Posted by Jerry White on Sep 27, 2012
“Understanding and obeying God’s Word is requisite for keeping in step with His Spirit. ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The primary way we know God’s will is by knowing what God has said in His inspired Word, and also by knowing how to apply it practically in our daily lives. In Colossians 1:9 Paul wrote, ‘For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, [their salvation] we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.’ Paul’s first burden for these recent converts, who were probably his spiritual grandchildren, was that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Knowledge of God’s Word is required for those who will live the will of God. Knowledge of God’s will includes two parts: wisdom and understanding. The word ‘spiritual’ means it comes by the Holy Spirit. He must reveal spiritual truth to the human heart, and He alone can do it. It is impossible for us to know it in our hearts without the Spirit teaching us. We may understand with our minds the words, concepts, and principles from reading the Bible or from human teachers, but only the Spirit of Christ can reveal the truth deep inside and apply it to our hearts. We are wholly dependent on Him for this inner enlightenment. Paul prayed similarly for the Ephesians when he prayed, ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened’ (Ephesians 1:17-18). We should pray this for our selves and for others. Truly, God gives as we ask, and ask we must.
Also, the Spirit alone can give us wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to know how to apply practically the knowledge the Spirit reveals. For example, The Word commands us to love with God’s love. Love is just a word, but by the Spirit love becomes revelation and reality. When the Spirit reveals this Divine love to our hearts, and then shows us how to express this love specifically in everyday relationships, the Word is made flesh through us. The Spirit’s fullness bears the fruit of God’s love through us, and then guides us into its practical expression. The wisdom also comes from prayerful asking (James 1:5).”
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 119-120
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 23, 2012
“Scripture commands, Do not quench the Spirit‘ (1 Thessalonians 5:19). ‘Do not quench’ means ‘do not put out the Spirit’s fire.’ If you lick your fingers and put them over a burning candlewick to extinguish it, you have quenched its fire. No longer can it burn. If you resist the Spirit’s promptings, direction, and empowering, He is quenched. His will is denied, and no longer can He have His way. He is prevented from performing the Father’s will through your life. He will not force you, but rather He awaits your full submission and cooperation. This is God’s way of love and respect for us as persons, allowing us to choose.
In Christ Christians are set free from living by an external code of conduct, which is the Law (Galatians 5:1). Christ fulfilled the Law for us (Romans 10:4). Life in the Spirit is by relationship with Him. Relationship cannot be reduced to a formula of rules and regulations; to do so destroys any meaningful intercourse between two persons. Furthermore, rules and regulations ruin the enjoyment of it. Relationship lives and grows by intimate communion between two persons. Keeping in step with the Spirit is walking in communion with a Person. The Holy Spirit is Jesus in you and with you here and now. To obey the Spirit is to follow Christ. A relationship of love gives freedom and spontaneous expression—sometimes extravagant expression—of love between you and Him. This is the necessary motive for staying in step with the Spirit. Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, you will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)…. The accent falls on loving Him in the most intimate of relationship. Obedience then follows.
…Love for Jesus is expressed by absolute submission to Him and total dependence upon Him. This, of course, is to the measure of your understanding and limit of your maturity at any given point in your development. Increasingly, you will learn more about what absolute submission and total dependence requires of you as you mature spiritually. As you continue in step with the Spirit, you will mature and your capacity for His fullness will increase for Christ’s greater honor—thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and even a hundredfold.
Three guiding principles will help you to learn how to stay in step with the Spirit: obeying God’s Word, doing the next thing, and following His inner promptings.”
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 118-119
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 20, 2012
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26, (ESV)
“What is Christ’s claim upon us if we want to be His disciples? First of all, a supreme love. We cannot follow Christ unless we love Him better than anyone else. He puts Himself alongside the dearest relationships of earth, and says in unforgettable words, ‘You must hate all these, or you cannot be my disciple.’ …The word ‘hate’ is a relative word, it is not absolute….
He demands from you and me a love greater than the earliest love—the love to father and mother, greater than the dearest love—the love to wife and child, greater than the nearest love—the love of our own life.”
W. Y Fullerton (1915)
Quoted by J. Oswald Sanders
Enjoying Intimacy with God, 120
An authentic disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is captured by Christ’s love and responds with whole-hearted love for Him. One can mentally say that he or she loves the Lord Jesus because it is the right thing for a professing Christian to say, but true love for Christ is a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, ESV, emphasis mine). One who loves this way pursues Him diligently, trusts Him implicitly, obeys Him explicitly, and follows Him faithfully. True discipleship requires this measure of love.
O Jesus, Jesus, dearest Lord,
Forgive me if I say,
For very love Thy sacred name
A thousand times a day.
Burn, burn O love within my heart
Burn fiercely night and day
Till all the dross of earthly love
Is burned and burned away.
F. W. Faber
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 17, 2012
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)
“What does it take to finish well? How can we run in such a way that we can say with Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7; Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians (: 24:27)? A number of observers have considered the characteristics of people who ‘run with endurance the race that is set before [them]’ (Hebrews 12:1). I have arrived at a set of seven such characteristics:
1. Intimacy with Christ
2. Fidelity in the spiritual disciplines
3. A biblical perspective on the circumstances of life
4. A teachable, responsive, humble, and obedient spirit
5. A clear sense of personal purpose and calling
6. Healthy relationships with resourceful people
7. Ongoing ministry investment in the lives of others
The seven key words are intimacy, disciplines, perspective, teachable, purpose, relationships, and ministry, and it is important to note that these characteristics move from the inside to the outside. The first two concern our vertical relationship with God (being), and the next three concern our personal thinking and orientation (knowing), and the last two concern our horizontal relationships with others (doing).”
Conformed to His Image, 451
Sadly, the history of Christianity is strewn with pilgrims who did not finish well. They began well, but due to the neglect of basic spiritual disciplines and falling away in their love for the Lord Jesus they faltered in their devotion to Christ and shamed His name by sinful failure. How full of joy and expectation are those who run their race well until they cross the finish line. What peace they enjoy and what anticipation they have for the reward that will be theirs before the Lord’s judgment throne! Faithful to the very end! Amen!
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 13, 2012
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
“The open secret of healthy spiritual growth is to know and settle down upon this fact as set forth in Romans 8:28 and 29. When we see that all things are working together to make us more and more like the Lord Jesus we will not be frustrated and upset when some of these ‘things’ are hard, difficult to understand, and often contain an element of death. We will be able to rest in our Lord Jesus and say to our Father, ‘Thy will be done.’ And our constant attitude of faith will be, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him’ (Job 13:15). This is our matriculation to spiritual maturity!
‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (II Cor. 3:18). It is one thing to know what God’s purpose is for our lives, and it is another to know something of the ‘how’ as to entering into it all right here and now. One of God’s most effective means in the process is failure. So many believers are simply frantic over the fact of failure in their lives, and they will go to all lengths in trying to hide it, ignore it, or rationalize about it. And all the time they are resisting the main instrument in the Father’s hand for conforming us to the image of His Son!
Failure where self is concerned in our Christian life and service, is allowed and often engineered by God in order to turn us completely from ourselves unto His Source for our life—Christ Jesus, who never fails. Rejoice, dear friend, in your need and hunger of heart, for God says, ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’ (Matt. 5:6). As we, in our abject need, consistently and lovingly look upon our Lord Jesus revealed to us in the Word, the Holy Spirit will quietly and effortlessly change the center and source of our lives from self to Christ—hence for each of us it will be, ‘Not I, but Christ.’
Miles J. Stanford
Principles of Spiritual Growth, 25-26 (1968)
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 10, 2012
“The practice of putting off sinful attitudes and actions and putting on Christlike character involves a constant series of choices. We choose in every situation which direction we will go. It is through these choices that we develop Christlike habits of living. Habits are developed by repetition, and it is in the arena of moral choices that we develop spiritual habit patterns.
We see this development of moral habits in one direction or the other in Romans 6:19, ‘Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.’ The believers at Rome had formerly offered the parts of their bodies to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness. The more they sinned, the more they were inclined to sin. They were continually deepening their habit patterns of sin simply through their practice of making sinful choices.
What was true of the Romans can be just as true of us today. Sin tends to cloud our reason, dull our consciences, stimulate our sinful desires, and weaken our wills. Because of this, each sin we commit reinforces the habit of sinning and makes it easier to give in to that temptation the next time we encounter it.
Paul wanted the Roman believers, and us today, to turn in the other direction and to develop habits of godly living. He said, ‘So now offer [the parts of your body] in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.’ Righteousness, in this passage, does not refer to the righteousness we have in Christ (as in Romans 3), but to the ethical righteousness—the right conduct—we are to practice every day. Whereas righteousness in this verse refers to our conduct, holiness refers to our character. So it is through righteous actions that we develop holy character. Holiness of character, then, is developed one choice at a time as we choose to act righteously in each and every situation and circumstance we encounter during the day.”
The Discipline of Grace, 189-190
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 6, 2012
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
John 15:26 (ESV)
“Once as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer. I had a view that was for me extraordinary of the glory of the Son of God as Mediator between God and man, and His wonderfully great, full, pure and sweet grace and love and meek and gentle condescension.
The grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens. The Person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception; which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour, which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not how otherwise to express, empty and annihilated, to lie in the dust and be full of Christ alone; to love Him with a holy and pure love; to trust Him, to live upon Him, to serve Him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.”
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
The Father has given believers His Word and His Holy Spirit. These two gifts work together for our spiritual health, both being necessary like the two wings of an airplane. We must be grounded in God’s Word so we are established in God’s truth. We also need to experience the dynamic reality of His Spirit revealing the presence of Christ to us here and now. Reading through the book of Acts one discovers that the Spirit’s manifested presence made a major difference in the lives of first century Christians. I fear that today some try to fly with the one wing of God’s truth and yet neglect the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit revealing Christ’s presence (John 14:21). Others try to fly with the wing of the Spirit while neglecting the solid foundation of pure Biblical truth. Jonathan Edwards, and hosts of others, knew and taught God’s pure truth but also experienced the glorious ministry of God’s Holy Spirit. We desperately need the same today.
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 2, 2012
“If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this. When we put all these things together—God’s sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience—we have a divine story.
People often talk about prayer as if it is disconnected from what God is doing in their lives. But we are actors in his drama, listening for our lines, quieting our hearts so we can hear the voice of the Playwright.
You can’t have a good story without tension and conflict, without things going wrong. Unanswered prayers create some of the tensions in the story God is weaving in our lives. When we realize this, we want to know what God is doing. What pattern is God weaving?….
If God is composing a story with our lives, then our lives are no longer static. We aren’t paralyzed by life; we can hope.
Many Christians give in to a quiet cynicism that leaves us unknowingly paralyzed. We see the world as monolithic, frozen. To ask God for change confronts us with our doubt about whether prayer makes any difference. Is change even possible? Doesn’t God control everything? If so, what’s the point? Because it is uncomfortable to feel our unbelief, to come face-to-face with our cynicism, we dull our souls with the narcotic of activity.
Many Christians haven’t stopped believing in God; we have just become functional deists, living with God at a distance. We view the world as a box with clearly defined edges. But as we learn to pray well, we’ll discover that this is my Father’s world. Because my Father controls everything, I can ask, and he will listen and act. Since I am his child, change is possible—and hope is born.”
Paul E. Miller
A Praying Life, 22-23
Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
John 16:24 (ESV)