THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVES IN ME

John 14:15-17, “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – The Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

I was thinking the other day about the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to me the moment I believed and surrendered my life to him.  At that moment, I had a definite awareness of new life.  I was changed!  For a short time after that, I was conscious of a distinct difference in me. Then I got used to my new life.   

Now after many years of walking with the Lord, I believe that the Holy Spirit Lives in me, but I seem to have no clear perception of his presence.  As I pursued this before the Lord, I had this thought.  What would it be like if God removed the Holy Spirit?   

In horror, I recalled the desolate life I was leading before He sent his Spirit.  Ok!  I get it. I saw the answer to my deliberations very clearly.  The blessed and happy life I now lead is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  He leads me and guides me and fills me with new life.  I thank you, Holy Spirit.  I love living my new life.

GOD’S WORLD AND US

Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”

Back in August of 2014, I began this blog to encourage, strengthen, and comfort fellow Christians.   I also hope to inspire those who don’t know what God has done for them to come to him. 

The above Scripture is foundational to this blog.  I’ve tried to live my life in the comfort of knowing this is God’s world.  In my years of walking with him, I have discovered that God is good, and I have become aware of his beauty all around me.  I want to share this with my readers.

I understand that man brought evil into God’s world through rebellion.  Ever since, God has been working to rid us of evil and restore us to him.  Man cannot rid the earth of evil, but God can.  He has the power.  For those of us who have received Jesus as our savior, our limited power is expressed in surrendering our lives to God’s Holy Spirit that he might cleanse us of evil.

I believe that all power and wisdom ultimately rests in the hands of God.  Therefore, we can trust him with the life that he has given us.  Most of all, I believe he loves us; and he demonstrated his love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  He gave the ultimate ransom to bring us back into relationship with him. 

I hope as I continue to write that you will be encouraged, strengthened, and comforted.  Please, share your comments and insights that I might receive from you as well. 

God’s blessings to you!

JESUS’ LOVE AND OUR LOVE WORKING IN THE WORLD

John 17:20-23 (The Message)

I’m praying not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me because of them, and their witness about me.  The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us.  Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.  The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me.  Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.

There’s an old song that I love, titled “Just a closer walk with thee”.  The desire to have a closer walk with Jesus has always been in my heart.  When I first read this part of Jesus’ prayer, I was brought to tears.  Jesus looked ahead and spoke this prayer for me.  He prayed for all believers to be closer to him.  My desire to be closer to him mirrors his desire for me.

Today, as I read this prayer, (The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us),  I realize that my closeness to him is intertwined with my closeness to my fellow believers.  This closeness, and the love that is displayed by our closeness to each other, will help others to come to know him.

In a world full of hate and self-interest, Jesus wants his followers to represent a counter culture. Through loving one another and loving him, we can be that counter culture to those around us with the goal of showing people God’s love.

MOTIVATION

Proverbs 3:5&6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.

Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

John 15:17, “This is my command: Love each other.”

This morning, as I lay in my bed pondering my relationship with the Lord, it occurred to me that my ability to love others is wholly depended on my ability to trust the Lord. When I leave my needs and wants in his hands, I am freed from looking for those things in others.

My conclusion is: the more I trust in the Lord; the more my motivations are purely rooted in love; and the more I can fulfill Jesus’ command to love others.

A THREE STRANDED ROPE

By yourself you’re unprotected.  With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third?  A three stranded rope isn’t easily snapped (Ecclesiastes 4:12 The Message).

In August of 1980, two people from across the country sat down in the foothills of California and surrendered their lives to the Lord. One was a native Californian from the central coast, and the other had recently relocated from Virginia.  In November of that year, they met for the first time.  By April of 1981, they were both convinced that the Lord wanted them together, and they married.  Thus began a life together that was full of exciting adventures.

Did I mention love?  Yes, what the Lord puts together is always full of love.  And through the years, they developed deep devotion and a strong relationship.  The secret to their now 40 years of marriage is fully depended on what happened before they met.  A life that is surrendered to the Lord affords success.

In the environment of today’s world, there are a variety of difficulties for a married couple to face.  United they have a good chance of success, but they face a great on slot of factors trying to pull them apart.  Jesus adds the much needed strength to their relationship. This has been my experience.

Bonnie and I are about to celebrate our fortieth year of marriage, and we still like each other!  We are deeply thankful to Jesus for guiding us through, and blessing us with a wonderful life together. 

I HAVE NO IDEA

Jesus went to the cross as the Son of God and the Son of Man.  As I contemplate the agony he suffered I realize I have no idea.  I have an inkling of what it might have been to face the cross as the Son of Man, but I have no ability to understand what it was like for him as the Son of God.  I have often considered what Jesus might have suffered, and I have heard many sermons on this topic, yet, I must conclude; I have no idea.

What I do know about Jesus’ suffering is that billions of people like me have experienced the results of what his suffering meant for mankind.  We have felt the love and peace of God’s forgiveness, and the renewed life that it afforded us.  I may not comprehend what Jesus suffered, but I believe he had full knowledge of what he was going to experience, and with that knowledge he walked bravely to the cross for us.

GOD’S WILL – OUR WILL

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

We become a Christian when we surrender our life to God and receive the gift of salvation Jesus achieved for us.  Jesus surrendered his life to pay for our sins.  So, even God has experienced surrender.  When we come to the place of giving our lives to him, he is faithful to receive us as his children, and he gives us his Spirit to seal us for eternity.  Thus begins our intimate relationship with our creator.

I think it’s important to understand that this relationship is offered to all of us.  As the above scripture makes clear, it is his will that we’d all receive salvation and eternal life.  The only thing standing in the way of an intimate relationship with God and eternal life is our will. 

If you haven’t surrendered to God, the Easter Celebration is a great time to surrender your will to him.  You can trust him because he gave his life for you.

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

EVIL FOR GOOD

  Many years ago, I learned an important concept from the scriptures.  I learned that God can use evil for good.  The passage that confirms this is found in what Joseph spoke to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  Genesis 50:19 & 20, But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

When we think of the cross, that evil place of torture, humility, and death, we see God’s hand at work.  For the finite human mind, God’s ways are amazing, unexpected, unique, and often unfathomable.  Who has understood the mind of the Lord (Isaiah 40:13)?  Yet Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate event in the history of mankind.  God brought great good out of evil intent.

At the foot of the cross every man, woman, and child can find the gift of God – eternal life.  There we find forgiveness, the greatest expression of love, and peace.  This is why we call next Friday Good Friday.  

TOGETHER WE CELEBRATE

Sometimes when I sit down to read my Bible I think, “I’ve read this part a thousand times.”  Then I begin to work through the scripture and find there’s something new in that old familiar story.  I realize again that the Spirit always has a new insight to challenge and guide me.

The other day, I was reading in Matthew chapter 9.  As I went through verses 14 and 15, a new thought came to me.  In The Message the verses read:

A little later John’s followers approached, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees rigorously discipline body and spirit by fasting, but your followers don’t?”  Jesus told them, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine.  You feast.  Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now.  No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire.  This is Kingdom Come!”

What came to me was that when Christians meet we are getting together to celebrate the coming of God’s Kingdom.  We are celebrating our shared citizenship in His Kingdom, and basking in the realization that Jesus is here with us.  Our hearts are filled with joy as we honor the one who made it all possible.

WHAT DOES LIVING IN THE SPIRIT LOOK LIKE?

Our Pastor Eric Nelson recently wrote about living in the Spirit.  In that message he stated:

The Christian life without the Spirit of God is just another religion, just another man-made project. Just another way of clawing our way to the heavenlies, just another attempt at controlling the living God, just another attempt to prove our worth and righteousness is on par with God’s.

In conjunction with these thoughts, I have been reading in Matthew chapters 5-7(The Sermon on the mount).  It dawned on me that in these chapters Jesus is describing what living in the Spirit looks like.  In Matthew 5:21-48, Jesus addresses many moral issues and how we should respond.  He is presenting to us God’s loving, forgiving nature in response to these moral issues.  I love and am challenged by the way verse 48 reads in The Message, “In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up.  You’re kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out you’re God created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

This then is how God wants us to live, but as Pastor Eric declares in his above quote, “without God’s Spirit it’s just another religion…. just another attempt to prove our worth and righteousness is on par with God’s.”  Jesus tells us what living in the Spirit looks like.  In order to live like this we need closeness to God.  I’m reminded that in John 15:5 Jesus affirms, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

To me it’s quite obvious that Christians are being called to put aside the things of this world and draw closer to God so that we might bear much fruit.  It’s time to recognize that we are subjects in God’s eternal Kingdom, and start living like it.