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The Helper 3/21/99

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever;” (John 14:16).

“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 things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

Jesus Christ has left you a legacy. He has provided a very special gift, a heritage, for all who commit to Him.

On the eve He was ending His earth walk He shared news of this gift with those who shared this walk for three years. In the upper room He related the nature of the gift. He said:

“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).

His reference was to the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ came to earth to seek and to save. He planted His flag of victory at a place called Calvary. There He won for us a victory. Our future is secure. Because our future is secure we can throw ourselves into the present. Death for the believer is behind us only life eternal is before us. Though the spiritual victory has been won there are still mopping up battles to be fought. To guide us into victory Christ has left us His Commander-in-Chief, the Holy Spirit.

We live in a spirit world. It is strange that there has never been a time when people believed more in the spirit world than today. Nor has there been a time when there has been more Biblical ignorance regarding it. The growing new age movement is based on belief in the spirit world. Satanism is predicated on it. Books on angels are among the most popular sellers. The entertainment fields of TV and movies thrive on it. The world of evil spirits has the most rapidly growing holiday in our era, Halloween. Yet, the church with the greatest heritage of belief in the Spirit world is basically mute on the subject.

There is a Spirit dimension to life. Though unseen it is as real as the physical world we see. Let me illustrate!

Most persons adhere to the long standing belief that there are four dimensions to an object: height, depth, width, and breath. Now physicists are telling us there may actually be as many as 26 physical dimensions to any object.

Along comes Mr. and Mrs. Flat and they see everything in one dimension —- flat. Therefore, they don’t see and consequently don’t believe in what is right above or below them. They don’t believe in height or depth. That doesn’t change the fact there is height and depth. They just miss out on it. Likewise, unfortunately many people are missing out on the spirit aspect of life. Christ said:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to call attention to Christ not to Himself. In that sense our mission is like His. If a person has an experience that leaves him or her talking more about the Holy Spirit or the experience than about Christ it is not of the Holy Spirit.

Such an experience is of the spirit, but it is not the Holy Spirit. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God” (I John 4:1). There are evil spirits in the spirit world that counterfeit experiences in order to confuse and deceive. If you were going to make a counterfeit $20.00 bill what would you make it look life? You would want it to look as identical to a $20.00 as possible to deceive. Satan causes some persons to be deceived by counterfeit spiritual experiences.

The mission of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ, not us, our experience, or Himself, but Christ.

The word translated “Helper” in some translations and “Comforter” in others is PARAKLETOS. It is a compound word one of which means “to cry [for help]” and the other means “to run.” The word pictures the Holy Spirit as one ready to run to help us when we ask for help.

The word was also used in a court of law to denote a legal assistant, the counsel for the defense, and advocate. It is used for one who pleads the case of another.

The reason modern translations use the familiar word “Helper” it the term PARAKLETOS literally means, “one call to assist another, one present to provide beneficial service.”

If you are a Christian you have already received this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit whether you know it or not.

When Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer the Holy Spirit is imparted. Get this —-

It is not our attainment but because of Christ’s atonement that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The fact every believer has the Holy Spirit is contrary to some teaching by some churches, therefore, it must be sustained by Scripture in order to be accepted. Consider:

“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).

If you are His, you have received the gift of the Helper.

In dealing with a matter of belief Paul asked persons in Corinth: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19: 2). When they answered no Paul ascertained they had believed in John not Jesus. The test for them and for us is if you have believed on Christ as Savior you have the Helper.

The Holy Spirt was Christ’s birthday gift to the church. It is His birthday gift to every believer on the day of their new birth.

When we rely on organization we get what organization can do.

When we rely on education we get what education can do.

When we rely on eloquence we get what eloquence can do.

When we rely on the Holy Spirit we get what God can do.

(A.C. Dixon)

Unfortunately, if the Holy Spirit were to die 95% of the churches would go right on like they are. So would most believers.

The issue isn’t how much of the Holy Spirit we have. We have all of Him. The issue is how much of us does the Holy Spirit have.

Dwight L. Moody was the Billy Graham of his day. When as a young man he visited England he heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man who is fully consecrated to the Holy Spirit.”

Moody reasoned: “He said ‘a man.’ He did not say ‘a great man,’ nor ‘a rich man,’ ‘nor a wise man,’ nor ‘an eloquent man,’ but simply ‘a man.’ I am a man, and it lies within a man himself whether he will or will not make that entire and full consecration. I will try my utmost to be that man.” Moody did and was used of God in a wonderful way.

When Moody was at his height a group of ministers met in Philadelphia to consider inviting him to preach a revival in that city. A number favored the idea and shared what great things God had done through Moody. Finally, one who opposed the idea spoke up and said, “To hear you talk, one would think D.L. Moody has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit.”

A wise minister responded, “We did not intend to create that impression, but I do believe the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on D. L. Moody.”

Every believer is the recipient of the Holy Spirit. Does He have a monopoly on you?

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (I Corinthians 12: 13).

In considering this text it is important to note one little word first. It is the word “by.” It is not “of” or “with,” but “by.” Often persons of a certain persuasion will ask if you have been baptized “with” the Holy Spirit or if you have been baptized “by” the Holy Spirit. The Scripture does not use those words. It is the Holy Spirit who does the baptizing into the body of Christ.

“All” refers to every believer. Therefore what is spoken of here is universal among all Christians.

“All” were “baptized into one body.”

The word “baptized into” means identified with.

Matthew 10: 2 speaks of being baptized into Moses referring to those who followed him who became identified with him as a follower.

The “one body” refers to the “body of Christ,” as reference to the community of believers.

There is an obvious fact here. If this act is for all, that is, it is universal, it has to be initial. That is, at the moment of salvation.

To understand this consider all in this room were saved at 10:00 AM one morning. At that moment one segment of the crowd was baptized “by” the Holy Spirit, that is, received the Holy Spirit. Another segment didn’t receive the gift of the Helper until 6:00 PM that same day. That means part of the group was without the Helper for eight hours. The Scripture says “all” have the Helper.

Instant replay: If the act is universal it has to be initial.

The Helper is perpetually with you. He is there in one of three states. You alone determine which. Preferably:

I. YOU ARE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Everybody is full of something. Some are full of football, some of bull. At this time of year some wives are “fed up with” basketball.

When drunk a person is under the influence of alcohol. The expression “filled with the Spirit” means to be under Christ’s controlling influence. The Helper is His advocate Who indwells every believer to advocate Christ’s cause in life.

Three things need to be noted regarding this text:

1. It is a command. It is in the imperative mood meaning do it. Anything short of being filled is sin, it is disobedience to the Word of God.

2. It is continuous action. It is in the perpetual present tense meaning “keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Let your continuous norm be being filled with the Spirit.

3. It is in the passive voice, meaning this is something God does for us but we must let Him.

You can tell if you are Spirit filled by whether you are bearing the “fruit of the Spirit” spoken of:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).

Are these traits characteristic of your life?

Observe the word “fruit” is singular and the result plural. The old English word “fruit” was used to speak of harvest. Therefore, there is one harvest and all of these traits are the crop.

We are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit.” One person responded “I can’t hold much, but I can overflow a lot.”

We are called to be consistent in Christ, constantly being filled. We are not to be spiritual chameleons. A chameleon is a lizard that changes colors depending on the color of the surface on which it is. If on green it turns green. If on brown it turns brown. Supposedly a chameleon crawled on a piece of plaid and exploded trying to conform. Many Christians do the same.

Are you living a Spirit filled life? If not there are only two reasons. One is:

II. YOU ARE GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

“This is not a promise to be claimed. This is a command to be obeyed” Charles Spurgeon.

We grieve the Holy Spirit when He is leading us not to do something and we do it. Remember, He is Christ’s advocate. He is constantly advocating Christ’s cause in our lives. If He advocates us not doing a particular thing and we do it we grieve Him. He does not leave us. He is still in us but not being allowed to fill us, therefore, He is grieved.

Attitudes which we must put away in order not to grieve the Holy Spirit are identified for us.

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Monitor yourself. If any one of those exist in your life you are not a Spirit filled believer. You are presently grieving the Holy Spirit. You can never be filled, that is controlled by the Holy Spirit, until you get all of these out of your life.

It is He who seals us “for the day of redemption.” That means He keeps us once we are saved. A seal was used by a monarch. When placed on an item that meant the item was

The POSSESSION of the King. Believers are Christ possessed.

It meant it was the PROTECTORATE of the King.

III. YOU ARE QUENCHING THE HOLY SPIRIT

“Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19).

We grieve the Holy Spirit when He is leading us not to do a thing and we do it.

We quench the Spirit when He is leading us to do a certain thing and we don’t do it. “To quench” means to “put out, cool down, or subdue.”

In either and both states He does not leave us. He is with us but not in control of us. When He is out of control we are out of control of Christ.

Let’s have a rerun on one phase of this message. If you are not living a spirit filled life you are disobeying the Lord. Isn’t this a wonderful time to begin to obey Him.

Christ’s Ultimate Upper 3/7/99

John 14:1-7
Page 1578 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ gathered for the last time with His disciples. He was about to finish His earth-walk and return triumphant to the Father. This meant the disciples’ world was about to unsuspectingly go into eclipse at mid-day. Their world is about to fall apart. Their hearts were a medley of emotions. They had feelings like us. They were sad because of the gloomy prospect of Christ going away; ashamed because of their demonstrated selfishness; perplexed because one of them was predicted to betray Christ.

In Chapters 14 through 17 of John we are allowed to look into the very soul of Christ.

He spoke, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (Vs. 1). This statement has become the pillow on which many broken hearts have found comfort. The expression meant “Stop letting your hearts be troubled!” Literally, “Let not your hearts any longer be troubled…” How?

Christ compounded an antidote for their trouble; believe in the Father and Me.

Both words “believe” in the Greek text are the same, PISTEUET. They can either be a statement of fact or a command. The first is a statement of fact, the latter a command. No matter what was to happen in the next three days, they were to believe in Him.

Christ has always honestly told His followers of both the GLORY and the PAIN involved in following Him. Every believer should realize you should not expect to eat the honey, unless you are willing to take the stings. Anticipating the honey of earthly victory, they are about to receive temporal stings.

Jesus Christ’s time of sharing in the Upper Room had repetitiously been interrupted by Peter. He, at first, refused to let his feet be washed and then asked to be completely bathed. He had inquired as to who would betray Christ. His pendulum personality had swung so often he had virtually worn out his mood-ring. Then (13:36) he asked, “Lord, where are you going?” In answering Peter’s question, Christ reveals that:

I. DISTRESS CAN BE DIVERTED by realizing:

A. He Is Reliable. Trust in God the Father gives confidence in Christ, God the Son. Jesus asked, “Will you also go away?” The disciples responded, “Lord, where else is there to go?” Christ’s statement is actually a double plural imperative: “Have faith in God, and in me have faith.” Prophecy reveals Him to be reliable. The chances of an Old Testament prophet writing eight prophecies and having them come true in one person is one to the seventeenth power; that is, 1000 quadrillion. That many silver dollars spread over the face of the land mass of Texas would cover it two feet deep. If one dollar in that mass were marked and a person blind-folded and asked to pick out that one, he would have a better chance than for eight prophecies to be fulfilled in one life. There are 332 prophecies related to Christ that have been fulfilled. That is a mathematical impossibility.

Faith is merely confidence in God’s character. The origin of trouble in every life is failure to have faith in God. Adam and Eve are Exhibit A.

Without faith life is like the disciples’ night on the Sea of Galilee; night-bound and storm-tossed.

There is an oft-seen poster which reads: “All that I have seen of my Creator teaches me to trust Him for all I have not seen.” This indicates that faith is submission of your reason to all He has revealed. Faith does not ignore facts; it introduces facts, the facts of revelation.

Faith is a daily practice in every life. For example, you go to a doctor you do not know, whose degree you cannot verify. He gives you a prescription you can’t read. You take it to a pharmacist you have never seen. He gives you a chemical compound you do not understand. You then take the medicine according to instructions. That’s faith.

The object of faith is more important than the amount of faith. You might have great faith that a well-known general of the army who is a friend of yours can fly you across the Pacific even though he has never flown a plane. You would likely end up drowned in spite of your faith. The problem would be the object of your faith is unreliable in this given area. By contrast you may have little or no faith in an unknown 2l year old with 5,000 hours flying time. Yet, he would be able to get the job done because he is a reliable object of faith.

You have faith. How reliable is the object of your faith?

Is there an area of your life in which Christ is not trusted with complete control? Is He dormant in your life while wanting to be dominant? Do you want Him to be only your Savior Lord while He wants to be your Sovereign Lord; the one in absolute control?

B. He is Responsible. “I go (before) you to prepare a place for you…” PRODOMOS, meaning forerunner, is the word used to describe Him going before us. This is comparable to a pilot ship that goes before to guide another vessel to a safe harbor. Jesus is our PRODROMOS (Heb. 6:30). He went before us to prepare a place for us. Having provided the ultimate, heaven, surely He will provide all else. Heaven is a place prepared for prepared people. He never takes us to an unprepared place on earth or in heaven.

Heaven is no poets dream; it is a reality. Christ said, “If it were not so, I would have told you” (Vs.2). He is too wise to be mistaken. He is too truthful to misrepresent. He is too kind to deceive. It is the “Father’s house.” Here all hearts are focused on the Father as the head of the Family. It is harmonious.

C. He is Returning. This is present tense meaning He is coming again to take them to Himself in time for eternity.

II. DESTINATION CAN BE DECIDED
Ultimately one of two destinations inevitably await us. There are only two choices: heaven and hell. The choice is ours.

On a lighter vein the story is told that God decided He had it with earth and was going to end things. He called Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton, and Bill Gates to heaven. He told them He was going to destroy the earth the next day and he wanted the three smartest people to spread the word.

Yeltsin returned to Russia and called a cabinet meeting. He announced he had good news and bad news. The good news is, God does exist. The bad news is, He is going to destroy the world tomorrow.

Clinton returned to America and called an emergency meeting of Congress. He said, “I have bad news for some of us, and terrible news for all of us. The bad news is, God is real and He does exist. The terrible news is, He is going to destroy the world tomorrow.

Bill Gates happily returned to Microsoft and said, “I have some fantastic news! First of all, I am one of the three most important men on Earth, and secondly, the Y–2-K problem has been solved.”

Heaven has many abiding places, “many mansions” MONAI, (Vs. 2). There is plenty of room. The best thing that can be said about heaven is that Christ spoke of it as “where I am” (Vs. 3). That is what makes heaven.

Dr. Kubler-Ross, Swiss-born psychiatrist, says, “Beyond the shadow of any doubt, there is life after what we call death.”

Jesus didn’t tell us all there is to know about heaven for a very good reason. We would be like a child sitting at one end of a table with a large bowl of spinach before him. At the other end of the table is his favorite cake. With that cake in sight, the spinach isn’t very appealing. If we know all there is to know of heaven, our present equivalent of spinach would not be very appealing.

It is imperative that we be prepared and assured our ultimate destination is the right one. Proper preparedness involves forgiveness: our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us.

Are you willing to forgive others? A little boy and his little sister ended their day long argument and quarrel angry with each other. About 2:00 AM the household was awakened by a terrific thunderstorm. The parents heard an unusual noise in the area of their bedrooms. The parent called out to find out what was going on. A little voice answered, “We’re in the closet forgiving each other.”

Is there someone with whom you need to spend a bit of time in the closet.

Second, have you sought God’s forgiveness and requested the gift of eternal life? If not do it now.

III. DIRECTIONS CAN BE DETERMINED
Christ makes a categorical statement to all the disciples which raised another question, this time in the mind of Thomas.

A. He Is The Way. “Teach me Your way, O Lord” (Ps. 27:11). Jesus’ death opened the way (Hebrews 10:20). The way is not a PROCESS but a PERSON.

“I” is emphatic, meaning, “I and no other always am the only way.” He wanted to make this perfectly clear. There is one way.

The first time the Romans assaulted the Saxons at Dover, they were defeated. The next time they landed and unloaded their provisions, set their ships on fire, and pushed them out to sea. The watching Saxons, seeing their determination, fled in defeat. With such determination, we must follow Him.

B. He Is The Truth. “Teach me Your way; I will walk in thy truths” (Ps. 86:11). He is truth personified.

C. He Is The Life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life…” (Prov. 10: 17). The first instruction to follow is to repent. Repentance is a picture of persons standing in a circle facing outward as they hold hands. Christ stands in the center. Facing away from Him, one sees his own shadow and cannot see his fellow persons properly. To repent is to TURN and face Him. One’s shadow is behind, the repentant now faces Christ, and can see his fellow persons properly.

Older theologians defined saving faith in terms of three words:
NOTITIA, that is KNOWLEDGE.

ASSENSUS, that is INTELLECTUAL ASSENT.

FIDUCIA, that is TRUST AND PERSONAL COMMITMENT.

Do you have all three? Don’t stop short of the third.

The expression “to obey” and the word “faith” both come from the same root. “Faith,” PISTIS, means “firm persuasion.” The expression “to obey” comes from PISTEUO and speaks of acting out of firm persuasion.


Happiness Is… 1/31/99

John 13:17
Page 1577 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”

Jesus did not say, “If you possess these things you will be happy.” Howard Hughes was long considered the world’s richest man. Just before his death he was asked if he was happy. He replied, “No!” If money made a person happy he would have been giddy.

Until you make peace with who you are you will never be content with what you have.

BELIEVE —-
You are a wonderful, unique person.
You are a once-in-all-history individual.
It is more than a right to be who you are, it is a duty.
That life isn’t a problem to be solved, but a gift to be cherished.

If you so believe you will be able to stay up on what used to get you down.

Nor did Christ say, “If you go to these places you will be happy.” Some persons seem to think that they need to go somewhere to be happy. You will never be happy anywhere until you are happy where you are. It is you, not the place that makes for happiness.

I’ve just returned from Paradise, Hawaii. Once there we encountered a couple coming out of their hotel room. As the man slammed the door of this luxury hotel he said, “Let’s get out of this place, I am disgusted and want to get out of here.” I got the impression he plays that record where ever he is. He carries his unhappiness inside himself.

He didn’t say, “Get a certain job and you will be happy.”

A Princeton, New Jersey, psychologist, Dr. Herbert M. Greenberg, has done revealing study in this field. He interviewed over 250,000 employees from 4,000 firms. Every part of the country was represented as was every job category and educational group. His findings revealed 80% of all workers at all levels are unhappy and frustrated. Imagine, four out of every five are unhappy. One of the biggest markets in America today is for happiness.

Likewise, He didn’t say, “Be part of the “in crowd” and you will be happy.”

He said there are certain things you need to know and when you know them if you do them happiness is the natural consequence. Thus, happiness consists of “knowing” and “doing.”

He makes it almost sound like a science anyone can master. It is —- and you can.

Eudaemonics is defined by Webster as the science of happiness. Christianity is much more than a code of ethics but it is also a code of ethics. Science is a study dealing with a body of facts. The body of facts taught and demonstrated by Christ when applied results in happiness. Various laws of physics and chemistry have been demonstrated and proven inflexible for years. The truths taught by Christ are just as exact and always produce the same by-product – happiness.

Having noted Christianity is more than ethics I want to establish on what the ethics of Christianity are based. They are based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. This relationship must first be willfully established before seeking to apply the ethic. To reverse the order is to experience frustration. To get them in the proper order is to experience happiness.

The relationship consists of letting Christ be your Savior and Master. As Savior He cleanses and forgives of sin. Having paid the price for our sins by dying on Calvary it remains for us to respond in faith. When we do then the forgiveness is applied personally. Simultaneously with His forgiveness and His becoming our Savior He becomes our Master. That is, the one in charge of our new relationship.

Our eastern mystical religious friends speak reverently of their “master.” Their gurus are called their “master.” Christ is our Master. That is He is the one who teaches us. That is where the principles of happiness come into play. He is the Master we are the disciples. That is, learners. The more and the better we learn the happier we are. It works.

Once you trust Christ as Savior and respond to Him as Master you are FDIC Insured —
Father’s Divine Immortal Compassion.”

In considering happiness some basics need understanding. First, no emotion can be maintained indefinitely. Even as Christ spoke of happiness He became troubled in His spirit as He thought of the dastardly deed Judas was about to perform (John 13:21). A shiver went through the soul of Jesus and His disciples as He spoke of His pending betrayal. Not a happy moment. Not all are. Don’t expect it.

That night in the upper room the hearts of the disciples were filled with a medley of emotions:
They were sad because of the prospect of Christ’s departure.
They were ashamed because they had acted selfishly.
They were perplexed because of the prediction one of them would betray Christ.
They were wavering in their faith, though hoping against hope.

All that was put in perspective when Christ said, “Let not your hearts be troubled….”

This was not simply cheery talk at a pep-rally. He gave assurance as to why they should cease being disturbed. In essence Christ said, “Continue to trust in God, also in Me continue to trust. I will supply your needs. Let not your hearts any longer be troubled.”

A person can’t stay sad, glad, mad, joyous, dejected, or happy all the time. However, you can maintain a predisposition toward happiness. That is it can be your nature to be inclined toward happiness. Have you ever heard it said of a little child he is so full of happiness? Or he has a happy disposition. You can be one who predetermines to interpret the events of life in the happiest light.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

The seeds of happiness are sown in the soil of every soul, attitude and disposition are the environment in which they do or don’t germinate.

Happiness is a choice not an automatic response.

There is a little couplet that speaks of two persons having different views of the same situation: “Two men looked out of prison bars. One saw mud the other stars.” Which are you?

Happiness is not something to be sought or bought. It is a beautiful by-product of a job well done. It is, as Christ said, the result of doing those things as he taught them.

It often comes into ones life through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.

If a person seeks happiness as an end in itself they are likely to find it as the old man did his glasses for which he had long looked. Right on the tip of his nose.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Happiness is like a butterfly. Try to grasp it and you will frighten it away. Sit down quietly and it may alight on your shoulder.”

I find it like a cat. Try to attract it and it will ignore you. Leave it alone and it will come and rub up against you and purr.

I know some persons who will never be happy. They may experience brief bursts of happiness. However, their inner orientation is such that they are predisposed to be unhappy. Are you such a person? You can change. A change of environment, social status, economic standing or any other outward change won’t bring about happiness. It has to come from personal internal orientation. Make a mental note of some of these ideals and apply them.

Consider four factors enabling you to have happiness.

I. PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE
Let me share a verse that is of all verses one of the greatest stimuli to happiness. “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU!” (HEBREWS 13:5B)

He said “NEVER.” This is a compound of five negatives. That doesn’t each is added to the other, it means each is multiplied by the other. “I will never, no not ever, no never leave you…”

It is a forever never with no exceptions.

If God will never leave you He has not now left you for “never” means “now.”

“LEAVE” translates aniemi meaning, “to leave behind, to abandon, to give up on, to send back.” Get it!

“I will never, no not ever, no never leave you behind, abandon you, give up on you, or send you back.”

If you ever emotionally feel as though He has call your emotions a liar.

Then He said He would never “FORSAKE” you.

To forsake means to leave one in a helpless state, to disregard. Thus, He said: “I will never, no not ever, no never, leave you behind, abandon you, give up on you, send you back, leave you in a helpless state, or disregard you.”

Who said it? God!

The omnipotent God said it. The God who is all powerful.
The omnipresent God said it. The God who is all present.
The omniscient God said it. The God who is all knowing.

When you are inclined to say, “I don’t have strength to go on,” remember the all powerful God said, “I will never, no not ever, no never leave you behind, abandon you, give up on you, send you back, leave you in a helpless state, or disregard you.”

When you are inclined to say, “I am so lonely.” Remember the all present God said, “I will never, no not ever, no never leave you behind….”

When you are disposed to say, “I don’t know what to do.” Remember the all knowing God said, “I will never, no not ever, no never ….”

Practice the presence behind the promise. Note, the verse begins “I” and ends, “you.” This is the basic “I-you” relationship that produces happiness.

Want it? Get it, and you got it!

II. PROJECT WITH A PURPOSE
Start every day with the confidence you and your Master can achieve. Together you can search the unsearchable, know the unknowable, and do the undoable.

Realize you have an invisible companion in all of life.

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

The difference Christ makes in our world is not that He said, “You MUST” with more force than anyone else, but that He said, “With Me, you CAN.”

Don’t let your feelings govern you attitude. Let faith and facts determine your outlook. When you awake in the morning you might in all honesty be able to say, “Dear Lord I don’t feel like you are here with me.” Any one of many things may cause such a downer. You may have eaten Paul Revere Pizza the night before and it got you up in the middle of the night.

The fact is you don’t feel like the Lord is within a country mile of you and is looking the other direction. In a moment like that be honest with the Lord. You might well pray:
“Dear Lord, I don’t feel like you are here with
me. However, Lord in your Word you said you would
never leave me not forsake me. Therefore, in spite
of my feelings I thank you for the fact you are here
with me. Let’s you and me go get ‘um.”

Continue with enthusiasm, “Lord, I’ve never
lived this day before and I will never live it
again. Help me to live it to the fullest in such a
way that I won’t long to live it over or have to
live it down. There will not be instant replay or
rerun so help me to live it up to your standard.”

Live each day with a purpose. That purpose being to do all within your power to see to it that in your life His will is done. He’ll help you.

In his work History of European Morals, Leaky spoke of Christianity as “the most powerful moral lever that has ever been applied to the affairs of men.”

Jesus spoke often of the Kingdom. It was primarily a reference to rule and realm. When He rules us He shares with us His power.

In searching for happiness keep in mind it is a beautiful by-product of a job well done. The initial and primary job that must be well done is to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”

The apostle Paul exhorted his friend Timothy and through him shared the same encouragement with us: “…give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine ….Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (I Timothy 4:15).

Meditation is a lost art among most Christians. New Age afficionados have given a bad reputation to the art. However, the Psalmist spoke 14 times of meditating. The word means to make an image. New Age teaching is that we create our own reality. That is so close to the truth as to be deceptive. It is not truth however.

Biblical meditation is taking a concept and dwelling on it until we become absorbed in it. Before he wrote of them David made a mental image of: a shepherd and his fold, green grass and a stream, the cup and oil, and fellowship with God.

Mentally armed with such thought he faced lions and giants.

When he failed to engage in such meditation and instead went up on the roof top and committed Transidential Adultery he lost spiritual battles that caused himself and others much unhappiness.

Meditation on the Word of God enables one to replace subconscious conflicts with spiritual truths which produce peace and a stable personality.

“If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”

Things That Go Bump in the Night 10/31/99

Hebrews 9:24-28

JESUS CHRIST believed in the devil, demons, and evil spirits. Do you?

The outcome of Christ’s encounters with demonic powers is summed up in Colossians 2: 15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” There is victory in Jesus.

In America today there is a celebration of the spiritual underworld life style called Halloween. That holiday isn’t what it was when many of us adults were children, and it isn’t what it was long before that.

Fear sells. A recent survey among teens showed more of them know who Freddy Kruger is than Abraham Lincoln.

What a couple of decades ago was a fun filled night of collecting goodies has changed. Today more personal property is destroyed on this day than any. Costly vandalism reaches a peak on this night. Razor blades and needles are buried in fruit. Hallucinogenics are put in candy. It is not simply the scary night it used to be. It is now a frightening night.

FROM WHERE DID IT COME?

The word Halloween comes from the event called “All Hallows Eve.” It is now the evening before All Saints Day. In certain parts of the country, such as our former home state of Louisiana, All Saints Day is a very special occasion when our dead loved ones are remembered and honored. It is a custom to put flowers on graves on this day. It is second only to Mother’s Day in the sale of flowers in Louisiana.

Even before the time of Christ, the ancient Druids had a holiday honoring their lord of the dead, Samhain. It was on the last day of October, the Celtic new year.

Druids believed that on this night Samhain called forth the souls of all who had died during the last twelve months and had during the time following their death been inhabiting animal bodies. These spirits returned to their former homes where the occupants were to treat them by providing food and entertainment for them. If it wasn’t acceptable, these spirits played tricks on the residents. From this emerged our “Trick or Treat.”

Legend says a man named Jack tricked the devil into not bothering him during his life. At death, Jack was denied both heaven and hell. He groped his way through the dark by carrying a glowing coal in a carved out turnip. From this came our Jack-o-lantern.

Halloween is one of the highest and holiest days of the occult year. Though witchcraft and Satanism are separate, both celebrate this day. Certain hard core Satanist make 33 living sacrifices on this night. One for each year of Christ’s earthly life. One of these sacrifices is to be a human.

Several years ago a satanic castle built in the north Georgia mountains was pillaged, and the two Satanists who lived there were murdered. I was privileged to visit the scene the morning after the night of horror. I spent a bit of time in the library and found their diary. The descriptions of their celebrations on Halloween confirm the rituals associated with the event.

A QUESTION OFTEN ASKED IS, DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS?

Yes, I do. However, I want to share a Biblical perspective of what they are and what their limits are.

On occasion, while visiting the White House, I had the honor of staying in the Lincoln Bedroom —- free. The usher assigned to accommodate me told me of the sightings of Mr. Lincoln’s ghost in the White House. Queen Elizabeth, and several presidents have reported seeing him. Is Mr. Lincoln there? Emphatically, NO!

How do we know that? Our texts says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after that the judgement” (Heb. 9:27). “After that” means immediately. Mr. Lincoln is either in heaven or hell.

Because of his professed faith in Jesus Christ, we know he is in heaven.

Well, what is it?

It is a demonic representation of him intended to deceive persons. Before persons become alarmed and apprehensive, let me hasten to say such is a rare phenomenon and not likely to happen to a believer. What it does prove is that demon spirits do exist.

CAN THE LIVING COMMUNE WITH THE DEAD?

I have had former fortune tellers inform me that they could tell people things about their departed loved ones they had no way of knowing. They said they actually saw the dead relatives while in a trance and talked with them.

Were these actually their departed dead? NO! “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement…” The revelation they received was from deceptive demonic spirits representing the deceased in appearance and with information. They had lived around the dead relatives during their lives and knew all about them.

These admitted mediums, that have shared this confidence, said they came to realize this ability did not come from God and could be from only one other source — the devil.

This led them to renounce the practice and repentantly receive Christ.

According to Colossians 1: 13 Jesus “delivered them from the power of darkness.”

Demons do exist, but often are not recognized as such.

We also encounter supernatural forces masquerading as angels of light. Their disguise is often so effective we do not recognize them for what they are.

The Bible speaks of them deceiving even “the elect,” that is, Christians. A deceived Christian acts little different from a devout Christian. A legitimate question is, “In what ways is this done?” How do they mislead people?

1. They give “wisdom” that is contrary to the wisdom of God. “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3: 15).

2. They work to control the lives of persons. There are individuals who assert they don’t want to establish a close relationship with Christ because they want their freedom. Little do they know they aren’t free, but rather that a supernatural power is at work in them.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1,2).

3. They afflict some people with sickness. I want to hasten to confirm not all sickness is of such origin. I know of too many dear Christians who suffer frustration because they have heard that Satan causes sickness. He does some. Some believers go through prolonged repentance hoping it will cure them. Ask God once to forgive your sins and it is done. Thereafter, rejoice over His cleansing.

Some, NOT ALL, sickness is caused by demonic forces. Jesus related to such a woman: “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16)

4. According to II Peter 2: 1, Satan dispenses error among people and seeks to reduce believer’s effectiveness. This texts speaks of false prophets. If you were going to make a counterfeit $20.00 bill, what would you make it look like? If you were Satan and were going to create an effective false prophet, what would you make him or her like? The nearer the resemblance, the more effective the deception and the more destructive the work.

Major deceptions are being marketed in glossy print and glitzy films by charismatic personalities. Some are:
a. “All is one.” All the plants, animals, and earth are part of one large living organism.

b. “All is a god.” This is ancient pantheism which abandons the view of a personal God in favor of an impersonal energy, force, or consciousness.

c. “We are all gods” whether we realize it or not. Actress Shirley Maclaine said her spirit guide informed her, “If everyone was taught one basic spiritual law, your world would be a happier, healthier place. And that law is this: Everyone is God. Everyone.”

d. “A consciousness awakening” is needed, a new way of interpreting life. Eastern meditation, yoga, hypnosis, or drugs can help.

In summary, this teaches we are all self- realized gods and as such inherit the supernatural. All this is of the devil.

5. They can buffet us. Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” which was described as “a messenger of Satan” (II Cor. 12: 7). The thorn isn’t identified in order that we can all relate to the situation and realize that as the text says God’s grace is sufficient.

I am convinced it was Alexander the coppersmith whom he described as having done him much evil (II Timothy 4: 14).

Sometimes thorns are personal.

6. They cause contention among God’s people.

“For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you” (I Corinthians 1:11).

7. They give some a spirit of fear.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).

Guilt is a major factor in many lives. It is “the blood of Christ” that can “purge your conscience” (Hebrews 9: 14).

If you have a spirit of fear it doesn’t come from God.

8. They tempt people with unclean thoughts, such as the man in Mark 5. When Jesus cast the legion of demons out of him, they entered into a bunch of hogs. Jesus shouted “Suey” to them and they committed hogacide.

Satanic influences are contaminating the minds of people as never before. Pornography is rampant. The Internet, TV, videos, and various publications flaunt it. It is one of the greatest stimulants to promiscuity. It is a major contributor to marital discord and break-up.

9. They lull persons into spiritual apathy, indifference, and delay. C.S. Lewis the brilliant British author put this into perspective in his classic Screwtape Letters. In the book there is a dialogue between the chief devil, Screwtape, and his nephew Wormwood. Wormwood is being sent on assignment to interfere with the spiritual lives of individuals and disrupt the church. The wise old devil gives this council on how to undermine the faith and repentance of a young Christian. In this conversation Christ is spoken of by Screwtape as “the Enemy.” The idea of repentance and faith in Christ is called a “disaster.”

It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little bruit wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilizing the seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul. Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

In the initial moments of this message, I spoke of the victory of Jesus Christ over demonic forces. Hear these texts:

“He came to destroy the works of Satan” (I John 3:8).

“He brought to nothing the forces of evil” (Hebrews 2:14,15).

“He triumphed over the forces of evil” (Colossians 2:15).

The purpose and power of the cross is to bring people back into a relationship with Christ. The very essence of Christianity is the restored relationship. The love expressed by Christ on the cross has the power to turn rebellion into surrender, and resentment of God into love for God.

“He came to set the captive free” (Luke 4:18).

What Is Your Best Investment? 11/21/99

II Corinthians 9:6-8

JESUS CHRIST is spoken of in God’s Word as God’s “indescribable gift,” that is, “His unspeakable gift.” This gift is so characterized because:
1. The Father’s gift of His Son is unspeakably free.
2. It is unspeakably necessary.
3. It is so unspeakably effective. He cleanses us from “all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
4. It is unspeakable because of its eternal consequence. It has the potential of resulting in eternal life for you.

“Thanks be to God…” Thanks is the gratitude offered by a person excited over an act of kindness done to him or her. Out of our gratitude we act to express our thanks.

Every time a Christian gives with thanksgiving he is only reflecting the unspeakable act of God when He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. Our acts of giving only mirror the self-giving of God. You are never more like God than when you are giving.

There are about 500 verses in the Bible on prayer and 2,350 on how to manage our money. God, who created us, knows our need for help in this area.

Upon hearing the topic to be money some persons put up an immediate barrier. Some persons instantly say, “I can’t give.” God never asks us to do anything He won’t enable us to do. He asked us to give. If we say we can’t there is a reason.

We live in a “let’s pretend” society. If we develop a Madison Avenue mentality we are driven to obtain and possess. There are two ways of acquiring and attaining. One is increase our income the other is to increase our debt. The only problem with borrowing is we have to pay it back. Many in their drive to have a wrinkle-free life have subjected themselves to the bondage of debt.

The Bible has no direct prohibition against borrowing, but it does have guidelines for doing so. Basically, don’t borrow on items that depreciate. To borrow on an appreciating item is an investment. Study your capacity to repay before borrowing. Don’t subject yourself to debt bondage.

Plan your financial program right to the point of retirement. Most Americans don’t. Most retire with under $10,000 in savings. Know your goal. Suppose you are a young person entering the work force and you want to retire on an annual income of $40,000. Here is how you do it. You save $4,000 a year and invest it at no less than 6.2% interest. In 40 years you will have an income of $40,000. The same ratio applies to what ever your financial goal may be.

Don’t be overly eager to become rich. Hear the wisdom of Solomon: “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider poverty will come after him” (Proverbs 28: 22).

There are a variety of reasons the devil attacks the principle of giving:
1. The act of giving is so God-like it reveals His love.

2. It gives joy to the giver. By virtue of chairing one of America’s largest Christian organizations I have the pleasure of relating to major donors. Some foundations give in the seven figures. In expressing thanks the response I hear most is, “Oh thank you. We are so pleased to have a part in such a wonderful cause.” They have joy in giving. That is the way the cheerful giver feels about giving to the cause of Christ.

3. It frees the heart of selfishness.

God decreed the standard for giving in order to help free us from a very restrictive bondage: greed. Hear and never forget this text: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money: nor he who loves wealth with gain: this also is vain…” (Ecc. 5:10 RSV).

Verifying this is a survey made of lower, middle, and upper income Americans. Each group was asked the same questions:
a. Are you happy with your resources?
b. How much more would make you satisfied?

Lower income people said 20%. Middle income respondents said 20%. Upper income wealthy persons said 20%. Everybody needs just a little more.

Our Lord knows the pressure to make money under which we live. He knows its allure tends to pull us away from Him. He knows its intoxicating influence.

4. It is an act of obedience.

A man by the name of John R. Brown wrote this inscription in his Bible, “I heartily endorse the sentiments expressed herein.”

The Bible being God’s divinely inspired, supernaturally authored, inerrant Word makes it worth our positive response.

God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

I will readily concede there are parts I don’t fully understand and there are parts that challenge my will to comply, BUT I accept it as the guide for my faith and action.

By winking at Scripture passages we don’t like and cherry picking those we do like we create our own tidy little theology about God and money. As a result we grow to reflect society whereas we are intended to correct it.

In our text guidelines for giving are noted.

I. GIVE WITHOUT: CONSTRAINT OR COMPULSION

A. Constraint isn’t a worthy motivation for giving. That is, don’t give because you feel you have to give. Observe verse 5d, “not as a grudging obligation.” And verse 7b “not grudgingly.” It is not as though these people don’t give. It is that they give, but it hurts them to do it. They have a bad attitude about it.

Such negative constraint is unworthy motivation. However, there is a positive constraint. The apostle Paul, a love-slave of His Master, looked upon what Christ did on Calvary and acknowledged, “The Love of Christ constrains us…” (II Cor. 5:14). Paul gave himself and the roots of his giving can be traced to Calvary, all giving is rooted there.

B. Compulsion is not a meritorious reason for giving. Our giving should not be “of necessity,” (Vs. 7c).

This term also describes persons who have given; but they would not have done so, if they could have found a way out.

Don’t feel like you have to do it. It is given with the right spirit when one feels, “Oh, boy, by giving to this cause I have a part in it.”

An IRS agent called a pastor and said, “One of your members reported giving $1,000 to the church last year. I am calling to verify this gift.” The pastor replied, “I don’t have his record right here. But I will check; and I assure you, if he didn’t he will.” That is constraint.

We should give with the mentality of a farmer. A farmer sows seed knowing he isn’t making a contribution to the soil, but an investment in the soil. The seed he puts in the soil returns multiplying what is sown.

Based on this agricultural principle there is no act in the Christian experience that increases our capacity for receiving more blessings of God than the act of giving.

Show me a stingy, selfish Christian; and I will show you a Christian whose spiritual life is shriveling.

Conversely, introduce me to a Christian who enjoys the delight of giving in Christ’s name; and I will show you a growing Christian open to all God want’s to give.

Every opportunity to give that is rejected is the rejection of an opportunity to receive. God doesn’t always repay with currency. It is often something much more valuable.

In John Bunyan’s “Pilgrims Progress” are these lines:
A man there was, they called him mad,
The more he gave the more he had.”

The very heartbeat of salvation is the principle of giving. “For God so loved…He gave…His unspeakable gift.”

With reliance on this agricultural principle a now-deceased Georgian made a commitment to the Lord. R. G. Latourneau pledged to give 90% of his profits to the Lord’s work. Once when things were going bad and he was giving generously, he and a companion went on a trip together. The weary industrialist fell asleep. His companion related that suddenly Latourneau sat up, pulled out a pad and pen and wrote furiously on it. Then almost instantly he fell asleep again. Later his companion asked what he had written. “When?” was the response. Upon being told he pulled out the pad, and there on it was the needed formula for the world’s largest earth-moving machine. God had provided even in his subconscious.

II. GIVE WITH: CONVICTION AND CHEER

A. Conviction comes from the heart according to verse 7a, “…as he purposes in his heart.” All of our giving should be heartfelt. The word “purposes” reveals giving to be a matter of choice. It is either a deliberate act of obedience or disobedience.

B. Cheer in giving is enjoyed by God Himself as noted in verse 7d, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

When it comes to giving, even to giving being spoken of, some persons curl up into a tight ball of emotional pain. They are frozen inside by the prospects of giving. They have failed to realize the release associated with relinquishing what is possessed as an act of confidence in God. It is a way of showing you to believe He will provide for you as you serve as His agent to provide for others.

In II Cor. 8: 15 reference is made to the experience of Israel wandering in the desert. God supplied their need by feeding them with manna from heaven. Those who gathered more than they could use had nothing left over. It spoiled. Those who gathered what little they needed had plenty. They were confident that the God who supplied their need today would do it again tomorrow.

A simple way of summing this up is:
“What I spent I lost.
What I kept others inherited.
What I gave away pays eternal dividends.”

The Greek word translated “cheerful” is HILAROS. It speaks of a joyfulness that motivates action.

When the Old Testament, written in Hebrew, was translated into Greek the Greek verb form of HILAROS was used to translate the phrase “to cause to shine.” Such a holy cheerful glow should come from a congregation at the time of the offering that the house lights have to be turned down because they are so turned on by giving.

This verse means God gets delight out of those who get a kick out of giving. Such a giver lives in the love of the Almighty God.

God always looks behind the ACT to the ATTITUDE,
Behind the FACT to the FAITH.
The DEED to the DEVOTION.

III. GIVE WITHIN: CAPACITY AND COMPASSION

A. Our capacity is made possible by God and He expects us to give according to it. READ verses 8, 10, & 11.

He is the source of our every resource. We should have a greater fixation with our Source than our resource.

B. Our compassion should pertain to “every good work” (Vs. 8d). It should come from our giving “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (Vs. 15).

God anticipates one response to this truth. Someone might say, “If I give to help others in need, all it is going to do is create another person in need — me.” Therefore, He says through the inspired penman, He is “able to make all grace abound toward you” (Vs. 8a). That is code language for “God is going to take good care of you.”

Immediately He returns to the idea of agriculture in verse 10. The Lord is referred to as “God who supplies.”

The translation of the New English Bible makes this more understandable in our language: “Thus you will have ample means in yourselves to meet each and every situation, with enough to spare for every good cause.” Verse 10 in that same translation reads: “And you will always be rich enough to be generous.”

God is glorified by our giving in that:
1. There are “many thanksgivings” (Vs. 12d).
2. It is an occasion to prove our love (Vss. 13 & 8:8).
3. It pays spiritual dividends. Earlier it had been noted in II Cor. 8: 14, “but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack.”

II Cor. 9: 14 explains how this is done. The Christians in Jerusalem did not pay back the church in Corinth in kind, that is, in money. They paid them back by praying for them.

What started out in the minds of some as a fund- raiser turned out to be a kingdom-builder.

Come full circle with me now back to where we began with verse 15 which speaks about thanking “God for His indescribable gift.” It is indescribable because it provides what is needed so badly the need can’t be fully expressed. It is indescribable because it provides the need in a loving manner which can’t be fully understood.

The Roman philosopher Seneca expressed the dilemma faced by all of us: “All my life I’ve been seeking to climb out of the pit of my besetting sins. I cannot do it, and I never will unless a hand is let down to draw me up.”

That is exactly why Christ came to earth. He is that indescribable hand to lift us. God so loved He gave that lifting hand.