November 11 “Advantage”

Advantage

It was a classic good news / bad news situation.
The bad news was that Jesus was leaving them. The good news was that He would send them the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to the earth on a divinely appointed mission. He never married, set up a business, and settled down to stay. In a very real sense, in the same way that He was born to die, He came here to leave. His rightful residence is Zion, God’s ruling and dwelling place, where on His throne of majesty, He receives the worship of thousands of angels, dozens of elders, and a gallery of faithful believers.

The good news is this: because of this sequence of events in His mission:

  • The Incarnation,
  • The sinless life,
  • The atoning death, and
  • The Resurrection,

Jesus makes the hearts of those who follow Him and worship Him, an outpost of Zion. He dwells and rules in the hearts of those who love Him.

Better for Them
When Jesus spoke of terrible events soon to commence, sorrow filled the hearts of His men. What He had to get across to them was that this was all to their advantage. This was difficult to believe. How could it be an advantage to them for Jesus to go away?

“I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

Because they had not yet experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, they could not understand what Jesus was telling them. On the Day of Pentecost, they would suddenly understand, as the flood of the Holy Spirit gushed through their hearts. On this night, all they could do was listen and try to make sense of what Jesus was saying. They knew that if Jesus promised to send the Spirit to them, it must be a good thing to anticipate. How would the Spirit help them?

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
These are some of the most important words of Jesus. He explains the work of the Holy Spirit among us. These are the things Spirit will do:

He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.

“…of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

It would not be the job of the disciples to browbeat people to faith in Christ. All they had to do was tell people about Jesus and the Holy Spirit would do the convicting.

He will guide believers into all truth.
There were many details of the Christian life that Jesus did not address. For instance, He told us to baptize believers but did say how it should be done. The same is true for the Lord’s supper. These men and the ones they taught would continue to hear from the Spirit as to the details of how to live out the teachings of Christ.

He will glorify Jesus.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is all about revealing Jesus to believers. Anything we know about Jesus, we know because the Spirit has revealed it to us. That is His job!

“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

The Holy Spirit leads the church in worship. When true worship happens, it is all about Jesus.

We are truly advantaged to have the ministry of the Spirit with us!

Scriptures:
John 16:5-15

“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He abides in my heart because You have taken my sins away and made my heart a fitting place for the Spirit to dwell. I can function beyond the limits of my talent and skill because Your anointing rests on me, lifting my efforts to a higher level. Oh Holy Spirit, sanctify my heart and my mind, keeping my inner life pure and simple. O Lord, help me represent You well in my world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Spirit of the Living God

Traditional

Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

July 8, 2017 “Melted”

Melted

I was told a story by my college music theory teacher.
A huge symphony orchestra was recording a huge symphony, probably by a late Romantic composer. During a particularly loud part of the music, the two bassoon players who had rests at the moment and were having a conversation. They forgot that there was a sudden “grand pause” in the music and suddenly it was deadly quiet. In the moment of silence, one said to the other, “I fry mine in butter.” Recording ruined; bassoonists everywhere disgraced.

Some things gain their usefulness only when melted.
Butter is one of those delicious things. Our baked potatoes, toast, hot biscuits and rolls could testify to this if they stayed around long enough.

In a way, the Christ-follower who has been melted by the Refiner’s Fire of the Holy Spirit is the one who is useful to the Master. The Lord is the only One who can change hearts. We can cajole, nag, manipulate, plead, and abuse those whose hearts need changing and nothing works. We can change their behavior with rules, regulations, penalties, and cruel and unusual punishment but these things harden rebellious hearts instead of melting them.

Melting requires heat.
Life is full of heat: time pressure, performance pressure, unbroken self-destructive habits, financial demands, relationships, unspoken expectations. It is a heat we feel every day and it keeps us awake at night. In a character sense, this pressure hardens us in a good way—giving us inner strength and the confidence of experience.

The Refiner’s Fire spoken of in the Bible is a different kind of heat.
It isn’t based in circumstances or personalities or even our own shortcomings and commanding dreams. This fire is the fire of the Spirit of God applied to our human spirit. This part of us is deeper than personality, or ambition, or patterns of behavior. It is the source of those things. Let’s call it the “heart of us,” the place where the spirit abides within us.

Precious Metals and Us
The original language used in this passage refers to the refining of precious metal by the application of heat. The gold or silver melts quickly so the hard and worthless material bonded to it can fall away.

Do we see that we are precious to the Lord? We are to Him gold and silver, worthy of careful refinement. He controls the heat and will never harm us. When the fires of the Spirit are burning in our spirit, we can rest, knowing that we will better for it, cleaner because of it, more fit for the Master’s use, tried in the fire.

When the heart of someone we love seems impervious to logic, unaffected by reason, unyielding to the appeals of what is right and what is wrong, there is only one way that heart can change. Only the fires of the Spirit can melt a heart as frozen as this.

The plan of action is this: prayer. And when we are done praying, pray some more. There is a marvelous promise in the closing lines of the Old Testament: The Lord will turn the hearts of parents and their children to each other. If your child is the one with the frozen heart, claim this promise in prayer every day.

The Lord is the only One who can change hearts.

Scriptures:
Psalm 17:1-3
Hear my plea of innocence, O Lord; give heed to my cry; listen to my prayer, which does not come from lying lips. Let my vindication come forth from your presence; let your eyes be fixed on justice. Weigh my heart, summon me by night, melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
Malachi 3:1-4 NIV
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord , as in days gone by, as in former years.
Malachi 4:5-6 NIV
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
2 Timothy 2:20-22 NKJV
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NIV
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, send me Your Refiner’s Fire to purify my life at the deepest level. As the song says, “Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.” There are stony places in my mind; I invite You in, Holy Spirit, to melt that frozen rock. There are cold places in my heart; Come O Fiery Holy Ghost and melt my icebound heart. “Oh Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me. Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame. Grant my desire to magnify Your name.” “O Lord, Send the Fire!” Amen.

Song:
Spirit of the Living God
Words and Music: Daniel Iverson

Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved