Invite Him In

Another long day of hard work is in the books. You did something that you can feel good about today, but as you begin to relax you feel as though something is missing. You are struck with the realization that among the hustle and bustle of life’s routine circumstances, you have been cut off from the presence of God, your mind rarely aware of His constant beckoning. You miss Him.

How does this happen? You have a wonderful time of prayer in the morning before beginning your day. You worship, repent, and cast your cares on the Lord. But somewhere between morning prayer and evening time the presence of God is forgotten for the present circumstances.

Sound familiar?

It is something I find myself resisting everyday. I don’t want to come to the end of a day, whether it was a good day or a bad day, and realize that I have been so busy that I was completely disconnected from Him. How do I avoid that?

I want to invite Him in to every situation, every interaction. I want to turn every problem into a prayer and every opportunity into a prayer. Regardless of how big or small the problem or the opportunity may seem to me, I want Jesus to be a part of it.

Be aware of His presence today. Invite Him in.

photo credit: nualabugeye via photo pin cc

What Gift Are You Giving?

Studies in First Corinthians – XVIII

1 Corinthians 12:1-12

As we turn to the twelfth chapter, Paul begins to deal with spiritual gifts. These gifts were God’s answer to the divisions and carnality that plagued the Corinthian Church. They are for the benefit, not of myself, but of other people. God gives us the gifts so that we can minister to the needs of others; He gives so that we can give. Spiritual gifts are an answer to division because they were meant for mutual ministry among the Church body.

Diversity is one of the most beautiful things about the body of Christ: different temperaments, personalities, races, social backgrounds, and many others. We are all saved but thank God that we are not all the same! Despite all of these differences we each go to the same source for our gifts:

“Now there are diversities of gifts (gifting, talents, ability), but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations (types of ministry), but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations (expressions of God’s power), but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (12:4-6).

The problem in Corinth was that these gifts were being used in an immature manner for self-promotion when they were meant to be used for the good of the Church body. The Lord desires that each of His children would not only be equipped individually for the journey, but that they would be well able to minister to and profit one another.

He knows how to distribute the gifts, and He “divides to every man according as he will” (12:11). It is not ours to decide which gift we will receive. We are not to complain if someone receives a gift and we do not. We are only asked to use the gift that He has given us to minister to the Body of Christ.

What gift are you giving?

God’s Property

Studies in First Corinthians – XI

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
– 1 Corinthians 6:15-17

Those redeemed by the blood of Christ are His body. We are the channels through which He works. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,” Paul says. Wherever He can find a body surrendered to Him, He has found an instrument through which He can impact the world.

You will find that God always works through a body. “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ…” (Hebrews 10:9,10). We sin in the body. Christ came to earth in a body; He was “manifest in the flesh.” It was in the body that He overcame where we had been overcome. It was in the body that He died and rose again. Now He lives by His Spirit in the body of His people.

The question for every Christian is: Will I take that which is intended for Christ and give it to sinful purposes? If we are joined to Christ, we are enabled by His indwelling Spirit to control the body. But if we give our body to sinful purposes, we become one body with that which is sinful.

This is the constant battle that rages; either the Spirit of God is to triumph and the life of the flesh die out, or that which is of sin and the flesh will control us until the Spirit is no longer effecting us. Everything is lawful for the child of God, but only when properly under the authority of Jesus Christ. What He allows, I will do. What He rejects, I will reject. What His Word tells me is right, I will accept. What His Word tells me is wrong, I will refuse.

However, this is certainly not attainable in the flesh. Paul tells us how to win the battle. He brings us back, once again, to the cross. He is not afraid to expose sin but he always takes it to the cross!

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This is how we stand when on our own we would fall. We are filled with the Holy Ghost! We are bought with a price! We were not “redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,…But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Remember that you have been bought. You do not belong to yourself. The flesh struggles for freedom but the spirit takes comfort in these words. If He bought you, if He paid the highest price for you, it is because He finds value in you. If you are not your own, it is only because you belong to Him.

I am God’s property. The feet which once led me into sin now lead me into the presence of God. The eyes which once looked to this world are now looking to my Savior, my help. The tongue which once spoke evil now sings the praises of God. The heart which was once full of fear and darkness is now the temple of the Holy Ghost!

You Were, BUT You Are

Studies in First Corinthians – X

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
-1 Corinthians 6:9-10

What an awful and ugly list! Yet, there is not one of us who could not say, “This would be me, but for the grace of God.”

Paul continues to combat carnality by reminding the Christians at Corinth who they are in Christ and what the work of the cross and the infilling of the Holy Ghost has accomplished in their life. Throughout the letter, he adopts the principle that the mightiest drawing power to lift a man out of carnality and sinfulness is the cross of Christ.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
-1 Corinthians 6:11

Paul puts a mirror in front of their face, “such were some of you, BUT…” That three letter conjunction is a clear line of demarcation. They were idolaters, fornicators, adulterers, drunkards and everything else on the list, “BUT ye are washed, BUT ye are sanctified, BUT ye are justified.”

Paul reminds them and us that we have been washed by the Word, set apart by the Holy Spirit, and declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Washed: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).

Sanctified: “Through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).

Justified: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

We are intended to live in victory over sin by the power of Christ in us. This is what we are by the grace of God: washed, sanctified, and justified. Let us be what we are by the power of the Spirit!

Full of Hot Air

Studies in First Corinthians – VIII

Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

1 Corinthians 4:18-21

The Corinthians boasted of their learning and knowledge, but Paul knew their religion was more a matter of head knowledge than heart understanding. They were concerned about matters of administration and policy, yet they ignored the dark stain of sin.

Look at the condition that you are in!” Paul was trying to direct their attention to the real issues in this chapter. “You are all talk and intellect; your religion is just theory without reality.” The kingdom of God is not in word, it is not just philosophy and having all the correct answers, it is power – and power was the one thing the Corinthians did not have.

Without that power, Paul tells them that all their knowledge is basically hot air. In a sense, Paul was bursting their bubble. Their heads had gotten too big for the room. They were so proud of what they thought they had, so sophisticated, and yet they were lacking the most important thing: they did not have Holy Ghost power and authority.

We all seek, and rightly so, to know all we can about truth. We certainly need knowledge, education, training, and preparation. If fact, I advocate that we pursue these, as a Church, more than ever before; however, never at the expense of the transforming power of the Holy Ghost. If we have knowledge without power, we are just full of hot air!

The faithful minister (or saint of God), full of the Holy Ghost, is a spectacle in the world (4:7-14). In his path he will face unpopularity and misunderstanding, but he does not concern himself with the judgement of men. He is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk. I like the way that Raymond Woodward puts it, “Your relationship with God is not measured by how much you talk about Jesus, but by how much your life has been changed by his power!”

With What Are You Building?

Studies in First Corinthians – VII

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

-1 Corinthians 3:10-16

Paul points out the importance of having the correct foundation AND the correct building materials. Some Christians are building on the right foundation with the wrong materials (works of the flesh rather than the works of the Spirit). The Church will not stand on any other foundation than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet even on the correct foundation, it is possible to use the wrong materials.

Paul describes two types of building materials: indestructible—gold, silver, and precious stones; and destructible—wood, hay, and stubble. In this Scripture we see a clear distinction between salvation and rewards. It is possible for a man’s soul to be saved, but his works, being of no value, to be burned. If his motives are not eternal, but temporal or earthly, he may be saved, but his works will be destroyed. Our motives must be to build the Kingdom for the glory of God.

Build on the foundation with materials that will last the test of time. Build with the brick of submission to God’s will and purpose, even in times of suffering. Put in a doorway of prayer. Open up the windows of praise and worship. Be sure to include the gold of purity and righteousness, the silver of a radiant testimony, and the precious stones of victory over temptation.

Paul appeals to the Corinthians to pay close attention to how they build because they are the temple of God. Let us also be reminded, we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. We are intended to reveal the glory of the Lord.

Every one of us is building. Every moment of every day, we are building. Look in your hands – What are you building with today? Will it last?

Don’t Be A Baby

Studies in First Corinthians – VI

Every born again child of God has within them the Holy Ghost. God’s Spirit has come into our lives to produce His character in us. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Why is it that so little of Christ shows through and so much of my self remains?” We find an answer in the opening verses of chapter three.

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (3:1).

Notice that Paul uses the word “brethren”; he is writing to those who are filled with the Holy Ghost. He classifies these “brethren” into two groups: the “spiritual” and the “carnal”. These carnal Christians have a salvation experience but remain immature, controlled by their flesh.

The carnal man that Paul saw at work in the life of the Corinthians, we see in the lives of many Christians today. Every Spirit-filled believer has within them the capacity to take on the character of Jesus Christ, however this is not always accomplished. Why? Because too many Christians continue to live on the carnal level.

Carnal people lack spiritual growth. Paul calls them “babes in Christ,” saying, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat” (3:1-2). Don’t be a baby! Babies are totally dependent upon other people. They do not walk on their own. They aren’t able to feed themselves. The same is true for the carnal Christian. He cannot walk by himself. She has never learned how to feed herself on the Word of God.

Carnal people hold on to sin and live in constant defeat. They feed their old nature and starve their new nature. Although they have been filled with the Spirit, they continue to be mastered by the flesh. They can’t even enjoy their new fellowship because they are defeated and constantly fighting.

Simply put, carnal people live a life of fruitlessness and worldliness. In many ways, they resemble non-Christians; there is little that separates them. This is not the life God has planned for anyone who is filled with His Spirit.

Raymond Woodward describes plan God has for His children and the dangers of continuing to live the carnal life: “There are two sides to our relationship with God. As our SAVIOR, He gives us a positional relationship of perfect standing before God. As our LORD, He gives us an experiential relationship of progressive growth in God. This relationship can be broken and scarred by sin; once damaged, it can be healed only by repentance; if repentance is not sought, divine discipline may be the result; if repentance is still not sought, the believer will eventually forfeit even his positional relationship!”

As Christians, we are called to live a life of victory over sin and the flesh. We are called to spiritual growth and Christ-likeness. We are called to bring forth permanent fruit. Just as the carnal Christian reveals worldliness, so the spiritual Christian reveals a life of separation unto God.

Jesus Christ, And Him Crucified

Studies in First Corinthians – V

“I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:2).

Paul had identified a goal for the church at Corinth: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (2:5). He knew this group of Christians could not face the challenge of presenting Christ if their faith was based only on intellectual assent. Their faith must stand on the rock of revelation rather than on the sands of human philosophy.

Corinthians would not be influenced by a well crafted argument. Nothing but the miracle of the grace of God revealed in the lives of those who had been transformed by the Spirit of God would impact this city for the Kingdom.

The same is true today. If we are going to impact our communities and our world, it will not be by winning a theological argument (though we should always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us). The world we live in is far too clever and sinful to be persuaded by a debate that appeals to their intellect alone. What our world needs is the evidence of a life dramatically and completely changed by the power of the cross.

What is the impact of your faith? Do others see in you the miracle of the grace of God? As you live, surrounded by the evil of this world, you have a mission that must be fulfilled, to stand in the power of God. This is possible only as we live in the revelation presented to us at Calvary. We must grasp the futility of anything untouched by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I believe that God is teaching us that nothing less than the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival can ever meet the need of this day. There can be nothing else; no false gods, no misplaced confidence in something or someone, no compromise, no unconfessed sin, no unsurrendered life, no critical spirit, no worldliness, no self can be allowed. For “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

The Light of God’s Wisdom

Studies in First Corinthians – IV

Right through this first chapter of First Corinthians Paul contrasts wisdom and foolishness: the wisdom of men and the foolishness of God, then the foolishness of men and the wisdom of God. It was the wisdom of men that had seduced this church. Division was a plague that was destroying the spiritual health of the people. The remedy for the situation was not philosophy or “the wisdom of words,” but the wisdom of God given through revelation by the Holy Ghost.

The moment any Christian departs from the principle of revelation, relying rather on human intellect for understanding God’s Word, all spiritual authority is lost. If we submit the Word of God to our own intellect and refuse to believe in the possibility of absolute authoritative revelation, we lose the power and authority. It’s not in us; it’s in Him.

If the church in our day is to invade a city for God, then it must get back to a place of absolute dependence upon the wisdom of God.

-Alan Redpath

Each of us is faced with a choice every day. Will we depend upon our human intellect and education to meet the need of the day? Or will we depend on the wisdom of God? Will we trust human wisdom and reasoning? Or will we trust the Spirit to lead and guide us? Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t downplay the importance of reason and thinking. I only intend to question the source: the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man.

Alan Redpath makes a challenging statement, “The moment a man begins to put his confidence in his own mind… in his personal criticism of Scriptures, he is finished as far as divine revelation is concerned.” You must choose the principle on which you will guide your life, on which you will study the Word, and on which you will serve the LORD.

Come to the cross. Take the place of death to self. Glory in the LORD. The Holy Ghost will illuminate the Word in a way that human wisdom cannot and give you understanding.

The Place The King Calls Home

What place does the King call home? What is the address of the high and lofty One? Where does the One who inhabits eternity make His dwelling?

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” -Isaiah 57:15

What a mystery it is, that the King of eternity, the One who lives in the high and holy place would also dwell with the humble. The creator of all things was born in a manger. How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God by whom all things were made and without whom was there nothing made that is made, who upholds all things by the word of His power, holds my hand when I am lonely? How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God who reclines in the big dipper and props His feet up on planet Earth will stop in His tracks at the weakest cry of His weakest child? How do you get a hold of the fact that the same God who measures the sea in the hollow of His hand, who meets out the heavens with a span, who takes up the dust of the Earth as if it was a small thing, is yet touched by the feelings of my infirmities?

When I think about His holiness, His majesty, His righteousness, and the glory of who He is, I can’t help but be amazed at the fact that He wants to make His dwelling with me. He has taken up residence in my heart and I couldn’t be happier.