As we enter this season of gift exchanging, it is easy to allow thoughts of what we are going to give those we love most, to overwhelm us. It is a natural desire to want to bless those who bless us. That being said, what gift can we give to Him who has given us the greatest gifts of all – our very life, and breath, hope, and future?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – (Ephesians 2:8-9) His gift to us is one that is freely given, that we do not deserve. We cannot earn it, nor can we somehow repay the blessing He has provided. All that we can do is receive what we have been given, and respond with gratitude, praise and joy.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – (Ephesians 2:10) Because we are created, hand-crafted works of art, His intent is that we share ourselves with the world. Not in our own efforts, but by His grace, as He presents opportunities – we ought to be open and willing to share of the great things that He has done in us. The gifts that we give best, are those that He has created in us, that we choose to use as He intended for us all along.
to my God and King?
For He has made all,
A heart that is true,
and willing to give;
my time, my talents,
unto Him, I live.
The grace He’s given,
I will too, extend;
for without mercy,
our lives would all end.
I’ll give You my more,
so I become less;
may You be Who’s seen,
so many are blessed.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You gave, and continue giving, not because we have earned it or deserve it somehow, but rather because You are a gracious and merciful God, who loves us with an everlasting love. Thank You that You made the way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with You, through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all who believe, to lead, guide and equip us to do Your will. Thank You that we are Your hand-crafted works of art, created with a purpose. Forgive us for disregarding Your power that dwells within us, when we feel that we have nothing to offer. Thank You that in You, we always have You to extend – Your grace, Your love, Your mercy, Your hope. Teach us to trust You more, and help us to hear You clearly, so that we may move confidently as we navigate this Christmas season. May many come to know the greatest gift of all this season, as they choose eternal life in You. Let our light shine brightly before all. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
“Hope is a confident expectation of a favorable outcome.” – (Pastor Jon MacIntosh) In Christ, whom is the Source of ALL hope, we find confidence in knowing that the ultimate outcome is good. We know Who wins in the end, and we have the blessed assurance that our eternity will be spent in His presence.
It is easy to blur the lines between wishing and hoping. A wish is really just a want, that is not backed by confident expectation in Christ. Our hopes, dreams and desires need to align with His, and hope in Him, ought to be “the lens through which we view our future”. (PJM) When we see where He is calling us to go, we move in confident expectation that He will meet us every step of the way, and provide all that is needed to accomplish what He has asked.
In the throes of life’s storms, though I often cannot see the security of the shore, I have hope in Christ, as I know that He is my anchor, steadfast and secure. He will not allow me to get lost, nor to drift beyond a place where He can safely bring me back to shore. My hope in Him is not deterred by wind and waves, as my heart is tethered to His.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – (Isaiah 40:31)
let us hope in the Lord.
He is mighty to save,
our strength in one accord.
Expect that He will use,
everything for our good;
even our great struggles,
make His grace understood.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Hope. Thank You that in You, we need not fear, regardless of what surrounds us. Thank You that You are the anchor that keeps us secure through all of life’s storms, and that You are our peace when chaos seems to reign. Forgive us for allowing the weight of the world to hinder our hope, and help us to hold our every hope in You – not in what surrounds us. Thank You that our ultimate outcome will be far beyond favorable, as eternity with You, is more than our hearts can currently hold. Help us to live in love, looking through Your lens of hope, so that others too, may see that true hope is found in You. May many come to find hope in You during this blessed season of remembering. Be glorified in all that we say and do. Amen.
For more verses on HOPE(per sermon notes from yesterday):
Romans 8:24(hope saves
I John 3:3(hope purifies)
Hebrews 6:13(hope anchors us)
I Thessalonians 1:3(hope inspires)
Psalm 62:5(hope comes from God)
2 Thessalonians 2:16(hope is good)
Titus 2:13(hope is blessed)
Hebrews 7:19(hope is better)
I Peter 1:3(hope is living)
I Corinthians 13:13(hope is enduring)
Ephesians 1:8(we are called to hope)
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
1 Corinthians 15
King James Version (KJV)
15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Some of you know something of that which has been called “the dark night of the soul.” Some of you have spiritual desire and deep longing for victory but it seems to you that your efforts to go on with God have only brought you more bumps and more testings and more discouragement. You are tempted to ask, “How long can this go on?”…
Yes, there is a dark night of the soul. There are few Christians willing to go into this dark night and that is why there are so few who enter into the light. It is impossible for them ever to know the morning because they will not endure the night. I Talk Back to the Devil, 80-81. A.W. Tozer
This morning Cautious and I had an interesting conversation about forgiveness and a kid who is often unkind at school. Five of his six classes are shared with this young man, and daily, his heart is challenged to forgive. Cautious is a serious rule follower, and he is very disturbed by the number of disruptions caused each day by this boy’s behavior. We spoke of my favorite strategy, to pray for those who persecute (or perturb), and ask to see one another through God’s eyes. Soon, his sweet demeanor returned, as he realized that he too, has been forgiven much, and is blessed with love and support that surrounds him.
We cannot do anything to be more deserving of God’s grace than another. It is not earned by being good enough. However, when we recognize just how great the gift truly is, we cannot help but be compelled to give as we have been given. The magnitude of God’s mercy extended to all who believe, is beyond what one heart can hold. Not only does He withhold the punishment that is due – death; but He gives far beyond what we could ever hope for on our own, as He took our place on the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him.
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” – (Romans 4:7-8)
Mercy withholds His judgment net.
Love extends His kindnesses still.
Faithfulness with hope He will fill.
Peace because His mercy shall reign.
Praise to Him who removes our stains.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we do not deserve it, You forgive us and love us as we are. Thank You that when we ask, You remove our sin and shame, and no longer count it against us. Lord, we need Your grace and strength to do the same to others, as on our own, we fail miserably. We know that we must forgive as we are forgiven. Please forgive us for any unforgiveness we are holding, or any bitterness that may linger. Cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and help us to see others through Your eyes, so that we may extend Your love, grace and mercy to all. May many come to know You, as they see You in our ability to forgive and extend the very same grace that has been given to us. Be glorified as we offer all that we are, unto You. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48 KJV
When we give thanks this Thanksgiving, we should take time to consider if we are giving as much as we are receiving and what we can do better. We need to review our abundance and look for opportunities to share. The most important thing that we can do is make sure that we do not pass up any opportunity to share God. Whether it is monetary, or with the message we send, or if it is simply with our actions in how we celebrate the day. For in everything we do, we are the face of God that people see, if they see our own thanksgiving, they can have a better understanding of God.
King James Version (KJV)
100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
It is not good to navigate grief, nor face trials all on our own. God gives us people to walk beside us and keep watch. Though our first and foremost resource is our Heavenly Father, He created us to need people too. In the glory of His goodness, He allows people to be His hands, heart and voice. Jesus in us, makes Christ tangible to others, when we are faithful friends who do life with one another.
This morning, as I read further in Matthew, something stood out to me in a new way. “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” – (Matthew 26:38) Though Jesus, who was fully God, did not need to have people with Him, He wanted to have friends near Him in His hour of need to keep watch, as He knew what He would soon endure. If the God of all creation wants to keep friends near when trials come, how much more should we desire the same? We are relational creatures, created to be in relationship with God and with people. We must do both to obey the greatest command: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” – (Luke 10:27, also Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30)
in the face of grief;
His heart made known,
friendship’s sweet relief.
For we are called,
to love people well;
as Christ loves us,
our actions do tell.
To walk beside,
through the good and bad;
grants glimpses of,
our Heavenly Dad.
Seek Father first,
and let people in;
we are all made,
for sweet communion.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be relational people. Thank You that even Jesus, in His hour of need, wanted to have those closest to Him nearby. Though His priority was time with You, the nearness of friends was also good. Forgive us for the times that we isolate ourselves, not wanting to bother those who care about us and are a gift from You, and for the times that our priorities are out of order and we do not seek You first. Help us to know the balance. Teach us how to seek You first, and to know when to reach out, and when we are meant to sit in Your presence on our own for a time. Thank You that You love us so well. May we be a blessing to those around us, as we choose to love as we are loved. May many come to know You as their Redeemer and Friend. Be glorified in our love for You and for those around us. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” This makes known the principle which is to be exercised in our approaches unto God, for, “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). None but a genuine believer can obtain access unto God: all others are rigidly excluded. There must be the actual ex- ercise of faith in every spiritual work: “by faith Abel offered unto God” etc. (Heb. 11:4). The “full assurance of faith” does not here signify a firm knowledge of our sonship, but an implicit confidence in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood. Many Hebrews who had received in general the faith of the Gospel were wavering in their minds about the Person and office of Christ and the glorious things predicated of Him by the Apostle, and therefore he stresses the fact there must be a firm conviction of the reality and efficacy of the Atonement if we are to draw near unto God.
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Here is the twofold preparation prescribed unto us for the right performance of this duty. In these expressions there is an obvious allusion unto the necessary preparations for Divine worship made by Israel under Judaism. As there were various ways in which the Jews became ceremonially and legally defiled, so there were various means appointed for their purification (Heb. 9:13). Those institutions the Apostle now applies spiritually: “our hearts” and “our bodies” signify the inward and the outward man. “Bodies washed with pure water” has no reference to baptism, but is to be understood of our members being preserved from evil and used for God. Rightly did John Owen say at the close of his exposition of these verses, “Universal sanctification upon our whole persons and the mortification in an especial manner of outward sins are required of us in our drawing nigh unto God.”
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” has reference to an efficacious application of the blood of Christ unto sanctification or internal purification, so that the burden of guilt is removed. This is accomplished originally in the communication of regenerating grace at the new birth, and is repeated whenever the Spirit grants a fresh renewal and experience of the virtues of the Atonement. That a good conscience is an indispensable qualification for access to God is seen from, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14), where “serve” signifies communion and worship. When the conscience is unpurged, the weight of condemnation lies so heavily upon it that we are then at a loss in approaching the Holy One.
Now to sum up. It is one thing to know theoretically the legal way and right of approach unto God, but it is quite another to enjoy conscious access to Him. For that, the aid of the Spirit is imperative, but He will not perform His gracious operations within us if He be grieved. If we have spent the night in ransacking the newspapers, in worldly conversation, or in backbiting the servants and saints of God, think you that the Holy Spirit will draw out your heart unto the Father when you perform your evening devotions? Not so, unless you penitently confess those sins, and sincerely determine there shall be no repetition of them. “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). What has been before us was strikingly foreshadowed of old in connection with the approach of Israel’s priests unto God: first the blood was applied to their persons, then the oil (emblem of the Spirit), and then they washed at the laver.
By Bill Federer
Born a slave in New York in 1797, she spoke only Dutch until sold around the age of 9, together with a flock of sheep, for $100.Suffering hardships, her third master made her marry an older slave with whom she had five children.
After New York abolished slavery, she returned as a domestic servant and helped with Elijah Pierson’s street-corner preaching.
Her name was Sojourner Truth.
In Massachusetts, she worked with abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, Sojourner Truth moved to Washington, D.C., met Lincoln and helped former slaves.
In 1850, she dictated her biography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, stating:
“When I left the house of bondage I left everything behind. I wanted to keep nothing of Egypt on me, and so I went to the Lord and asked him to give me a new name.”
“I set up my banner, and then I sing, and then folks always comes up ’round me, and then…I tells them about Jesus.”
Her last full day on earth was NOVEMBER 25, 1883. Sojourner Truth would begin her messages:
“Children, I talk to God and God talks to me.”
American Minute is a registered trademark. Permission is granted to forward. reprint or duplicate with acknowledgement tovwww.AmericanMinute.com
The matter of our approach into the presence of God is one of vital importance, yet it is one (like so many others these days) upon which much confusion and misconception exists. We will not now attempt to canvass the principal errors pertaining thereto, for there would be little profit for either writer or reader in prosecuting such a task. Rather do we wish to call attention unto the various aspects of the subject, for it is failure to perceive these and hold their due balance which has resulted in the fostering of false impressions in quarters which some regard as being the most orthodox sections of Christendom. If one essential aspect of this subject be ignored, or if another one be emphasized to the virtual exclusion of everything else, then the most misleading and dangerous ideas must result therefrom.
Let us begin by asking the question, Is it possible for a depraved and defiled creature to obtain access unto the thrice Holy One? If there is one thing taught more plainly in the Scriptures than another it is that sin separates the sinner and God. This fearful fact is impressively set forth in Genesis 3:24: that flaming sword was the symbol of a sin-hating God, barring approach unto the emblem of His presence. When Jehovah appeared on Sinai, amid the most solemn manifestations of His awful presence, even the favoured Hebrews were commanded under pain of death to keep their distance from Him. An Israelite who became ceremonially unclean was rigidly excluded from the Camp. Even when the tabernacle and the temple were erected, the common people were not allowed to enter the holy places. In how many different ways did God make it evident that sin obstructed any access to Himself!
But not only does God debar the sinner from access, the sinner himself has no desire to approach unto Him—rather does he wish to flee as far as possible from His presence. A sense of sin and the guilt of it upon the conscience drives the sinner from the Lord. This fact was also solemnly exemplified at the dawn of human history—just as long as our first parents remained in dutiful subjection to their Maker, walking in obedience to His commandments, they enjoyed blissful communion with Him; but as soon as they became self-willed and rebellious, all was radically altered. After they had eaten of the forbidden fruit and they heard the voice of the Lord God in the Garden, they fled in terror, seeking to hide from Him. And thus it has been ever since.
Is there, then, no access to God for the fallen creature? If there were not we should not be engaged in writing this article. Access to God is possible—possible for the chief of sinners—but only via the appointed Mediator. As the Lord Jesus so emphatically declared, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by Him alone—not through priest or pope, Mary or the angels, good works or tears—that we may obtain access to God. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access” (Rom. 5:1, 2). In pointing this out we are covering ground which is thoroughly familiar to all our readers, truth which is still proclaimed in many places. Yet it is by no means the whole of the truth on this subject, though it is all that is presented thereon in certain quarters. It is those neglected aspects which we now desire to particularly stress.
Once again we would point out that unless we differentiate between things that differ there is bound to be confusion and error. So here. We must distinguish between the way of access which Christ has opened for sinners into the presence of God, the qualifications which are required from those entering that way, and the exercise of those qualifications so that the way is actually used. But the moment we mention “qualification” and the necessity for “exercising” the same, some will demur, insisting that we are thereby sounding a legalistic note and destroying the simplicity of the Gospel. Then let us ask- such objectors, Are hypocrites entitled to use that way of access which Christ has opened? Do “Christians” who exercise no faith, but simply offer cold and mechanical prayers, enter into God’s presence? If the objector answers No—as honesty compels him to do—then he has granted our contention, whether or not he agrees with us in detail.
How many professing Christians do really obtain personal access to and enjoy conscious communion with the Holy One? What percentage of real Christians are actually accustomed to do so? Alas, what multitudes have been deceived by Satan into supposing that all they have to do is get down on their knees, plead the name of Christ, and automatically they obtain audience with the Most High. Not so. It still holds good that, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1, 2). The principles of the Divine government know no alteration, and allowed and unconfessed sins act as an impassable barrier between the soul and God as truly today as they did under the Old Testament economy. No change of dispensation modifies the requirements of God’s holiness or reduces the enormity of sin.
Three things are absolutely necessary if any is to have access to God. First, he must have the legal right or title to do so. Second, he must possess the necessary moral fitness. Third, he must be spiritually and experimentally empowered. Our legal right to approach unto God is found alone in the merits of Christ: His sacrificial work and the present exercise of His Priesthood give me title to draw near unto the Throne of Grace. But does that cover the whole matter? Is nothing more than a legal title required? Ah, the real saint knows otherwise from painful experience. How often has he entered his closet, sought audience with the Divine Majesty, pleaded the blood of Christ, yet without any conscious access. So far from any conscious approach to Him, God seems far off, and all is darkness and deadness in the soul. Like the Spouse in the Canticles, he seeks his Beloved, but finds Him not.
“Behold I go forward, but He is not there: and backward, but I cannot perceive Him. On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him” (Job 23:8, 9). Has that painful experience of Job’s never been duplicated in your own? Was his case altogether exceptional? Far from it, as the recorded lamentations of others of God’s children clearly show. “Why standest Thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?” (Psa. 10:1). Yes, even the sweet Psalmist of Israel knew what it was to feel God’s distance from him and to be denied conscious access to Him. “How long wilt Thou forget me, O LORD, forever? how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Psa. 13:1). Again and again this was his agonizing experience. And there are seasons in the history of all believers when such language is just as suitable to express their experience as Psalm 46 or Psalm 150 is suited to their cases on other occasions.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). The words we have placed in italics present another vital aspect of our subject, showing as they do the Christian’s dependence upon the agency of the Holy Spirit. Herein each person of the blessed Trinity is accorded His own distinctive place in the economy of re- demption: access is unto the Father, it is through Christ, but it is by the Spirit. The sinful believer can no more approach unto the Father without the gracious operations of the Spirit than he could without the mediation of the Lord Jesus. One has procured for us the legal right; the Other supplies the experimental enablement. The exercise of faith, as we shall yet see, is another essential prerequisite for drawing near to God, but the actings of faith lie not within our own unaided power—He who first imparted this heavenly gift must quicken and energize it if it is to function properly.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” What place is given to this part of the Truth in most sections of Christendom today? None at all. And even where the third Person of the Godhead is duly owned and honoured, how feebly do the saints apprehend their imperative need of the Spirit’s daily working within them. His operations are essential if our leaden hearts are to be raised above the things of time and sense, if our affections are to flow forth unto their rightful Object, if faith is to be duly acted upon Him, if a sense of His presence is to be communicated unto the soul. But will the Spirit perform these gracious operations if we are indifferent as to whether or not our conduct grieves Him? If a Christian has spent his evening at the card-table or the theatre, and before retiring to rest bows his knees, will the Holy Spirit, at that time, draw out the heart of such an one and grant him conscious access to the Father?
What has just been raised brings us to still another aspect of our subject—there must be a moral fitness if the suppliant is to obtain access to God. Alas, that so little is heard about this in the ministry of the day. Yet the reason for this omission is not far to seek: where the dominant object is the pleasing of the hearer, little will be said in condemnation of a carnal walk, and still less of the serious consequences thereof. But though the pulpit has become so unfaithful, God abides faithful, and He will not wink at evil doing. No, not in His own children, nor will He allow the sacred name of Christ to be used as a passport into His presence by the workers of iniquity. Is it not written, “With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure; and with the obstinate Thou wilt show Thyself obstinate” (Psa. 18:26); that means what it says, and says what it means.
Loose walking severs communion with God, and then will He act distantly toward us. An earthly parent (who is prudent) will not conduct himself with the same familiarity and cordiality toward a disobedient child as he will unto a dutiful one. Our folly must be repented of and humbly acknowledged before fellowship can be restored with God. Yea, even if our fault be only against a fellow-creature it must be righted before God will accept our worship: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24)—how many are unable to obtain conscious access to God through failure at this very point! “Turn ye unto Me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you” (Zech. 1:3): if we would have God turn unto us in mercy we must turn unto Him in obedience.
“Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace” (Rom. 5:1, 2). This brings before us still another aspect of our subject: the necessity for the exercise of faith in order to approach God. The same truth is presented again in, “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him” (Eph. 3:12). Faith is the appointed means of access, for it is the hand which receives every blessing from God. Faith in God’s willingness to grant us an audience, faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice to provide us with the title of approach: faith in the Divine promises that if we contritely confess our sins He will cleanse us therefrom. At first a small degree of faith enables the Christian to approach unto God, but as he advances in the knowledge of his own heart and of God’s hatred of sin, stronger faith needs to be exercised if we are to draw near the heavenly Throne with confidence. Yet we must be very careful not to mistake blatant presumption for holy assurance.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the veil (that is to say, His flesh); and having a High Priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22). This is what may be termed the classic passage on our present theme, gathering up as it does into one comprehensive statement the essential features thereof. But what a solemn example it affords of the lack of proportion which now so generally prevails: we are probably safe in saying that for every once verse 22 is quoted, verse 19 is cited 20 times. It is this disproportion which has distorted the Truth and led to the error mentioned by us in the earlier paragraphs. Let us now carefully examine these verses.
The passage opens by announcing that Christians have “liberty” (margin) or a “freedom with confidence” to approach unto God, this language presenting a designed contrast from the case of national Israel under the old economy. This liberty to draw near unto the heavenly Mercy-seat is “by the blood of Jesus.” The foundation of all confidence in our access to God and the title to approach unto Him lies in the infinitely meritorious sacrifice which Christ offered unto God on our behalf, and this we must ever plead before Him. Our encouragement so to do lies in the office which our Saviour now exercises on behalf of His people, namely, “High Priest over the house of God.” This is most blessedly brought before us in, “for we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: let us therefore come boldly (freely) unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16).
In what next follows in our passage we are shown the way or manner in which we are to make use of the unspeakable privilege described in verses 19-21. In other words, we are required to meet the terms of verse 22 if we are to enjoy conscious access unto the thrice holy God. First, let us draw near with “a true heart.” This is the principal qualification. A “true heart” is one that beats true unto God. It denotes sincerity in contrast from hypocrisy. It is not the reverent posture of the body or the language of the lips with which God is chiefly concerned, but rather with the heart—the seat of our affections. They who worship Him, “must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” or their performance is utterly futile. The mere outward performance of religious duties, no matter how scrupulously undertaken, is not sufficient—it is with the sincerity of our hearts God has chief regard to in all our approaches unto Him. God will bear with infirmities, but not with hypocrisy.
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” – (Matthew 21:22)
Prayer is the power of God in action; it is not some sort of magical wish upon a star phenomenon. However, in order for prayer to be effective, our heart must be aligned with our Heavenly Father’s. Our requests must be in synch with the principles of God’s kingdom. The more in tune we are with God and His will, the more likely we are to make good and pleasing requests. God does not answer prayers that would hurt people, nor does He do things to go against His own nature or will.
What about the times that prayers seem to go unanswered, or do not turn out as we had hoped? I anticipate this very loaded question may be meandering through your mind, as most of us have heartfelt prayers that we have earnestly prayed, that seemed to go unanswered. How do we reconcile the disappointment, when we trusted and believed that He would answer? What I have learned, and am still learning, is that believing and trusting Him and His character first, must be my priority. His answers do not always come in the package I anticipate. Though I ask for one thing, He may have other plans for my life or the life of another. God, being the Divine Creator of ALL, knows best, and I have to trust that His ways and His plans are far better than my own, even if it means temporary heartache here. I know that He is good. I know that He loves me with an everlasting love. I know that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, and that He has a hope and a future for me. At times, that has to be enough.
trust God and believe;
for it is through Christ,
we now may receive.
All hope comes from Him,
our soon Coming King;
Lover of our souls,
our praises we bring.
May we come to know,
Your faithfulness, God;
as we pray to You,
and on Thy path, trod.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to hear our prayers. Thank You that You answer that which we ask, as we earnestly seek You and Your will. Thank You that though answers do not always appear in the form that we might hope for, You are forever faithful, and always have our best in mind. Thank You that those who do not receive their healing on earth, are whole and in perfect health in Your presence now. Thank You that Your love for each of Your created, is far greater than our own, and You know what is best, even when we want other than what has been done. Forgive us for our frustrations and doubts, and help us to place our heart in Your hands, trusting You with all things, knowing that You hear us, and love us. May we live each day as love and light to all those around us, and may many come to know the saving grace that is only found in You. Thank You that You are so very good. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Always the decisive conflict in religion will be where important concepts are joined in opposition, concepts so vital that they are capable of saving or wrecking the Christian faith in any given generation. At this critical juncture in church history, the real conflict is between those who hold to an objective Christianity capable of being grasped in its entirety by the human intellect and those who believe that there are far-in areas of religious experience so highly spiritual, so removed from and exalted above mere reason, that it takes a special anointing of the Holy Spirit to make them understood by the human heart. The difference is not academic merely. Should the advocates of religious intellectualism succeed in setting the direction for the church in this generation, the next generation of Christians will become helpless victims of dead orthodoxy.
In conversation with one of the better-known devotees of neo-intellectualism in evangelical circles, I asked the question bluntly, “Do you actually believe that everything essential in the Christian faith may be grasped by the human intellect?” The answer was immediate–”If I did not, I would be on my way toward agnosticism.” I did not say, but might properly have said, “And if you do, you are on your way toward rationalism.” For such indeed is the truth.
Having as the High Priest of our profession the incarnation of all divine wisdom and having as our source book of religious knowledge the holy Scriptures, the soundest and saltiest work ever written, why do we tend so easily to become confused about things spiritual? I believe the causes are four, and I propose to state them in this and the next chapters.
The first cause of religious confusion is our failure to understand that the truth as it is in Christ Jesus is a moral and spiritual thing and not something intellectual merely. Let a man approach the burning bush of divine truth with the desire to grasp it in his hand and the intensity of the fire will blind his eyes and cauterize his hands and face to the point of insensibility. Before the awesome vision of revealed truth, the human intellect should kneel and hide its face in trembling adoration. Because Moses was afraid to look upon God, the Lord could speak to him face to face as a man speaks to his friend; but God hides His face from the man who does not instinctively hide his own.
Intellectual pride, then, with its corollary, irreverence, is one cause of religious confusion. Satan’s original doctrine, “You will be like God, knowing . . .” (Genesis 3:5) has been accepted by millions of religious persons through the centuries and commands a big following today even among professedly orthodox Christians. In spite of all Christ said while among men and all His inspired apostles wrote after His ascension, we seem never to learn that the inner essence of truth cannot be apprehended by the mental faculties. We still come at the awesome supernatural reality headfirst.
I wish it were possible to anoint the head of every Christian preacher so that he would never sin again while the world stands. Perhaps some would consider that a happy way to deal with the subject. But, in fact, if any person can be removed from the possibility of sin, he or she can only be some kind of a robot run by pulleys, wheels and push-buttons. A person morally incapable of doing evil would be, by the same token, morally incapable of doing good. A free human will is necessary to the concept of morality. I repeat: If our wills are not free to do evil, neither are they free to do good….A.W. Tozer