When the Spirit of God Descends Upon Your Heart

The lovely words of the Irish hymn-writer, George Croly
serve as a simple reminder of why we desperately need the Holy Spirit
poured out upon us:

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

  • According to Romans 8, when the Spirit descends upon our hearts,
    He rivets our attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His work
    for us on the cross.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He produces in us the
    family trait of holiness by granting us the desire, determination and
    discipline to reject and kill sin.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He assures us of our sonship
    and of our permanent gift of eternal life.

Martin Luther explains:
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us,
death thunders at us, the devil roars at us.
In the midst of the clamor,
the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
This little cry of the Spirit transcends
the hullabaloo of the law, sin, death, and the devil
and finds a hearing with God.

  • Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “Lord and Giver of Life!”

A Prayer for My Son on His 12th and 21st Birthdays

The below is a part of a letter I wrote my son on his 12th birthday. His 21st birthday is coming soon. My prayers for him have not changed…

Son, you are beginning your journey towards manhood. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
According to this verse, becoming a man involves mental alertness, spiritual resolve, and strength of character. In light of this, I pray that you might become …

  1. A man in whose life Christ has the first place (Colossians 1:18)… that you would enthrone Him as King of your heart. I want you to love and treasure Him more than anything or anyone else. Also, I want you to marry a woman who loves Him more than she loves you. If that’s the case, your life will be greatly blessed.
  2. A man who listens to, delights in, and treasures God’s Word as a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Psalm 119:105). May God’s Word and God’s holiness be the standard by which you evaluate your life and make your decisions. It will be easy to make what other people are doing the standard. You are going to experience temptations, trials, and joys. God’s Word will be a sure and reliable guide over the peaks and through the valleys!
  3. A man who wisely chooses friends who will sharpen you and not dull your sensitivity to the Lord and His leading in your life (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  4. A man who flees all forms of sexual immorality because you know that God’s Spirit inhabits your physical body. My prayer is that you please and glorify the Lord with your body by reserving the full expression of your sexuality for your wedding night (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  5. A man who intentionally honors God with your mind (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word).
  6. A man who is committed not to awaken love until it’s time (Song of Solomon 8:4)…that you will guard your heart in your relationships with young women (Proverbs 4:23)…that you will resolve to help your friends who are women to protect their hearts as well.
  7. A man whose life is marked by radical humility, sacrificial service, and bold risk taking in the service of your Lord (Philippians 2:3-4; 5-8; 21-30).

Do you feel yourself spiritually and physically weak today?

The prophet Isaiah describes people like us:
Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.

Listen to how our Savior deals with people like us:
“A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory…” (Matthew 12:20)

What are we to understand by the bruised reed and smoldering wick ?

This language is no doubt figurative.
What is it that these two expressions mean?
The simplest explanation seems to be,
that the Holy Spirit is here describing persons
whose grace is at present weak, whose repentance is feeble,
and whose faith is small. Towards such persons the Lord Jesus Christ will be very tender and compassionate.
Weak as the bruised reed is, it shall not be broken;
small as the spark of fire may be within the smoldering wick,
it shall not be quenched.
– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Down in the human heart, Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried, That grace can restore,
Touched by a loving heart, Wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken, Will vibrate once more.
– Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

Jesus Christ the King does not merely tolerate weak believers,
but He is drawn to them, showing them special tenderness and compassion
in order to further them in sanctification.
– Richard Sibbes (1577 – 1635)

Why not take a few moments to cherish the special tenderness and compassion
of our Savior today by reflecting on the below prayer and making it your own!

God, our heavenly Father,
we are those who have been bruised and broken by sin and the fall.
We confess that we have bruised others
by our harsh and critical words,
our anger tempers, our betrayals,
and our failed attempts at loving others well.
The devil bruises us with his lies.
We also are bruised by others.
Thank you for dealing tenderly with “bruised reeds” and “smoldering wicks.”
We confess to you that our grasp of your grace is weak,
our repentance is feeble, and our faith is small.
Thank you Jesus that you were wounded for our transgressions
and you were bruised for our iniquities.
Pour out the healing balm of your grace
into our lives we pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Eternally and Completely Satisfied

Psalm 17:15 describes what theologians call the beatific vision… that moment in your future when you shall see God. It reads: “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”

Think about what you will be in eternity. When you see the King in all of His glory, you will be like Him.  You will be eternally and completely satisfied.

C.S. Lewis describes this beautifully in his book The Weight of Glory:

God “will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into …
a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through
with such energy and joy and wisdom and love
as we cannot now imagine,
a bright stainless mirror
which reflects back to God perfectly…
His own boundless power and delight and goodness” (p. 176).

There are no ordinary people. You’ve never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization, these are mortal and their life
is to ours as the life of a gnat.
It’s a serious thing to remember
that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to,
may one day be a creature which,
if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.

A Psalm Prayer for an Election Year

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-04-39-amPsalm 2 teaches believers how to counter the bullying world that intimidates them to retreat and hide.  We learn that the LORD’s Anointed One (Messiah) is personally and powerfully involved in this world, rescuing and ruling it for His glory and His people’s good.

How is Jesus Christ the LORD’s King? He is the Son who rules for his Father (2:7-8). There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ: First, a spiritual kingdom by which he rules in the hearts of His people; and, second, a providential kingdom by which he rules the affairs of this world. During an election year, it is very important for us to remember His providential rule.

Psalm 2 paints an exalted picture of Jesus Christ. This heavenly prince rules all the kings of the earth, judges all the nations, crushes all of God’s enemies, defends and protects all of God’s people, marries His Bride – the Church, and fulfills the promised hope of David’s eternal throne. No wonder this Royal Psalm ends with the exclamation, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Ps. 2:12).

A Psalm Prayer:

Gracious Father, thank you for the future hope
that all the nations that rage against You
will become the inheritance of the Messiah.
You have given to Your Son our Savior
the ends of the earth as His possession.
He declares triumphantly
that all authority in heaven and on earth is rightfully His.
Based upon that authority,
we pray that you would supernaturally cause a massive ingathering of souls
who would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have mercy upon them,
open blind eyes like you did long ago,
pour the wine of your love and Word on calloused, stony hearts.
Raise up a group of young people throughout the world
who devotedly kiss Your Son as Savior.
May they serve You with fear and rejoice with trembling
as they contemplate your loving reign in their hearts as King,
but also as a just judge who will come again with a rod of iron
to break all those who resist Your reign. AMEN.

When The Time Comes to Divide the Family Estate

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Matthew Henry

“When Providence has removed your parents by death,
the best methods ought to be taken,
not only for preventing quarrels among the children
(which often happens over the dividing of the estate),
but for the preserving of love
so that unity may continue even when that center of unity is taken away.”
– Matthew Henry, Presbyterian pastor and commentator extraordinaire

The only way for believing families to heed this pastoral counsel is by resolving to trust in God’s sovereign hand. How easy it is to fall prey to a greedy, grasping tendency we all have when we are left to ourselves. An alternate path is to rest and trust in God’s sovereignty – He is the blessed controller of all things and, if He is in control, we don’t have to be. If we have a life-giving relationship with the Lord of heaven and earth, do we really need more of this material world and all of its stuff?

In Genesis 50, Joseph reminds himself of God’s sovereignty as he reflects on the evil done to him by his brothers. The center of their family has been taken away. Their father Jacob has died and all of his sons and their families, except Joseph, are in peril due to a great famine in the land. It would be tempting for Joseph to exact revenge at this time. However, he does the opposite.

Read this short account and marvel at the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in Joseph’s life. The same can happen for you:

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Luther – The Power of Psalm 46 on Reformation Sunday and Everyday

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Martin Luther leading family worship.

This coming Sunday is Reformation Sunday. We remember on this day that Martin Luther begin a process that resulted in the recovery of the biblical gospel. Many congregations will recall the efforts of Martin Luther and will sing Luther’s famous hymn based on Psalm 46 entitled “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

When he needed encouragement, comfort and strength to face the many afflictions and trials that came upon him, he would frequently go to Psalm 46 for courage.

He explains why he would regularly sing Psalm 46 during times of trouble:

“We sing this psalm to the praise of God,
because He is with us
and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends
His church and His Word
against all fanatical spirits,
against the gates of hell,
against the implacable hatred of the devil,
and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”