A Point Of No Return: A Quote By D.G. Spillman

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“There is a desire in almost all of us to be closer to God. However the heat and light intensify as we take those steps toward Him. Objectively we want that. Subjectively we discover it is a painful process. Often our secret hopes and fears become exposed and raw. We find that letting them go helps to relieve the pain and humiliation in our hearts, but then we often flounder with our identity because it was tied so closely to those private flavors and ambitions of our old existence. Then we come to a point of no return. The choice before us is to continue in faith toward that everlasting flame or turn back to some semblance of our old ways (Hint; this is why most revivals spark, burn, dim and die). Faith is a living. burning thing. It requires personal risk to see a reward . . . and that risk begins within. C.S. said it well, “No man knows . . . till he has tried . . .” – D. G. Spillman

The Inner Life: Prayer And Good Works

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For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ( Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

Praying  the Word of God as we read aligns us with the will of God. Journaling our thoughts and prayers that are formed by God’s word guides us into a deeper communion with the Trinity. It’s good to document your journey with God and those holy moments you share with him. Even what we perceive as dry times in prayer, God is still working his truth into our hearts. As finite creatures we can easily forget what the infinite One communicates to us in our secret places of prayer.

As we gaze at the truth of God, he calls us into a place of repentance of our sins, and even our good works that we do apart from Him. These good works can sometimes be done in an attempt to appease God, or substitute for a lack of relationship with him. We can actually try to avoid God by staying busy doing religious activities.

We were created for good works that flow out of an encounter with Him.  God is relational in nature. We must learn to drop our defenses and allow the Holy Spirit into those hidden and secret places of our hearts, God will begin a restoration process if we do. As in any restoration project, the old debris must be removed before new construction can begin.  We must come clean before God and allow him to expose our self-deception. The stronghold of deception blinds us from the truth and the reality of the nearness of God. All barriers and hindrances to the presence of God have been removed in Christ.

The Inner Life: Guidance

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(This is part two of a series about, The Inner Life.)

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3 ESV

“My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27 ESV

God’s truth and presence is given to us both individually and corporately. A major part of inner transformation comes from corporate worship, through hearing the Word, singing, prayer, the Lord’s supper, and fellowship with other believers.

Learning to enjoy God’s presence and cultivating an awareness of his beauty  does not guarantee every thought we have about his leading in our lives is correct. God has graciously given us the Bible and companions to guide us on our spiritual journeys. The Father has given wise Pastors/Teachers, Elders and close spiritual family to help us discern his leading in our lives. God never leads us in ways that contradict the clear teaching of Scripture. But contrary to what some well meaning theologians teach today,  God still guides us at times through various gifts of the Holy Spirit, and dreams and visions. Many of these teachers are overly cautious fearing that some will mistake their own desires for the voice of God. And this is understandable.

While God is faithful to guide his people by his Word and Spirit, I’ve seen well meaning people deceived by the voice of their own imagination. This “god” of our imagination will  tell us what we want to hear, or condemn us out of our own personal brokenness. So, if we desire to have a healthy inner life, and communion with God, let God’s Word and our traveling companions help us discern the voice of God.

The Inner Life: Formed By The Word And The Spirit

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“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  (Psalm 16:8 ESV)

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew  28:20 NLT)

The inner life of a disciple is formed by the Word of God through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings life and transformation as we think deeply on biblical truths. This transformation of our inner person is the outcome of gazing at the beauty of Jesus, as revealed in the Gospel. King David was careful to use his sanctified imagination to “set the Lord always before him.” The Holman  Christian Standard Bible says, “I keep the LORD in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” 

Meditating and contemplating on the truth of God brings stability to our lives. Transformed thinking leads to a profound sense of joy and peace even in times of uncertainty. As New Testament believers we have the Spirit abiding in us at all times.

“Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NET) 

We should come to God believing that he is with us, and will reward our effort to be with him, with the gift of his presence. Even when the Spirit is not felt, we have the assurance that Christ by his Spirit is always with us. The Holy Spirit leads, guides, and directs us into the path of life, and our minds are renewed by God’s word. The path of life is the path of discipleship. The goal of our lives is to be conformed into the image of Jesus.

 

The Beauty Of God: A Quote From Sam Storms

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​”God’s revelatory manifestation of Himself in creation, in providence, in Scripture, and pre-eminently in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ, is designed to evoke within the breathtaking delight and incomparable joy of which God alone is worthy. Beauty is that in God which makes Him eminently desirable and attractive and quickens in the soul a realization that it was made for a different world.” – Sam Storms

Between The Times

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 “Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)We are living between the times. The time of the already and the not yet. A time of great sorrow and joy. John Wesley said, “A high degree of spiritual sorrow and spiritual joy may consist together.” The Kingdom came with Jesus, but will not be fully manifest until he returns to the earth to live with his people forever. He will destroy (burn up) this present world system. Until then we must pursue justice in the earth on behalf of the weak, poor, and the oppressed. And offer the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom to all. We must oppose and expose the works of darkness in the earth, as we seek to live out the reality of the Kingdom in our own personal lives, now.

Anytime we pray and see a sick person healed or someone delivered from demonic oppression, the Kingdom of God has broke through. Everyone we pray for will not be saved – everyone is not healed – everyone is not delivered. So in this life, as we wait for the end of this present evil age, we must do the work of the Kingdom that Jesus has called us to do, and leave the results to Him. Some today seek to do the works Jesus did, and that is good, but we must remember that God is sovereign and our power comes from Him. We, as New Covenant believers have the privilege of walking in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit right now. But that doesn’t guarantee a pain free life, while we live between the times.

Discipleship 101

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – (John 15:1-6 ESV)

There is much confusion today about what it means to be a Christian. The Bible doesn’t teach a difference between becoming a Christian or being a disciple. Being a Christian is more than just believing, even demons believe (James 2:19). The indwelling Spirit begins a process of changing our character at conversion, and this is a sign that we are being discipled by Jesus. There are many in Catholic and Protestant churches that are not experiencing transformation of the inner man, nor are they following Jesus.

A true disciple is learning to abide in Jesus who is the Vine, and that Jesus is our life and source of power. The disciples devotional life produces Christ-likeness. Meditating on Scripture and then seeking to obey it by the power of the indwelling Christ, produces fruit in due season. And everything has a season. If you are expecting instant maturity you will be setting yourself up for failure.

As the life of Christ is formed in us, we discover sin and brokenness from past experiences that the Holy Spirit is seeking to bring healing to. We must allow God to do this work so that we can move forward in our “apprenticeship with Jesus.”  Our need to be forgiven, and to forgive others is an ongoing process. As we embrace the teachings of Jesus we are confronted with the impossibility of living this life apart from His empowering grace. A disciple never walks alone. He walks with Jesus and other disciples on the journey

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. – ( Luke 14:26 NLT )

The call to follow Jesus is a call of total commitment. As we embrace loving Jesus more than our own family, we will ultimately love them more than those who don’t follow him. God expands our hearts and teaches us about self-sacrificial love.

I believe it is possible to feed the poor, fight for the rights of the oppressed, and go to the mission field while avoiding intimacy with Jesus. In our zeal for ministry and serving God, it is possible to be distracted from His presence. We can work for God while grieving the Holy Spirit who wants to do a deep work of exposing the motives of our hearts. If we seek God for the truth about ourselves, we can become uncomfortable with what He shows us. God is not condemning us, He is trying to free us from our personal idols.

Disciples are first and foremost called to be with Jesus. Many of us at the time of our conversion were never taught to count the cost of following Jesus, and that He requires complete ownership of our lives. We “accepted” Him as our Savior who forgives us of our sin, but did not understand that He requires more than Church attendance and just “cleaning up our act.” He can’t be Savior without being Lord.

Recently I have refocused my attention on discipleship and the kingdom of God. I have been pondering this question: What is a disciple? I believe a disciple is always looking for and seeking to walk in the rule of God. A disciple of Jesus has found the pearl of great price and loves Him more than anything else. While a disciple seeks to be a part of fulfilling the great commission, his inner life is being transformed by the Holy Spirit and meditation on Scripture. His ministry is fueled by prayer.

While the disciple is a learner, he is also called to be a doer. Therefore we read the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles and seek to walk in them. The true follower of Jesus makes other disciples as he travels through life, and teaches others the path of freedom and wholeness in Christ. They pray for the sick and use their spiritual gifting and spiritual authority to confront evil, build up the Church and advance His kingdom.

The Way Of Jesus: A Quote From Eugene Peterson

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“The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.”
― Eugene H. Peterson

God Is Not A Theory

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“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” – (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT)

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – (James 4:6 ESV)

Spiritual wisdom, insight, knowledge and understanding can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit. The great theologians of the past such as;  Augustine, Edwards, Luther, Calvin and  Arminius  were gifted with high IQ’s. But when dealing with spiritual matters, those with average intelligence and hearts in tune to the Spirit, can fathom deep truths. Even those giants of the faith had blind spots. They each had certain truths that God revealed to them, but in some areas of the faith, they were simply wrong.

When you think about some of the greatest intellectuals  who ever lived, you have to wonder, how could any of them be an atheist? How could an intelligent person not believe in intelligent design? Spiritual IQ’s and mental IQ’s are not always the same. Those that cannot see their Creator’s hand in creation, have been blinded by “the god of this world”, Satan. This blindness is spiritual in nature and can only be removed by the Holy Spirit. God is not just a theory, he is a creative, relational being. And He opposes the proud and arrogant.

He Inhabits Eternity: A Quote By C. S. Lewis

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“He is not the soul of Nature, nor any part of Nature. He inhabits eternity: He dwells in a high and holy place: heaven is His throne, not his vehicle, earth is his footstool, not his vesture. One day he will dismantle both and make a new heaven and earth. He is not to be identified even with the ‘divine spark’ in man. He is ‘God and not man.”
― C.S. Lewis, Miracles