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Hope Springs Eternal

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“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  Romans 8:11

 On a regular basis, I deal with situations of deep and overwhelming heartbreak.  It is an occupational hazard for me.  I am regularly at hospitals, funeral homes and cemeteries.  In these moments, we pray for God’s healing.  I believe that God does answer prayers, and even brings healing in many cases.  However, He does not always heal someone when we ask Him to.  Sometimes He answers by allowing the illness to progress or He even allows death itself to come.  We pray for miracles and yet He has perfect knowledge and perfect timing in these moments, even when we cannot see His orchestration of events from our limited viewpoint. All we can see is illness ravaging our loved one’s body.  We see death’s definitive reality.  It feels hopeless. It seems like our hearts will never heal.  We cannot see the divine workings around us and through us.

This must have been how the disciples’ felt.  They saw the soldiers arrest Jesus.  Some of them followed along to the place of His trials.  They saw Him crucified, and they watched Him die.  Two of His disciples took His dead body down from the cross and placed it in a tomb nearby.  Grief, pain, heartache, disillusionment, anger, despair, and much, much more, must have dominated the thinking and emotions of the disciples.  Their pain was so deep that they may have literally felt death’s grip on themselves as they contemplated the death of Christ.  “He’s gone.”  “Our lives were a fraud.”  “We have followed Him in vain.” “We should have never gotten involved.”  “If we had stayed in Galilee and minded our own business, our ignorance of these events could have provided protection from this painful reality.”  “My heart aches to the point of breaking beyond any repair.”  God allowed the three days of overwhelming, penetrating loneliness to permeate the lives of these followers.  His message to them was painfully clear.  “Here is the reality of sin and death.”  “Here is the reality of brokenness in this life.”  The disciples were going to minister to a fledgling church racked with persecution, suffering, and even death.  God gave the disciples the clearest demonstration of the penetrating impact of the ravages of human sin.  Then, like the breaking of the dawn as it defeats the power of the night’s darkness, God demonstrated His victory over death.  God breathes life back into Jesus Christ.  In that one moment, in that first inhale of oxygen into Christ’s lungs, God shattered the power of sin and death forever in our lives.  It took the disciples all day long to grapple with the meaning of it all.  From despair, to confusion, to doubts, to wonder, to faith, to joy, on the day Christ had risen from the dead the disciples processed all that had transpired.  God had instantly destroyed all the power of sin and death over His chosen ones.  It took these disciples all day, even several days, to understand it all.  

It is not surprising that we take time to work through similar emotions.  When someone is sick or dies we, like the disciples, work through a series of emotions.  We despair.  We are confused.  We doubt.  We then begin to see these trials in light of the breaking dawn of the resurrection of Christ.  We begin to imagine the implications of His empty tomb, especially in the life of our precious husband, wife or child.  Faith is renewed through the work of God’s gracious presence.  Faith is established through our contemplation of His Word.  The final, victorious emotion comes after days, weeks, months or even years: Joy.  Victorious joy comes and overpowers our despair.  This joy is ours as we allow the truth of what God has done in Christ to seep into the crevasses of our mind.  Why does the resurrection of Christ bring hope when my spouse, parent or child dies?  Because God has a habit of bringing His children back from the dead.  In Romans 8:11, Paul tells us that in the same way that God raised Jesus Christ, He will also raise us up.  The Spirit of God dwells in us and accomplishes many things in our lives.  There is a work to be done by the Holy Spirit that is in the future.  He will bring life to our mortal bodies.  He will do this.  We know that He will because He already has.  God has a habit of bringing life into the mortal bodies of His beloved children. Hope springs eternal.  Even now Lord Jesus, come.

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

2017 40 Days of Prayer, Day 31

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The Abiding Presence of God:
A Life of Complete Dependence

 

Day 31

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”  Romans 8:31

God Is for Us

What an encouragement!  God is for us.  God is not against us.  He is for us.  Consider all that God has done.  He saved us through His infinitely glorious plan.  He saved us by giving up His own Son so that we might be adopted into His divine family.  All of these things He determined to do before one atom came into being; long before the sun, moon, and the stars existed.  His salvation plan involves making rebellious, God-hating sinners into His very own children.  He adopts us, justifies us, and glorifies us.  He fills us with His Spirit in order to comfort us in trials and to purify us in our battles with sin.  He gives us the hope of everlasting life with Christ.  Paul, after articulating these truths, asked this question: “What then shall we say to these things?”  What shall we say?  We say, “God is on our side.”  These truths protect us from our experiences.  These truths protect us from our own feelings.  Our own feelings betray us.  Our emotions cause us to forget all that God has done.  We allow hurt feelings to dictate our joy.  Something goes poorly during the day and thoughts of our own inadequacies dominate our minds.  If we burn our dinner, our kids make a mess, we lock our keys in the car, our boss is rude, or if we look in the mirror and hate what we see, we must remember that these temporary assaults on our confidence pale when compared to the confidence that is ours because of what God has done.  He is for us!

Prayer Focus

God, forgive me for letting the cares of this world and the struggles of daily life bring me to such a lowly state of mind.  Please bring Your truth to bear on my day.  Fill my mind with Your truths.  Use the truth of Your everlasting love to guard my heart.  Protect me from the emotions that war against the Your truth.  Thank You for saving me and adopting me into Your family.  You are for me and not against me.  In the name of Christ, I pray, amen.

From DL Moody’s Secret Power

LONG AND SHORT SIGHT

The Holy Spirit brings to our mind what God has in store for us. I heard a man, some time ago, speaking about Abraham. He said “Abraham was not tempted by the well-watered plains of Sodom, for Abraham was what you might call a long-sighted man. He had his eyes set on the city which had foundation ‘whose Builder and Maker is God.’”  But there are many people in the Church who are very short sighted. They only see things right around them that they think are good. Abraham was long-sighted. He had glimpses of the celestial city. Moses was longsighted. He left the palaces of Egypt and identified himself with God’s people, poor people, who were slaves. But he had something in view. He could see something God had in store.  Again, there are some people who are long-sighted and short-sighted at the same time.  I think the Church is full of this kind of people. They want one eye for the world and the other for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, everything is blurred. One eye is long and the other is short; all is confusion. The Church is filled with that sort of people. Stephen was long-sighted. He looked clear into heaven. They couldn’t convince him, even when he was dying, that Christ had not ascended to heaven. “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” and he looked clear into heaven,” Acts 7:55 KJV.  The world had no temptation for him.

I tell you, when the Spirit of God is on us the world looks very empty. The world has a very small hold upon us, and we begin to let go our hold of it. When the Spirit of God is on us we will just let go the things of time and lay hold of things eternal. This is the Church’s need today. We want the Spirit to come in mighty power, and consume all the vile dross there is in us. Oh, that the Spirit of fire may come down and burn everything in us that is contrary to God’s blessed Word and Will.

In John 14:16, we read of the Comforter. This is the first time He is spoken of as the Comforter. Christ had been their Comforter. God had sent Him to comfort the sorrowing. It was prophesied of Him, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted.”  Luke 4:18a NKJV

You can’t heal the broken-hearted without the Comforter, but the world would not have the first Comforter. So they rose up, took Him to Calvary and put Him to death. But on the way, He said, “I will send you another Comforter. You shall not be comfortless. Be of good cheer, little flock. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

All these sweet passages are brought to the remembrance of God’s people, and they help us to rise out of the fog and mist of this world. O, what a comforter is the Holy Spirit of God!

 

 

2017 40 Days of Prayer, Day 28

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The Abiding Presence of God:
A Life of Complete Dependence

 

Day 28

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Intuitive Knowledge

“And we know that…” Paul assumed that all believers have a working, intuitive knowledge of the goodness and sovereignty of God.  “Paul assumes they know this because they have come to know God in Christ and experienced the fullness of His grace in their lives.”  (Moo, Romans, NICNT)  We know that God causes “all things” to work toward a particular purpose.  The “all things” includes trials, difficulties, sufferings, joys, celebrations, and on and on.  Paul gives his definitive list of the “all things” in the verses that follow: famine, nakedness, peril, sword…  Consider the final verses of this chapter, Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Our suffering in this world was Paul’s focus when it concerned the “all things” of Romans 8:28.  This intuitive knowledge provides additional protection for our hearts in the midst of our difficulties.  What we know about God, allows us to persevere when we face “all things.”  We know that He constantly works toward a purpose.  His purpose is the glory of His Son and the everlasting joy of His children.  In order to bring that about, He is working toward the glorification of the children of God so that we will be able to glorify the Son and we will be able to experience the fullness of the joy of the Lord.  We know God is at work in a particular group of people.  The particular group that Paul had in mind is believers.  Paul identified them as “those who love God” and “those called according to His purpose.”  One of the distinctive marks of believers is a love for God.  Believers love God while unbelievers live in a hostile relationship with God.  Unbelievers are at war with God.  They cannot glorify God because they have their backs turned to Him in rebellion.  God’s ultimate purpose is His glory.  Believers have been called into a relationship with God through faith in Christ.  The purpose of this relationship is to glorifying God.  This is the “good” of which Paul spoke.  God works in our lives to bring about our greater good.  Our greater good is to know, experience, and enjoy the glory of God forever.  It is His purpose and the greatest thing that could happen to us.  We see from this verse that believers in Jesus Christ can have confidence that God is at work in us.  God works to bring about our greater good even in the midst of suffering.  The greater good looks to the future experience of unending joy in the exalting of the Son of God forever.

Prayer Focus

Lord, I want to trust You in every circumstance.  Help me to trust You to accomplish what You have promised.  The events of this day are in Your hands.  Take my day and establish Your glorious cause even in the mundane activities.  Help me to live in absolute submission to You.  Forgive me for the times I have not trusted You, especially when I faced trials.  Protect my heart from bitterness, knowing that You are at work toward the goal of Your own glory.  Now, Oh Lord, hear the prayers of Your people.  We as a church want to experience the power of Your Holy Spirit.  We long to be part of this divine plan of bringing You glory through the declaration of the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

DL Moody “Secret Power”

SPIRITS THAT PEEP AND MUTTER

There is another passage which reads, “And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”( Isaiah 8:19 KJV) If it was a message from God, do you think you would have to go into a dark room and put out all the lights? In secret my Master taught nothing. God is not in that movement, and what we want, as children of God, is to keep ourselves from this evil.  Then notice the verse following, quoted so often out of context: “to the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”(Isaiah 8:20 KJV)  Any man, any woman, who comes to us with any doctrine that is not according to the law and the testimony, let us understand that they are from the evil one, and that they are enemies of righteousness. They have no light in them. 

Now, you will find these people who are consulting familiar spirits, first and last, attack the Word of God. They don’t believe it. Still a great many people say, you must hear both sides. But if a man should write me a most slanderous letter about my wife, I don’t think I would have to read it. I should tear it up and throw it to the winds. Do I read all the infidel books that are written, to hear both sides? Do I take up a book that is a slander on my Lord and Master, who has redeemed me with His blood? Ten thousand times No! I will not touch it.

 

 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1NKJV) That is pretty plain language, isn’t it? “Doctrines of demons.” There are other passages of Scripture warning against every delusion of Satan. Let us ever remember the Spirit has been sent into the world to guide us into all truth. We don’t want any other guide. He is enough. Some people say, “Is not conscience a safer guide than the Word and the Spirit?” No, it is not. Some people don’t seem to have any conscience, and don’t know what it means. Their education has a good deal to do with their conscience. There are persons who will say that their conscience did not tell them that they had done wrong until after the wrong was done. But what we want, is something to tell us a thing is wrong before we do it. Very often a man will go and commit some awful crime, and after it is done his conscience will wake up and lash and scourge him, and then it is too late, the act is done.

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