Weekly Seed of Faith 9/27/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Holy Spirit   By Pastor Dave  

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” John 14:16-18

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Grace and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful person of the Holy Spirit.  I have to tell you that one of my favorite persons of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to me, guides me, instructs me, teaches me and even corrects me.  A simple prayer every morning when you get up. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart and home, teach me, guide me, heal me and fill me. Amen”

In last week’s devotional we looked at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  “This business is under new management.” Today I would like for us to reflect on the power and person of the Holy Spirit.  Join me as we journey deeper into Jesus as we think about the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus says that He “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…” what does He mean?  First, let’s look at a few of the Greek words that are used in this sentence.  The first word is the word “another” and in the Greek, the word is “allos.”  “Allos” means “another one just like the first one.”  Who is the first Advocate?  It is obviously Jesus himself.  Therefore, the second Advocate is just like the first one. The Holy Spirit is a divine being living within all disciples who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  The Trinity is truly a mystery.  When we speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we speak of them as persons.   When John Calvin wrote of the persons of the Trinity, he said, “In the Trinity we have one essence (being) and three subsistence’s.  The three persons of the Godhead subsist in the divine essence (being).”  Now that is a lot of deep, theological language.  The EZ PZ translation: When we recognize God alone as our sovereign creator and we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts to live, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to set up residence in our hearts, our homes and lives.  We are sealed with the third person. In essence, we are allowing God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the Trinity–to rule and reign in our lives.  One of the things I witness as a pastor is that we may  have the main question about the Holy Spirit a bit backwards.  Often we ask, “How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?” I wonder if we should be asking, “How can the Holy Spirit get more of me?”

Do you know that the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ? The Holy Spirit acts as a mirror and reflects Christ to us.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who reflects God, teaches us and leads us into all truth.  The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by reproducing more of Jesus in all  believers. “Christian” means “little Christ” and the Holy Spirit does this work in a Christian’s life by reproducing little Christs IN us.  Next in the Greek is the meaning of the word “Advocate,” “Comforter”, or “Counselor”. It is of great importance.  The Greek word for “Advocate” comes from “parakletos” which is a compound of two Greek words: “para” meaning “alongside of” and “kletos” which means “called.”  “Parakletos” therefore means “one who is called alongside of”, another person called alongside you or me as our helper.  The Latin Bible translates “parakletos” as “Advocate,” however, this word can also be translated as “comforter” and “counselor.”  The word “comforter” comes from two words: “cum” which means “with” and “fortis” which means “strength.”  In other words a comforter is a person who comes alongside you or me with strength.  The Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” is the one who will bring us the strength we need in order to live as little Christs.  The Holy Spirit as “Comforter” will bring us strength to withstand the blows and the wounds that we incur in the world.  The “Comforter” gives us the strength and power to stand up and face whatever comes against us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who comes with strength — who is called alongside to guide us, to comfort us, to convict us and challenge us to grow and trust more and more in God (the TRINITY) alone.  The Holy Spirit reflects Jesus Christ so that you and I can reflect Christ to others.

During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.  When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, “Thank you.”  But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, “If I may ask, what was in that package?”  She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, “Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds.”

Like the contents of the package, the power for growth and strength are available for every Christian who will take advantage of them.  The power for growth comes from using our spiritual gifts and allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow and blossom in our lives.  Scripture says that we shall be known by our fruit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is defined in Galatians chapter five: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit and this is the precious fruit that the HOLY SPIRIT will PRODUCE in you and in me.

When I think of a GPS (Global Positioning System), I realize that not many people can afford a car or system that gives you a GPS.  But, in reality, we all have our own inner GPS — GOD’S PROMISED SPIRIT, GOD’S PERSONAL SPIRIT AND GOD’S POWERFUL SPIRIT — to guide us, to fill us, to strengthen us, to counsel us, to convict us and comfort us….if we let Him in and listen.

Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth.”

To know about God, the Father, alone is good, to believe in Jesus, as Lord, is great and to be filled with the Holy Spirit is wonderful. Don’t be afraid to open the box — the gift that Christ has given you — the Promise, the Person, and the Power of the Holy Spirit. I love to say that the Holy Spirit is the identical twin of Jesus–except in Spirit.

Today I encourage you to pray, “Holy Spirit, I want you to get more and more and more of me. Consume the parts and pieces of me that don’t serve YOU. Teach me.  Correct me. Produce YOUR fruit in me. Be my counselor, my comforter, and my advocate forever. Amen.”

Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me — melt me — mold me — fill me — use me!

Here is a YouTube song about the Holy Spirit. — https://youtu.be/BagH-zTfnsQ

See You Sunday,

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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Romans 3:1-2 Do Jews (or Religious People) Have an Edge?


Paul senses questions being raised as he comes to the end of Romans 2 and begins chapter 3.Questions like; if God treats Jews and Gentiles alike, not showing favoritism, and if the only thing that makes one truly Jewish is an inward transformation by the Holy Spirit, then what advantage is there in being a Jew? Or to put it in other terms, what is the Old Testament all about? And why did God institute circumcision? If Paul is right, these things are pointless. Or since we know that what God does is not pointless and must have a proper purpose to it, isn’t it the case that Paul must be wrong in his conclusions – whether or not we can detect the weak point of his arguments?

This is a very important matter – for the Jews as well as for non-Jews. We have been talking about Jewish people’s spiritual advantages or lack of them. But, although the Jew’s apparent advantages are different from the Gentile’s, his situation and the Gentile’s are parallel. For we who call ourselves Christians must ask, “What advantage, then, is there is being a godly churchgoing person? What value is there in baptism, church membership, communion, or any other religious exercise if we are all under condemnation anyway?” “Do any religious people have an edge?” If we don’t, then why should we bother with religion at all? Let’s enjoy ourselves and sin right along with the heathen. If we do have an edge, then isn’t it the case that it is possible to please God by our religious practices and be saved by them after all?

Paul’s answer is that circumcision and being Jewish are true advantages, although they are not the kind of advantages we are thinking of if we wrongly suppose that one can be saved by them. Paul is answering the specific question “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew?” in Romans 3, it is not the whole list (which is found in Romans 9) but rather the matter of possessing the very words of God alone that he stresses. In fact, although he has also asked, “What value is there in circumcision?” he does not speak of the sacraments or any other external sign as an advantage in this context. Just Scripture! That is the chief item and in Romans 3, the only one. This is of immense importance to us, because it is the only blessing in this long list of Jewish advantages in which Gentiles share. We can say, “Ours are the Scriptures” – if we have been fortunate enough, as virtually all of us have been, to have been given the very words of God in our language.

Paul is answering an argument about the thoroughly religious person of his day, the Jew. However we need to apply it to the thoroughly religious person of our time also. The issue the apostle is dealing with here is of vital importance to everyone. No one is saved by such things as baptism, sacraments, or church attendance. No one is even saved by such an important thing as having – and yes, even studying – the Bible. But that does not mean that religious practices are of no use to us or that one is acting wisely if he or she abuses, neglects, or disregards them.

So…what advantage then, is there in being a godly, churchgoing “Christian” person? Let’s review three advantages: (1) Even if God never saves you by drawing you from the darkness of your sin to saving faith in Jesus Christ, you will at least sin less because of these advantages and therefore be punished less severely. We must understand that on the one hand there are genuine spiritual advantages (for those who will have them) and, on the other hand, that these in themselves do not save anyone. We must remember that our situation is desperate. We can do nothing for ourselves. Even knowing the truth does not save us, because in our unregenerate state we are unresponsive and even hostile to it. No one can be saved who is not born again, and the work of spiritual regeneration is God’s doing.

(2) Going to church and listening to the preaching of the Word of God, if you are in a good, Bible-believing church, will at least cause you to know the way of salvation even if you do not respond to it. A person might argue that knowing how to be saved and yet not responding to that revelation, in fact rejecting it, is not an advantage but a disadvantage in that it undoubtedly increases one’s guilt. This is true, of course. Moreover, it is compounded if together with your knowledge you also acquire the habit of thinking of yourself as a rather fine Christian specimen. You are worse off if you think that God must somehow think better of you just because you know much. But it does not need to work that way. In fact, it is meant to work quite the other way. Instead of becoming proud because of your knowledge, you should be humbled by it. Who can read the first three chapters of Romans intelligently and remain proud?

(3) The third great advantage of regular church attendance and, above all, faithful adherence to the preaching and study of the Word of God is that, although you cannot claim this as a right from God, it is through the reading and preaching of the Bible that God is most likely to save you. How is one born again, after all? Peter writes that we are “born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23). To hear the Word of God is the most assured path to salvation. In the same way James wrote, “He [God] chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18).

If you are reading these words but are not born again, your condition is not good. You are lost and under God’s wrath. You are blind to God’s truth. You are spiritually bankrupt. But there is one thing; although you cannot save yourself, as long as you can hear this or any other gospel message, you are at least where Jesus is likely to go. He loves to bless the preaching and teaching of His Word. Therefore, though your condition may be desperate, it is no worse than any other lost sinner before he or she was saved. The mere hearing the Word is your advantage. Do not despise it and don’t say, “So, then, what advantage is there in religion?” There is a great advantage in it. “Much in every way!” (Rom. 3:2). Cling to it. Wring every possible “edge” from it. Who knows but that God will use the very Word you hear to save your soul?

Romans 3:1-2 Reflection Questions:

How often do you hear or read and study God’s Word?

Why is going to church important to you?

What does “being born again” mean to you? How do you know if you are or not, born again?

Are you proud or humbled by your knowledge of God’s Word?