February 18, 2011 – Stanley

The Spirit’s Work Acts 2:38-39

There is an abundance of failure in the community of faith today. Sadly, it’s all too common to find believers who aren’t living as Scripture teaches—and they are missing out on the joy and peace that Jesus promised. The reason? When followers of Christ don’t recognize the need to live in the Spirit, they attempt to push through each day in their own strength.

On Pentecost, God’s Spirit came to indwell believers. He is a gift, blessing us in many ways. Let’s consider some of the works He does. The Holy Spirit . . .

• Convicts our hearts of sin so that we can repent and be right with God (John 16:8).

• Regenerates us. We are new beings, alive in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

• Seals us forever as a child of the Almighty (Eph. 1:13). We don’t ever have to fear the loss of our salvation.

• Teaches, guides, counsels, and empowers us throughout life (John 14:26). Left to our own devices, we confuse truth with deception, but God brings clarity.

• Gifts and enables us to do the work God has planned for us (Eph. 2:10; for a list of spiritual gifts, see also 1 Cor. 12).

• Bears fruit through us (Gal. 5:22-23). As we are obedient to what God calls us to do, we get to watch Him work in mighty ways.

All these benefits are available to everyone who follows Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we too often bypass all of these by attempting to live in our own meager strength. The Christian life is this: Christ living His life in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit of the living God.

February 18, 2011 – Begg

Why Do I Face Trials?

Let me know why you contend against me.

Job 10:2

Perhaps, weary soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces. There are some of your graces that would never be discovered if it were not for your trials. Do you not know that your faith never looks as good in summer as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glowworm, showing but little light unless it is surrounded by darkness. Hope itself is like a star–not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.

Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine brighter. It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised? Depend upon it–God often sends us trials so that our graces may be discovered and that we may be convinced of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery; real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.

God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and subjecting them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many long miles with heavy backpacks of sorrow. Well, Christian, may this not account for the troubles through which you are passing? Is the Lord bringing out your graces and making them grow? Is it for this reason He contends with you?

Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there