God Has Friends In Low Places

Continuing on the person of The Holy Spirit, I found Bill Sweeney’s post, “God Has Friends In Low Places”, interesting and insightful. If you haven’t visited Bill’s blog, Unshakable Hope, I encourage you to do so. Bill, who found himself paralyzed from ALS, has been a huge inspiration of having hope in spite of difficult trials. He is able to write by using a computer that tracks his eye movements.

Unshakable Hope

The other day I was sitting out in the backyard listening to an audio book and getting a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Two Mockingbirds were darting back and forth just feet in front of me and were making so much noise that it was becoming difficult to hear my audio book. I knew that they had a nearby nest and were only trying to protect their young from a potential threat (apparently Mockingbirds don’t understand that paralyzed people in a wheelchair don’t pose a threat).

Then I saw two beautiful Bluebirds sitting in a nearby live oak tree just minding theirbluebird in tree
own business. Like me, they seemed to be doing their best to ignore the noise and the antics of the paranoid Mockingbirds. Every five minutes or so, one of the Bluebirds would fly over and land on the roof of a dilapidated birdhouse that Mary’s been meaning to…

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The Holy Spirit In the Believer

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God’s gift to believers

Jesus spoke these words the night before his betrayal at the Last Supper. Jesus anticipated returning to His Father in Heaven, but He would not leave His followers helpless and alone. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit would be with them—giving them comfort, guidance, and strength. But instead of being with them physically as Jesus was, the Holy Spirit would reside in them (See also 1 Corinthians 3:16). I think this is one of God’s greatest (and mysterious) miracles: giving us new life through the baptism of His Holy Spirit—spiritual birth (John 3:3-8).

When we understand that Christ died in our place for our sins, rose from the grave, and we place our complete trust in Him for salvation—the Holy Spirit comes and indwells the believer.

Security in Salvation

Believers can be secure in their salvation. We are sealed by Christ through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). Jesus, who is stronger than the grips of death, is our Sealer. His seal is the Holy Spirit, “given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Believers are chosen [in Christ] before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6). Why? Paul says: to create a family of people who are passionate for God’s honor and glory (Ephesians 1:10-12). This is made possible through the Holy Spirit.

God’s children now have direct access to Him because Jesus has made us acceptable in His sight (unlike the Old Testament era when people could only approach God through priests, operating under the old sacrificial system, Hebrews 10:19-23).

Benefits of the Believer’s Security in Christ (Romans 8)

The Holy Spirit plays an active role in the believer’s life by:

  • Removing chaos and confusion with life and peace
  • Protecting against Satan
  • Assuring no condemnation
  • Uniting us with Christ, (no separation from God)
  • Preserving and protecting what the Father brings into being

Have you been sealed with the Holy Spirit by placing your complete trust in Christ?

Is it possible to grieve the Holy Spirit? How?

How can believers cooperate with the Holy Spirit and glorify God?

 

Where Is Jesus Now?

Have you ever wondered where Jesus is now and what He’s been doing since His resurrection?

As a child I believed Jesus went back to heaven after He arose from the grave. But other than preparing a place for us, I wondered how He spent the rest of His time. After all, who enjoys building all the time? My young mind imagined Him enjoying activities I’d love to do. You know, things like jumping on fluffy clouds, soaring over colorful universes, and landing a quadruple back flip, just to name a few. 🙂

Not to say Jesus can’t, or doesn’t, engage in “fun” activities. But Scripture doesn’t promote Him as a thrill seeker or as One who is consumed with Himself. Rather, His thoughts and prayers are for His children.

Don’t you love that Jesus isn’t like a cartoon depiction of a Genie floating on a heavenly cloud, sipping Cherry Coke while being entertained? Not only did Christ accomplish His mission on earth through His teaching, atoning sacrifice and resurrection, but He still engages in our lives, helping us navigate all of life’s twists and turns. Having been through fiery trials and temptations Himself—without sinning—He not only knows what we need, He is also able to help us. And He presents His prayers and petitions to God the Father on our behalf!

Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

The apostle Paul also paints a beautiful picture of God’s children sitting victoriously with Christ in the “heavenly realms” over the dark canvas of what we used to be: objects of God’s wrath due to our sin (Ephesians 2:1-9). This is made possible because our sinless Lord took our deserved punishment upon Himself (Isaiah 53:4-12). Our eternal life is secured only through Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11-12).

God the Father raised Jesus up in the power of His Holy Spirit, seating Him at His right hand―to His original position before Christ took on flesh (John 1:1-5). Jesus now reigns victoriously (Philippians 2:9-11) and will one day reign in justice over a new earth (Revelation 21).

Maybe you’re unsure if you are God’s child. This is a decision you must make yourself. The church can’t save you. Your parents’ faith won’t save you. There are no guarantees for tomorrow, but you have today. Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”

For more on where Jesus is now and why Scripture emphasizes the right hand of God, see the following links at gotquestions.org: Is Jesus in Heaven?, Right Hand of God.

Have a wonderful week!

Shelter From the Storm

Although the brisk morning breeze slowed us down, we were in good spirits. We were also making good progress. A handful of gray clouds dot the sky, but the sunlight still broke through, clothing the horizon and Lake Coeurd’Alene in a purple glow.

My husband and three young kids bike in silence as we soak in the beauty of our surroundings, listen to the birds sing, and inhale the fresh mountain air. But within 30 minutes our landscape darkens and the wind picks up as the small cloud fists consolidate into a giant thunderhead. My husband and I give each other knowing looks as the monster cloud sheds a few tears. We’re going to get caught in a freezing downpour while riding all the way back to the truck! After driving this far, the two-and-a-half-hour trip home—drenched to the bone—would be the ultimate spoiler.

But just before turning around, we spot some sort of covering up ahead beside the bike trail. Yes! “Hurry!” My husband motions. One by one, before the giant cloud head unleashes his fury, we shelter under a small metal overhang. The breeze even dries our slightly damp clothes during the five minute rain stampede, drenching everything except us. Wow, thank you Lord, for guiding us here at just the right moment. Thank you for providing this covering.

On Easter, we celebrated Jesus conquering death and sin through His resurrection after laying His life down on the cross as the sacrificial substitute for our sins. Similar to my family’s shelter from the rain, Jesus becomes our shelter, but on a much grander scale. Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus provides a covering from the damning consequence of our sin (death). “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly,” (Romans 5:6).

Why the Blood of Jesus?
The disciple Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” Jesus Christ’s blood is the most precious thing God has offered us. Not only is it the foundation of redemption, but also the only acceptable payment for our sins.
Because we have all failed to obey God’s laws and are guilty of doing wrong (Rom. 3:23), we are separated from the holy God. The penalty of our sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Compared to God “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). Jesus alone is qualified to bridge the chasm between us and God due to our sin. His offer of salvation and fellowship is a free gift that we receive in Christ through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).

In the Old Testament, after Adam and Eve’s original sin, God accepted the death of an animal as a substitute for the sinner since one life had to be given for another. This, however, was a temporary covenant. The blood needed to be repeated daily and yearly. While blood symbolized death, it also showed that a life was spared. God would later send His only Son providing a new covenant, or New Testament through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death would be in the place of all sinners. His sacrifice completely fulfilled what the Old Testament covenant meant to. His blood would remove the world’s sins for everyone who puts their faith in Him. This sacrifice—an eternal covenant— would never have to be repeated. It’s the only provision, God sacrificing His Son Jesus in our place, that we acquire complete forgiveness. It is attained by accepting Jesus as our Savior, and accepting that He shed His blood to cover the sins of all who repent.

John the Baptist called Jesus the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). The Lamb references the unblemished animal sacrifice from the Old Testament. Although there are numerous references to the sacrificial system in the Old Testament, a more familiar one is the sprinkling of blood on the Hebrew doorposts as they were in captive to slavery by the Egyptian Pharaoh. This act of obedience sealed God’s protective covering when His punishment of the death angel passed through the streets. This was just one curse that God sent down on Pharaoh because he refused to release these Hebrew slaves.

The Hebrew Feast of Passover commemorates this event, which is now recognized as a “type” or foreshadowing of the blood of Jesus. The blood is a protective provision from God—powerful and freeing. If you have asked Jesus to be Lord of your life, then you too are covered by the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of your heart. He covers your heart and your life with his protection from eternal death and with ever-lasting forgiveness of sin.