Charles Stanley – The Holy Spirit’s True Identity

 

John 15:26

During the early weeks of my seminary education, a doctoral student invited me to his dorm room. When I arrived, he sat me down, put a Greek Bible in my hands, and said, “I noticed that you called the Holy Spirit an ‘it’ while we were talking at dinner tonight. He is not an ‘it.’” This man then led me through the New Testament, translating scriptures concerning the third person of the Trinity. An hour later he said, “The one thing I want you to remember is that the Holy Spirit is a Somebody.”

God’s Spirit possesses three defining characteristics of personhood: intelligence, will, and emotion. Let me prove these points by guiding you to some New Testament verses, just as that doctoral student did for me. First Corinthians 2:10-11 explains that the Spirit knows God’s thoughts and illuminates the truth for us. Later in the same book, He is identified as the One who determines the spiritual gift(s) of each believer (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). Finally, the Holy Spirit’s feelings are revealed in verses like Romans 15:30, which tells of His love, and Ephesians 4:30, which warns against grieving Him.

Consider also that Jesus spoke of a Helper who would come after Him (John 14:16, 26). Aiding and assuring others are the acts of a person, as is teaching—these are some of the Holy Spirit’s primary tasks.

Perhaps you misunderstand the Spirit of God as I once did. He isn’t an “it” any more than God the Father or Jesus Christ is. The Spirit is a member of the Trinity, and if you’re a believer, He is with you now. God has given you His Spirit as a special Helper—one who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Our Daily Bread — I’m Stumped

 

Read: Proverbs 30:1-4

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 4-6; John 10:24-42

I am afraid that . . . your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV

The riddle stumped me: What is greater than God—and more evil than the devil? The poor have it. The rich need it. And if you eat it you will die.

I missed the solution by allowing my mind to be distracted from the obvious answer: “Nothing.”

That riddle reminds me of another test of wits that would have been far more difficult to solve when it was originally posed. An ancient wise man named Agur asked: “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?” (Prov. 30:4).

Today, we know the answer to those questions. But sometimes when we’re in the middle of the questions, worries, and needs of our lives we may lose sight of the obvious. The details of life can so easily distract us from the One who answers the most important riddle: Who is One with God; more powerful than the devil; the poor can have Him; the rich need Him; and if you eat and drink from His table, you’ll never die? Jesus Christ, the Lord. —Mart DeHaan

Father, in the details and distractions of our spiritual journey, it is so easy to look right past You and Your Son. May we see You today in a new and fresh way.

Focusing on God helps us to take our eyes off our circumstances.

INSIGHT: The book of Proverbs contains many pithy sayings that promote a wise approach to life. Living by them does not guarantee that life will always go smoothly, but taking their advice will help avoid unnecessary problems. Proverbs 30 is slightly different in that it is prefaced by a reflection on the wisdom of the Lord. By introducing the Lord in the beginning of his reflection, Agur acknowledges that he has not “mastered human wisdom” (v. 3 NLT) and suggests that all wisdom is from the Lord.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Signs or Symptoms

 

The human condition is a source of endless delight and endless curiosity. We seem to swing from rampant idealism to the most barbarous actions. In today’s globalized and globalizing world, people, ideas, cultures, and ideologies are being flung together into a desperate mix, with many clashes, lots of uncertainties, and unknown outcomes. What does it mean to be human? Who says and does it matter? Don’t all views lead to harmony and justice? And by simply granting space, time, and freedom, we will not finally achieve the Brave New World?

The hopes and expectations, the optimism, all unleashed from the time of the Enlightenment, have been central to both Western thought and the globalizing vision from the beginning. It is a narrative of rational men and women in control of their own destinies, unfettered by religion, superstitions, or the past and fueled with the power of science and rational thought to pursue progress and universal peace and harmony. I believe it functions for many as an alternative salvation story. This is perhaps seen most clearly with the New Atheists, who view all religion or religious thought as something to be saved from!

What is the human condition? How are we to live? With all our education, experience, and insight, we are still mystified by what we do and don’t do, what seems to be right, true, or good in a way that is really lasting and effective. As a means of probing these kinds of questions, the philosopher Peter Kreeft considers the four steps of medical analysis: Observation of symptoms, diagnosis of disease, prognosis of cure, and prescription for treatment. He writes, “The symptoms are the undesired effects, and disease is the undesired cause; the cure is the desired effect, and the treatment is the desired cause.”(1)

Indeed, but in a world of competing and combative claims, we are left confused and divided in the hope of any kind of shared diagnosis and solution. Some years ago I attended a consultation in Europe, which included many leaders, dignitaries, and guests all concerned at that time about the “new” Europe, and what was needed for a better life for all. Many well-considered ideas and scenarios were presented, and yet there was a deep sense that economics, democracy, and better management would not be enough. Almost with a sense of resignation, one voice said, “The problem at the heart of Europe is the problem of the human heart.” There was a sudden quiet as many grasped the reality and depth of that statement. We can substitute Europe in the sentence with America or Asia or Africa and it still fits. It seems we all need heart surgery and some real internal work if external realities are to be impacted and changed.

The good news is that God has provided a solution for this very concern and the promise of a new heart. The hope of inner renewal which leads to outward change is part of what Christianity offers to the human dilemma. Truly, what we need is not more moralizing and polishing of externals, but deep heart surgery and a new beginning. Indeed, we need the very gift of new creation in the one who makes all things new.

Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), 38.

Alistair Begg – Your Troubles Will End Soon

 

Whom he justified he also glorified.Romans 8:30

Here is a precious truth for you, believer. You may be poor or suffering or unknown, but for your encouragement take a moment to review your calling and the consequences that flow from it, and especially the blessed result spoken of here. As surely as you are God’s child today, so surely will all your trials soon come to an end, and you shall be rich to an extent that is hard to imagine.

Wait awhile, and your weary head will wear the crown of glory, and the worker’s hand shall grasp the palm-branch of victory. Do not bemoan your troubles, but rather rejoice that before long you will be where no longer “shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.”1 The chariots of fire are at your door, and it will take only a moment to transport you to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on your lip. The portals of heaven stand open for you.

Do not think that you can fail to enter into your rest. If He has called you, nothing can divide you from His love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. You are secure; that voice which called you at first shall call you yet again from earth to heaven, from death’s dark gloom to immortality’s unuttered splendors. Rest assured, the heart of Him who has justified you beats with infinite love toward you. You will soon be with the glorified, where your portion is; you are only waiting here to be made ready for the inheritance, and with that done, the wings of angels shall carry you far away, to the mount of peace and joy and blessedness, where

Far from a world of grief and sin,

With God eternally shut in,

you shall rest forever and ever.

1) Revelation 21:4

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – Characteristics of faith

 

“Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 12:38-42

Trust in the Lord; wait patiently for him; cast all thy confidence where he put all thy sins, namely, upon Christ Jesus alone, and thou shalt be saved, with or without any of these signs and wonders. I am afraid some Christians in London have fallen into the same error of wanting to see signs and wonders. They have been meeting together in special prayer-meetings to seek for a revival; and because people have not dropped down in a fainting fit, and have not screamed and made a noise, perhaps they have thought the revival has not come. Oh that we had eyes to see God’s gifts in the way God chooses to give them! Where the Spirit works in the soul, we are always glad to see true conversion, and if he chooses to work in the church in London, we shall be glad to see it. If men’s hearts are renewed, what matter it though they do not scream out. If their consciences are quickened, what matters it though they do not fall into a fit; if they do but find Christ, who is to regret that they do not lie for five or six weeks motionless and senseless. Take it without the signs and wonders. For my part I have no craving for them. Let me see God’s work done in God’s own way—a true and thorough revival, but the signs and wonders we can readily dispense with, for they are certainly not demanded by the faithful, and they will only be the laughing-stock of the faithless.

For meditation: A demand for signs and wonders regularly meets with the same response in the New Testament—Matthew 12:38-40; 16:1-4; John 2:18-22; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.

Sermon no. 317
28 May (Preached 27 May 1860)

John MacArthur –Jesus Purposely Selects a Traitor (Judas Iscariot)

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

God works all things together for His purposes.

At one time the little town of Kerioth was a relatively obscure Judean town, but all that changed when it produced the most hated man who ever lived: Judas Iscariot.

The first mention of Judas is here in Matthew’s list of disciples. We have no record of his call, but we know Jesus did call him along with the others, and even gave him authority to minister in miraculous ways (Matt. 10:1). His first name, Judas, is despised today, but it was a common name in the days of Christ. It is the Greek form of Judah—the land of God’s people. Iscariot literally means “a man from the town of Kerioth.”

People commonly ask why Jesus would select such a man to be His disciple. Didn’t He know how things would turn out? Yes He did, and that’s precisely why He chose him. The Old Testament said the Messiah would be betrayed by a familiar friend for thirty pieces of silver, and Jesus knew Judas was that man (John 17:12).

Some people feel sorry for Judas, thinking he was simply misguided or used as some kind of pawn in a supernatural drama over which he had no control. But Judas did what he did by choice. Repeatedly Jesus gave him chances to repent, but he refused. Finally, Satan used him in a diabolical attempt to destroy Jesus and thwart God’s plan of salvation. His attempt failed however, because God can use even a Judas to accomplish His purposes.

Undoubtedly there are people in your life who wish you harm. Don’t be discouraged. They are as much a part of God’s plan for you as those who treat you kindly. You must reach out to them just as Jesus reached out to Judas. God knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and rejoice as you see His purposes accomplished even through your enemies.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His sovereign control over every circumstance and for the promise that His purposes will never be thwarted.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 26:14-50 and 27:1-10.

  • How did Jesus reveal that it was Judas who would betray Him?
  • What reaction did Judas have when he heard that Jesus had been condemned?

 

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Waste Your Pain

 

All things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28

Life is full of unjust situations that create a great deal of pain for you, especially in your relationship with other people. You will experience some hurt and pain, but you don’t have to allow these experiences to destroy your happiness. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it.

If you’ve been hurt, God can take your bad experiences and make them work for your good. Believing this truth is a positive decision that can help stop your pain.

Choose to learn from the hurtful experiences instead of wasting your pain by allowing them to make you bitter. One way to do this is to overcome evil with good by making sure you don’t hurt others. It’s a good place to start!

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Real Life, Radiant Health

 

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

George Muller was asked the secret of his fruitful service for the Lord. “There was a day when I died,” he said, “utterly died.”

As he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost touched the floor.

“I died to George Muller,” he continued, “his opinions, preferences, tastes and will – died to the world, its approval or censure – died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends – and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.”

With that kind of obedience to God and His inspired Word, it is small wonder that that great man of faith, George Muller, saw God perform miracle after miracle in his behalf, helping to support hundreds and even thousands of orphans simply by trusting God to provide.

Men and women of the world today would pay literally millions of dollars for the real life and radiant health promised in Proverbs 4:20-22 to the believer for simple faith and trust in God. “Listen, son of mine, to what I say. Listen carefully. Keep these thoughts ever in mind; let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they will mean real life for you, and radiant health.” To me, these verses encourage reading, studying, memorizing and meditating upon the Word of God.

Being crucified with Christ and hiding His Word in our hearts will not only keep us from sin, but it will also promote real life and radiant health for us, which we will want to share with others.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 4:23-27, 5:1-2

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: By faith, I will recognize that I have been crucified with Christ and will keep His thoughts in my mind throughout this day, meditating on His promises and faithfulness.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Great Grace

 

In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning wrote, “Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.”

The days of the years…are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life.

Genesis 47:9

In Genesis 47, Joseph brought his father Jacob before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked him how old he was. In his answer in today’s verse, Jacob surely remembers many bad events: his brother Esau wanting to kill him for his trickery; being tricked himself by Laban into serving extra time for his wives; his daughter being raped; his wife Rachel dying and his son Joseph supposedly being killed but sold into slavery. Through all this evil, Jacob trusted God – and because of God’s grace, he was blessed.

Though suffering, sorrow and evil may be great on your life’s journey, know God’s grace is greater. As you pray today, thank Him for His grace, and ask that He would continue to shed His blessings on you and your nation.

Recommended Reading: I John 5:1-5, 13-15

Greg Laurie – God’s Loving Discipline

 

“For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” —Hebrews 12:6

Lot’s point of reference was Egypt. Genesis 13:10 tells us, “Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)”

Instead of lifting his eyes up to Heaven, Lot lifted his eyes up to the plain of Jordan and saw a place called Sodom. The eyes will always see what the heart loves.

Next, Lot separated himself from godly influence. In Abraham’s defense, he was supposed to separate from Lot. But Lot should have stayed close to Abraham. And a sure sign of spiritual decline is when we find ourselves wanting to get away from godly people.

Then Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. He wasn’t quite in Sodom, but he was very close. He could overhear the parties. He could kind of see what was going on. Call it research if you want, but Lot was just a few feet away from full participation.

If you have sensed that God is warning you to walk away from certain things you are doing, then rejoice. That means you’re a child of His. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

The fact that the Lord brings about a conviction of sin in your heart, puts a roadblock in your path, or allows your secret sin to come into the open is a good thing. God loves you so much that He will try to stop you from going any further. So you have a choice. You can persist in your course. Or, you can listen to what God is saying to you.

Max Lucado – God Gives Hope

God gives hope! So what if someone was born thinner or stronger, lighter or darker than you? Why count diplomas or compare resumes? What does it matter if they have a place at the head table? You have a place at God’s table! And he’s filling your cup to overflowing. Hasn’t our Father given us a strong wall of grace to protect us? A sure exit to deliver us? Of whom can we be envious? Who has more than we do?

Rather than want what others have, shouldn’t we wonder if they have what we do? Instead of being jealous of them, how about zealous for them? Hold out the cup! There’s enough to go around. One thing is certain. When the final storm comes and you are safe in your Father’s house, you won’t regret what he didn’t give. You will be stunned at what he did.

From Traveling Light

Night Light for Couples -Letting Go

 

Bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

I admit that it was difficult to watch my two children, Danae and Ryan, grow up. I knew they couldn’t remain children forever, and I certainly didn’t want to freeze their development. But I loved every minute of their childhood, and I cherish the memories we created.

I worked especially hard on “letting go” of Danae during her last three years at home. One of the most difficult times occurred when she was fifteen. She was having trouble getting ready for school on time, and I repeatedly rescued her by driving her there at the last minute. Finally, Jim and I agreed that it was time for Danae to accept full responsibility for beating the tardy bell.

One morning Danae missed her carpool ride, and she appeared at my door as I was preparing for an appointment. I ignored her hints about driving her, and we lived too far from school for her to walk. When she realized I wasn’t going to rescue her, she called Dial‐A‐Ride, our city‐sponsored cab company. She gathered her books and sat on the curb in front of our house with her head down, waiting for the cab.

I reluctantly faced one of my most difficult assignments ever. I backed my car out of the driveway and drove off, leaving my beloved teenage daughter dejected and alone. My mind flooded with all the horrible things that could happen to a young girl by herself. I asked God to protect Danae and help her learn from this experience.

The Lord heard my prayer. Danae came bounding into the house after school, threw her books on the table, and wailed, “Oh, Mother! How embarrassing! Do you know what kind of cab Dial‐A‐Ride has? It is a huge, old, beat‐up station wagon. The driver drove me right up in front of the school, and all my friends saw me. Oh, I will never do that again!” The next morning, Danae was up at the crack of dawn.

It’s extremely difficult for loving, caring parents to let their vulnerable children face embarrassment or failure. Our impulse is to bail them out or cover for their irresponsibility. But if we have faith in our objectives—and in our kids—we’ll stay the course and all do some growing up together.

– Shirley M Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

Encouragement for today – When I Don’t Get What I Want

 

Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached with each thought of it? It seems life would be so much better if you had that.“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

There would be more happiness.

More contentment.

More fulfillment.

More satisfaction.

More peace.

We can envision ourselves with this thing, this person, this opportunity. And all things are better. So, why doesn’t God give us this longing of our heart?

Because He wants us to willingly release it to Him.

Ouch.

Not the answer we want. Why would God let the aching desire linger and not make things happen? He could. He’s certainly able. But when He doesn’t, it seems unfair. Not good. Confusing.

It’s easy to get down when we’re constantly let down.

We hope this thing will happen … we’ll meet this right person … we’ll get this job … we’ll finally be healed … we’ll get that chance … we’ll see that family member turn their life around. Time and again it doesn’t happen. That’s when it’s easy to slip.

We can so easily slip into feeling a little distant from God because we feel hurt by God.

That’s what happened when the man I thought I was going to marry told me he met someone else. That’s what happened when I didn’t get the job I was so certain was going to be the answer to all my financial problems. That’s what happened when my son didn’t get into the charter school we were so certain would have been perfect for him.

But, in each of these things, I eventually had to make a choice. I could either be consumed with my unmet longing or trust the plans of our loving God.

As an offering of trust, we must give up that which could so easily bring us down.

Not give up as in a discouraged surrender. But giving up as in placing this desire in the hand of God and saying, “Either way, I will see Your answer asthe good answer and walk in trust.”

The Scriptures and today’s key verse promise He rewards those who honestly seek Him: “And without faith is it impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Sometimes I get so consumed with seeking my unmet longings, I don’t earnestly seek Him. But then I miss out on His reward. And His reward is the only thing that will fill the void in my heart.

Yes, I still struggle with unmet desires.

But not as much today as I did yesterday.

And that is good. Not easy. But good.

Dear Lord, I sacrifice chasing what I want so I might more fully, and with more focus, chase You. I release this grip of desire. I praise You for who You are, what only You can bring, and how You will fill whatever gap this release might leave. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (NIV)

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave is just what you need to replace your unmet desire with a longing for God. Get your copy today.

For more encouragement, visit Lysa’s blog!

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What unmet longing do you need to let go of today?

Place this desire in the hand of God by declaring, “Lord, either way, I will see Your answer as the good answer and walk in trust.”

by Lysa TerKeurst