October 9, 2017 | God’s presence makes His earthly home within His people.
 
God's Presence
This Sunday we began a new sermon series that we’re calling “Forgotten God” (if you missed it, I encourage you to go online and listen to it). I’ve observed that many churches tend to lean toward one of two extremes when it comes to what they believe about the Holy Spirit — (1) They become obsessive with the Holy Spirit with overly charismatic practices that are motivated by personal emotions; or (2) Out of fear of being labeled charismatic, they resist any and all mention of the Holy Spirit. The second tendency is what I’ve observed most in many of our Churches; thus, I fear we’ve “forgotten” the Spirit of God.
 
God’s Word very clearly teaches us who the Holy Spirit is and what His relationship with God’s people should be. I believe it’s important that we know and understand the presence of God and how He works in our lives. He possesses all of the attributes and characteristics of God; for He is God. And while the Bible specifically mentions the Father dwells in Heaven and Jesus sits on a throne to the Father’s right hand, the Bible also specifically tells us that God’s Spirit lives within His people.
 
The Holy Spirit lives in you! Take a look at all of the Scripture that tells us so:
 
The Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, foretells of a time when God will empower His people by putting His Spirit in them. Ezekiel 36:27 — “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
 
Jesus comforts His disciples of His impending death by telling them God is sending them His Spirit. John 14:17 — “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
 
The Apostle Paul teaches the Church how their lives are so much different now that they are in Christ; namely, they have the presence of the Holy Spirit living within them to help them break the control of sin on their lives. Romans 8:9 — “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
 
Again, Paul teaches the Church that Christians are dwellings of the Spirit’s presence; therefore we ought to be mindful how we treat one another. 1 Corinthians 3:16 — “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
 
Using the same illustration he used in chapter 3, Paul urges Christians to be careful not to defile our bodies, for God’s Spirit lives within us. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 — “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
 
The faith of a Christian is precious and must be maintained, protected, and developed; and, the Holy Spirit helps with that. 2 Timothy 1:14 — “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
 
The Apostle John explains that as Christians, we belong to God; and, the Spirit of God living in us assures us of this. 1 John 4:13 — “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
 
The bottom line is that if you have received salvation from Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. He doesn’t live in a Church building; and, He doesn’t come and go from your life. God’s presence makes His earthly home within His people. This means we’re never alone; for, God is always with us. This also implies that God’s power dwells within us too. That means, according to Romans 8:11, “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.”
 
Don’t miss the presence of God’s Spirit living in you; instead, recognize the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life. Make it a daily habit of trying to discern the Spirit’s leading in your heart. If you will tune in and listen to the Spirit, this still small voice will become more dominant for you to hear.
 
In Christ,
 
Ashton
 
October 2, 2017 | We know we ought to be reading the Bible because it offers so much help for our faith!
 
As I shared during Sunday’s worship services, we are people of the Word; meaning, the Bible is our authority for living. We trust that God has provided for His Church His words and His truth in the Scriptures. The Bible says of itself in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Word of God finds its origin in God; for, in 2 Timothy 3:16 we learn that “All Scripture is God-breathed”.
 
This means that we do not decide what is truth or what is necessary for our faith from our own preference or experience. Christians do not exclude certain beliefs or convictions because we don’t like them. We simply do not have that liberty. God’s Word informs us what we believe; not the preacher. The Bible is our final authority; not the current cultural trends.
 
So as people of the Bible, we ought to be reading our Bible so we know what is truth and what is not. With so many variations of “Christian” teaching, we must know how to discern what is true and what is false.
 
This is why it troubles me when people of God struggle to read the Word of God. We know we ought to be reading the Bible; for, it offers so much help for our faith. The rest of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that it’s “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. That’s quite a list of benefits that we’ll miss out on if we fail to read the Word of God.
 
One of the primary reasons I’ve heard for people not reading the Word is they simply don’t understand what they’re reading. There’s lots of cultural references that are foreign to 21st century American life. There are numerous names that are difficult to pronounce. And while many of us lack the historical education for making sense of some of the Bible’s background, I want you to know that you can still understand the Bible if you will commit yourself to reading it.
 
Here’s why I say this: Christians have the presence of the Holy Spirit with us who will help us understand what Scripture says. Jesus promised His disciples in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”. The Holy Spirit is always with you; for, He lives in you (John 14:17; Acts 2:38). And Jesus promises us that the Spirit will “teach you all things”; meaning, you always have a teacher helping you figure life out. What does this teacher teach? Well, according to Jesus in this verse, He “will remind you of everything I (Jesus) have said to you”. Notice the Scripture says He “will remind you”…it’s hard to be reminded of something you’ve never learned.
 
So I want to encourage you to commit yourself to reading the Bible. And to be specific, don’t read haphazardly, flipping the Bible open randomly every time you read it. I encourage a systematic plan for reading the Bible. This means you choose a book of the Bible, say Mark’s Gospel, and begin reading the book from verse one through to the end of the book. It may take you several days or weeks to read through the book of the Bible. But if you will commit to reading a portion of Scripture every day, and read through the book of the Bible like this, you will begin to understand it more clearly.
 
We must understand Bible verses in their proper context. You would not pick up a novel and open it randomly and start reading. You start at the beginning and read it through. Think of your Bible like a bookshelf that contains 66 individual books. When we read books of the Bible through like this, we will gain a better understanding of it’s context.
 
And as you read your Bible, should questions arise about what you’ve read, there are people in the Church that can help answer your questions. Your ministers have been educated and trained in Bible college and seminary to understand and study the Bible. Your Sunday school teachers and elders have spent years studying the Scriptures. And while we would not claim to be “experts” in all of the teachings of Scripture, we certainly have enough resources to find an answer to your question.
 
We are people of the Word. Don’t give up on yourself and your study of God’s word. All of us need daily encouragement for our faith.
 
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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