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A Place MUCH Better than My Last Post August 10, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Christian Perfection, Heaven, Hell, Holy Spirit, Perfect, Revelation 2:1-26.
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Heaven — The mention of the word probably brings as many images to our mind as last weeks topic, hell. Again, pop culture may have influenced us more regarding heaven than the Bible.

Maybe you don’t even think much about heaven. Maybe you are busy enough in your everyday life with your countless activities such that you don’t feel you have time to even contemplate heaven. However, the thought of spending eternity in heaven can bring peace in the midst of despair and in the tumult of life. But heaven isn’t about us wearing white robes, sitting on a little cloud and playing a little harp. In fact, it isn’t about us at all! It is about spending eternity in His presence.

Have you ever thought about living in a perfect world? Think about that for a little bit. There would be no need to lock your doors. You wouldn‘t need central air or heat. Doctors would be unnecessary as would lawyers. The list of things that would be different is long. For me, I would be 6′ 2″, thin and the best bass singer gospel music has ever known!

The truth is that you and I can live in a perfect world. Just not today. But there is coming a day when that will be possible. No matter how bad life gets today, we can look forward to a place of eternal perfection – heaven.

Look at our study passage in Revelation 21:1-26. John was given a glimpse of what no man had seen before and no one has seen since. The entire book of Revelation draws a picture of what the end times will look like and tells us about life beyond this earthly journey. The descriptions are the best that John could come up with. He saw the unbelievable and indescribable. And he tried to describe it to both Christians and non-Christians.

Not an easy job! Especially considering the task of trying to describe the indescribable using earthly words and images.

In the 21st chapter of Revelation, John begins by pointing out that the “first earth had passed away.” Staying on this planet doesn‘t seem to be an option, does it? It looks like we will relocate somewhere for eternity. And John saw a new location for those who are forgiven and are in a right relationship with Jesus Christ. He saw a new city in which God and man will live together in peace similarly to the way they did once before in the Garden of Eden.

Those who fail to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and choose Heaven will, by default, choose eternity in the “lake of fire.” But choosing Jesus Christ and Heaven is much more than getting a free pass or “fire insurance”. It is all about allowing God and His Holy Spirit to live in us and through us until that time that we reach the end of our earthly journey. It is an abundant life now and an unbelievable life after that.

John goes on to say that there will not even be a temple in heaven. Imagine that. God’s own Heaven and it doesn’t have a temple.

How about this as a concept. . . . Heaven, by definition, will be a place of worship! After all, that‘s what worship is. It is a natural response to being in God‘s presence. And we will be in His presence always and forever. There will be nothing to distract us from worship and from praising Him and celebrating being in His presence.

Go back and read Genesis 1. In the beginning, God designed a place where everything was good and perfect. But man messed it up by his sin and his disobedience. man chose to believe the serpent instead of the Creator who walked with him in the cool of the evening.

Since that time, we have tried to redefine good. We have equated good with big houses, fast cars and high-powered jobs. We have lowered the standard of goodness so that we can experience things that we believe to be good. But good isn‘t good unless it is Godly.

When the things we define as good can be made better, we have missed God’s concept of good. For God, good was the supreme expression of His creation. He looked at Adam and Eve and He said that it was good. God had no better. When God declared that that creation was good, He didn’t mean that it was good enough until something better came along. It was perfect and that is just what heaven will be like.

Do you want to spend eternity in the place that God calls good?

If so, then you can. Simply confess your sins and ask God to forgive you. If you have done that, then ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to indwell you and empower you to live a life of what Wesley called, “Christian perfection.” And allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to bring about a life worthy of heaven and a life that is pleasing to God and that will allow you to anticipate heaven and anticipate being in God’s presence with absolute peace.

This is the abundant life that God offers. Would you like a life like that?

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What happens when we pray? February 21, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Clinging - The Experience of Prayer, Emilie Griffin, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Sanctification, Wesleyan.
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I am involved in a “Bible Study” on Thursday nights. We are using the book, Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson, Sr. and Michael W. Benson. I am not sure that I understand all that the Benson’s were trying to do when they wrote the book. But that’s OK. The book includes tons of “meditations” or passages from various Christian writers and thinkers.

In this week’s readings, I found the meditation by Emilie Griffin, Clinging — The Experience of Prayer to be the most thought provoking in a Spiritual sense. She says, “What happens to people who pray is that their inward life gradually takes over from their outward life.”

That sounds very much like a Wesleyan understanding of Holiness and Sanctification. Isn’t that the way we as folks who proclaim Holiness understand Sanctification to be? Isn’t it the Holy Spirit indwelling us and causing us to live outwardly in a way that reflects that we are inwardly being progressively made pure?

All I know is that I am thankful to God for His Holy Spirit who came to indwell and guide me day by day. I am thankful for the process that began so many years ago.

What do you think?

Walking versus Posing February 16, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Abraham, Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, Holy Spirit, Isaac, James 2:14-26, Joseph, Moses, Posing, Rahab, Titus 1:16, Walking.
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If I’m not walking, then I’m just posing.

I guess I need to be reminded of that from time to time. This is especially true in terms of my Faith. I am reminded again of the differences between “Saving Faith” and “idle faith”. James 2: 14-26 reminds me of several kinds of Faith.

There is an Intellectual Faith found in verse 17. Here it talks about knowing the concepts and knowing the lingo, but not putting it in to practice. There is an Emotional Faith found in verse 19. Even the demons have an emotional response to Jesus. These are tragic examples of dead faith or idle faith. Then there is a Living and Active Faith as found in verses 21-26. Abraham and Rahab are great examples of a living and active faith in action. They are recorded in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Here is what it says about them and some others.

  • By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.
  • By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
  • By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
  • By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
  • By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
  • And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Now look at all of this in light of Titus 1:16. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” These are very strong words, wouldn’t you agree?

Here it is clear that profession of faith by itself is an intellectual or emotional response. Without evidence of God at work in our lives there is an implied denial of God’s power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Without steps of Faith (actions) and walking in obedience (actions) we are just standing still. We are going nowhere. We are just posing.

When we pray February 2, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Holiness, Holy Spirit, Pray, Prayer.
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What happens when we pray?

Emilie Griffin says the following in her book, Clinging – The Experience of Prayer.

“What happens to people who pray is that their inward life gradually takes over from their outward life.”

I think this is one of the keys to understanding the life of holiness. So often we feel the need to struggle and strain to produce holiness from the depths of our being. Like it was there all along. We just needed to squeeze it out. But that is not the way it is. Rather, as we pray and seek holiness, the Holy Spirit begins to change us slowly from the inside out. And the end result is that we are not squeezing holiness out of ourselves so much as allowing it to flow from our heart that has been changed by God.

How does this fit with your understanding of Holiness and Entire Sanctification?

It reminds me that I must maintain a residence in my heart fit for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Only then will I be able to live a holy life. Only then will people see Jesus in me.

Victory in Jesus January 25, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Discouragement, Football, Holy Spirit, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Victory, Victory in Jesus.
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I wonder if anyone else ever feels this way. Sometimes I get a little discouraged. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is a New England Patriot and I am just a Miami Dolphin. (And I’m not talking about the ’72 Dolphins!)

My apologies to those of you out there who are not fans of professional football.

Sometimes I feel like I am in a battle and the score is Discouragement – 21 and Kevin – 0. And Discouragement has the ball on the 3 yard line. But then I read I something like:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57 NCV

or:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.

I John 5:4 NCV

We have just come through the season that celebrates the long awaited Messiah. The score was Roman Empire – 35 and Jewish People – 3 (to keep using my football metaphor.) Yet Scriptures like the ones above point to ward a time when we have ultimate victory over discouragement, sin, death and hell. We overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist made that proclamation and promise a central theme in his ministry. Just re-read Matthew 3:11 and other Gospel accounts of John’s ministry.

So the score can be misleading. 21 – 0 doesn’t tell the whole story. The game is far from over. Satan must have thought it was a blow-out that Thursday and Friday before Easter!

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

Victory in Jesus by E.M Bartlett

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink September 11, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Grace, Holy Spirit, Horse, Prevenient Grace, Thirst.
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How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of God’s grace in our lives before we actually come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is active in our lives in such a way that He creates a “thirst” for the things of God in our lives.

Those of us from a Wesleyan heritage would call this Prevenient Grace. Maybe it is even more dramatic than a mere “thirst”. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit making us so miserable that we seem to have no where else to turn but to the Lord. (hey, that’s a great old song, isn’t it? — Where Could I Go But to the Lord?)

I am thankful to God who not only sent His Son, but who also sent the Holy Spirit to be active in my life well before I bowed at an altar of prayer and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and make me a child of God.

“God, create in me a thirst for You and a thirst for Holiness every day”

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink September 11, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Grace, Holy Spirit, Horse, Prevenient Grace, Thirst.
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How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of God’s grace in our lives before we actually come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is active in our lives in such a way that He creates a “thirst” for the things of God in our lives.

Those of us from a Wesleyan heritage would call this Prevenient Grace. Maybe it is even more dramatic than a mere “thirst”. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit making us so miserable that we seem to have no where else to turn but to the Lord. (hey, that’s a great old song, isn’t it? — Where Could I Go But to the Lord?)

I am thankful to God who not only sent His Son, but who also sent the Holy Spirit to be active in my life well before I bowed at an altar of prayer and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and make me a child of God.

“God, create in me a thirst for You and a thirst for Holiness every day”

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink September 11, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Grace, Holy Spirit, Horse, Prevenient Grace, Thirst.
add a comment

How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of God’s grace in our lives before we actually come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is active in our lives in such a way that He creates a “thirst” for the things of God in our lives.

Those of us from a Wesleyan heritage would call this Prevenient Grace. Maybe it is even more dramatic than a mere “thirst”. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit making us so miserable that we seem to have no where else to turn but to the Lord. (hey, that’s a great old song, isn’t it? — Where Could I Go But to the Lord?)

I am thankful to God who not only sent His Son, but who also sent the Holy Spirit to be active in my life well before I bowed at an altar of prayer and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and make me a child of God.

“God, create in me a thirst for You and a thirst for Holiness every day”

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink September 11, 2007

Posted by Kevin in Grace, Holy Spirit, Horse, Prevenient Grace, Thirst.
add a comment

How many times have you heard that statement? It is an old bit of country wisdom. You can bring your horse to the water trough. But, if he ain’t thirsty, then he ain’t drinkin’.

Now, consider an update to that piece of rural wisdom.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats!

In days gone by, our forefathers knew that if a horse has been sick and is weak and in danger of going down, you can put a little salt in his oats and that salt will draw it to the watering trough and make it want to drink. This is a great analogy of God’s grace in our lives before we actually come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is active in our lives in such a way that He creates a “thirst” for the things of God in our lives.

Those of us from a Wesleyan heritage would call this Prevenient Grace. Maybe it is even more dramatic than a mere “thirst”. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit making us so miserable that we seem to have no where else to turn but to the Lord. (hey, that’s a great old song, isn’t it? — Where Could I Go But to the Lord?)

I am thankful to God who not only sent His Son, but who also sent the Holy Spirit to be active in my life well before I bowed at an altar of prayer and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and make me a child of God.

“God, create in me a thirst for You and a thirst for Holiness every day”