Tuesday, June 11, 2019

20. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) God’s Word Sharper than a Two-Edge Sword

12For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  --Hebrews 4:12

Yes, the Word of God is like a two-edged sword.  Ask anyone who has repented and fallen before the Cross of Jesus and asked for forgiveness of their sins.  I have and it was very painful; God’s Word cut me to the quick.  My soul was penetrated to “both joints and marrow.”  As it says in Romans 3:22-24, “....since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...."

Jack Hayford wrote in a study article, “The absolute authority of the Bible over our lives is based in our conviction that this Book does not merely contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God in its sum and in its parts.”  The mature Christian believes Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless) restoring and refreshing the soul; The statutes of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

Anyone from the 1960s now understand the profound societal change.  Our country changed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  II Timothy 4:3-4 says, “…. they will turn their ears away from the truth…...”  We believe the truth is in God’s Word.

We have often wondered when Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).  Will He?

From an article by Billy Graham long ago, “A revival among Christians could change the whole process of history and reverse the immoral tide.”

We cannot help thinking our enemy (devil, Satan, or whatever you call this fallen angel) is rejoicing that he has us fighting and falling away from the Word of God.

I am one of the fortunate ones; I was raised in a loving home with loving parents and a loving older brother.  They lived God’s Word and I wrote in my Bible beside Proverbs 17:27, “My Daddy.”  It says, “He who has knowledge spares his words; and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

The only way we can stabilize ourselves and this Nation is to receive God’s Word.  God gave us His Great Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 and He went on to say, “These Words, which I (God) am commanding you today, shall be written on your heart and mind.  7You shall teach them diligently to your children….” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

Let us pray that the mature Christian (Luke 8:15) will rise and proclaim (loud and clear) the Word of God, and those who defile the truth of HIS Word (Titus 1:15) will hear the call of God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

19. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1)God’s Word, Perfect in its Accuracy

16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   --2 Timothy 3:16-17

We believe in the infallible Word of God.  That it was God breathed to guide us and direct our paths.  The Word of God is complete and sufficient to completely answer anything we need to know about eternal salvation or practical wisdom concerning relationships, morality, character, finances, and conduct.  The one requirement is obedience.  We have never sought an answer that we did not find the answer in God’s Word.

One Core Value of Compass – finances God’s way, is the obedience of God’s Word.  If we are not obeying God’s Word, we will be unable to accurately understand and apply it and unable to teach others.”  We stand on that truth!

We must realize our faith in God’s Word does not deny the reality of difficult times, circumstances even tragedies, it declares the power of God in the face of all that can happen here on this earth.  I quote Roy Hicks, “When facing great challenges, do not permit your lips to speak unbelieving words.”  “We cannot help what we see and hear, but our refusal to speak doubt and fear will keep our hearts more inclined to what God can do, rather than to what we cannot (Proverbs 30:32).”

We are to live a life exemplifying God’s Word.  We refuse to be led astray by politics, unbelievers, and false gods.  We speak with integrity who we are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus confirms that every word of Scripture is given by God, every truth is to be held in reference, and that the Scriptures are eternal and credible.  We grow as we model God’s Word…...Jesus was conceived by the Spirit; He is the living Word of God.  The Spirit working within Him brought forth the fruit of good character (Luke 2:52).

To confess our faith in God’s Word, we are saying we believe in the promises of God and humbly stand before our God our Father; Your Word is truth, we worship You for your love, goodness, mercy, and kindness.  

Let us pray in thanksgiving for God’s Word.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

18. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) The Heart Is Deceitful

The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?”   --Jeremiah 17:9

We continue with our discussion of the heart.  Last week we discussed the morally good heart.  This week we venture into the deceitful heart.  First, we must understand “deceit”.  Deceit is when we take action or practice deceiving those around us by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.  Many folks even deceive themselves so well they can be convincing to others their own beliefs and actions of the heart.

I use as an example collateral damage.  When others do to you that brings harm, the one harmed reacts to the hurt.  A deceived heart begins to justify their actions to harm the one that did the collateral damage.  The true heart takes responsibility regardless of circumstances for their own actions and turns to Jesus for their hurt (Philippians 4:13).

There are many scriptures defining the heart.  As we mentioned last week the heart is the whole person, thinking, acting, remembering, feeling; all our human activity.  God works within the heart; we may have a tender, soft heart or we may have a heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19).  We must understand how our heart deceives us.

One may say, “I don’t have a hard heart.”  When we reject God’s teachings, we have entered the Harding of our heart.  We do this to ourselves.  For instance if you have unforgiveness in your heart that unforgiveness grows into anger, bitterness, and resentment .  The longer it stays within our heart, our heart begins to harden (Matthew 6:15).

Sometimes God hardens our heart.  I use for example the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 7:3, 9:12).  Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?  Could it be that God uses the hardened heart to show His mighty power; He is God all Glory and Honor to HIM.  Paul had a hard heart toward Christians and God used him to bring the Good News to the Gentiles (Acts 22:19-21).

You may say what has this to do with prayer?  I had rather come to the Thorn of Grace with a true, clean, and pure heart (Psalms 51:6) than a heart of stone, wouldn’t you?

Let us pray for those in darkness and let Christ bring them to the Living Water (John 7:38) and His light (John8:12).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

17. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1) The Understanding Heart

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.  --Matthew 6:21

We talk often regarding knowledge of the mind and understanding of the heart.  In long ago Blogs we have explained this thoroughly in the concept that we understand.

We of the Western world think of the heart as a physical organ that pumps our life-giving blood in our bodies.  Not so in the Biblical sense.  The ancient Hebrews understood the heart as a physical part of our bodies but far more they understood the heart is the very soul of a person.  All things thought or done comes from the heart.  The Heart is the Center of Hidden Emotional-Intellectual-Moral Activity. "Man looks at the outward appearance, " says Samuel, "but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam16:7).

The heart's reasoning, as well as its feeling, depends on its moral condition.  If we think bad or evil things our mouth speaks what is in our hearts (Mark 7:21; Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).  For instances if one has unforgiveness in their heart, the mouth speaks it though the one speaking may not mention the thing that they do not have forgiveness.  What folks do not realize the hatred, resentment, and revenge shows in an outwardly way.

Our emotional state of the heart affects us in the rest of our person.  Proverbs 15:13 says it well.  “A heart full of joy and goodness makes a cheerful face, but when a heart is full of sadness the spirit is crushed.”  Proverbs 17:22 says “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Our heart thinks (Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8), it remembers, and meditates (Psalm 77:5-6; Luke 2:19).  God made our hearts to understand, to discern and give us insight.  An understanding heart cannot be separated from our morals.  We intercede for those in our prayers to have eyes that see and ears to hear.  What we see and hear we take into our heart unless we have the power of the Holy Spirit to reject what is wrong or evil in God’s sight.  James 1:5 says to ask for wisdom in our circumstances and it will be given to us.  James 1:6 says we must ask in faith without doubting.

To be in God’s Will our heart must be pure and clean (Psalms 51:10).  We must have a heart that is receptive to God’s Word and His direction to live as we are purposed in our Mother’s womb.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to discern, understand, the statutes and God’s guidance to live a life in Jesus.

Our mouth reveals what is in our heart, the ear determines what we receive in our heart.  In Proverbs 2:2-6 says “So that your ear is attentive to [skillful and godly] wisdom and apply your heart to understanding . . . “.  With the power of the Holy Spirit we have wisdom and with that wisdom we understand the knowledge of the glory God (Habakkuk 2:14).  We cannot have a pure and clean heart without the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us an understanding heart.  

God gave us the greatest commandment: “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30)  If we do this, we understand the fullness of God’s love for us.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

16. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (3) Prayer and the Holy Spirit

16 May He [God] grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually [connected to God][1] energized with power [Holy Spirit Power] through His Spirit [Holy Spirit]  in your inner self, (indwelling your innermost being and personality), 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been (deeply) rooted and (securely) grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love (fully experiencing that amazing, endless love); 19 and (that you may come) to know (practically, through personal experience) the love of Christ which far surpasses (mere) knowledge (without experience), that you may be filled up (throughout your being) to all the fullness of God (so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself)Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP)

We want to begin this week’s Blog with this definition of God’s grace.  “Grace describes the undeserved kindness by which salvation is given, but it is also the power-word describing the Holy Spirit’s operational means.  Grace is a force as well as a favor, a verb as well as a noun.[2]  John 1:16, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”  “The fact that John states that grace comes from His fullness teaches that grace is more than God’s disposition or impersonal favor.  It is God meeting us at our point of need in the Person of Jesus Christ, including all His power and provision.”[3] 

We first learn knowledge in our mind, but the understanding becomes wisdom of the heart.  We use Ephesians 1:17-18; Isaiah 6:10 and Proverbs 2:2 for our thoughts. 

It is our understanding, the fullness of God is the understanding in our hearts the incredible, magnificent, and glorious love God has for us.  God’s fullness is the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s salvation by the regenerating work in us, born again, (Romans 10:9-10) and power (Acts 1:8) to give our hearts the understanding of His love and to do our mission.  God’s love is the full measure of who we are in Jesus Christ (1 John 4:7-21).

In Paul’s prayer he says, “to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self.”   We quote John Piper, “The fullness of God is experienced, he says, as we are given the ‘strength to comprehend’ the love of Christ in its height and depth and length and breadth—that is, in its fullness. This is remarkable: The fullness of God is the spiritual apprehension (experience) of the fullness of the love of Christ. This love is the grace and truth that fills the Son of God and pours out on us.”[4] 

We cannot experience the “fullness of the love of Christ” without the baptism of the Holy Spirit’s power received on Pentecost.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience the breath-taking miracle of God’s love. 

We are baptized by water in our confession of faith, we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, lived, suffered, died, and was raised from the dead so that we might know God the Father and eternal life with HIM.  When we received Jesus as our Savior, He cleansed us of our sins, and He came into our spirit as life. Thus, because Christ is in us, our “spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Galatians 2:20; II Corinthians 13:5; Romans 8:10)

When we ask, we are baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit to do our purpose and mission here on earth.  When we receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31) God’s presence gives us understanding in our hearts the love (I John 3:1; 4:7) He has for His Children.

Let us join in Prayer as Jesus’ followers joined in praise and prayer in Acts 4:31. Let us shake our very core by the power of the Holy Spirit.

[1] Charlsey’s interpretation in brackets
[2] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p. 1647
[3] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p.1444
[4] John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist continuationist pastor.  Continuationism is a Christian theological belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to the present age.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

15. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) Prayer and the Holy Spirit

But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 (AMP)

As we continue in our discussion of the Holy Spirit, we share these words from Scott G. Bauer author of The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, there are two different works of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.  (Romans 8:2) “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”  This is the new birth.  It says in John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

We receive the Holy Spirit upon receiving Christ as our Savior…. new birth…. born again.  According to Scott G. Bauer in The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, there are two different works of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. 
I continue to quote Scott G. Bauer; “As the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16), Jesus’ instruction to His followers in Luke 11:13 to ‘ask’ for the Holy Spirit and to wait until they received power is pertinent to all believers for all time.  All who believe are to ask and expect God to fill them with His Spirit and to be empowered (Acts1:8) for their mission to serve Him.  This is the fullness of God.

Pentecost is the day of empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  We all need the Holy Spirit empowerment if we fulfill our purpose that God created us.  We confess our sins and receive our salvation the Spirit of life; by the regenerating work in us (Romans 8:11-17).  All we must do is ask God for the power to do our mission.

Zechariah4:6-9, Zerubbabel, the leader of Jewish exiles, returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple.  Great discouragement fell on him and he was told by the prophet:  6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. 

God is giving instructions and encouragement that the temple would be rebuilt by His Spirit and it would be done.  The Scripture goes on to say in Zechariah 4:7, 7‘Who are you, O great mountain (what God wants to do through us)? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!  And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”

Do we try to remove the mountains in our life without the power of the Holy Spirit?  Do we have the faith moved to action believing that we can have that power in us to move the mountains of life?  Remember the scripture Luke 11:13, “13 If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”

We have the privilege of prayer to our Heavenly Father and we can ask for the power of the Holy Spirit.  Hallelujah!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

14. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1) Prayer and the Holy Spirit

26 “But when the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify and bear witness about Me.  John 15:26 (AMP)

We have just had a weekend of celebration!  The celebration of our risen Lord.  Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit to bring the Spirit of Truth to us who believe in the risen Christ.  Prayer is essential, but effective prayer is all important to bring the promises of God to fruition (Matthew 18:18).  We cannot have effective prayer without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I begin this Blog with the quoted words of author John Bevere with Addison Bevere; “I began to see the Scriptures in a new light as God opened my eyes to many wonders of His Spirit.”  “I soon discovered that the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood Person in the Church.   Truer words have never been spoken.  I do not believe the average person really understands the power we can have in our prayer life, the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is what I understand about the Holy Spirit!  When we repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans10:9-10), we receive God’s Spirit of Grace, the Holy Spirit, goodness beyond what we deserve.  God’s character is mercy/grace. 

When Christ ascended to His Father, He promised the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts1:8) in order for those of us to do the mission (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus gave to us. 

Is there a difference between the saving Grace of the Holy Spirit and the Power of the Holy Spirit?  Are they one and the same?  Are there two Spirits of Grace or one?  These are questions that I asked myself.  Ephesians 2:8 speaks to us regarding God’s saving grace (the Holy Spirit), “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  Goodness beyond what we deserve. 

When we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life, we receive the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Grace), “Goodness beyond what we deserve.”  We receive our salvation, justification.  Salvation is threefold.  We are saved, justified, when we first trust Christ; we are being saved sanctification as the Holy Spirit continues to work in us; and we will yet be saved, glorification as we share in the Lord’s final triumph.[3]  This is God’s saving grace which is the Holy Spirit in us . . . New Birth.

Christ gave new birth to the disciples before his ascension in (John 20:21-22). The Disciples received new birth, New Life, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Grace.

Join us next week as we continue with the Holy Spirit!

[1] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p. 1647
[2] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, p.1444
[3] Spirit Filled Bible, Note, P.1688