Daily in the Word: a ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
There is so much confusion and false teaching today about the purpose and role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. But Jesus clearly laid out His purpose—to guide our lives in such a way that we will glorify Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not sent to indwell us so that we bring attention to ourselves, but so that we focus our attention on Jesus Christ. No self-promoting display of what is sometimes passed off as the power of the Holy Spirit is genuine. If He is working, Jesus will be lifted up instead of us.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in Him and being led by Him, what happens?
Being filled with the Spirit does not mean that we are immune from struggles with the devil. In fact His power may place us in direct conflict with Satan. Indeed, this is exactly what happened in the life of Christ: “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). It was not through avoiding Satan but through defeating him that the Spirit-filled Jesus was exalted. When we overcome temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are declaring the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,”
One of the great missionary leaders of the 1800s was Hudson Taylor. He first sailed from England as a missionary to China in 1853. Twelve years later, he sensed God was calling him to invite many more missionaries to serve in China with him. But he wrestled greatly over this decision because he was afraid of what would happen should he prove to be insufficient for the task. The conflict within, only grew until he came to a point of trust and surrender. Taylor described that moment: “On Sunday, June 25th, 1865, unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand or more Christian people rejoicing in their own security, while millions were perishing for lack of knowledge, I wandered out on the sands alone, in great spiritual agony; and there the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. Need I say that peace at once flowed into my burdened heart?”
The promises of God are not given to us merely to admire, but to claim. We have a mission and assignment from Jesus to reach the entire world with the gospel. This is not a simple task. In fact, Jesus Himself told us that it would be difficult. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We cannot in our own strength and power accomplish what God has set before us. He does not intend that we should. It is in our faith to claim His promised power that we are able to face obstacles, challenges and persecutions while remaining faithful to our task.
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
Though Jesus was always God during His entire earthly life, He was also human and had to learn and grow. One of the things that He learned from childhood was the importance of hearing God’s Word preached and taught, and the importance of following God’s commands regarding gathering to worship Him. Joseph and Mary set this example for Jesus in their own lives. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover” (Luke 2:41). It is no surprise then to read that Jesus as an adult made a custom of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath. It is critically important, not only for our own sakes but also for the sake of our families, that we are faithful in gathering to worship each time we can.
Dr. John Rice wrote, “At our home as a boy we always expected to go to church. My father, my step-mother, the whole family (too many to ride in one carriage!) went to church. We went when it was cold, we went when it was hot. We went when it rained, we went when it was dry. It was rare indeed that any were so sick they could not go, and if that were true, the rest of us went to church, and just one stayed home to care for the sick. We went to church and Sunday school on time. We went to prayer meeting. I thank God for the happy memories that proved to me the sincerity of my father’s faith in God.”
“The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them? Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
Imagine if you sat across from an oncologist who was giving you the bad news that you had cancer. Immediately you would want to know what the prognosis was. Then you would want to know what the treatment plan would entail. How would you respond if that doctor said, “Well I think if you put a wrap on your wrist and a sling around your arm, that will take care of it”? You’d be looking for a new doctor immediately, because you would recognize the course of care he suggested would have no impact on your disease. This is what Jeremiah was referencing when he condemned the false prophets—they prescribed a cure that wouldn’t work. The only “healing” they offered was a false assurance that brought temporary peace.
We live in a world diseased and broken by sin. We have the cure for the deadly problem of sin that works every time it is applied. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). And yet many times, like a child spitting out a medicine that tastes bad, people reject the cure for something that doesn’t make them uncomfortable. Many churches, including some that are very large, offer kind words that people want to hear rather than diagnosing and effectively treating the problem. This may be popular, but it kills.
“And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Too many times people view God as if He were stingy, holding back on what He could do if He were willing. The Bible paints a very different picture. It shows us God as a loving Father who cares for His children deeply. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). The reality is that God delights in giving to His children. He gives to us, not because we are so deserving, but because it is His nature to do so.
God is generous and giving by His nature. He is not selfish or stingy. He does not dangle good things in front of us only to snatch them back. We do not have to convince Him to help us—He delights to do so. The problem is not on His end, but on ours. People are willing to do almost anything except what God has provided to get what they want. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). When we act as if God is not willing to give us what we need, we are slandering His holy name. And we are besmirching His perfect character. Instead we should joyfully claim His promises, realizing that when we ask God to provide, we are bringing Him great delight.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
One of the realities of life is sorrow. All of us are confronted by loss, pain, disappointment, heartbreak, and despair. It is a wonderful blessing to have people around us to encourage us and pray for us and support us during the times of sorrow. But even if we have that human comfort, there is a far greater comfort available to us as children of God. And this source of comfort never fails when we need it. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).
There is never a day when we are alone or forsaken. There may be days when we feel that way, but it is never reality. God is always with us. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives when we are saved, and He does not leave. He is the Comforter we can count on in distress. God's comfort is based on His great love for us. Just as a shepherd would do whatever was necessary to care for his sheep, God will bring us help when we need it the most. Charles Spurgeon said, “He has loved thee long; He has loved thee well; He loved thee ever; and He still shall love thee. Surely He is the person to comfort thee, because He loves. Admit Him, then, to your heart, O Christian that He may comfort you in your distress.”
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Missionary Isaac Headland told of a poor Chinese woman who came to visit his wife. “Miss Kan, I’m so tired. I’ve walked fifteen miles today because I heard that you were going to the city soon, and I have not learned the Lord’s Prayer yet.” The missionary asked the exhausted woman holding a small child in her arms, “Why did you not wait till I came back again?” The woman replied, “Who knows whether I shall be living when you come again, I want to learn it now.” Dr. Headland said the woman would not allow his wife to go to bed until she was able to recite the Lord’s Prayer from beginning to end.
One of the tragedies of the church in our day is the casual way in which we approach spiritual things. When we read of Paul trying to reach people in Ephesus for Jesus both day and night while weeping, and doing it for three years, it seems strange to us instead of normal. The only day we know for sure we have to work for God is today. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Rather than carelessly approaching life, we need an appreciation for the urgency of the work God has called us to do.