What happens now?

Today, the last day of this particular issue – ‘The Promised Holy Spirit’, Selwyn summarises the material he has covered over the last two months, in the following six points:

“1. He seeks to draw out of us all the potential that God has built into us.

2. He prods us to prayer.

3. He brings hidden things to light in our souls and seeks to rid us of all sin.

4. He shines the laser beam of knowledge and wisdom through the fog that sometimes surrounds us, and guides us in (His holy ways).

5. He teaches us as no other could teach us, and leads us into what our hearts were built for – truth.

6. He comforts us whenever we are in need of solace, and strengthens our hearts to go on even though we have no clear answers to our predicament.”

Selwyn, presents a concise conclusion: “When we refuse to open up to Him, to depend on Him and consult Him, we deprive ourselves of the love, wisdom and spiritual sustenance we need to live effectively and dynamically.”

I also liked the verses set for reading and meditation, especially these ones (James 4:7-10, NIV): “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

The Holy Spirit is God – God living in us  – He is the Spirit of Jesus. He loves us, totally – and, we need to totally trust in His love. He will never leave us – to make our own way in this world – like orphans. He is our Father, waiting for us – watching our path – guiding us – all the way, home.

Any comments?

Wait till you get home

It’s a question of trust – the answer to which, is found in your view of the cross; if you accept Jesus, our God who created you – and, who also died on the cross to take the punishment due to you for your sins – as, the one and only God who loves you. The conclusion you can reach is that He will take every bad thing that happens to you – and turn it into something good that will cause you to smile – when you reach ‘home’.

Jesus – says: ‘I am your God, who loves you.’

Believe these words, and you can trust that He is with you – all the days of your life – even, the worst of days.

I agree with Selwyn, when he writes: “We have been emphasising that we are not always going to receive answers to difficult questions that arise during our lifetime. Questions such as these: Why has God allowed this? What possible good can come from it? How can a loving God permit such a thing? A good deal of frustration can be avoided if we settle for the fact that God knows what He is doing and that one day, when we get to heaven, all will be made clear.”

Life is difficult – if, this planet was in a slightly different orbit to the sun , then life as we know it – would be a whole lot different. There is just so much on this earth that works, against all the odds, that – it begs the question –  who, is holding it all together?

Jesus, our amazing God, loves you – trust in HIs love; and, follow Him – home.

Is optimism enough?

 

Selwyn answers the question – is optimism enough to get us through the terrible times? Clearly, as he suggests – it fails, when the worst does happen – he concludes: ‘the only reality we can depend upon in this barren world is the consolation and comfort of the Holy Spirit’.

I liked the quote taken from the biography of  the missionary, Allan Francis Gardiner: ‘Great and marvellous are the loving kindnesses of my gracious God to me.’  Written during a time of very difficult circumstances – it is not optimism that enables a person to say such words – which in a way, denies the reality of the situation. Yet, these words come from an eternal vision of the permanent reality of a loving relationship that is purified, while here on earth; to be enjoyed forever, in its perfection – when we arrive in heaven.

What did you think of today’s study?

When the world goes grey

Selwyn has chosen Psalm 86 for reading and meditation – it’s a wonderful Psalm – as you can see (New Living Translation):

Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.

Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me. No pagan god is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do! All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.

You alone are God.

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.

O God, insolent people rise up against me; a violent gang is trying to kill me. You mean nothing to them. But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant. Send me a sign of your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.”

Did you notice the type of relationship David had with God? One, based on devotion, service and trust that resulted in constant prayer – full of praise, and honor for his God. David sought a pure heart and asked God to teach him the right way to give God glory.

Yet, we all know that David’s life did not always reflect his full commitment to this relationship – however, he knew that our God is a ‘God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.’

It is this truth that we can hold onto – nothing we do, can separate us from God’s love – He will always be faithful. Yet, we are often unfaithful – we are an adulterous generation – we don’t live our lives according to the covenant we have with God. The good news is that Jesus, by His death on the cross, has restored our relationship with God.

Consequently, we know that God will comfort us during our times of distress –  David constantly called to God for help – and he knew that God would listen compassionatelyto his prayers – and respond, in His perfect way. I agree with Selwyn when he writes: “Sooner or later every one of us needs comfort. It does not matter how strong we may be, how composed and free from sentimentality, the time will come when we need to feel God’s solace. … I can tell you from a lifetime of facing trials, including bereavement, that the only sure comfort when all the world has gone grey is the comfort of God.”

The prayer for today is also worth including here: “O Father, how reliable is Your comfort? There are a few things in life I can depend on but I can depend on this. May the truth of it grip my soul and strengthen it every hour of today and every day. In Christ’s name I ask it. Amen.”

Brave if not blithe

Today, Selwyn writes some challenging words: ‘In a fallen universe we are confronted with issues which produce almost inconsolable pain. … What answers can we give to explain ‘the terrible tragedies we experience, during our short lives”? There is no adequate answer. It’s easy to brush perplexing matters aside and say they are a result of a fallen world, but that still leaves huge issues unresolved. … We will under everything one day (the last day), but meanwhile God simply says, “Here’s my comfort, that has a depth and sufficiency.” In moments of bewilderment it is not answers we need; it is comfort. That comfort may not keep us blithe but it will keep us brave.’

I understand when Selwyn says that it’s not an adequate answer to say that the horrible trials we face in this world is due to our ‘fallen’ nature.  Yet, in a sense  – that’s where the answer can be found – I think we have no real idea, of the horrific effects of sin, and the consequences of sin in regard to our relationship with God and His creation.

Yesterday, I watched a documentary on the the Rwandan Genocide,  the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of people over a period of about 100 days.  The killings were based on ethnicity.  It’s a sad fact that a number of people on both sides of this long-term, ethnic struggle – called themselves Christians. But, there are many signs before the atrocities started which signalled that, the basic aspects of our fallen nature had taken over – one of the perpertrators’ ten commandments was,  ‘to show no mercy’. Compare, this aspect of our nature, to that of God’s nature (Joel 2:12-14, NIV): “”Even now,” declares the LORD,  “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

Men and women do terrible things to other men and women –  for me, it’s not the question ‘where is God (to stop this suffering)?’. It is more the question – ‘where is the good man or woman?’ We bear the consequences of our own fallen nature – unfortunately, there are many ‘innocent’ people who suffer terribly.

Why do you think God allows such suffering to occur?

Grace – simply amazing

What did you think – when you read today’s study? Me  – well, I’m always amazed that the creator of the whole universe and everything in it – even loves you and me!

Selwyn talks about how God’s grace works through His Spirit especially when we need comfort and consolation.

He writes: ” … But how does grace work? Like this: you find yourself undergoing a period of testing and your heart becomes heavy. You lose your appetite, struggle with insomnia and become increasingly irritated. Then you go to prayer (on your knees, is when you’re really serious). As you pray the heaviness in your spirit continues, but then suddenly, it is as if a weight is lifted from you. You breathe more easily and your spirit feels a little lighter. What has happened? Some might call it ‘a spontaneous sense of relief’. Those who know call it grace.”

It’s my experience that – this sense of God’s hand lifting the weight off my shoulders, comes after I’ve accepted the situation and stop complaining about the effects of the problem – like Paul, with his thorn. It’s after accepting that I’ve a thorn in my side; and, reached the conclusion that I should get use to it – that sometimes, it is totally removed – an act of our loving God. I feel, it’s a lesson in humility – more often than not.

What’s your view on this?

Supernatural comfort

I liked Selwyn’s personal story, and I think it’s a good point he raises – we don’t have to wear ourselves out when serving our loving God, by thinking that success depends on the amount of effort – we put in. The fact is that God’s Spirit does most of the work.

He introduces today’s study, by saying: “The comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit is not simply a theory; it is a glorious fact. Who, reading these lines, has not felt the divine Counsellor’s consoling presence steal into their souls during a time of personal difficulty or distress?”

I think the rest of what he writes speaks for itself – and, I have nothing to add.

The other really nice thing that I encountered was a feeling of discovery; when reading the verses (Acts 9:19b-31) set for today’s reading and meditation.  I read on, to the end of verse 41.

Here they are (Acts 9:31-41, NIV): “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you.Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. “Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.”

The Spirit of Jesus is always with us, strengthening and encouraging: Yes, there were miraculous signs that accompanied the apostles in the early days of their ministry that verified their anointing by Jesus to broadcast to the world, the good news. But, the point to remember is that God’s Spirit is still with us – perhaps we just don’t get down on our knees often enough, to pray with a believing heart. What do you think?