On the holy spirit
It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you (It has) and be “all glowy.” Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Sprinkled and Cleansed
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Much of what happened literally in the Old Testament foreshadowed something that would happen figuratively in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrificial animals was sprinkled on the altar and on the ark of the covenant. That sprinkling of blood was a literal picture of the washing away of sin. In the New Testament, the same image conveys: Our heart is sprinkled figuratively with the blood of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, cleansing us “from an evil conscience” and the stain of sin.
Recommended Reading: Ezekiel 36:25-27
In the Old Testament, such sprinkling was done intimately—literally, the length of an arm was the distance from the blood to the object it covered. Just so, in the New Testament we must “draw near” to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Drawing near to God in faith avails us of the benefits of Christ’s blood cleansing us from sin.
Draw near to God today with a true heart in full assurance of faith. And be assured of your cleansing.
I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood, I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
Read through the Bible: Job 13 – 16
Something to Boast About
By John Piper
By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
The New Testament correlates faith and grace to make sure that we do not boast in what grace alone achieves.
One of the most familiar examples is Ephesians 2:8. By grace, through faith. There’s the correlation that guards the freedom of grace. By grace, through faith.
Faith is the act of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the free and all-sufficient resources of God. Faith focuses on the freedom of God to dispense grace to the unworthy. It banks on the bounty of God.
Therefore faith, by its very nature, nullifies boasting and fits with grace. Wherever faith looks, it sees grace behind every praiseworthy act. So it cannot boast, except in the Lord. The author of grace.
So Paul, after saying that salvation is by grace through faith, says, “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Faith cannot boast in human goodness or competence or wisdom, because faith focuses on the free, all-supplying grace of God. Whatever goodness faith sees, it sees as the fruit of grace.
When it looks at our “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” it says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30–31).
The Bully Pulpit
And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
Bullying is an epidemic today, including cyberbullying. The goal of a bully is to make the other person feel badly about themselves, ashamed, humiliated, and alone. Bullies take their cues from Satan, the ultimate bully. In Zechariah 3, the devil ridiculed Israel’s high priest, Joshua, and pointed out his filthy sins and ministerial failures. But the Lord rebuked Satan. And God removed Joshua’s filthy garments and gave him rich robes and a clean turban. The Lord treated him as a brand plucked from the fire.
Recommended Reading: Zechariah 3:1-10
The Bible teaches that our great High Priest, Jesus, always lives to make intercession for us. We all go through periods of guilt, shame, and self-reproach. But the blood of Jesus Christ washes away every stain, forgives every sin, redeems every mistake, and silences the taunts of our diabolical bully.
Jesus reminds us in John 10:9-10 that “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” We are safe in His protective arms.
The Lord Jesus pleads for us in Heaven, and so advocates our cause before the throne of God against him who is “the accuser of the brethren.”
Herbert Lockyer, in All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible
Read through the Bible: Esther 1 – 5
[Science fiction] really does deal with issues far more serious than those realistic fiction deals with; real problems about human destiny and so on. Do you remember that story about the man who meets a female monster landed from another planet with all its cubs hanging round it? It’s obviously starving, and he offers them thing after thing to eat; they immediately vomit it up, until one of the young fastens on him, begins sucking his blood, and immediately begins to revive. This female creature is utterly unhuman, horrible in form; there’s a long moment when it looks at the man – they’re in a lonely place – and then very sadly it packs up its young, and goes back into its space-ship and goes away. Well now, you could not have a more serious theme than that. What is a footling story about some pair of human lovers compared with that?
From Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories
Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories. Copyright © 1966 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1994 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
God’s Design in Detours
By John Piper
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Have you ever wondered what God is doing while you are looking in the wrong place for something you lost and needed very badly? He knows exactly where it is, and yet he is letting you look in the wrong place.
I once needed a quote for a new edition of my book Desiring God. I knew I had read it in Richard Wurmbrand. I thought it was in his devotional book, Reaching Toward the Heights. I could almost see it on the right hand side of the facing pages. But I couldn’t find it.
But while I was looking, I was riveted on his devotional for November 30. As I read it, I said, “This is why the Lord let me keep looking for my quote in the ‘wrong’ place.” Here was a story that illustrated perfectly that nothing is wasted that we do in the name of Jesus — nothing, not even looking for a quote in the wrong place. Here’s what I read:
In a home for retarded children, Catherine was nurtured twenty years. The child had been [mentally handicapped] from the beginning, and had never spoken a word, but only vegetated. She either gazed quietly at the walls or made distorted movements. To eat, to drink, to sleep, were her whole life. She seemed not to participate at all in what happened around her. A leg had to be amputated. The staff wished Cathy well and hoped that the Lord would soon take her to Himself.
One day the doctor called the director to come quickly. Catherine was dying. When both entered the room, they could not believe their senses. Catherine was singing Christian hymns she had heard and had picked up, just those suitable for death beds. She repeated over and over again the German song, “Where does the soul find its fatherland, its rest?” She sang for half an hour with transfigured face, then she passed away quietly. (Taken from The Best Is Still to Come, Wuppertal: Sonne und Shild)
Is anything that is done in the name of Christ really wasted?
My frustrated, futile search for what I thought I needed was not wasted. Singing to this disabled child was not wasted. And your agonizing, unplanned detour is not a waste — not if you look to the Lord for his unexpected work, and do everything in his name (Colossians 3:17).
As a small-town pastor and writer, Richard Baxter (1615 - 1691) is remembered as one of the leading Puritan preachers of the seventeenth century. Born in a village in the English countryside, his early education was primarily under the direction of poorly educated clerics. His break came when he was sent to a school directed by John Owen, whose teaching transformed his theological outlook. At age twenty-three he was ordained, and soon after he was called to serve as an Anglican minister in the village of Kiddermister. Here he crafted sermons that resonated with his congregation of poor loom workers. In fact, church attendance boomed, and additional galleries were added as the numbers grow. Preaching "as a dying man to dying men," he had no patience for lackluster sermons. "How few ministers preach with all their might!" he grumbled. "There is nothing more unsuitable to such a business than to be slight and dull. What! Speak coldly for God and for men's salvation! Let the people see that you are in earnest. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request." Nor did he neglect home visitation: "We should know every person that belongs to our charge, for how can we 'take heed to the flock of God,' if we do not know them?"
Believing that such visitation was too time-consuming and intrusive, he was initially reluctant to call on families. But after initiating the program he wrote, "I find the difficulties to be nothing to what I imagined, and I experience the benefits and comforts of the work to be such that I would not wish to have neglected it for all the riches in the world. I cannot say that one family hath refused." In the following years he scheduled yearly visits to each of the some eight hundred homes in the parish. With his assistant, he offered catechism to dozens each week, using a standard question-answer format for continued use within the family. Approaching fifty, the bachelor preacher married a woman in her early twenties who heartily joined in the work. When she died nineteen years later, he wrote: "I never knew her equal." She was "better at resolving a case of conscience than most Divines that ever I knew."
Baxter was twice incarcerated for his Nonconformist beliefs, but he refused to be intimidated and remained active in political affairs. Also high on his agenda was ecumenical unity, a stand that placed him virtually alone among Puritans in his desire to join with all those who subscribed to the Apostles' Creed. A prolific writer, he produced massive volumes, including his Christian Directory (1673) on Christian conduct, which ran some one million words. Most often quoted is his classic volume, The Reformed Pastor, but he was first and foremost an evangelist, as expressed in The Saint's Everlasting Rest, A Call to the Unconverted. Two years before his death at seventy-six, William and Mary introduced the Toleration Act of 1689, protecting him and his fellow Nonconformists from persecution.