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Thursday, October 31, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 16

"And When the Day of Pentecost was Fully Come" (continued)

And, so again, Jesus was announcing that He was the Feast of the Lord. He was saying that old things had passed away, and the only way the people of God could please the Lord is to partake of Him, which meant they were to take Him as their ALL.

Now, there were varied reactions among this company who had sought Him out: most of them misunderstood Him completely and went away confused; "the Jews" heard His Words and rejected Him and continued to make plans to destroy Him; but the Word also tells us that "many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this said, 'This is an hard saying; who can hear it?' " Why were both "the Jews" and the disciples so disturbed? First of all, we need to recall that they all knew that it was the Passover season; and they knew or suspected that Jesus was saying that no longer would the temple in Jerusalem, or the temple worship they loved so much, be the way of worship - all the ceremonies, all the ordinances, all the festal activities, all the methods, whether emotional or formal, were at an end - all that fed their soul, all that fed their human nature, whether it was the intellect or the emotions, must end, for God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. The time has come, and now is, that they were to take Christ as their Life; and whether they were priests or Pharisees or prophets or scribes or ordinary everyday working people or mothers or children CHRIST WAS TO BE THEIR ALL.

Now, when we read this, we may wonder how they could give these things the preeminence over the Lord - the laws, the feasts, the priests, the ceremonies, etc. We may wonder why many of His disciples followed Him no more. But is not this the great problem of Christianity today,something other than Christ!? something instead of Christ!? something more than Christ!? something that satisfies the natural man other than Christ!? Brethren, many things can take the preeminence of Christ in our lives: a Church organization, a Bible school, a pastor, a doctrine, a teaching, a method, even what we call deeper life teaching, etc. But only Christ can truly satisfy our hearts!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Free Through Suffering


"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress" (Ps. 4:1).

 
This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man's thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life's enlargement.
 
And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that "the iron entered into his soul." We all feel that what Joseph needed  for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.
 
My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph's dungeon is the road to Joseph's throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings--wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow's chain. --George Matheson
 
***
 
If Joseph had not been Egypt's prisoner, he had never been Egypt's governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with The Holy Spirit # 15

"And When the Day of Pentecost was Fully Come" (continued)

Christ is Our Passover

Now, what was the reaction of the people to these Words of Life spoken by our Lord? First of all, we are told that the Jews murmured at Him, complained discontentedly among themselves, because He said, "I AM the Bread which came down from Heaven." In the Gospel of John, the phrase, "the Jews", is usually used of those who were in active opposition against the Lord, and who rejected Him as the Messiah; usually, they were the religious and political leaders, or someone who represented them (John 1:19-24). So among the people who sought Jesus, because He fed the 5,000, were a group of "the Jews." And when Jesus said, "I AM the Bread which came down from Heaven, "the Jews" knew He was saying that He was the Son of God, they knew He was saying that He was the I AM, the ONE Who had spoken to Moses, they knew He was saying that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And they thought that He, Who was only the son of Joseph in their eyes, was surely a blasphemer.

But the Lord Jesus Christ was saying much more than their limited idea of God and His Christ; Jesus was saying that He Was, and Is, and Ever-Shall-Be the I AM. He was saying that He Was, and Is, and Ever-Shall-Be the I AM spoken of in Exodus 3:14 when God told Moses His Eternal Name: "And God said unto Moses, 'I AM that I AM.' " The I AM is the Name that describes the Eternal-Self-Existence of God. It is the Name that speaks of the uninterrupted, boundless, Endurance and Everlastingness of the Eternal God. It is the name that reveals that in God there is no limitation of Himself in Fullness. Thus, in speaking of Himself as the I AM, the Lord Jesus Christ is revealing that He is the Fullness of God, and that there is no Limitation and no Ending of His Fullness (Col. 1:19; 2:9). And John tells all of us who are believers: "Of His fullness we have all received" (John 1:16).

So when Christ proclaimed: "I AM the Bread of Life," He was saying that He Was, and Is, and Ever-Shall-Be the All, and in All to those who believe in Him. In the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus Christ, THE I AM, says o Himself:

I AM the Bread of Life
I AM the Light of the World
I AM the Door of the sheep
I AM the Good Shepherd
I AM the Resurrection, and the Life
I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life
I AM the True Vine

So the Jews began to complain when Jesus said, "I AM the Bread Which came down from heaven" (verse 41), because they knew that He was saying He was The I AM. Then they really got upset, and began to contend with one another when Jesus said: "If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then Jesus spoke the Words that would divide asunder this that could only be laid hold of by faith by those who are willing to follow Him. "Whithersoever He goest." He spoke the Words that can only be comprehended by those that "hath an ear to hear what the Spirit saith."

"Then Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man,and drink His blood, ye have no lie in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that Bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna,and are dead: he that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever.'" "

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

Reaching Perfection


 
"Perfect through suffering" (Heb. 2:10).

 
Steel is iron plus fire. Soil is rock, plus heat, or glacier crushing. Linen is flax plus the bath that cleans, the comb that separates, and the flail that pounds, and the shuttle that weaves.
 
Human character must have a plus attached to it. The world does not forget great characters. But great characters are not made of luxuries, they are made by suffering.
 
I heard of a mother who brought into her home as a companion to her own son, a crippled boy who was also a hunchback. She had warned her boy to be very careful in his relations to him, and not to touch the sensitive part of his life but go right on playing with him as if he were an ordinary boy. She listened to her son as they were playing; and after a few minutes he said to his companion: "Do you know what you have got on your back?" The little hunchback was embarrassed, and he hesitated a moment. The boy said: "It is the box in which your wings are; and some day God is going to cut it open, and then you will fly away and be an angel."
 
***
 
Some day, God is going to reveal the fact to every Christian, that the very principles they now rebel against, have been the instruments which He used in perfecting their characters and moulding them into perfection, polished stones for His great building yonder. --Cortland Myers
 
***
 
Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer to the roots of character. The great object of this life is character. This is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity... To gain the most of it and the best of it is the object of probation. --Austin Phelps
 
***
 
"By the thorn road and no other is the mount of vision won."

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 14

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

Then the people began to look for the Lord Jesus, and when they found Him the next day, He said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting Life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:26, 27).

"Then the people asked Him, 'What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?' and Jesus answered and said unto them, 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent" (John 6:28-35). In other words, the Lord was saying, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the Gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

Then, even though they had witnessed the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 filling their thoughts, they also spoke of the manna their fathers had eaten in the wilderness. "As it is written, He gave them Bread from Heaven to eat" (John 6:31; Psalm 78:24). Many of the Jews believed that Moses was a redeemer and that he had caused the manna to rain down from heaven. And it was also their belief that the Messiah to come would cause manna to come down from heaven. They were looking for a Messiah who would satisfy their earthly needs and desires.

Again, Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and He said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; [no, that manna came from God, and His next words brings them right to the present time] but MY Father giveth (present tense) you the True Bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is He Which cometh down from heaven, and giveth Life unto the world." Then said they unto Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread" (John 6:32-34).

"And Jesus said unto them, 'I AM the Bread of Life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me Shall never thirst' ... Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on ME hath everlasting Life'. I AM the Bread of Life." (John 6;35, 47, 48).

With these words, the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims the principle of Life in the New Creation; for as the Bread of Life, He gives Eternal Life to the believer - Life in the present, and Life in the future, and Life for-ever-more. And we receive this Gift of Eternal Life because He gave His Life upon the Cross; for as the Bread of Life, Christ is saying of Himself, "I AM the Living Bread which came down from Heaven: 'If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world' " (John 6:51).

Furthermore, Christ is saying, "I AM the Living Bread," I AM the Bread that endureth, which means: I, the Christ, will sustain your lives before the Lord for evermore. Notice that John 6:47 tells us, "He that believeth hath everlasting life"; and John 6:51 states that, "If anyone shall eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever." So in these two Scriptures, we find that we not only have Ever-lasting [Eternal] life, but if we eat (partake) of Him Who is the Bread of Life we shall live forever, we shall have age-abiding Life. The Emphasized Bible puts it this way: "If one eat of this Bread, he shall live unto times age-abiding." Beloved, Jesus Christ is the Living Bread, and as we partake of Him, He alone will sustain our lives before the Lord God both now, and forevermore - through Christ, we shall live breath by breath, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, year after year, age after age - for in Him we have age-abiding, everlasting Eternal Life.

~ T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

The Lord Looketh and Beholdeth

Psalm 33:13
The Lord looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men.
 
Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when He is spoken of as stooping from His throne, and coming down from heaven to attend to the wants and to behold the woes of mankind. We love Him, who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until He had made a personal visitation of them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who inclines His ear from the highest glory, and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs after reconciliation. How can we but love Him when we know that He numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways? Specially is this great truth brought near to our heart, when we recollect how attentive He is, not merely to the temporal interests of His creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though leagues of distance lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline His ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay His hand; thy faith can move His arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.

Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;
No God is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He,
Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, October 28, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 13

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

Christ is Our Passover

We are to partake of Christ, for in Christ we find ALL That Wholly Satisfies and Delights God! And if we look again at John six, we will see that the Lord Jesus begins to make this very clear to us as He proclaims: "I AM the Bread of Life." And John 6:4 tells us that when the Lord proclaimed that He was the Bread of Life, another Passover was near; and this implies that at least a year had passed since Jesus cleansed the temple (John 2:13). And although John does not record it all, it had been a time of ministering to the needs of the multitudes, and it had been a time of teaching and of training for His disciples: - the Sermon on the Mount had been given (Matthew 5; 6 and 7); the twelve apostles had been called; can He healed many that were sick of various diseases, and cast out many demons; and much, much more. Furthermore, it had been a time of intense spiritual conflict between Christ and the religious leaders as the enemy furthered his plan to kill the Christ of God; for satan knew that when Christ fulfilled God's purpose, his doom was sealed (Mark 2:6, 24; Mark 3:6; John 5:10-18).

Now, it was during the season of the Passover that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was also kept; and in John six, we find our Lord Jesus revealing further the true meaning and reality of these Feasts of the Lord as He miraculously feeds over 5,000. Each of the Gospels records this important incident: Matthew tells us that, "Jesus ... saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick; Luke tells us that, "He received them and spake  unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing"; Mark tells us, "And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things". John tells us that it was the Passover season, and only n John do we find the full meaning of the feeding of the 5,000.

So, "When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company came unto Him, He saith unto Philip, 'Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?' And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do" (John 6:5, 6). Jesus knew what He would do, for He knew what was in the hearts of men. He knew that this great company that was coming unto Him was not only hungry physically, but He knew that in their hearts, they were starving spiritually. He also knew that these 5,000 men that were coming unto Him were, be decree of the Law of God, on their way, or soon would be on their way, to Jerusalem to the Feast of Passover and to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For God's Law decreed that "three times in a year all thy males shall appear at (1) the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread, and at (2) the Feast of Pentecost, and (3) the Feast of Tabernacles. This is why John 6 numbers the men, and not the women and children.

Yes, Jesus "knew what He would do," for He knew that the "feasts of the Jews", held at the temple in Jerusalem, would not sustain the people's lives "before the Lord God." Jesus was about to announce that the Law of God had been fulfilled: - the Law which had brought these Passover pilgrims three times a year before the Lord their God had been fulfilled. He knew that the "time had come, and now is" that He alone could sustain their lives before God. And, now, all who would "come unto Him" - both men, women and children - would partake of Him Who is the Bread of Life.

So Jesus fed the 5,000. Consequently, when the men who had seen the miracle realized that Jesus could meet their natural and material needs, they wanted to make Him a king, by force if necessary. But Jesus perceived their intent and departed, because He was not to be a king in the old creation. No! He was the True Bread from Heaven! He was the Eternal Life and the life Sustainer of the New Creation!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Do Not Give Up


And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

Are you feeling "weary" these days? Do you ever feel as if "doing good" really gets you nowhere? I bet that if we were honest, most of us would admit to these feelings or thoughts at some points in our Christian life. If you spend much time at all reading Paul's letters in the New Testament, you hear him telling us to persevere, to run the race with endurance, and to not lose heart. The Apostle Paul understood the trials of suffering and how hard it can be just to keep going, day in and day out. Today's verse has a promise at the end, one that we can all claim in victory. If we do not grow weary and give up, there will be a time of reaping, a season of harvest.

The enemy will use every scheme he can against us to discourage us from moving forward. I wonder how many times we give up at the last minute. What would happen if we never gave up? When the Lord calls you to step out, you must go. Once you make that decision, you will be tested. You will be tempted to quit, especially in your thoughts. To combat the temptations to quit, we must stay in the Word of God to renew our minds and to surrender to His will over our natural-born desires. Through the Holy Spirit, we can overcome and live a life pleasing to God. Praise God, for He wants for you to overcome and live a life pleasing Him.
God is leading you, you must follow Him, step by step. Know that there will be times when you will feel weary and your heart wants to sink, but that is when you turn to the Lord for strength and encouragement. Do not give up! The victory may be a day away. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What it Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 12

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come (continued)

Christ is Our Passover

Thus, in the Life-giving Words of John 3:1-21, we find the true meaning of the Passover. No longer would the blood of lambs and bulls and goats suffice, no longer was the Passover to be celebrated as a remembrance of Israel being delivered out of Egypt, or as a figure of the Messiah, the Christ, to come. And this is because The Word Himself had become flesh, the Christ had come, and now the Passover had become a Reality in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Remember, when the Holy Spirit inspired the Gospel of John, the Lamb had been slain, His Blood had been shed upon the Cross, Christ had been Crucified, and Resurrected, and Glorified. Therefore, in this wonderful conversation between the Lord Jesus Christ and Nicodemus, we find the true meaning of the Passover coming to light as Christ, Who is our Passover, answered the questioning heart of Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again - ye must be born from above - ye must be born of the Spirit"; - which is saying, "if any one is in Christ there is a new creation! The old things have passed away, - Lo! they have become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Lord is saying: Behold, the old things have passed away - old feasts, old temples, old ways, old worships - these have passed away. Behold, all things in Me, The Christ, are new.

A New Birth:  Ye must be born again - ye must be born from above - ye must be born of the Spirit - which were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God - for God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting Life (John 3:3-8; John 1:13; John 3:16).

A New Temple:  Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up ... but He spake of the Temple of His Body ... and (God) gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, Which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (John 2:19:21; Ephesians 1:22-23).

A New Worship:  The the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23, 24).

Beloved, "the hour cometh, and now is" that Christ is the Reality of All that God has Purposed. Christ is our Passover, He is the Feast of the  Lord, He is the only One that fully satisfies God the Father, He is the One of Whom the Lord God could say: "Thou art My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). This is My Beloved Son, Who wholly and completely satisfies My every Desire, Purpose, and Will. And after we have believed in God's Beloved Son, after we have received Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, then Jesus Christ, the Son of God is to become The Only True Reality, The Only True and Genuine One, Who fully satisfies us as we partake of Him Who is the feast of the Lord - and in The Word of God, "feasting" implies partaking and sharing of the feast with great joy.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

Value Others More

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

The value of something or someone determines its importance. For example, if a hobby is highly valued it gets attention, even to the exclusion of relational investments in a needy child. It’s easier to get lost in leisure than to face the reality of a broken relationship. But by predetermining a high appraisal of someone, a high priority is credited them in hard times.

Indeed, there is a tension between our own interests and the interests of others. After all, doesn’t the Lord want us to take care of ourselves? Of course He does—but it is not hiding behind our own issues and ambitions to the exclusion of placing others above ourselves. Humility esteems the good in others while recognizing its own struggles.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).

Pride places a lower priority on others and a higher priority on self. Pride does its due diligence and ranks the issues of others much lower in value than its own needs and wants. It’s only from the assumption of a humble heart that we are capable of valuing others as Christ values them. Jesus humbles us so we in turn can humbly serve others. 

Therefore, what interests the people in your life? What are your spouse’s interests? What do your children value? What are the personal goals of your work associates? Perhaps you do a relational audit around their interests and become intentional in helping them fulfill their needs and desires. It takes faith to first fulfill another’s agenda over yours.

Paradoxically, when we place the needs of others above ourselves, God fills in the gaps. His favor shines on servants of Jesus—who without guile—go the extra mile on behalf of those who don’t deserve extra attention. God’s favor flourishes in your life when by faith you keep your faith, family and friend’s interests in high esteem above your own. Jesus is very clear that those who place others above themselves are greatest in His kingdom.

“Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant” (Luke 22:24-26, The Message).

Prayer: Whose interests do I need to understand and value above my own?

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 11

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

Beloved, John 3:1-21 is one of the most important passages of Scripture in the Word of God, so we are going to quote it in detail. Because this passage of Scripture is so familiar to may of us, let us ask the Lord to help us to read and pray it "IN THE SPIRIT," for these Words "are Spirit, and they are life" - they are "Words of Eternal Life." And through the miracle of God's inspired Word, we are privileged to participate and to share in one of the most wonderful and personal conversations ever recorded between our Lord and man; a conversation so personal that it not only answered what was in Nicodemus' heart but it answers every heart that will ever cry: "Lord, show me the way of salvation." So let us listen with our heart, let us "hear what the Spirit saith," for these Words "are Spirit, and they are Life" for all who hear and believe.

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, 'Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him.' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus saith unto him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?' Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of he flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence t cometh, and whither it goeth: so is very one that is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said unto him, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I  say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He That came down from heaven, even the Son of Man Which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

Dear friend, if you are reading these Words of Life, and your heart is crying out unto the Lord, just as the heart of Nicodemus: "Master, show me the way of salvation," the Lord's answer to you is the same as it was to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again - ye must be born from above - ye must be born of the Spirit." And how is this possible? All you must do is believe in Jesus Christ the Lord, accept Him as your Lord and Saviour, and you shall have eternal life: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - "Christ Is Our Passover")

Fruit of Repentance


Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Luke 3:8-9

A surrendered life to the Lord produces fruit of repentance. Like a well kept vineyard of grapes seasonly tills rich soil and meticulously removes weeds, so a Spirit-filled life is watered with grace, love and mercy. Character cultivation happens to a heart turned toward heaven, captivated by trust in Jesus. Hail storms damage, even destroy the best kept crops, but the sun’s life giving rays and the nurturing farmer bring them back. So, God grows a disciple into His hearty harvest.

Spiritual fruit from the past is no substitute for fruit produced in the present. Praise God for our faithful ancestors of the faith, but their fruit was for their time. The Spirit of God looks to harvest fruits of repentance for this generation. The good old days of spiritual renewal are inspiring to reminisce, but today the Lord calls those of us with a little gray hair to grow up in His grace. We who identify with Jesus have a significant role and responsibility to produce fruit of repentance.

I [Paul] preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. Acts 26:20

How do we know if we produce fruit of repentance? Private belief for salvation and public confession in baptism are the first fruits of repentance, but just the beginning point. The ongoing fruit bearing process is a lifetime of leaning into the Lord. So, the Spirit reminds us when we drift into bad habits or wrong thinking. We confess spiritual pride and we remember that only by the grace of God can we do good. We turn from self righteousness and turn to God’s righteousness.

What is the proof of fruit produced by repentance? Good deeds from a heart of humility and grace arefruit that glorifies God. Your Spirit-filled actions of abstinence, generosity, tutoring, publicservice, faith sharing, foster care and orphan adoption please your Heavenly Father. Jesus smiles when you are hospitable and when you visit the sick and those in prison. Your authentic repentance keeps you broken to care for the broken. What breaks God’s heart breaks your heart!

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I repent of known and unknown sin in my heart, I turn to Your heart for forgiveness and the faith to produce good deeds.

Related Readings: Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 18:11; Ezekeil 47:12; Acts 11:18; Galatians 3:7

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Friday, October 25, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 10

"And When the Day of Pentecost was Fully Come" (continued)

Therefore, when the Lord Jesus, the True Lamb of God went into the temple that Passover season just as He was beginning His earthly journey that would ultimately lead Him to His Cross, He knew full well the evil origin and the ultimate goal behind the merchandising that was corrupting the House of God! He knew full well whose corrupting influence had turned the Feasts of the Lord into the feasts of the Jews. And He was stirred to His very depths: "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up." And with consuming passions and jealousy for His Father's House, "He drove them all out ... and said: "... make not My Father's House an House of merchandise." And, fellow-warriors, "let us hear what the Spirit saith, "for our Lord's Words not only fell on the ears of the merchandisers, and on the ears of the religious leaders, but these Words registered upon the iniquitous heart of satan. And from that time forward, the deadly battle to stop God's Purpose in The Christ intensified, as satan moved to inspire the religious and political leaders of God's people to do their all to stop The Christ of God from fulfilling all that God had sent Him to accomplish - a deadly battle that would result in the crucifixion of our Lord.

But no matter what the enemy does, God's Purpose can never be stopped, it always proceeds exactly as God planned it would before the foundation of the world. God's True Passover had come, and in Him was "no fault at all" (John 18:38; 19:4, 6). Hence, all that satan inspired against Christ, whether it came through a priest or a scribe or a Pharisee or a Judas, only worked to further God's plan exactly as "It is Written." Now, beloved, we know that most of the religious leaders, and most of the  people, did not hear nor heed the Words of our Lord Jesus when He drove out the merchandisers from His Father's House. They did not have "an ear to hear what the Spirit saith" (Matthew 13:14, 15), they continued in their evil merchandising; for if we look ahead to that last Passover season mentioned in the Word of God, we will find that our Lord again drove out the merchandisers from the temple because they had made the house of God "a den of thieves" instead of "the house of prayer" (Matthew 21:10-16).

However, even though the majority of the religious leaders did not hear Him nor recognize Him, and this is still true today, God was ever on the move bringing about all that He intended in and through and unto Christ. If we look closely at all that took place during the Passover season that is mentioned in John 2:13-17, we will find that in the midst of all the corruption that was taking place in the temple, there was another man, a man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, a man who must have truly witnessed and heard much of what Jesus had done and said that day when He drove out the merchandisers. And this man's name was Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).

Thus, it was after the Lord Jesus had cleansed the temple, during this same Passover season, that Nicodemus "came to Jesus by night" and said: "Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him." Nicodemus said, "we know," so there must have been  others who knew deep within themselves that this was "The Christ." And the Word says, Jesus answered him, it says that Jesus responded to his question. Now, if we examine John 3:2, we will find that Nicodemus had not asked our Lord a question but the Word of God says, that Jesus answered his question. We find our answer to this in John 2:25. Remember, in the original writings there are no chapter divisions or verses, chapters and verses have been supplied by scholars of the Bible to help us in our study of God's Word. Therefore, in John 2:25, we find that Jesus "needed not that any should testify of man for He knew what was in man." And many times He manifested this knowing in the way He answered them.

Consequently our Lord knew that, although Nicodemus had not voiced a question, there was a question in his heart. The Lord knew what was in Nicodemus' heart just as He knew what was in the hearts of the Jews when, after He had driven out the merchandisers, they asked Him: "What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?" And Jesus knowing that they had murder in their hearts toward Him, answered their question accordingly: "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up ... but He spake of the Temple of His body."

The Jews who asked Him this question had murder in their hearts, but Jesus knew that Nicodemus had something else in his; He knew that Nicodemus was saying in his heart: "Rabbi, Teacher, Master, I come to Thee that You may teach me the way of salvation." And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee ... ye must born again - ye must be born from above" (John 3:1-7).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

Unanswered?


 
"Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily" (Luke 18:6-7).
 
God's seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.
 
In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.
 
Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God's promises at our back.
 
***
 
Never let us despair. God's time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask infaith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long. --C. H. Spurgeon
 
***
 
I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God's kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered.  --Theodore L. Cuyler

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 9

"And When the Day of Pentecost was Fully Come" (continued)

"And the Passover, a Feast of the Jews, was Nigh" 

In John 6:4, and in John 7:2, we learn that the Passover and the other Feasts were now referred to as the feasts of the Jews, and not "the feasts of the Lord." After the rebuilding of the temple and the wall in Ezra and Nehemiah's time, ceremonialism, formalism, hypocrisy, corruption, and greed began their deadly rise in the observance of these feasts; and when Jesus came on the scene, these deadly things were fully and actively at work in the temple. Hence, "the Feasts of the Lord" had become the feasts of the Jews. "The Feasts of the Lord" were to be holy gatherings, they were to be times ordained by the Lord God, which were to prepare His people to receive His Son, The Christ, with a joyful heart; instead, these Feasts had become the feasts of the Jews, and the majority of God's people did not even recognize THE ONE to Which these Feasts had pointed to, and prefigured, for so long.

The very first mention of the Passover in the Gospel of John (John 2:13-22) confirms this for us; for we are told that Jesus "found" in the temple "those" that were making His Father's House "an house of merchandise." And when He had made a scourge [plaited a whip] of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and then He singled out those who sold doves, and He did this because the doves were supposed to be provided for the poor, either freely given or sold at a very low price. The Lord's own mother could not afford a lamb as an offering for her purification when they brought Him to Jerusalem. And [He] said unto them that sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not My Father's House an House of merchandise."

By singling out those who sold doves, the Lord Jesus was gravely saying that the merchandising in the temple had reached the peak of corruption, the cup of iniquity was full. The seriousness of this merchandising, and of all the merchandising among God's people, whether it was in the temple in Jerusalem, or as it is today in most of that which is called Christianity, can he understood only if we trace it back to its root. And that is because the root of merchandising is found in the evil heart of satan himself.

In the Word of God, when the word "merchandise" is used in an evil sense, as our Lord used it in John 2:17, it means to make gain of, to cheat, to use deceitful means and ways, it means unfair and unjust practices. In both the Old and New Testaments, these evil practices are usually taking place among God's people, and most of the time the religious leaders instigated these greedy practices. In 2 Peter 2:3, we find a clear and concise explanation of the word "merchandise," and of how it operates in and through the hearts of men. "... And in their greed, [in their covetousness] they will exploit you [will make merchandise of you] with false words ...". This is saying that in the sphere of covetousness, in the sphere of a greedy desire to have more for self, whether it is in the material or spiritual realm, "they" - the false teachers and false religious leaders of each and every age - will, with molded and fabricated false words, make merchandise of you. Second Peter 2:14 tells us that this sphere of covetousness, this sphere of a greedy desire to have more for self, is a heart condition: "having a heart having been exercised of (in) covetousness" (2 Peter 2:14).

Thus, we are led right into the satanic realm. If we look for the origin of this covetousness, the gain for self merchandising spirit that corrupts the heart of man, we will find it in the devilish heart of satan himself. We will find it in Ezekiel 28:11-19 where the prophetic Word of God reaches into the unseen realm of darkness and describes satan's heart as being iniquitous, prideful, full of corrupt wisdom and merchandising: "Thou (anointed cherub) ... thou was perfect in thy ways ... till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they (thine iniquities) have filled thee with violence, and thou hast sinned ... by the abundance of your trade, your merchandising, you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned, therefore I have cast you out as profane" Second Peter two and Revelation eighteen reveals satan's profane goal in merchandising; HE WAS AND IS MAKING MERCHANDISE OF AND IN THE SOULS OF MEN.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

Faith in Christ Alone

Romans 3:26
Just, and the justifier of him which believeth.
 
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of His people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change His nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer-having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Not God, for He hath justified; not Christ, for He hath died, "yea rather hath risen again." My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 8

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

We know that God's approval is upon calling this Feast, "The Day of Pentecost," because in Acts 2:1, the Holy Spirit calls this Feast of the Lord, "the Day of Pentecost," instead of its original name, "the Feast of Harvest" (Exodus 23:16). And by doing so, the Holy Spirit is placing special emphasis upon the fiftieth day and its meaning; therefore, this tells us that "the Day of Pentecost" was the result of the perfect consummation of the time that began with the Feast of the Passover. Leviticus 23 makes it clear that the feast of the Passover, the unleavened bread, and the firstfruits (the wave offering) were observed in the same period of time: the Passover the 14th day of Abib, the unleavened bread the 15th day, the firstfruits the 16th day. Thus, "the Day of Pentecost" was the result of the offering of The True Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ our Lord: "For even Christ our Passover is [was] sacrificed for us ..." (1 Corinthians 5:7). The "Day of Pentecost was the result of The True, Incorruptible Unleavened Bread, Jesus Christ our Lord, laying down His Life that we might have Life Eternal, for Jesus said: "I am the Bread of Life ... and the Bread, moreover, which I will give is My Flesh - for the world's life" (John 6:48, 51). The "Day of Pentecost" was the result of Jesus Christ our Lord being Resurrected from the dead. It was the result of The One Who Is The True Wave Offering, The One Who Is the Firstfruits of God's Resurrection Harvest being Raised from the dead: "And Jesus said ... "I Am the Resurrection, and The Life" (John 11:25). Oh, beloved, "the Day of Pentecost" is the consummation of God's perfect timing, for "the Day of Pentecost" IS THE DIVINE RESULT OF THE CROSS, THE RESURRECTION, AND THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.

If we look closely at the above Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 5:7; John 6:35, and John 11:25, we shall find that something different has taken place. The "Feasts of the Lord" no longer point to Christ or prefigure Christ; for no longer will the blood of lambs and goats, and other offerings suffice. No! These Feasts of the Lord have become what God always intended them to be, they have become a PERSON, they have become a true and genuine reality in the Person of Jesus Christ.

In John 1:29, we find that the very first mention of the Lamb of God, the very first mention of the True Passover Lamb, far surpasses everything written of the Lamb in the Old Testament.

"The next day John (the Baptist) seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin (all the sin) of the world.'"

Beloved, with these words, the Holy Spirit through John the Baptist sums up and fulfills all the types and shadows which the Passover lambs, and there were thousands, represented in the Old Testament; and He proclaimed The One Who is the Lamb of God Himself, He heralds the only Lamb which God hath provided! He heralds The One Who taketh away the sin of the world! He heralds The One Who taketh away each and every sin of the whole world, sin past, sin present, sin future! For we are not redeemed with corruptible things, "But with the Precious Blood of Christ ..." (1 Peter 1:19).

Thus, in the Old Testament, the feasts of the Lord only point to Christ and prefigure Christ; but throughout the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that the feasts of the Lord are fulfilled, summed up and completed In The Person of The Lord Jesus Christ. May we please prayerfully read John, chapters six, seven, and eleven before we go further; for in these chapters, most of the feasts of the Lord are spoken of, or are indirectly referred to, as our Lord Jesus presses toward "the hour" that He completes the work His Father sent Him to do: - His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9 - "And the Passover, a Feast of the Jews, was Nigh")

Are You So Foolish?


Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? - Galatians 3:3

There are times that we all get discouraged when we try so hard in our homes and in our work. We want to do the best we can. We want to be giving and loving in our efforts. We want to know that we are pleasing the Lord. We equate blessings with God's favor, thinking that it is our motives and actions that are being rewarded. So when things don't go well, we wonder what we are doing wrong. It is a common misconception, but God doesn't work like that. His grace is not gained by our good behavior. Because we are under the covenant of grace, we are called into rest. That is why it is so important to hold on to His promises. He is always working in us and with us. His plan is that we almost become passive in the process. We get tired of trying as we get caught in the middle between His promises and our efforts. Our hearts long to spend time with the Lord but there are always too many other factors competing for our attention. These factors take away our energy, and at times, make us feel like we can't do it all or we didn't do a good job anyway.

If God has given you promises, then He is the One who is responsible to fulfill them. God does not need our help or efforts. What He has started in the Spirit will not ever get accomplished in our flesh. It is the enemy who tries to discourage you. Satan will put thoughts in your mind of doubt and self defeat. Out loud, tell those evil forces that God has a plan regardless of your abilities. You choose to rest in His promises instead of worrying and doubting God by looking at yourself. Tell the Lord that you are choosing to focus your eyes on Him. And then, get into His Word and claim those promises. His Word puts you on the Rock, and our only responsibility is to stand firm on that Rock.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 7

"And When The Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

In the Old Testament, the Day of Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Firstfruits, and it was to be celebrated and observed yearly by God's people (Exodus 23:14-17; Leviticus 23:15-22). In Leviticus 23, the Lord declared there were to be certain days and periods of time dedicated unto Him, and verse four states that these Feasts are the Feasts of the Lord:

"These are the Feasts of the Lord [the festal times of Jehovah], which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations [holy meetings], even these are My Feasts [these are they - My appointed seasons], these are the Feasts of the Lord ... which ye shall proclaim in their seasons [at the times appointed for them]."

The Lord is saying, "These Feasts, these appointed seasons, are My Feasts; they are the Divinely appointed times and seasons which are sanctified unto Me." The three great Feasts are: 1. The Passover; 2. The Feast of Pentecost; and 3. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Ingathering). All the other yearly feasts were celebrated in connection with these three great Feasts of the Lord.

So the Word of God tells us that these Feasts were called "the Feasts of Jehovah" because the time and seasons were appointed and fixed by the Lord Himself. These feasts were not appointed because the feasts were to become a calendar event, or that they belonged to times regulated by the course of the moon, or by growing seasons, etc.; but these Feasts were called "the Feasts of Jehovah" because the Lord had appointed them as days, or times, which were to be sanctified to Him. Thus, they were called "My Feasts" because the Lord Jehovah, the Eternal One - He Who Was, and Is, and Ever Shall Be - appointed unto Him. And each Feast pointed to the "appointed time" in His Eternal Plan when they would be perfectly and completely fulfilled by Christ, and in Christ.

Now just as the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord Jesus took place in time, exactly at God's appointed time, so did "the Day of Pentecost" actually take place in time, exactly at God's appointed time. However, when the Word says, "And when the Day of Pentecost was completed," it was not only speaking of a day in man's way of marking time, but it was speaking of A Day In The Lord. It was speaking of a divinely appointed "Day" in God's Eternal Purpose, a "Day" that was appointed before time began. And on this Eternal Day, "the Day of Pentecost," the Lord completed one of the most important portions of His Plan: the Church was baptized in the Spirit. "...When the Day of Pentecost was fully come" the Church, the whole Church (past, present, and future), was empowered to become the Fullness of Christ.

Now the next thing we need to see is that "the Day of Pentecost" is not just a "Day" unto itself, an appointed time unto itself; for the "Day of Pentecost" is the fulfillment and the consummation of that which began with "the Feast of the Passover." "The Day of Pentecost" is the consummate result of The Passover - the Day of Pentecost is the Consummate result of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The very name "Pentecost" verifies this, for the word "Pentecost" means the fiftieth [day]; and the Day of Pentecost was so called because it was celebrated on the fiftieth day.The Day of Pentecost was calculated from the second day of unleavened bread, from the day of the offering of the sheaf, the wave offering, which prefigured the Resurrection of Christ. "The Day of Pentecost" gives the number fifty its fullest and greatest meaning in the Bible, for in its connection with "the Day of Pentecost" the fiftieth day means: the result of the perfect consummation of time.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

Spirit Led Living


“So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.’ Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”Zechariah 4:6

The Holy Spirit is God’s fuel for living. He leads, convicts, comforts and gives courage. On the other hand the world promotes power and might. The world’s approach is forceful: If the door is closed knock it down, if you have the power and authority use it to make things happen. Lack of faith can panic and prematurely force unrighteous results.

On the contrary, Spirit led living is about dependence. It is dependence on God rather than any other form of reliance. Money, might, and power are cheap imitations of God dependence. These temporal fortresses are fleeting. When all is said and done, they are undependable. Money, control and your title can be here today and gone tomorrow.

But the Spirit of God wants you to grow in His awareness and follow His lead. Like a hurricane that gains strength as time passes, so does God’s Spirit. You cannot accomplish His best without the leadership and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He may even lead you to places of discomfort as His desire is to place you in positions of dependence.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, but the Word of God became Christ’s defense. He deflected the darts of the devil with the truth of God. It was an exercise of faith and obedience that drew Him closer to His heavenly Father. Instead of driving Him from God, it drew Him to God. The Holy Spirit’s goal is to get us to God.

“Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:10-11).

Submission to God revives the Spirit of God. Come under the authority of God and you have a source of strength that is limitless and energizing. God’s Spirit also produces fruit and creates character. This is another benefit of Spirit led living. It is not about techniques and tactics. It is first and foremost about the character of Christ transforming your life.

Power explodes from within your heart rather than exploiting others with threats. There is quiet confidence that comes from a deep abiding in Christ. Spirit led moms pray more than they worry. They train and teach their children and all the while trust them with God. Anxiety is replaced with abiding. They do their part and trust God to do His part.

Spirit led living is all about engrafting the Word of God into your life. The Holy Spirit ignites the fuel of God’s Word into a blaze of obedience. This is the power that changes lives and communities for the greater good of God. This exhibition of power may only make the headlines of heaven. Wait on God—Be Spirit led—Watch His power prevail!

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Prayer: Where is the Holy Spirit leading me that requires uncommon faith and obedience?

Related Readings: Exodus 31:3; John 3:34; Acts 4:25-31; 2 Timothy 1:7

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Monday, October 21, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 6

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come"

Brethren, before we go further let us also say that although the Word of God teaches that in God's Plan the Church as a whole was baptized in the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, it also clearly teaches that each individual who has been saved by His grace must also "be filled in the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). This will become clearer as we proceed with our study.

"And when the day of Pentecost was filling up ..." (Acts 2:1 - Emphasized Bible)

"And when the day of Pentecost was in process of being fulfilled ..." (Acts 2:1 - Wuest Translation)

"And when the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled ..." (Acts 2:1 - NASB)

"And when the day of Pentecost was completed ..." (Acts 2:1 - Greek Interlinear) 

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come..." (Acts 2:1 - KJV)

"...they were all filled with the Holy Spirit ..." (Acts 2:4)

So we see that "the Promise of the Father" to the Son was that the Church His Body would be baptized in the Spirit, would be empowered to become the Fullness of Him. Acts 2:33 tells us that the Promise of the Father to the Son was poured forth upon the Day of Pentecost: "Therefore (Jesus) being by the Right Hand of God Exalted, and having received of the Father the Promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." And in Acts 2:1-4, we are told what they were seeing and hearing.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Throughout the history of the Church, one of the greatest problems has been the misunderstanding of what took place on the Day of Pentecost; and this has caused much division and ineffectiveness in the Church as a whole. So as we proceed into this great subject, let us pray that we will comprehend more fully, "in the Spirit," what God means when He declares that "the Day of Pentecost was fully come - was in the process of being fulfilled - was completed." "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Bond Servant


“The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24-25, NASB

We are all a servant to something—either a servant to the light or a servant to the darkness. Satan is served or the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is served—there is no middle ground. The wise and humble servant serves the Lord with a grateful heart. It is much better to be bound by the grace of God than enslaved by the lies of the devil.

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17b-18).

What does it mean to be a bond-servant of Christ? It means owned by God. The lost stand on the slave block of sin waiting to be auctioned to the highest bidder. Halleluiah that heaven came down at the cross of Christ and purchased through His shed blood all who would believe. Purchase means possession—He is Master of all or not Master at all.

Therefore, we no longer live in bondage to bad habits and bad beliefs. A bond-servant of Jesus is set free to humble service on behalf of his owner. We are not ashamed, because representing Almighty God in righteous living is the least we can do as an expression of our gratitude and joy. We empty ourselves and are filled with God’s grace. It’s His agenda, so we listen patiently waiting to hear instructions from Jesus on what to do next.

“But emptied Himself [Jesus], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, NASB).

True bond-servants invite being treated like a servant, as it models the way of Jesus. You volunteer for roles that require humble service, so you are not tempted to perch over others in pride. What responsibilities are you resisting that require being seen as a servant? Does it mean someone else will get the credit? Are you serving for an audience of One or to be seen by men? So, serve faithfully behind the scenes for your Savior’s sake. You are in good company—all respected saints saw themselves as bond-servants.

 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John” (Revelation 1:1, NASB).

Prayer: What role is the Lord calling me to serve that requires being treated like a servant?

Related Readings: Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 116:16; Galatians 1:10; Revelation 15:3 

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 5

"If Anyone Has an Ear, Let Him Hear"

So our Lord Jesus Christ Himself baptizes us, immerses us, in the Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ baptizes us, immerses us, in the Entire Realm that is in the Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ baptizes us, immerses us, in the Eternal Realm of the Spirit where the Holy Spirit is energizing and bringing about ALL that God Purposed in Christ.

In Acts 1:4, the Lord Jesus tells us that the baptism He shall baptize us "in," immerse us "in," is "the Promise of the Father." Now what does this mean? It means this: somewhere in eternity past, in the counsels of the Godhead, God the Father gave the Son His Eternal Promise, His Eternal Word, and this Promise of the Father to the Son was that the Church His Body would be baptized "in the Spirit." And the Church His Body was to be baptized "in the Spirit" in order that the Church would be fully empowered to become the Fullness of Christ. And the Father gave His Eternal Promise to His Son that He Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, would baptize  His Church "in the Spirit." The Promise of the Father was to be given, was to be poured forth, by the Son when the Son had accomplished ALL that God had purposed He would accomplish in and through and upon and by His Cross, His Resurrection, and His Ascension.

Beloved, Christ is our ALL, He is our Fullness; and in the glorious Plan of the Father we, the Church His Body, have been empowered to become the Fullness of Christ. This is accomplished "in the Spirit" - in the Eternal Realm of the Spirit. This is the ultimate meaning of what it means to be "in the Spirit". This is the fullest meaning of what it means to be "filled in the Spirit." And, dear friends, we shall also see that this is the full meaning of what took place upon the Day of Pentecost; for in God's Full Plan, on the Day of Pentecost, the Church, the Whole Church (past, present, and future), was baptized in the Spirit - the Whole Church was immersed in the Eternal Realm in the Spirit where the Holy Spirit is energizing all that God has Purposed in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come")

Your Home and Family


“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” -Ephesians 3:14-15

I am going home for a few days to see my family. As I say the words “home” and “family,” I catch myself wondering what my definition of these two words really are to me today. Technically, I have three families: one in my own home, the second in the family I grew up, and third is the family of God. The same context applies to with the word “home.”  For some of us, home is somewhere away from the family and vice versa. Confusing? Now let’s add what Paul says about our “family.” We are all one big family in heaven and earth named by our heavenly Father. Our real home awaits us in heaven. Until then, we all seek and search for that loving embrace and acceptance from our earthly homes and families.

So, what is the point? For me, every time I “go home,” I end up dealing with certain emotions, feelings and thoughts. Some are pleasant and some are not. Death, divorce and disease are just a few of those unpleasant ones that have touched my family. However, there is also that family connection God has put within all of us of a desire to spend time together and have fellowship. For me though, I am most thankful for the family of Christ. As I look around my life today, I realize that the friendships I have represent the family that God has given me. I am so very thankful for the love and fellowship in the body of Christ.

Even if our earthly families are not the most stable and strong, we can be encouraged to know that our heavenly family is one in the Lord. It will not matter when we get to heaven who did what to whom or how much pain was involved. Our heavenly Father will take care of us all and home will be with Him. The old saying says that, “home is where the heart is,” I believe that to be true. If my heart is with Jesus, then there my home is also, not just with Jesus in heaven but here on earth with His family. I love and appreciate my family very much but I take much comfort in knowing that I have the greatest family of all in the body of Christ. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~