Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

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QUOTE (F.D. Maurice) – April 1

April 1, 2014

English: Photograph from 1865 original edited ...

“Christians in general are far too eager to urge special exceptions when they hear these charges [of corruption in the church] preferred; far too ready to make out a case for themselves while they admit their application to others; far too ready to think that the cause of God is interested in the suppression of facts. The prophets should have taught us a different lesson. They should have led us to feel that it was a solemn duty, not to conceal, but to bring forward all the evidence which proves, not that one country is better than another, or one portion of the church better than another, but that there is a principle of decay, a tendency to apostasy in all, and that no comfort can come from merely balancing symptoms of good here against symptoms of evil there, no comfort from considering whether we are a little less contentious, a little less idolatrous than our neighbors.”
~ Frederick Denison Maurice

In honor of F.D. Maurice, an English theologian and Christian Socialist, who died on this day in 1872

Resources:
This Day in History for 1st April
F.D. Maurice Quotes

 

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SPIRITUAL FREIGHT TRAINS – Mar. 26

March 26, 2014

“And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Number 20:11-12

 Newton’s first law of motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Spiritual maturity entails learning to respond appropriately to the external forces that are applied to our lives. We can be in a good state –walking with all consistency in the Spirit. We can we be going in the right direction –following Christ with all of our heart. However, all of that uniform positive motion can be thrown into disarray by application of the slightest of force that is beyond our control.

Flickr contributor's description: Even kids on...

When I was younger much of the state of my spiritual motion was dictated by the decisions I was making. Decisions will always have consequences. My decisions applied internal forces within my life that drove me in good and bad directions. I was like a five-year learning to ride a bike without training wheels. I wavered all over the path that lay before me. There was nothing in my spiritual life that one would call uniform. I sped up and slowed down. I changed direction and then changed again as I sought out the balance of following Christ in a confusing and fallen world. The inconsistencies of my younger years were mostly due to the decisions that I was making.

As the years have passed by, the Spirit has shown me so much patience and grace while teaching me how to follow Christ. My spiritual life is far from perfect but I am no longer the wavering and inconsistent child that I once was. I look back and know that the Lord has matured my faith, despite myself, to a state of mostly uniform motion.

This does not mean that the spiritual state of the more mature is without wavering. I have come to learn how vulnerable my spiritual motion is to the forces that are beyond my control. We all have to deal with circumstances that are not of our choosing. We all have to respond to conditions that are not our preference. Most of these situations are beyond our control. Yet, they are external forces that can disrupt the uniform motion of our spiritual lives.

There was no man like Moses. He was meeker than all the people who were on the face of the earth. He lived a faithful life. God spoke to Moses, mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles. Moses beheld the form of the Lord. Moses’ faith was steadfast and uniform.

Yet, even Moses was susceptible to the disruption of external forces. The people of Israel gathered together to quarrel with Moses and Aaron. That was a bad decision. It was a decision that Moses and Aaron had no part of. Yet, it was an external force beyond their control that was applied into their lives and they wavered under it. Moses took his eyes off of the glory of God and responded in his own flesh – he spoke in anger, he usurped the place of God, and he acted with aggression. In that instance, Moses wavered due to the external circumstance that was applied to him.

The bad decisions of others created a bad decision for Moses from which he had to face the consequences.

The goal of spiritual maturity is to respond appropriately to other people’s decisions and/or circumstance that are not of our choosing. The spiritually mature child of God should be difficult to dislodge from his consistent motion behind the leading of his Savior.

Why is it hard to dislodge a freight train from its tracks?

To dislodge a freight train, one has to exceed the train’s mass and acceleration. The tremendous force of a train comes from its incredible tonnage and speed. There are few forces that can throw a freight train off its tracks. It can be done but it takes an awfully great wallop to do it.

A mature Christian should be like a spiritual freight train.
Only,
our tonnage comes from the glory of God and
our speed through the propulsion of the Spirit.

Hunter-Desportes / Foter / CC BY

We gain spiritual mass when we live for the glory of God. We are grounded when we treasure God more than anything else. The cares of the world can apply little force against a life that is filled with the wonder of the Almighty and living to uphold the holiness of God for all to see.

The child of God who sets his mind on the things of the Spirit is propelled forward as he walks according to the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who accelerates the follower of Christ forward in his faith toward life and peace.

Only the greatest of external wallops can waver the believer who lives within the bulk of God’s glory and knows the Spirit induced acceleration of a life focused only on the things of the Spirit.

May we all mature into spiritual freight trains. Lives lived with so much spiritual force that bad circumstance cannot dislodge us from our walks of uniform motion according to the Spirit.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for how far you have taken me.  Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide and teach me.  Thank you for keeping me from wandering away from you. Lord, teach me how to live with your glory constantly in my sight.  Help to continue to walk according to your Spirit.  Restore me back into faithfulness when I do waver from external forces.  Father, create in me a faith that is as stable as any freight train for you glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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JOY IN SALVATION – Mar. 19

March 19, 2014

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little loves little.”  Luke 7:47

We have all seen reactions of the unexpected.

RMHK-Michael / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The joy of the one who expected to stay seated when the awarder calls their name;

The exhilaration when an unachievable goal is achieved;

The shocked speechlessness at the generosity of a gift;

The tearful gratitude when the defenseless is defended.

The daily grind of my days may have ephemeral hints of these diffused emotions, but not as frequent as I think that it should.

More often, my days begin and end in the structure of muted routine.

The morning of another day commences with the structure of a Bible reading plan – a little Old Testament, a little New, bashed with some Psalms and garnished with contemplation.

The day is lived managing the cares and troubles allotted.

Evening ushers the day to closure with some reading and prayer – mostly focused upon the day previous and the one to come.

FredBaby13 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The faithful practice of the Christian faith can lead us into an attitude of the entitlement and wonderless-ness.  We can become accustomed to our salvation.  We expect our name to be called.  We can be so familiar with the bridge that spans the unachievable gap that we bounce and play on it.  Our words run on with academic “isms” in abstruse explanations of the marvelous gift freely given.  We walk confidently in the obligated defense of covenant.

I wonder whose attitude my daily existence most often reflects?

Simon the Pharisee – who did not wash Christ’s feet, never gave Him a kiss, and neglected to anoint his head.

The sinful woman of the city – who washed Christ’s feet with tears of gratitude, soiled her hair to dry His feet, and willingly gave expensive oil to anoint His head.

The reality of this comparison is displeasing .

I have a need that is greater than a desire for fresh revelation.
I require nutrition of something greater than a fresh telling of old truths.
I have a want that comes from a well deeper than spiritual discipline.
I have an essential necessity for remembrance.

Followers of Christ need to remember.  We should frequently remind ourselves of who we were.  We must regularly preach the gospel to our own soul.  We must daily acknowledge the unsanctified reality of our hearts.  We must practice marveling at the perfection of Christ in contrast to our imperfection.  We are not good.  We are not worthy.  All that we have to offer are filthy rags.

We need to live in the joy of our salvation so that we will live in the gratitude of the sinful woman of the city.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Psalm 51:8-12

May we be a people who remember what has been done for us and take ecstatic joy in His salvation of our souls.

PRAYER: Father, restore to me the joy of your salvation.  Uphold me with a willing spirit.  Open my eyes to the wonder of what you have given me.  Forgive me for living ungratefully and entitled.  Renew a right spirit within me.  Help me to remember the beauty of the gospel.  Revive my dry attitude that has come with familiarity.  You have been so good to me.  You have blessed me with so much.  I was lost in my sin, worthy of your condemnation, and yet you saved me while I was still in rebellion against you.  Your love to me is abounding.  Your mercy is without boundaries.  Your grace is beyond comprehension.  Thank you – with all my heart and soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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EMBRACING JUDGMENT – Mar. 17

March 17, 2014

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  Philippians 3:17

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent the last three days, five if you count travel, with my family in Richland, Washington for the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), Tri-Windy Speech and Debate tournament.  My son competed in two speech categories and Lincoln- Douglas debate.  However, I think that I was more consumed with this tournament than he was.

These tournaments rely upon community members to be judges for the students.  Parents are used to fill in the judging gaps as necessary.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of gaps to fill at this tournament, so I spent a lot of time judging.  I was responsible for determining winners and losers of debates.  I had to place speakers in a ranking order from 1 to 7 or 8.  I had to have opinions.  I had to have preferences.  I had to judge and reveal my conclusions.

After a speech or debate, I was thanked by each competitor for giving my time to come and be a judge for them.  They welcomed being judged.  While I was there for them, I don’t know if these competitors grasp how much they are impacting the judges that sit before them.  Those who judge cannot help but be influenced by those they are judging.

I am two days removed from the competition but I am still lingering over the spoken words from that tournament:

I am still savoring the tears of compassion elicited by words spoken with a quiet, confident, spirit.

I am still smiling in remembrance of the precious lisp of a voice given to a cricket who just wanted to be a butterfly (I Wish I Were a Butterfly).

I am still feeling the empathy that came from a delicate portrayal of mental illness. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I am still appreciating how two competitors made a caterpillar come to life.  (Alice in Wonderland)

I am still awakened to the reality of a child soldier. (War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story)

I am still relishing the tears of laughter from the creativity of an interpretation of  Dr. Seuss.

I am still encouraged by the student who endured when his memory failed him.  He fought through to the end with courage greater than the comic-book characters he was portraying.

This tournament was ostensibly about the competitors.  However, there is always so much more happening when an individual embraces judgment.  The judged will inevitably influence the judge.  These competitors are learning the skills of the spoken word.  These are skills that will assist them in influencing their world for the rest of their lives.  However, that influence is not just in the future – I was influenced by their words.  These speech and debate tournaments are less about the competitors than they may realize.  These competitors are influencing the judging adults that sit before them now because of their willingness to be judged.

If they were not willing to be judged,
they would never influence these adults.

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."

We live in a world resistant to judging.  Often, we will try to protect ourselves from judgmental eyes.  However, we will never influence a world without embracing judgment.  When Paul challenged us to imitate him, he was opening himself up to judgment.  We form opinions about Paul’s life because of his challenge; we have to determine if his example is worthy of following.  Paul embraced the judgment of others and profoundly influenced the world.  If Paul had worried about judgment, he would never have interacted with the world.  He would never have spoken publicly.  He would never have written letters.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul had a profound influence over the world, because he was willing to be judged.

The world watches all of us.
We can either scorn their judgmental opinions or
we can embrace the opportunity to influence.

Going out into the world is a declaration of our willingness to subject our lives to the judgment of the world.

Are you willing to allow your words to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your decisions to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your beliefs to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your life to be judged?

It is not about us; it is about influencing those who judge.   The willingness of those who are willing to be judged are an example to me:

Judge the words I speak;
Judge the words I write;
Judge how I conduct business;
Judge how I have chosen to raise my family;
Judge my faith.

I want to live a life that influences my world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I embrace the judgment of those who watch.  I embrace their judgment because I know that they will be influenced while they evaluate me.  May we all be willing to stand before the judging eyes of our world so that we may be profound influences upon those who are watching and listening.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my fear of other people’s judgment.  Forgive me for relinquishing opportunities to influence this world because I am afraid of a negative reaction.  Help me to welcome the evaluation of my life; use my life to influence the world around me.  Lord, I pray that you will draw others to your Son, Jesus Christ, through the influence that comes from a willingness to be judged.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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HEADWINDS TURNED TO TAILWINDS – Mar. 5

March 5, 2014

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

honeycut07 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I really wanted to go for a bike ride over the weekend.

I stepped outside and walked to the edge of the porch only to have a cold westerly wind change my mind.  A few moments of gazing at the trees bending under an unseen load convinced me that I did not want to venture out into that kind of wind. So, I returned back to the serenity of indoors.  I did this analysis three times before I rationalized my cycling kit on and grabbed my bike. I know that riding in the wind is not much fun, but I just wanted to get out of the house and get a work-out in.

The soundness of that logic was questioned throughout the first few miles of my ride as tree limbs bent into the roadway delivering a moaning question as to why I had ventured from my protective walls. I fought that wind for miles upon miles, grinding away in my smallest chainring, hoping to at least match my forward speed to that of the wind in my face. There was no escaping the relentless resistance of that wind since the route I had decided upon took me directly into it. I tried to stay low and ground away with each pedal stroke in anticipation of the turn.

The turn is when you pass the half-way mark and start to head home. Better yet, the turn would put my back to the wind on this day. I made my way with eagerness onto a road that would connect me to the turn. It also had the benefit of taking me out of the frontal assault of the wind. It was on this road that I felt the first few drops.  In my battle with the wind, I had not noticed the dark clouds that now barred my return.

ryanmatthew21 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I summited the last climb before the turn with the full knowledge that I was going to get wet and this ride was going to get really miserable. The skies opened up on me as I descended to the turn. Water rolled off of my chin and down my back as my wheels spun a whisper of spray that appeared to double their size.  I quickly lost all concern for wind as I made the turn, for my mind had shifted to the concerns of slick pavement and the hope of home. I dipped my head to keep the rain off of my glasses and grabbed a harder gear – I needed to get home.  I focused on my cadence as I continued to work through my gear cassette until I could not shift anymore.

I was in my hardest gear and pedaling freely. I don’t know how fast I was going since my speedometer had quit, but I must have been tickling 30 mph. I rode like this for several miles, maintaining a speed on the flats that I could never hold by myself. The only reason I was being hurried home was because of the wind. That very same wind that I had fought all the way out, was now lifting me to a speed I could never do unaided.

afphotography / Foter / CC BY-NC

That ride home was fun. The very same wind that had caused me such misery going out, provided great joy on the way home. In fact, wind transformed what normally is more miserable than a head wind, a cold ride in drenching rain, into an exhilarating experience that I will remember.

This love / hate experience with wind spurred my meditation of the workings of the Spirit of God in those who are His.  I believe that there are times in our spiritual lives when we are walking directly into the resisting force of the Spirit that is intent upon changing our direction.

 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6-7)

I don’t know how the Spirit resisted Paul but it seems like Paul’s path became too difficult so he changed it. I believe that the Spirit still works that way. We just have to discern when to follow the guiding blow of the Spirit and turn out of the wind to the path of less resistance. That is not always easy to discern because the Spirit might have other purposes.

I believe that there are times when the Spirit blows in our face not to get us to change to direction but in order to strengthen us. The trials and temptations of our lives could simply be removed by the Lord, but often He does not. Frequently, He allows them because we need the work-out.

 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The Holy Spirit guiding us through suffering is evidence of God’s love for us.  God loves us too much to leave us as spiritual couch potatoes. There are times when we feel resistance in our lives because the Spirit is blowing into our face in order to build endurance, which will produce character, and from that character will emerge God glorifying hope, and everyone needs hope to persevere to the end.  In these instances, we should not turn from the path that we are on. We need to grind on. We need to get low and endure. We need to accept the love of God through our suffering.

We can accept our suffering as the love of God because we, by faith, know that the power of the Spirit is actually what is carrying us home. While the Spirit is allowing and guiding us through difficult times, it is also the Spirit who is powering us through those very same difficulties.  It is because of the tail-wind of the Holy Spirit that we can endure longer than we could ever do unaided. It is because of the power of the Spirit that we can perform beyond our abilities.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Therefore, we are driven to hope when we grind into the Spirit’s head-wind and when we experience the powerful effects of the Spirit pushing us home.

I often don’t know where or how the Spirit is blowing in my life.

I find it difficult to know when the Spirit is guiding me to turn in a new direction or to grind on.

I regularly fail to realize the power that is pushing me forward as I labor to follow Christ.

I am quick to grumble about trials rather relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

However, the mysterious winds of the Spirit, in all their forms, are a blessing for those who are in Christ. The Spirit is our gift to help us through this fallen world.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:5)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

We never have to be discouraged or afraid. We have been given the Holy Spirit – our Helper.  He is the One who will do all that is necessary to get us home – guide us in the right direction, build hope in our hearts, and carry us when needed.  Praise God that we have not been abandoned. We are loved and cared for by our Helper who will be with us forever.  Now, let’s go live our lives relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us our Helper. Thank you for the work of the Spirit in my life – guiding, correcting, stengthening, and sustaining me.  Lord, teach me to rely upon your Spirit in all conditions.  Teach me to live in your joy and peace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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QUOTE (Eric Liddell) – Feb 21

February 21, 2014

English: Eric Liddell in Paris Olympic Games M...

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator, infinitely holy and loving, who has a plan for the world, a plan for my life, and some daily work for me to do. I believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, as Example, Lord, and Savior. I believe in the Holy Spirit who is able to guide my life so that I may know God’s will; and I am prepared to allow him to guide and control my life. I believe in God’s law that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength; and my neighbor as myself. I believe it is God’s will that the whole world should be without any barriers of race, color, class, or anything else that breaks the spirit of fellowship. To believe means to believe with the mind and heart, to accept, and to act accordingly on that basis.”
Eric Liddell

In honor of Eric Liddell, Scottish Olympic champion runner portrayed in the film “Chariots of Fire” and missionary to China, who died of a brain tumor on this day in 1945 while imprisoned by the Japanese during WWII.

Resources:
Today in Christian History – February 21
Eric Liddell > Quotes

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QUOTE (John Bunyan) – Feb 18

February 18, 2014

John Bunyan

“God’s grace is the most incredible and insurmountable truth ever to be revealed to the human heart, which is why God has given us His Holy Spirit to superintend the process of more fully revealing the majesty of the work done on our behalf by our Savior. He teaches us to first cling to, and then enables us to adore with the faith He so graciously supplies, the mercy of God. This mercy has its cause and effect in the work of Jesus on the cross.”
~ John Bunyan

In honor of John Bunyan, whose book Pilgrim’s Progress was first published in England on this day in 1678.

Resources:
Today in Christian History – February 18
The 100 best novels: No 1 – The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
Pilgrim’ Progress – Christian Classics
John Bunyan>Quotes

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QUOTE (Philip Melanchthon) – Feb 15

February 15, 2014

English: thumb|75px Portrait of Philipp Melanc...

“Those who have been renewed by the Spirit of Christ now conform voluntarily even without the Law to what the Law used to command. The Law is the will of God; the Holy Spirit is nothing else than the living will of God and its being in action.”
~Philip Melanchthon

In honor of Philip Melanchthon, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation and intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, who was born on this day in 1497.

Resources:

This Day in History for 15th February
Melanchthon’s 1521 Loci Communes: The First Protestant Apology

Related articles

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“REAL WALLS OF FAITH” – Nov 27

November 27, 2013

“Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it. And let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.”  Micah 1:2

dbking / Foter.com / CC BY

Masonry commands a certain gravitas in architecture.
Stacked stone hints at an ancient permanence.
The repetition of form in a brick wall assures one that chaos does not reign.

wallyg / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

We cloak our grand structures in the facades of strength and stability.

Our great hospitals are faced with brick.
Our government buildings have edifices of granite.
Our universities are aged by cascading ivy over marble.

seier+seier / Foter.com / CC BY

Many churches have facades to convey strength and stability.

How often do we deceive ourselves by the architecture that we choose?

We hope in medicine to defeat the failure of a fallen flesh.
We trust in laws to protect the righteous.
We are confident of the observable and tested.

jbhalper / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Even our souls can be left to doctrines and traditions bereft of the workings of the Spirit.

I read of God’s warnings to His chosen people throughout the Minor Prophets and the book of Revelation.  I confess to weariness at this point of my plan to read through the entirety of the Bible in a year.  I am reading through these prophesies of God’s judgment upon the disobedient. I feel dullness in my hearing.  I struggle to pay attention through the repeated warnings of a God who proves he is to be so slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, continually relenting from disaster, incredibly gracious and merciful. (Jonah 4:2)

I know that I am inclined to build up stone walled edifices of security and stability.

I long for the certain diagnosis of a fallen flesh healed from condemning sin.
I want certainty of divine rules and assurance of proclaimed righteousness.
My intellect craves the gravitas of the doctrinal memorials crafted through brilliant theologians.

However, the security and stability that I long for in my faith will never be found in the constructs of my mind.  History is replete with examples of those who have relied upon illusionary block walls of faith, painted white with their own righteousness.  Those white washed walled were proven to be built without the mortar of the Spirit.  Those walls all failed when examined under the testing of the Lamb of God.  We are called to examine ourselves.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  (1 Corinthians 13:5)

We can have stability and security in our faith.  We can know the refuge of God.  We can be assured that the Spirit is building a glorious cathedral within us.  We can know this assurance through testing of the walls that shelter our faith.  We must push against what we rely upon.  We must probe our heart to see what crumbles and where paint peals.

All that fails is not from God.

Martin LaBar / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

The warnings of old deserve attention.  We need a willingness to expose our hearts, knock down the false walls that are bereft of the Spirit, and let the Lord God be a witness against the sin in our lives.

May the strong walls built by my hands be pushed down
to expose my shameful failures.

May the edifices of personal spiritual triumph crumble
in the ashes of a humbled and broken man in need of a Savior.

May the acknowledgement of my weakness and dependence build
within me walls of assurance in the promises and power of God.

May the finished work of Christ be magnified though
the incomplete sanctification of a child of God continuing to seek his Lord.

PRAYER: O Lord, may my faith be found in you alone.  Break down the walls of my stuborn pride and rebellion.  Lord, I expose my soul to your cleansing love.  May I know only the work of your Spirit in my need.  May I stand only on your sure foundation.  May my triumph come only through the precious blood of Christ.  May my assurance be tested and proven true.  May you be glorified in my weakness.   Complete your work within me, my Savior God.  May my prasie be a sweet fragrance in your presence. (In Christ Alone)    I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP” – Oct 18

October 18, 2013

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28

VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

All of life should be worship gratefully offered to God for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  I consider how many hours of my day that I live in a manner that will probably be determined as unacceptable.  I hate to think of the times I have stood in Church singing “How Great Thou Art” with a wandering mind.  Acceptable worship does not just happen by the action.  The motivation for worship determines whether it is acceptable to God.

We continually develop opinions regarding moral motivation.  I try to discern the motivation of people all the time.  We strive to know a person’s motivation because it deeply matters to most of us.  It matters because our response to an action is often weighed based on the actor’s moral motivation.

I respond to the disobedience of my kids differently depending upon whether they are willfully being disrespectful or just being a kid.

I will take an elbow to the head if it is an accident.  I will respond differently if it was flung with intent to hurt me.

I have different opinions regarding a person who steals to feed his family and the one who steals to buy crack.

BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Most of us have experienced that our actions stem from both belief and desire.  Belief is insufficient to get us off our couch.  In addition to belief, we need a desire to open the door to action.  This is why we seek so diligently to try and understand a person’s moral motivation when their actions seem to contradict their belief.  Actions that are inconsistent with our belief stem from a failure in desire.

I believe that consistent exercise is fundamental to my health; however, my desire to relax often keeps me on the porch.

I believe that overeating will give me a pot-belly; however, my desire to have a full belly often keeps me at the table.

I believe that hell exists; however, my desire to look sensible often keeps my mouth shut.

I believe that obedience to God’s commands, living according to the Spirit, is necessary to please God; however, my desire to please my flesh often keeps me at the trough of all sorts of iniquities.

The Humean view of moral motivation holds that beliefs aim to fit the world, desires aim to change the world. (Moral Motivation)  Our beliefs reflect how we see the world.  My beliefs reflect a world view as revealed in the Bible.  I have experienced the Bible to be true and trustworthy.  Therefore, my beliefs fit the world as I understand it to be.  It is a mind-to-world direction of fit.

On the other hand, desires have a world-to-mind direction of fit.  Our desires attempt to change the world to what we want it to be.  This is where our actions often become inconsistent.

Severin Sadjina / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My desires will vacillate from wanting the world to make much of God to wanting it to make much of me.  I still have sinful desires that effect what I want the world to be.  Those sinful desires result in acts that are inconsistent with my beliefs.

Inconsistent actions are why we will develop opinions of a person’s moral motivation.  When two people do the same action based on two completely different beliefs (worldviews) but the same desire, the result is differing moral motivations.  Two people can have the same action based on the same belief but vastly different desires.  The result is differing moral motivations.

God requires that both our beliefs and desires to be aligned with His will for our actions to be pleasing to Him. Therefore, acceptable worship only comes when both our beliefs and desires are aligned with God’s will.

A person can do many righteous actions but if they don’t believe in the God of the Bible then their works are like filthy rags.

A person can do keep all of the commandments but if their desire is for a love other than God then those works are worthless.

My worship problem is not an effort problem.  My worship problem is a moral motivation problem.  I don’t want to waste my life.  I don’t want my works to be worthless.  I want my life to be a pleasing fragrance to the King.

For those actions to happen, I need to know my problem.

I need the Spirit to help me through my unbelief in all its forms. 
I need a heart that loves God more than anything else.

Fortunately, the Spirit will complete both of those works while I am walking with Him and setting my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Then my steps will be acceptable worship to the consuming fire who is my God.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I struggle with a worship problem.  Forgive me for all the time that I have wasted in doubt, worry, and unbelief.  Forgive me for all the time that I have wastes loving other things more than you.  Thank you for welcoming me to a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Thank you for sending your Spirit to help with my worship problem.  Help me in my unbelief.  Help me to love you more and more.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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