Evangelism – the special work of the Holy Spirit

by J.C. Ryle

I have learned by mournful experience that the last thing a man finds out and understands, is his own state in the sight of God. Well says the Holy Spirit, that we are all by nature “blind,” and “deaf,” and “dumb,” and “asleep,” and “beside ourselves,” and “dead!” Nothing, nothing will ever convince man of his sin but the power of the Holy Spirit.

Show him hell, and he will not flee from it; show him heaven, and he will not seek it; silence him with warnings, and yet he will not stir; prick his conscience, and yet he will remain hard. Power from on high must come down and do the work. To show man the sinner which he really is – is the special work of the Holy Spirit of God.


 

The Bible is one story

by Tim Keller

…we usually read the Bible as a series of disconnected stories, each with a ‘moral’ for how we should live our lives. It is not. Rather, it comprises a single story, telling us how the human race got into its present condition, and how God through Jesus Christ has come and will come to put things right. In other words, the Bible doesn’t give us a god at the top of a moral ladder saying, ‘If you try hard to summon up your strength and live right, you can make it up!’ Instead, the Bible repeatedly shows us weak people who don’t deserve God’s grace, don’t seek it, and don’t appreciate it even after they have received it. If that is the great biblical story arc into which every individual scriptural narrative fits, then what do we learn from this story?

Counterfeit Gods, pp. 36-37

“Death is No Longer Terrible”

Thoughts from 1500 years ago by Athanasius

A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offense against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Saviour, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection.”

On the Incarnation. p. 57)

 

A Prayer Praising Jesus for His Pursuing Love

A prayer I need by Scotty Smith

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

Dear Lord Jesus, every day we have the privilege of living the hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” for you love us tenaciously and you pursue us constantly.  As hard as it is to imagine, you desire fellowship with us, not occasionally, but continually. It’s even harder to imagine that you actually enjoy being with us. We believe, help our unbelief.

In the gospel we enjoy eternal union with you, but for various reasons, we tend to flow in and out of vital communion with you. The sad thing is, sometimes we don’t recognize our heart-drift for a quite a while… days, even months later. It’s usually the people around us that first recognize our being out of fellowship with you, for rich fellowship with you changes the way we relate to everyone.

Jesus, there’s no greater rebuke than to hear you knock on the door of our hearts, yet that knock comes like a kiss. Nothing is more convicting than to hear your voice on the other side of that door, yet your voice is that of a Bridegroom wooing his beloved bride. It’s because you love us that you confront us and discipline us. All of your rebukes are life-giving and when you discipline us… though painful, it’s for our good and our freedom. It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance.

Jesus, right now… early in this new year… early in this new day, I hear your knock and your voice in the gospel, and by faith, I rise to greet you. Come in and let us feast together, today and all year long. You are the Bread we need the most. You give the water that alone quenches our thirst. May this be a year in which fellowship and intimacy with you is taken to a whole new level—to a degree of satisfaction and joy that will make all other competing feasts seem like banquets in the grave.

“Being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26). Until the Day when daily fellowship meals are replaced with aWedding Feast, may I hear your knock on the outside of the door way less often. So very Amen, I pray, in your irrepressibly loving name.

 

Praying Scripture

by Mary Kassian at True Woman 08

Do you ever get “stuck in a rut” in your prayer life? Praying Scripture will help. Praying Scripture is a method of prayer practiced by the early church. It involves reading, pondering, listening and praying God’s Word:

1.  Read
Read the passage of Scripture slowly. Let’s use a passage from Psalm 1:1-2 for example:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

2.  Reflect
Think about how to personalize the text and apply it to your own life. Take note of any particular verse or phrase that seems to be of particular importance. For instance, in the above verses you might take note of the word “Blessed” and “delight is in the law of the Lord.” You might want to think about where you are seeking happiness and delight. Do you delight in God’s Word?

3.  Resonate
Respond to/agree with the passage by praying it back to God. Pray the words of the Scriptures, applying them to your life or circumstance. You could pray Psalm 1:12 in the following way:

“Lord, please help me not to walk according to the advice of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Help me find my happiness and delight in Your word, and to meditate on Your word all the time.” (Or, you could pray this as an intercessory prayer for your husband, children, or for a government official, church leader, or friend.)

4.  Receive
Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation is a two-way process. So it’s helpful to take a moment to listen to what the Lord is saying back to you. In the above instance, the Lord might speak to you about an area of your life in which you are listening to the advice of the world instead of to His Word.

Praying Scripture is one of the most effective ways to pray, because you know you’re praying according to the will of God. And He has promised, that when we pray according to His will, He hears and answers.

So here are my suggestions:

  • As you are reading Scripture, make a habit of praying Scripture. Use the method I outlined above.
  • Write out specific Scripture verses to pray for yourself and/or for others. You could collect prayer verses for your husband on some loose-leaf pages and keep them in a section of a binder. Then, when you pray for him, you can turn to that part of the binder and pray through the verses.
  • Pray Scripture whenever you can. If you are praying at a prayer meeting, open your Bible to a relevant verse and pray that verse. Let the Word of God direct your prayers.

 

Christianity cannot be moderately important

by C.S. Lewis

Christianity if false is of no importance & if true is of infinite importance but it can’t be moderately important.

It’s a Big Thing to Know You’re Small

Snipped from a humbling blog by Trevan Wax

When it comes to God, the Bible seems to simultaneously encourage and dispel mystery. The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and in it, he discloses himself. And yet, the Bible often reminds us of what we can’t know about God.

  • The Apostle Paul tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).
  • Many passages in Scripture portray God as distant, removed, altogether holy and distinct from us.
  • The Psalmists praise his glory and greatness, saying that no one can fathom just how awesome he is (Ps. 145:3).
  • His knowledge is too wonderful for us.
  • His thoughts are so high and lofty that we cannot think them after him (Psalm 139:6).
  • His ways are beyond finding out (Romans 11:33).

Verses like these clue us in on the fact that God is not like us. We were made in his image, yet we seek constantly to make him into ours. Coming to grips with the magnificence of God reminds us that we cannot fully comprehend him. If we could completely wrap our minds around God, then we might as well trade places with him. We would become God, and he would become a creation of our own imagination.

Seeking to understand God always leads us to a place of mystery.

Mysteries intrigue us. Many novels, short stories, television shows, and movies utilize the compelling genre of mystery, in which more and more truth is revealed as the story progresses. In the Scriptures, the truth of God’s nature is also revealed progressively, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

But even world-class theologians who have become experts on studying the nature of God will admit that the more they learn about God, the more they realize how much is left to learn. The more we know about the infinite God, the more we see the finiteness of humanity.

Finite Before the Infinite

But this is a good place to be. It’s a big thing to know you’re small. Being aware of our smallness both frightens and comforts us. Our fear of the infinite, holy God drives us to our knees – just as it did Isaiah. Yet in this posture of worship, we sense comfort. Deep down in our bones, we know we were made to worship. We were created to stand as finite creatures before an infinite God. Once our sin is exposed, we are driven to our knees in repentance before a mighty God whose perfect attributes have no end.

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote:

“The whole law of human existence lies in this: that man be able to bow down before the infinitely great.”

C.S. Lewis said our talk about God is like staring at the sun. We cannot fully take in the sun’s brilliance, but its radiance enables us to see everything else.

God’s essence remains, in part, a mystery. If we are to embrace God, we must embrace this mystery. We must bow before the infinite with the firm realization that his ways are past finding out. We must put our hand over our mouth and recognize the unchanging holiness of the Holiest One. And to think that the Infinite God put on humanity and dwelt among us…

Well, now my small heart pounds with gratitude for the great love of a big God.

 

There are no new doctrines

This warning by Charles spurgeon is very relevant in our day. Beware of anyone who brings new doctrines, teachings, and special insights into Scripture. Beware of anyone who thinks God has given him special privileges and revelations.

The canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added; God does not give a fresh revelation, but He rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten and laid in the dusty closet of our memory, He grabs it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one. There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived.

It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Holy Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over and over again; He brings a bright light to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; He unlocks the vaults in which the truth has long lain, and He points to secret rooms filled with untold riches; but He coins no more, for enough is done.

Believer! There is enough in the Bible for you to live on forever. If you should outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation; if you should live until Christ returns, there would be no necessity for the addition of one single word; if you should go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David said he did, into the depths of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort you without one extra sentence.


 

The Value of Our Conscience

by Charles Stanley


1 Timothy 1:18-19

The conscience is God’s early warning system for alerting us to potential danger. It monitors our emotions, thought life, and conduct.

The way our conscience works is similar to a radar system, which notifies us of possible trouble, usually without specifically identifying the problem. The principles and standards that we hold to determine the sensitivity of our conscience. For example, if we believe lying is wrong, then an alarm will sound when we start to shade the truth. But if we think that lies are justifiable, it will be silent.

When programmed with the truth of God’s Word, the conscience has great value for a Christian. It detects deviations from the Lord’s standards and sends out a warning. The Holy Spirit uses that signal to get our attention. Then, He will reveal what the problem is, give us understanding about it, and show us the right choices to make. He will guide us to relevant Scripture verses that can shed light on our situation and point out the implications of a wrong choice.

Failure to heed our inner alarm can bring serious consequences. Adam and Eve knew what God expected (Gen. 2:15-17). However, when tempted, they ignored their conscience and sinned against Him.

When your conscience sounds the alarm, do you stop and take notice or continue on the same course? Repeatedly ignoring your internal compass can decrease its effectiveness at keeping you out of trouble. Ask God to help you program your inner alarm with His truth and sharpen your ability to hear it.

 

Who is leading whom?

“O Lord , I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).

“Lead me in a plain path” (Ps. 27:14).

Many people want to direct God, instead of resigning themselves to be directed by Him; to show Him a way, instead of passively following where He leads.  –Madame Guyon

I said: “Let me walk in the field”;
God said: ‘Nay, walk in the town”;
I said: “There are no flowers there”;
He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”

I said: “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din”;
But He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin

I said: “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun”;
He answered: “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.”

I said: “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say”;
He answered me, “Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they.”

I pleaded for time to be given;
He said: “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have, followed the steps of your Guide.”

I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said: “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”

Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see.
–George MacDonald