Chasing Butterflies and Blowing Bubbles

(This is an older post that I needed to read and remember as Jerry and I continue to deal with difficult issues.)

Another year ~ and in these latter years I now realize that I am in my second childhood ~ butterfly-net-clipart-A_Girl_with_a_Butterfly_Net_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100224-130807-147053and loving it.

This morning my thoughts were brought back to years ago when our home was a busy hub. On one of those days Jerry and I were sitting at the dining room table, observing an eventful scene at the kitchen counter between my mother and our youngest granddaughter, Emma. as they were eating ice cream.

Mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was living with us, was crying, and saying that she needed to go home. Emma had her hand on Mother’s knee and was talking to her. This three-year-old child was consoling a ninety-one-year old woman, who was listening and responding to her encouragement. I wrote about the incident as I related a young child’s understanding of what it means to want to go home.
Jerry and I could not remember the words, but only that it was an extraordinary, moving experience. Scan 152400000
Olivia was in the back yard chasing butterflies.Scan 152400002  I had just brought her home from kindergarten. She ministers in her own way.

My second childhood seems to be between a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Writing has become the main outlet for my witness to the grace and glory of my Lord. There are times when I get down to the nitty-gritty, really serious stuff that the Lord gives me, but it is difficult to keep at it until it is finished. He has done much for me, in me, with me, around and through me over the years. Much has been finished, but there is still much that lacks completion.

At this age my life is somewhat correspondent to my writing. Childlikeness is good, but always needs a goal, guidance and discipline, which comes from the heart and hand of our Father. The joy of life in Christ seems at times as if I am enjoying the things I used to do with the grandchildren ~ chasing butterflies, and blowing bubbles.Scan 152400001 But the Lord is not through with me yet. This is the second time around ~ and now I need to get back to the ice cream.

Gracious Father, thank you for your patience, your mercy and your grace with your children.  You know how weak we are, and how much we need you.  Thank you for the days and the years of guiding, of teaching, of training.  Thank you that no one can snatch us out of your hand.  Thank you for a love that is the homing device by which your Holy Spirit draws us home to you.  In Jesus’ name I thank and praise you.  Amen.

How the Holy Spirit Works ~ Part Two

I should have known when I started How The Holy Spirit Works that it was not possible to condense it to one post. We continue with our diagram where the Holy Spirit centers His work.

The Spirit and the Heart

God’s Spirit in our spirit, soul, and body, works through the mind to “shine in our hearts the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (the person and humanity) of Jesus Christ.” This “treasure,” the apostle Paul states, is “in earthen vessels that the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

We are given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 
2 Corinthians 1:22
The love of God is spread abroad in our hearts by the Spirit. 
Romans 5:5
Our hearts are circumcised in the Spirit.
Romans 2:29

God’s Spirit of love and circumcision of the heart is the fulfillment of the promise made in Ezekiel 36:26.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

It is this “new heart and new spirit” through which His Spirit works to reveal, and fulfill all that He wants to do in us as His children. This is the “new birth”  so that by His Spirit working in our spirits, we are being conformed to the image of Christ, His Son.“ (Romans 8:29)

Whoever believes in me, as he Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:38-39

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, the Son.

“God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:6
“that Christ may dwell in your hearts”
Ephesians 3:17
“the hidden man of the heart, the meek and quiet spirit”
1 Peter 3:4

The Holy Spirit reveals what only the new heart and spirit can understand.

“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.”
Ephesians 1:17-23
“the heart of man has not conceived the things of God,
but they are revealed by His Spirit”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Paul prayed for the early church to “be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may comprehend and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19  It is in knowing the love of Christ in the heart, the fullness of God in the heart, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the heart that we come to the understanding of the Spirit in the will. 

The Spirit and The Will

If we were speaking of God alone or man alone, we would separate His will from man’s will, but as we come to this section, we cannot separate the two. As we started with God’s Spirit and our spirit united, and follow His work through the soul and body, in which the mind, heart and will are encompassed, we have the two wills, God’s and man’s, united by the power of His Spirit. From the beginning God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed His Spirit into him, providing a soul through which God would direct and care for His creation. His Holy Spirit, by the power of Christ’s resurrection has redeemed the soul and body from the law of sin and death and brought us by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ to know His will (Romans 8:2). His Spirit of love and grace draws us to Christ, so that we willingly come to Him and desire His will, not our own (John 6:44-45). Other references include Mark 3:35; John 7:17; John 9:31; Romans 8:27

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
Romans 9:16

Our ultimate reference is from Jesus’ words, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42

If we follow the path of the Holy Spirit, we see the power that works to bring all things together for us in Christ, so that the knowledge and His light in our hearts melts our hearts and our wills and they are melded into His.

“And the Spirit says , Come ~
whosoever will may come.”
Revelation 22:17

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness.”
Psalm 110:3

“We do hold and teach that though the will of man is not ignored, and men are not saved against their wills, that the work of the Spirit, which is the effect of the will of God, is to change the human will, and so make men willing in the day of God’s power, working in them to will to do his own good pleasure. The Spirit makes a revelation of truth to the soul, whereby it sees things in a different light from what it ever did before, and then the will cheerfully bows that neck which once was stiff as iron, and wears the yoke which it once despised, and wears it gladly, cheerfully, and joyfully. Yet, note that the will is not gone; the will is treated as it should be treated; man is not acted on as a machine, he is not polished like a piece of marble; he is not planed and smoothed like a plank of wood; but his mind is acted on by the Spirit of God, in a manner quite consistent with mental laws. Man is thus made a new creature in Christ Jesus, by the will of God, and his own will is blessedly and sweetly made to yield.” Charles Spurgeon

Dear Father, as the knowledge of your Spirit’s working is too much to include in even two posts, we will stop here and finish the last part next week. You have so blessed us to take us though this path of your Holy Spirit’s working in us as your children. Thank you for our creation and redemption that is secured by the power of your Holy Spirit as you are preparing us for eternity with you. Continue to work your will in and through us to do your will, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

How the Holy Spirit Works ~ Part 3

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Chasing Butterflies and Blowing Bubbles

Another year ~ and in these latter years I now realize that I am in my second childhood ~ butterfly-net-clipart-A_Girl_with_a_Butterfly_Net_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100224-130807-147053and loving it.

This morning my thoughts were brought back to years ago when our home was a busy hub. On one of those days Jerry and I were sitting at the dining room table, observing an eventful scene at the kitchen counter between my mother and our youngest granddaughter, Emma. as they were eating ice cream.

Mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was living with us, was crying, and saying that she needed to go home. Emma had her hand on Mother’s knee and was talking to her. This three-year-old child was consoling a ninety-one-year old woman, who was listening and responding to her encouragement. I wrote about the incident as I related a young child’s understanding of what it means to want to go home.
Jerry and I could not remember the words, but only that it was an extraordinary, moving experience. Scan 152400000
Olivia was in the back yard chasing butterflies.Scan 152400002  I had just brought her home from kindergarten. She ministers in her own way.

My second childhood seems to be between a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Writing has become the main outlet for my witness to the grace and glory of my Lord. There are times when I get down to the nitty-gritty, really serious stuff that the Lord gives me, but it is difficult to keep at it until it is finished. He has done much for me, in me, with me, around and through me over the years. Much has been finished, but there is still much that lacks completion.

At this age my life is somewhat correspondent to my writing. Childlikeness is good, but always needs a goal, guidance and discipline, which comes from the heart and hand of our Father. The joy of life in Christ seems at times as if I am enjoying the things I used to do with the grandchildren ~ chasing butterflies, and blowing bubbles.Scan 152400001 But the Lord is not through with me yet. This is the second time around ~ and now I need to get back to the ice cream.

Gracious Father, thank you for your patience, your mercy and your grace with your children.  You know how weak we are, and how much we need you.  Thank you for the days and the years of guiding, of teaching, of training.  Thank you that no one can snatch us out of your hand.  Thank you for a love that is the homing device by which your Holy Spirit draws us home to you.  In Jesus’ name I thank and praise you.  Amen.

Experiencing the New Birth

A newborn infant cannot in this life rejoice in the experience of its physical birth; neither can it at any time remember that day or time. The record of a baby’s birth is filed in the county and country in which it is born. The parents and others who love this child will remember its birth in years to come.

24900590Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader of His day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5

When we read and study the third chapter of John we come upon truth that was spoken by Jesus Christ to one who knew the law, who taught the Scriptures from the Old Testament, yet he was no better off than the newborn infant. We are born blind and cannot see spiritual things. We cannot understand this life, nor any that is to come. We are deaf and helpless to know the things of God. We do not understand truth because it comes from God only through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In truth, we enter this world under the sentence of death.

When Jesus prefaced His statements with the words truly, truly (verily, verily, in the KJV), He was bringing attention to the truth that followed, though Nicodemus could not understand it; and he had been brought up with the Law and the Prophets. He knew of Ezekiel 36:26 where God promised to take away the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.

The writer of Hebrews quoted the promise, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,
 and they shall be my people” (8:10). When He puts within us the new heart and spirit He has a new tablet on which to write and record His law and promises, so that they will not be forgotten, and through which His Spirit can speak and work the truth. We are given new eyes to see the kingdom of God and to live in light of His truth. We have His Spirit that brings us into His kingdom, so that we may live in proclamation of our new birth.

The Secret of New Birth
Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him, “If you abide (continue) in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Their faith was not a saving faith, (the power of the new birth). They were still blind to the truth that was in Jesus. They would know the truth and be set free from their blindness and the power of sin if they continued in the truth that Jesus was speaking to them. We cannot have true faith in something we do not know. We cannot truly know Jesus Christ, who came to bear witness of the truth unless we continue in God’s Word.

“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole 
heart” Jeremiah 24:7

He has graciously provided and preserved the truth through The Holy Bible for centuries for us to know the truth; for those who are His people to be set free from blindness and sin; that they may see and enter into the glory of His kingdom.

 If we continue in God’s Word the Spirit of truth will convict us of our sin, enable us to see our blindness, our helplessness; and the need for salvation. The power of the gospel will work in this new heart and spirit for our regeneration; so that we are enabled in faith to turn in repentance from our darkness and the old life of sin and misery, to Christ.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

A Conception of Love
We cannot speak of new birth ~ a spiritual birth that is wrought in the hearts of men ~ as a work that man can claim as any of his own. Just as we cannot conceive or birth ourselves to this human life, neither can we conceive of a new life spiritually. It must be a supernatural act of God and only in God’s power. Just as the first creation was by God’s Word only so is the new creation in us.

But, more importantly, we must see it as an act of God’s love. It is a father whose seed is planted that sires a natural child. It is the heavenly Father who plants the seed of His own Word, His divine word of Christ into the hearts of His own children. Let’s look at this work of His own love working through His Word and Spirit to produce this new birth.

A Penetrating Love
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the power of God’s Word; living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Here is the penetrating power of God’s love (the seed of His Word) that He alone can plant wherever He wants it. “The wind blows where it wishes (where God wishes) and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

A Love That Permeates and Reshapes the Heart
Where it penetrates, it permeates, saturates, and reshapes, “because God’s love has been poured into (spread abroad in KJV) our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

A Perpetuating Love
The love of God penetrates, permeates and perpetuates His Word in and through us forever. Neither he, nor anyone else will stop this love, or take it away. (Romans 8:38)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5

“According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;…. for the word of God remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:23, 25

We continue in His Word that has given us new life. The same word and power that gives us new life is the same truth that sustains us and enables us to grow and mature. From our justification in Christ we continue in sanctification until we are fully glorified in the day of redemption.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” 1 John 4:10

Unlike our physical birth, the experience of our new birth is something that we cannot forget, but we continue to speak of it. It is the beginning of being set apart for Him for sanctification; and His witness through us of the proclamation of His kingdom here on earth. Through our witness God brings others to His Word and freedom in the truth of Christ. Those who love us, others who are born of His Spirit, rejoice with us. We love to hear their experiences of new life and living by the Spirit. We rejoice together and worship the heavenly Father who desired us and sired us through His Spirit and His Word. He keeps us and teaches us, in and of His kingdom here, preparing us to share His glory in eternity.

(Next: Part 2  ~ Proof of the New Birth)
Excerpt from The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study

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“US” in RighteoUSness

As in life, so, in Bible study and the preaching of God’s Word we sometimes stray off the main path, forgetting where and how we started, and losing sight of our purpose and goal.

So, before I post my notes on Romans 14, I want to again look back to our starting point, and look forward to the purpose that Paul set in the beginning. This will give us a better understanding of where we are in the application of Paul’s letter in this chapter.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17

The first point we remember is that it is the power of God through His own word ~ the power of the gospel by His Holy Spirit ~ that brings us as sinners from our horrible state, to faith and repentance to live in the state of righteousness. In faith the righteousness of Christ is revealed. The nature and disposition of Christ is exemplified in those who believe. The power of God is able to bring His people to Himself with the purpose of our living in “obedience of faith.” This purpose for Paul’s letter to the Romans was stated in the first and last chapters.

“By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:” Romans 1:5

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”   Romans 16:27

The power of God brings us into the state of being “righteous” in Christ. Being “righteous” means that we are not only “right” in Christ, but that we are actively living righteously; seeking and praying to do what is “right” in God’s sight through Jesus Christ, our righteousness. (Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21) This is obedience of faith. This active obedience is proof of the gift of faith that is by His grace working in us. Everything focuses and keeps us riveted and holding on to Christ and not our own work or abilities.

With these thoughts before us, focused on Him, let us get back to this path of righteousness with Paul in chapter 14. He has brought the attention to what it means to fulfill the law; of doing what is right, and of obedience to God. He has in the previous chapter zeroed in on this, in the main area by which all our righteousness is expressed.

All of the law was based on love for God and for man. That which man was unable to do by the law was made possible through the power of God in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, man’s ability to love as God means to love, through the law or the gospel, is not possible for man, but only by the power of God working in the lives of those He has brought to faith and repentance through regeneration. This great love that Paul spoke of in Romans 13 is shown to work out in relationships between believers. The love is initiated by God.  In Christ that love penetrates, is spread abroad and forms a new heart, saturates, and perpetuates this love toward God and toward others.

Called to be Servants, Not Judges.
He speaks to the whole church in Rome; to the weak and the strong in faith. The main principle of love makes no distinction in relationship with Christ. When He is the center of the body of believers each one is answerable to Him. The state of righteousness excludes none who are seeking to serve Christ through faith. We live in Christ, in His righteousness, to serve Him and one another. We are clothed with His righteousness so as to exclude all self-centeredness. Therefore, in differences of opinion, we do not strive to make our liberty known, so as to influence those who are weaker in the faith to sin against their own conscience. In private life we may be free to indulge in a freedom not yet known to a weaker brother; but not exercise such a freedom in public; which is to exercise our pride. Neither is free to judge the other for what they do or what they do not do. We are not called as judges, but as servants. To keep another from stumbling we, in love and humility think of Christ first, and what would glorify Him, and by out actions build up our brother in Christ.

The main point in Romans 14 that keeps us on the path of righteousness, progressing in our obedience of faith, is verse 17.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Where there is righteousness there is peace. If we are actively seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness our life will not be about food and drink. Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit follow the fruit of love that He produces through us.  

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18
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Dear Father, you knew our need before you created us. Continue to work in us this love, joy, and peace that is ours in Christ, by the power of your Holy Spirit, for your glory and more joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.