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Archive for August, 2012

“When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.”

~Ephesians 1:13-14

Tucked in an olive green folder in a dusty security safe and wedged in a dark corner of my basement are the birth certificates for each member of my family. I rarely pull the file, as I have only needed to do so on a handful of occasions, namely, my children’s kindergarten registrations and when obtaining a passport. The simple document is a vital record outlining the essential facts of a child’s birth: parents’ names, state of birth, and social security numbers, as well as the date, place, and time of the child’s birth. At the bottom of the record, one can feel a raised seal, stamped by the county clerk confirming the validity of the document. The seal is usually embossed, impressed, or multicolored and verifies that the certificate is the original document.

My children’s birth certificates prove that they are my children, without a doubt. Our Father God gives us even greater proof that we are His children when He gives us the Holy Spirit. When we become a child of God, when we are born into the family of God, we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Guaranteeing our salvation and our heavenly inheritance, God the Holy Spirit is confirmation that I am the adopted child of God. Romans 8:16 assures me of this truth, “The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Daniel B. Wallace, in a writing regarding the perseverance of the saints, notes, “God the Spirit assures us of salvation at the beginning of our spiritual life and keeps us in the faith to the end of our earthly life.”

The proof of my earthly birth can hardly compare to the proof of my spiritual birth: the seal of the Holy Spirit. His presence in my daily life reminds me that I am God’s child and will forever be. This is a promise that I don’t want to keep locked away in a dusty security safe. Rather, it is a promise that I should be declaring to the world with boldness and joy.

We often share with others the stories of our family heritage, and each story is both unique and intriguing. When was the last time you shared the story of your spiritual family heritage with another? I feel God the Spirit’s conviction even as I write … His Spirit testifies that I am God’s child … when will I follow His prompting and proclaim my story of salvation to those I know who have not yet been sealed? God’s signature is on my life. Can the world see it?

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In the early years of my marriage, my husband and I went through our share of rental properties and apartments. One rental property in particular was a century-old stucco home on the main street of a small town in lower Michigan. The landlords were hoping to transform it into a livable residence, a house-flipping project of sorts. The home, nonetheless, only had one bathroom: no shower, only a tub. When I requested the landlord put in a shower, I was met with marked skepticism. After much discussion, he relented, but I couldn’t help wondering if he actually expected my 6’4″ husband to take a tub bath every morning!

We didn’t last long in this rental property. Bats, heating costs, and various other concerns sent us packing to a much smaller rental: a white one-bedroom cottage on the lake. This home was far more appealing to the eye, but still in need of repairs. Nearly seven months into our stay, a tornado in the nearby town knocked out  power for nearly a week and fried the refrigerator. When the power was restored, we asked if the landlord could repair or replace the refrigerator. His response: Just store your items in my home up the hill. Honestly!  The landlord had lived across the road and up a steep hill from the cottage. I was six months pregnant at the time, and the thought of waddling across the road every morning and evening seemed utterly atrocious! We moved out shortly thereafter. I praise God that not all of our rental encounters were this trying.

As I recall and reflect on these experiences, I am grateful that my spiritual “apartment manager” does not maintain my life in the same manner. When I began a relationship with Jesus Christ, He gave me the Holy Spirit, GOD IN ME, to help me care for and maintain my spiritual temple. Unlike the experiences I shared, the Holy Spirit does not have absurd expectations for my life nor does He neglect me when my life is in desperate need of repair. God’s Word reminds me that my “body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 6:19). I am instructed to present my body “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Thankfully, God does not leave my sanctuary, my life and my body, for me alone to manage. His Holy Spirit works in me to transform me into the woman He created me to be.

I don’t want to neglect His temple by failing to heed the prompting of my spiritual manager or seeking after my own agenda. The Holy Spirit knows what areas of my life are in disarray and I can trust His guidance in making the necessary repairs. To do so, however, I must be willing to admit and confess my sin, listen for His guidance, and follow Him obediently. When I do, God will be glorified and my life will be radiant, like the “light of the world” it is purposed to be.

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“…in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgement, because in prince of this world now stands condemned.”  John 16:9-11

On my own I don’t see deer in the woods or shapes in the clouds like other family members do so readily.  They have a higher visual/spacial intelligence then I do.  I always need them to point out to me what I cannot see on my own.  Then I can see!

The Holy Spirit works like that to point each of us uniquely to God’s plan of salvation, accepting Jesus as our Savior.  On our own we either miss it entirely or in our pride we rationalize why we are fine on our own.  The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to convict us of our need.  Praise be to God for giving us sight!!

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:18

Many people I know have never flown on an airplane.  There are even a few who have not left their home state!  Because of this life choice they may not be aware that a place like Maryville, Tennessee exists.  Simply because a person has not heard of or ever seen on a map or read about or viewed pictures of a location doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist!

So it is with heaven and hell.  All human beings will, in the end, go to one or the other no matter their understandings of them.  Be encouraged to make a decision yourself and share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ!

“Now is the time for judgment on this world, now the prince will be driven out.”  John 12:31

By nature I am a “journey” person.  I enjoy the “process” of most activities and am even a bit sad when they are over.  By nature my husband is a “destination” person.  He enjoys and is concerned about accomplishment and crossing things off his list!  Most of the time, praise the Lord, we are a good team!!

We currently live in a time period where sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is our purpose.  We can get caught up in the details of programs.  It’s easy to lose focus of the most important thing, which is people!  All good things must come to an end.  There will be a day that Christ returns to earth but we don’t know the deadline of that date!  Pray that the Holy Spirit keeps us focused on the most important thing, offering the good news of salvation in the way He leads us to the lost people around us.

 

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“Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery.  Instead by filled with the Spirit.”  Ephesians 5:18

After a long day, long week, or maybe a long year we need to relax.  “Getting away from it all” means different things to different people.  Some folks have a glass of wine.  Some exercise. Some eat.  Some watch television.  Some turn to sexual expression.  Cleaning has been one of my favorite ways to de-stress.  I have a son who loves to fish.  I know a friend who enjoys shopping to decompress.  Music can be therapeutic.

All of these things are good in proper context.  But none of them will replace the peace that comes from a close intimate relationship with the lover of our soul and the one who fearfully and wonderfully made us. (Psalm 139:14)  Spending time getting back to the heart-connection of Jesus and being filled again with the Spirit is more satisfying than exercise, that can actually deteriorate our bodies if done too much,  or eating, that can increase our size instead of nourish if done with the wrong heart-attitude.  Our brain can get lazy watching television instead of being “transformed.” (Romans 12:2)  Cleaning is such a temporary condition and also makes other family members who don’t hold the same view “the enemy” and that isn’t getting us to a peaceful place.

Nothing done in place of a right relationship with Jesus will satisfy.  I know from experience!

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“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  Titus 3:5 & 6

Once we had a lost dog come on our property and it seemed he had been lost for a long time. His coat was dirty and had many burrs. Upon closer view we could see tears in his fur where something sharp had compromised the left side of his face. He was thin from hunger and probably needed water as well. We tried to coax him to us. In the beginning he would bare his teeth. Upon many soft invitations he tried to approach but he would skitter away after taking a few steps toward us. He clearly didn’t trust. It seemed possibly he had been mistreated by someone who he thought would help him in the past. How could we convince him we had all the resources needed to help him and, more importantly, the heart to help?

This is the way of Jesus. He loves us and has compassion for our weary, dirty, mistrusting and angry self. He has all the resources to help us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We often run away and look for help in all the wrong places. If we choose to come to him he will give us the Holy Spirit to care for us and teach us everything we need to know. He claims us as his own and we will live in joy with him as our “Master.”

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Editor’s Note:  This week we close out our month-long series on the Holy Spirit.  Two ladies, an empty nester and a mother with young children, have teamed up to bring daily illustrations and insights on the ways the Holy Spirit has a ministry of Help to us.   

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.”   John 16:7-10

When buying a new home, we always spend the extra money to have a home inspector come. From our eyes, all the color coordination, staging of furniture and meticulous housekeeping makes everything look safe and sound. A home inspector has training to investigate the unseen areas of the home and expose anything not working properly. Possible electrical shortage, water system maybe previous clogged pipes expose water damage, furnace and air conditioning maybe running inefficiently, window seals broken, a fireplace that isn’t secure and may be a safety hazard, and most important a solid foundation with no cracks where moisture and insects are prone to enter and weaken the home.

The Holy Spirit is like that. He can come into our heart and expose things we didn’t know were a problem. We can see and feel the damage because of his conviction to our spirit, and, realizing we could not make repairs on our own, he offers us the blood of Jesus to “wash us clean.” (Psalm 51:7)

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The Holy Spirit is God.  The Holy Spirit is a person with personality and character and a specific role in our lives.  He takes an active part daily in our lives.  This week has just been a brief glimpse of the Holy Spirit’s role.  Today, I need to be reminded that I only need to ask.  I try so often to be in charge…to handle things on my own…to fix myself and others.  Yet, today I am reminded the Holy Spirit will fill me (Eph 5:18, Acts 2:4, 9:17) and that it is the Holy Spirit that produces in us the fruit or evidence of His work and God’s presence in our lives (Gal 5:22-23).  There is so much to learn and realize and, as we ask, He will reveal more and more of Himself.  I am overjoyed to learn that I don’t have to make this daily journey alone.  But, I admit I want to know more about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how I can yield my stubborn heart to His gentle touch.

 

May I ask how have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in your life this week?  The Holy Spirit showed up in my life this week in multiple ways—in the unconditional love (non-judgmental) of my grandson, as I was kept safe traveling the highways, as my heart was comforted when I recalled the anniversary of a death of a loved one—oh, so many ways I can’t even identify them all!

 

Teach me Lord God that I might know you better.  Reveal Your authority, Your energy, Your wisdom and empower me to go out as Your witness and serve in Your Name.  Reveal to me what I have received from my Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, and quicken my heart with boldness that I might share the love of Christ today in a new and fresh way with someone who needs an extra dose of grace.  Amen. 

 

 

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