October 23, 2017 | The Holy Spirit is ALWAYS with you!
 
Few promises are more encouraging for the Christian than God’s promise to be present in our everyday lives. Jesus made this promise as a part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20 when He declared, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “the end of the age” that Jesus refers to is signaling the return of Jesus. Christians can be assured that we will have the presence of Christ’s Spirit in our lives until He physically returns to earth to usher us into our promised eternal life.

The presence of Christ’s Spirit makes His dwelling within us upon our baptism (Acts 2:38); thus, making our bodies His earthly home (1 Corinthians 6:16-20). As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living in us! And because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, there is no place that we can go without His presence.

I love the promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence found in Psalm 139:7-10. It says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

The reason why you cannot flee from the presence of the Spirit is because He lives in you! This is great encouragement for believers; for, if the Spirit of the living God lives with you and goes with you everywhere you go, then, so do His promises!

Take for instance the Apostle Paul’s advice to believers in Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

During Sunday’s services at CCC, several church members shared with me burdens that they were carrying and asked me to pray for them. This morning I prayed for medical tests scheduled this week; I prayed for a family grieving the loss of a loved one; I prayed for cancer treatments; I prayed for depression and healing of an unknown illness. And as I prayed, I asked (according to Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:6-7) the presence of God to bring a peace to each need that transcends all understanding.

This is a promise that sons and daughters of God can hang onto. Because we have the presence of God’s Spirit living within us, no matter where we go or what we do, He is faithful to be with us. And since He is always with us, when we present our requests before God in prayer, His presence in our lives can provide a peace that doesn’t make sense.

I should be worried, but God’s presence provides peace. I should be falling apart, but because God’s Spirit lives in me, I am filled with a peace that is not of this world. My circumstances do not change, for I still have to face the troubles of this world. But take heart, because we do not face these circumstances alone. God’s Spirit is always with us to face life’s darkest times.

So no matter what you’re going though, trust that the same Spirit who rose Jesus from the dead is going through it with you. May this empower you to pray and trust that our Almighty God is in control.

In Christ,

Ashton
 
 
 
October 16, 2017 | The Holy Spirit wants to talk to you EVERYDAY!
 

The New Testament is full of promises to the Church in regards to what the Holy Spirit will do in our lives. These are just a few of the promises that Jesus and the apostles spoke by divine inspiration:

  • The Holy Spirit will always be present with you. (John 14:17)
  • He will comfort you and serve as your advocate before God and your counselor in times of sorrow. (John 14:26)
  • He will remind you of all truth. (John 14:26)
  • He will give you the words to say when you’re called to defend the Gospel. (Mark 13:11)
  • He will pray for you when you can’t pray for yourself. (Romans 8:26)
  • He will strengthen you to put to sin to death. ((Romans 8:1-4)
  • He will give you assurance that you are God’s child. (Romans 8:15-17)
And there’s many more promises found in God’s Word. We must accept these promises on faith. Now faith is not “wishful thinking”; as in, “I hope these promises are true for me.” Faith, according to

Hebrews 11:1, is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is a confident expectation that God will do what He has promised He will do. So I believe each one of these promises are true for me.

One of the promises Jesus made of the Holy Spirit is “He will convict the world of sin.” In John 16:8-11 He said, “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

Maybe you’ve heard the excuse from the former churchgoer that they don’t like attending Church because when they do, all they hear is the sin they’re involved with. That’s probably the Holy Spirit confronting their sin. Is He doing that to make them feel guilty? More than guilt, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin to show us our need to repent.

In Acts chapter 2, Peter preaches the first ever Gospel message about Jesus, and in response to the message we read in Acts 2:37, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart (the Holy Spirit convicted them and confronted their sin) and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” The Holy Spirit does this every time the word of God is read or heard to lead us away from our sin and toward the grace and forgiveness of God.

Let me give you a very practical example. In the average year, I plan to preach on the topic of personal finances 2-3 times. I might preach a series of 3-4 sermons on finances every 2-3 years. So out of 52 Sundays in a year, you might hear 2 or 3 that have money as a topic. Ironically, in ten years of preaching, I’ve heard from people at least a dozen times each year, “Why is it all you talk about is money?” I’ve preached messages, and never mention money in the sermon, and have people respond to me, “I wish you didn’t talk about my money so much!” (I’ll probably hear that about next Sunday’s sermon ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT…)

Do you know what’s going on in the heart of those people complaining? I believe the Holy Spirit is confronting sin…He’s connecting the dots to one word or phrase and directing you to areas of your life that you may need God to work in.

It’s the same thing that happens when you tell me that a sermon you heard me preach was EXACTLY what you needed to hear. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told, “It was like you were preaching that for me!” That’s the Holy Spirit working in your heart applying God’s truth, convicting you of sin, and leading you into all righteousness.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. All year long I compile a list of ideas that I think would make good sermons (things I’ve heard, conversations I’ve had, books I’ve read). Then I set aside a week every fall. And I prayerfully work through all of the ideas I’ve compiled. And I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me as I begin to place those ideas on a calendar. I have a week set aside in November when I will work on sermons for 2018 and by the end of the year, I’ll have a calendar of what I think I might preach every Sunday next year.

Then when I’m about 4-6 weeks away from preaching a new series, I bring out all of my thoughts and begin to create an outline of messages that fit within that series. Sometimes I go with the idea that I started with…sometimes it’s a brand new series using the same text…sometimes it’s something totally from scratch.

Finally the week before I preach, I’m asking God to bring to life the message for this Sunday. And I’ll devote about 10-15 hours of study, prayer, and preparation so that I’m as ready to preach as I can be.

Why am I telling you this? More times that not, the sermon you heard me preach on Sunday, the Holy Spirit put on my mind a year ago…and He worked with me for hours…and I likely never knew what you were going through. So that sermon that “was exactly what you needed to hear”, that ministered to you in your circumstances and led you away from sin and closer to Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought it all together…because He’s here and living within both of us.

God works as much in my planning and preparation as He does in my preaching. He doesn’t JUST prepare me to preach to you on Sundays. He wants to talk to you EVERYDAY. When you’re at work…at school…in traffic…at the doctor’s office…when you’re well…when you’re sick…when you’re hurting…when you celebrate…when you grieve…when you’re confident…when you’re afraid…when you’re striving…when you’re tempted…Jesus promised us…the Holy Spirit is with us and He’s working in your life pointing out exactly where God wants to work. We need to recognize Him…and follow His lead.

In Christ,

Ashton

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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