A Flowing Life

Posted by Jerry White on Jan 18, 2016

Life by the Spirit should flow with the Spirit like rivers. This quality of life through Christ living through a person is distinctly different and visible in a tasteless, dark world. Jesus spoke of His followers being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), a lamp in the house (Matthew 5:15), a life overflowing. The Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). He later said on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:38). In both places He was speaking of life by the Spirit. This is not religion, like the Pharisee’s living by their rules and regulations, but rather it is a living, breathing, joyful, peaceful, and enjoyable relationship of love with the beautiful Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
A compartmentalized life does not flow with life. If the truths of the Spirit-life are not known, understood and applied, then very sincere believers have their mental check lists they try to fulfill in order to be a devoted Christian. They are focused on doing the things they have been told that good, dedicated Christians do. They have not yet understood that Spirit-life flows from a heart focused on Christ, and experiences the joy of abiding in Him in a living, breathing and flowing relationship. This true and better way is for all and can be learned.
When I was a boy someone gave me a paint by number set, which included a canvas stamped with a parrot outline, sections marked with numbers, a brush, and small plastic containers numbered with necessary oil paints. When I finished meticulously painting in the sections the various colors, I had a lovely brightly colored oil painting of a parrot. It just didn’t flow with life like a real artist’s painting would. To set my parrot painting beside a true artist’s parrot painting would show the vast difference. They would not even be worthy of comparison.
Many live their Christian life like paint by numbers. It is compartmentalized and reveals self’s effort. Others have discovered a flowing life in Christ where His life springs up within and flows out like rivers of living water. This displays the Master Artist’s ability to make a life beautiful by His workmanship, and thereby His glory be seen.
Jesus said quite clearly, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
JRW




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Maturity Takes Time

Posted by Jerry White on Jun 7, 2015

“Let’s settle it once and for all—-there are no shortcuts to reality! A meteor is on a shortcut as it proceeds to burn out, but not a star with it’s steady light so often depended upon by navigators. Unless the time factor is acknowledged from the heart, there is always danger of turning to the false enticement of a shortcut via the means of ‘experiences,’ and ‘blessings,’ where one becomes pathetically enmeshed in the vortex of ever-changing ‘feelings,’ adrift from the moorings of scriptural facts.

In regard to this subject George Goodman writes: ‘Some have been betrayed into professing perfection or full deliverance, because at the time they speak they are happy and confident in the Lord. They forget that it is not a present experience that ensures fruit unto maturity, but a patient continuance in well doing. To taste of grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another. Experiences and blessings, though real gracious visitations from the Lord, are not sufficient to rest upon, nor should they lead us to glory in ourselves, as if we had a store of grace for time to come, or were yet at the end of the conflict. No. Fruit ripens slowly; days of sunshine and days of storm each add their share. Blessing will succeed blessing, and storm follow storm before the fruit is full grown or comes to maturity.’”

Miles J. Stanford
Principles of Spiritual Growth, 12-13 (1968 edition)
~~~

“Growth, therefore, is never the result of effort. I remember ten years ago, when I first set my face to the other side of the sea, my boy, six years of age, said to me as he bade me good-bye, ‘How long shall you be away?’ I told him two months. He said, ‘I am going to try hard to grow as big as you are before you come back.’ I am not sure that he tried. I suspect he forgot, as children do so blessedly forget their follies. But if he did try, he did not succeed. No child grows by effort….It is not by your own effort that you grow. Granted life and holiness, then there will be growth and development.”

G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.
Simple Things of the Christian Life, 44-45 (1963 edition)




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Spiritual Anesthesia

Posted by Jerry White on Feb 28, 2013

“TELEVISION IS THE MOST POWERFUL CULTURAL INFLUENCE ON THE planet, but it does little to promote either simplicity or biblical spirituality. Instead, like spiritual anesthesia, TV dulls the sensitivity of the soul.

For instance, almost any show you see will laugh at something God says is good or normalize something God calls sin (see Isaiah 5:20). Television frequently contradicts God, almost as directly as the serpent in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:4). It saturates the mind of the viewer with the world’s way of thinking. Television displays a rapid succession of pictures that we passively observe (in contrast to forming mental pictures ourselves, as when reading), which causes the imagination to atrophy with inactivity. And this makes the concentration and meditation on Scripture more difficult. On top of everything else, watching TV simply takes time, time that we later say we don’t have for our spiritual disciplines. Other than (possibly) a very few obscure Christian broadcasts, where on TV can you find a good example of what you want to be spiritually?

Beyond its impact on our spirituality, TV is no friend of anyone trying to simplify, either. In fact, TV’s very existence depends upon an incessant parade of advertising intended to make us feel discontented with our experiences, possessions, relationships, and appearance. In the words of writer Wendell Berry, TV persuades us to believe ‘that all worth experiencing is somewhere else and that all worth having must be bought.’

I cannot pronounce God’s complete will for you regarding TV. But as you seek Him on what is good for your soul in this matter, remember James 4:17: ‘Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.’ Television may not have the power to kill the Christian soul, but it anesthetizes it by the hour. Wake up!”

Donald S. Whitney

Simplify Your Spiritual Life, 108

~~~

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)




Wisdom And Understanding

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).”

JRW

The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 119-120




Developing Holy Character

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.”

Jerry Bridges

The Discipline of Grace, 189-190




Time To Grow

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 5, 2012

“It seems that most believers have difficulty in realizing and facing up to the inexorable fact that God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life. He is working from and for eternity! So many feel they are not making progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead. Now it is true that the new convert often begins and continues for some time at a fast rate. But this will not continue if there is to be healthy growth and ultimate maturity. God himself will modify the pace. This is important to see, since in most instances when seeming declension begins to set in, it is not, as so many think, a matter of backsliding.

John Darby makes it plain that ‘it is God’s way to set people aside after their first start, that self-confidence may die down. Thus Moses was forty years. On his first start he had to run away. Paul was three years also, after his first testimony. Not that God did not approve the first earnest testimony. We must get to know ourselves and that we have no strength. Thus we must learn, and then leaning on the Lord we can with more maturity, and more experientially, deal with souls.’

Since the Christian life matures and becomes fruitful by the principle of growth (II Pet. 3:18), rather than by struggle and ‘experiences,’ much time is involved. Unless we see and acquiesce to this there is bound to be constant frustration, to say nothing of resistance to our Father’s development processes for us. Dr. A. H. Strong illustrates for us: ‘A student asked the President of his school whether he could not take a shorter course than the one prescribed. “Oh yes,” replied the President, “but then it depends upon what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, He takes an hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.”’ Strong also wisely points out to us that ‘growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fibre is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July.’

Let’s settle it once and for all—there are no shortcuts to reality!”

Miles J. Stanford

Principles of Spiritual Growth, 11-12 (1968) Also known as The Green Letters




Spiritual Maturity

Posted by Jerry White on Jun 11, 2012

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people. Corinthians 3:1 ESV

~~~

“Spiritual maturity is directly proportional to Christ-centeredness. To be more preoccupied with the subjective benefits of the faith than with the person and pleasure of Christ is a mark of immaturity. The Spirit bears witness to and glorifies Jesus Christ; spiritual experiences, whether personal or corporate, should center on Christ and not ourselves. The tendency of some people and movements to glorify the gifts of the Giver more than the Giver of the gifts is incompatible with the biblical portrait of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

However, many believers attempt to live the Christian life in their own power instead of the power of the Spirit. As A. W. Tozer remarked in Paths to Power, ‘the average professed Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the uncoverted man.’ But even among diligent students of the Word there is a temptation to spend more on human initiative and effort than on the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. It is easy and comforting to reduce God to a set of biblical propositions and theological inferences rather than a living person who cannot be boxed in, controlled, or manipulated by our agendas. There are common forms of Bible deism that assume (ironically, without biblical warrant) that God no longer communicates to his people or personally guides them apart from the words of Scripture. When we make assumptions that are closed to the surprising work of the Holy Spirit, they have a way of determining and limiting our experience of the power of God.

Personal attempts to live the spiritual life in human power are written large in corporate attempts to worship and serve in human power. Although the church began and moved in the power of the Spirit, many in the church today are conditioned to think in terms of their experiences rather than the experiences of God’s people in Scripture. This leads to a desupernaturalized corporate expectation that in some way is more informed by a naturalistic, closed-universe world view than by a biblical world view that is open to the unpredictable sovereign acts of God.”

Kenneth Boa

Conformed To His Image 294-295