Victorious Christian Livi

Living Victoriously In Shaky Times - Part 6

 

Introduction

I have some thoughts I want to share with us this morning that I trust will bring us into greater love for God and each other.  I want to start with a Scripture that can help us to center on the King we love and serve.  In Hebrews 12:28-29 the writer tells us, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”  There are a lot of things being shaken right now in the world and in the church, but the Kingdom of God is not one of them.  God’s Kingdom is enduring, unchangeable, immovable.  However, many people are shaken over disasters that are confronting them; fires, hurricanes, earthquakes etc.  We look at the news, which mostly tells us “bad reports”, which is unbiblical.  We are confronted with wars and rumors of wars and politics, all of which clamor for our undivided attention.  Believers and unbelievers are prophesying about why these things are happening.  In the midst of all of this what kind of people are we to be.  There are four kinds of people that I want to identify this morning; Kingdom people, thankful people, worship people, obedient people etc. 

Kingdom People

The Gospel Matthew is a “Kingdom Gospel”.  From the beginning of Matthew Jesus preached and taught on the Kingdom of Heaven; Matt 4:17; Matt 5 – 7; Matt 10:7; the Parables of Matt 13, 18, 20, 21,22, 25; Matt 16:19; Matt 19:14; Matt 24 – “what will be the signs of your coming and the end of the age”; Matt 26:29; and Matt 28:18.  There are many things transpiring in our country and the world around us which can lead to question what is going on.  There are prophets prophesying – remember to make sure that no one deceives you…  There is fear and insecurity…  There is persecution… Love growing cold…  Israel in the news…  “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’” (Mt 24:29).  There is a lot of shaking going “in the last days” in which we live. 

 

In the midst of all this shaking there is a counter culture aspect that distinguishes Kingdom People.  In other words, we are to be different than the world around us.  We stay true to God’s Word and make sure there is no deception, we understand that persecution and suffering are part of being followers of Jesus.  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Mt 24:42).  In other words, pray and then pray some more.

 

How can we be counter cultural in the midst of so much shaking and fear?   Do not fear is repeated over and over in the owners Manuel.  Therefore, we need to take notice.  Whenever God says, “Do not fear” he is giving us the understanding that his grace, empowering and ability are available to carry us through.  We are to be strong and courageous.  We are to be loving and kind.  We are to be pure and holy.  We are to be anxious about nothing but praying for everyone. 

Thankful People

One of the best solutions for all this terrible shaking is thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving takes our minds off the problem onto the solution.  So many people today are trapped in the troubles that they have no time to be thankful to God for all that he has done for us.  Psalm 107 is a wonderful Psalm about troubles and thanksgiving.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men… (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31).

·      Psalm 107:4-9 – wandering, hungry and thirsty followed by thanks equals provision.

·      Psalm 107:10-16 – darkness, prison, rebellion followed by thanks equals freedom.

·      Psalm 107:17-22 – foolish, sinful and dying followed by thanks equals sacrifice and joy.

·      Psalm 107:23-32 – hard work with challenges followed by thanks equals praise.

 

The world around us needs to see a counter cultural display of gratitude and thanksgiving empowered by God not followers of Jesus who engage in the spirits of this world.  Thanksgiving opens the door to God’s grace and kindness being demonstrated through our lives.

Worship People

We all understand the importance of being worshipful towards God, showing him our desire to honour him and have no others gods before him.  The word used here for worship carries with it another aspect of our worship towards God – service.  In others words, Worship People in the midst of a world that is being shaken are servants to God but especially towards those struggling in their calamities.  Worship is more than the songs we sing on Sunday; it is about being selfless and caring for others.  Oftentimes when trials and tribulations assault people they tend to lose their footing, their sure foundation becomes a little shaky, and those things they trust in become questionable.  It is in those times that true Worship People can offer service; food, clothing, safety, and the reason of their love and kindness. 

Obedient People

Lastly, I want to focus on what is means to worship acceptably with reverence and awe before our consuming fire.  The Fear of God is clearly a biblical theme throughout the Old and New Testaments.  It is a knowing of who God is in his love and holiness, his power and majesty, righteousness and justice (and so much more) and then living appropriately and obediently before him and our fellowman.  Obedience is one of the greatest weapons we can use in our resistance before whatever challenges, circumstances or especially the attacks of the enemy.

In Conclusion                                    

How do we live victoriously in challenging times?  We need to remember that our citizenship as be believers in Jesus is in an unshakeable Kingdom.  We are Kingdom People that must ask these questions - What am I doing?  What am I thinking?  What am I saying?  I hope that our actions, thoughts and words accurately represent Kingdom truth.  Thanksgiving needs to be an intentional aspect of our walk with Jesus.  We must worship God appropriately while serving those in trouble.  All of this is followed up by followers of Jesus who live righteous and obedient lives before God and our neighbour.   

Let’s pray…

Victorious Christian Living – Part 5

Review

We have looked at various keys for Victorious Christian Living as related to our personal relationship with Holy Spirit; regeneration, being empowered, being guided, being unified, and being prayed for…  We know from the Scripture that His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pe 1:3).  In other words, we can live as more than conquerors in this life – IF – we choose to connect with and abide in Jesus Christ, but also Holy Spirit.  As we surrender to Holy Spirit moment by moment we begin to overcome challenges and the temptation to sin.  This means that we can be genuine and growing in our faith, from glory to glory, enjoying our victorious Christian life and living to the fullness that God has intended.  This morning we will look at two more aspects needed in relation to the Holy Spirit that will enable us to live in the success that God has planned for each of us. 

The Holy Spirit Is Our Refiner

On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the Spirit came upon the 120 disciples in the Upper Room.  There were two significant signs that came with the Spirit being poured out, wind and fire.  I often this of a nice breeze or sitting by a warm fire, and yet wind and fire can be very devastating as well, tornadoes and wild fire.  However, both with and fire speak of God is different ways relating to character and abilities.  Wind relates to the life in the sense of creation, spirit is referred to as wind or pneuma, and when combined with the Spirit of God wind denotes holiness.  Fire is the other manifestation that touched the disciples on Pentecost.  It was not a physical fire because they were not burned up.  However, the fire was noticeable and seen coming upon their individual heads and we know that this fire represented the Holy Spirit.  There are many references to fire in the Scripture; angels with fiery swords protected the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24), Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:1-5), the pillar of fire by night, the fiery furnace (Dan 3), and fire and judgement is a biblical theme. 

 

A key thought with regards to fire is that of holiness or refining – “These have come (referring to challenges and trials of life) so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pe 1:7).  The certainty of Victorious Christian Living involves the refining work of the Holy Spirit.  The question is - are you willing to allow God to purify you, even in hidden areas?  House cleaning can be a dirty business… 

 

As we surrender to the refiner’s fire, we must remember the character of God is not to shame or blame or embarrass his children.  The refining of the Holy Spirit is always unto restoration.  Our Mission Statement states, “We are becoming a grace-full, loving, accepting and forgiving community of believers from all nations that celebrate each other and who are committed to bringing souls into God’s kingdom.”  Loving, accepting and forgiving is the attitude we must have while the Holy Spirit is refining us personally or another follower of Jesus. 

It can be very intimidating when God comes to “clean his temple”; secret sins, ugly attitudes, unforgiveness etc…  He moves the furniture around, so to speak, to purify us of gossip, resentments, pride, anger, shame, addictive behaviours so that we can be restored to Victorious Christian Living. I encourage you to open your heart to the Spirit’s fire.

The Holy Spirit Is Our Comforter

I have been through the refiner’s fire a few times in my life, it was intense and somewhat terrifying.  However challenging the refining process can be, the comfort of the Holy Spirit is never far off.  In the case of the disciples, as Jesus approached the cross things became more confusing and troubling for them.  Prior to his death Jesus told them in John 14:16–18“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (Jn 14:16–18).  Jesus knew that his crucifixion would cause them to lose all hope and confidence.  The disciple’s faith was tested and they came up short of God’s glory. 

Here are some thoughts from these verses:

·      Another Counselor – Jesus was the first Counselor, Advocate or Helper...  “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 Jn 2:1–2).

·      The Spirit of Truth describes the Comforter; Holy Spirit is our “teacher and reminder” (John 14:26) and Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus (John 16:7) which causes our faith to grow.  As well, Holy Spirit is described as the “spirit of grace” (Hebr 10:29).

·      Holy Spirit comfort lives in us…  There is never a moment when we are separate from the potential experience of our comforter. 

·      We are the children of God, take comfort in this fact.

 

These are a few of the amazing blessings of the Comforter.  When the Spirit brought regeneration to you, He brought the eternal life of God.  Now we have been given the very Presence of God to comfort and counsel us in the various circumstances of life, in all the trials and testing’s.  The Spirit supports us with supernatural strength and joy, and hope and faith, in the midst of life so that we can be full of victory.

In Conclusion

There are times in our Christian walk when the fire of God touches our lives to make us holy; Conviction… Confession… Repentance…  We know what it is like to experience spring cleaning, the same can be true when we surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit.  He comes to make sure our faith in God and walk with God are congruent, in other words, righteous…  These times can be challenging but we must never forget that the Holy Spirit as our comforter is far off.  In fact, the very help and encouragement we need for Victorious Christian living lives inside of us.  We need to again consider the importance of surrendering our lives to God so that we can fulfill his plans and purposes for our lives.  We are created as winners in God’s image.  Let’s live so…  Let’s pray…

Victorious Christian Living Part 4

 

Review

In the beginning of this sermon series we came to understand that everyone has the potential for greatness, believer or unbeliever, because we are all created in the image of God.  In other words, winning and success were to be a part of his sons and daughters.  Mankind’s disobedience created a horrible separation between a holy God and a sinful mankind.  But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir (Gal 4:4–7).  Jesus does not offer to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive - Ravi Zacharias; the first is religious and the other is called regeneration – born-again…  Being made alive “in Christ” is the beginning of the journey towards victorious Christian living.  Victorious Christian Living then moves towards a personal relationship with the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts and leads us towards the fullness of our inheritance.  Once on the road of faith in Jesus, the person of Holy Spirit, empowers us to be and do like Jesus while he was on earth; naturally supernatural.  As well as the Holy Spirit guides the children of God, like an internal spiritual GPS, into moral and wise decisions for life and living. 

Holy Spirit brings Unity

The “empowering and guidance of the Holy Spirit” began in Acts 2.  Later, in the same chapter we see the beginning of the apostles and disciples meeting – 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42–47).  We often focus of the disciple’s devotion to the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.  And yet one of the key aspects of the Holy Spirit is that of unity or togetherness as seen in Verse 44.  This commonness comes from a Greek word “koinos” and when joined together with people forms fellowship or “koinonia”.  This unity of the Spirit is mentioned 18 times throughout the New Testament; in other words, the ekklesia was filled with partnership and love for one another.  It was the unity of Holy Spirit that held the early Christians together in the face of persecution and caused them to lay down their lives for one another; this was victorious Christian living.  You can’t fake this kind of success; it is not event driven or programed.  It is the result of believers giving themselves over to the Holy Spirit and turning away from sin which is a disruptive force, always dividing, and separating. 

 

I believe that is why Jesus prayed for unity in the Body of Christ (John 17) or why the Apostle Paul spoke of “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).  So, the unity that we have in Christ is part of the God’s grand design. Therefore, one of the distinguishing marks of the Victorious Christian Life is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; this is especially practical between God’s sons and daughters. 

The Holy Spirit Is Our Intercessor

The second point today with regards to Victorious Christian Living is the Holy Spirit as our “intercessor”.  Both Jesus and the Spirit intercede for the saints of God.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us of Jesus – “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebr 7:25).  The apostle Paul told us that the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us, “helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Rom 8:26–27).  The help the Spirit offers is the same help Mary was looking for in Luke 10:40; Martha was distracted and Mary needed help.  In other words, she was tired, weak, needed extra strength.  In our moments of weakness, not sinfulness, whatever they are, when we don’t know what to do or how to pray, the Spirit is there to intercede for us bringing us into God’s will.  Sometimes in our times of uncertainty we may find ourselves “groaning in prayer”.  Oh, God help…  We may feel faithless and not very spiritual.  This is where the Spirit of God comes to intercede for us.  The Holy Spirit petitions and prays to the Father on our behalf. He is an advocate who pleads for us according to the will of the Father. The Spirit can intercede according to the will of God because He knows the things of God. 

 

There is an amazing point to consider here.  The Spirit of God, who knows our spirit and mind and emotions intimately, sympathizes with whatever weakness is upon us and then prayer for God’s will to be done in our situation.  No matter what kind of dark difficulty we face, the Spirit travails for us until we literally come into God’s light and freedom.

In Conclusion

Victorious Christian Living is all about a genuine and growing relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus invites us into the family of God, making us one with God and each other.  This unity is empowered by the Holy Spirit and is organic, not programmed, it is diversity, not uniformity. The Holy Spirit is committed to ensuring unity is present in the Body of Christ because that is where we discover our calling and step into ministry.  In addition, the Spirit helps us by interceding for us.  It is like spiritual childbirth (until Christ is formed in you – Gal 4:19).  This is how we grow spiritually.  We encounter challenges and at times find ourselves weak, that’s when the Holy Spirit helps us through these situations.  He prays for God’s children with groanings too deep for words until faith gives birth to the answer we are waiting for. 

 

I trust that the more we study and think of our relationship with Holy Spirit, the more we are encountering Victorious Christian life and living.  Let’s Pray…

Victorious Christian Living – Part 3

Review

We have all been given the opportunity to live a Victorious Christian Life.  Because we are created in the image of God we have the potential for great love and goodness.  The Fall of Mankind into sin produced great sin and struggle into the world.  And yet in God’s plan his own Son Jesus Christ became the Saviour of All who call and believe on him.  The potential to live in victory is not possible within our own choices, but only when one receives Jesus as Lord and Saviour and comes into the reality of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  The wonderful miracle of “new birth” is just the beginning of our journey towards a victorious Christian life.  This morning we will look at two aspects of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the life of a follower of Jesus. 

Holy Spirit Empowers

I woke up the other day not feeling well, tired and looking towards a busy day.  I was not too enthusiastic about my new day where the mercies of God await.  I wish that I could have put on a new attitude or maybe some new clothes to make me feel better.  This reminded me of Jesus telling his disciples that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  This baptism was not to be a tame experience but being “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  I remember washing my clothes in London England when I reached down to steady the portable washing machine.  Needless to say, some of the wiring was touching the water and I received the shock of my life, my arms flying in the air, my heart racing and the colour draining from my face.  Power from on high sounds to me like “heaven was about to shake the world”!  In other words, we, the regenerated Body of Christ, are empowered by the Spirit who changes people into radical lovers of God and people.  He gives them the power to preach boldly, heal sick people, even raise the dead.

 

Last week I shared about Ezekiel’s vision about a new heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone.  This vision of the Spirit being poured out was hundreds of years before the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the early church on the Day of Pentecost as seen in Acts 2.  The Book of Ezekiel begins with fantastic visions of storms and wind and a cloud glowing with fire, lightning and thunder, and extraordinary living creatures with four faces.  The vision continues to a throne and figure that looked like a man glowing with fire and dazzling in light.  Ezekiel then pens these words, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28).   This is power from on high…  I believe that God was showing Ezekiel power from on high and one day God would clothe his people with power on Pentecost.  The early disciples experienced this empowering - the sound of a rushing wind and flames of fire descending on every believer’s head.  But the Holy Spirit didn’t stop with just a good half time show, but also filled, imparted and empowered the followers of Jesus with super-natural power from on high.  What does this power look like?  Just look through the rest of the Book of Acts; supernatural healing, fierce courage, boldness, willing martyrs, dreams and visions to name a few.  

The empowering of the Holy Spirit was life changing and far from comfortable for the early church.  The Holy Spirit gives the power to Jesus’ statement that “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18).  This empowering of the Spirit is life transforming and in some sense, brings radical change but not chaos.  We need to allow the freedom of the Spirit to move in our lives and corporate gatherings.  We need to be careful to “not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thess 5:18).  We need to be careful that we do not try to control the “power from on high” so we can keep our church services safe and without unexpected Holy Spirit interruptions.  I love Peters words to the crowd on the Day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38–39).

Holy Spirit Guides

GPS is something we rely on in our day and age, 20 to 30 years ago we would use maps and a compass and many years ago a sextant and the stars.  Everyone desires how to get from A to B without a lot of hassles.  The same is true spiritually or morally in life.  The Holy Spirit is like our internal GPS, except that he never gets confused or offers wrong information – “re-routing” … 

 

We briefly mentioned some of the characteristics of God last week, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.  Omniscience has to do with God not lacking in wisdom or knowledge, past, present or future.  The Holy Spirit has access to all the wisdom and knowledge of God; in other words, he makes a great guide no matter what the situation of life.  Several Scriptures come to mind when I think of the Spirit as my guide. 

·      Romans 8:14 tells us: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  If you are a child of God, you have access to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

·      Ga 5:18 - But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  Christians do not find their righteousness through the Law but through Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  In other words, the Spirit knows how to led us into righteous victorious living.  

·      1 John 2:27 - He is our teacher and those who depend on Holy Spirit will know where to go and what to do because they are following his heavenly directions.

 

But if you want to know the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you must learn to discern His voice and His subtle nudgings.  We must learn to abide in the Spirit and the Word of God. 

In Conclusion

The world we live in is looking for genuine expressions of God’s Holy Spirit power, not religion that has denied God’s power.  The challenge for the followers of Jesus today is to surrender to this power from on high and let the Spirit of God fully direct your life.  All too often we play it safe spiritually and do not press in beyond our comfort levels. However, power without direction can be a little scary, therefore we also need Holy Spirit to be our leader and guide.  He will direct us through life in wise and knowledgeable ways.  There is a world out there to win for Jesus and we need Holy Spirit empowering and guidance to be victorious Christians. 

Let’s pray

Victorious Christian Living – Part 2

 

Review

Everyone has been created in the image of God and therefore has the potential for greatness and victorious Christian living.  As followers of Jesus we live in an age of tension between living in the fullness of God’s righteousness or in the struggle with temptation and sin.  The Apostle Paul identifies this in Gal 1:4-5 - Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Jesus came to rescue mankind from the effects of sin and the present evil age in which we live.  After Jesus’ ascended the Scripture tells us he did not alone but gave us the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was bringing words of comfort and peace to the disciples in troubling and confusing time – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). 

 

Victorious Christian living is not about living “happily ever after” but being peace-full in the Holy Spirit in this age of tension.  In my experience the Holy Spirit is much more than I can handle, in other words, Christianity is not something we control to our personal level of comfort, but something we surrender to.  Just a Jesus surrendered his life for us on the Cross of Calvary, we must learn how to yield and come under submission to the Holy Spirit.  I hope that over the summer months we can discover more of who the Spirit of God is in relation to you and I.  And I trust that this will bring us into greater victorious Christina living for God’s glory.

Faces of the Holy Spirit

Moses spoke with God face to face and thousands of people encountered Jesus face to face.  How do we see the face of the Holy Spirit?  He is Spirit, unseen, everywhere all the time and fully involved in the purposes and plans of God.  It is very important for us to understand how to relate to Holy Spirit so that we can live in victory.  My thought about the Spirit is this – what does he look like, face to face, so to speak?  There are various symbols that describe the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures; the Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2), fire (Ex 3:2; Acts 2:3), the cloud (Ex 16:10), wind is used of the Spirit (Acts 2:2), the dove (Matt 3:16), oil (Acts 10:38).  In A. W. Tozer’s book Knowledge of the Holy, he describes various attributes of God; omniscience, omnipotent, omnipresent, the wisdom, holiness, love, goodness, faithfulness of God to name a few.  These characteristics give us a glimpse into our eternal God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who is beyond our finite understanding.  He is all of the above mentioned by Tozer, with specific roles and responsibilities, in relation to the Church of Jesus Christ.

God is the ultimate Multi-tasker!

Multi-tasking was the new buzz word in the 60’s and 70’s.  Originally it was directed towards computers that could perform several tasks at the same time.  Eventually, psychologists began to experiment with humans and their ability to multitask.  Simply multitasking is possible and we all do it in some form or fashion.  However, recent research has found out that multitasking can negatively affect the brain resulting in a lesser degree of focus and accomplishment. 

 

However, when it comes to God, his multi-tasking is totally exceptional, especially in relation to the Holy Spirit.  He can teach and comfort and empower and guide all at the same time with everyone who has surrendered to him.  How awesome is that…  I hope to help us understand this idea in relation to the Scripture Rev 1:4-6 - John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.   Here are a two multi-tasking points to highlight.  God multitasks through time and is not limited by time.  God multitasks through the seven spirits; not seven different spirits but seven aspects of the Holy Spirit – i.e. – the seven-fold Spirit of God.  The number seven is significant in Hebrew culture and seen as a sign of covenant and of grace, it is a number of purification and fulfillment.  This morning I would like to focus on one area of the Holy Spirit with regards to his role in our lives. 

The Holy Spirit our Regenerator

Regeneration is synonymous with words such as rebirth, renew, revival, restoration.  One of the initial activities of the Holy Spirit is that of bringing someone’s dead spirit to life.  We see this clearly in John 3:5 – you must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  A key Old Testament passage, Ezek 36:25-27, prophesies about the work of the Holy Spirit -  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  What a wonderful thought – a new heart and a new spirit instead of a heart of stone. 

 

The Valley of Dry Bones is a classic Old Testament passage highlighting the Holy Spirit as the source of regeneration to a vast army.  In Ezekiel 37 the Holy Spirit breathes life into the army of dry bones, there is a rattling sound as sinew and flesh form over the bones resulting in life. 

 

Titus 3:5 speaks to the same idea – “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…”  Water and washing refer to baptism while Spirit and renewal refer to the Holy Spirit.  This is not the recharging of a dead battery; it is a total battery replacement with a new and ever-ready charge.  This power encounter with the Holy Spirit brings to life a dead spirit due to the effects of the fall of mankind into sin and death.  This conversion is the transference out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13), considering the cross but by the power of the Spirit.  

In Conclusion

The Victorious Christian Life begins with regeneration.  It is the Holy Spirit who makes anew what once was but became dead because of sin.  This miracle of “new-life” brings a fresh and new perspective for living.  Victory becomes possible.  Our dreams come alive again.  Regeneration is the first step towards a victorious Christian life.  The Holy Spirit has so much more to offer if we are willing to surrender.  I know many Christians who long for a deeper walk with Jesus, they have been born-from-heaven’s Spirit, but they need to learn to yield to the fullness of the Spirit’s activity.  A victorious Christian life requires an increase of the Holy Spirit working and a decrease of one’s self-rule.  This might sound like hard work as in applying the spiritual disciplines we talked about last week, and to some degree it requires effort.  Let’s approach the Holy Spirit with passion and hunger, allowing him to work in us because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32).

 

Victorious Christian Living

 

Introduction

I believe one of the greatest desires in the lives of believers is that of walking in victory.  I don't know of anyone who plays a game, whatever it is, to lose.  I believe in the heart of every person, believer or not, that God has placed a desire to win.  Why is that?  Because we are created in the image of God and our God is a winner; there is nothing in our Creator that is not good.  In other words, God's purposes and plans for our lives are one of destiny fulfilled and victorious Christian living.  This was God's desire for Adam and Eve and for the rest of mankind.  Yet we know that mankind fell short of God's glory.  Sin and wounds and lies make it very difficult for victorious living.  In light of the fall of mankind, people became self-loving and self-serving and competitive at the expense of others.  We entered into a world of arrogant winners and sore losers.  Satan was smiling and God was grieving but planning for our future. 

Years ago, I had dream of playing basketball with Satan; the game was 21...  My opponent made the first shot but missed the second and then I got the rebound.  Now it was my turn, I was on fire and made all my shots without missing any.  I won and then I woke up.  I felt terrific.  I was a winner.  Then I realized it was a dream and the reality of life set in.  In the moment of that reality check God spoke to me.  "Larry, you are going through life hoping for victory but thinking that you are a loser.  That is not how I see you - 'You are a winner'".  I made some changes to my life at that time.  There was a lot of repentance – changing the way I thought, felt or acted in life.  It was not easy, but over time, I began to experience transformation from thinking like a loser because of sin, wounds and lies, to that of seeing myself as a winner in God.  Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the victorious Christian life.  I know that we can learn from Scripture and personal circumstances just what it takes to live victoriously. 

Practices of Victorious Christian Living

I remember learning to ride a bike as a young boy in Saskatoon.  My friends were steadying the bike, running beside me, and eventually launching down the street in front of our house.  I rode the bike for about five seconds and then crashed into our neighbours car, breaking his headlight with my knee. Despite the pain it was obvious to me I needed more practice and eventually I learned how to ride a bike.  Practice makes perfect is used to describe a regular exercise of an activity or skill, thereby becoming proficient in it.  This phrase has its limitations, but none-the-less, is accurate when mastering certain activities in life.  The point of this little story is simply this – riding a bicycle, or whatever you are attempting to learn takes time, often involves failure and getting up and getting on again.  To some degree this practicing to make perfect relates to our walk with Jesus, with the understanding the ultimately our perfection is found in the righteousness of Jesus. 

One of my experiences in discovering the victorious Christian life involved the pursuit of faith practices. These spiritual disciplines included Bible Study and teaching, fellowship and communion and prayer and fasting and worship; it was like Acts 2:42. On the one hand, I was very aware of the importance of the confession of sin, and on the other the sharing of my faith in Jesus.  One of the challenges I had to overcome was the over-emphasis on my part of these spiritual disciplines; at times, I grew very weary of trying to live the victorious Christian life.  The Scripture tells us not to grow weary in doing good (Gal 6:9).  In these moments, I was drawn to resting and abiding Scriptures where I found refreshment for my soul (Psalm 23, Psalm 46:10).  A key word for me in my journey of faith and being victorious is abide.  I often reflected on this verse in relation to Jesus as found in John 15; abide in me, abide in my word and abide in love.  I must say I love spending time in God’s Word discovering more of who he is.  It was in those tired moments I realized that these practices came out of God's grace touching my life and faith being acted upon.  There is so much to be said of the importance of grace and faith in the victorious Christian life.  I believe that is why Satan attempts to distort these truths and corrupt true Scriptural grace and faith.  This reminds me of the need for living a balanced (not deceived) life of spiritual discipline and abiding grace and faith.  We need both to enjoy the victorious Christian life.  We cannot over-emphasize one or the other, both are needed to become a mature and victorious Christian.  

The Holy Spirit

I would say the most important aspect of living a victorious Christian life must do with the introduction of the Holy Spirit to the follower of Jesus.  When Jesus ascended to heaven he did not leave the church powerless or as orphans.  In fact, in John 14:16-18 it states – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  The key idea is again one of abiding; in other words, the Spirit of God is to live fully and completely in us. 

One of the key Scriptures that impacted my life with regards to living a victorious Christian life is found in Romans 8.  We know from Foursquare Doctrine that Jesus is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit.  The importance of knowing and experiencing the Holy Spirit is foundational for living a victorious life as a Christian.  Here are some key thoughts to remember:

·       One aspect of victorious Christian living is being guilt free, no condemnation or worry of judgement.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:1–2.

·       A second point of living in victory is a mind that is controlled by the Spirit.  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Rom 8:5–7.

·       Victorious Christian living touches our physical nature, our mind, emotions, will and bodies, with the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  Rom 8:11.

·       The last point I want to make from this passage is this – we are God’s children by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Rom 8:14-16

In Conclusion

This is an introduction to victorious Christian living.  Romans 8:37 tells us we are more that conquerors.  Over the next few weeks we will be looking at our relationship with the Holy Spirit.  It is possible to live in victory especially as we surrender our lives to the fullness of the Spirit of God living inside us.  We will discover seven aspects of the Holy Spirit that enable us to walk as victorious believers; regeneration, empowering, guidance, unifier, intercessor, comforter and refiner.  Let’s pray…