Holy Spirit

WHAT IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE?

(September 19, 2022) Sabrina McGuire, 14-year-old daughter of missionaries to Romania, shares her first mission camp experiences…

The title above is a question I’ve asked myself many times before… and recently found some answers.

I had a great opportunity to go to a YWAM Christian camp where there were teachings on spiritual warfare, prophecy and many other subjects. Great teachings… but yet my heart  hungered for more. I never truly knew how to really practise Christianity in the real world… and I wanted to!

Blessing people
Fortunately we campers were told that our second week of camp was a mission trip to different locations in Romania. During that week we did volunteer work for churches, kids and food bases… and it proved to be a great way of blessing people as well as being blessed ourselves.

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KEEP YOUR COOL!

(September 17, 2022) Richard Winter reminds us that, like Timothy, we too have an obligation to finish the race.

Keep your cool is great advice for all of us in trying moments, testing times, troubling escapades, upsetting incidents… and when we just don’t know if we’ll get through, if we’ll make it.

It’s our modern phraseology for the great advice the apostle Paul gave young Timothy in respect of fulfilling his ministry obligations: ‘… keep your head in all situations…’ (2 Timothy 4:5a).

I would draw your attention to 2 Timothy 4:5-8 in full… ‘But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’

Remember Graduation Day when you have finished your educational journey? In the above verses Paul is talking about his own soon-to-be graduation day and exhorting his young son-in-the-faith regarding his future one. He highlights what Timothy  must be about, especially in view of the fact he must soon take his mentor’s place. And that must have been a frightening prospect to the young man.

Note a reality here: All of us, followers and servants of Jesus, must pass on eventually to our own graduation day, and leave kingdom work to others. That is what we have before us in this passage.

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE BETTER COVENANT!

(August 17, 2022) Neil Brightbard joyfully reminds us of a great scripture truth…

Whenever we think of ‘better’ we expect something superior to what we’re used to. And we usually want to know more.

‘Better’ compares to  good: a higher standard, or more suitable. Where Hebrews uses it to describe ‘covenant’ the Greek word is kreittōn… stronger, best! When Christians consider the phrase – a better covenant – let’s be aware this is speaking of something spiritual that is boldly ultra-superior.

I wish to share why the Hebrews 8:6 and 12:24 covenant is such a stronger, better covenant, one that we should boldly grasp.

The heart of Hebrews
We don’t know who wrote Hebrews. Possibly Paul, Apollos or Luke. The sophisticated teaching and excellent Greek grammar suggests a high intellect. Whoever wrote it revealed things that no other book does. Particularly the doctrine of the high priesthood of Jesus.

Hebrews isn’t just good theology! Written so well with spiritual authority primarily to discouraged Jewish Christians needing their faith strengthened, its chapters are clearly a –

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HOLY SPIRIT ‘EIRENE’ COMFORT

(July 24, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages a young believer…

Dear Dr Robert

I’ve heard you talk about the joy of ‘falling into the arms of the Holy Spirit and knowing His peace, comfort and security.’ I’m a relatively new Christian… please tell me more. Billy (sorry, not my real name).

Dear ‘Billy’

Discovering more about our Holy Spirit is always precious, even eye-opening. Let me firstly say that He, who is the third person of the Godhead, is our friend (John 14:16Mge).

Friend… the Greek word here is paraklētos – comforter, consoler, advocate, intercessor – which tells us a lot about this great friend! We all need comforting at times! John also referred to this special friend in John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7.

Jesus, who would be returning to heaven after His resurrection from the dead and then leaving His disciples (Acts 1:9-10), promised a new friend as He wouldn’t be around physically anymore; someone who would assist them in building His church. See also John 14:16-17, and Jesus’ words of John 15:26 and Luke 24:49. That new friend is the blessed Holy Spirit.

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YOUR MOURNING WILL TURN INTO JOY!

(July 21, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj shares hope to troubled Christians, indeed everyone…

During times of adversity, when we approach our friends or doctors to get counsel, they may comfort us by saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right.’

Many children of God live in sorrow, pain and affliction. When our problems multiply, we lose hope. When we are not very clear about the leading of God in our lives, we worry much. For instance, people worldwide  have suffered a lot due to the impact of Covid-19… but any sorrow, trouble, punishment of sickness is painful.

Never lose hope!
Contemplating any sorrowful events that have happened to us, we might think, ‘Has this happened without the ‘Lord’s knowledge? Hasn’t He taken note of my problems?’  We must remember that nothing happens in our lives without the Lord’s knowledge!

 As we go through painful experiences trusting God, He turns our sorrows and troubles into joy! So, your present sorrow will surely be turned into joy (John 16:20)! Do not be afraid!

We also find in Matthew 5:4, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ We think that blessed people are those who enjoy all sorts of material comforts in this world. But Jesus says that those who mourn are blessed! Why? He also knows that mourning will be turned into joy!

Jesus promised comfort
It is very difficult for the people to agree with this, even some sad Christians. A silent and depressed state of mind can bind those who are in deep sorrow.

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Sorrows may arise due to unemployment, sickness, lack of money, work difficulties, family problems, worries about the future, and so on. Whatever our sorrow, the Lord says that all of us who pass through such difficult times are blessed and will be comforted. Those difficult situations would turn into joyful ones.

And although Jesus promised this long time ago, it is still relevant today. Therefore be happy and rejoiceful. Peter wrote, ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6). ‘Exalt’ is hupsoō… to lift you up.

It is not that God sends sorrows… such happen in life! And if such sorrows come our way, we look to the Lord to encourage us. We can hear His voice and sense His touch.

When we are in deep trouble, we often try  to wriggle out of by our own effort. But, instead of depending on our own strength, if we lean on God, we can surely feel his touch.

King David’s experience
With a grateful heart, David said firmly in Psalm 30:11 that our mourning would be turned in to joy!

When David encountered problems, many of them huge, and be surrounded by evils, he would go into the Lord’s presence and plead before Him (1 Samuel 30:6 is a good example). And God delivered him from all problems, blessed and comforted him  and turned all his sorrows into joy!

Are your problems overwhelming you? Don’t only look for ways outside of God to come out of your problems. You could be led into greater dangers, troubles and failures! Seek the Holy Spirit’s voice that tells you if you fully trust the Lord and have faith in Him, believing that He will fulfill your desires and bring blessing (in whatever way and time God chooses of course).

When one is overwhelmed with troubles…

1. The soul wearies!
David faced numerous problems – through his father-in-law, King Saul, his son, Absalom, many times through the people and kings of other countries. But because he leaned on his Lord who had called him, God turned all his afflictions and troubles into great joy!

No wonder he would pray often to his God! The composer of Psalm 119:28 reflects a David-like prayer: My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word’

Many of us also have to walk through difficult times and rarely can any of us avoid worrying at the times of sufferings. Some are heart-broken and attempt  to commit suicide. If we turn to mere humans to get advice, they may deceive us. Some may mislead us. In the midst of worries and shedding of tears, if we wholly rely on and keep faith in the Lord, He will definitely lead us out from sufferings and surprisingly keep us comforted.

When  troubles multiply, we should spend more time in reading the Bible louder! We should believe and expect a wonderful deliverance from God. Surely He will do greater things than what you expect in your life.

Please know this: I’m speaking from personal experience! When various hardships have hit me, I have wholly depended only on God, reading His word and meditating on it in full faith. I have several verses marked with dates on which I heard God’s voice, and obtained unbelievable great victories!

If you also do the same, victory is sure!

2. Eyes dim with grief!
Although not written by David, I feel verse of nine of Psalm 88 reflects his thoughts many times, ‘My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.’

‘Dim’ is daab, mournful and sorrowful. The psalmist says that out of afflictions his eyes grew dim from misery (NASB). If one is very sad, one can feel a change in their sight. Sadness makes one faint, reduces the thinking capacity, causes sleeplessness and losing all hope about the future. The help we get from others is also reduced. What can we do to come out of this? Without giving place to discouragements, we can do two things:

(i) Pray about our concerns
Psalm 119:26, ‘I have declared my ways, and You answered me…’ would be David’s solution to concerns. Taking time to talk to God brings great victories.

Unfortunately these days, troubled Christians can spend more time on their themselves, worldly causes, entertainment, even on Christian television programs than talking to God in prayer! Sadly, certain TV preachers have caused many Christians to be lazy and static, no longer prayerful or Bible-reading.

But you could watch genuine Christ-centred presentations and after shutting off, engross in prayer, Bible reading and meditation! Then you can be sure of victory. Your eyes will not ‘waste away.’

(ii) Trust  God!
This means that your attention and trust are on God only. After all, your thoughts and actions should please Him. There is no use praying long prayers and observing many days of fasting, if you don’t believe He is the answer, your comforter!

Regarding your troubles, where is your attention today? From whom do you expect help? Which way do you search? ‘… the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him that follows after righteousness’ comforts Proverbs 15:8-9.

Praying to God in faith and trusting Him, you won’t have eyes dim with misery!

3.  The spirit is broken!
Proverbs 17:22 declares that ‘A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.’

Certain objects can be glued together if broken. But if the spirit hidden in our heart is broken, no expert doctor or psychiatrist can mend it. The failures we face in this world, such as economic confusion, sickness and family problems are but some of the causes of broken hearts.

There is only one way to overcome these setbacks and that is by going to the Lord. ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord”’ wrote David in Psalm 122:1.

It is very important to meet with people, if covid and variation safe, who truly praise and worship the Lord. You can be refreshed with the Holy Spirit as you too worship, clapping hands and lifting them up in praise, even kneeling, in a church where the Lord is being worshipped in spirit and truth. There you’ll be filled with joy and happiness; your broken spirit will be healed as assurance that God is in control comes to your heart.

4.  ‘Big’ trouble hits!
‘Anxiety weighs down the heart. But a good word makes it glad’ (Proverbs 12:25).

David was certainly weighed down in 1 Samuel 30:6! Several Bible versions translate this verse as ‘David was now in great trouble.’ Other translations read distressed. The Hebrew word is yaw-tsar’, meaning to be vexed, narrowed in thinking. In considering David’s problems – and our own – we’d probably think of ‘big troubles’ as depression (a word slightly similar to distress)!

Whichever word you would use, troubles not dealt with actually cause one to function normally,  When people are distressed, they cannot think freely. Changes happen in the mind causing some problems to lead to taking extreme decision. Some try many ways to solve their problems and when they fail, they  go for extreme steps. Sadly, some have committed suicide. Deep distress is very deceptive, very sidetracking!

David always met with his numerous  problems by standing strong  faith in the Lord. He knew his God could give him needed courage. ‘David strengthened (encouraged) himself in the Lord his God’ concludes (1 Samuel  30:6ESB).

5. Trouble can be daily!
Sometimes we lose confidence in ourselves and because of this state of mind we end up with a very dangerous disposition. David, under such situations, even daily (Psalm 56:5NLT) would seek his Lord’s help: ‘Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack’(Psalm 56:1).

Fear and doubts will make even a powerful person like David feel useless. When we walk through difficult times, we shouldn’t think that it is the end! No, we must understand that when upright Christians face troubles, and evils, God will deliver us from every situation and cause us to live happily.

We read in Psalms 34:19NLT, ‘The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.’

But… are you a righteous person? Have you genuinely repented and know that your sins have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ? God is powerful enough to compensate all that we have lost and bless us with long life and happiness. And if you suffer of being righteous, fear not!

In these days of adversity, Edward Mote’s great old hymn (1834) is so encouraging…

‘My hope is right built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetness frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Refrain: On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

May David’s encouragement in Psalm 30:11 be yours and you know that ‘your mourning will turn into joy!’

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‘ALL’ SCRIPTURE – THE SECRET OF GREATNESS

(July 2, 2022) Brian Bell reflects on ‘a few seed thoughts’…

It is said that during Queen Victoria’s reign, a visiting diplomatic delegation asked the Queen how Britain had become powerful in the world.

The Queen’s response did not mention the number of ships in her fleet, she made no reference to the number serving in her armies, she did not give an account of her boundless merchandise or the details of her inexhaustible wealth but answered by handing the delegation a beautifully bound copy of the Bible.

Secret of greatness
This incident (which I understand has been suggested as possibly being an unfounded anecdote) is nonetheless depicted in Thomas James Barker’s 1863 painting, The Secret of England’s Greatness.If it isn’t familiar to you, I respectfully suggest you consider looking up that portrait of Queen Victoria meeting an African envoy and presenting him with a copy of the KJV Bible.

(Houston Baptist University)

Personally, I find it captivating – showing something of the ‘awe’ of the event with the Bible having a prominent position.

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PROPHETIC WORDS

(June 17, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages a Pentecost enquirer…

Dear Dr Robert

Thanks for sharing last month about Pentecost Sunday. Please tell me about what’s called either ‘a word of prophecy’ or ‘a prophetic word.’ Jonno.

Dear Jonno

Either term is acceptable. In brief, prophesying means boldly speaking an encouraging, timely word from God to bless people –
a) One on one, not just face-to-face but via phone/email/Skype.
b) To your church on Sundays (as was generally expected years ago!), or at other church meetings even business ones.

As one of the Holy Spirit’s nine supernatural manifestation gifts (1 Corinthians 12) it can operate anywhere, anytime. Like the accompanying gifts word of wisdom and word of knowledge, it’s spoken in faith (itself one of those nine ‘operational gifts’).

This means that you must know the Holy Spirit personally eg through an intimate relationship of prayer, reading God’s word, trust and experience, whereby you just know that know that you know it is the Holy Spirit taking over and using you to bless, encourage, challenge some individual, or your church in general.

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‘UPPER ROOM’ GATHERINGS

(June 1, 2022) Brian Bell shares some precious and pertinent points regarding that first  Pentecost Sunday prayer gathering…

This short meditation is drawn from my recent re-reading of Luke’s Holy Spirit-inspired record in Acts chapters 1-2.

For those from a Jewish background, prayer was a regular and disciplined practice – often using ‘standard’ or written prayers – and this is a practice with which I would not disagree, while often we tend towards ‘spontaneous’ prayers.

Many years ago, I worked with a colleague from the Anglican tradition (Church of Ireland, based in Willowfield Parish, Belfast). In conversation one day he explained the ‘rationale’ for their prayer book, which among other things was to try and prevent error. I could not argue or disagree with anything he shared and indeed, having attended several Anglican services, I’ve found the practice of reciting or even using responsive prayers, quite refreshing.

I believe Luke, guided by the Holy Spirit, recorded for us the first prayer meeting of believers following the ascension of the Lord Jesus; and I share five pertinent reflections relative to ‘Upper Room’ Gatherings

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YOUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL

(March 08, 2022) Richard Winter challenges…

Martin Luther King wrote a speech that has stood the test of time: I will quote just a few selected lines…

‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!’

We know that words like these are powerful. They change lives and they change nations!

In WW2, Winston Churchill became prime minister of England and delivered a series of rousing speeches by radio which rallied the spirits of the people. His words have become legendary:

‘We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be… We shall never surrender. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”’

For all of us, words are powerful. Our words are powerful and when we speak each day we have the opportunity to change and shape destinies.

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CONFUSED MUSLIM LADY’S ‘CHANCE ENCOUNTERS’ WITH WITNESSING CHRISTIANS

(February 11, 2022) Jalen Jenkins shares a good news story…

Raised in England in a Muslim family, Laila Nassali was bewildered by the number of religions and different doctrines.

‘It was so confusing for me,’ Laila says on her YouTube video channel. ‘God is not a God of confusion, so why are there so many different religions out there? If he’s the one true God, why are there so many religions saying he’s this or he’s that? It looked like a confusing puzzle that I would never be able to solve.’

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Like so many, she gave up on trying to compare, contrast and determine the truth. Instead, she started to live for personal pleasure and be happy-go-lucky like so many fellow university students appeared to be having fun.

Feeling trapped
‘I was literally just living my best life, and that led me to a lot of sin,’ she says. ‘I was trapped in the flesh. I didn’t believe in God, period.’

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