Power of Truth

It was a warm summer night. The beautiful sky was filled with stars as far as the eye could see. Mary was relaxed in the passenger side starting to doze off, confident that her husband would get them safely to their destination, Myrtle beach, South Carolina. She was already starting to dream of the perfect beaches, fine restaurants and championship golf courses. Then suddenly something started to bother her.

They had made this trip many times and this time things looked a little different. “Tom, this doesn’t seem right. Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Tom patiently replied, “Of course sweetie, just relax and take your nap.” “Tom, I tell you we are going the wrong way where’s that map?” She started looking for the map and Tom just a little more frustrated insisted “You have nothing to worry about. I know where I am going. I am right!” Mary gave up looking and exclaimed “Yeah you’re right. Well I can’t find it anyway.” She made herself comfortable and went off on her nap.

A sudden stop woke Mary up, “We’re there already?” Tom sheepishly answered, “No dear, we’re lost.”

It took a brief stop at a Gas station for directions and a costly 2 hour detour, but Mary and her husband did arrive safely at Myrtle Beach.

What is worse than going the wrong way? Stubbornly insisting your right, while going the wrong way in the middle of the night, on a long trip to South Carolina is definitely worse. What is better than believing your right? Discovering the truth that sets you on the right course and sets you free from a blind belief in deceptions that can only lead to failure and destruction is definitely better.

Jesus tells us that “The truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) He was speaking of the truth that He is the savior that came to sacrifice His life that all could be saved. When we discover the error of our beliefs, what we are left with is the treasure of truth. The truth that Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate price that has been paid so that a world lost in sin could be saved is the greatest truth of all. A multitude throughout history have discovered this great truth, that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are forgiven from all sin and immediately become part of God’s kingdom forever.

The power of truth continues to work in all our lives, knocking at our hearts and minds. However it is often hindered by our pride. When we are set in our beliefs and guided by misconceptions it can be difficult to see beyond these cherished beliefs. Sometimes we stubbornly argue like Tom, when all along we are headed in the wrong direction.

 

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Resisting sin

Jesus taught his disciple many lessons. He knew that he was going to leave them with a great mission; to go into the entire world spreading the gospel, changing lives, seeking the lost and making more disciples. (Mark 16:15-16) One important lesson was the Our Father. This was intended to be a model for them to follow. One of the lines is “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:5-14) He knew the disciples and all of us were destined for failure and in need of constant forgiveness. Jesus knew he was about to leave them and that soon after they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4) The Holy Spirit would give them great power and yet Jesus knew that they and all of us as well would find it difficult to remain perfect at all times. (Acts 1:8)

Paul also explained this problem. He said that sin was in us. (Romans 7:13-20) No matter how strong we are, no matter how much we try, we are still in this world and must contend with our flesh. Therefore we are still capable of falling into sin. This is a constant danger. The devil like a lion is looking for who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) That would be us, he is looking for.

What can we do? Our desire is to live a life that is pleasing to God. Should we wait around waiting to fail? Should we live however we please and just repeat the “Our Father” every night?

Since we are sincere Christians it is imperative that we be on the offensive. We must live our life aware of the devil’s attacks. How can we do this? First and foremost we must diligently work every day to increase our understanding of what pleases God. This happens as we study scripture. When we study scripture our faith increases as well. (Romans 10:17) We therefore become stronger Christians.

Jesus also gave us another solution. He once spoke of the power to rebuke demons and he told the disciples “This one only comes out through prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) If prayer and fasting can give a servant more power to contend with the devil then certainly it will help us in all matters. It too will draw us closer to Christ. How do relationships grow stronger? They grow stronger with communication. This is what prayer means to us. Prayer is our vehicle to communicate with God, strengthening our relationship with Him.

We also know that idle time is a dangerous time. It is when we allow the devil to tempt us and fill us with thoughts that are not pleasing to God. Idle time allows us ample opportunity to focus on what we don’t have. Consider David who casually walked about his temple with nothing to do only to be tempted by seeing the naked Bathsheba bathing. (2 Samuel 11:1-5) We should look to close the door on the devil by occupying ourselves in productive tasks, primarily serving God and the needy.

Remaining sinless is impossible. We have all fallen and will fail again. But sin certainly does not have to consume our lives. We can greatly reduce its hold on us and the likelihood of failing God, through much prayer, study of scripture and occupying ourselves in worthy endeavors.

 

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Falling into the water

Falling into the water

Is it the master upon the sea?
Oh how great with him to be
No a ghost it be this night
Or perhaps our poor sight.
“It is I. Do not be afraid.”
The 12 he did not persuade.
If Peter could dare,
They wondered how he’d fare.
One of us do it too?
“Lord let me come to you.”
“Come” is all He would say.
Now trust in Jesus for the way!
Bravely he stepped upon the sea.
Look to Jesus faithfully.
Oh does mortal man walk with God?
Do not think this odd.
For faith does move mountains.
and chases legions of demons
Ah but for the wind.
Now the devil did grin.
For upon the sea rose fear.
yet the savior was so near.
Into the water fell he.
“Lord save me” was his plea.
Jesus saves the man who cries.
The fallen, He makes them rise!
Now our faith we must keep.
Less we with fear, fall in the deep!

© Samuel Melendez. All rights reserved

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Is the Holy Spirit working in our lives?

We believe that when we accept Jesus as our Savior the Holy Spirit dwells in us and begins to work in our lives. But how can we be sure this is really happening? One key portion of scripture that deals with this question is found in Galatians 5:16-25. There Paul gives a nice easy to understand summary of what should be evident in our lives and what should not, if we are living a spirit filled life pleasing to God.

One quick look at the “do not list” and many Christians might begin to question their spirituality. Let’s see we have “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies”. (Galatians 5:19-21) Some of these are big ones that most would gasped, if they found a Christian participating in, such as sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, orgies, and even drunkenness, but how about some of the others. Take fits of anger for example. Does this mean that if occasionally I get angry I am not a Christian? Paul refers to these elements as “works of the flesh.” The Holy Spirit should not lead us to “fits of Anger.” Yet I am sure every Christian has had a few at least. The same goes for enmity, strife, jealousy, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and envy.

Paul also explained what should be evident if the Holy Spirit is in our lives. We should then bear the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.(Galatians 5:22-23) However once again just about every last self professing Christian I know, including myself, has at times lacked for at least one of these most desirable attributes. Does this mean we do not have the Holy Spirit because we’ve lost our patience at the Wal-Mart checkout line?

The Apostles John and Paul have come to our rescue in explaining this apparent conflict. John first establishes that there is sin in all of us. (1 John 1:7-10) Paul then makes it clear why we still have sin. He reminds us that we are still living in our flesh. He states “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” (Romans 7:18) They both explain that we do not want to live by the flesh, but our desire should be to live by the Holy Spirit or as John explains the light of Jesus. (1 John 1:7, Galatians 5:16) Therefore a Christian should not live a life of sin as he is trying to live by the spirit. However he cannot completely escape his flesh. He is therefore tempted and may at times fail. But when we fail it should be rare and is always followed by sincere repentance. It should never be a game where we tell ourselves without remorse, “let us do this evil today and tomorrow we can repent.” No, we should sincerely engage in a constant struggle to live a life that pleases God. (Ephesians 6:12, Hebrews 12:3-4, Galatians 5:17) Since it is referred to as a struggle in these passages, we know that the temptations are real and the fall is possible; but Jesus knowing this to be a constant possibility taught his disciples to pray on a regular basis asking for forgiveness. The phrase from the “Our Father”, “Forgive our trespasses” reveals that Jesus knew his disciple could fail at times.

We know the Holy Spirit is working in our lives not because we are perfect but because we now have a sincere desire not to sin and our desire is to please God more than pleasing ourselves. The fruit of the Holy Spirit becomes more evident in our lives, but unfortunately we can still fail. John summed it up best with these words, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

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Johnny throws a stink bomb

“Johnny just do it!” Marcus said. Johnny contemplated the stink bomb in his hand and wondered. He desperately wanted to get out of it. Johnny was popular in his own way. There were certainly enough classmates that thought he was cool and really looked up to him, although he was not as popular as the starting quarterback of the varsity team.  Now He had the unenviable assignment of throwing a stink bomb into Mr. Bender’s classroom, while he was teaching. The smell although not destructive would certainly disrupt the class. Although it was risky, what Johnny hated most was that it was Mr. Bender.  He was a demanding teaching that often would assign the longest Homework and give by far the hardest exams. But he taught American History and Johnny loved the course. He had aced it and his work had been routinely praised as “well thought out”, “an in depth analysis”  “highly developed” and “especially creative”. Johnny had enjoyed his moment in the light with Mr. Bender and all those good memories were floating in his head.  He could hear his favorite teacher discussing the causes of the American Revolution.  Johnny thought to himself “I can’t do this to Mr. Bender.” Then a sweet voice carried across the hall, “Hey Johnny what you got there?” It was Marie, the prettiest girl in his official class. She was Johnny’s dream girl. No way could he appear to be soft in front of her. Now his best friend Marcus repeated the order “Johnny just do it” and added “What are you chicken now, scared of old Bender?”  Johnny looked at his friend and then at Marie and released it. Like the cowards they were they all took off running.

Soon Johnny found himself in the school yard and thought it best to just head home. That evening Marcus called “Man that was a thing of beauty. Why did you take off? Dude nobody knows who did it. Just Marie and she has a thing for you.” The guilt was so great Johnny didn’t even realize what Marcus had said about Marie. Johnny didn’t want to talk about it. Johnny told Marcus “I’m not feeling well Marco, talk to you later” and he hung up.

Two weeks later the guilt was still driving Johnny crazy.  Now he stood before his favorite teacher, frozen and speechless. Old Mr. Bender, grey haired and bearded and wearing a brown cardigan sweater looked up and smiled. “Nice seeing you Johnny, few students had such a deep and extensive grasp of American History. I sincerely enjoyed our discussions. I really thought you enjoyed the course as well.” It’s as if he knew and just wanted to make this more difficult for Johnny. Now came the icing on the cake “Hey Johnny didn’t I write a letter of recommendation for that summer job you wanted. How did that go?”  Johnny could not bear to look at him and while he hung his head low, he finally just came out with it. “I did it Mr. Bender.” Mr. bender decided he wasn’t done with it and added “What are you talking about Johnny.” “ I threw the bomb the other day.” “I knew you had done it Johnny.” “Why didn’t you report it?” Johnny asked.  “In a couple of months you’re going to start applying for colleges. Would you like something like that on you record?”

Johnny now realized he had given in to peer pressure and made a victim, of not only his favorite teacher, but a teacher who was merciful and considerate of his future.  He was undeserving of such kindness and even after the apology still felt there was more he should do. Fortunately, wise old Mr. Bender had an idea. “You know Johnny I was thinking my car is going to need a good cleaning this weekend.” Johnny smiled. “It’s going to be shiny as new by Sunday Morning Mr. Benson.” Mr. Benson responded “Excellent, just in time for my niece and I to go to Sunday school.” Johnny was satisfied and headed for the door when Mr. Benson stopped him “Oh Johnny you know my niece right.” Johnny answered “No sir.” Mr. Benson with a smile said “Oh you do, her name is Marie.”

Solomon said it perfectly “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”(Proverbs 1:10) God does not want us to fold to the pressures of others or this world. We must remain strong and listen to the Holy Spirit that guides our actions. (John 16:13, Romans 8:14 ) It is God himself who speaks to our conscience so that we can do what is right. When we fail it is that same spirit that convicts us. Let us ask God to make us strong that we may resist temptation and live a life that we need not be ashamed of.  Peter wisely adds   “We must obey God rather than men.”  (Acts 5:29)

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A Mystery

Holy Spirit 33

Holy Spirit 33 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Horace the great stood before us in a darken hall. We could barely see his face, with his top hat casting a shadow.  His assistant, the beautiful Solace, stood near him with a rather sinister smile. He was about to do the unthinkable. She was about to disappear from this world. First she was tied and chained, then blind folded. Into the chest she went. It was locked and chained as well.  No one could escape.  It hung from the ceiling and it was checked all around by volunteers from the audience. Surely Horace would fail this time.

With a bit of wave from his wand and a few words he only understood it was finished. The chest came down, the chains unlocked and opened. The volunteers still watching stood amazed. The chest was destroyed just to add another exclamation point on such an amazing feat.  Finally, to truly take our breath away, apparently from the back of the hall, came the enchanting Solace. She glided across the hall with her hair flying and soon she was on the stage next to her beloved Horace. The Crowd was on its feet. It truly could not be explained.  How could Horace have done it?

Everyone loves a good magic trick.  A good magician can seemingly do the impossible. Most of us don’t believe they have magical powers! We are pretty sure they have simply mastered the art and science of allusion. They have trick doors, quick hands and use all kinds of distractions. They are good at what they do and are truly entertaining.  Although we know there has to be an explanation, their feats remain a mystery to most of us.

However there are mysteries that are greater than any magician’s tricks. Mysteries that we know require more than sleight of hand and trick doors. They require nothing less than the power of God almighty.  One such mystery is the works of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is God. He is the personal God that hears our prayers (Romans 8:26 ), councils, teaches and guides.  It is to the Holy Spirit that we credit our understanding and wisdom (Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 2:13  ). All this is more than enough to leave us in awe.  But there is more, truly one of the greatest mysteries. For the God that fills the entire Universe and exist beyond the heavens, the God that time and space cannot contain also dwells in such a tiny creature known as man(1 Corinthians 6:19, John 14:15-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17   ). He dwells in you and me. The same God that moves the pages of history, created the Universe, has mapped out all of eternity, is the same God that from within our very person can speak softly and comfort us in our weakness. He does not go and return to possess us temporarily.  He does not take vacation from our presence. He is always in us (John 14:15-17 ).  From within us the Holy Spirit Springs Rivers of living waters and what we feel is joy, peace and love like no other.( John 7:38-39,Galatians 5:22-23) ,   He is within us, outside us, in the world and outside the world, all at the same time(Ps.139:7-10). It is one of the most beautiful and perfect mysteries.

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Verses on the Holy Spirit

Beyond the stars yet in me

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Verses on Holy Spirit

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Verses on Holy Spirit

John 14:26 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Acts 2:38 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Romans 8:26 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

1 Corinthians 6:19 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

John 14:15-17 

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 16:12-15 

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Luke 11:13 

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Acts 1:8 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 11:2 

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of theLord.

1 Corinthians 2:13 

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

2 Corinthians 3:17 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Romans 15:13 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Luke 4:1 

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness

Ephesians 1:13 

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Acts 10:38 

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Acts 2:4 

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 4:31 

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Romans 8:9 

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Romans 5:5 

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

1 Corinthians 6:11 

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Acts 2:17-18 

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

Matthew 3:11 

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Romans 5:3-5 

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Acts 5:32 

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

John 20:21-23 

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Luke 4:18 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

John 16:13 

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Acts 4:29-31 

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

John 15:26 

“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.

Acts 2:1-47 

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

John 7:37-39 

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Matthew 10:20 

For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Psalm 51:11 

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Titus 3:5-6 

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

1 Timothy 4:1 

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Ephesians 1:13-14 

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Acts 2:2 

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Genesis 1:2 

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Hebrews 9:14 

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

John 3:5-8 

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

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A Mystery

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