Category Archives: Holy Spirit

The Meditation Of My Heart And How To Make It Acceptable In God’s Sight

Psalm 19V14 B&W

I lay awake last night, letting my mind wander into places it had no business going. Not only did my disobedience rob me of sleep I really needed, but much more importantly it grieved the Holy Spirit by dishonoring the Lord. Thankfully, God brought me to repentance fairly quickly, and I drifted off to sleep.

When I awoke this morning, I again confessed my sin to the Lord. As I prayed about it, I remembered Psalm 19:14.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)

Even though the meditation of my heart had been decidedly unacceptable in the sight of the Lord, I felt a desire to  change that course. So I started pondering about ways to keep my thoughts on things that please the Lord. John MacArthur’s radio broadcasts these last two weeks came to mind, as I recalled him saying something about filling our minds with Scripture so that our thoughts would honor God.

From there, I remembered that an earlier portion of Psalm 19 actually talks about Scripture’s impact on people.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward. ~~Psalm 19:7-11 (ESV)

It follows, seems to me, that keeping God’s Word constantly in mind would guard us against dwelling on sinful thoughts. If my heart’s meditation revolves around His Word, naturally it’s acceptable in His sight. Clearly, it leaves no room for entertaining unclean ideas.

Maybe what I’m writing isn’t particularly novel. But sometimes we forget foundational truths. Sometimes it helps to nudge our memories back to things we’ve known for years. We get caught up in the finer points of doctrine, or in serving the Lord, and suddenly lose sight of fundamental attitudes that Christians need.

My mental activities last night most assuredly were unacceptable. But the Lord showed great mercy in using my sin to direct me back to His Word. For that great mercy, I praise His wonderful Name!

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Praising The Lord For Technology And The Reformers

Renaissance Border

In our devotional time together this morning, John thanked the Lord for the technology that makes the Bible accessible to people like us. You see, our disabilities make turning pages and holding heavy books increasingly difficult, especially as we have reached what people euphemistically call “the golden years.” I depend on my eSword software and various online Bibles for both devotional reading and study, while John relies on all those plus his Kindle.

I understand all the arguments favoring paper Bibles (and I use one during church services), and certainly I think able-bodied people should probably use them to avoid the distractions inherent in computers and cell phones. But I praise the Lord that He’s given us such increased access to His Word.

As John prayed his prayer of thanksgiving this morning, I thought back to 1440, when the printing press enabled the mass production of books and pamphlets. In 1517, the printing press allowed for the publication and distribution of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (historians debate whether or not Luther had a hand in that distribution). Renaissance era technology had paved the way for people other than the elite to be exposed to different ideas rather than having to unquestioningly accept everything the Church told them.

Luther and other Reformers subsequently realized the value of translating the Bible into commonly spoken languages, which could then be placed in the hands of anyone who could read. This availability of Scripture in turn permitted people direct access to the doctrines of grace.

Scripture teaches, for example, that salvation comes by faith alone, not as a result of human effort.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~~Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

This doctrine flew in the face of both the sacramental system and the highly lucrative selling of Indulgences, thus threatening the Roman Catholic Church’s power and source of revenue. Yet it opened the message of salvation to countless people who had never had the opportunity to hear the true Gospel. The Lord, through the Reformers, utilized Renaissance era technology to bring about the greatest revival in church history.

I imagine that the Reformers would be amazed and delighted at 21st Century technology with respect to the wide dissemination of God’s Word, as well as the enormous variety of Bible Study tools and Biblical teachings all available on computers and cell phones. These technological advances honor their efforts to make the Bible available to all people.

So, when my husband thanked the Lord for the wide availability of Scripture this morning, I added thanks for the Reformers who first used technology to bring the Bible to every day men, women and children. What a tremendous privilege to have the very Word of God constantly at our fingertips!

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Perspectives In Titus: Salvation, Courtesy Of The Trinity

Titus 3 4 thru 6

When we think of our salvation, we typically attribute it to Jesus. This perspective is altogether proper, and Jesus definitely deserves all the glory and praise for His atoning work on the cross. But our study in Titus today shows us that the Father and the Holy Spirit also had a hand in saving us.

Let’s again read Titus 3:1-7 in order to keep the three verses we’ll examine today in their context.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.   ~~Titus  3:1-7 (ESV)

In verse 4, the word “but” indicates a transition from our pre-conversion state of wretchedness. Just as the Christians in First Century Crete differed from their unsaved counterparts, so we differ from the world because of the Lord showing us His mercy. Paul’s emphasis on the goodness and loving kindness of God keeps us from congratulating ourselves on our personal holiness. Consequently, as Matthew Henry makes clear, we should feel compassion for non-Christians.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown correctly point out that here the phrase “God our Savior” refers specifically to the Father, giving us our first glimpse of the Trinity’s activity in bringing about salvation. The goodness and loving kindness of God appeared, or was manifested. The Cretan Christians didn’t conjure it up; the Lord manifested His grace because He, by nature, is good and loving. Again, the focus on His goodness steers us away from claiming any credit for His work in redeeming us.

Paul insists that God does the saving, elaborating that He did so because of His mercy rather than as a response to our good works, as verse 5 demonstrates. Remember that the Judaizers were disrupting the churches in Crete, teaching that the work of circumcision was necessary for salvation. That fact, coupled with their new behaviors, opened the door to pride. Refer to Ephesians 2:8-10 for a fuller explanation of the sequence of salvation and works. Salvation comes about according to God’s mercy, not our efforts.

The Lord accomplishes our salvation by the “washing of regeneration,” which several commentators understand as a reference to baptism. Believers Bible Commentary, however, argues that this phrase describes the cleansing from sin that results from Christ’s shed blood. This interpretation seems more consistent with the context of this passage.

Paul also attributes salvation to the “renewal of the Holy Spirit.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit transforms us into totally new creations, as seen in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Thus the Cretan Christians differed from their unsaved counterparts only because of the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation in each of them.

The Lord pours His Holy Spirit on the Church, as evidenced at Pentecost, but also on individual members at regeneration. Furthermore, Paul says in verse 6, He isn’t stingy, but rather He pours Him out abundantly. Barnes comments that the Holy Spirit had been so generously given to the Cretan Christians in order to help them overcome their wicked manner of life, adding that this principle applies to all Christians.

Jesus Christ our Savior is the “channel and Mediator of the gift of the Holy Ghost,” say Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. Indeed, Jesus promised in John 16:7 that He would send the Holy Spirit. So while most of the New Testament rightly emphasizes Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf, here Paul points to His work of sending the Holy Spirit  to regenerate us.

Paul credits the entire Trinity with bringing Christians to salvation. In verse 4, he calls God the Father Savior. In verse 5, he teaches that the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews us. And in verse 6, he reminds us that Jesus Christ is our Savior. His exaltation of the Trinity strengthens his case that salvation comes completely from God. Next Monday we will discuss His wonderful purpose in showing us such grace.

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Authenticity As It Should Be

4693a-oval2bdoily2bframeThis current evangelical trend toward “authenticity” dismays me, but it really doesn’t surprise me. Once you strip away all the psycho-babble and distorted Scripture verses used to support it, you’ll find that people generally use the term to excuse sin. For example, someone I used to be close to divorced his wife, “married” his same sex partner and rejected basic Biblical doctrines all because he wants to be “authentic”  before God.

But such “authenticity” only  confirms that we are naturally rebellious toward Christ and His Word. We embrace our favorite sinful behaviors (grumbling, foul language, sexual impurity or whatever it is) as “who we are,” and expect other Christians to admire us for our “honest” lifestyle.

In fact, if they dare to confront us, especially by showing us Bible verses that counter our behavior, we indignantly accuse them of judging us. As we see it, God commends our authenticity, and therefore no one has any business calling our actions into question.

Sounds good on Facebook perhaps, but that attitude of refusing correction doesn’t really sit well with the Lord. Allow me to present just one of many Scriptures that address “authenticity” as a reason to refuse correction:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice. ~~Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)

Okay, the Lord also has plenty to say about the attitudes of those who offer correction, and we’ll talk about His expectations in that regard tomorrow. Right now, however, we need to focus on the notion that self-proclaimed authenticity exempts us from repenting of things that seem intrinsic to our personality.

Yesterday I wrote that, although the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (past, present and future), He still desires us to live in holiness as a grateful response to His mercy and grace. Authenticity to our old nature fails to reflect His Spirit, Who gives us a new nature when He regenerates us.

Authenticity doesn’t have to mean that we remain enslaved to the sinful behaviors that Jesus died to release us from. As beneficiaries of His death on the cross, we have freedom to live lives that honor Him.  Because He makes us new creations when He brings us to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, He calls us to be authentic to our new, redeemed natures.

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How Do We Hear The Holy Spirit?

Voice Of GodCharismatics have claimed personal words from God for years. That figures, since the bulk of charismatic theology (despite their insistence to the contrary) depends on exalting experience over Scripture. In light of that fact, I can almost expect them to believe that God speaks apart from the written Word of God.

A Facebook conversation with someone from the Charismatic church I belonged to in California reminded me recently that a primary argument for God speaking personally pits the living Holy Spirit against the “dead letter” of the Bible. It’s not a denial of Scripture’s authority. In this person’s mind, it’s not even a denial of Scripture’s sufficiency (though that’s pretty much exactly what he’s doing). Rather, it apparently adds a personal relationship with the Spirit that Scripture somehow can’t provide.

Of course, my friend hastens to add, the Spirit never contradicts Scripture. Which raises the question: Why would He then need to speak apart from Scripture in the first place? Why not trust Him to speak through the Bible He inspired?

The mere suggestion that God’s Word is a “dead letter” needing augmentation with personal experiences absolutely chills me. That very idea completely ignores what the Bible says about itself.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

As we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit uses it to convict us of sin, instruct us in righteousness and reveal Who the Triune God is. Through Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us what to look for in a spouse, how to conduct ourselves in business, how to order our families and what His Church should do. Above all that, He shows us His nature and His priorities. He lets us   know what angers Him, what pleases Him and what honors Him.

Certainly, during the course of a day, the Holy Spirit will bring Scriptures and/or Scriptural principles to our minds that we can apply. Even then, please notice, He’s speaking Scripture. He doesn’t, as some claim, direct us to brush a stranger’s hair or purchase an extra bottle of milk. Rather, He commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as much as we love ourselves.

Until we obey everything He tells us in His Word, what would be the point of Him speaking personally to us?

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Remember Who Rules Hurricanes

Of course our prayers go out for the residents of Texas as Hurricane Harvey causes unimaginable havoc. I feel particular concern for people who, like my dear husband, depend on ventilators to do their breathing for them. Perhaps you’re praying for a different demographic, like school kids who may not have a school building or hospital patients who now must postpone important procedures. Harvey will negatively impact countless people in a myriad of ways.

Yet the Lord has full control of this disastrous situation. From our point of view, it certainly doesn’t seem as though He does, and we may be tempted to accuse Him of heartless cruelty if we do acknowledge His sovereignty. I get that.

At the same time, trusting His sovereignty can give us peace and embolden our prayers for the people of Texas. Since God actually does control Hurricane Harvey, we know that He will respond to our prayers for Texas with both compassion and wisdom.

I came across a hymn today that I’d never heard before. Although it’s a naval hymn specifically about protecting sailors from troubles at sea, it reminded me of God’s authority over Hurricane Harvey. Please continue praying for all whose lives will be uprooted by this vicious storm, but pray with confidence in our eternal Father Who rules this hurricane.

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Saturday Sampler: July 2 — July 8

Butterfly SamplerWhat a wonderful way to begin the week! Sunny Shell, in her Abandoned to Christ blog, writes #PsalmSunday: Psalm 48:10-11 as a brief, but powerful, devotional on why we should rejoice over God’s judgments. She gives us good food for thought with this one!

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, Clint Archer’s Heavenites: Our True Citizenship in The Cripplegate puts patriotism in its proper perspective. Loving America has its place, but Christians may want to rethink how closely we align ourselves with this present world.

They say history repeats itself. The Reformation 500 blog demonstrates this principle through its post Jesus Overthrows a Corrupt Priesthood.

Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day consistently produces outstanding blog posts, but Is it normal to feel like I’m sinning more? easily ranks among her best. She deals with a common fear that few Christians dare not ask out loud.

Make time to read Does Abstinence Teaching Really Promote Purity? by Aimee Byrd of Housewife Theologian. She takes the responsibility of sexual purity way beyond external behaviors. Doesn’t that approach remind you of something Jesus would do? Anyway, her angle on teaching purity can apply both to young teens and those of us who have been married for years.

Using the life of Solomon as an example, Jim Elliff of For The Church issues the warning, Don’t Just Tweet Your Proverbs to those of us who are in the latter stages of life. Younger people, however, also need to consider his admonition. Praise God for His faithfulness in bringing this piece to my attention.

John and I enjoy Christian podcasts. Because our disabilities limit our church involvement, we appreciate being able to augment the Sunday sermons our pastor preaches with sound teaching from men like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Mike Abendroth and Alistair Begg. Yet we understand that Man (Or Woman) Cannot Live on Podcasts Alone, as Courtney Reissig of The Gospel Coalition Blog helps us see. Unless physical limitations (such as those John and I have) prevent you from active participation in your local church, please don’t depend on podcasts as your primary source of spiritual nourishment.

Providentially, a brief teaching in Biblical Woman offers encouragement to those of us who actually have been relegated to the sidelines. How Do You See the Difficulties in Your Life comments on Philippians 1:12-19 to redirect or perspective on our limitations.

In Hanging on to the Life Ring Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life shows us how to survive the flood of false teaching that engulf present-day evangelicalism. Ladies, please don’t overlook this one!

Scripture-twisting is epidemic among professing Christians, and the 4th of July can bring some examples out of the woodwork. Michelle Lesley demonstrates this problem in her post, Top Ten 4th of July Twisted Scriptures. Dearest sisters in Christ, please remember to read verses in their proper context before you apply them to 21st (or 18th) Century America.

I’ve confessed before that I battle the sin of anger. Tim Challies brings much needed conviction to me with his article, Angered At and Angry With. He approaches the topic from a different perspective than usual, which makes it all the more interesting.

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