Honor Spirit for Victorious Living

Honor Spirit For Victorious Living

Chapter Three

Honor Spirit For Victorious Living
Keeping In Step With The Holy Spirit 50 The Tiny Hitch-Hiker Who Hung On 57
Keep Christ's Light Shinning In Your Life! 52 Soul Thirst 59
Warning! 54 Abiding Saviour 61
Being Saved And Staying Saved 56 Discussion Questions 63

Ephesians 6:10-17

Keeping In Step With The Holy Spirit

Sweet. It only lasted a moment, but that moment should be described as sweet. To really appreciate this "milestone," I need to travel back to 1988. The most disturbing decision my wife and I made was choosing to buy a new car after our current vehicle was on "death's bed." The ad to which we responded claimed a guaranteed trade-in amount whether one had to "push, pull, or tow" the car in. Unknown to each other, Vicki and I were lifting silent prayers. All we wanted God to do was deliver us safely into the car lot. We did not care if the car fell apart at the dealership; we just wanted to get there and get rid of that old lemon.

God more than answered our prayers. Not only did we arrive safely, we were allotted more for our old car than we expected. We purchased a smaller car, but one with a solid reputation. As we drove out of the lot with our brand new Honda Civic, I noticed that the odometer was equipped with an extra space. Older model cars, when they turned over 100,000 miles would simply read "0" again. I was struck by the confidence of the manufacturer to place that additional column on the odometer.

This week, our car turned 150,000 miles old. Sweet! I have never owned a car which has traveled so well. We plan to keep this car for many years to come. To what do I attribute this taste of triumph? First, to a car well built, second, to keeping an eye on routine maintenance. And third, to fair driving habits.

Nothing is new under the sun. These three principles apply to all areas of life. What you care for will take care of you. For instance, how is your spiritual walk: is God taking care of you? Of course, perhaps He is only dealing with you as well as you are taking care of what He has entrusted to you.

Here's how to get a lot of mileage out of your relationship with God. First, realize that you are well built. As the little child said, "God don't make junk." Second, have routine maintenance checks. Is your faith running in time with the Spirit? Have you been renewed by the oil of His faithfulness? Do you recharge your spiritual battery in worship and praise? And third, is your lifestyle in harmony with God's Word? Are you cruising within the vast boundaries of God's grace, or are you speeding through the dark alleys of temptations? When you take care of the things of God, He will take care of you.

"Lord, am I guilty of not maintaining the faith You have given to me? Have I misused Your grace? Forgive me, Father, for not paying closer attention to our relationship. Check my spirit, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and renew joy as I worship and praise

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Your name. Through Christ, Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A relationship with God is mutual. God will keep His Word if we maintain our faith in Him. Depend upon the Holy Spirit to keep your relationship fresh.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Matthew 5:16; Matthew 25:13; I John 1:7

Keep Christ's Light Shinning In Your Life!

Don't let the light of Christ go out in your life! Recently, our electric power was off due to a bad wind storm. After several hours the house began to grow cold due to the furnace being off. It always seems to be colder without light for some reason. The darkness was so great that the circle of candle light did not reach far. We found ourselves counting the blessings of lights, and thinking of the things the source of electric power provides us. I began speaking of the things I would have done earlier had I known the power would be off. I was reminded once again of the great power source we have in Christ, the power of His eternal light that never fails through the 'storms' of life. How dark is our personal lives without the light of Christ, and how cold and dark is the world of men without the warmth and light of Christ's influence which is felt as a result of Christians who are the 'lights of the world' (the reflectors of Christ's eternal light)! "Jesus replied, 'My light will shine out for you just a little while longer. Walk in it while you can, and go where you want to go before the darkness falls for then it will be too late for you to find your way. Make use of the Light while there is still time; then you will become light bearers." (John 12:35-36, Living Bible)

Today is the 'age of grace' – the time when God offers the 'Light of Life' (Christ) to every person. Persons who have accepted Christ are Christ's 'light bearers' to a darkened and sinful world. If you, as a Christian, allow the Light of Christ to go out in your life, not only will you suffer eternal consequences, but the world of needy (sinful) men will continue to dwell in deep darkness without hope and life and light! Keep the light of Christ burning brightly in your life – for your sake and for the sake of the world!

Before we had electric lights, we used oil lamps. A daily routine was cleaning the glass chimneys, trimming the wicks and refilling them with oil. They were ready to use again. "The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story often bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. But only five of them were wise enough to fill their lamps with oil, while the other five were foolish and forgot. So, when the bridegroom was delayed, they lay down to rest until midnight, when they were roused by the shout, 'The bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!' All the girls jumped up and trimmed their lamps. Then the five who hadn't any oil begged the others to share with them, for their lamps were going out." (Matthew 25:1-8, Living Bible) 'Oil' in the Bible often times represents the Holy Spirit. The person who is possessed by the Holy Spirit is the person who possesses the life and light of Christ. Only the Spirit-possessed person is able to spread the 'light of Christ' in a darkened world. Such a person is useful to the world, and ready when the end of time comes!

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"Father, I thank you that I am a partaker of 'the inheritance of the saints of light', delivered from the power of darkness. Keep the 'light of Christ' shining brightly in your daily life, that the darkness of the world may be penetrated by Christ's eternal Light!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, shine, shine!"

– Joyce Calkins –

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John 14:26

Warning!

Do you know that little light in the panel of your car that flashes "Check Engine" when there is a problem? For quite some time when the signal light illuminated, I would go into a panic. Years ago my car broke down while traveling through a blizzard in Kansas. Since that time, when that yellow light appeared, my stomach would feel like it was tied in a knot. However, I must have overcome some of my fears, for when the "Check Engine" light recently turned on, I responded calmly to it. At first I had no idea what could be wrong. After driving a few miles I glanced at my speedometer and noticed I was driving at zero miles per hour. Upon further investigation I discovered that my odometer was also not working, as the mileage indicator was frozen in place. That was not a big problem… just a fuse which needed to be replaced. Without that warning light, I may not have known there was a problem.

After rejoicing that I did not enter into a state of anxiety, I had an intriguing thought. Wouldn't it be wonderful, if a trouble light would flicker in our brains when something is going spiritually wrong. As we walk through our day, perhaps we could see a yellow light in our mind that would read: "check brain." Something like that would save us a lot of trouble – we might not say or do things we ought not, if we first checked our thought process. Think of how much trouble we would avoid if only we could see the warning that a problem lies ahead!

Furthermore, as I continued my creative imagining, I thought how much better it would be if God could have created in us a warning light that might say: "check spiritual condition." That is something I could really use. Whenever I tend to walk away from God or disregard the spiritual disciplines which help me to walk rightly with my Lord, a yellow light would shine in my mind to remind me that I am in spiritual danger. Something that visible would surely make me return to the path where I want to and need to walk.

Each time a sinful thought would enter my mind, the warning light would signal that I am in danger. Every time I get lazy in my prayer life or Bible reading, that same light would turn on as a reminder that I need a spiritual tune-up. I just think a little more help from God is sometimes necessary. It's too bad I wasn't around when God created the world. That would have been my suggestion for the creation of a perfect human.

However, our God is kind and loving and does not force Himself upon us. He allows us to make our own choices which too often include turning from His ways. His desire is that it would be our desire to live for Him and to follow Jesus daily. He is the Master

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Mechanic and knows how to keep us spiritually running. We can choose to let God work in us, or we can choose to drive away from Him and make a wreck of our lives.

The good news is that my idea is not a new idea. God has already given us that inner warning system. Jesus promised we would receive the Holy Spirit. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26). We do have a way of recognizing our spiritual condition: the Holy Spirit, whose job is to remind us of scripture and to reveal to us our spiritual condition; isn't God good? I guess He liked my idea after all. I must be pretty smart!

Oops! My warning light just turned on. "Check spiritual condition:" Pride! Lord, I am sorry. Whew! The lamp is out. Good. Everything is fine and I'm certain God is pleased with how humble I am. Oops…

"Draw me near, O Lord, that I may sense Your presence. Cleanse me of my sin and guide me onto the path of righteousness. Keep my heart and thoughts pure, and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may not wander from your Truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am a child of God by grace and He will direct my path by His Holy Spirit.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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1 John 5:11-12

Being Saved And Staying Saved

How much fun it is to argue when you're in your teens and twenties, to chew over old and new ideas with your friends. I used to argue with friends from other churches about differing doctrines. 'Once saved, always saved,' they would tell me. 'No,' I'd argue, 'You must be true to the end!' And we both had Bible verses to 'prove' our points. Sometimes it would unsettle me, making me think.

Later I heard a scholarly pastor explain it. He had studied it clear through in his Greek New Testament. His explanation helped settle my mind. As the Book of I John explains, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life." (5:11-12 a)

My problem was a misunderstanding of the nature of salvation. It isn't a 'thing' that you possess, or an experience you once had that guarantees heaven. Salvation is not a commodity you get, or a ticket you hold with God keeping the stub filled out in your favor.

Salvation is life. It is Jesus' life that he shares with you day by day. Salvation is only found in relationship with Jesus as you draw on His saving power.

It is alive and living, and you are really alive and living when you draw on his life daily. That's why Jesus tells us "If a man remains in me and I in him… he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

But then my head asked me if I could always keep on remaining in Christ? Was I good enough and strong enough to always abide in Him? Then God brought me assurance from Philippians 1:6 "…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

The same Jesus who began this good life in me carries it on as I draw on his saving life! No wonder they call this the 'good news!' No argument!

"Jesus, thank you for sharing your saving life with us."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I'm enjoying salvation as I remain in daily relationship with Jesus.

– Beth Stewart –

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Psalms 91:1-16

The Tiny Hitch-Hiker Who Hung On

My wife, Diana, and I once had a "hitchhiker" on a weekend trip. It was a dry maple leaf that had somehow curled itself around the car's radio antenna. Surprisingly, it stayed there at highway speed and we watched it occasionally as the miles rolled on. Eventually we named it (him) Leif, concocted stories about how he had drifted over from Norway, and invented adventures we claimed the little Viking had on that journey. He rode on our car for 478 miles until he quietly got off late one evening. We like to think that he left us to visit relatives in the forest through which we were driving.

Peter was persistent. Soon after Jesus' ascension, King Herod began to persecute the believers. He had James, the brother of John, beheaded and, finding that it had pleased the Jews, Herod had Peter arrested. An angel took Peter out of prison the night before the mock trial and execution. Peter rushed to the house where his friends were praying, knocked, but the servant girl was so thrilled to hear his voice that instead of opening the door she ran to tell the others, who thought she was mistaken. Meanwhile, impatient Peter was still beating on the door – bang, bang! He needed the comfort and safety they could provide, so he was persistent (Acts 12:1-18).

Jesus described a man who has an unexpected house guest and who, three times in the middle of the night, beats on his neighbor's door begging for bread. Jesus knew that persistence arises out of our needs and, because Jesus wants us to get our needs met, he encourages us to ask and receive. "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)

God is persistent in his care over us. God, Jesus says, is like a shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to look for the one who is lost (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:3-7) and who risks his life for the sheep (John 10:7-18). His care is guaranteed by his promises. Jesus said that those promises are so reliable that we do not have to worry. "See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:28-30)

What should be our response to God's persistence? One way to respond to God's persistent love is to "Hold on to the good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). "Stand firm," Paul

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wrote to the church at Corinth, "Let nothing move you" (1 Corinthians 15:58). That begins with a decision to return persistence to the one who is of relentless persistence in His love for and care over us.

"Heavenly Father, thank you for your care, for inviting me to seek from you and through you the meeting of every need I have. Help me to hang on to you and to return your faithfulness. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him" (Psalms 91:15).

– Richard Walters –

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Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 63:1-5

Soul Thirst

Summer is here again. Those of us who live on the Gulf Coast of Texas have been feeling lucky for the past few days because it's cooler here than it is in Washington D.C. and New York City. We try not to remember last year's drought which took a toll on farm crops and city water supplies all across the Southwest. Hope is born again every year that we won't have a repeat of that long, hot summer.

We are acquainted with thirst from many angles. Water is a most precious commodity. It is a necessity of life. People can live longer without food than without water. It is a consuming need when it goes unsatiated. I got my first and only spanking in first grade for breaking in line at the water fountain. The children of Israel murmured about their thirst so forcefully that God brought water out of a rock to silence them. In Greek mythology, the punishment of the hero Tantalus was to stand in a stream of running water and cup his hands and fill them over and over again. Just as the cool, refreshing liquid was almost touching his lips, it slid through his fingers. Thus his thirst was never assuaged through all eternity. It is from this story that we get our word 'tantalize'.

The thirst of the soul for God is as powerful as the thirst of the body for water. Have you ever been in a place where blessings seemed just out of reach? If so, you can empathize with the writer of Psalm 42 who begins his song with these words: "As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after You. My soul thirsts for You in a dry and thirsty land."

These words always remind me of Bracketville, Texas. My brother lived on a goat farm in that barren area. He coexisted with the horned toads and rattlesnakes and tarantulas that hid among the cactus, loco weed, and thorny shrubs. Except for free-roaming deer herds, purple sage and cactus flowers in season, and the most beautiful sunsets you will ever experience, this part of the state has a very unwelcoming landscape. Old Fort Clark was established in this locale as a stronghold against hostile Indians. The site was chosen because of the artesian wells feeding one small body of water there. You might say it's like an oasis in the desert. A few years ago, my husband and I were privileged to spend a night at the old fort. As we drove across the bridge spanning a crystal, rock-bottom creek, we stopped to read the inscription on the historical marker. A phrase in it caught my eye: The Indians believed that he who crosses this stream will have his sins washed away.

The Psalmist, like the Indians, realized that there is a relationship between the thirst of the body and the thirst of the soul. In verses 5 and 11, he crossed the creek of hope and found his soul filled with praise. If you find yourself languishing in a long, hot summer

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of the soul, remember the God of the good times (vs. 6) and remember that He can be found even in a desert. (vs 8) If God is your foundation, He will satisfy your thirsty soul, even if he has to bring water out of a rock. (vs. 9) The artesian wells may only be a prayer away. Drink deeply.

"Dear God, fill my soul with Your Spirit that I may cover my world with Your love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The reservoir of the Holy Spirit is limitless. Fill your cup.

– Loretta Jenkins –

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John 15:1-17

Abiding Saviour

Returning from Galveston recently, I noticed in one of the towns along the way a small church called "Abiding Savior Lutheran Church". I had never seen a church named "Abiding Savior". I had seen one called "Corinth" and wondered why anyone would name a church after that infamous congregation to which Paul wrote two letters.

"Abiding Savior" has such a winsome aura. It suggests a divine presence permeating the atmosphere. It offers a relationship that lasts a long time. "Abiding Savior" rolls off the tongue gently and rests easily in the mind. "Abiding Savior" raises expectations of hope and help, of peace and security.

Henry Francis Lyte had been the parish minister for twenty-three years in the little seaside village of Lower Brixham, England. One Sunday afternoon he walked alone beside the sea. He had administered his last communion and preached his last sermon in the village church he loved so well. His failing health was necessitating a move to a dryer climate.

As he walked, his mind was flooded with memories of the years and an awareness of his mortality. He sensed the abiding presence of the Savior with him. Lines of poetry took shape in his mind. He transferred them to a scrap of paper. That evening he gave his new poem to a dear friend. A few days later he crossed the English Channel in route to Italy. Before a month had passed, Henry Lyte died.

A few years later his poem was discovered by a church musician who wrote the tune "Eventide" for it. We sing the poem as "Abide With Me". The third stanza goes like this:

"I need thy presence every passing hour. 
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power? 
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me."

An abiding relationship is what the Savior offers to all who will accept it. Just as fish must abide in the water and plants must abide in the soil, people must abide in Jesus to discover their greatest strength and comfort.

"Abiding Savior, as the world and the events of my life keep changing, I am so thankful that You abide the same 'yesterday, today, and forever'."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As I live and breathe, I will free my soul for an abiding relationship with my Savior, through the indwelling and life-giving Holy Spirit!

– William Jenkins –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Prayerfully (and as honestly as you are able), take the following 'spiritual inventory' (and put a 'check' at those places which best indicate your present spiritual 'condition'):

    Very Seldom     Most Of The Time     All Of The Time

    • (a) My 'faith' is running in time with the Spirit.

    • (b) Daily I am renewed by the 'oil' of His faithfulness

    • (c) Weekly I 'recharge' my spiritual batteries in worship and praise.

    • (d) My lifestyle is in harmony with God's Word.

    • (e) Daily I am 'cruising' within the vast boundaries of God's Grace.

    • (f) I avoid the 'dark alleys' of temptation.

    • (g) I witness to others about the goodness and mercy of God.

    • (h) I keep my eyes focused on my heavenly destination.

    • (i) I give a portion of my income (at least a tithe) to the Lord's Work each month.

  2. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "A relationship with God is mutual. God will keep His Word if we maintain our faith in Him."

  3. Practically-speaking, what does it mean for you (as a follower of Christ) to be a 'light bearer' in the dark world of sin and sadness? (Note John 12:35-36) What can (and should) you do as a Christian to keep the light of Christ burning brightly in your life? Tell with what degree of 'conviction' you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If you, as a Christian, allow the Light of Christ to go out in your life, not only will you suffer eternal consequences, but the world of needy (sinful) men around you will continue to dwell in deep darkness without hope and life and light."

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  4. Tell if you think the following statement is 'logically sound' and 'Biblically-accurate': "God (the Holy Spirit) is the 'Master Mechanic' and knows how to keep us spiritually running. We can choose to let God work in us, or we can choose to drive away from Him and make a wreck of our lives."

  5. From what 'source' does the Christian receive knowledge of the truth, guidance in decision-making, and discernment of his spiritual condition? (Note John 14:26)

  6. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Salvation is only found in relationship with Jesus as you draw on His saving power. It is alive and living, and you are really alive and living when you draw on his life daily." (Note John 15:5 and 1 John 5:11-12)

  7. According to Philippians 1:6, what 'initiative' has God taken to enable a believer to 'stay saved'?

  8. From your own personal experience, tell if you 'identify' with the truth as expressed in the following statement: "The same Jesus who began this good life in me carries it on as I draw on His saving life."

  9. Cite evidence from Scripture that indicates that God is very persistent in His loving care of His creatures. (Note Luke 11:13; Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:7-18; Matthew 6:28-30; Philippians 4:19; Psalms 91:15)

  10. What should be our response to God's persistent love and undying faithfulness? (Note 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:58)

  11. Have you personally made a 'firm decision' to return persistence (in your faithfulness) to the One who is of relentless persistence in His love for and care of you?

  12. Share your personal response (reaction) to the following Scripture: "If we think that our present service for Christ is hard, just remember that some day we are going to sit with him and rule with him. But if we give up when we suffer, and turn against Christ, then he must turn against us." (2 Timothy 2:12, Living Bible) Even though the Bible teaches that we must never question the 'faithfulness of God' and the 'keeping power of God', does the above Scripture (2 Timothy 2:12) teach that the 'faithfulness of God' cannot 'cover for' the 'unfaithfulness of man' (a one-time believer who 'turns against Christ')?

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  13. If, as a Christian, you find yourself languishing in a long, hot summer of the soul, from what 'source' can you find satisfaction for your spiritual thirst? (Note Psalm 42:1-2; Psalms 63:1-5; John 7:37-39)

  14. From your personal experience in living the 'Christian Life', what 'adjustments' have you made and what 'disciplines' have you established which have enabled you better to 'abide in the Son' (through all the 'ups and downs', the 'changes and the chances' of life). (Note John 15:1-17)

  15. Tell with what degree of 'conviction' you agree with the following statements: "An abiding relationship is what the Savior offers to all who will accept it. Just as fish must abide in the water and plants must a bide in the soil, people must abide in Jesus to discover their greatest strength and comfort."

  16. According to John 15:5, what condition must be met if a person is to remain a healthy and fruit-producing 'branch'?

  17. According to John 15:5-6, is it possible for a one-time 'fruitful branch' to become a 'withered and dead' branch? What, according to John 15:6, is the tragic end for a branch which separates itself from the vital life-giving Vine (Christ)?

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