Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The country song, Sixteen Tons, was written and recorded by Merle Travis in August, 1946. Based on life in the coalmines of Kentucky, the song was one that I remembered from my childhood. It included the lyrics, “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

When I woke yesterday morning to another birthday (two short of eighty years), many thoughts crossed my mind and ended with this one, using the words “another year.”

How many years do we need before we realize how indebted we are for all God does for us? Biblically speaking, I thought my life might end after my seventieth birthday. But, the Lord had different plans than I knew. Even before then I owed my whole life to Him, but with each subsequent year, He so blesses us to see and to bless and praise His name; to live with a thankful heart.

I am indebted to Him for His creation of me, and His plans for me before I knew Him.

I owe Him for giving me the knowledge of Himself through His Word and the power of His Spirit.

I am indebted to Him for opening my eyes to see my sinfulness and my need for a Savior, for His forgiveness; indebted to Christ, His Son, for the debt He paid for my sins.

I owe Him for a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life in His Spirit.

I thank Him for making me His child, taking me by the hand, and continuing to guide me with His Word and Spirit through this wilderness.

The more He blesses, year after year, especially through the difficult times, the more I owe. The more He gives, the more I know I can never repay.

56-78
I am indebted to Him for a husband for 56 of 78 years; for two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way. There are friends, pastors, teachers and others who have been a blessing to us, whom we can never repay.

We could go on praising Him for the next seventy years and would be even more indebted.  His blessings never end, and His promises are forever and ever. And, more is to come. We can never stop His blessings from being poured out upon us, and these only samples of what awaits us for eternity.

Dear heavenly Father, even as I give all to you, it will never be enough to repay you for all that you are, all that you have done, and are doing in my life. Thank you for your mercy and goodness that you cause to follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in your house forever. In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

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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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Heaven in a Bucket

The Lord said to me, “At the end of each day bring me all your thoughts from that day in a bucket. This will be your test of how much you have of heaven.”

I found a small bucket, but before the end of the first day I needed more than one. Little did I realize how many thoughts one mind could have in a single day. With three small buckets I approached God’s throne. He sifted through my buckets, asking where I had gotten each thought.

In reply I answered, “That one from a book; that one from a magazine; that one from a friend.”   Others I tried to remember, but didn’t know how they got there.

“There’s not much here of heaven ~ a few words of prayer for a friend, but not much else.” He said.

As I returned home I wondered why there were no more thoughts of heaven in my buckets that day. I decided that I would do better, and have some thoughts the next day that would please God.

I found a larger bucket the next morning and set about to collect what I thought God wanted. Looking in the library I came across the writings of the great philosophers.   As I diligently searched through these I could see the Lord’s pleasure; my bucket was filling up. I felt so good about my new thoughts and myself. Then, I went to talk to a friend ~ who had a brilliant mind and a PHD in science and physics. Before the day was over my bucket was almost full. Let’s see ~ what else can I put in my bucket? There’s an excellent movie playing at the local theater ~ one destined for an academy award. And it was a wonderful movie. My bucket was full.

Well, how did I do today, Lord.”

“You have really been busy,” He said, as He examined the contents, “But I find nothing here of heaven, not even a prayer.”

“If this isn’t part of heaven, what is all this that I thought was so good.” I asked.

“It’s all of the world, dear.” I’ll see you again, tomorrow.”

That night before bed I knelt and acknowledged that I didn’t know what He wanted, but I would try harder tomorrow.

The first thought the next morning was that, perhaps the bucket itself was all wrong. Maybe it attracts the wrong thoughts. So I set out to find the best and biggest bucket I could find for that day’s thoughts. I found the perfect one ~ advertised as the one “that you need for your best thoughts” ~ quite expensive, too, but knowing that this would be what God was looking for, it was worth the price.

But that day dragged on without success. And becoming depressed about what I should have in my bucket, my tears began to fill the bucket. It was almost too heavy as I carried it ~ and it became heavier as I continued crying. The way seemed longer that day, but the closer I came the lighter the bucket seemed.leaky

As I reached God’s throne of grace He smiled, and said, “Seems that you have sprung a leak in that expensive bucket.”

“Why can you smile, Lord, when I feel so terrible ~ and look~ after I searched all day my bucket is empty?”

“I can smile, my child, because you have finally discovered the secret. No bucket in the world will attract and contain the things of heaven. As the creator and ruler of my kingdom, I have determined the kind of receptacle you need, and the thoughts that will fill it.”

As I bowed before Him I asked for this vessel and His knowledge of heavenly things. I submitted, as He said I must, my bucket and all my human efforts of pleasing Him.

He gave me a “new heart and a new spirit” that only “seeks His kingdom and His righteousness,” and makes me continually aware of His presence, spreading His love of Jesus in and through me. Through His Word and prayer, morning by morning He wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:4

“By His mercies” each morning “I present myself’” to Him to be “filled with His fullness” all day ~ no longer “conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind. His thoughts are kept and “obeyed” in my heart and life as He keeps me by His own power.

His kingdom is coming and His will is being done, in me, as it is in heaven.

“And the God of peace ….
make you perfect in all things….
working in you that which is pleasing in His sight
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21

(From The Little Boat and other Short Stories of God’s Grace)
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Born for Contentment

Everyone who comes into this world is  “born for adversity.”  God’s children are born for contentment.

Years ago, when our oldest granddaughter started elementary school, I asked her why children were going to school every day. Her reply was, “So that we can get a job, make money, and buy what we want.” She was learning well at an early age what the world teaches about contentment. Now, at the age of twenty-four she is married, has a two-year old daughter and a job. And through adversity, she is learning to be content with what she has.

In this world of oppression, we are taught that we have the power to accomplish whatever makes us happy.  This is not the contentment for which God’s people are born. Let’s leave behind the fallacy that we are responsible for our own contentment.

True contentment ~ divine contentment ~ comes to us by the supernatural power of God, our heavenly Father.  He desired us and sired us for His own pleasure and contentment.

Just as we learn from infancy how to survive physically, we must learn, at His feet,  how to be content in this world of oppression.

Desire to Desire What God Desires

We are reminded of the apostle Paul’s words, “ I have learned…..to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) What God gives us in our new birth is a new heart, and a new spirit with a desire for that which is eternal.

Learning about true contentment is not easy. It is as foreign to humanity as anything we can study or desire. It is beyond imagination, so supernatural that we cannot think about it without being overwhelmed. We are reminded of Jesus’ promise, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14)

rivers-of-living-waterThis eternal life becomes a fountain (Psalm 36:9), then a stream (Isaiah 35:6), then breaks forth into rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). The source is God, Himself, through Christ, His Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in the heart to produce His own life. This is what He meant when He said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

The new birth is the spring. Growing by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ brings the blessings of His presence and power, blessings we cannot fathom, or control, at times carrying us away with the flow.

Oppression ~~~~ Adversity ~~~~Contentment

Divine contentment is the opposite end of the spectrum from oppression, as far as heaven is from the earth. Between oppression and divine contentment, the reality of adversity remains part of every person’s life. Divine contentment is God’s blessing and gift of grace, that His children may live content in Christ, in the middle of adversity. It is more than just having what we think we need, but receiving what He has so graciously prepared for us ~ more than we could ask or think.
(1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20)

As we continue to proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom we will share what He is teaching us of this supernatural, phenomenal gift of His contentment.

Dear Father in heaven, many ask why you allow oppression and adversity. Keep us close to you as we are learning your thoughts and your ways concerning our place in your kingdom here on earth. We praise you for the contentment that is ours in Christ, for the legacy that is ours as joint-heirs with Christ now and for eternity. Show us your ways O Lord; teach us your paths; lead us in your truth and teach us.  For Thou art the God of our salvation.  On Thee do we wait all the day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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