Tag Archive | holy spirit

Redeemed To Be Transformed

Cross 13 Art.png

 

“There is one all-comprehending, all-embracing, all-governing purpose to which God has committed Himself, by creation, by redemption, and by union. That purpose is the conformity of a race to the image of His Son.” From T. Austin Sparks http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/002930.html

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified. Romans 8:18-30.

Why has this been marginalized and thrown under the bus in most of what we call Christendom – the idea of a manifesting and increasing Christ likeness, wrought in us by grace in the power of the Holy Spirit? A careful and thoughtful reading of the Scripture reveals that this is the very reason for the Gospel, the reason Christ shed His blood to ransom us from the power of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.

Here are a few more passages along these lines. There are many more?

“No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began.” 1 Corinthians 2:7

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so also shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

“He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:5

“In Him we were also chosen as God’s own, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything by the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11

“Who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.” Philippians 3:21

“But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God.” John 1:12,13

It seems that we don’t necessarily have issues with the idea of a state of eventual glory in the sweet by and by, even of the physical bodily resurrection. The issue seems to be that we may not have a big enough comprehension of God’s power to transform us into His likeness in spiritual ways, in spiritual fruits, and spiritual gifts, and characteristics like unto Him – in the here and now. The process goes on throughout the life of the faithful in Christ, and will see perfection in the hereafter.

King David asks the question, Psalm 8:3-5, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” Some translations translate this as “lower than angels” or “lower than heavenly beings.” However, the word is ‘ĕlôhîym  אלהים meaning “gods” in the ordinary sense, and it is specifically used of the supreme God. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

In other words, our great Heavenly Father has great big plans for this fallen human race, ransomed by the blood of Jesus THE Christ, our elder brother – not only its redemption but its full renovation and restoration through the work of the Holy Spirit! As the song, “Only A Shadow” says, “The dream I have today, my Lord, is only a shadow of Your dreams for me, only a shadow of all that will be, if I but follow You.” … “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

( Song / Only A Shadow here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWbfT9a0WYI )

This doesn’t sound like “anything goes grace” to me. Does it to you? He will perfect us according to His promise: “… He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

You are welcome to share your thoughts here, or by joining our

Fellowship at the Crossroad Facebook Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1391871107491524/

Wicked Ways Or The Way Everlasting?

Psalm 139:23,24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

There are ways and then there are ways. Then there is The Way. Some examples of the Way of Righteousness may be considered through the careful contemplation of, for example, Proverbs 12:28, Psalm 23:3, 1 Corinthians 1:30, and John 14:6. These should be explored by readers who are inwardly compelled enough to do so, and to connect the dots between them and what is shared here.

The Way of Righteousness – brought from Christ to us by the Holy Spirit – is the everlasting way of life. It is the way where there is no death, the way of our soul’s restoration. This is how it is connected to the “abundant life” which, Jesus Christ tells us, is the reason He took on human flesh and dwelt among us. This is the Way whereby He calls us from servitude to the evil one who would rob, kill, and destroy every good that our loving Heavenly Father has in mind for us.

Thus the psalmist wisely prays that God will examine him – search him, know his heart, try him, and know his thoughts. He is asking the Great Physician for an in depth spiritual examination for the detection of wicked ways. These are the hidden ways, lurking in the bushes of our interior landscape that, when undetected can lure us off the Way of Righteousness onto paths which at best are dead ends and at worst lead to eternal separation from God and to destruction. Without careful lives of “walking circumspectly” and perpetually prayerfully asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit to ferret out these wicked ways, any disciple of Christ runs the risk of wandering off onto these paths leading to destruction.

On this Memorial Day we wonder how things have gotten to this point in this topsy turvy sin infested world, especially in our presumed “Christian” USA. We find ourselves in a world where good – according to God’s Word – is called evil by the darkness which has gained ascendency over not only the world but all too many churches. Therefore it is imperative to take a good hard look at these two little verses at the end of Psalm 139.

Many today join in the mantra “Pray for America”. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often the go to verse for this. Certainly this is needed. However, let us remind ourselves that God’s directive includes three others in addition to prayer: to humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.

Yet since the “sin within” – the wicked ways the Psalmist prays about here – is often hidden and subtle, undetectable by human sensitivity, does it not stand to reason that we will need some divine help to identify it? Only then can we confess what we could not perceive with our own senses, which the Holy Spirit reveals, so that it may be repented of, renounced, and removed by the power of the Holy Spirit? How can He show us where repentance is needed, unless we take a page out of the psalmist’s book and very honestly ask Him to show us “if there be any wicked way in me”? Psalm 19:12 – “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” There it is again!

It is puzzling, especially on these military holidays, how the majority buy into the narrative that the fallen have “died to keep us free.” Yet all the while our moral fabric is in tatters, our Constitution is largely ignored as the law of the land, and the freedoms we have taken for granted dry up and dissolve right before our very eyes! The creeping, gnawing, devouring locusts are not only at our borders, but have more than crossed them. They infest every system we supposedly rely on (such as government, education, corporations, and the like). Sadly this includes especially the churches which are supposed to be the very body of Christ on the earth, the city set on a hill! Intruder alert! Our freedoms have become an illusion, as well as the humanistic means (war and bloodshed) we have been told will “secure” them!

God has His answers, however, but are we asking for them, seeking them, knocking to be let into that place where He reveals them, as if our life depends on it? Or are we sending up the prayers of personal will worship? This goes far, far deeper than a one time “asking Jesus into your heart”, but then going your merry way, not living in fusion with the Cross nor infused with its precious work!

Where’s the outcry for the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Might we be assuming that we have a standing with Him that we do not actually possess? Does not Scripture admonish us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. (Ouch!) And this examination needs to be in the light of God’s Holy Word and the relentless searchlight of the Holy Spirit! No “blessed assumptions”, things taken for granted, about ourselves! May it never be! Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!

God’s grace is not bestowed so we can take it for granted as a one shot deal. The process of destroying the works of the devil is ongoing, and it begins with His searchlight in the innermost being! If we are to walk the Way Everlasting, then the little “come hithers” – most often within our impure hearts and the gods of our belly – that draw us onto the ways of wickedness must be rooted out by divine intervention.

Thus Paul’s admonition in Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” It was on that cross that the Way Everlasting was opened to us, and we were set free from sin, death, and the power of the evil one.

Without this we can never be truly free, without prayerfully “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Nothing changes until the very core of the heart of man is daily surrendered to Christ and to His cross.

Dr. Martin Luther says concerning the practical outworking of our baptism (Small Catechism, under The Sacrament of Holy Baptism), “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Let us pray to be so inspired, enlightened, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

The One Needful Prayer

Some people think it’s a cop out to pray a simple prayer like this. My thought is, if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. Here are a few more considerations related to the idea:

http://www.at-the-crossroad.com/430065897/4468286/posting/the-one-needful-prayer

Hope you like the visual too!

Thy Will Be Done.png

Praying in Christ’s Victory

Fear Not.png

When it comes to the very real dangers in our world today, it involves more than “keeping on the sunny side” with a positive attitude or a stiff upper lip. Christians have become the target of entrenched diabolical forces which know that their strangle hold over this world is being divinely pried from their clutches. This is very much like a confrontation with a cornered animal; it may get out its strongest most cunning survival tactics as a last effort. We need to realize first of all that the “animal” is supernaturally cornered, although it would have us perceive that it grows stronger with every snap of the jaw and swipe of the claw!

That’s the “bad news” in a nutshell. Eschatologically, however, this view gives us a higher perspective of events in progress, which is something greatly needed first of all, appearances to the contrary. So, what’s the “good news”?

What’s clear is that we need to know how to move through the bad news in a transcendent way, to learn to navigate through this tempest. Who am I? Where am I? How do I get though this? These answers are available for the continual asking, seeking, and knocking – within the context of the full counsel of Scripture.

Once understanding is given, we then need to learn to pray within it. Understanding comes from an enlightened consideration of scriptural truth, not vague begging, but knowing who and where we are in Christ, as well as why we are now here. Affirming and proclaiming what is becomes our testimony whereby the adversary is overcome. “What is” in Jesus is truth! Not what I will, but as Thou will, Lord.

The following (bold italicized) is an example which may be helpful. Emotions can trip us up when we feel down. So we pray by scriptural fact and faith! Feelings often change following the exercise of faithfully affirming our truth in Christ! It is good to pray like this thoughtfully and frequently.

Heavenly Father,
I thank You that You have given me all pardon and peace
through Jesus Christ.
You have granted to me all Your power and protection
over the evil one and the world;
You provide for all my need,
in the midst of all circumstances.

You grant me
full and unrestrained access
to Your infinite love and goodness at all times,
within You – omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient-
so that I may lead a godly life
full of Your joy unspeakable,
abundance, graciousness, and glory.

Please let ever increasing measures
of all blessings within this immeasurable greatness
be revealed, released, and restored to me.
Lord it is so, according to Your word,
that the triumph of Jesus Christ
over sin, death, and the devil
is Your desire
for all who believe in You.

Please let every blessing
with which You bless us in heavenly places
be manifest now,
according to Your promises,
and according to the working of Your great might,
Heavenly Father, which You worked
in Christ Jesus
when You raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at Your right hand, and us with Him!
(Ephesians 1:19,20; 2:6,7)

Come, Holy Spirit;
Please work within me and in my life
all that the Father has for me,
through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
in Whom I live, move, and have my being,
now and forever. Amen.

When we have access to divine power over all evil to this degree – for Christ has given us direct access to the Father – what shall we fear? If the Lord truly is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27). Simple. In Christ

I fear nothing and no one!
And it is this I proclaim,
for the Blood of the Lamb has made it so.

The weapons of our warfare are not of mortal thought or design, nor are they of this world, but rather are mighty in God to the tearing down of adversarial strongholds, and casting down the vain imaginations of everything exalting itself against the Most High. (2 Corinthians 10:4,5)

Psalm 27 in itself is mighty prayer, especially when prayed aloud, contemplatively, and personally! This way we can acknowledge and invoke the protection and power of God.

Praying the Psalms aloud each night before going to sleep (5 at a time, allowing for one complete “Psalm cycle” per month, give or take a few) can be very efficacious. Many of these (but not all) were written and probably sung by King David, who was also a gifted musician.

Through these, David shows us how to pray and praise, never allowing defeat or depression to set in or overtake one’s mind. As a king, he reveals to us – through the powerful praying found in the Psalms – the divine dynamo behind the life he lived. His example reveals to us how we can reign, within the power of God, in the life He sent us here to live and to enjoy in His strength.

David may have had his setbacks, but he never settled for defeat. There is never anything short of victory, joy unspeakable, and full of glory written in this mighty collection of hymns and prayers. They are full of proclamations about how God’s love can be abundantly powerful in life!

Jesus also encourages us with His promise (John 16:33), saying, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

If ever we’ve needed the understanding of the truth about who we are and where we are “positioned” spiritually in Christ, that time is now. Praying the psalms and also reflecting on the life of King David can keep us mindful of what we need to understand and embrace: that we can be people of victory who “reign over giants” in life, even reducing them to nothing, by first being people who walk by truth and faith.

Godspace

Have you ever felt so dreadfully alone, trying to fill up that empty inner space of your heart with things and people that definitely may not be the best choices, and may even be destructive? And the harder you try, the more messed up things tend to be.

That may be a good thing, believe it or not.

As I look back nearly forty years on the path Jesus has called me to walk with Him – especially to its beginnings – sometimes I think of that empty inner space as a gift that had its purpose: it was God’s way of letting me feel my own distance from Him.  It was like always looking across the table at an empty chair when having dinner by yourself. Who is supposed to be sitting in that chair? No other has really fit into it.

But then one day there was a knock on the door of my heart… The Caller had to come back often. He had to be persistent before I answered. And yet there was a point when I had to give up the fear of what the Caller might imply for my lonely, unhappy life. Eventually, when kicked around enough by all the things and people who did not belong in that empty chair, when I got weary enough of all of them, I answered that persistent knocking. I realized that the implication was that the only thing I was giving up was messing up. It was worth surrendering that  to Him!

Friend, has He come calling at the door of your heart?

When Jesus comes, that “Godspace”, that empty space, that vacant chair at the table, is filled up with Him, because it’s supposed to be. That’s why it’s there. It’s the place made for Christ Jesus alone. No one else – nothing else – belongs there. He entreats you, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

He probably doesn’t care if the table is set perfectly, or even if the dishes match. Or even if some of them were left in the sink from lunch. It doesn’t matter to Him if there’s a stain on the tablecloth, or if there’s a hole in it, or even if there is no tablecloth. He will smile when He sees the chair left just for Him.

He simply wants the pleasure of your company and for you to get to know Him.

Grace Alone!

If by our own self efforts or religious works we think we can “produce” the fruit of the Spirit, it’s essentially counterfeit fruit, a crop failure, so to speak. It may amount to, at best, no more than humanistic philanthropic effort.

This is also the “righteousness” which the Bible calls filthy rags. Works of the flesh.

Yet “… we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Cor 4:7. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us in the fulness of Christ.

Sometimes I think it takes awhile for a disciple to understand the whole idea of what Grace implies – often because Grace is not presented in its completeness in many churches, but as the way to “get saved”, that initial experience.

But then what?

Are we not the temples not made with hands in which God the Holy Spirit takes up His residence and does His work – moving on from the moment of being saved, then through sanctification, on to glorification? And it’s all by grace.

As Paul says Romans 1, “That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek. For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Seems like words at times are never enough. But it is a good idea to be able to articulate the meanings of the Faith.

“…the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish…” interesting way to put it, via Berean Study Bible.

Or, as in KJV, “from faith to faith.”