“Grieve not the Holy Spirit.”
All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Moreover, as all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed be sown in you, yet it lies dormant except he worketh in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Do you desire to speak for Jesus–how can you unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master’s cause? You cannot without the Spirit–“Without me ye can do nothing.” O branch of the vine, thou canst have no fruit without the sap! O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through his Spirit! Then let us not grieve him or provoke him to anger by our sin. Let us not quench him in one of his faintest motions in our soul; let us foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. If the Holy Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without him; let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and conclude no transaction, without imploring his blessing. Let us do him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from him, and then depending alone upon him, having this for our prayer, “Open thou my heart and my whole being to thine incoming, and uphold me with thy free Spirit when I shall have received that Spirit in my inward parts.”
Soli Deo Gloria!
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 37: 1–6)
Gracious heavenly Father, I’ve always prayed that I’d get to experience one significant revival before you choose to take me to the revival of all revivals, heaven itself. I renew that prayer today, and I’m going to be quite specific. For the glory of Jesus alone, I ask you to demonstrate the truth, beauty, and power of the gospel by pouring out the Holy Spirit on our church family in a most tangible and transforming way. My hope is in knowing that you are a far more generous God than we are a desperate people, and we are desperate. We need what you alone can give, Father. Make yourself unmistakably known as the Lord in our midst. Prophesy the gospel to our dry, scattered bones. Drench our drought with the dew of heaven. Breathe your life-giving breath into our empty lungs. Reattach brothers and sisters to one another as one body, for we are in great relational distress. The only “skin” we need is the covering you’ve already given us—the righteousness of Jesus. May our glorious standing in grace humble us, quiet our racing hearts, bridle our wagging tongues, and send us to our faces before you, prostrate and repentant. You are a God who gives grace to the humble, but also one who resists and knows the proud from afar. Have mercy on us; have mercy on me. I cannot imagine a better story to be a part of than for our repentance and transformation to become far more notorious than our sin and brokenness. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. I pray in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name. Amen.
hymnal lyrics curmudgeon? Maybe, or maybe not.I have provided a bit of a contrast in lyrics here. Let’s examine the lyrics to the old hymn “Jesus Paid It All” in reference to the gospel of scripture, and what the gospel is not, “Jesus Paid It Some“, even though we tend to live the way of the former, it is not the gospel.
In John 4:23-24, Jesus is engaging a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria, and she references the worship her fathers had done on the mountain where they were, and Jesus says to her:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
I’d like to emphasize the word truth in the context for this posting. You see, we sing many songs of, so called worship, but are they really songs expressing the truth as we know it to be through scripture? Some might think of you as a “curmudgeon” but just remember John 4:24 and go worship in the truth as well as the spirit.
I’ll leave this post with one more real example. What is the object of our affection here?
(Acknowledgements go to Stephen Altrogge for his “not gospel” lyrics.)
This week I had the privilege of being interviewed for an article section in our company newsletter. The section entitled “Bravo Zulu” is a section of the newsletter that profiles employees who have accomplished something. The author of the article had approached me based on her observation of my participation in the company “step challenge”, recent weight loss, and my frequent trips outside to do some walking. The interview went well. We spoke of my health concerns as I get older (now 56), my family health history (dad had diabetes), some of the ways I stay active, what my exercise regime looks like, and my goals for fitness.
After the interview I got to thinking about the term “Bravo Zulu”. Wikipedia defines it:
Bravo Zulu, also referred to as “BZ,” which is a naval signal, typically conveyed by flaghoist or voice radio, meaning “Well Done”
I’ve heard this phrase used in Christian circles many times. “Well done” refers to the scripture from Matthew chapter 25 and the Parable of the Talents which is also accompanied by “good and faithful servant”. It has become a phrase professing Christians desire to hear after they have passed from this life or as the verse states in the parable “enter into the joy of your Master” (ESV).
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’
Most might take the meaning of this parable as the method for getting your Heaven’s ticket punched. They may work and strive under a perceived oppression from their master yet begrudgingly, adopt a “suck it up little camper” attitude, and dutifully do the task to the letter. But, they may be missing the most important factor behind the servant’s performance for his master, which would be the servant’s love for his master. If there was no love for his master, then no matter what the task is set before him, the task would seem too great, too cumbersome, or unfairly given. But when the servant loves his master and desires to see him glorified through his efforts, no task will seem to difficult.
So as I revel in my newfound fame, not really, I am humbly reminded of the “Bravo Zulu” given to Jesus Christ for his obedience to God the Father. So “well done” that:
He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23 HCB)
Ultimately the “Bravo Zulu” belongs to Christ, because anything deserving a “well done” is accomplished by and through him.
Soli Deo Gloria, Bravo Zulu!
The title alone might cause someone to pause and wonder if this might be a call to arms in the physical sense. Nothing could be further from the intention here. The call is to spiritual arms. The battle belongs to the Lord, but He has also given us everything we need to do battle.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
This morning’s daily devotion from Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” devotional is about the battle believer’s of Christ face everyday. Some days are more intense than others. This reminds me of times I’ve put on the armor of God and walked right into battle and in the very second I’ve presumed to have all the armor on, been cut down. I think we’ve all been smacked down right out of the gate. and to make the matter worse, we might think of this as a failure. But we do learn from it. We do battle every minute of every day. We have the Almighty Creator and Sustainer already engaged, and there with us. Fight On!
I really liked the one verse of the hymn mentioned in Spurgeon’s devotional so I had to look it up for the additional verses. The hymn “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” was written by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788).
1. Soldiers of Christ arise,
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
thru his eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of Hosts,
and in his mighty power,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.
2. Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
but take to arm you for the fight
the panoply of God;
that having all things done,
and all your conflicts passed,
ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone
and stand entire at last.
3. Pray without ceasing, pray,
(your Captain gives the word)
his summons cheerfully obey
and call upon the Lord;
to God your every want
in instant prayer display,
pray always, pray and never faint,
pray, without ceasing pray.
4. From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray,
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry
in all his soldiers, “Come!”
till Christ the Lord, descends from high
and takes the conquerors home.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Image used from dannysinquefield.com
I just began reading a book called “The Letters of Samuel Rutherford” which was recommended by Alex on the podcast The Rugged Marriage. In the Rutherford book I came across a poem written by the English poet John Milton, who is best known for his epic poem “Paradise Lost“. The poem I found in the book was written about Milton’s own blindness.
After reading the poem a few times, I was reminded of my father’s own blindness. He lost his sight to diabetes when I was seven years old. His disability had quite an impact on him and our family. My father was a believer, and I am prompted to think if he had ever heard this poem. Although my father had some down times due to his frustrations with his handicap, his outlook on life was mostly upbeat. My father has been gone for over 40 years (diabetes complications of the past), but right now I long to discuss this jewel of a poem with him. Maybe someday we can discuss it with the original author, in Paradise, in the presence of the Creator. Here is the poem:
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Soli Deo Gloria!