Posted in holy spirit, prophecy, regeneration

The lovely work of the Holy Spirit

When we repent and come into reconciliation with Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit into us and the Spirit begins the work of regeneration. Because we are born dead, spiritually empty and carnally minded, when the Spirit comes, He revives us and begins the work of shaping us like clay, into the Lord’s likeness. Here are but two verses that remind us that He grows us sovereignly and perfectly:

“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” (Acts 16:14)

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6)

The change is not instant, from one who is dead in the flesh to one who is bearing all the good fruit is that the Spirit nurtures in us (Galatians 5:22-26). Even the Apostle Paul battled flesh (Romans 7:15). But through constant submission, prayer, study of the word, and good works in His name, the Spirit leads us into good things, which will be completed on the day we are glorified in body at the rapture. (Gal 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But sometimes it is hard to detect if we can see this change in ourselves. In growth by degrees you don’t see it at first. Our first day of school was Friday and I looked at the little kindergarteners I’d worked with last year. Some had sprung up like weeds! I noticed it because I had not seen them for 8 weeks. But do I notice growth or change in myself? No. But I’m sure others did, not having seen me for 8 weeks either.

I remember the first time I noticed a Christlike change in myself. I was saved 7 years ago and really started studying the bible and attending church 5 years ago. So I’d have to reach back in my mind ten years to go beyond the point when the Spirit began His regenerative work in me.

During my 30s I traveled to Italy once a year. I love Italy so much. The rolling Tuscan hills filled with sunflowers, the steep and somber Umbrian mountains, the castles, villas, architecture. I fell in love with the art. In the Accademia Galleria where the famous sculpture of David is housed, I was absolutely floored when I saw it for the first time. Since I was not saved, I had no idea, really, of the story behind it, other than the surface. David killed Goliath with a rock. That’s as far as my understanding went. But I did a great study of Michaelangelo, the sculptor of the statue of David, and the marble itself. I even went to Carrara to see where the marble came from and how it was extracted from the mountain.

The bible says for us to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2). So I do. I ponder heaven, and the Spirit and Jesus and the things He has told us in the bible. As I looked to heaven I mourned the loss of all the beautiful things in Italy. I’d think of the tribulation earthquakes and pictured in my mind the crumbling of the leaning tower of Pisa, of the Colosseum, of the castles that had stood for thousand years. “Gone…” I’d muse to myself. “How tragic!” I thought of the David, the most perfect man-made thing I’d ever seen, and though of how anything else could be more beautiful. For a long time I could not picture it and went around sad that my treasured Italy and everything in it would be destroyed.

So one day I was musing along in my mind and thought of the David again. “Gone…” I shook my head. Then another thought popped into my mind. “Hey! I can go over and see the REAL David!” It was then I laughed because I could detect the Spirit had grown me over time. My mind was no longer on earthly things but realized that a greater treasure was the resurrected, glorified and perfected David that the Lord had personally set as King of Israel! I laughed out loud. The real David, how about that! I began to get a glimmer of just how beautiful the Lord’s work is in us and that there will be many more things that will be stunningly beautiful that my brain can’t even conceive of but was just getting a tiny glimpse of. Slowly and surely the Holy Spirit does His work in us, praise God.

My mind was instantly set at ease as I realized I’d let go of earthly things and trusted the fact that no matter how lovely the things of earth are, the LORD is preparing a place for us that will be astoundingly beautiful, the foremost beauty of which are the glorified and redeemed people populating the place through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ.

Do you have a moment when you came across a growth marker in yourself when you realized that your response to a thought or a situation was a direct result of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit? Please share. Let’s celebrate Him!

Posted in crime, end of days, end time, holy spirit, prophecy, restrainer

Copper thievery and sinful conditions

Sin doesn’t end. Sin doesn’t settle. Sin doesn’t shrink. It expands, creeping bigger, more, deeper. A lie in your mind changes to a lie out loud, to two lies, to a tangled web … There is no end to Jesus’ love and conversely, there is no end to sin. The heights of Jesus love are mirrored by the depths of sin, and sin can go pretty deep.

Jesus, Paul, and Peter outlined the specifics of what was to come at the end of the age (in the Tribulation). But they all also taught about moral conditions that would be upon humanity. Jesus said “love will wax cold”, (Mt 24:12); Paul said they will be brutal, unloving, and without self-control (2 Timothy 3:3); Peter said the truth will be blasphemed and covetousness will rule (2 Peter2:2-3) just to give a few examples.

Jesus also said that the Tribulation will be a time like the days of Noah. In the days of Noah, the evil of man was so great that he only had evil thoughts, continuously. (Gen 6:5) That is 100% sin saturation! We are not at 100% saturation of evil now, but we are sliding down the hill quickly. After believers are removed from the earth at the rapture (Gen 6:3) and the ministry of restraint of the Holy Spirit is removed, (2Thessalonians 2:6) evil will have free reign to unleash whatever it will. It will be pretty bad. Jesus said that unless He cut short the days, no one would be left alive on the earth, it will be so evil and violent. (Mt 24:22).

So let me give you an example of the descent of sin. We are not in the Tribulation now, but we do have to move from the level of earthly sin we’re in now toward that 100% mark and I believe we are seeing the speeding up of it now, in this time just prior to the rapture.

The metaphor of deepening sin is encapsulated in an example of the copper thieves.

Copper thievery is a sin that has always plagued us. But it has spiked exponentially, said police in Alabama. “Record copper prices have caused a surge in U.S. copper thefts, plaguing law enforcement and local governments and prompting states to pass new laws. “Since the beginning of the 2004 spike in copper prices, copper theft and copper prices have been directly linked,” a 2010 U.S. Department of Energy study on copper wire thefts said.”

Thieves used to take coils from constructions sites, empty houses, when no one was around. Then they began stealing copper from churches. They graduated to gutters, and these kind of bandits are called “gutter grabbers.” Most often the house is occupied, the thieves not caring if people are about. They they moved on up to larger booty: transformers. In this article titled, “Antioch Copper Wire Thieves Reach New High – Or Low” you see, the lows just keep getting lower. “Just days after Pacific Gas and Electric lamented the ongoing and widespread theft of copper wire from its Antioch power poles, the utility is now revealing that a particularly brazen thief – or thieves – stole an entire transformer from a power pole.”

The booty is getting bigger, and so is the personal risk, both to the owners of the copper and to the thieves. More of them who attempt to steal copper from live wires are getting fatally electrocuted.

So then they ‘graduated’ from transformers to whole air conditioning units, attached to houses where the people are living. Stealing the unit puts the people inside at risk, of course. In a heat wave people die. Stealing the scrap metal or copper from live gas lines means houses explode, sometimes with the people inside them. These thieves sunk even lower, stealing the AC unit from an animal shelter, putting all the puppies and kittens at risk.

So in a short time we have gone from a constant of petty wire thievery at abandoned homes or constructions sites, to huge AC units attached to homes, churches and non-profit centers, and from pipes to gutters to entire transformers that black out whole neighborhoods. But we don’t stop there.

These thieves stole an entire irrigation system in Modesto CA. “Thieves crushed a grape crop when they took off with the tools that help a local vineyard to grow. Grape grower Frank Rashid was on track for a record-breaking year. “See how beautiful?” said Rashid, gesturing toward his grapes.But in an instant, thieves crippled all of his hard work. “A lot of trouble for me, [and] the grapes; I can lose the crop, you know,” said Rashid. Bad guys stole the grape irrigation system worth more than $10,000.”

Copper thievery has gotten so persistent and so bad that there are states proposing laws regulating the sale of the metal. Copper thievery has risen sharply in Winston-Salem, with “more copper thefts in Winston-Salem in the first six months of 2011 than there were all of last year, city police said.”

The boldness of the copper thieves, the size of the booty, the heightening of danger, are examples of a downward progression in sin and evil in these last days. This progression is in all sins and crimes of course. We’ve gone from child abuse, to child abuse and kidnapping, to child abuse, kidnapping and murder, to child abuse, kidnapping, murder and dismemberment. Embezzlement is no longer perpetrated by a furtive, mealy-mouth man in some back cubicle at a tiny company. That sin’s depths were revealed to us in the Bernie Madoff schemes where he boldly made off with billions. Petty shoplifting is a thing of the quaint past, now we have whole mobs storming stores in full view of security guards and grabbing all that they can. Each and every sin on earth is getting deeper, worse, more corrupt.

The point is, you don’t want to be here when there is NO restraint. Things are this bad now but soon there will be free reign to plunder, steal, be brutal and selfish and the sanctity of life will mean nothing.

By His grace He died to save us from our sins. He will forgive you your unholy crimes if you ask him with penitent heart. He is sending these signs and warnings to us now to let us know the era is drawing to a close. He will remove His bride from the earth, He will send the Holy Spirit into retreat, He will allow satan full capacity to do his worst. You really don’t want to be here when that happens. And you don’t have to be. Just turn to Jesus.

Posted in encouragement, finish the race, holy spirit

Finishing the race

Watch, it’s 2 minutes. Then read, it’s encouraging!

Heather Dorniden of Minnesota University raced the 600m at the Big 10 Indoor Track Championships. Her example can be used to remind us what a race really is about. What life in Jesus is really about, in truth. We will fall. We can get up. We finish. But what is your reaction to the fall? To rising up again? Therein lay the difference.

When you fell, did you stay down? Did you lay there? Did you give up?

Did you say “woe is me, I fell, I’m not worthy of Jesus”? There are many people who and engage in continued public self-flagellation in false humility, like the Pharisees.

When you got up, did you then trudge? Paul says do not trudge but spring up and finish the race! Have joy. The race is a “good” race! It is a “good” fight!

Jesus knows we are faulty, that we will stumble, that we fail. But He is there to lift us up, the Spirit is there to encourage us. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20). What awaits you when you arise is the Holy Spirit, there with hand extended, to help you immeasurably!.

We all fall, the joy is in the getting up and finishing.

Keep looking ahead to the finish line. A crown awaits. Our home in New Jerusalem awaits. Eternal joy awaits. Our Lord awaits. Get up, get up! Pilgrims, the time is short, whether through death or rapture, our time here is shortening daily. Spring up and with all joy and energy, run to the finish line!

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

Will you be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Posted in end time, end time. prophecy, holy spirit, salvation

The Spirit pursues you

Today is the day that our Savior was born and lived a life incarnate. How do I even think of the Immeasurable and Infinite God, pouring Himself into a human flesh with all its limitations, and living for three decades on this earth? I can’t, it defies the imagination. Even more so, His sacrifice of becoming flesh so He could die for our sins is for all time. He will never go back to being Spirit, but is the once for all sacrifice (Heb 10:10) and will remain glorified flesh forever. (Luke 24:36-43).

Epiphany, by Giotto, circa 1320

In His compassion, He seeks you, He draws you, He enlightens your depraved mind (Rom 10:20; John 6:44; Eph 1:18). We are too craven to seek Him on our own (Is 64:6), our hearts are too darkened (Jer 17:9) so instead He draws us to Him. This is another miracle. He seeks us fervently, and in His love, grace, and mercy, He sends the Holy Spirit to draw us to Him.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

I look back over my life and I clearly see the stepping stones of His drawing me to Him. The first time I really heard the Gospel was when my Aunt shared with me at age ten. She also told me that there would be a day when Jesus returned for His children and the dead will rise from their graves and the living would be caught away into the air, to be with Him always. I puzzled over the physics of that, spiritually drawn to its inherent truth but unable to understand it cognitively. I liked the story, though and I kept it in my heart.

All through my early adulthood, I attended church at times on Christmas Day, because that’s what you did. The Christmas season held opposing emotions for me, at one side I enjoyed the Christmas Carol “O Come All Ye Faithful”, singing it with gusto. At the other hand, I was insulted by things religious. My freshman Philosophy class at State University was held in a room containing a crucifix on the wall. I hated the crucifix. I stared at it and cursed it, wanting to alert the ACLU that there were state funds being spent in a place that had religion in it. Yet for Christmas break I’d happily drive home, go to church, and sing ‘O Come All Ye Faithful, Come let us adore Him’. Who did I think I was singing about?

I can see so well the work the Spirit did to keep my heart open to His truth, until the day when eventually my salvation met up with the destiny God had known about since the foundation of the world.

He pursues you, too. But here’s the thing: He doesn’t beg and He doesn’t pursue you forever. He stands at the door and knocks (Luke 12:36; Rev 3:20). He doesn’t burst in and He doesn’t capture you. He is polite. He knocks. But He will not strive with man’s spirit forever. (Genesis 6:3). At some point, the point at which He knows that you will not answer the knock, He graciously gives you your heart’s desire: to be left alone in your sin. (Rom 1:24; Rom 1:26; Rom 1:28; Acts 19:9; John 12:40). He withdraws His spirit and gives you over to your sin.

Gen 6:3 says “Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years” and the writer of the Geneva Study Bible explains: “Because man could not by won by God’s leniency and patience by which he tried to win him, he would no longer withhold his vengeance.” Do not be so vain as to think He will chase you forever, pleading with you and begging you to open the door. He won’t.

Do NOT be casual about your  salvation! Do not attend church today while ignoring the knocking at your heart of hearts by the Holy Spirit. Do not lead a blessing at Christmas dinner without hearing the Spirit’s call to your salvation. Do not commune in love with family members without acknowledging it was Jesus who gave you the family and He asks you to become part of His. He will not strive with you forever. Today is a perfect day to settle your sin-debt to Him. All you have to do is acknowledge your sins and ask Him to forgive them, and in so doing you acknowledge that He is the Sinless Savior who alone has the power to answer your  prayer.

What a merry Christmas it would be for you to allow the Spirit’s pursuit to catch up with you and to fold you into Glory with millions of others who opened the door to His offer of salvation.

Peace be with you.