Bre A witnesss, Not A Judge

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Be A Witness, Not A Judge

John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reprove sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is not our ministry. We are simply witnesses. A witness is not the judge or the jury. A witness simply relates what he has experienced, thereby providing evidence to the truth of something. We are to witness in word and deed, to the truth of Jesus being alive in us and let God be the one who convicts. We are simply to testify to what we have seen or to what has happened to us.

Some people in their zeal, have gone beyond the witness stage and have tried to bring people under conviction themselves. This is assuming the job that belongs to the Holy Spirit alone. This not only frustrates the witness but it drives many people away from God. We make a very poor Holy Spirit; therefore, we should stick to our job of being a witness and let the Holy Spirit do His job.

Jesus specified an orderly progression in the way we should witness. First we start in Jerusalem (i.e. where we are). Then we go to those nearby (Judaea).

Finally, we take the gospel to every religious and racial group (Samaria) throughout the whole world.

There are some very practical reasons for becoming witnesses in this way.

Jesus testified that a prophet is honored everywhere except in his home town among his family and friends. Typically, at home is the hardest place to witness. Starting with those who know us best will cause us to humble ourselves and give God all the glory. Also, if rejection comes, this tempers us and our witness, so that we will be more effective and more resilient when we go to the outer most parts

Embrace The Holy Spirit

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Embrace The Holy Spirit

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

The Greek word translated “expedient” means “to be an advantage; profitable.”

How could any situation be more advantageous or profitable than having Jesus physically with you?

When Jesus walked on this earth in His physical body, He was subject to many physical limitations. For instance, He could not always be with every one of His disciples all the time. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He could. Instead of Satan getting rid of Jesus, 120 “little Christs” (that is literally what the word “Christian” means) came out of the upper room on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus taught His disciples as no teacher ever had, yet they had very little understanding because they were not born again. However, when the Holy Spirit came, He lead them into all truth and even showed them things to come.

The list of advantages of having the Holy Spirit in us as compared to having Jesus with us in His physical body, goes on and on. The advantages can all be summed up in that Jesus’ power is now complete, Matthew 28:18, and no longer confined to one physical body.

There is no such thing as victorious Christian living without a moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day dependence upon the Spirit of God. Not only is the Christian life hard to live but it is impossible to live without the power of God Himself.

 

Our Life Is In Him

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Our Life Is In Him

John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

This is a profound truth, that is the key to bearing fruit, but it is so easy to forget. Because the fruit is borne on the branch, it is easy to credit the branch with the fruit, when it is the vine that drew the life from the earth and channeled it through the branch.

Likewise, since we are the branch through which the life of God flows, we sometimes think that it is our own holiness that produces the fruit. The moment we think that way, we are no longer abiding (trusting in; clinging to) in the vine and we will become fruitless if we persist in this mind set.

This is actually a great relief if the believer understands this and applies it properly. It puts all the responsibility on Jesus. Our only responsibility is to respond to His ability. In the same way that you have never seen a branch travailing to bring forth fruit, so all we have to do is labor to enter into His rest (trust and depend) and completely trust Jesus as our source, Hebrews 4:11. If we abide in Him, fruit will come naturally.

It’s our faith in what Jesus did for us that saved us, and our faith has to continue to be in Christ, not in ourselves, to maintain salvation. Our holiness, righteousness, and justification are gifts that we receive in our spirits through Jesus.

Just like the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found in the union with Christ.

Let God Prune You His Way

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Let God Prune You His Way

John 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

This purging has been interpreted in many ways. The illustration that Jesus is using is one of pruning; therefore, some have said this purging is a very painful process where the Lord cuts and slashes us through things like sickness, death, poverty, and other forms of tragedy so that eventually we will bear more fruit. This teaching not only promotes problems as being good, but necessary, if we want to bear more fruit.

That thinking is not consistent with the rest of God’s Word or even the context of this verse. The text makes it very clear that the purging that Jesus speaks of is done through the Word that He has spoken unto us.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word was given to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is God’s method of pruning us, and He doesn’t need the devil’s help. His word will make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

That is not to say that we cannot learn through tragedy: but God has a better way. If we mistakenly think that God is bringing tragedy into our lives to make us more fruitful, then we’ll not resist the tragedies and they will not flee from us. All of us will learn by hard knocks, but the man who welcomes them with wide open arms will suffer greatly and be far behind the man who lets God’s Word have His perfect work in him.

 

God Is Our Comfort

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God Is Our Comfort

John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”

Remember that Jesus was saying these things to His disciples so that they would not be offended. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is the front line of defense against the devil and his devices of defeat. The phrase, “The God of all comfort” carries the idea of a divine comforter who encourages, refreshes, strengthens, aids, assists, and is an ever present help in the time of need. The ways that God chooses to comfort are not always the same. He may deliver you or remove the cause of the affliction, or He may comfort you with words giving you a hope for the future. He also uses people to share their faith with you by prophesying. He sends fellow-laborers to serve and strengthen you by the ministry of the Word, and uses the body of Christ as a channel to comfort you, using prayer.

The point is that the source of all comfort is God, no matter what channel He chooses to use.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God revealed to Paul that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Paul, who had experienced God’s comfort in a way that perhaps no other man has, now reveals how the Lord accomplished this. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit. True Christianity is not the absence of trials, but the strength and comfort of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, that will bring us through to the other side.

Even a strong metal container with a vacuum inside will be crushed just by normal atmospheric pressure. But that same container, with an equal or greater amount of pressure inside, will be just fine. Likewise, an individual who is void of God’s comfort inside will be crushed by the pressures of this life. But a believer who takes advantage of the comfort available to him through the Holy Spirit, can withstand anything. Victory is not dependent on the pressures without, but rather on the comfort within.

 

God Works In The Simple Things

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God Works In The Simple Things

John 14:7 “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”

Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father. This is not only because Jesus did exactly what He saw His Father do, but Jesus was God in the flesh.

The disciples didn’t realize that seeing Jesus was seeing God. They were expecting something more. Many times we miss seeing God work in our lives and circumstances because we are looking for something stupendous. Although it is true that God is totally awesome, He doesn’t usually choose to manifest Himself in that way.

God spoke to Elijah not in the fire, wind, or an earthquake, but in a still, small voice. Jesus didn’t come to this earth in a grand way by man’s standards, but was born to poor parents in a stable. Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus had no form nor beauty that would make us think that He was anything more than a mere man.

Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, that God chooses to do things this way so that no flesh will glory in His presence. The Lord wants us to focus on Him through faith and not concentrate on the physical things He uses. In the Old Testament when the Lord did use visible instruments to release His power, the Israelites made idols out of those things.

Just as the disciples saw Jesus but didn’t realize that what they saw was God, likewise, God is infinitely involved in our everyday lives, but we miss Him because we are blinded by our carnal minds. The primary reason that God chooses to use those who are nothing by the world’s standards is so that no one else will take the credit for the great things that are accomplished.

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Love Comes First

John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Jesus didn’t say that all men would know we are His disciples by our doctrine, our rituals, our hatred for sin, or even by the way we express our love for God. He said very clearly, that the one characteristic that would cause the world to identify us as His followers, is our love, one for another.

This same night, the Lord prayed to His Father using this same thought saying, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”, John 17:21. The only way that Christ’s body will be one as the Father and Jesus are One, is through God’s kind of love.

Unity of believers, that can only come through a genuine God-kind of love, is the greatest tool for evangelism that the church has or will ever have, according to Jesus. The early church didn’t have the massive organizational structures that we see today or the ability to travel anywhere in the world in just a matter of hours. They certainly did not come close to spending as much money, in proportion to us, to spread the gospel. And yet, the pagans of Thessalonica said of Paul and his companions, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;”, Acts 17:6. They had evangelized the known world in less than thirty years.

Before we can ever fulfill the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, there must be a revival of love in the church, where doctrine and ritual take a “back seat” to love for one another.

We Are Complete, Only In Him

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We Are Complete, Only In Him

Matthew 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The principle of the Old Covenant was “do” and you shall live. The principle of the New Covenant is “it is done,” and includes redemption, reconciliation, righteousness, and sanctification. The work is finished! We are complete in Him!

If the Old Covenant had no defects, there would have been no attempt to institute another… Hebrews 8:7. In the Old Covenant, men found themselves unable to abide in its agreement, for it was based upon a man’s performance.

The new agreement, however, is based totally upon God’s grace. Under the Old Covenant, men approached God through a priest, while under the New Covenant, we have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ. Under the Old Covenant, a man’s sin led to his death while under the New Covenant, God is merciful to our unrighteousness. Under the Old Covenant, man could not be cleansed of a consciousness of sin while under the New Covenant, our sins and iniquities are remembered no more, and our guilty consciences are cleansed.

Prior to salvation we are incomplete and there is a constant striving in every person to satisfy their hunger. Through the new birth we are complete in Christ and our hunger now should only be for more revelation of what we already have in Christ.

In the same way that Jesus had the fullness of God in Him, we also have the fullness of Christ in us. That makes us complete or perfect in Him, that is speaking of our spiritual man. Our born-again spirit is identical in righteousness, authority, and power to Christ’s spirit, because our born-again spirit is the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9. It has been sent into our hearts crying “Abba Father”, Galatians 4:6.

 

Resist The Temptation Of Sin

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Resist The Temptation Of Sin

Luke 22:3 “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”

Some people have speculated that Judas betrayed Jesus in an effort to force Jesus into a confrontation with the Roman government. Then He would have to use His supernatural power in self-defense and overthrow the Romans, thereby giving independence back to the nation of Israel.

This idea is based mainly on the response of Judas when he saw that Jesus was condemned. Judas “repented himself”, Matthew 27:3, implying that the condemnation of Jesus was never his intent. However, scripture does not endow Judas with noble (even if misdirected) virtues. He was simply a thief.

This verse makes it very clear that Satan entered into Judas and was responsible for putting the betrayal of Jesus into Judas’ heart. We can be assured that Satan’s only purpose in motivating Judas to betray Jesus was to steal, kill, and destroy, John 10:10.

Moreover, the fact that Satan possessed Judas does not acquit Judas of the responsibility for his actions. The devil goes about seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8. He cannot devour just anyone. We have to give place to him. By being a thief, Judas gave Satan access to him. He may have never intended to betray Jesus and therefore “repented himself” when he saw that Jesus was condemned. Once he began to willfully submit to the sin of thievery, it was hard to stop.

Sin cannot be controlled. We cannot just sin “a little.” Sin, like a cancer, always grows until it brings forth death. Submitting ourselves to God and resisting the devil is our only guarantee against being devoured by the devil, James 4:7. When we choose to sin, we are not submitting to God or resisting the devil.