Wednesday, 4/3/19 – Pressing on…

white dove on white bird figure stand

We can ‘stifle’, ‘grieve’, or ‘quench’ (yet another name for it) the Holy Spirit simply by busying ourselves doing the work of Jesus.

Tozer explains,

There is no doctrine so chilling as the doctrine of the Spirit when held in cold passivity and personal unbelief. The hearers will turn away in dull apathy from an exhortation to be filled with the Spirit unless the Spirit Himself is giving the exhortation through the speaker. It is possible to learn this truth and preach it faithfully, and still be totally devoid of power. The hearers sense the lack and go away with numbed hearts. …it is as if they had been hearing an echo and not the voice, or seeing a reflection and not the light itself. – A.W. Tozer, Paths to Power.

red lighted candle

You may not be a preacher or an evangelist, but if you are a believer you are also a witness to Christ in your generation. Your presence is light and salt in this world. You have not been asked if you would like to be light and salt you simply are light and salt. Your business is to come out from under the bushel… to maintain your savor. (See Matt. 5:13-16)

Prayer is the key to being what you profess… to surrendering all to the Spirit… to stoking not quenching His burning.

belief bible book business

Prayer is spending time in the Presence of God. It need not have anything to do with petition, i.e. asking God for things. Prayer is simply choosing the better part, as Mary did while Martha busied herself ‘serving’ Jesus. It is not ‘spending’ your time like Martha, but ‘investing’ it like Mary. (Read Luke 10:38-42)

Prayer is what makes your ‘doing’ effective.

Ministry or testimony that is watered down weakens its potency and swiftly quenches the Spirit’s fire. Are you afraid of the fire? Are there things of wood, hay and straw (1 Cor. 3:12) deep within you that you want to keep? Is it possible that in holding on to these you are actually quenching the Holy Spirit?

Press on…

Tuesday, 4/2/19 – Pressing on…

Screenshot_20190331-153918The phrase “May The Force Be With You,” was first uttered in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (released May 25, 1977). George Lucas wanted to introduce an element of ‘spirituality’ into the saga, but a full ‘theology of just what “The Force” was had not then been worked out. Lucas later offered this explanation:

“The act of living generates a force field, an energy. That energy surrounds us; when we die, that energy joins with all the other energy. There is a giant mass of energy in the universe that has a good side and a bad side. We are part of the Force because we generate the power that makes the Force live. When we die, we become part of that Force, so we never really die; we continue as part of the Force.” – George Lucas during a production meeting for The Empire Strikes Back.

Award-winning science journalist JV Chamary has since proposed a much briefer definition: “The Force is the energy that flows through the cosmic ecosystem.”

Despite its obvious fictional roots this thinking seems to have caught on in our society. Many so-called “New Age” philosophies buy into this “tapping into the energy of the universe” bunk, depersonalizing God Almighty and making Him a “Force” to be skillfully utilized. It should be no surprise then when Christians come to view the Holy Spirit through Star Wars tinted (or tainted) glasses.

But the Holy Spirit is not a cosmic force; the Holy Spirit is a Person.

Did you get that? The Holy Spirit is a Person!

20190401_072709It would serve many of us right if one day He were to grab us by the shoulders, rip off those Lucas lenses, look us in the eyes and shout, “Hey! I have feelings too, you know!

Many Christians have forgotten this — many too never learned this fundamental fact of our resident Comforter, Convict-er, Counsellor and Companion. Just as God is Person, and Christ is Person, so too is the Holy Spirit! He is the third Person of the Trinity!

As a Person the Holy Spirit responds to our treatment of Him. He grieves (Isa. 63:10, Eph. 4:30), Has a mind and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:27), He speaks words of direction, commission, and prophecy (2 Sam. 23:2, Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 21:11; 28:25-26; 1 Tim. 4:1). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), tested (Acts 5:9), and resisted (Acts 7:1). He knows the thoughts and purposes of God which we cannot comprehend (1 Cor. 2:11). He gives witness to Christ, and empowers us with courage and words to say in answer to our accusers (Acts 5:32, Luke 12:12).

opened book in selective focus photography

The Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:26), intercedes (Rom. 8:26), leads (Matt. 4:1), and gives life (John 6:63). He is resident in every believer (Ezek. 36:27, 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) and will fill the seeking soul to overflowing (Acts 2:4).

That’s a lot of Bible references, but I challenge you to look each one up, perhaps copy them down too. I promise you it will be an enriching exercise!

More tomorrow…

Listen to Pastor Steve’s complete message on ‘Grieving the Holy Spirit’ online at the Lincoln Baptist Church website! Look for the March 31 message under ‘Media.’

Monday, 4/1/19 – Pressing on…

“Stifle it, Edith, just stifle it.”

A certain segment of folks will immediately recognize this line from the popular TV sit-com “All In the Family” which ran nine seasons 1971-1979. Carol O-Conner starred as the bigoted and ignorant Archie Bunker opposite his loving, doting, submissive but somewhat dim-witted wife Edith, played by Jean Stapleton.

20190328_113438Whenever Edith would run off down verbal bunny trails or into details insignificant to Archie he would silence her ramblings with an abrupt, mean-faced scowl, “Edith, Stifle!” Edith would often apologize but always obediently comply.

While this sort of interplay can be humorous or even endearing in the sit-com world, in the real world it’s just down-right ignorant! ‘It ain’t no way to treat a lady,’ and it’s certainly no way to treat the Holy Spirit!

photo of woman putting her finger on her lips

When we tell another person, or the Person of the Holy Spirit, to “stifle” we are by definition cutting off their voice, literally, their “breath.” The concept is akin to suffocation. The Bible calls this “grieving,” and In relation to the Holy Spirit we are commanded point blank not to do it: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Eph. 4:30).

But sadly, the very first entity in the scriptures described as being “grieved” is the Lord! “…the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and…was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Gen. 6:5-7).

20190329_141600In fact God was so grieved with us that He decided He would erase humankind from the face of the earth! Thankfully, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and we were given another chance.

To grieve a person means to cause them to suffer, to bring them distress in some manner. To do this to the precious Holy Spirit of God is a terrible thing! When we remember the Holy Spirit is often represented as a dove, imagine such an innocent and gentle creature being tormented or tortured by some heartless sadist – or imagine your own beloved pet being handled in this way.

Jude writes of “ungodly people” who “heap abuse on celestial beings,” contrasting them with the archangel Michael, who dared not condemn even the devil but rather deferred even this most obvious judgment to God (see Jude v.8-9). Unless they repent, Jude says “blackest darkness” awaits them for ever (v.13).

20190329_141630It is the Holy Spirit Who warns of dangers along our path… Who teaches us and reminds us of Truth… Who convicts us of matters we need to present to the Lord or make right with our brothers / sisters in Christ. It is He Who produces the fruit of the Spirit within us and manifests the gifts of the Spirit through us. It is His voice above all others which we must hear and heed. How foolish indeed it would be to stifle Him.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 3/27/19 – Pressing on…

sunset men sunrise jogging

Some mornings when the sun rose late it would be very dark indeed as I’d head out on that morning run. The trail was rugged then and I’d wear a small headlamp strapped to my forehead lest I tripped on some deeply dirt-embedded rock. When the sun finally did crack the horizon the lamp became unnecessary. The one true light from the same sun that warmed the first humans now safely lit my way ahead.

The past couple of blogs we’ve been considering the passage

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Prov. 4:18)

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

This idea of God as light runs all through scripture. Hosea urges, “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear” (Hos. 6:3). Nearing the end of his life God spoke to King David, saying, “When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.” (2 Sam. 23:4).

The prophet Zechariah spoke of a future ‘unique day’ on which “there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.” (Zech. 14:6, 7).

person holding bible with cross

Jesus said “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). He also told His followers “You are the light of the world“ (Matt. 5:14). How can both these statements be? Paul explains “As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are becoming more like him with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).

And to John the exalted Christ revealed of the heavenly Jerusalem, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23), and “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light…” (Rev 22:4, 5).

No more headlamps, instead the Name of Christ… no more night, but as Peter rejoiced, “Glory belongs to him both now and on that eternal day! Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:18).

All we must do is keep to that path, avoiding all others — for there is another…

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Prov. 4:18)

“But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.” (Prov. 4:19)

Choose your path wisely.*

Press on…

*[See also: Matt. 7:13, 14]

Tuesday, 3/26/19 – Pressing on…

woman girl silhouette jogger

The moment I described in my blog yesterday* was made especially poignant to me because of one further fact I have not yet shared with you. The song, “Morning has Broken,” was our wedding day song as Val and I walked down the aisle some 35 years ago this April. Since then we’ve run through many trials, many breakings, dodged or been scarred by many sharp bits. Along this path we held to this confidence: What God began, He will complete.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completionuntil the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

20190325_182828The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner was originally a short story by Alan Sillitoe, published in 1959. It features young rebel Colin Smith who runs in a foot race against a rival reform school, but throws the victory at the final moment. The novel was made a movie just three years later. Eventually the title became a catchphrase embraced by ultra-distance runners and adventurers of all sorts.

There is a certain loneliness in a pre-dawn run… or rather, an “aloneness,” which invites introspection… communion with one’s own spirit, or for the Christian, with the Spirit of God. Staying the course with a hope in your heart unites all believers, be they yoked or solitary.

20190325_182735That the path has difficulties is not due to one’s yoke or one’s lack of it. The difficulty is promised to all who have hope in God. “…In this world you will have trouble,” said Jesus. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

It does no good trying to speculate and blame this or that other cause. The only sane thing to do is to do what the Master told us to do, “Take heart!” Strengthen yourself in the Hope that is firm in Him… found and founded in Him: “I have overcome the world.”

He knows the end of the story – of your story… my story… He knows what He has begun will be completed, in you… in me. In all who hope in Him. He knows because He is in the ending already.

So take the next step, and the next. Soon the full light will illumine all things… press on…

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Prov. 4:18).

More tomorrow…

Today’s post marks my 150th blog!

A sincere THANK YOU to all who have run with me thus far, and to all those new to the path.

*Link to yesterday’s blog here.

Monday, 3/25/19 – Pressing on…

20180814_172058I was about half-way into a 10K pre-dawn run from Lincoln to Fredericton one fine spring morning a few years back. Several favorite tunes set the pace as footfall and tempo aligned body with beat. One song ended leaving a lull, and in that instant I experience a triad of impactful coincidences.

I turned my head and gazed eastward, the sun broke brilliant above the horizon, and the next song began to play. The song “Morning has Broken” rang in my earbuds, as the horizon burst the reality of it before my sight. It was magnificence itself, “God’s recreation of the new day.”

Enjoy here:

green tree beside roadway during daytime

My way ahead was clear now. The low sun shot down the westward trail at my feet, each tree cast its longest shadow of that day. Indeed, my own shadow joined them, stretching on ahead of me by many meters. I worshipped our mutual Creator, “Born of the one light Eden saw play / Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning…” The river, the sun, the trees, and my very self… I ran on, joy-filled at my own existence!

Our service yesterday morning was also such a joyous praise of the goodness of our mutual Lord and God, Jesus Christ. Elder Don Longworth shared with us a scripture that had resonated all week within him,

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Prov. 4:18).

glass windows colors

One by one many of us shared their individual bits of light. In many cases these lights had been refracted by brokenness. In my Bible margin I discovered this notation I had made some 25 years ago: “The beauty of a stained glass window is how it glorifies the light. Broken pieces of glass skillfully assembled into an inspiration to all!” – WUBC, Woodstock, NB, Nov. 27, 1994

These are our testimonies before the eyes of our Lord. They are, in a way, our gifts to Him… an offering… a sacrifice then of ourselves to Him by virtue of our brokenness, loss, or sorrow. But now a glorious fragment in a magnificent mosaic!

Angels and devil’s alike also view this. Angels amazed at such free-willed faith, devil’s foiled by God’s making beauty from ashes.

silhouette of four people against sun background

Such a testimony will be the end product for each life given to God. Yours also, no matter what you might think of that likelihood today. What God begins, He will complete. Your path too will one day shine bright. You need only stay on it.

It does not matter that it has been perhaps such a very long night, or that others may seem to have experienced more dawns than you. Some folk are called to a path through the dark and dreary cold of the far north, where dawns come but once in six months. Your dawn is coming, if it has not already, and when it comes it will shine brighter and brighter till the full light of day.

Indeed, “Morning has Broken”…   Have you?

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 3/20/19 – Pressing on…

brown grey brick old building

I mentioned yesterday that in my walk with the Lord some 50 years now I can look back and say with Joshua, Solomon, and others: “Not one word has failed of all His good promises…” (Joshua 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56). Peter marvelled, “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Here’s a few…

He promises to provide a way out of temptation

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).

He promises that our salvation is secure, no matter what

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:28–29).

He promises to never leave or forsake us

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5).

He promises to finish the good work he has begun in us

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6).

He promises to come back

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

He promises us the indwelling Holy Spirit

“…you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)

Some promises have requirements:

2 Chron. 7:14 –If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Phil. 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

white and red plastic heart balloon on sky during daytime

There may also be things God has promised only to you! Deep in your heart you know it, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to it, resonating its truth within you.

God speaks through His Word, His promises and commands; He speaks through His Spirit, confirms through others, circumstances, conviction & the personal call of God… and Faith is our response to what God has said.

Press on…