Monday, October 15, 2018

What Does Being Holy Mean For Us?

1 Peter 1:13-16  " Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

     I've started a bible study on 1 Peter and wanted to share thoughts I'm learning on 'What Does It Mean to Be Holy?'  I think it's a confusing, yet contradictory question.  I know for a fact that God is holy and I am a sinner, so how can I strive to be holy with my sinful nature still at work in me?  Let's explore the research I have found through Matthew Henry and various devotionals.

     Holy means to be set apart and to be separate from this world we live in.  Human nature makes it hard for us to live a life that is distinctive and different from this world.  As God's chosen, we are to be obedient and follow His ways in ALL we do.  Romans 12:2  "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."  We are to live in a way as a reflection of who you are as God's children.  Our behavior flows from our identity, with God or with the world.

     Points from M. Henry on living holy lives.... 

  1.  Christianity is a doctrine according to godliness, designed to make us not only wiser, but better.
  2.  The main work of a Christian lies in the right management of his heart and mind.
  3.  A Christian’s work is not over as soon as he has got into a state of grace; he must still hope and strive for more grace. When he has entered the strait gate, he must still walk in the narrow way.
  4.  A strong and perfect trust in God’s grace is very consistent with our best endeavours in our duty
  5. The children of God ought to prove themselves to be such by their obedience to God, by their present, constant, universal obedience.
  6. Persons, when converted, differ exceedingly from what they were formerly. They are people of another fashion and manner from what they were before; their inward frame, behaviour, speech, and conversation, are much altered from what they were in times past. 
  7. We must imitate God, though we can never equal him. He is perfectly, unchangeably, and eternally holy; and we should aspire after such a state. The consideration of the holiness of God should oblige as to the highest degree of holiness we can attain unto. 
  8.  The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian’s life, and by this rule we are commanded to be holy every way.    
      "A believer’s character, conduct, and conversation should be reflections of Jesus, who lives within. On our own, we might place too much emphasis on behavior and get caught up in following rules and rituals that look Christian without truly reflecting Christ. But God has given each believer His Holy Spirit as a teacher and guide. The Spirit works to transform our minds and hearts so that we are markedly different from our unsaved peers. When we allow the Spirit to control us, we speak and act in accordance with our true identity: God’s sons and daughters.  Our Father wants His children to be living examples of who He is. He doesn’t expect perfection—He knows we can’t be totally sinless in our human body. But He shows us how to think and act so we may “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” []
      As we strive for holiness, we must consider Who we are trusting. 
      Here are 7 statements that can help you decide if your decisions are leaning on your faulty moral conscience or the trustworthy Holy Spirit: []
  1. Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord.
  2. The Bible is the basis for your conduct.
  3. You have a strong desire to obey God.
  4. You make decisions prayerfully.
  5. Your conscience sounds the alarm when you consider a wrong direction.
  6. You feel guilty when you disobey
  7. You feel compelled to repent of your transgression.

There is no true happiness apart from holiness and no holiness apart from Christ. []

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fully Known and Loved

       Do you think you can know someone completely?  I don't think it's possible, even of ourselves.   We can try to get to know each other, but there is always an element of the unknown.  Only God knows us fully!  So what if we extended the question to, can you know someone completely and are they still loved by you?  Parents may say yes for their children, but to include everyone in life takes divine love. Only God knows us fully and still loves us! God's grace and mercy are divine examples of that love that are extended to all.
      Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
       God made each one of us and knows us better than we know ourselves.  And yet, he still loves us and pursues us in countless ways.  Romans 5:8  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  As the song below states, it's 'hard truth and ridiculous grace to be fully known and loved by You'.  We can never earn, deserve or repay that gift of grace, but we can accept, acknowledge, praise, give thanks, honor and surrender to our God Almighty.
       When we think of our sinful nature, it's hard to accept our transparency with God.  We can try to hide... our unspoken but bad thoughts, our wrong motives, our greed, our jealousy, our hearts that are prone to wander, and endless faults...but God desires to wash us as white as snow.  God knows us inside and out, yet still wants us to draw near to Him.  God wants the church to be loving, but also holy.  Sin can't be compromised with, but it can be forgiven.
       For all my friends, believers and non-believers, this next verse is my prayer for you today and always...
      Ephesians 3:16-19  " I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

      May you guard and protect your heart with the truth of Scripture from the world's culture of lies.. God loves you with all your flaws and seeks you to be His, through Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Who Is Guiding You?

John 16:13-14   "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you."

       What does it mean to be 'filled by the Spirit' or to have 'the Spirit living within me'?  When a person gives their life over to God thru Jesus Christ and acknowledges Him as their Lord and Savior, then they are right then given the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our inner guide to what God would have us follow in our journey, but we do not always listen and are deceived by our sinful nature.  The Holy Spirit's leading always aligns with Scripture and brings glory to Christ.

       John 15:26  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me."
       "Jesus promised to give us an internal and ever-present Guide. Starting at the moment of salvation, everyone who trusts in the Savior is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who promises to lead believers into all the truth. Like a built-in compass, He will direct us exactly the right way, regardless of the choice. He never makes a mistake.
So you may be thinking, If He is living in me and never makes a wrong choice, why do I keep messing up? His leadership is always right, but our reception isn’t always clear. Yielding to the Lord is an essential part of receiving His direction. We cannot tolerate sin and go our own way in one area and expect to receive His guidance in another." [] 
  John 14:15-17  “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."
Holy Spirit can/does: []
  1.  The Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Word to our hearts and minds.
  2. The Holy Spirit recognizes our emotional and mental state and can identify exactly where we are in our Christian walk. Therefore, He can reveal to our mind the passages that will encourage, challenge, or convict us as needed.
  3. The Holy Spirit empowers individuals for specific tasks and equips them to accomplish it.
  4. The Holy Spirit seals us in Christ—proof of the promise that we are forever in God’s presence.  Ephesians 1:13-14 " In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

       The world tells us to trust our gut feelings, but the Bible tells us to trust and follow the Holy Spirit as it is living inside of us, as believers.  The Spirit doesn't come and go based on our feelings, circumstances, or spiritual stability.  The Holy Spirit, once received, is a permanent advocate dwelling in you to guide you in truth of God's will.  

The Holy Spirit guides in:

1. Our friendships--1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

2. Our priorities--Galatians 6:7-8  "Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.  Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." 

3. The truths we dwell on-- Colossians 3:16  "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."