Christianity 201

April 16, 2018

Filled With The Spirit

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

Acts:13.6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Today’s thoughts are from a 2010 Zondervan book, A Certain Risk: Living Your Faith at the Edge, by Paul Richardson. To learn more about Paul, check out a story we did at Thinking Out Loud on Mustard Seed International.


In Acts we read that Barnabas and Saul were traveling together when suddenly they came face to face with a sorcerer. Luke writes that Saul was”filled with the Spirit” as he stepped forward to face the adversary. From this moment forward, Saul’s name is inexplicably changed to Paul. When I studied this event, I asked myself, wasn’t Paul already filled with the Spirit? He’d been a follower of Jesus for many years! I believe the answer is yes and the answer is no. Luke writes with the assumption that there’s a distinction between (1) being sealed with the Spirit, unleashing God’s ebb and flow of artistry in us and resulting in bearing fruit, and (2) being filled with the Spirit during certain moments, launching us into the fray to fulfill God’s chosen purposes in those moments.

Luke aligns Paul’s brazen response to the sorcerer with hundreds of other moments in the Scriptures when individuals are momentarily “filled with the Spirit.” Let’s slow down a bit and take a careful look at the following examples of Spirit-filled moments. Try not to rush through them. Instead, soak them in, allowing them to revitalize your understanding of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Notice the triangulation of God, one of his image bearers, and the world around that person. Also notice how these moments portray how God takes purposeful action, drawing men and women of faith into movement, shattering our mundane routines in extraordinary fashion. I have added italics for emphasis.

  • “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he went to war.”1
  • “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet.”2
  • “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. He… advanced.”3
  • “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy.”4
  • “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me.”5
  • “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah… He stood before the people and said…6
  • “The Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field.”7
  • “I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice  to the nations.”8

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Is. 61:1)

The following Spirit-filled moments can be found in the four gospels:

  • “It will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”9
  • “I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”10
  • “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”11
  • “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert.”12
  • “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”13
  • “For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”14
  • “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”15
  • “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”16

Notice that Spirit-filled moments have three elements in common: God, image-bearer, world. God moves from within an image bearer to somehow imprint, transform or confront the world around that person.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8
A Certain Risk, pp 98-100

1 Judges 3:10
2 Judges 6:34
3 Judges 11:29
4 I Samuel 10:6
5 II Samuel 23:2
6 II Chron. 24:20
7 Isaiah 32:15
8 Isaiah 42:1

9 Matthew 10:20
10 Matthew 12:18
11 Matthew 12:28
12 Mark 1:12
13 Mark 13:11
14 Luke 12:12
15 John 14:26
16 John 15:26

December 18, 2016

Being Filled With The Spirit

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
Tags: , , ,

Across the wide spectrum of Christian belief the phrase “filled with the Spirit” is interpreted differently by different groups. In Paul’s writings on spiritual gifts he says “we know in part” and “we see only a reflection.” In the same chapter however his primary directive is that love should guide all our relationships in the body of Christ.

by Russell Young

There is a common understanding that the believer needs to keep being filled with the Spirit. That is, that he is much like a container from which the Spirit can be consumed and which, consequently, needs to be replenished. This concept is error! The filling of the Spirit needs to be considered in another light.

The Spirit is a person. He provides the enlightenment, leading, and power for victory over the devil, the flesh, and the world. He does not come to a person in fragments or pieces, but in full. Peter wrote, “[Christ’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV) If he has given us everything we need, we need nothing more. This understanding is contrary to the understanding that the believer needs more and must seek more.

To be filled with the Spirit means to be emptied of all else—to be emptied of self and the interests of the natural spirit.natural-spirit

When the “body of death” (Rom 7:24), or that causes death, has been crucified or put to death, it has no more interest in sinful practices—it is dead. Consequently, the natural spirit holds no power; only the Holy Spirit remains. “Put to death, therefore, whatever remains of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5 NIV) When the natural spirit and its interest have been defeated, the believer has become filled with the Holy Spirit. To accomplish this filling, the believer needs to constantly put to death his or her earthly interests and the demands of the flesh. This is a matter of the will

Natural Spirit

Believers should not require any more of the Spirit. In fact, they cannot get any more of the Spirit. They need to appropriate what they have been given. Certainly, it is possible for God to affect those around us, and indeed, the circumstances of our lives to accomplish his purposes (Rom 8:28), but more of the Spirit is not required. It is not without reason that Christ told the believer to carry his cross so that he might crucify himself as his own interests and natural spirit start to emerge once again. The believer’s prayer should not be to seek more of the Spirit but to seek less of self, and even death to self. (Rom 8:13; Mt 16:25) They already possess the completeness of the Spirit and need no more.

The believer’s old self was pledged to have been crucified with Christ when he or she was baptized so that the body that causes sin should be done away with, that they should no longer be slaves to sin. Anyone who has died has been freed from temptation to sin and from its practice.

When Paul told the Ephesians “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” (Eph 5:18 NIV) he was admonishing them to be consumed with the Spirit, to will the Spirit’s sovereign right to their lives, and to put to death their natural interests and any inclination to consume too much wine.

Paul taught that the Spirit was poured out generously on us. (Titus 3:5─6) It is a human tendency to cast responsibility on another. The thinking that I just need more of the Spirit so that I can do all of the wonderful things that God would have me do is an attempt to excuse ourselves of our own failings and to demand more of God. To ask God for more of his Spirit in times of “praise” is a hollow effort to glorify ourselves by implying that we are waiting for his grace and his power so that we might serve him. Again, we already have all that is needed to live the life that is expected of us, but that life can only happen as death to ungodly interests is realized and interest is taken in agenda.

Either the heart of God is sought or the natural life; it cannot be both. Each person needs to determine their own level of commitment and to accept the consequences that accompany our decisions. The believer is to work out his own salvation with fear (terror) and trembling. (Philippians 2: 12) A self-righteous demand for more of the Spirit is a confession of our own defeat unless it is accompanied by an honest petition seeking death to self and victory over the flesh.


eternal-salvation-russell-youngCheck out Russell Young’s book now in print and eBook — Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? available through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  9781512757514 $17.99 US



Mission Statement: Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites. Sometimes two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading.

Scripture portions from various translations quoted at Christianity 201 are always in green to remind us that the Scriptures have LIFE!

March 3, 2016

When Peter Gets It

Last month several churches in my area held their annual meetings. Part of this is required by law and is intended to include the election of officers. Because one church has a rather unique take on this, I looked into the choosing of Matthias (to replace Judas Iscariot) in Acts 1, but ended up with a completely different takeaway.

First, the text (all scriptures today are NLT)

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— 22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.

Some commentaries believe that they cast lots because they had two equally viable candidates and there was no clear consensus for choosing one or the other.

But it was verse 20 that got my attention; and I left the other consideration aside. Sometimes that happens when you’re reading scripture; you’re looking for topic “A” and find topic “B” jumping out at you!

First, some background. In Matthew 16, Peter starts the chapter doing really well. As the lead follower of Rabbi Jesus, he’s got the right answer.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

But then things fall apart for Peter a few verses later:

21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

I think you know what happens next.

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

What I think is clearly stated here is that Peter is unaware that everything Jesus is doing is following a divine script. It’s “necessary for him to go to Jerusalem.” This is all part of God’s plan. But Peter doesn’t see it that way.

Now, flash forward to where we began, in Acts 1. Peter is invoking two prophetic passages from the Psalms foretelling of the replacement of Judas:

Ps. 69:25 Let their homes become desolate
    and their tents be deserted.

and

Ps. 109:8 Let his years be few;
    let someone else take his position.

Suddenly, Peter realizes that he and the other disciples are following a divine script. He sees it as equally necessary for them to appoint a 12th apostle. He gets it!

At first, I thought this was even more remarkable considering Pentecost had not happened. I mistakenly concluded they were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. This is, after all Acts chapter one, not Acts chapter two where we read:

Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4a And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit…

But in terms of The Twelve (and any others that were with them at the time) that’s not the case. If we backtrack to the time before Christ’s ascension, John 20 points out:

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

The point is that Peter is now a changed person, and he recognizes the fulfillment of the Messianic Psalms in everything he is experiencing in his lifetime.

There is another example of the Psalm connection I want to end with. In Matthew 27, we see Jesus on the cross:

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

This one verse is so rich and contains much we could discuss as to Jesus being abandoned by The Father. But one preacher I heard said that in saying what he did, it was like a giant, neon, flashing billboard saying “READ PSALM 22.” (The people of the day knew the Psalms by their first lines, the numbering system wasn’t around then.)

This is the clearest Psalm in terms of predicting the crucifixion which is taking place at that exact moment:

Everyone who sees me mocks me.
    They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
    Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
    let the Lord rescue him!”

14 My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
    melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
    You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
    an evil gang closes in on me.
    They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
    My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
    and throw dice for my clothing.

Imaging being there and knowing you are right in the middle of everything spoken prophetically in the Psalms.

Peter figured that out, and from this point on his ministry moves on a new trajectory, with confidence and power.

November 19, 2013

What is the Anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:49 pm
Tags: , , ,

holy_spirit_-_pentacost_jwis

In our continuing quest to connect readers to different sources of material on the internet that is strongly rooted in scripture and goes beyond the superficial; today we’re introducing you to two sources.  The first one is a Patheos blog, Christian Crier. There, we discovered an affiliated blog, What Christians Want To Know. It was there we discovered today’s article, which we strongly encourage to click to read at source: What is the Anointing of the Holy Spirit?

What does having an anointing of the Holy Spirit mean? Do some Christians have this anointing while others do not?  What does the Bible say about the anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Why the Word Anointing?

The Old Testament is full of references about being anointed but it speaks about being anointed with oil which is symbolic of having God’s special blessing or commission.  Oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit or someone being empowered or enabled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an anointing but is the Third Person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is actually God the Holy Spirit. When someone was anointed with oil in the Old Testament, they were declared to be set apart or consecrated for holy use by God (Exodus 25:6; Leviticus 8:30; Numbers 4:16). When someone was anointed by this oil, it was called the “holy, anointing oil” (Exodus 30:32-3); three times in fact which is representative of the Trinity. Did this anointing point to something that was to occur in the New Testament?

An Anointing from the Holy One

The Apostle John said that Christians “have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (1 John 2:20).  Who is this Holy One?  First John 2:27 gives us more on this anointing, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”  Who is the bringer of the knowledge of God?  This “anointing teaches” us about “everything” and it abides in us.  It appears that the Holy Spirit is this anointing and if a person is a believer in Christ, they have this anointing with the presence of the Holy Spirit who abides in them.  The Spirit teaches us about the things of God.  Someone who says that a person is “really anointed” may mean that they have a special God-given gift and are using this anointing in a powerful way or they could mean that they really understand the things of God.  Ultimately, all spiritual knowledge is from God the Holy Spirit however the Bible does not teach that only some can have a special anointing of the Spirit while others cannot; they can be walking in the Spirit but that is another issue altogether.

Who is and Who is Not Anointed by the Holy Spirit?

All believers are anointed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Some can walk more closely in the Spirit but there is not a believer that does not have the Holy Spirit for if you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you are none of Christ’s. Romans chapter 8 is predominantly about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, work, and says “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:8-11).  If you have the Holy Spirit, you have this anointing and in fact, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:14-17).  Those who are not born again cannot have this anointing but if God is calling them, they are being led by the Spirit to come to Christ.
For the Christian to be filled with the Spirit means that they will experience an anointing of the power, praise, and purity of the believer and this is only possible for those who are walking in the Spirit and are being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the disciples asked Him about the signs of His second coming and so in Matthew 25:1-13 the oil seems to represent their being accepted or rejected by the Bridegroom, who is Christ Jesus Himself, when He returns for His bride, the church:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

What Jesus seems to be saying, and I would even say warning about, is that some will think that they have the Holy Spirit and thus are born again but instead will hear Jesus’ tragic words that “I do not know you.”  This sounds perilously close to Matthew 7:21-23 where He says that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Just prior to verses 21-23 He was saying that many did miracles, wonders, and deeds for Jesus…or so they thought.  They believed that they were Christians but unless one has the Holy Spirit, they are none of His (Romans 8:9).  These foolish virgins in Matthew 25 “took their lamps [but] they took no oil with them.”

Conclusion

For the Christian to be filled with the Spirit means that they will experience an anointing of the power, praise, and purity of the believer and this is only possible for those who are walking in the Spirit and are being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  This is how “we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13).  Jesus was anointed by God (Acts 10:38; Acts 4:27) which is what Jesus Himself said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me” (Luke 4:18) and why Paul wrote that we are to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) which is an anointing by God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  We can do nothing that glorifies God but by the power of His Spirit.  When a person is saved, they have the anointing and are sealed by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:12-14).  If you are not born again, then you do not have the Spirit nor can you receive the Spirit until you repent and put your trust in Christ.  You presently walk in the flesh and cannot please God (Romans 8:8). My suggestion is that if you are not yet saved, repent, confess your sins, and see your desperate need for a Savior, Jesus Christ, and put your trust in Him Who alone can save you.  He will be your Judge if you are not saved or He will be your Savior if you are.

For more about the Holy Spirit read this related article: Who or What is the Holy Spirit?

October 24, 2012

Unpacking “Seated in Heavenly Places”

This is from Peter at The King’s Presence where it appeared as a question, Where in Heavenly Places are We Seated?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, – [Eph 2:4-6 NASB]

Dear saints, you may not feel like it, but you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Since you have believed into Christ, you have been utterly and eternally united with Christ. When our Father looks at you He just sees Christ. In Christ, you have been resurrected, ascended, and seated in the heavenly places.

But, what does it mean that we are seated in the heavenly places?

Where in the heavenly places are we seated?

Paul makes it clear that we are seated with Christ and in Christ. So the real question is: Where is Christ seated?

…Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. – [1Pe 3:21-22 NASB]

O yes, dear brothers and sisters! Let’s shout with joy that Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Do you see the implications of this? Since Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God, we are seated at the right hand of God.

Everything that is true of our beloved Lord Jesus, is true of us. When you are seated, you are resting. We are resting, in Christ, at the right hand of God!

I hope that you are enjoying Christ and resting in Him, as that is your rightful place. This doesn’t have to be a distant objective reality. We have His Spirit, within us. Turn your mind to the Spirit within you. Love Him and enjoy Him. God is not only in you, but you are in Him. Take pleasure in being in Him. The simplest way I know of turning to the Spirit, is to focus on Him and say, “Lord Jesus, I love You!” But, do not take this as a rule or a method. It doesn’t even require words. Just let the love that God has poured into your heart, flow back to Him. Tell Him how lovable He is. He is the delight of the nations! He is the healing of the nations! O glorious and beautiful Lord Jesus, you are our delight and enjoyment. Make our hearts burn within us, for You. Shine Your Face on us. May we be Your enjoyment. May we be Your delight. O thirsty and hungry Lord, enjoy a feast of our enjoyment of Christ.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. – [Eph 1:18-23 NASB]

April 28, 2012

A Veteran Pastor Shares Biblical Insights

Lots of scripture today!  I thought it would be fitting to share some excerpts from the blog Murray’s Musings. Murray and his wife Nancy are friends of our family, and for the past few weeks Murray has been excerpting some notes that his father-in-law, Rev. Morley G. Clarke, wrote to share with his men’s group.  On learning today that Morley had passed away yesterday,  I thought I would include seven samples of the 21 “Moments With Morley” here at C201; you may choose to read one, several or all.

Murray’s introduction:

It amazes me (but it really shouldn’t) to realize that as Dad was writing these thoughts as he was battling the last stages of cancer and during the early stages a year earlier had lost a daughter to suicide as a result of a chemical depression.  Morley truly knows of suffering, but he also knows of the comfort that only faith in Jesus Christ can bring to the situation.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Morley’s Comments

The first verse put suffering it its proper context.  God does not provide a way around suffering but does give His faithful promise to provide His sustaining presence as we walk through it together.


Acts 3:1-10

 1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Morley’s Comment

This is the day that Peter realized that his Lord had bestowed upon him the spiritual gift of healing but he was sufficiently wise and humble enough to disclaim all credit for the miracle.  He made it clear that Jesus, working through him, was the one who had performed the loving miracle.

Someone has said that a person can truly do a lot of good if they are unconcerned with who gets the credit.


Acts 2:1-4

 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Morley’s Comments

Here is the fantastic fulfillment of the promise given by the living Christ in Luke 24.  During those wonderful three years Jesus walked beside his disciples.  Now He will walk within them.  They will be filled with His Holy Spirit.  That took place on the Day of Pentecost when the Lord poured the Holy Spirit into the hearts of His 129 followers, and the church and the Body of Christ was born with great rejoicing.


Ephesians 3:14-21

 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Morley’s Comments

As I see it, this is the finest prayer in the Bible, although it might well be argued that the Lord’s Prayer in John 17 has equal claim.

The amazing description of praise in verses 14 to 21 is one of the most beautiful and inspiring that I have ever encountered.


Rev 3:20

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Morley’s Comments

Jesus never forces himself upon us, but He does make His presence known, pleading with humanity to open their hearts that they might come in, hearing such blessings as joy, hope and peace.

This door opens from the inside!


John 1:29-34

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

Morley’s Comments

This is John’s record of Jesus’ double baptism.  First, how he was baptized by John with water and secondly, how he was baptized by His Father with the Holy Spirit and with power.  From there he went forth on His mission of preaching, teaching and healing, enabled by the Holy Spirit of God – to enable us to fulfill our mission, to put into action our ministry of using our spiritual gifts.

We too, need that in filling available and it is available to us.  Indeed, Paul issues a command.  “Be filled with the Holy Spirit” on the day of Pentecost as described by Luke in Acts 2:1-4.  The church should celebrate Pentecost with no less fervor than we do Christmas and Easter.


Paul’s note:

Murray posted this as a final “Moment” over two weeks ago. It seems so fitting to be reading this today…

Revelation 22:1-5

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Morley’s Comments

What a beautiful image, filled with a portrayal of Heaven.  When a minister stands at the grave of a Christian, how wonderful it is that he has a sure word from God, a word of comfort, a word of hope!

Thanks be to God!!!


Read the entire series of Moments With Morley – click here.

March 31, 2012

Getting Out of the Sin Management Business

I’m currently about halfway through the book Filled Up, Poured Out: How God’s Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose by Mark O. Wilson (Wesleyan Publishing House) which released this month.  This book is literally jam-packed with helpful thoughts on experiencing personal revival and refreshing. I thought this excerpt might be helpful to someone reading today…

We must empty out before we can fill up.  We will not enjoy Christ’s fullness until we first experience the emptiness…

…Willful sin is the first place to start emptying. We must declare war on any action, thought, attitude, word or habit that displeases the Lord.

Without conscious effort, we easily slide into the sin management business, harboring and justifying pet sins, rather than confessing and repenting of them. The result is a sinning religion — a state of spiritual disobedience — that looks a whole lot more like the world, the flesh and the devil than like Jesus. The consuming concern of sin management is: “How much sinning can I get away with? That’s the wrong question.

A wealthy lade interviewed three men for a chauffeur position. “How close can you get to the edge of a cliff without falling off? she asked. The first guy said, “Twelve inches.” The second guy said, “Six inches.” The third guy said, “I’ll stay as far from the cliff as I can.” He got the job.

When staying close to the cliff appeals more to us than staying close to Christ, we are trying to manage sin. Spiritual victory is never found along the fuzzy edges of compromise. God calls us to steer clear of the cliff altogether.

Holding on to cherished sins is like keeping pet rattlesnakes in your closet. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten. Careless, compromising Christianity is a false substitute for the real thing. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not.” (Rom 6:1-2 NKJV)

Empty the obvious! Refuse to make excuses for sinning. You might say, “That’s just the way I am.” But is it Christ’s best for you? Weren’t you created to live above that? Some say, “Follow your heart.” The trick part is that hearts are deceitful (Jer 17:9 NKJV The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately wicked;who can know it?)

I once confronted a confused young man who left his wife for another woman. I said he was sinning and needed to get right with God. “No, no!” he protested. “That’s not true. I prayed about it and God told me it’s alright.”

The poor dude must have been praying to another deity, perhaps the false idol of self-indulgence. He was following his heart, but he certainly wasn’t hearing from heaven on that one.

Satan, the deceiver, lures us into false assuming it must be true if it feels right. We delude ourselves into thinking that wrong is not so bad in this particular instance. Deep down we still know right from wrong. Justifying bad behavior never justifies us before almighty God. Scripture clearly calls us to renounce our sins rather than excuse them.

~Mark O. Wilson; Filled Up, Poured Out pp. 42-44