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A Great Quote from J.I. Packer: Knowing (or Knowing about) God?

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2019 in knowing God

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — He Is a Person!

While we acknowledge that some Christians overemphasize the Holy Spirit, many of us overlook Him. As the so-called “Shy Member of the Trinity,” the Holy Spirit indwells each believer and is intimately involved in our becoming more like the Lord Jesus.

But is He personal? Yes! He has all the characteristics of personality: emotions (He can be grieved, Eph. 4:30), intellect (He is the substitute Teacher in place of the Lord Jesus, John 16:12-15), and will (He selects Paul and Barnabas for certain work, Acts 13:2). Emotions, intellect, will — these are the standard aspects of personality.

However, the Holy Spirit does not have a body. Someone has said, “The only body the Holy Spirit has — is yours!”

IF the Holy Spirit is personal, He can be prayed to. One part of my thesis in these posts is that we can have a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit which includes praying to Him. I don’t believe the Bible forbids the believer from directing his or her prayers to the respective member of the Godhead who is most intimately connected to a certain ministry.

For example, I can pray to the Father and give thanks for His creative work. I can pray to the Son for His saving work. And I can pray to the Spirit for His convicting work. We will look at a number of the Spirit’s ministries to and in the believer, but my point this morning is that the Holy Spirit of God is personal. I can speak with Him. And He can speak back to me through the Word of God.

If the Holy Spirit is personal, we can pray to Him. I am not saying that we must, but we can. When I pray for my unsaved friend John, I can ask that the Spirit of God would bring conviction of sin to his heart (conviction of sin is one of His primary works in unbelievers). When I am studying a section of God’s Word, I can pray that God the Holy Spirit would illuminate my mind and help me to understand and apply the Word to my life (the written Word of God is the Holy Spirit’s primary tool).

Challenge: In your prayer time today, thank God the Holy Spirit for His work in your life. And ask Him to do His mighty convicting work in someone you love! (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — Introduction

For many, God the Holy Spirit is the Forgotten Third, the Cinderella of the Trinity, the Shy Member of the Godhead. But biblical Christianity presents God the Holy Spirit as a critical personality who is intimately involved in the life of the follower of Christ.

How are we to respond to the Spirit of God? Do we “receive” Him by faith as we did the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we to understand the Holy Spirit as always in the background? If His primary duty is directing our (and the world’s) attention to the Son, does that mean no attention is to be given to Him at all? Does our quest to know more about Him detract from the Lord Jesus?

It seems that many Christians commit one of two errors about the Spirit of God: they either overemphasize Him or they overlook Him. For those who overemphasize Him, we would encourage them to get more biblical in seeing His role as the substitute teacher for the Lord Jesus and the One who was sent to glorify the Son. For those who overlook Him, we would encourage them to get more biblical in seeing that He is far more than the power of God (as our Jehovah’s Witness friends say). He is a Person and we can — and should — have a relationship with Him.

I’ve been reading through Galatians 3 with my long-distance friend Frank. There we read the following:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Just a couple of points from this text as we begin our study:
1. Paul is contrasting “faith” versus “the works of the law.” Interesting question that he asks: “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (v. 2). It seems to me that while Jesus is received by invitation, the Spirit of God is received by conversion. That is, when one repents and believes (conversion involves both repentance for one’s sins and belief in the gospel), the Spirit automatically takes up residence in the new believer. We don’t invite Him in. He comes with the package. Therefore, every believer already has the Spirit of God indwelling in him — by faith in the Son of God.
2. We are to begin and pursue the Christian life “by means of the Spirit” (v. 3). “The flesh” refers to our human nature, our ability, our strength and energy. It is “by means of the Spirit” that we begin and continue the process of becoming more like the Lord Jesus.
3. The Spirit is given as a gift to the believer (v. 5). He is not somehow earned or acquired only by super-saints. All believers have been given the Spirit of God. And for some that involves the working of miracles (especially during the critical and foundational apostolic period). And the key to receiving the Spirit as a gift is “by believing what you heard” (v. 5). Faith in Christ provides the believer with the gift of God the Holy Spirit.

So in these posts we want to ask how we “open” that gift. We want to become much more aware of the Spirit’s presence and power and mission in and through us. Join me in this journey?

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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The Spirit, the Preacher, and the Word (Part 3)

We are working our way through some of the biblical material on the Holy Spirit. In our last post, we saw a number of ministries He has toward the believer in general.

But what are His specific ministries toward the preacher? Let’s look at our first section of the Upper Room Discourse once more . . .

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 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[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 95)

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-8-29-28-am
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
    as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in relationship

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 91)

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most Highscreen-shot-2016-10-08-at-6-19-42-am
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in relationship

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 89)

Psalm 89

A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-6-32-01-am

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

You rule over the surging sea;
    when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
    with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
    you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south;
    Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
13 Your arm is endowed with power;
    your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
    who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long;
    they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
    and by your favor you exalt our horn.
18 Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19 Once you spoke in a vision,
    to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
    I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
    with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
    surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him;
    the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
    and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
    his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
    my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
    the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
    and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever,
    his throne as long as the heavens endure.

30 “If his sons forsake my law
    and do not follow my statutes,
31 if they violate my decrees
    and fail to keep my commands,
32 I will punish their sin with the rod,
    their iniquity with flogging;
33 but I will not take my love from him,
    nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
    or alter what my lips have uttered.
35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
    and I will not lie to David—
36 that his line will continue forever
    and his throne endure before me like the sun;
37 it will be established forever like the moon,
    the faithful witness in the sky.”

38 But you have rejected, you have spurned,
    you have been very angry with your anointed one.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant
    and have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have broken through all his walls
    and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
41 All who pass by have plundered him;
    he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
    you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword
    and have not supported him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor
    and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth;
    you have covered him with a mantle of shame.

46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
    How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how fleeting is my life.
    For what futility you have created all humanity!
48 Who can live and not see death,
    or who can escape the power of the grave?
49 Lord, where is your former great love,
    which in your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked,
    how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,
51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked,
    with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.

52 Praise be to the Lord forever!
Amen and Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2017 in relationship

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 86)

Psalm 86

A prayer of David.screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-6-48-42-am

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in relationship

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 84)

Psalm 84

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

How lovely is your dwelling place,screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-5-06-37-am
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in seeking God

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon (happiness)

ch870710Calvin has a point, doesn’t he?  If HAPPINESS depends on HAPPENINGS, then having the financial where-with-all to control life’s circumstances seems a very reasonable goal.

But even the filthy rich can’t buy themselves out of someScreen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.31.27 AM life’s tragedies.  As one bumper sticker puts it, “He who dies with the most toys — still dies!”  Psalm 1 (which we looked at way back on December 8’s post) makes the simple point that true happiness (what the Psalmist calls “blessedness”) is a relational, not a possessive, issue.  If I know the God of Creation in an intimate and personal way, I can be truly happy, regardless of what happens around me.

How’s your relationship with the Lord going?

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in happiness

 

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