Freedom From Destuctive Doubt

Freedom From Destructive Doubt

Chapter Ten

Freedom From Destructive Doubt
Truths That Dare Not Be Doubted! 75 Constructive Doubting 77
Learning To Combat Destructive Doubts 76 Discussion Questions 78

1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Colossians 3:1-4

Truths That Dare Not Be Doubted!

There are times when it is right to doubt and other times when it is wrong to doubt. There are some doubts, if exercised, that are always destructive. There are other doubts, if exercised, that are productive of belief. There is some doubting which dishonors the truthful character of God. There is other doubting which comes in the very process of discovering the exciting truths about the character of God.

What determines whether doubt is destructive or constructive? Doubting God's character and revealed nature is really a manifestation of dishonest moral rebellion. However, there is an honest intellectual doubting which is the shadow-side of belief. One cannot honestly believe unless he has honestly worked through his intellectual doubts. Thus, there are two types of doubting – one positive and one negative, one good and one evil, one constructive and one destructive, one motivated by basic submission and one motivated by basic rebellion.

To doubt the revelation of God's nature as given through the Cross and the Resurrection, is to bypass the road to eternal life (John 3:36).

Saving truths (truths concerning God's love, wisdom, power, justice, and mercy) are vividly revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ and are the very foundation of life.

Let us glance at the truths revealed by the cross and resurrection – truths that dare not be doubted!

What did the cross accomplish? The cross did at least three things: (1) Appeased God's wrath – because Jesus took God's wrath against sin upon Himself by becoming the perfect sacrifice for sin. (2) Satisfied God's justice – for God could not allow sin to go unpunished, and at the same time remain a just God. God is both just and the justifier of the ungodly, because of what Christ did on the cross. (3) Demonstrated God's love – for the cross on Mt. Cal very is the earthly revelation of the cross that has eternally been on the heart of God, and is thus the supreme demonstration of inherent divine love.

What did the resurrection accomplish? At least three things: (1) Vindicated God's righteousness – God had to raise His Son to life to show that the sinless Son of God could not be overcome by the sinful sons of the devil. (2) Proved God's promises – God is never slack in fulfilling His promises, as some men count slackness (2 Peter 3:9 a). The resurrection is the badge of Christ's authority to establish His long-predicted Messianic Kingdom in the hearts and lives of people. (3) Demonstrated God's Power – the power that raised Christ from the dead is the greatest of all powers (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), and is the same power that is available for every believer to enable him to live victoriously and abundantly.

"Father, regardless of those happenings in my life which seem to defy reason, help me never to doubt the integrity of your person and purpose. Thank you for the revelation of yourself in the death and resurrection of your Son. Help me always to organize my life upon the foundational truths of that historic revelation."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There are two kinds of doubters in the world – those who are honestly seeking the truth and those who are dishonestly running from the truth. My doubts will drive me to the Truth!

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Matthew 14:25-36; James 1:5-8

Learning To Combat Destructive Doubts

Let us look at the personal application of the truths which were revealed by the cross and the resurrection – truths that dare not be doubted!

  1. God's character of love – If God loved you so much that He died for you, surely God continues to love you so much that He will not allow anything to happen to you but what will accomplish good in your life.

  2. God's character of wisdom – If God is wise enough providentially to make the wrath of men to praise Him, and wise enough to produce order out of disorder, surely He is wise enough to manage your life.

  3. God's character of power – If God is powerful enough to vanquish death by raising Christ from the dead, thus using the greatest tragedy of history (the crucifixion) to accomplish the greatest triumph of history (redemption), then God is powerful enough to use all your circumstances to serve redemptive purposes in your life!

  4. God's character of justice – If God vindicated His righteousness by raising His sinless Son from the grave on the third day, expressing His vengeance on sin, then God is able in due time to reward unrecognized good and to punish unchecked evil. Therefore you have no need to fret yourself because of evil doers (Psalms 37:1). Evil has already been defeated.

  5. God's character of mercy – If God so loved you in that, while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8), will not that kind of God have mercy upon you when you confess your sins and shortcomings to Him? You can be assured that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7), and daily delivers you from the guilt and power of sin.

In light of the vital necessity never to doubt the great truths concerning God's revealed nature, let us look at specific steps which you can take to maintain faith and combat destructive doubts.

  1. Keep surrendered to God daily. After the once-and-for-all surrender to God, allow the Spirit daily to impart the gift of faith to your heart.

  2. Let Christ handle your doubts as they arise. Say to the Lord, "I believe, help thou mine unbelief."

  3. Recall past mercies of God. Build faith, based on the faithfulness of God's past actions. Use a daily journal to recall His past mercies.

  4. Reaffirm your present confidence in Christ's sufficiency for you.

  5. Wait on God and don't try to reason out every problem. "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4) is a statement of man's faith in the faithfulness of God, when facing a problem (of evil) which causes nagging doubt.

"Father, when I cannot understand with my mind, I will learn to trust with my heart. When my doubts assail and my fears annoy, I thank you that you are totally in charge of my world, and that you will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I am in safe keeping when I am in your mighty hands! Thank you! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The God who performed miracles in days gone by is the same God who is ready to perform miracles in my life today!

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Matthew 11:1-6

Constructive Doubting

Once you have staked your entire life on God and His will and His revealed nature, then, using this commitment as your stable center, go as far afield in doubt as you need to in seeking a satisfying intellectual am soul answer to your questions. Develop a reasoned faith. Struggle to understand. Ask any honest question. Fear not to probe. Develop a tough inquiring mind. Never be fearful to ask any question. Only as you question will the answers be forthcoming. God encourages this process: "Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 1:18)

Keep your mind alive and inquisitive. Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life. One will not find all the answers to life's questions, but not to find the answers is no sin. However, never to ask the questions is a sin against one's God- given intelligence, and is evidence of spiritual as well as intellectual sloth! The Christian is to out-think the sinner as well as to out-live him. One cannot fully live until he learns to accept the challenge of hard thinking.

Ask God for a tender heart and a tough mind – a heart tender in response to God's love and a mind tough to grapple with life's mysteries. We are not meant to understand all of God's ways or all of life's perplexities, but we would understand many more of them if we but had the courage to think and to ponder! Those mysteries that will never be unraveled by the reasoning process must be accepted by the tender heart of faith and receptivity.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone Who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15)

An intellectual understanding of Christianity is vital, for Jesus commanded us to love God with all our minds as well as with all our hearts. As one said, "My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects."

An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having – and is indeed dangerous. One must know that his beliefs are based on objective truth, for it is the object of belief that determines the value of belief. To accept anything in an unthinking way is possibly to accept error. Also, to accept truth on the basis of dogmatic authority, without thinking it through yourself, is to accept a secondhand faith. A secondhand faith is a dying faith.

"Father, I see now that even doubting can be an ally rather than an enemy of my Christian faith. Help me to work out my salvation with the aid of honest doubts which will lead me to the outcome of honest beliefs."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I must have a 'reasoned' faith, for although Christianity goes beyond reason, it is not unreasonable. My honest intellectual doubting will lead me to the adequacy of the evidence which will result in the assurance of the heart!

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Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Destructive Doubt'

  1. What determines whether doubt is destructive or constructive?

  2. What is meant by the statement: "There is an honest intellectual doubting which is the shadow-side of belief."

  3. Do you agree or disagree with the statement: "One cannot honestly believe unless he has honestly worked through his intellectual doubts."

  4. Discuss three things which the Cross of Jesus accomplished. How do the application of these things help one in coping with and overcoming destructive doubts?

  5. What are some specific steps which you can take which will help you to maintain faith and to combat destructive doubts?

  6. What does it mean to you to develop a 'reasoned faith'?

  7. What is the relationship between the reason of the mind and the faith of the heart, as one seeks to live an effective Christian life?

  8. Is it a good thing to cultivate at one and the same time a tough mind and a tender heart? Why? or Why Not? What does the Bible have to say about these two realities?

  9. Why, according to 1 Peter 3:15, are Christians called upon to defend the Christian Faith? In what spirit are Christians to give such a defense?

  10. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having – and is indeed dangerous."

  11. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life."

  12. How can one distinguish between 'honest doubts' and 'dishonest moral rebellions' which are disguised as honest doubts?

  13. What is the difference between a 'firsthand' faith and a 'secondhand' faith, as these relate to rational understanding and intellectual doubts?

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“Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name” Part I

"Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 1 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy." (Matthew 6:9)

INTRODUCTION:

It is not a child's prayer and it is not primarily a Family Prayer. Rather, it is a disciple's prayer which must be repeated with great earnestness and understanding.

PROPOSITION:

In this message we shall look at the first two words in the prayer – OUR FATHER. These two words – Our Father – tell us two things about God – God's love and God's Family.

I. "FATHER REMINDS US OF GOD'S LOVE.

A. To call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Unseen World.

B. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Seen World.

II. "OUR REMINDS US OF GOD'S FAMILY.

A. We Find God Through Service To Others.

B. We Find Ourselves Through Service To Others.

CONCLUSION:

The Beneficent Father wills only good for His children, even if that good is found in circumstances that appear to be unexplainable.

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CHAPTER 1

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Our Father Which Art In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name". (Part I)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy." (Matthew 6:9)

INTRODUCTION:

In considering The Lord's Prayer, it is important to realize that this prayer is a prayer which only a Christian disciple can properly appreciate. This prayer was given by Jesus to His disciples and is therefore really a disciple's prayer. It is not a child's prayer and it is not primarily a Family Prayer. Rather, it is a disciple's prayer which must be repeated with great earnestness and understanding.

How often people have repeated this prayer glibly with no real thought or understanding as they repeated it. Anyone can repeat this prayer but only a Christian can repeat this prayer with meaning. Some people recite the Lord's Prayer like they recite the twenty-third Psalm. Some people are skilled in expression but are cold in heart, and dull in understanding.

"There is a famous story which tells how a company of people were dining together one evening. After dinner it was agreed that each one should recite something. A well- known actor rose and, with all the resources of oratory and elocution and dramatic art, he declaimed the twenty-third Psalm and sat down to tremendous applause. A quiet and silent man followed him. He too began to recite the twenty-third Psalm and at first there was rather a titter of laughter. But before he had ended there was a stillness that was more eloquent than any applause. When he had spoken the last words there was a silence, and then the actor leant across and said, "Sir, I know the Psalm, but you know the shepherd.'" (Barclay's Corinthians, p. 276) This prayer which we are going to study must be repeated only by those who know the Shepherd, for it is only in knowing the Shepherd, that one can understand the significance of the prayer.

PROPOSITION:

Let us now proceed with a detailed study of the prayer. In this message we shall look at the first two words in the prayer – OUR FATHER. We shall spend most of our time in consideration of the meaning and implication of 'Father', but we will also in more brevity consider the meaning of 'Our'. (These two words – Our Father – tell us two things about God – God's love and God's Family).

I. 'FATHER' REMINDS US OF GOD'S LOVE.

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The very expression 'father' usually reminds a child of protection and love, although this is not always true in the human realm. In the spiritual realm, however, the expression 'Father' is meant to always remind us of God's love.

A. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Unseen World. (Barclay's Matthew 20)

A question that many people want answered is this: "Is this a friendly universe"? There are many cynical and despairing philosophers who consider man a victim of fate living on the outer fringes of a hostile universe. Many consider Mencken's impious creed to be true: "The universe, a gigantic wheel in rapid revolution; man, a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on the rim thereof; religion, the fly's delusion that the wheel was constructed to give him the ride." The atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell considers man the subject of a pitiless doom. He says, "Brief and powerless is man's life. On him and his entire race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way." (The Word of The Lord Came Unto Me Also; p. 128)

Jesus came to tell us that this universe is essentially a friendly universe. Jesus showed us that God is love. What Jesus is, God has always been. That means that God has always been a God of love. It is a mistaken idea to think for instance, that the God of the Old Testament was a God of Hate and Vengeance and therefore Jesus came to change God's mind and appease His wrath. If the God of the Old Testament appears to be a God of wrath, it is because man's conception of God was imperfect. It is not God who has changed. He has always been the same – a God of love. It is man's conception of God that has matured. The chief cause for the maturity of man's conception of God was the coming of Christ to earth. Christ came to show us what God is and always has been – a God of love. Christ showed man how great God's love is. Christ showed man that God's love is so great that He can be called 'Father'. That means that God is not far removed and unconcerned for man. Because God's heart is a Father's heart, man can approach Him in confidence and love.

Barclay cites the following illustration in his commentary. "There is an old Roman story which tells how a Roman Emperor was enjoying a triumph. He had the privilege which Rome gave to her great victors, of marching his troops through the streets of Rome with all his captured trophies and his prisoners in his train. So the Emperor was on the march with his troops. The streets were lined with cheering people. The tall legionaries lined the street's edges to keep the people in their places. At one point on the triumphal route there was a little platform where the Empress and her family were sitting to watch the Emperor go by in all the pride of his triumph. On the platform with his mother there was the Emperor's youngest son, a little boy. As the Emperor came near the little

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boy jumped off the platform, burrowed through the crowd, tried to dodge between the legs of a legionary, and to run out on to the road to meet his father's chariot. The legionary stooped down and stopped him and he swung him up in his arms: 'You can't do that, boy,' he said. 'Don't you know who that is in the chariot? That's the Emperor. You can't run out to his chariot.' And the little lad laughed down. 'He may be your Emperor,' he said, 'but he's my father.' That is exactly the way in which the Christian feels towards God. The might, and the majesty, and the power are the might, and the majesty, and the power of one whom Jesus Christ taught us to call Our Father." (Matthew 202)

How different is the Christian's God from the myriad of heathen Gods. The God of the Christians is trustworthy, beneficent, and loving. The heathen Gods are pitiless, grudging, and hateful. It is oftentimes a great relief for a pagan worshipper to learn that there is only one true God who is not wrathful and grudging but who is loving and caring. Jesus came to show us that the unseen world which is controlled by God is not against us but that it is for us.

B. To Call God 'Father' Gives Us A Right Relationship With The Seen World.

Not only has Jesus shown us that we are living in a friendly universe, but Jesus has shown us that the Christian is living in a friendly world. How is this possible? It is because Jesus has shown us that all circumstances can be used for God's glory and man's good.

Because Christ was God and has visited man, He understands the human situation. "For in that He (Christ) Himself was tried and suffered, He is able to help those who are undergoing trial." (Barclay's Hebrews 2:18)

"Foster in one of his books tells a thing. He came into his home in this country one day in the thirties to find his daughter in tears before the radio set. He asked her why. He found that the news bulletin that day had contained one sentence – 'Japanese tanks entered Canton to-day!' Most people must have heard that with at the most a faint feeling of regret. Statesmen may have heard it with a feeling of grim foreboding. But to most people it did not make so very much difference. Why then was John Foster's daughter in tears? Because she had been born in Canton. To her Canton meant a home, a nurse, school friends, a well-loved place. The difference was that she had been there. When you have been there it makes all the difference. And there is no part of human experience of which God cannot say: 'I have been there.' When we have a sad and sorry tale to tell, when life has drenched us with the tears of things, we do not go to a God who is quite incapable of understanding what has happened to us; we go to a God who has been there." (Barclay's Hebrews; pgs. 40, 41)

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Because the Christian is serving a God of love, he is enabled to accept even unpleasant things with submission. For instance the Christian can look at pain as not being altogether bad. Pain can be good since it warns us that our body needs attention. Kagawa, a great Japanese Christian who experienced considerable pain, looked at pain optimistically. Says Kagawa, "There are three kinds of people who do not feel pain: the crazy, feeble-minded, intoxicated. So when you complain about pain you may rejoice that you are not one of these." (Kagawa, Japanese Prophet by Trout; p. 52) Sorrow also can be good, since it can draw us nearer to God. One who has experienced sorrow is better equipped truly to sympathize with his fellowmen. After one man told how his mother had lost her dearest son, he says, "That is where my mother got her soft eyes and why other mothers ran to her when they had lost a child." (Barclay's Corinthians; p. 191) Because God became a man, He understands all about us.

Because God is love, we can even accept the unexplainable things of life without becoming bitter. Says Barclay about these unexplainable things of life: "Into life for everyone at some time there comes something for which there seems to be no reason, something which passes comprehension and something which defies explanation. It is then that a man is faced with life's hardest battle – the battle to accept when he cannot understand. At such a time there is only one thing to do – to submit, to accept, to obey; and to do so without resentment and without rebellion, saying: 'God, Thou art love! I build my faith on that.'" Barclay's Hebrews; p. 173)

A London minister tells about a father whose son was fighting in France. "At our prayer meeting," said the pastor, "he would earnestly pray that God would hide that soldier son beneath His wings. He once added with deep tenderness, 'The bullet was never made that can pierce Thy wings'. But the boy was killed all the same." This appears to be an unexplainable happening that seems to defy understanding. It is at such times that faith is most severely tested. George Tyrell once boldly said: "To believe that this terrible machine world is really from God, in God, and unto God, and that through it and in spite of its blind fatality all works for good – that is faith in long trousers." (Paul Rees; Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 95)

Realizing that God is love will enable one to meet the circumstances of life – even those that are unexplainable – and will save one from cynicism, and despair. It is a great comfort to know that God is Father, and a loving father will never cause his child a needless tear.

II. 'OUR' REMINDS US OF GOD'S FAMILY.

Barclay says about this part of the prayer, "If God is Father, He is Father of all men. The Lord's Prayer does not teach us to pray My Father; it teaches us to pray Our

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Father. It is very significant that in the Lord's Prayer the word I, me, my, and mine, never occur; it is true to say that Jesus came to take these words out of life and to put in their place we, us, and ours. God is not any man's exclusive possession. The very phrase Our Father involves the elimination of self. The fatherhood of God is the only possible basis of the brotherhood of man." (Barclay's Matthew; vol. 1, p. 202)

When we pray 'Our Father', we are reminded that we are members of a family and that we have brothers and sisters to love. We are reminded that life consists in serving others and not in being served.

A. We Find God Through Service To Others.

It is true that a Christian can never advocate a solitary religion. No Christian desires to go to heaven without taking others with him. We cannot be interested in God without being interested in our fellowmen. We cannot love the invisible God without truly loving our visible brothers. "It is this command that we have from Him, that he who loves God, loves his brother also." (1 John 4:21) In fact, we actually find God through doing service to others. In Ernest Crosby's poem "The Search" he says;

"No one could tell me where my soul might be; 
I sought for God, but God eluded me; 
I sought my brother out and found all three."

Barclay relates the following story. "Edgerton Young was the first missionary to the Red Indians. In Saskatchewan he went out to find them and he told them of the love of God, the Father. To the Indians it was like a new revelation. When the missionary had told his message, an old chief said: 'When you spoke of the great Spirit just now, did I hear you say, "Our Father"?' 'Yes', said Edgerton Young. 'That is very new and sweet to me', said the chief. 'We never thought of the great Spirit as Father. We heard Him in the thunder; we saw Him in the lightning, the tempest and the blizzard, and we were afraid. So when you tell us that the great Spirit is our Father that is very beautiful to us.' The old man paused, and then he went on, as a glimpse of glory suddenly shone on him. 'Missionary, did you say that the great Spirit is your Father?' 'Yes,' said the missionary. 'And', said the chief, 'did you say that He is the Indians' Father?' 'I did' said the missionary. 'Then', said the old chief, like a man on whom a dawn of joy had burst, 'you and I are brothers!' The only possible unity for men is in their common sonship with God." (Barclay's John; vol. 2; pgs. 74, 75)

B. We Find Ourselves Through Service To Others.

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Preoccupation with self and selfish interests is one of the biggest problems we face. To serve others will save us from physical, psychological, and spiritual problems.

Someone once asked Dr. Karl Menninger what he would advise a person to do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on. His answer was surprising to some, but very sound: "If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, lock up your house, go across the railway tracks and find someone in need and do something for him." (Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 55) Involvement in other people's problems oftentimes offers therapeutic cure to one's own needs.

When Kagawa was young he was told that he would die, but the doctors were wrong. He lived past seventy, and the explanation for his extended life lies in his involvement in other people's problems. Says Kagawa, "When I suffered from tuberculosis I thought I was dying so I decided to do some good before I died. That is the reason I entered the slums. I thought if I went to heaven and confessed that I was lazy on the earth, God would say to me, 'No place for you.' … In the slums, I had no door. I had the 'open-air cure', and it cured me of tuberculosis. It is interesting that because I lived in the slums I was cured of my sickness. I had improvement of health and I am here tonight. This way of cure I always recommend to my friends in Japan who are suffering from tuberculosis." (Trout; Kagawa, Japanese Prophet; pgs. 51, 52) Healing sometimes comes through involvement. To pray 'Our Father' should remind us that we are our brothers' keeper. To render service to others enables us to find God and enables us to find ourselves.

CONCLUSION:

To pray 'Our Father' means that we are acknowledging God's love and also acknowledging God's family. This reminds us of God's Fatherhood and reminds us of man's brotherhood.

Because God is 'Father' His children can be confident that they live in a friendly universe and also a friendly world. The Beneficent Father wills only good for His children, even if that good is found in circumstances that appear to be unexplainable.

Membership in God's family assumes responsibility and involvement in the needs of one's fellow brothers and sisters. We find God and we find ourselves through involvement and service to others.

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Introduction Practicing the Presence of God

Introduction to Practicing The Presence Of God

Introduction To Book Five – Divine Communion

By

Ron Christian, Compiler

Throughout the Holy Scriptures there are two 'pictures' of God. God is pictured as the High and Lofty and Majestic One. God is also pictured as the Personal and Intimate One. Both are valid pictures of God and each picture is needed to balance the other. To think of God in His transcendence is to be filled with awe, reverence, and 'holy' fear. To think of God in His immanence is to be filled with courage, joy, and purpose.

'Transcendence' means that which surpasses physical reality; that which is beyond man's comprehension. It is a common fact that there are many things in the physical realm that are beyond man's understanding. We can't fully comprehend the vastness of the universe. We can't fully understand the human mind or soul. We can't fully comprehend the happenings around us – many of which are full of 'mystery' and 'perplexities'. If we can't understand these things, it is certain that we mere humans cannot fully comprehend Almighty God! His 'ways' are past finding out. His ways are higher than our ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth! However, simply because we cannot understand God, does not make God any less real. Because an ant cannot understand Einstein's Law of Relativity (and most men cannot), does that fact make his Law any less a reality? God is in a realm beyond man's capacity to understand. "God is Creator and we are but the created. Shall the created one complain if he does not understand all the mind of the Creator?" (Stand Up In Praise To God; Paul Rees; pg. 19)

God is different than man, so different that it is difficult to even compare man with God. God is the Eternal Creator, while man the creature is confined by the limitations of time. God is the High and Lofty One (Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 29:4; Psalm 93:1). God is above all things, and all things belong to Him (1 Chronicles 29:11). God is all-powerful (Isaiah 40:12, Isaiah 40:15). God's name is Holy (Isaiah 57:15). None can be likened unto God or be His equal (Exodus 15:11). Man's encounter with the Holy One naturally creates reverential fear (Genesis 28:16-17; Exodus 3:2-6; Isaiah 6:1-6; Revelation 15:4).

The Christian believes that God is objectively real and distinct from the universe. The created presupposes the Creator who is over and above the creation.

While the Christian acknowledges God's holiness, loftiness, and majesty, the Christian's knowledge of God is found in other ways than through the transcendent qualities of Almighty God. "The Hebraic-Christian knowledge of God is not knowledge of God in his transcendent 'otherness' (which is plainly impossible to man's finite spirit), but in his active nearness, as it is experienced in nature and history and in the inmost shrine of the individual soul. The most high God, though transcending his creation and abiding in his holy heaven, is nevertheless nigh unto men." (Christian Doctrine; Whale; pg. 113)

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The Christian acknowledges God's transcendence, but the Christian never entertains an idea of God as cold, disinterested, or detached from human activity. The Christian acknowledges the difficulty of comprehending how God can be personally interested in every person's problems, and how God can simultaneously bear every man's prayers. However, it is because the Christian does not mold God into some type of superhuman man, but instead acknowledges God as supra-human (beyond human categories), that the Christian is able to accept the concept of God's total and personal involvement in the 'human situation'.

God is everywhere present in His world. "I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you." (Psalms 139:7-12 , Living Bible) "Tell me where is God", said an atheist to a child. "I will", said the child, "if you will tell me where He is not."

Far from God being detached and disinterested in man, God is always taking the initiative in seeking man. There is a story of a woman who was trying to find God. "She had a certain dream which she dreamed more than once, namely, that she was standing in front of a thick, plate glass window. As she looked at it, she seemed to see God on the other side. She hammered on the window, trying to attract His attention, but without success. She grew more and more desperate, and began to call to Him and found herself shrieking at the top of her voice. And then a quiet, calm voice at her side said: 'Why are you making so much noise? There is nothing between us'. Perhaps that illustrates our difficulty, does it not? We have been thinking all along that God was somewhere far away, unapproachable… some place that was difficult of access… and we have been groping around for a long time, and all the while He is standing beside us." (Mr. Jones, Meet the Master; Peter Marshall; pg. 131)

The God who is the Lofty One is also the God who is the Immanent One – the One who is pleased to dwell with the man that is contrite and humble. The Majestic God is the Merciful God – the God who "revives the spirit of the humble" (Isaiah 57:15). God gives strength to the weak. "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:29-31)

The greatest of all revelations is the revelation that God is a personal God, that He is personally concerned in every person who has ever lived or who will ever live! God

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wants to be a personal friend of man! God treats every individual in a personable and friendly way! He loves each person in the world as if there was only one person in the world to love! He counts the hair on each person's head! "A community canvass was being made. At a certain door the questioner asked the woman who answered his knock what children she had. She began, 'Well, there's Willie, and Horace'. But the canvasser interrupted, 'Never mind names, I just want numbers.' Then she grew impatient and a bit indignant. 'They haven't got numbers', she protested. 'Every one of them's got a name.' Quite so! They were her children. She was their mother. They had personalities that spoke with all the eloquence of their individual characteristics. She knew them not by number but by name. So God looks upon His human creatures. Why, according to Isaiah He calls even the stars by names." (Stand Up In Praise To God; Paul Rees; pgs. 23, 24) God knows all things that are going on in His world. "For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings." (Job 34:21) God knows the 'John Doe' on the street corner, with all his problems and frustrations. God has an infinite concern for him!

A healthy concept of God takes into account both God's transcendence and God's immanence. God's transcendence will keep us from becoming too intimate or 'familiar' with Almighty God. It is nothing less than blasphemy to describe God as 'the Man upstairs'! No human being is to 'buddy' with the High and Holy One! On the other hand, Jesus taught His followers to call God 'Abba' (Father)! God, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, is closer to man than his hands and feet and breathing! God's 'immanence' (closeness) guarantees faith and courage, and gives comfort in the face of life's many conflicts and calamities. True worship of God will always combine these two aspects of God transcendence and immanence. The following incident illustrates this healthy combination, the combination of God's Majesty and God's Intimacy. "Joseph Twitchell tells how he went to visit Horace Bushnell when Bushnell was an old man. At night Bushnell took him out for a walk on the hillside. As they walked in the dark, suddenly Bushnell said, 'Let us kneel and pray', and so he prayed. Twitchell, telling of it afterwards, said, 'I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness in case I should touch God. (Daily Study Bible; Corinthians; William Barclay; pg. 148) Here there was the intimate nearness of God and also the awesome transcendence of God. Both must be acknowledged and nurtured in the life of the true believer.

To repeat what was earlier stated: "Knowledge of God is not knowledge of God in his transcendent 'otherness' (which is plainly impossible to man's finite spirit), but in his active nearness, as it is experienced in nature and history and in the inmost shrine of the individual soul." Before a human can experience any personal fellowship with God, he must affirm the fact of God's Omni-presence, Said John Wesley, "True, our narrow understanding but imperfectly comprehends this. But as Be created and sustains all things, He is present at all time, in all places."

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The Christian who takes seriously the Christian doctrine or the 'Omni-presence or God' is the Christian who 'practices the presence of God' in his life, by meditating often on the power and the love of God and by praying often throughout his everyday routine. Susanna Wesley believed that it was important to recognize that God is not confined to 'the closet' (of secret prayer during one's regular devotional period), but that God is everywhere and that He can be loved and worshiped (during the multitude of daily household tasks). Later in her life Susanna prayed, "Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Thy presence," This is 'incarnational Christianity' – recognizing that the God who incarnated Himself in human flesh through Jesus Christ is the God who continues to be intimately involved in all of man's activities and relationships! Many years ago Ruth Graham (the wife of the famous evangelist Billy Graham) advocated this type of praying throughout the entire day. As a busy housewife she said that she did not have time to get down on her knees often. She admitted that she did most of her praying "on the hoof". She then said: "But to know that you can wash dishes, iron, clean, shop, drive, and in whatever you have to do, Jesus Christ is there beside you, urging you to talk over your problems with him – that is a joy and a comfort it is impossible to describe." (Alive To God Through Prayer; Donald Demaray; pg. 89) Frank Laubach, the famous Christian who brought literacy to millions of persons throughout the world, 'practiced the presence of God' in his life in amazing and wonderful ways. He learned regularly to commune with God as he carried on a most active and productive ministry. He developed the skill of listening to God speak. to him while he worked. On March 11, 1937, while he was working on a literacy plan for the Urdu Dihate Indian dialect, he wrote, "Of all today's miracles, the greatest is this: To know that I find Thee best when I work listening, not when I am still or meditative or even on my knees in prayer, but when I work listening and co-operating." (Streams of Living Water; Richard Foster; pg.44)

The phrase 'Practicing the Presence of God' was made popular by Brother Lawrence (Nicholas Herman) who wrote a 'spiritual classic' by this title. This man who lived in the seventeenth century (1611-1691) worked as a cook in his Discalced ("barefooted") Carmelite community. Be wrote, "For me the time of action does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are together calling for as many different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as when upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament… I made this my business, as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; or at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of God… When we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy Presence, and set Him always before US; this not only hinders our offending Him, and doing anything that may displease Him, at least willfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of. In fine, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God is rendered as it were natural to

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us… There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it: yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us… He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company: the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of." (The Christian Reader, Inspirational and Devotional Classics; compiled and edited by Stanley Irving Stuber; pgs.288,293-295)

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OMNIPRESENCE

Lord of all being! Throned afar, 
Thy glory Dames from sun and star; 
Center and soul of every sphere, 
Yet to each loving heart how near!
Sun of our life, thy quickening ray Sheds on our path the glow of day; Star of our hope, thy softened light Cheers the long watches of the night.
Lord of all life, below, above, Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love, Before thy ever-blazing throne We ask no luster of our own.
Grant us thy truth to make us free, And kindling hearts that burn for thee, Till all thy living altars claim One holy light, one heavenly Dame.

Oliver W. Holmes

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Visualize the High Calling

Visualize The ‘High Calling’

Chapter One

Visualize The 'High Calling'
Appreciating The Wonderful Person The Spirit 8 Knowing When Not Enough Is Not Enough 18
Whatever Happened To Holiness? 10 Paul's Secret Weapon 20
Holy – A Beautiful Word 12 Discussion Questions 22
Are We Called To Be Saints? Are We Called To Be Holy? 14 Discussion Questions (Continued) 23
Who's The Pilot? 16 Discussion Questions (Continued) 24

John 14:13-27

Appreciating The Wonderful Person The Spirit

Soft music filtered through the car speakers as the radio announcer quoted a familiar Bible verse. My mood was not necessarily contemplative; however, there was a sudden change in my heart as I carefully considered the meaning of the verse I just heard. Actually, I considered only two words form the text. The deep bass voice echoed the prayer of David as he asked God to "take not thy Holy Spirit from me". (Psalm 51:11) My thoughts fell immediately on the name, "Holy Spirit."

A preacher, I have use this name thousands of times. Each time, I have spoken that name in the same manner as this radio announcer: "Holy Spirit." "Holy" in His first name, and "Spirit" is His last name. The two words of His name are spoken with equal emphasis. The name rolls off the tongue so smoothly that it actually sounds like one word. We often say that name as we do any other name, with little inflection and even less reflection.

Is that any way to speak the name of the third Person of the triune God? God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although the Bible does not use the word "Trinity," we know God is all three and at the same time, One. In Genesis we learn that when God created humans, He said, "Let us make man in our image." When Moses asked God to authenticate who He was, God answered, "I Am" is written in plural form, meaning "We Are: furthermore, when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit was seen coming down from heaven "like a dove," and God spoke, "This is my son," placing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one place at one time.

It occurred to me that I had never contemplated the fact that "holy" is not the Spirit's first name. "Holy" describes who and what the Spirit is! He is "HOLY." Immediately, as I called the Spirit's name, emphasizing the title "Holy," tears began to flow from my humbled heart. I knew I was in the presence of Him who is Holy and I felt shame and guilt from never recognizing that before. At the same time, I felt totally and guilt from never recognizing that before. At the same time, I felt totally and unconditionally loved by the Holy One. In that instant God allowed me to experience his holiness in the Person of the Spirit. I do not think I can speak the name "Holy Spirit" ever again without recognizing my inadequacy and His sufficiency. God is holy!

"I long for Your Holy Spirit, Father … to fill me with all Your holiness. In Your holy presence, I am at peace even though I am unworthy. Holy God, dwell within me so I may grow in Your love. In Jesus' name. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "I am the Lord who makes you holy." (Exodus 31:13)

-Thomas Duckworth-

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1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Whatever Happened To Holiness?

I was driving to a cemetery just a way out of town when I spotted an old, faded street sign. I did a double-take at what I thought I saw. Some of the letters were missing and, not wanting to be mistaken. I drove more slowly on my way back to read that sign more accurately. When I got back to my office, I consulted a city map to verify this -new bit of information. Sure enough, there it was, right in our town … HOLINESS LANE.

Later in the week I returned to that old faded sign and took a ride down HOLINESS LANE. It was narrow. That was as it should be. Yet something had gone wrong. It seemed to me that the environment of the street bore little resemblance to its name. It was trashy and unkept. There were broken-down cars, old worn-out tires, and unmanicured lawns along HOLINESS LANE. The people who sat on their porches and wondered about the stranger driving down their street did not have any joy in their faces. HOLINESS LANE was a dead-end street.

I wondered about the history of HOLINESS LANE. How did it get its name? Was there once a vibrant Church on that street? Had there been a great revival at some point in its history? Did some saintly person or group of saintly people once live there? Why would anyone name a street HOLINESS LANE?

I gathered that the people who now live on HOLINESS LANE, never think about the name of their street. Old Testament its history, or the significance of their address, much less feel any obligation to live up to the standard of the name.

Whatever happened to HOLINESS LANE?

Whatever happened to HOLINESS?

Several years ago U.S. News and World Report conducted a poll on religion in America. The poll painted a picture of a nation as religious as ever but uncertain how to "Walk the Walk" in a pluralistic and secular society. Paul desired that no such uncertainty should be in the minds of the Thessalonians. Their walk was to be holy: their address was to be on HOLINESS LANE.

"Heavenly Father, help me to realize that my search for happiness is but a longing for HOLINESS."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Every disciple of Christ is called to live on HOLINESS LANE.

-William Jenkins-

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Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 20:26

Holy – A Beautiful Word

The Christian's vocabulary is rich with beautiful words, and among them is the word "Holy." The bent toward the sinful nature, sin with all the accompanying adjectives, low views of God – attempt to crowd the word "Holy" into a corner. It is too idealistic, even archaic in this scientific era.

But the word still stands in God's Word. The basic theme of an Old Testament book concerned with laws and ceremonies is "Holy" and its equivalents. In the 27 chapters of Leviticus the word "holy" is used 81 times; "without blemish" – 31; "hallowed" – once; and "sanctify" – seven. Offering, persons, places, things, animals, vestments of the priests, fruit, tithe, fields, and the year of Jubilee were to be Holy. A casual reading is conclusive: God is Holy; the standard for His people is "Holiness."

"I am Holy," says God. What does He mean? A.W. Tozer says: "God's holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable." (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 111)

Dr. Shelby Corlett says that "it is the sum total of all His moral characteristics." Quoting again A.W. Tozer: "Holy is the way God is. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy, i.e., whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as Holy."

"You shall be holy, for I am holy," says Peter in his epistle (1 Peter 1:16). What is holiness in man? Corlett writes: "In a sense holiness in man is the same as holiness in God for there are not two kinds of holiness. The quality of this holiness is the same, in quality there is a vast difference. Holiness in God is absolute. Holiness in man is relative. Holiness in God is infinite. Holiness in man is finite. But in each case holiness is real, it is one kind of holiness."

Charles Wesley wrote:

He wills that I should be holy be, 
That holiness I long to feel;
That full divine conformity
To all my Saviour's righteous will." 

What should my response be to God who is holy?

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  1. I shall want to be holy. "You shall be holy; for the Lord your God am holy". (Leviticus 19:21)

  2. I shall live a separated life. Not as a religious hermit apart from society, but separated from the world in my actions and attitudes. "You shall be holy to me for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine." (Leviticus 20:26)

  3. I will be obedient to God. "So you shall keep my commandments and do them… I am the Lord who sanctify you." (Leviticus 22:31-32)

Oh, how beautiful is the word "holy".

"Dear God, cleanse my heart, my entire being so that I may be holy. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Even though I live in a sinful world, by the grace of God I can be holy and live such a life.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16

Are We Called To Be Saints? Are We Called To Be Holy?

Some believe that Sainthood can only be achieved after death. As I read the New Testament, I discover that the Apostle Paul refers to the believers as "Saints" in the book of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. I doubt that Paul was writing such inspired letters to the deceased. I do believe that sainthood is achieved during one's "Lifetime." I am also aware of the belief that "The Christian" cannot live a holy life here on earth. I must take issue with this teaching. Why would God command His children to be Holy, if being Holy is not attainable?

Follow closely as I attempt to answer the title's question. In Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 1, Paul writes to the Saints and in verse 4, Paul uses the word Holy. He is actually referring to the Holy people of God.

This brings me to believe another biblical truth. Now, right here in this sinful world, we can live holy lives, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This does not infer that we will be perfect human beings, only that, with the aid of God's Holy Spirit, we can strive to live the life of Holiness. I am aware that man has tried to make rules of Do's and Don'ts that will make us Holy. An evil person can keep rules and not be holy. This lifestyle comes only through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. From the Greek dictionary I will share a portion of the definition of the word holy. When the word holy refers to mankind, it means that they have "Christ" as the ground of their life. The dictionary also declares that 'saints' refers to "God's holy ones." In another Bible dictionary, I read the idea of holiness is in both the Old and New Testaments. It is basically achieved by consecration to God. To live a holy life, requires our total surrender to Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Are we called to be holy': Are we called to saints" YES TO BOTH QUESTIONS. I strongly believe that where God guides, God supplies. I also believe that when God gives a command to His children, He not only acts as the Order Giver, but also acts as the Divine Enabler. Since we are commanded by God to be holy, then through His Holy Spirit we can be Holy.

"Dear Father in heaven, I stand before You this day, asking for the Infilling of Your Holy Spirit. It is my sincere desire to be Holy as You are Holy. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek the mind of Jesus. I will pray to be holy as He is Holy. I will strive to live in such a way that others will know I've been with Jesus.

– Lowell Weller –

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Romans 8:1-8

Who's The Pilot?

When I was serving as a missionary in Alaska, the man who lived directly behind me ran an air Taxi service. He owned three airplanes. Since the only mode of transportation into our village was either by boat or air, he ran an excellent business. My work called for a great deal of travel. It therefore was my privilege to fly with this man on a regular basis.

I will never forget the day when he flew in a new Cessna 185. It was a beautiful airplane. Just shortly after he purchased his new plane, it was necessary for me to take a trip. It just happened to be this new plane.

When I climbed into the front passenger seat, I was delightedly surprised to discover that there were dual controls. As we took off into the clear blue sky with the beautiful green tundra of Alaska on the one side and the vast Bering sea on the other, it was an exhilarating experience. And then, he said to me, "would you like to fly it?"

What a thrill to take those controls and to sense the magnificent control of that plane which I held in my hands. With the pull, push or turn of that yoke I could make that plane respond to my direction. It was absolutely exhilarating!

Not many weeks passed until I had the need to fly again. However, this time, when I got into the plane, the dual controls were no longer there. I immediately inquired why the owner had removed them. His answer was very revealing.

"Well, when everything is going smoothly and normally it was great to have those controls. However, as you know, we often get into turbulent weather and frequently have to land on short runways and less than ideal airstrips. Also, the weather is often severe. The problem was that when my passengers sensed any kind of danger or turbulence, they had a tendency to grab the control. I had no choice – the dual controls had to be removed!"

What a picture of our lives! We too want Jesus Christ to be our Pilot, but so often when we face trials, turbulence, or perceived danger, we want to grab the controls of our lives. Consequently, the Lord (our Pilot) is not in control, but we are! The result is often disastrous.

Paul says in this Scripture that the law of sin and death which reigns in our lives and that has a dual control over us, must be removed! It is removed by the power of the Spirit of life provided by our Lord Jesus Christ. We don't have to struggle with the dual control of a sinful nature. Praise God, it can be removed so we can live in the freedom

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of the Spirit!

Who is really the Pilot in your life today? Is there the possibility that you have made Jesus Christ your Savior and have declared him as the Pilot of your life, but you are still struggling with dual controls? Is the power of the sinful nature often overpowering your commitment to Christ?

There's only one solution. Allow Jesus Christ to remove the dual control by cleansing your heart from the nature of sin. Make Christ the victorious single Pilot and Lord of your life. This is what He wants to do for you today. You can be victorious in Christ!

"Dear Lord, deliver me from every selfish control of my life and may I be singularly submissive to the control of Jesus Christ today."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is impossible to live a victorious Christian life as long as there are dual controls in our life. He can change that to a singular Holy control.

– Edward Rickman –

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John 14:25-31

Knowing When Not Enough Is Not Enough

I was far from my West Coast home teaching in a Southeast mountain school. Things were different for me there. I didn't talk quite the same way, my cultural reflexes were 'wrong', and I was considered a 'foreigner'.

The remarks and actions of some students and local fellows began to get under my skin. During the Church service one evening, some local fellows were setting off firecrackers outside the building. Later, as I followed the sidewalk along the creek toward my quarters, some fellows dropped in behind me. I turned to look, saw a red glow near my skirt and thought: "O no! It's a firecracker!" It was only a cigarette, but I had 'lost it'. I dropped my Bible on the sidewalk, turned and slapped the young man's face!

I picked up my Bible, and with a mild apology, I headed for home, surprised and ashamed at myself. ''What made me do that? I have not struck anyone since childhood. Don't I have any self-control? Can I continue to be a missionary teacher and act like this?" I thought.

These questions haunted me. I thought, I prayed, I read my Bible. I even went to the school principal and discussed resignation. He laughed, shook my hand and said, "my wife hit one of those guys with her umbrella!" Then I was really confused.

God began helping me by showing me some things. One was that I need the Holy Spirit to keep me from being merely all I naturally am. I learned I was a worrier, a resenter, someone who could lose her temper. That wasn't a comforting thought, except then I learned that God's Spirit could cleanse and control those things in my life. I only needed to ask Him to do that.

Another thing God taught me was that I need to be more flexible, adjusting to a new people and new ways. I need the Holy Spirit so I can be like Jesus, who loves and accepts people just as they are, that He is there for them to be changed and grow in Him too. That understanding is the 'bottom-line' for missionaries.

How much I need God's Holy Spirit to fill my life in all circumstances, at home or far away. God is willing to give us His Holy Spirit more than an earthly father gives good gifts to his children. (Matthew 7:11)

"Lord Jesus, I am so needy. I ask your Holy Spirit to fill me, control me, and make me like you".

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today I receive You Holy Spirit, knowing You can change, control and empower me to serve You.

– Beth Stewart –

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Romans 8:26-28

Paul's Secret Weapon

Paul couldn't keep God's law. "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." (Romans 7:18) His failures may discourage us. After all, Paul was intelligent, highly educated, from an elite family. He had a forceful personality and had been in the faith a long time. He had great energy and self-control; knew the law and wanted to keep it; did everything he could to please God, but he couldn't do it? If anyone could do it, it would be Paul, but he couldn't. No one can.

So, God, being love, provided grace. Grace is a free gift from God that allows us to have a healthy life in a sick world. Grace is made possible through the work of Jesus Christ. Grace is delivered to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul asked, "Is there no one who can do anything for me."? (Romans 7:24) Yes, the Holy Spirit. Let us consider how the Holy Spirit delivers God grace.

The Holy Spirit nourishes us when life is dry and dusty. Been there? You have no appetite for God's food, you can't pray, you feel as though you are back to square one. That's what Paul described. Maybe you believe in your mind that God is in your life but you feel so alone that like Elijah you complain that you are the only person who still believes in God (1 Kings 19:1-18) Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive." (John 7:37-39)

The Holy Spirit counsels and teaches us. Jesus explains: "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)

The Holy Spirit helps us pray. "God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless signs, our aching groans. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good" (Romans 8:26-28) Thank you! Help me pray! The Holy Spirit empowers. In the last teaching Jesus gave, he said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you": (Acts 1:8) Read further in Acts to learn how timid believers became bold, and for more promises of the Holy Spirit's empowerment, which is as available to us as it was to them.

The Holy Spirit guarantees that we win come through our valley of doubt, let go of our urges to rebel, and that when God chooses we will receive our inheritance along with Jesus. In Paul's words, "God makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed

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us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

"Heavenly Father, worthy of all praise and honor, thank you for giving me grace. I need so much help; you offer all I need. Thank you! Teach me to live so that I please you, and act in the pattern of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the presence of your Spirit in and around me, and guide me so that the Spirit can work through me in the service of your kingdom. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit nourishes, counsels, teaches, empowers, and prays with me to guarantee that I will triumph today and forever.

– Richard Walters –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Share what your inner response is (in terms of thoughts and feelings) when you verbalize the name of the third person of the Godhead – "Holy Spirit." What can you say about the 'person' and the 'work' of the Holy Spirit?

  2. Since God has called His people (believers) to be "holy," how would you describe the 'life of holiness' (in terms of 'holy' thoughts, 'holy' actions and reactions, 'holy' lifestyle, 'holy' goals)? (Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13 ; Romans 12; 1 Peter 1:16)

  3. Tell what your inner response is to the following words (of longing), penned many years ago by Charles Wesley:

    "He wills that I should holy be, 
    That holiness I long to feel; 
    That full divine conformity 
    To all my Saviour's righteous will." 
  4. Put a check by the following statements which you believe properly reflect and describe a Biblical understanding of a "Holy Lifestyle":

    1. ___ A life of absolute perfection, free from all sin, free from all infirmities, free from theological error, free from all temptations.

    2. ___ A life which is merely 'idealized' by earnest persons but never 'realized' on the earth; a life which is finally achieved in heaven following physical death.

    3. ___ A life which God commands a person to live, and for which God provides divine resources amidst human weaknesses and temptations.

    4. ___ A life which is the result of a believer being filled with the Holy Spirit.

    5. ___ A life which is the result of a person's moral achievements, following many years of character cultivation and intellectual development.

    6. ___ A life which comes only through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

    7. ___ A life which has Christ as the "ground of one's being" and as the "mentor for one's actions."

    8. ___ A life which is achieved as a result of a "once-for-all surrender" to Christ, followed by a "daily surrender" to the lordship of Christ.

    9. ___ A life which is characterized by a supreme love for God and a sincere love for all persons.

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      Discussion Questions (Continued)

    10. ___ A life which is characterized by single-minded devotion to Christ and wholehearted commitment to the mission of Christ (The Kingdom of God).

    11. ___ A life that is characterized by pure motives and humble attitudes and compassionate service.

    12. ___ A life that is both obtained and maintained by repentance, faith, surrender, and obedience.

    13. ___ A life characterized by intimate fellowship with God through prayer, daily confession of mistakes and sins, and submission to divine guidance.

  5. Tell to what degree you agree (or disagree) with the following statements: "So often when we face trails, turbulence, or perceived danger, we want to grab the controls of our lives. Consequently, the Lord (our Pilot) is not in control, but we are! The result is often disastrous." Can you think of any 'concrete example' (from your own life or from your observation of others) which illustrates the truth of these statements?

  6. Is it accurate to describe a "carnal believer" (before he is "filled with the Holy Spirit") as one who wishes to maintain "partial control" of his life (instead of allowing the Spirit to have sole or total control of his life)? (Note 1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

  7. Is it possible for the Holy Spirit to enable you to be more than you naturally are? If so, in what ways? (Note Romans 7:18 – Romans 8:10; Romans 12:17-21; Galatians 5:19-26; 1 Peter 2:9-23)

  8. Do you honestly believe that your Heavenly Father is willing to give you (a believer) the gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, more than an earthly father is willing to give good gifts to his children? (Note Matthew 7:11)

  9. List some of God's "Grace-Gifts" which He wishes to give to you specifically that would enable you to live a healthy life in a sick world. (Do you need "deliverance" from any of the following "besetting sins"? – Lust, greed, jealousy, worry, fear, pride, selfishness, resentment, inferiority complex, negativism, judgementalism)

  10. Put a check beside the following statements which describe your "personal experience" of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

    1. ___ The Holy Spirit was nourished me when my life became 'dry' and 'dusty'.

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      Discussion Questions (Continued)

    2. ___ The Holy Spirit was provided specific counsel and guidance during my life's difficult decisions. (John 14:26)

    3. ___ The Holy Spirit has provided enlightenment and understanding to my mind during times of mental confusion and darkness. (John 14:26)

    4. ___ The Holy Spirit has helped me to pray during times when I did not know how or what to pray. (Romans 8:26-28)

    5. ___ The Holy Spirit has empowered me to witness when I felt weak and fearful and inadequate. (Acts 1:8)

    6. ___ Holy Spirit has reassured me of my standing and position with God (as an adopted son and redeemed soul) during my times of doubt. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

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