Spiritually Appraised

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 2:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 2 (NASB).

The Power of God (vv. 1-5)

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

If it’s our own words, from our own flesh, what good are those words in leading people to faith in Jesus Christ, or in urging our fellow believers to walk in holiness and not according to the flesh? If we have been to Bible college, or if we have studied Greek or Hebrew, or if we are experts in doctrine and theology, and then we speak from head knowledge instead of heart knowledge (experience), we may impress people with our knowledge, but our words will lack the power of God behind them to change human hearts. Or, if we have the power of persuasion, from our own flesh, and if we are smooth tongued, witty, and charming, we may lead people to like us and to follow us, but we won’t lead them to the cross of Christ.

There is nothing wrong with knowledge, mind you. The Apostle Paul was an educated man who was well schooled in the scriptures. And, we are to study the scriptures to show ourselves approved unto God as workers who do not need to be ashamed, but who correctly handle the word of truth. We are to meditate on the Word, and to know the truth, and to share the truth of God’s Word with others, so that they may also know Christ Jesus, our Lord, and walk in his ways. And, we are to live the truth, and not be those who merely hear the Word but then walk away and forget what they look like. Yet, we are to share the Word of Truth in the power of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our words, so that the message comes from God and not from our human flesh, so that God gets all the glory and praise, and not us.

The Wisdom of God (vv. 6-13)

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

When we are attempting to share our faith with others, it is imperative that we seek the counsel of God, and that we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our words. This is not to say that our words will be perfect or eloquent, but that if the Holy Spirit is behind them, they have power to change lives. For example, I once heard a testimony from a man about how he came to faith in Jesus Christ. He was in college, and there was a young woman who regularly shared her faith out in the open, on campus, and one day he listened to her, and when she asked him if he wanted to believe in Jesus Christ, he said “Yes.” He said, from a human standpoint, that was one of the worst presentations of the gospel he had ever heard, but the Holy Spirit was in the words the woman spoke, and he responded in faith.

You know, there were probably people there who mocked this woman, or who thought she was foolish, and who probably made fun of her lack of ability to express herself with eloquence in speech, but it didn’t matter, because she was being obedient to Christ, and her ability to communicate with distinction was not essential. What was essential was her submission to the Spirit of God, her willingness to speak the words God gave her to speak, and her faithfulness in service, even if she was derided, in return. For, God chose the weak things, and the lowly and despised things, so that no one might boast in God’s presence (1 Co. 1:26-31). We need to be those who speak words taught us by the Spirit of God rather than those who speak words taught by human wisdom when we are sharing our faith with others.

The Mind of Christ (vv. 14-16)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

In our human flesh, we cannot comprehend the things of God. This is not to say that all believers in Jesus have perfect understanding of all that is spiritual and is of God. We don’t yet (See: 1 Co. 13:9-12). It is also not to say that unbelievers cannot understand spiritual things, for how else would anyone be saved? But, it is the Spirit of God who quickens their hearts and minds to understand what God is saying to them, the same as it is for us who are believers in Jesus Christ. We, in our sin natures, do not accept the things of God, and we cannot understand them, for they are spiritually discerned. That is why God has given us the Holy Spirit to reveal his words (his truths) to us, but we have to be receptive to hear what the Spirit is saying and to respond in faith and obedience, or it will all fall on deaf ears.

But, if we are willing, and we are receptive, and we will listen and obey, and we will trust Jesus Christ with our lives, his Holy Spirit will come to dwell within us, and he will speak God’s words to our hearts so that we understand what is spiritual, and so we can apply these things to our lives. Then, it is not for lack of knowledge if we do not follow our Lord in obedience, because we have God living within us, and his Spirit revealing God’s truths to our minds and hearts. Thus, we have the mind of Christ within us and we can know God’s will, so that we can DO God’s will. But, we do so, not in our own power and strength, for we still live in flesh bodies, but we do so in the power and strength of our Lord who gives us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, and for his glory and purposes.

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You…
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

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Practicing Holiness

Sunday, June 18, 2017, 3:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 4 (Select vv. NASB).

Don’t Be Anxious (vv. 4-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

To rejoice means to be “glad for grace” or “to experience God’s grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace” (source: biblehub.com). And, his grace to us is his favor, kindness, and goodness towards us in providing for us the way of salvation (deliverance) from bondage to sin, and for giving us new lives in Christ Jesus, free to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. And, if we are truly glad for his grace, I believe it would mean that we would walk in that grace and not live to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh.

A gentle spirit is forbearing, longsuffering, forgiving, and patient. It patiently endures lasting offense or hardship (M-W). It is also fair, equitable, and reasonable, and it follows the spirit of the law over the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is the true purpose or intent of the law (rule), i.e. what is really at stake (source: biblehub.com). For example, the letter of the law says to not commit adultery, but the spirit of the law says not to even lust after another in our minds and hearts. The letter of the law can be routine, ritual, ceremonial or habitual, and tends to be external only with no real change of heart, mind and attitude. So, if we are to let our gentle spirit be known to all people, it must engage our hearts, it must transform our minds and our actions, and it must be forbearing, forgiving, fair and reasonable.

We are not to be anxious (worried, fearful) about anything. If something is upsetting or disturbing us, we are to take the matter to God in prayer, seek his counsel, pray for wisdom, and rest in his love and in his sovereignty over our lives. And, we are to follow his leading, do what he says, and trust him with the results. Worry never changes anything, except to make matters worse. It is the opposite of faith. When we trust the Lord with our circumstances, and we lean on him in times of need, for him to supply all we need, then his peace will guard our hearts and minds against worry.

Practice These Things (vv. 8-9)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I think that one of Satan’s fiercest ploys against us is to get our minds distracted from God, and thinking about (dwelling on) what has no eternal value, what is against God and his Word, what is fleshly, and what is worrisome. He also wants us thinking thoughts that are evil, wicked, sensual, hypocritical, hateful, revengeful, bitter and unforgiving, etc. So, we have to rein in our minds by managing, first off, what we willfully allow into our minds. For instance, in 2008 my husband and I took all our movies we had purchased over the years and we compared the content in them to this passage in Philippians 4, no matter how innocent they may have seemed on the surface. And, we were surprised that the vast majority of them did not stand against this test, and thus we trashed them.

But, this isn’t just about the things we choose to watch, read, listen to, etc. This is also about Satan’s tactics against us in introducing thoughts into our minds to try to get us distracted, off track, worried, troubled over minor things, and to get us to be worldly in our thinking, i.e. focused on what has no eternal value, or on what is clearly sinful. So, we need to pray, and we need to guard our hearts and minds against these things by putting them off and by putting on the spiritual armor God has given us to fight off these evil attacks against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20). And, then we need to put on, in our minds, hearts and attitudes, what is pure, right, honest, honorable and worthy of praise. We need to train our minds to be godly – all in the power, wisdom and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us. Amen!

And, not only do we need to change the way we think and believe, and the attitudes of our hearts, but we need to change how we behave, i.e. we need to submit to our Lord, obey his Word, humble ourselves before him, and do what we know is right. Again, this is all in the power, strength and wisdom of the Lord that we are able to do this. Instead of making a practice of doing what is sinful, we need to practice what the Word of God teaches us we must do. And, practice involves repetition, training, habit, obedience, and regularly and consistently living what we believe and what we know is right. And, we have to be intentional about this, and work at it, by the Spirit of God, or we may easily slip back into some of our former ways.

Be Content (vv. 10-13)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

God has all of us where we are for a reason, if we are walking in his ways and in his truth. He is completely sovereign over all our circumstances. None of what we are going through has escaped his notice or his concern. So, we need to pray and ask him to show us what he wants to teach us through our trials and difficulties, and then allow him to mature us through them. He is teaching me much through this lesson today. I needed this.

Being content in our circumstances, though, does not mean to be lazy, complacent or unconcerned over things which God would want us to learn, change, and put into practice in our lives, or remove from our lives. We should never be content with living sinful lifestyles or in spiritual mediocrity, in other words. That is not what this means! What this is speaking about is being content with having little materially or with having much. But, it can branch out into other areas, too, yet never to the point of being ok with living however we want, giving into sinful pleasure, and indulging in all kinds of lustful passions and desires, and then claiming God’s grace covers it all.

Being content in our circumstances also does not mean complacency or showing unconcern over those who are lost in their sins, or over professing Christians who are living not much different from the world. Gentleness, as well, does not necessarily equate silence and noninvolvement when we see injustices or abuse or when we see Christians practicing sin. We need to remember this: “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20). And, to cover a multitude of sins does not mean to excuse them away or to ignore sinful practices. It means to forgive the sins once committed but now repented of (turned from), and to not punish the offender, but to show him (or her) God’s grace.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I can, with the strength of the Lord, live righteously, walk in holiness, speak boldly, when needed, yet be gentle, too, and I can live with little or with much, by his grace.

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.