s look at what He does for us upon salvation more closely:

  1. He brings us from death to life. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1 and 5, “As for you, you were dead in your transgression and sins,” and “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” We have no more to do with it than we did when we were created physically (did you choose when and where you were to be born and to whom? Of course not). And since He quickened us, He will keep us in Himself. Colossians 3:1 and 3 tell us that we have been raised with Christ, and (even though we are called to die to ourselves daily) our life is now hidden with Christ in God.
  2. He picks us up and puts a new song in our mouths. King David sang,

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

 

  1. He cleans us up. Okay, so we were in the slimy pit and were covered with mud and mire. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Baptism is a beautiful picture of the salvation process because it not only demonstrates our dying  to this life and being raised to walk in newness of life (Col. 2:12), but it is also a picture of us being washed in the blood and being cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 Cor.  6:11, 1 John 1:9, Rev. 7:14).
  2. He puts a robe and sandals on us, and the ring of sonship on our fingers. In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus said,

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.”         Luke 15:22

I know we get white robes,

“The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 19:14.

The ring and sandals, though, I cannot verify in Scripture. I DO know that we all are raised to the level of sonship, which is stated in Galatians 3:28-29,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Notice that we are now heirs, also. It just keeps getting better and better!

  1. He throws a party!

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10.

“Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”             Luke 15:22-23.

  1. He signs adoption papers.

“He predestined [set it up beforehand] us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:5.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15.

According to Roman law, a father could disown a natural-born son, but once adoption papers are signed, the law protected the rights of the adopted son. God’s own word protects us from ever being disowned! Also, these papers are sealed with and by the Holy Spirit,

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22,

and again in Ephesians 1:13-14,

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

  1. He seats us with Him in heavenly places.

Ephesians 2:6 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” How we can be two places at once, I don’t know, but I know it’s true! There is so much about the heavenly world that I don’t know. And to think that this world is a pale comparison to the heavenly kingdom is beyond comprehension! But, here is what I DO know:

“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything accord-ing to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” Hebrews 8:5

“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—(Isaiah 64:4) but God has revealed it [in bits and pieces] to us by his Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:9-10

Chapter 4

Hearing God

Right up front let’s get something straight: God does not ever accuse us, especially in general terms, such as, “you’ll never be good enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough, or do enough, or learn enough, etc.” God does convict us on a specific point in our lives, but He always does it in a loving manner.

One of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is gentleness. God IS gentleness. Philippians 3:15 lets us know that God Himself will make things clear to us.

But what does His voice sound like? How do we recognize it when He is speaking to us?

Let’s look at an Old Testament passage that describes some of the ways of how we hear Him speak to us. Isaiah 30:20-21,

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Verse 20 tells us that the Lord many times uses hard things in our lives to teach us that this life is part of an old covenant that is dying. We are now part of a new covenant that will last forever. We have Him inside; now we just need to learn to hear His voice and see His hand. Through the Spirit we can see how God uses the difficult times to teach us, rebuke us, correct us, and train us so that we, His people, may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We often need to have our insulation stripped away before we can hear His voice and see His hand at work. In many cases, we have become callused, or desensitized, to right and wrong. He must remove the calluses, which is a painful experience–and is usually through painful experiences!

Verse 21 tells us that the voice of the Spirit is just behind us. I hear Him as if He is looking over my shoulder. It’s not audible, but it is every bit as loud. Sometimes He reminds me of Scriptures; sometimes He reminds me of teachings I’ve heard. Other times it’s a command–or a push–to go and do, or to stop, or even flee. You and He will encounter all kinds of situations as you walk together through this life.

I will say this: The more you read and study God’s Word, the more handles He has to speak to us.

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

There is one more Old Testament passage that describes God’s voice. It is in 1 Kings 19:11-13.

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

What does the voice of God sound like? To Elijah, it was a gentle whisper. What was the question God asked Elijah? “What are you doing here?” God already knew, but wanted Elijah to realize and check his motives. In the next verses, God reassured Elijah and encouraged him, and then He gave him very specific instructions on what to do next. Now, THAT’S God talkin’!

Chapter 5

Two Natures in One Body

Romans 8 is the premier chapter on the Holy Spirit. It begins with a conclusion of a discussion of the topic on duel natures. Whereas we have a sin nature wrapped up in our flesh, we also, as Believers, have a new nature, one that comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Vs. 1-2: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (or, “Therefore, NOW NO CONDEMNATION!”) for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Paul starts the chapter out telling us that even though we have this fight inside, we don’t have to worry about being rejected by God. The Holy Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death. For this freedom we are most grateful!

Vs. 3-4: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Here is the reason for the cross. By nailing our sin with Him on the cross and taking it to the grave, we now can live a resurrected life with His Spirit inside us! Colossians 1:27 explains it best, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

 Vs. 5-6: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;”

Before we start thinking, “In that case, I can now sin all I want and not be held accountable,” we must remember that sin comes with physical consequences as well as spiritual ones. We also belong to Christ now and can expect His discipline, as stated in Hebrews 12:4-8,

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ (Proverbs 3:11-12) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”

But it is His new nature within us that begins to override our old nature and we begin to desire what He desires and to think like He thinks. It’s not long before we prefer His company to the world. We begin to think like Him instead of like a sinful person, much like a married person lets go of thinking like a single person when he gets married. We experience His peace and His presence like never before, which gives us great joy and a love for God and our fellow Christians, and compassion for the lost on an ever-increasing scale.

Vs. 7-8 “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

We cannot expect unbelievers to think and act like Christians. They have no Holy Spirit within them, therefore, they have no new nature. They simply cannot do it for any prolonged period. They may pretend for a while, but their sinful nature will eventually “tell” on them. They are enemies of the cross and cannot please God until they are willing to let go and be cleansed of their sin.

Vs. 9-11: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

This life that Christ gives to us is a continuous spring that flows from His throne right into our hearts. Even as Adam and Eve-before the Fall-were continuously being renewed by the Spirit of God, we are being renewed daily. Our bodies WILL die, and with them, the sin nature, but we will simply change residences. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says it best,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Vs. 12-13: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,”

Anytime we read the word, “therefore,” look to see what it is “there for.” Paul is telling us that because of the life-giving Spirit within us, we have an obligation to live according to His Spirit, with His Spirit. He is our Counselor now (John 14:17).

  1. 14:“because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

The Spirit within us is Who makes us children of God. He is our deposit and guarantee of what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:5 says, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

  1. 15:“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba,  Father.’”

We have been adopted by God! And, according to Roman law at the time, once adopted always adopted. “Abba” is the Hebrew equivalent of “Daddy,” as spoken by a small child. Wow! Also, where sin enslaves us, His Spirit frees us to walk in forgiveness and redemption. This freedom gives us the opportunity and the ability to know God. As we walk with Him (through the Spirit) we become like Him. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:15-18,

“Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

  1. 16:“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

This verse is KEY to our confidence in our salvation and, indeed, is our verification of salvation. “Examine yourselves.” 1 Corinthians 11:28 tells us to do it every time we take the Lord’s Supper. It keeps us on track with Him.

  1. 17:“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

There are two If-Then statements made in this verse:

  1. IF we are children, THEN we are heirs to God and co-heirs with Christ.

IF we share in His sufferings, THEN we will also share in His glory. John 17:24 tells us, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

These two statements are not designed to make us doubt, but to build our confidence in days to come. We may not experience the trials in present-day America that Paul and the early Christians endured, but we are all asked to suffer in other ways, such as to put aside worldly beliefs and practices, to allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, to insist on Christ’s ways in our lives instead of our families’ ways, to endure financial hardship and other relational hardships because of the name of Christ, and many other ways. We have an inheritance that is out of this world! As Paul puts it in Philippians 3:20,

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly          bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. ”

And as it says in 1 Peter 1:3-4,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,”

All of this and to see Christ’s glory unhindered–Wow!

Vs. 18-25: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

All creation was placed under the curse. In this way, all creation—and so with man—could be redeemed by one Man, Jesus. Creation awaits His Second Coming when He will return His creation to its original glory, and so do we!

Vs. 26-27: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

In a very real sense, God talks to God for us. The Person of God Who lives within us, the Holy Spirit, intercedes on our behalf with the Person of God Who sits on the throne of heaven, God the Father. Not only that, but Jesus Himself is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). We have the ear of the King of the Universe! And all of His prayers are according to the will of God and His Master Plan.

Vs. 28-30: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Speaking of His plan, it has been His plan all along to redeem us. And He loves us. There are several key truths in this passage:

  1. God is in control of ALL things.
  2. He wants good things for His children.
  3. It has been His plan all along.
  4. We are being conformed to the image of Jesus!
  5. Jesus was the first-born of all Christians (we who will be resurrected from the dead).
  6. He planned us, called us, justified us (“just as if I’d never sinned”), and He has glorified us: we are being made into the image of His Son. 1 John 4:17 tells us that love is being made complete in us because we are like Him. As stated before, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Verses 31-39 sum up Paul’s teaching on the Holy Spirit’s job in our lives.

Vs. 31-34: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. ”

If God would send His Son to die, rise again, and ascend so that His Spirit could live inside of us, who-including Satan- can be (or stand) against us? Even to die physically does not separate us from Christ, but actually propels us into His very presence! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Vs. 35-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

These verses hold these truths:

  1. No one can separate us from Christ. Once His, always His. John 10:27-30 says it this way,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

It’s a double-fisted grip. We can’t even wiggle out!

 

  1. We are more than conquerors through Christ! What a confirmation of our salvation! What security, what comfort, what peace! What JOY! What can we do but love Him and praise Him for His great love and mighty acts–on our behalf! Thank You, Jesus!!!

Chapter 6

A Practical Look

Okay, so we have the Holy Spirit inside us. How can He help us live our lives?

We need to move Him to the forefront of our minds. We must learn to be consciously aware of Him all the time, and to have a running dialogue with Him. We also need to remember that we are now dead to our old life and have Christ living through us. Galatians 2:20 says,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The word “Faith” is the measure of how much we trust the Lord. We trust when we act upon what He has said.

John 1 speaks of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us (Jesus). The Word is the action of God by speaking, as in when He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1-26). It is this same Jesus that lives in our hearts through the Person of the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:3 expounds this thought. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

His divine power came with and through His Spirit, Who is the Third Person of the Trinity. We get ALL of Him upon salvation, and He is everything we need for life and godliness, and will continue to work in us, guiding us home, “until Christ is formed in us (Galatians 4:19).” We have this promise: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”

What does it mean “for life and godliness?” It means that He gives us everything we need to live a godly life, just like Jesus. As it says in Titus 2:11-14,

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

How, then, shall we live?

If our relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit is all-important, then it makes sense that talking to Him is the best way to communicate. It’s called “Prayer.” When a person prays, it is just like talking to a person on the phone. We know the person is there, but not where we can see him. Praying is how you got saved in the first place. Are Christians expected to pray? Take a look:

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Galatians 6:18

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” 1 Peter 4:7

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 20

And these are just the New Testament verses!

For instance,  1 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that God said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God wants a personal, ongoing conversation with you! Remember the verse in Isaiah 30:21 that says, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”

He is always with us. Consciously consider Him in everything you think and do. Let’s look at 1 Cor.  6:15-17.

“Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”

We are one spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. That is the POINT of Salvation.

So, how are we to live? We must learn to listen and obey. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:11-16.

“For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”

We lay our foundation: Our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling (presence) of the Holy Spirit. We then have a choice between two kinds of works: Gold, silver, and jewels or wood, hay and straw. One kind is temporary (wood, hay and straw); the other is eternal (gold, silver, jewels). What are these works? I believe that they are obedience and disobedience. Since we have no spiritual insight of our own (Matthew 5:3 and Revelation 3:17, which also calls us wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked spiritually, and without Christ), we are completely dependent on the Holy Spirit for guidance, for instruction, for timing, and for understanding. Basically, we live our lives in response to His leadership in our lives. When we do: Gold, silver and jewels. When we don’t: Wood, hay and straw.

You may ask, “Why didn’t God remove my sinful nature when He saved me?” Actually, that part of our salvation is coming. It is called, “Glorification.” It happens when we die, because our sin nature is wrapped up in our flesh. As soon as we shed it, then we are glorified! Think about it: If God called us to heaven when we are saved, then how would anyone else ever hear the Gospel? Thus, we have a mission! We are to be His witnesses to the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:20-21).  In the process of living, though, we must learn to “kill” the “old man” inside of each of us. Jesus referred to it as denying our selves daily, taking up our cross and following Him (Luke 9:23). Paul called it being crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 (which we looked at earlier, but bears repeating) says,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Dying to self is a process called “Sanctification” and is part of becoming like Christ. Important stuff.

We must learn to rely on His wisdom and power. If we try to do it in our own strength, we will just mess it up. We don’t have a total picture of the situation, nor do we know the timing and scope of all that the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish. Let’s face it: our power is tainted. Anything we try to do for God has our sin nature all over it. Paul knew his dependence on the Holy Spirit as he stated in Colossians 1:28-29,

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

We know that we talk to God through prayer–but how does God talk to us? The best verse to explain this process is Hebrews 4:12-13, but I included verses 14-16 to balance the harsh reality of verse 13.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:12-16

The word for sword is the same word from which we get “scalpel.” The Lord uses His Word to perform spiritual surgery on us. His Word is alive because He is Ever-Present, thus He is always speaking. So, every time we open His Word, we hear Him speaking those words to the writer of whatever book we are reading! The neat thing is that He is speaking those same words to us! He may highlight whatever message He wants us to learn; He may have us read a verse or passage and then call it to remembrance sometime in the future as it applies to a certain circumstance; He sometimes reveals truth as a friend shares what God is saying to him. The Bible is God’s revealed Word for mankind.

Let’s get to know Him. Read.

Chapter 7

Abiding In the Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes [the Greek word also means “cleans”] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain [abide] in me, and I will remain [abide] in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain [abide] in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain [abide] in me.”

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains [abides] in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain [abide] in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:1-6

Interesting word, “Abide.” In the Greek, “meno” [abide] means, “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy). Synonyms are: continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (wait for).

Dictionary.com gives eight definitions for “abide.” Let’s look at each one and see how they can apply to this passage.

  1. To remain; continue; stay.

This definition is the one that the New International Version chose. It denotes permanency.

  1. To have one’s abode; dwell; reside.

Here again, a permanent setting. When Jesus comes to live in us, He abides in us. He is asking us to abide in Him. A contradiction? No, just on a different plane. Him coming to live in us is foundational. It sets up the ability for us to live with Him in our own heads (so to speak).

  1. To continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; to last.

Our relationship lasts forever, so what Jesus is asking us to do is, “Start now!”

  1. To put up with; tolerate; stand.

Abiding in Christ is like any other relationship in that it is not always pleasant. The difference is that he is NEVER WRONG. But He IS perfectly loving, patient, kind, and doesn’t keep records of our wrongs.

  1. To endure, sustain, or withstand.

It is in our abiding in Christ that we are able to withstand any and all demonic onslaughts. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:13 that “after you have done everything, to stand.”

  1. To wait for; await.

We abide in Him by abiding [awaiting] His coming. Nice word play, yes?

  1. To accept without opposition or question.

Abiding in Christ is daily surrendering to His Lordship over us. We simply have nothing to bring to the table.

  1. To pay the price or penalty of; suffer for.

Abiding in Christ is about suffering. Listen to Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.”

There is a permanence that permeates every definition. When Christ used the “if/then” application, we need to understand that it’s not that we can be lost again, but that He is emphasizing the eternal nature of our relationship. It goes something like this, “You are connected to Me,      so you WILL bear fruit. I take care of My own. If you are not Mine,   then you would be nothing more than a dead stick, good for nothing    but to be burned for kindling.”

John 15:7-8 tells us what happens when we are connected to the Vine:

“If you remain [abide] in me and my words remain [abide] in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

The fruit might be construed as good works, but Galatians 5:22-23 tells us different, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The spiritual fruit to which Jesus is referring is the character that He wants to grow in us as we receive nourishment from the vine.

Just remember the part of Romans 8:29 that tells us the we are being conformed to the likeness (image) of Jesus. HE is doing this work in us!

What is our job? To fix our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2-3. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Spending time with the Lord is a continuous event. Even when we are not consciously aware of His presence and influence, He IS there whispering these sweet words, “You are my child; I love you with an everlasting love.”

King David was a man after God’s own heart. Listen to his daily desire:

 

 

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Now, THAT’S abiding!

Conclusion

Higher Up, Further In

In the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Aslan [a lion, representative of Jesus] is constantly encouraging the children to keep following Him deeper into His land (heaven) with, “Higher up and further in!” This phrase helps me capture the true nature of my new nature, which is eternal. If I am, indeed, “transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory       (2 Cor. 3:18),” then my glory (which is actually His glory)  will increase forever.

The Apostle Paul opened an amazing window into our future in 1 Thessalonians 4:51-58,

“Listen, I tell you a mystery:                                                   We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash,  in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imper-ishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’

‘Where, O death, is your victory?                                              Where, O death, is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work  of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.”

Paraphrased, it says, “I am determined, with God using any teaching tool He wants, to one day stand before Him mature and complete in Christ, bringing along everyone around me.”

I know that my labor is NOT in vain, because it is Him working in me with “all His energy, which so powerfully works in me (verse 29).” He is our DYNAMO, our power source.

A prayer that I have been praying for years is this, ”Lord, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You.”

It makes me run a self-diagnostic every morning. What I find is that I see more and more of my sinfulness and more and more of His glory. I can relate with Paul when early in his ministry he referred to himself as the least of the apostles     (1 Cor. 15:9), then in the middle of his ministry he referred to himself as the least of God’s people (Eph. 3:8), and then at the end of his ministry he called himself the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:16). He had found  the true meaning behind John 3:30, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

May this prayer become part of your morning devotional as you spend time with Him in the Spirit and the Word. May “my God…meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Phil. 4:19-20

Important Things to Know-Worksheet

July 8, 2013

So far, we have looked at what Christ has done for us, what Christ is doing in us, and what we can do in Christ.  Here are some vital realities about your walk with Christ that, if learned now, will save you a lifetime of misery and missed blessings.

  1. We can do _______ for Christ that He cannot do for _______! 
  • He is ____-_________ and has _______ to all ________: “All authority [power] in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
  • He has at His disposal all the _________ of _________: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). 
  • God has _______ for us.  In fact, He had them planned _______ ago.  Yes, He can do them Himself, but He wants us to ______ Him in ______ ______. 
  • God in Christ through His Holy Spirit __________ with us!  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  Plans: Jeremiah ____________
  • Now that you have the Holy Spirit in ___________ in your lives, He will ______ you into all ______: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13a). 
  • One of those truths is that we are to ____ to ourselves _________—every ______, if necessary—and ______ for Him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
  •  We cannot _________ any ______ of our lives and claim it for our _____.  It is absolutely _________ that you learn now that ______ people don’t ___ anything, they don’t ____ anything, they don’t have _________, and they don’t keep back any ________ of their lives for ____________ i.e. __________, special TV _________, “selected” areas on the _________, pet “______ of __________ (curse words),” esp. _____________! 
  • No area of your life is ____-_______ to the Lord; otherwise, He isn’t ______.
  • Axiom: “If He (Jesus Christ) isn’t ______ of ____ (of your life), then He isn’t ______ at ____.”
  • Learn the material to teach, and then be taught as you teach.
  • In _________ others, we ________ the Great Commandment in Matthew 28 that tells us to go and make disciples: “Study to show yourself approved,” and “feed My sheep.”  Be a ________. 
  1. We cannot _____ _______ from the ______ of Christ on our ______. 
  1. The principle of the “________ __________ __________.”
  1. Be a __________ _______.
  • _____________: Gen. 14:20   Abraham gave a tenth to Melchezidek
  • Under the _____: Lev. 27:30    A tithe (tenth) of everything belongs to the Lord
  • Under ______: 2 Cor. 8:12, 9:7 According to the Holy Spirit’s prompting
  • According to _________: 1 Cor. 16:2  Everyone has something to give
  • According to _______: Rom. 12:8 Excel in the area in which God has gifted you

What You Can Do in Christ-Worksheet

July 8, 2013

So far, we have looked at what Christ has done for us and what Christ is doing in you.  Now, let’s look at what you can do in Christ.

  1. Notice I didn’t say, “____ ________.”  There is nothing we can do for Christ ______ from the ________ of ________. 
  • Let Him tell you what He wants you to do: ______________
  • Ask Him to replace your _______ with His _________
  • Ask Him to _________ you to do His will: _________
  • This __________ is how you do things in Christ. 
  1. __________ all you can about _____. 
  • “Call to me and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).”
  • Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7).” 
  • ______ with Him; _______ Him; ______ on Him. 
  • “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
  • Start right now ___________ Him for _____________.  You can do it!
  1. ______ to Him ______. 
  • Trust comes through __________ and __________.
  • The more _______ you spend in His presence ________ with Him and ______ Him, the more you will _______ Him with your _____.
  • Trust is a ____-_____ street.
  • “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends [surpasses] all understanding, will guard [garrison, as in an army surrounding] your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:4-7.”
  1. Make a ______ _________ of giving your life over to Him.
  • “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).”
  • “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).”
  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purity us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:9-10).”
  • Confess: we ______ with ____ about something that He already knows.
  • “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years say what I did.  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways (Hebrews 3:7-10).”
  • Trust Him.  The more you do, the more you will find Him _____________.
  1. Choices: The “Put off/Put on” method is one that you will love and hate.

1)      1 Cor. 13:11 _____________________________________

2)      Rom. 13:12 _____________________________________

3)      Gal. 3:27 _____________________________________

4)      Eph. 4:22-24 _____________________________________

5)      2 Cor. 5:17 _____________________________________

6)      Rom. 12:1-2 _____________________________________

7)      Eph. 6:11 _____________________________________

8)      Col. 3:5 _____________________________________

9)      Gal. 2:20 _____________________________________

10)  Col. 3:7-10 _____________________________________

Note: Gal. 3:28 and Col. 3:11 both deal with equality in the context of choice

  1. Get _____________. 
  • “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s return] approaching (Hebrews 10:25
  • The __________, the ___________, the _____________, and the _________ are all ultra-important to a new Christian—to any Christian!

What Christ is Doing-Worksheet

July 8, 2013

Our first session covered what Christ did for you upon your acceptance of Him.  Let’s talk about what Christ is currently doing in our lives right now.

  1. This world is our __________  ____________.  God takes circumstances and works them so that we have a ___________.  The choice is always to ________ and then _________ Him or to _________ our ________  and do things _____ ______ ______. Read Hebrews 3:7-9 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”                                                                    We must learn to trust in the _______________ of God.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)
  2. God doesn’t put us in a ____________ and then ____ ______ and _________.  He loves us and wants us to win, so He _________ us with what we need to ____________ our ______________.  First, He gives us the ________ to do His will and then He gives us the __________ to do His will.  “For it is God who works in you to will [desire] and to act [power] according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). The mature Christian realizes that he is completely ____________ upon the Lord; rather than learning ______________, he learns utter ____________.  Look to the Lord in all ___________.  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13).
  3. We are made up of three parts: ________, _______ , and ________, which refer to the ________, ________, and _________.  The _______ houses our _______ and our ________ houses the _______.  Upon the __________ of the Holy Spirit in your lives (salvation), your spirit was ________ and God began the lifelong task of ____________ our hearts to be like His Son, Jesus.  “For those God foreknew [He looked into the hearts of every person to see if there was any spark of love for His Son, Jesus] he also predestined [decided beforehand, planned] to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)
  4. Jesus wants to have ___________  _____________ with us.  “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)  He asks that we _______ the door of our ________ and ________ to Him and let Him in. We must each day open our hearts to Him and allow Him access to our __________ and ______.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ________ the Lord with your ______.  Don’t be afraid to tell ___________ about what Christ is doing in your life.  Don’t be afraid!  God gives us a ________ of _____________.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline [sound mind].” (2 Tim. 1:7) Don’t let fear ___________ with God’s work!  The same goes for anger, hurt, or any other ____________.  Instead, go to Him, the God of all _____________ “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows”(2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
  6. There is a _________.  To clean your _________ (your soul) and right yourself with God is great!  But you can’t stop here.  You must _______ your soul with Him.  _________ gave this illustration: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:23-26).  This passage is not just about salvation.  It’s about ________.  You have given your ________ to Jesus.  You have ___________ on a ____________ with Him.  Jesus has _________ your heart and is waiting to fill it with _________.  How? 
  • Talk to Him ______—__________—_________—_________________!
  • _____  _____ to fill your heart with Himself.
  • ______ ____ all you can about Jesus: His _______ and __________by _________ the _________!
  • Put yourself under ________ ____________ and in a _________ of other believers that are following Christ.
  • Allow Christ to grow within you ______, ____, ________, ___________, ___________, ____________, _____________, _________________, and __________________ (Gal. 5:22-23)
  1. The Holy Spirit is ­­­­­___________ _________ in you.  It takes _____________, _______ _______, and _______ for some of this fruit to become __________ in your lives.  Some of it shows up ________ _______.  The point is to allow Him to grow each kind of fruit in order to make you _________ in your ________ in Jesus Christ.  Learn to _____________ on Him.  He’s the only One who knows the ________ ________ in all __________.  Remember, the mature Christian is ____________ ______________ on Christ.  Come on, you can trust Him.  He tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What Christ Did-Worksheet

July 8, 2013

Upon the moment that you accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life, a wonderful transformation began to happen within you.  Let’s look at some verses of Scripture to find out just exactly what is going on.

1.   __________________________________________________________________________

This is your ______________ in Christ.  He picks you up and moves you from your _______ _________ and seats you in ____________ __________.

“I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the [Holy] Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:3, 6)

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6)

2.   __________________________________________________________________________  

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) 

“As for you, you were dead in your sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient [the devil].  All of us also lived among them at one time [all have sinned], gratifying the cravings of our sinful natures and following its desires and thoughts [doing what we felt like doing].  Like the rest [of the world], we were by nature objects of wrath [enemies of God].  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in [our sin]¼For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:1-5, 8-9)

3.   __________________________________________________________________________ “’Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18) 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

4.   __________________________________________________________________________ “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.” (Romans 3:21-2

5.   __________________________________________________________________________ “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Note:    The seal on a document with a king’s signet ring could only be broken by someone with the same or higher authority.

 

“I give them [believers] eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-29) 

The double-fisted grip:________________________________________________________

6.   __________________________________________________________________________ “¼you received the Spirit of Sonship.  And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’  The [Holy] Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  (Romans 8:15b-17)

7.   __________________________________________________________________________ There is nothing the _______, an ________, a ________, even __________ can do to extract yourself from Christ’s and the Father’s ________ once you believed in Jesus and called upon His name to forgive you of sin and to save you.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?¼No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

Important Things to Know

July 8, 2013

So far, we have looked at what Christ has done for us, what Christ is doing in us, and what we can do in Christ.  Here are some vital realities about your walk with Christ that, if learned now, will save you a lifetime of misery and missed blessings.

  1. We can do NOTHING for Christ that He cannot do for Himself
  • He is allsufficient and has access to all power: “All authority [power] in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
  • He has at His disposal all the resources of heaven: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
  • At the same time, God has plans for us.  In fact, He had them planned long ago.  Yes, He can do them Himself, but He wants us to join Him in doing them.      Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  • Illustration: (can be changed to fit teacher) Not long ago, my wife, Robin, and our daughter, Hayley, made biscuits.  Robin knows how to make biscuits and does so regularly.  This time she invited Hayley to join her.  Hayley could have said no.  Would the biscuits still have been made?  Yes.  Could Robin have asked our other daughter to join her in making biscuits?  Yes, and Hillary would have received the blessing of making biscuits with Mom.  Hayley and Mom made biscuits.  Mom let Hayley roll the dough and cut out the biscuits and then put them in the pans.  It took awhile, but they got them done.  They turned out fine!  Robin could have made the biscuits more quickly and efficiently, but the point of the project was not necessarily to make biscuits but to spend time with Hayley.
  • This illustration shows how God in Christ through His Holy Spirit interacts with us!  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) 
  1. We cannot get away from the call of Christ on our lives
  • Now that you have the Holy Spirit in residence in your lives, He will guide you into all truth: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13a). 
  • One of those truths is that we are to die to ourselves everydayevery hour, if necessary—and live for Him “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). 
  • We cannot reserve any part of our lives and claim it for our own.  It is absolutely essential that you learn now that dead people don’t own anything, they don’t feel anything, they don’t have opinions, and they don’t keep back any portion of their lives for themselves i.e. weekends, special TV programs, “selected” areas on the internet, pet “words of expression (curse words),” esp. pornography
  • No area of your life is offlimits to the Lord; otherwise, He isn’t Lord.  Here’s an axiom of truth to live by: “If He (Jesus Christ) isn’t Lord of all (of your life), then He isn’t Lord at all.”  If you catch yourself saying, “I’ll do this for Christ so that I can get on with what I want to do,” look out!  That’s a red flag.  Remember, dead people don’t hold parts of their lives back from the Lord.  Trust Him.
  1. There is a principle I call the “Baptist Second Blessing.” 
  • It is the principle that when a teacher studies a subject in order to teach a lesson, he learns it once.  When he teaches the lesson, he learns it again.  This principle is most evident in Bible teaching and the passing on of biblical principles in that The Holy Spirit shows us things as we study and then he shows us more things as we teach—many times to the contradiction to human error.  In other words, errors become plain when we begin to explain them.  We see the illogic or deception behind our thinking.  Also, when we teach, it’s like pointing a finger at someone with the lesson: the teacher realizes that there are three fingers pointing back at him!  All of a sudden, what we learned from our teacher becomes painfully clear when we disciple others.  If you really want to nail down a particular subject or lesson in your own life, try to teach it to someone else! 
  • Also, in discipling others, we fulfill the Great Commandment in Matthew 28 that tells us to go and make disciples.  “Study to show yourself approved,” and “feed My sheep.”  Be a discipler
  1. Be a Cheerful Giver.
  • Historically: Gen. 14:20   Abraham gave a tenth to Melchezidek
  • Under the Law: Lev. 27:30  A tithe (tenth) of everything belongs to the Lord
  • Under Grace: 2 Cor. 8:12, 9:7 According to the Holy Spirit’s prompting
  • According to Ability: 1 Cor. 16:2  Everyone has something to give
  • According to Gifts: Rom. 12:8 Excel in the area in which God has gifted you

What You Can Do In Christ

July 8, 2013

So far, we have looked at what Christ has done for us and what Christ is doing in you.  Now, let’s look at what you can do in Christ.

 

  1. Notice I didn’t say, “for Christ.”  There is nothing we can do for Christ apart from the Spirit of Christ.  Therefore, don’t try to do for Him, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to tell you what it is that Jesus wants you to do (knowledge).  If you do not want to do whatever it is that He asks you to do, pray for His desires to replace your desires in your heart (desire; see #2 of “What Christ Is Doing”).  Then ask Him to empower you to do His will (power).  This process is how you do things in Christ. 
  2. Learn all you can about Him.  Now that you are His child, He wants to show you “great and mighty things which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).”  He will guide you as you seek Him.  Look at this passage, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7).”  We are His children and He makes life an adventure.  He gives us only what we are ready to receive and teaches us only what we are able to absorb.  Yes, the destination is important, but so is the journey.  Walk with Him; trust Him; lean on Him.  The rest of this passage gives us a picture of the heart of God, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  He is a Father, though, and He will give you only what is good for you—most of the time.  Occasionally, He will give me something that I think I want and I pester Him until He does.  Boy, am I ever sorry!  Once I get it, I figure out really quick that I didn’t want it after all.  Then I’m back in His presence begging Him to take it away!  I’ve learned to simply trust God to give me what I need when I need it.  You can, too.  Start right now trusting Him for everything.  You can do it!
  3. Talk to Him often.  Trust comes through experience and intimacy.  The more time you spend in His presence talking with Him and loving Him, the more you will trust Him with your life.  But trust is a twoway street.  As you show Jesus how much you trust Him, He will entrust to you with more and more of His ministry on earth.  Also, the more you trust, the easier it becomes.  One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Philippians 4:4-7.  It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends [surpasses] all understanding, will guard [garrison, as in an army surrounding] your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Make a daily practice of giving your life over to Him.  Dead people don’t have lives.  Christ lives through us (Gal. 2:20).  Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).”  Ordinarily what happens is we get tangled up in some sort of sin that makes us avoid spending time with the Lord.  He knows it and we know it, but we’re either too stubborn to admit we’ve done wrong, or we feel too guilty to face Him.  The apostle John (one who physically walked with Christ) wrote about what Christians should do when they sin,“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purity us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:9-10).”  The word “confess” means that we agree with God about something that He already knows.  If we insist that we have not sinned when the Holy Spirit is telling us we did, we make Him out to be a liar.  This is not good!  Instead, submit to Christ.  He will forgive and will help you to turn from your sin.  Here is a stern warning regarding a stubborn heart, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years say what I did.  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways (Hebrews 3:7-10).”  The Israelites refused to do things God’s way.  They were stubborn.  They didn’t believe God had their best interests in mind.  He does!  Trust Him.  The more you do, the more you will find Him trustworthy.
  5. Choices: The “Put off/Put on” method is one that you will love and hate.

1)      1 Cor. 13:11 _____________________________________

2)      Rom. 13:12 _____________________________________

3)      Gal. 3:27 _____________________________________

4)      Eph. 4:22-24 _____________________________________

5)      2 Cor. 5:17 _____________________________________

6)      Rom. 12:1-2 _____________________________________

7)      Eph. 6:11 _____________________________________

8)      Col. 3:5 _____________________________________

9)      Gal. 2:20 _____________________________________

10)  Col. 3:7-10 _____________________________________

Note: Gal. 3:28 and Col. 3:11 both deal with equality in the context of choice

6. Get connected“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,    but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s return] approaching (Hebrews 10:25).”  I cannot begin to tell you how important it is that you become actively involved in a local church.  The fellowship, the teaching, the accountability, and the worship are all ultra-important to a new Christian—to any Christian!

What Christ is Doing

July 8, 2013

Our first session covered what Christ did for you upon your acceptance of Him.  Let’s talk about what Christ is currently doing in our lives right now.

 

  1. This world is our proving ground.  God takes circumstances and works them so that we have a choice.  The choice is always to trust and then follow Him or to harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:7-9) and do things our own way (the way we see them).  We must learn to listen to the Holy Spirit within us and be obedient.  God isn’t afraid of us dying; in fact, He would rather take us home with Him right now!  If He isn’t afraid of us dying, then He isn’t afraid of anything else that might happen to us.  And, if He is in control of circumstances, then we must learn to trust in the sovereignty of God.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)
  2. God doesn’t put us in a situation and then sit back and laugh.  He loves us and wants us to win, so He equips us with what we need to overcome our circumstances.  First, He gives us the desire to do His will and then He gives us the power to do His will.  “For it is God who works in you to will [desire] and to act [power] according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). We can do nothing on our own (in the flesh).  Because of the presence of sin in our world, things go wrong.  God gives everyone the choice of right or wrong and most people choose wrong which makes for a world full of bad choices.  We must live with the consequences of those choices whether we are directly responsible or not.  But God, in His divine love and wisdom, takes what is intended for evil and uses it to teach us to look to Him for everything.  In fact, the mature Christian realizes that he is completely dependent upon the Lord; rather than learning independence, he learns utter dependence.  Look to the Lord in all situations“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13).
  3. We are made up of three parts: Body (flesh), soul (heart), and spirit.  The body houses our soul and our spirit houses the Holy Spirit.  Before you were saved, your spirit resembled the number 0 or a deflated balloon (they were empty of value) and your flesh (the desires of the body because of its sin nature) ruled your hearts (soul).  Upon the entrance of the Holy Spirit in your lives (salvation), your spirit was quickened and God began the lifelong task of changing our hearts to be like His Son, Jesus.  “For those God foreknew [He looked into the hearts of every person to see if there was any spark of love for His Son, Jesus] he also predestined [decided beforehand, planned] to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)
  4. Jesus wants to have intimate fellowship with us.  “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)  He asks that we open the door of our heart and mind to Him and let Him in.  The custom during Jesus’ day was to invite a stranger in to spend the night rather than leave him to face the weather and bandits.  Over dinner, you would talk about yourself and he would tell you his life story and you two would become friends.  This picture is what Christ has in mind with you everyday.  We must each day open our hearts to Him and allow Him access to our thoughts and lives.
  5. Don’t be afraid to trust the Lord with your life.  Don’t be afraid to tell someone about what Christ is doing in your life.  Don’t be afraid!  God gives us a spirit of boldnessFor God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline [sound mind].” (2 Tim. 1:7)  Actually, it’s impossible to stop yourself from feeling emotion.  Fear is an emotion.  What the Holy Spirit will teach you is to set aside the emotion and replace it with that which comes only from being in the presence of God: love, joy, and peace.  Then you will be able to do what He is telling you to do with confidence and boldness.  In other words, don’t let fear interfere with God’s work!  The same goes for anger, hurt, or any other emotion.  Instead, go to Him, the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).
  6. There is a danger.  To clean your house (your soul) and right yourself with God is great!  But you can’t stop here.  You must fill your soul with Him.  Jesus gave this illustration: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:23-26).  This passage is not just about salvation.  It’s about bondage.  You have given your heart to Jesus.  You have embarked on a journey with Him.  Jesus has cleansed your heart and is waiting to fill it with Himself.  How? 
  • Talk to Him dailyhourlyminutelycontinuously!
  • Ask Him to fill your heart with Himself.
  • Find out all you can about Jesus: His likes and dislikes. Read the Bible!
  • Put yourself under sound teaching and in a fellowship of other believers that are following Christ.
  • Allow Christ to grow within you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)

What Christ Did

July 8, 2013

Upon the moment that you accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life, a wonderful transformation began to happen within you.  Let’s look at some verses of Scripture to find out just exactly what is going on.

 1. You were born again spiritually.

This is your position in Christ.  He picks you up and moves you from your sinful state and seats you in heavenly realms. “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the [Holy] Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:3, 6)

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in

Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6)

 2. You became a new creation.  

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  “As for you, you were dead in your sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient [the devil].  All of us also lived among them at one time [all have sinned], gratifying the cravings of our sinful natures and following its desires and thoughts [doing what we felt like doing].  Like the rest [of the world], we were by nature objects of wrath [enemies of God].  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in [our sin]…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph.2:1-9)

 3. All your sins, past, present and future, were washed away by the blood of Jesus.  “’Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18)  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

4. You are made righteous (acceptable to God) through faith in Jesus. 

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.” (Rom. 3:21-25)

 5. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit forever! 

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)  Note:  In ancient Rome, kings and caesars would take a scroll, roll it up, drip hot wax on the edge, and then imprint their signet ring into the wax.  In doing so, they would seal the document rendering it legally unbreakable unless a person had the same authority or higher than the king.  In this case, God sealed us with His Holy Spirit and only someone with the same or higher authority can open us up and change our salvation.  Now listen to what Jesus said about us

“I give them [believers] eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-29)  We are held in a double-fisted grip!  Jesus holds us tightly and the Father holds His hand tightly around the hand of Jesus.  I think we’re pretty safe!

 6. You have been adopted into the Family of God as sons of God.  

Although you may be a daughter, you have been given the place of a son.  The

wording may be considered chauvinistic, but you must remember that the Bible was

written at a time in history when women were considered property and didn’t have

rights.  What Christ did for you was elevate you to the position of sonship in His

kingdom!  How did He do this?  “…you received the Spirit of Sonship.  And by him

we cry ‘Abba, Father.’  The [Holy] Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are

God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-

heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share

in his glory.”  (Romans 8:15b-17)

7. You can never be separated from the love of Christ. 

There is nothing the devil, a friend, an enemy, even yourself can do to extract

yourself from Christ’s and the Father’s hands once you believed in Jesus and called

upon His name to forgive you of sin and to save you.  “Who shall separate us from

the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness

or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through

him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor

demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that

is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35, 37-39)