The Work Of The Holy Spirit

“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.”
John 15:26 (NIV)

“I have much more to say to you,
more than you can now bear. But when he,
the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. 
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come. 
He will glorify me because it is from me
that he will receive what he will make known to you.” 
John 16:12-14 (NIV)

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, 
the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance 
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—
to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will 
through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”
Colossians 1:9 (NIV)

The dear fellow was a typical know-it-all. It didn’t matter the subject of conversation, he had a firm conviction on the matter whether he knew what he was talking about or not. Notwithstanding, we all loved him and welcomed him sincerely whenever we met. The man I refer to needed friends to keep his fragile ego together. I never heard of someone who attacked him directly or indirectly, he was just too likable.

The vast majority of people recognize that we do not “know it all”. Most people enjoy learning and have made it a life-long occupation to increase their knowledge in areas of interest. Some do their research through joining clubs, some do independent research, others through enrolling in college or university courses.

Christians have a precious gift from our beloved Master. We have been given a travelling companion in the person of the Holy Spirit. The third Person of the Trinity Who comes to reside with us. He is the proof of our ultimate inheritance. In the meanwhile, He is our Teacher concerning the promised Messiah.

Ask yourself if you are being enriched in the knowledge of the Master by the Holy Spirit working in you. Your loving Father in heaven wants you to go on increasing in the knowledge of His will through the “wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9). Seek to be ever submissive to this wonderful person Who guides us into all the truth we need to know to live our lives pleasing to the Father.

Come Holy Spirit, gift divine,
Come dwell within this heart of mine;
Teach me the truths that I should know,
And lead in paths where I should go.

Oh, make me pure and clean within!
Thy temple cleansed and free from sin
That I may kind and gentle be,
Come quickly and abide with me.

Not for a moment, hour, nor day,
And then to take thy flight away;
But may my heart forever be,
A welcome dwelling place for thee.

Powerful Prayers

“…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
Acts 4:29 (NIV)

In my studies in university it never occurred to me to ask God for good marks. I was a Christian and had a tremendous desire to excel in my studies and do the best I could. I felt it was wrong to ask specifically for the best marks even though I wanted them. What I did fervently ask for was assistance in studying my courses and in writing my exams.

I did not think I could short-circuit the “system” and simply apply to God for high grades and ignore the hard work of studying. I knew I had to work diligently and perspire over my books and lecture notes if I wished to succeed. So I prayed that I might have grace to work hard. When I went into the examination room to write my answers I would pause and pray for a calm spirit and the ability to recall what I had studied.

The people who prayed the prayer in our text today asked for a curious thing given their situation. They did not pray that they might short-circuit the “system”. They knew that Jesus had indicated they were in for a time of suffering and they were already tasting it. Suffering in this life is a given so where do we go from here?

These people prayed for endurance to run the race and not get sidetracked by the opposition that had reared its ugly head. The authorities had forbidden them to speak of Jesus any more and they prayed for strength to do exactly what was forbidden.

Before His departure, Jesus had told the disciples to preach the Good News about Him and they intended to obey Him rather than the government when the two were in contradiction to each other. They were fully aware of what the authorities had done to Jesus and they had no illusions about being delivered from death themselves.

If your prayer life seems to be stalled you may need to look at what you are asking of God. Perhaps you are wanting to merely escape suffering and difficulties in life. There is no guarantee that God will enable His children to be exempt from the common lot of humanity.

However, you may start there and ask for mercy in your suffering. You may seek from God the health, or job, or other things He seems to give other Christians. I am not suggesting it is wrong to ask for the removal of an obstacle in your way.

It is when the prayer for the removal of a difficulty is not answered that you need to consider changing your prayer and start asking for grace to endure whatever the undesirable thing is.

Submission to God is a virtue He desires from us. When we bow before His sovereign will, then we will discover that He comes to us with all the resources necessary to address the difficulties of life and He will cause us to be triumphant in the end. Will you submit your will to His? If you do then you will walk with God and have all you need for life.

The Wonder of Jesus

As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were
overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.”
Mark 9:15 (NIV)

It is interesting that in life there are certain people who seem attractive to us regardless of their outward appearance. I well recall a man who did not seem to have much of this world’s goods, was soft spoken, and did not seek to dominate a discussion. Yet there was something about his manner that caused people to enjoy him greatly. He had friends in most levels of society. His smile was always warm and gracious. When I think of him I am reminded of how many people saw Jesus when He walked among us.

Jesus did not have a physical appearance that attracted people. In Isaiah 53:2 it says (NIV),

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him”

He referred to Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29 (NIV). So Jesus did not stand out in a crowd because of what He looked like. Rather there was an attraction about Him that focussed on His manner, His spoken words, and His interest especially in people who were in need.

Jesus went around doing things that no one else could do. For example, He healed diseases that other physicians could not. In Mark 5:25-30 we read of a woman who spent all her money on doctors over a 12 year period and was worse rather than better. Jesus healed her instantly. In John 9 we read of Jesus healing a man born blind. Jesus’ critics tried to disprove the miracle but simply could not.

Never did Jesus’ enemies ever prove He did not do the miracles ascribed to Him. Rather in one instance the leaders of the people met secretly and said that they needed to kill Jesus lest His continued working of miracles draw the people to Him John 11:38-48.

Concerning Jesus’ teaching, the common people who heard Him are described in Luke 4:22 (NIV).

“All spoke well of him and were amazed
at the gracious words that came from his lips.”

On another occasion after Jesus preached a sermon it was said of the people, “…the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority…” Matthew 7:28-29 (NIV).

Jesus was attractive in the very best way to those who encountered Him while He was on earth. He proved to have a remarkable manner with people and they felt drawn to Him because of His words and works.

Have you taken time to see Him in the Gospels in the Bible? Have you read His gracious words addressed to the needy? Have you been drawn to this incredible Person who calls on everyone to believe in Him?

Jesus, the One who spoke so graciously and who demonstrated His powers over all kinds of earthly issues calls for you to come and receive His forgiveness and to have a life that is truly worth living. Will you come to this One who can remake you and cause you to conquer all your issues in life? Jesus waits to hear from you. Come, and come today.

Who Is Jesus?

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi,
he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’  
They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah;
and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’  
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’  
Simon Peter answered,
‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
 Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah,
for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, 
but by my Father in heaven.’”
Matthew 16:13-17 (NIV)

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is a great comment. The influence of first impressions can make or break a relationship. When going for the first interview for a new job the proper appearance is vital. When I worked as a stockbroker for two years, I came back from a 2-week vacation to a difficult problem. While I was gone a new dress code was enacted. We could no longer wear sports coats we had to come to work in a dark coloured suit! I had come back to work from my holiday wearing a sportscoat!! I hastily returned home and put on a dark coloured suit complete with a matching vest, fob and pocket watch. Clearly, I did not want to make the wrong impression my first day back at the office.

At the time of the story in Matthew 16 Jesus and the disciples had been itinerant preachers for possibly two plus years. They had toured the entire country. Now the countdown is coming to the cross. Jesus wanted to know what the first impressions of Him were, so He asked the disciples to tell Him.

There were different ideas about Jesus’ identity and the disciples told the Master what the people were saying. Then Jesus narrowed the focus and asked the disciples who they thought He was. Jesus is always much more interested in His followers view of Him than what the world thinks of Him.

What is your view of who Jesus is today? Have you spent time lately telling Him of your love for Him? Have you recently thanked Him for going all the way to the cross to pay for your sins? Have you thanked Him for sending the Holy Spirit to comfort, strengthen, encourage, and teach you about the Messiah? Have you shared with Him your great hope of seeing Him some day? Who is Jesus to you??

The author of the hymn. “Amazing Grace” was an Anglican priest by the name of John Newton. On one occasion he wrote a beautiful poem on our subject for today. You can GOOGLE the whole poem but here are the first and last verses.

What think you of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him.
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not;
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath are your lot. 

If asked what of Jesus I think?
Though still my best thoughts are but poor;
I say, he’s my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store,
My Shepherd, my Husband, my Friend,
My Saviour from sin and from thrall;
My hope from beginning to end,
My Portion, my Lord, and my All.

Peter’s Darkest Night

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 
‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep?
Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?’”
Mark 14 :37 (NIV)

“While Peter was below in the courtyard, 
one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 
When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said. But he denied it.
‘I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said,
and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there,
she said again to those standing around, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ 
Again, he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter,
‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’
He began to call down curses, and he swore to them,
‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’ 
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. 
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 
‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ 
And he broke down and wept.”
Mark 14:66-72 (NIV)

“And then the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him,
‘Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.’”
Luke 22:61 (NASB)

Peter most certainly loved his Master. No one denies that fact. He had his Lord’s best interests at heart on almost all occasions. Falling asleep, when asked by the Good Shepherd to “watch and pray” in Gethsemane, was a great disappointment for the Master. But after pledging to go with the Saviour to death if necessary but fleeing when push came to shove was likely the lowest point for Master and disciple both. One author dubbed the scene of the three denials, “The coward in the court”.

As the third denial was being uttered by Peter, the rooster crowed and Jesus glanced at His beloved disciple. Peter heard the crowing, saw the glance of his Master, and fled the scene convulsing in sobs. Surely the burly fisherman was at the lowest point in his entire time as a follower of the Good Shepherd.

Many of us as Christ followers have had experiences like Peter’s. If our experiences have not been as dramatic, they have been as real to us. We all grieve when we sin one way or another regardless of how much pressure was on us to stray.

The gentle look our Lord gave to Peter was one of love, forgiveness and hope. He did not glare at His disciple, nor did He look with contempt. The One Who said He was “meek and lowly of heart” would never despise a stumbling follower. Jesus’ mission was described by Paul in the following words,

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, 
not counting their wrongdoings against them…”
2 Corinthians 5:19 (NASB)

If you or someone you know has denied their Saviour there is good news. Jesus wants to draw you or that person back into intimate fellowship. He met with Peter alone at the first opportunity following the resurrection (Luke 24:34). Do you need further proof of the welcome you will receive when you return to the One Who loved you with an everlasting love, Who willingly died to redeem you, Who sent His Holy Spirit to be your Comforter, your Teacher, your Advocate, your prayer Partner? How can you doubt you are precious in His sight? Come to Him and come now.

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
friends may fail me, foes assail me,
he, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
he is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in him;
tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
he, my strength, my vict’ry wins.

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
even when my heart is breaking,
he, my comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
he, my pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive him,
more than all in him I find;
he hath granted me forgiveness,
I am his, and he is mine.

– J. Wilbur Chapman