Prayer: One Key to Holy Spirit Filling

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Prayer.  Could prayer be the most misunderstood and most unavailed aspect of our Christian walk?  Could anything else displace this from being our most unused asset?  I doubt it.

J. Sidlow Baxter, a consumate pastor, theologian, writer and preacher said this, “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.”  If this is true, and I believe it is, why do we invest more time on all of these to the neglect of prayer?

How many of us desire to be led by and controlled by the Lord?  I would imagine everyone who has claimed Christ as their Saviour would agree that they want this for their lives.  We hear about “being filled with the Spirit,” but seem to go though life without a semblance of understanding what it is.  We would attest that without it our spiritual lives will be defeated and empty.  Yet, we shy away from it because we either don’t know or are unwilling to do what is necessary to be filled with the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul contrasts being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit.  The basic idea behind these two conditions is control.  The one using alcohol is controlled by the alcohol.  The more alcohol consumed, the more control it brings.  So, also, with the Holy Spirit. The more we submit to His control the more He will control us.  And, how do we find this control?  It is found partly by developing a deep and lasting prayer life.

Prayer should have three focuses.  One focus is to look to the Lord.  Seeing Him will keep our perspective correct as to our worship.  A second focus is to focus upon the needs of others.  Seeing and praying for others will keep us from becoming to self-focused.  And, lastly, we should focus upon our needs and seeing that we submit to God’s will in all things.

Are you praying?  If not, begin today!

Where did I go wrong?

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Got a headache yet?  I do! 🙂

When I was in high school I loved math.  In fact, I took all the math I could take.  In my senior year I took trigonometry.  I know what you’re thinking, HIM!?  Yes, I took this challenging course because I thought I would go to college to become a math major to teach math someday. My grades were pretty good in trig. Those long equations seemed right up my alley.  One other student and I were battling it out for the title, “Math Student of the Year.”  But, ones thing tripped me up.  Though I could do the equations and follow the intricate formulas, I was careless in the details.  I would add 2+2 and get 5!  Then, because of that one small mistake, my final calculation was incorrect.  I was just too fast and caviler.

Life is much like that.  We can get the big picture right.  We can know that we are to make decisions based upon God’s Word.  We can know it and reflect on it.  The subject matter isn’t our problem.  We can move from Genesis to Revelation in record time.  Our problem, however, is that we are too caviler in the small details.

The difference between truth and error can be a wide gap or a small crack.  False teachers can get close but still be teaching error. And, the minute we let down our guard and think we have all the answers we are in danger of being taken off the right path.

On occasion we need to go back to “check our work.”  My math teacher used to say that to me a lot.  She would hand me back a homework assignment or test and tell me to recheck my work.  When I did, I would often find the smallest mistake that made my conclusions incorrect.  If I had only checked it before I handed in the assignment or test, I might have been the math student of the year.

No two answers can be correct to a math problem.  Although they may look right, unless we follow the correct steps, we will be wrong.  Two students solved the following simple math equation differently and both thought they were correct.  They were asked to solve the following; 3+4×2.  One student answered 11 the other answered 14.  The first student multiplied 4×2 first and then added 3.  The second student added 3+4 and multiplied by 2.  Which is correct?  If you chose student number you 2 you are………wrong!  In math you do multiplication before you do addition.  So, in this equation you multiply 4×2 and then add 3.  Both answers look correct, but, only one is.

As you read and study the Word of God be sure to ask the right questions and find the right answers.  Even a small mistake can result in a grave error, like missing Heaven by a mile.

 

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Bible Reading Challenge

ImageDoes this look YOUR Bible?  I sure hope not!

When I was a “youngin” I remember hearing a song about this topic.  Kitty Wells, a popular Country and Western singer, sang a song entitled, “Dust on the Bible.”  In the song she sings about going to a friend’s house to visit and seeing their Bible laying on a table covered in dust. It was obvious their Bible was unused. She was saddened by that fact.  She sang that we should “get the dust off the Bible and redeem your poor soul.”  

Maybe her singing was a bit “twangy” and method a bit outdated.  But, her message is one needed to be heard by every generation of believers.

We have all entered 2014 with the same amount of time given to all.  Today is January 17.  If you had read four chapters a day you would have already finished 68 chapters!  If you had begun in Genesis you would be to Exodus 18.  If you had begun with Matthew you would be finishing the Gospel of Luke.  Think of the good things you could have been reading about.

But, it’s never too late to begin a Bible reading schedule.  You can do it so many different sways.  The key is to DO IT.

After reading this, if you haven’t been reading God’s Word daily, stop to read at least a chapter.  If you will begin today, read four chapters a day, you will complete the Bible in 2014.  

Read it, heed it, speak it, live it.

 

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Doctrinal Deviations and Deviants

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20 years ago Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute wrote a book to expose some of the excesses happening under the umbrella of Christianity.  His book was one of many being written to warn believers of the dangers of departing from the historic faith “once delivered to the saints.”  His work, among others, was clearly in the pathway of the Apostle Jude’s warnings in the first century.

In our evening services we have embarked upon a study of the Book of Jude.  We are attempting to see what Jude had to say to his culture, and how this small book speaks to our culture.  Error and apostasy are still the same animal.  The basics of Satan’s attacks haven’t changed since the Garden of Eden.  Satan will seek to cause doubt in the minds of people as to the truthfulness of God’s Word.  If that tactic doesn’t work, he will try a direct denial of God’s Word.  If that doesn’t work, he will seek to detour folks into something else to believe.  In each case, whether hundreds of years ago or today, Satan’s goal is to bring people to a rejection of God and HIs Word.

If your spiritual antennas are not up when you listen to  or read the works of a teacher, they should be.  You and I must be discerning people as to truth.  Error can be easily made to sound true simply by redefining the words or presenting a half-truth as a whole-truth. Many well know “preachers” of God’s Word today fall into that category.  Sunday evening we spent some time pointing out these false teachers.

Recently Dr. John MacArthur organized a gathering of Bible-centered preachers to expose the gross errors within the “Word-Faith” movement.  He called his meetings, “Strange Fire.”  From that meeting a book has been written to get the information to more and more people.  I would recommend the reading of Hank Hanegraaff’s book and John MacArthur’s book as primers into these false teachers and teachings.

May each of us keep our hearts and heads in tune with the God of Truth.

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If you would like to read either of these books, just click on the image.  It will take you to Amazon.

Is Alcohol out of reach for the Christian?

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Bacchus was the god of wine.  He was also known as Dionysus.  He was seen as the god of the grape harvest which led to the fermentation of the wine.  He provided for his “worshippers” a frenzy or ecstasy that brought them back time and again.  Ephesus was one of the centers of the worship of Bacchus.  Historians tell us that the celebrations associated with Bacchus were so out of hand that the Roman Senate forbid these celebrations!  Now, that is saying something.

This detrimental and debauched lifestyle was normal fare for the citizens of Ephesus.  They were known as partiers who knew how to have a “good time.”  Even associated with their worship of the goddess Diana, Bacchus would provide a better time.

And, it was out of this kind of lifestyle many who made up the Church in Ephesus were saved from.  These former drunkards and abusers were now being taught a new way to live.  The Apostle Paul comes to this topic in Ephesians 5:18-20.  He will call the believers to be controlled by something new, or rather Someone new.  He tells them to stop being controlled by the provisions of Bacchus.  Rather, be controlled by the Holy Spirit Who was given to each believer.

In our day we are being told that a “teetotaler,” one who completely abstains from any use of alcoholic beverages is out of step with modern culture.  More and more Christian voices are calling for a relaxation of of the old “legalistic” stance against the moderate use of alcohol.  Is this a good step?  Is this the path we as believers should be taking?

I believe not.  Call me “old fashioned” or “stuck in the past,” but I still believe the path of total abstinence is the best way to live.  Sunday we will approach this very controversial subject as we enter the passage in Ephesians.  We will look at what Paul is saying to his original readers and to us today.

As you try to answer this question for yourself may I ask you one thing?  If I never drink, will I ever have to worry about drunkenness or alcoholism?  I think the answer is obvious, isn’t it?  Come Sunday so we can study this important subject together.  Let’s choose wisely.

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Order of Chaos?

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Oh, boy, mom won’t be happy about this mess!  Looks like someone hasn’t been very careful in putting things away.

Have you heard about hoarders?  They have become popular enough for a television show.  Hoarders are people that have no self-control  when it come to getting things.  Some order unnecessary things and never open them.  Others just won’t throw away an old magazine or newspapers.  Things simply pile up higher and higher until the person can barely get around in their own home.  Simply put, it is chaos!

Yet, each one of us has that same choice every day.  We might not stress over throwing away an old newspaper.  And, maybe our offices don’t look like this. ImageBut, our lives are made up of one out of control decision after another.

The Apostle Paul says, “Stop being dunk with wine which leads to dissipation.” (Eph. 5:18)  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t use the word “dissipation” much! 🙂  Other translations use the English word “debauchery.”  The Greek word Paul uses points out a wasteful life style.  It has the idea of scattering things randomly.  Much like a tornado, a life out of control simply turns life into chaos.

What about us?  Are we living orderly or chaotically?  Sunday we will look into steps that lead to orderly lives.

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YOUR CHOICE

How’s the New Year So Far?

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Well, 2014 has barely begun, but I wonder how many dumb decisions you have already made?  Some of you might have started 2014 with bad decisions on NYE!  As the new year dawned you were doing things that you regretted on January 1st.  As you reflected on those decisions maybe you concluded nothing will ever change.

Let me encourage you a bit with this thought, you and I can change if we learn to apply biblical wisdom in our decision process.  When I saw the picture above I asked myself, “If I was hit in the head with this rock, would it get my attention?”  My answer was, “YES!”  That big rock hitting my head would get me to consider what I was doing.  Wisdom, likewise, is like that.  God’s wisdom will hit us in the head each time we walk in our own ways.  But, unlike a real rock hitting our real head, God’s wisdom often doesn’t get our attention.

Sunday we continue our thoughts on wisdom from Ephesians 5:14-17.  We will come back to our study in the Epistle of Ephesians and pick up where we left off before Christmas.  We will again remind ourselves of what biblical and godly wisdom is.  Today, January 2, make the decision to choose wisely in 2014.  Make it your daily choice to put God’s Word into practice.  When you fail, seek forgiveness and then start again.

Decisions can seem like they bind us forever.  But, it’s what we do with the consequences of bad decisions that counts more.  Like a great sage once said, “Ever notice the number of people watching is proportional to the stupidity of your actions?” (Charlie Brown) Don’t be stymied by what others say.  Look to your Heavenly Father Who will walk each step with you.

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