“Christ the Living Bread of Heaven”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

11th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

AUGUST 5, 2018

Title: “Christ the Living Bread from Heaven.”

Text: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35)

Scripture Reading: John 6:32-40.

This sixth chapter of John is a watershed, a major turning point in the Gospel of John. From this point on, Jesus is not nearly as popular as He once was. His enemies are determined to do away with Him. From a historical point of view, it is only a matter of time until our Lord’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Our text plays a pivotal role in all of this, so let us ponder well on the words of this Scripture.  This is one of the great passages of the Fourth Gospel, and indeed of the New Testament.  It is one of those sayings of Jesus Christ that would make people want to run or walk away from the truth. This is evident from verse 66 as John ends the narratives saying, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked with him no more.” It is clear in this verse that it was a hard saying of Jesus. John, the beloved apostle, lived and ministered in the great city of Ephesians which was a Gentile city where Greek culture was dominant. He faced the task of communicating the coming of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah who was the Savior of the world.

John announced that the eternal God had entered time and space, the invisible God had become visible, the spiritual had become physical in Jesus of Nazareth, and the Creator had become a part of His own creation.  He proclaimed Jesus as the very language of God in which God was seeking to communicate with people concerning himself, the nature of humanity, the purpose for life, and the meaning of eternity. John has proclaimed Jesus as the very light of the World that dispels darkness and puts chaos to flight.  

John presents Jesus Christ as the living Bread from heaven that sustains and supports life.   He is not medicine that prevents disease, cake enjoyed as a dessert, or candy for its mere sweetness.  He is the Bread of life that is essential for life.

This great chapter concerning Jesus as the Bread of Life follows the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.  The miracles in John’s gospel are parables through which Jesus sought to teach something about the life of the Spirit, the life of faith, the life of worship, and the life that leads to joy.

Our Lord met a great physical need of the hungry multitude.  He used this experience on the human level to reveal divine truth on the spiritual level. Christ asserted that he came into the world on a much greater mission than that of merely satisfying the physical needs of people.  He came to meet their heart and soul needs.

In this great claim to being the Bread of Life, our Lord used figurative language that identified him with the manna God gave through Moses.  While God gave the manna for only a limited time, he now provides spiritual bread on a continuing basis (John 6:32).  Jesus Christ, the Living Bread, continues to provide sustenance for the innermost being of those who trust him and look to him for grace and guidance in life (John 6:48-51).

There is great physical hunger in the world today.  The population explosion has created vast multitudes in areas of the world where there is a scarcity of essentials for human existence.  In some great metropolitan areas, poverty has created famine conditions. Our governments, churches, and parachurch organizations are faced with an urgent challenge to feed the hungry.  These hunger conditions present every Christian with both an invitation and a commission to e help.

There is also great spiritual hunger among the nations of the earth.  Everywhere there is a haunting dissatisfaction within people’s hearts.  They feel incomplete because they do not know God through Jesus Christ. What is humankind hungry for?

There is a hunger for truth, and Jesus Christ is the truth.  There is a hunger for abundant life. There is a hunger for love, and Jesus Christ is the medium through which the love of God comes to us.  There is a great hunger for forgiveness, and Jesus Christ makes forgiveness possible for us. In the midst of wars and rumors of war, there is a hunger for peace among nations of the world.  But Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace can help us to have the harmonious relationships that make for peace among the people. There is a great hunger for meaning and purpose in life, and great joy can come to those who follow the purpose of Jesus Christ.  There has always been hunger for eternal life, and Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal life.

Our Lord’s audience does not understand what He is saying at all. They still think Jesus is offering them some kind of literal bread, which they can eat and fill their stomachs, just as they ate the barley loaves at the feeding of the 5,000. So when Jesus speaks to them about “bread,” they quickly ask for more: “Sir, give us this bread all the time!” They offer Jesus a full-time job as their chef.

In His response, Jesus makes it very clear that He is speaking of “spiritual bread,” not literal bread. It is He who is the “bread,” so whoever comes to Him will never hunger. In verse 35, Jesus speaks of the one who “comes to Him” as the one who “believes in Him.” To come to Jesus is to trust in Him, by faith, as the “bread from heaven,” who is God’s only provision for eternal life.

The Food of the world does not satisfy the hunger of the soul.  A barn full of grains cannot satisfy the hunger of the soul (Luke 12:13-21).  Pleasure alone will leave a sour taste in the mouth. Knowledge, as wonderful as it is, cannot satisfy the deepest hunger of the human heart.  Power and position do not satisfy this deep hunger of the soul. Power can often be very frustrating. Why is there too much hunger in the world?

Humanity is hungry for two primary reasons.  First sin has made people hungry for God. When we live a life of sin, we live a life of no faith in God.  For us to live a life of no faith is living a life where we try to satisfy our thirst by drinking salt water.  It is like trying to satisfy the hunger of the stomach by feeding on sawdust.

God has created us with a hunger for himself.  God made us with a nature like his own and has placed within us a hunger that cannot be satisfied with anything except God himself.  People try to satisfy this hunger by piling up money or by studying books or by enjoying all the pleasures that the world has to offer.  The God-shaped vacuum within the human soul cannot be satisfied with anything except God himself. Christ is the Bread sent from God to meet the deepest needs of the human heart.

Christ is the Bread from heaven that makes life possible.  Without bread, people could not live, and without the Bread of Life, people cannot know the life of God.  This is not just a poetic phrase. Throughout the ages bread has been very important in the sustenance of life.  Christ is the bread of life available to the chief of sinners. He is the Bread of heaven available to the hungriest of hungry. He is the bread available to the thirstiest of the thirst.  Christ the bread that strengthens and nourishes and makes growth and development possible. It is he who gives vitality and strength to our moral muscles. Christ is the bread that satisfies perfectly.  Jesus Christ declared that they who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled (Matthew 5:6). Our Lord is adequate to meet every spiritual need in our lives. As we cannot live the natural life without bread, we cannot live the spiritual life without the Bread of Life.

Christ, as the living Bread of Life Heaven, is the best food upon which the soul can feed.  Furthermore, this Bread is a free gift from God and is congenial to the appetites of all who will come to Him. But Christ, as the living Bread of Heaven, is beneficial only to those who eat.  You must eat your own food. When our Lord speaks of his flesh, he is referring to his incarnation, his coming into the world as a visible manifestation of the love and grace of God.  When He speaks of His blood, he is really speaking of His life, which was given for us.  As we trust Him and meditate on all that He came to do for us, and as we give ourselves in obedience to Him, we feast on the living Bread from Heaven.  Our text is much more than mere history, a skillfully written account of what happened in the life and ministry of our Lord. It is recorded to instruct us, and there is much for us to learn here. Let me conclude this message by pointing out some of the lessons it has to teach us.

This text exposes some of the wrong reasons people turn to God, and why they reject the gospel when they finally understand it. Consider some of the reasons why people seek God, which are not biblical. First, many people seek God to “meet their needs.” These “needs” are almost always physical or material, rather than spiritual, and they are the “needs” we define for God—which we expect Him to meet. We want physical health, success in our endeavors, and food on the table. We look to God to provide these for us, not as secondary desires, but as primary demands. When God fails to meet our demands, when life doesn’t go as we wish, we find God to blame. How many of us, as Christians, find God’s “meeting our needs” as the dominant theme of our prayer life?

Second, some people turn to God for salvation, but they seek a salvation to which they can contribute, a salvation which they control (see 6:36-37, 44). Jesus came to die in the sinner’s place, to bear the guilt and punishment for our sins, and thus to appease God’s holy wrath on our sin. By His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid the price for our sins. It is only by faith in His “flesh and blood” as He came to this earth and died in our place that we are saved. This is how our Lord became the “bread of heaven that gives life to the world.” Have you tasted this “bread”? Have you acknowledged your sin, and the divine wrath it merits? Have you trusted in the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross of Calvary for your sins? I urge you to partake of this “bread” and to obtain eternal life through Him. God bless you!


“The Eagle Christian”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

10TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JULY 29, 2018

 

Title: “The Eagle Christian”

 

Text:  “But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

 

The eagle is the king of the birds.  What the lion is to the animal world, the eagle is to the bird kingdom.  No other bird compares with the eagle in superiority or power. Depending on what version you are using, the eagle is mentioned more than thirty two times in Scriptures.  In our Scripture today, Isaiah tells us that those who yield their life, those who surrender their will to God shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles.  God promises that you and I can be eagle Christians.

To fully grasp who an eagle Christian is, it is important to comprehend some of the habits and heritage of an eagle.  

The eagle is an excellent nest builder.  The eagle builds its nest in the cleft of the rock, in the crags of the mountains.  Some of the eagle’s nest can be ten feet across, can weigh approximately one ton, and be twenty feet in depth.  An eagle stands at three feet high, and has a wingspan of 32 to 36 feet. This bird can weigh eight to thirteen pounds.    Each wing has 1,252 feathers with a total of 7,182 in their entire body.

Each day, the eagle would stare into the sun for about forty five minutes while tears come out of its eyes.  It is a means of cleansing. As it stares into the sun, the eagle would clean its feathers by pulling each through its beak.  This is called preening. The eagle clean and oil itself through the process to prepare for the day. The young eagle is a very ugly bird at birth because it has no feathers, but as time goes on it grows to be a very beautiful bird.

One important habit of the eagle is that it can dive straight down at a speed of one hundred and eighty miles per hour to bear up its young in its wing to teach them how to fly.  The eagle is a bird that can be depressed at some point in its life. It would descend to the low, dark part of the mountain. It would stay there without cleaning itself. The oil in its beak would gum up, the eagle will not fly and would eventually die if food is not brought down by the stronger eagles.  I have seen an eagle.  It is beautiful and strong.  But what I envisage about the eagle is that its habits and heritage brings to the fold great spiritual lessons.  We can study the eagle, marvel at the forty eight wonderful species of eagles God has created, and glean some spiritual truth to help us live our Christian life.  Join me this morning as we delve into Scripture and comprehend why one of God’s greatest prophets urged us to be like an eagle.

An eagle Christian is a Christian that soars above the storms of life.  The eagle is a bird that takes advantage of the wind to soar, to mount up high in the heavens.  The eagle gets above the fog, the mist, and the clouds. Job puts it like this: “Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place” (Job 39:27-28).  

Folks go through all kinds of storms in life. Folks get depressed. Everyday dozens of people commit suicide in America.  According to the Center for Disease Control, since 2000 the suicide rate has increased 28 percent from 10.5 to 13.4 per every 100,000.  The rate among men is 3.5 times higher. On average, there are 123 suicides per day. It is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S. claiming over 45,000 lives.  This data is based on death certificates information gathered by the C.D.C. There are many other crisis that affects Christians. These tragedy are storms in the life of Christians.  They posed great danger to many Christians. It is a sad situation. Folks leaped out into utter darkness with a cry of hopelessness on their lips. They feel that life is a prison sentence.  They lose sight of the stars. But if only folks would surrender their lives fully to God, they could rise above the storms of life and find the peace of God that passes all understanding. David remembered this promise when life closed in for him.  His home and hometown were burned to ashes. His family and families of his friends were made captives by roving band of outlaws. But that was not all. His trials were even greater. His own men were blaming him for the catastrophe and were threatening to stone him to death.

What was David’s response? The Bible says, “David encouraged himself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6), and his life was renewed like the eagle’s.  Brushing away his tears, he recognized his men, went forth to battle, conquered his enemies, and David was victorious. David remembered the wings God had given him and, like the eagle, rose above them.  When an enemy attacked an eagle, the eagle soars up out of the enemies’ reach. The eagle puts himself between the enemies and the sun, there they lose sight of him. Satan cannot reach us if we become eagle Christians and if we will direct our lives toward the heavens, soaring high above.  “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalms 91:1). God promises to set us on high places.  The Psalmist spoke of “the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2). There is a rock in a high place that is a safe refuge for God’s people.  God has promised to put our feet on that rock, the rock of security, assurance, and safety. In the storms of life, God will care for us.

As mentioned above, the eagle will at some point in its life seems depressed.  It lives in the low, dark part of the mountain. It refuses to clean itself accumulating oil in its beak.  Those are low moments in the life of an eagle. This time can be perilous. If not assisted by other stronger eagle, life can be fatal.  We all go through perilous times in our lives. We go through times of depression when life seems to have no meaning. We go through those times when we try to find God in all the wrong places.  These are the times when God Himself exhibits the habit of eagle. The mate and the eagle live together besides the nest and are devoted to each other. Their care for the young is a beautiful and touching scenario.  Deuteronomy 32:11 puts it this way, “As the eagle stirreth up her nest , fluttered over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.” This verse looks at the mother eagle teaching the little ones to fly.  The mother eagle pushes the baby eaglet out of the nest on top of the cliff. As the little one flies downward, if the eaglets cannot fly, the mother eagle swoops down swiftly and spreads out her wings under the little one and bears it up on her wings lest its life be lost on the rocks below.  

God at times too will try His people, but he does not put more on us that we are able to bear.  In Exodus 19:4 the great Jehovah God speaks to the children of Israel. He recalls with them how he cared for them during the wilderness wandering.  He says, “I bore you on eagle’s wings.” What a beautiful and inspiring picture of God’s care of His people as he led them through the wilderness. His care for them was like the mother eagle’s care of her young.  Sometimes they fainted along the road and sometimes they were hungry or thirsty, yet God was there to bear them up on His wings. The eagle Christian can see visions of his days and future and of the things of God. You and I can lift up our eyes to the everlasting hills and see the city foursquare and a king on His throne.  Like the eagle, God has given a Christian vision to see life through His eyes. We can see sin as He sees it. We can see goodness, love, and truth as He sees them. An eagle Christian we can see opportunities and His will for our lives. As we live for Him, and fulfill the destiny He has set for us, we can say with Paul, “Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

It is good to be an eagle Christian because the eagle loves liberty and freedom from bondage.  The eagle never flock. They select the tallest trees of the forest, the topmost crag of the mountains, and pairs live in solitude, hunting and feeding singly.  Humankind’s relationship with God is one where we long to be free. We were created to stand alone before God. As eagle Christian, let us never be afraid to stand alone before our God.  Our quest to stand alone before God and have a relationship with Him is sometimes hindered. This freedom can be lost. This freedom can be bartered away. People can be enslaved by sin.

The story is told of how a rancher saw a giant eagle swoop down in its flight and seize a snake from the plains.  The eagle started to climb back to the heights. Again and again the eagle was bitten by the snake. The poison from the snake fangs sank into the bloodstream of the eagle.  The rancher watched the pitiful sight, the mighty eagle being bitten by the snake. The he watched as the poison gradually took effect, and the mighty eagle began to go down, down until it fell lifeless to the earth.  This is how the life of man is as he takes up sin, some evil habits, and learn the high cost of low living. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

But the eagle inherits a substance in its beak that hinders him in his flight.  The eagle realizes this substance hampers him in his flight. The eagle goes to the rock and hits his beak again and again on the rock until the substance begins to flow from his beak and the eagle is free from it and begins to fly effectively again.  Likewise, by nature we humans have something within us that hinders us from soaring to the heights, from taking flights into the spiritual stratosphere. But one day we can go to the Rock of Ages and have our lives freed from the sin that hinders us. As eagle Christians, we can soar again.

Finally, the eagle Christian longs to inherit eternal life.  The eagle is known to live about 120 years, even in captivity. Each year the eagle sheds of its feathers and has the appearance of youth. God, in like manner, promises to renew our youth like the eagle’s.  By His Spirit and power, God restores and revives our lives and returns us to the days of our yout. As Paul said, “The inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). As the eagle, we can live long life. We can also live in eternity.  Let us as people of God wait upon the Lord, that our lives may be renewed like the eagle. God bless you.

 

“What Do You Do When God Says No?”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

9TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JULY 22ND, 2018

 

Title: “What Do You Do When God Says No?”

Text: 2 Samuel 7:1,2, 11-13.

  1. After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” 11.“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.  13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

The passage of Scriptures just read speaks about a time in the history of Israel when David was king.  It was during the glorious day of his rulership. God had blessed him through all his reign as king. God had kept him safe from the attacked of his adversary.  The kingdom was at the peak of its glory. David was satisfied in all that God had done for him. A contemplative king enjoying peacefulness from God is what is reflected.  With a grateful heart, David thought about how luxurious his own dwelling place was and purposed in his heart to be a blessing to the Lord. He compared it to the fact that God’s dwelling in the tabernacle constructed since the days of Moses wasn’t a good thing.  Since it’s construction, God’s presence had dwelled in that temporary place. David wanted to give God a permanent place of dwelling. He had a vision for building God a house. But God revealed to the prophet Nathan that David was not designated to built a house for God.  God said “No!”

There are many other examples in the Bible where God has said no to other men of God.  God said NO to Moses. God said NO to Paul. God said No to Abraham. God also says NO to Christians in this time age.  Sometimes we have great vision for our lives and our church. Things in our lives aren’t always going to work the way we want it.  

God is not always going to give us the boy or girl child we want.  God is not going to give us the car we want. God is not going to heal us as quickly as we desired.  What do we do when God is not readily available? “What Do You Do When God Says No or not yet?” There are three things I want us to glean from this passage: God sometimes say no to help us acknowledge He is faithful and His glory is not depended on our lives; God will say no to perfect His greatness and glory in our lives; and God will say no to help us to trust Him.

We will read from “Our Daily Bread about how Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. One of the mothers at the mission station in Zaire died during childbirth.  The missionaries tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle they had was beyond repair. So they asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded, ‘Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely.’  

That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as it was opened. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, ‘If God sent that, I’m sure He also sent a doll!’ And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child’s sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies’ group to include both of those specific articles.”  

The most interesting part of this story is the acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness by the girl who prayed earnestly. She said, “If God sent that, I am sure He sent a doll! There would be times when we will get a yes from God.  There would be other times we would get a no from God. Sometimes God’s NO is a WAIT, “I got something better.” When we get a NO from God, God reminds us of what he has done, what he can do, and what He is going to do. This means that God is faithful. In such time, we need to acknowledge all that God has done for us.  He is reminding us that He has a better way. He is God! He carefully sits on His throne and carefully orchestrates every human activities. Despite being God, He is faithful to His creatures. David had a good plan, but

God says no because His greatness did not depend on David’s dreams or vision (1 Samuel 7:5-11).  The Lord essentially tells the prophet Nathan to inform David that He does not need a house. He recounts the fact that He has dwelt in a tent with Israel, and He has never asked for a permanent home. He also reminds David that he was just a shepherd boy when God reached down and anointed him as King. He has been with David through it all (1 Samuel 8-9).

The bottom line of God here is this: “I do the building son, not you. I will make the plans, son, not you. My glory is not dependent upon your dreams.”

We are given a very fundamental and basic theological lesson by the Lord. It is this: the freedom and independence of God. The importance of that statement is that God is God and we are not. He is the initiator. He is the sovereign Lord who builds up and brings down. We must be careful when we pray that we remember this.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that prayer is simply “a lesser being making a petition to a Greater Being.” When we pray we must not think that when we ask for something God must do that. It won’t fly with the Almighty. He is free. His ways are not our ways. His understanding is so much higher than ours. Paul wrote: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33). So the answer to David is however not a NO, but God takes the dreams and vision of David to construct a house for His glory and perfects them.

David thought that God needed a house. He was dreaming. Nathan was dreaming. But they were too small. They dreamed too little. Sometimes it’s better to just latch on to the great theological truth of the Bigness of God and the Freedom of God and unleash that thought in our lives.  Paul in Ephesians 3:20 writes, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Sometimes we only need to ask God and He will perfect His greatness and glory for us to see. David thought that God needed a house. He was dreaming. Nathan was dreaming. But they were too small. They dreamed too little. Sometimes it is better to just latch on to the great theological truth of the Bigness of God and the Freedom of God and unleash that thought in our lives.  Anything we undertake in our lives begin with focusing on His greatness of God.  We can do this if we trust God when He says NO. How do we trust God? By exercising our faith in Him.

The answer, I say again, is not just “No”. It’s “exceeding abundantly above all” that David and Nathan could ask or think. But it was “according to the power’ that was working in them”. It started with that quiet time. Look what it leads to: The Lord shows David that He (God) will glorify Himself through something more eternal than brick and mortar. (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

The Lord turns the tables on David. It seems that hearings for building permits always bring some sort of surprise, some amendment to the original plans.

In 2 Samuel 7:10 God says “I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them …” Then God tells Nathan to tell David, “Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.”

You want to talk about construction projects? God tells David “you know nothing about building plans. I don’t need a house. You do. You and the world need a place that is safe.” He says Israel will be planted in a place of their own and move no more, nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore. He says that David is going to have a house, a kingdom that will come from his line.

The protection and permanence for God’s people are not found in a building or a physical location or in a security system; they are found in Jesus Christ. Everything else is really idolatry. This is the message of the early Church: “The God who made the world and everything in it, He who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).

God’s answer to David is not unusual in Scripture or in our Christian experience. God’s answer to our proposals is always the same: “Jesus.” He is always God’s response to man’s need, man’s dreams, even what man desires to do for God. God will not accept what you want to do for Him. He has done it all for you in His Son. In Hebrews 11, the great men faith trust God.  They put their lives in God’s hand and God made for them a place in heaven.  They trusted God when God said move.  They trusted God when God said go. They trusted God when God said NO.  The results was that they were not ashamed for God to be called their God.  Let us trust God when He says NO because when God says NO, He wants us to acknowledge His greatness does not depend on our dreams; He wants to perfect His glory in our lives.

 

 

 

“The Priority of Praise”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

7TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JULY 15, 2018

 

Title: “The Priority of Praise”

 

Text: Psalms 150:1-6

1 Praise the Lord.  Praise God in his sanctuary; Praise him in his mighty heavens. 2 Praise him for his act of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. 3 Praise him for the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with hype and lyre, 4 praise with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipes, 5. praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

 

A pastor visited a woman who was ill in bed; and, after having buried seven of her family in six months, had just heard that the eighth, her beloved husband, was cast away at sea. The pastor asked, “Do not you fret at any of those things?” She said, with a lovely smile upon her pale cheek, “O, no! How can I fret at anything which is the will of God? Let Him take all besides: He has given me Himself. I love, I praise Him every moment.”  This is a story of praise and gratitude to God no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” discussed at great length the purpose of our existence on this earth.  As I taught this book as a Bible studies material at Walton UMC, I thought hard about the same questions, “Why on earth am I here for?  Why did God create me? What is my purpose in life?

With this thought in mind, Augustine said, You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.” Different people from different walks of life, different political and social backgrounds have given the idea of who God is and why did He create humankind diverse thoughts.  In giving this a thought, Moses and Israel expressed it in a song.  They sang in Exodus 15, “Who is like unto thee, Oh Lord, among the God? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praise, doing wonders?” Moses wrote this song as he has written in Deut. 32 and Psalms 90. They sang on the occasion of Israel’s deliverance and Egyptian defeat. The mood of the song is triumphant and it was sang to acknowledge the power of God as Israel’s defender. Indeed, the Lord is glorious!  His glory is one thing God will not share with any man. He wants His name to be praise! He demands His name to be praise! He instructs in his word that His Name should be praised. He lives in the praises of His people.

Jerry Flurry informs us that the glory of God is one theme that is reflected in the English Bible about 275 times.  The glory of God occurs in the Psalms alone about fifty times. In one my favorites Scriptures in the Bible, it commands us who have been called out of darkness to show forth the praise of God: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, KJV). Reading 1 Peter 4:11, we will learn that it is God’s design that God in all things may be glorified.  One would always agree with Pastor Warren that the sole purpose for the design of the universe and the creation of man is to glorify God. In one of the many books I inherited from Minister Jay Andersen, Minister of Mission at Newton First, I love how C. S. Lewis puts it: “In commanding us to glorify God, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” From all these wise sayings, the ultimate question that pops up is, What should be our priority in our quest to show gratitude to God for our creation? Our priority is to glorify God.

Johann Sebastian Bach in his discussion on the importance of music said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.” He headed all of his compositions: ”J. J.,” the initials for, ”Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help me.”  He ended them “S.D.G.,” the initials for, “Soli Dei Gratia” which means “To God alone be the glory.” Why I do not agree with Johann that some music is a devilish hub-hub, I am of the opinion that music should praise and glorify God. 

The apostle Paul was clear on the essence of life being to do nothing else but glorify God.  In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do to the glorification of God.”  In his letter to the church at Rome, he says, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Paul is saying here that our number one priority is to praise and glorify God. What does it means to give glory to God or to glorify God?

To glorify is to pay a conscious attention to His greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshipping Him, primarily because he, and He alone deserves to be praised, honored and worshipped.  To glorify God the children of Israel sang a song in Exodus 15 as Israel’s first great affirmation of faith. In the prior chapter of Exodus 14, God had liberated Israel to admire and exalt Him. They acknowledged the greatness of God by worshipping Him in this song of praise.  

To glorify God is to praise Him for His attributes.  We glorify him for his holiness, faithfulness, mercies, grace, love, majesty, sovereignty, power, and His knowledge.  As mentioned above, Moses and the children of Israel sang a song to the Lord in Exodus 15. They acknowledged God because there was no one like Him among all the others gods around.  This stemmed from four hundred years of slavery or Egyptian oppression. God had shown them His power and majesty by splitting the Red Sea open for them to walk on dry land to safety and freedom. God fulfilled a promise He made to their forefather Abraham in Genesis 15.  Here in this song, they sang of God’s greatness, they admire Him, they exalt and praise Him.

John Piper, a renowned baptist preacher said, “Glorifying means feeling, thinking, and acting in ways that reflect His greatness, that makes much of God, that gave evidence of the supreme greatness of all His attributes, and all the satisfying beauty of His manifold perfections.”  When we glorify God, we feel good about God. We show it through our actions, our facial expressions, and with a grateful heart. In 2 Samuel 6:14-16, David demonstrated his feelings of God’s greatness by dancing before the Arc. David felt good about how God had blessed Israel. He acted in this way to reflect the greatness of God. In Psalms 46:10, it says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! How do we glorify God?  How do we as a church glorify God in this 21st Century without being called crazy?  How can we as a chosen generation glorify God without being embarrassed because everyone one else around us aren’t church folks anymore?

The answer to how we should glorify God is found right in the Bible.  In Isaiah 43:21, it says, “These people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” From this Scripture we see that God made us to reflect or display or manifest His glory.  You know, when God created humankind, He said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). What God meant and wanted was for us to to be like polished mirrors reflecting God’s truth and His glory to the world.  And one way we can do this is to praise Him in the morning, in the noon time, in the evening, in His sanctuary, in our houses, cars, and everywhere. In 1 Chronicles 16, the record tells us, “Ascribe to the Lord, the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the Lord in Holy array, (verse 29); Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders, (verse 9); For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all the gods, (verse 25).”  Making praise a priority is how we glorify God. But there are hindrances that impede our ability to praise God.

We cannot praise God when our heart is not right and we refused to listen to His commandments.  Listening to God and agreeing with Him is important in our worship of Him. We must rid ourselves of unnecessary burdens of hate, envy, gossips, strife, and all others things that hinders the Spirit of God.  Making mental assent is not enough, we must obey and listen to the voice of God through Scriptures, prayers, meditation, and preaching.

One other thing I will run by you before we close is we must glorify God by living faithful and purposeful lives.  In Matthew 5:16 Jesus reminds us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,and glorify your father which is in heaven.”  The apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do to the glory of God.” These are wise saying for us to learn to live faithfully in the eyes of God.  There is not one person on the face of this earth that is perfect, but we can strive for perfection. We can strive to live according to how God wants us to live. One way God wants us to live is to praise Him daily.  We must make praise our number one priority because God has call us to a life of praise. God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

“Godly Contentment”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

7TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JULY 8, 2017.

 

Title: “Godly Contentment”

 

Text: 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Years ago, Russell Conwell told the story of an ancient Persian, Ali Hafed, who “owned a very large farm that had orchards, grain fields, and gardens… and was a wealthy contented man.” One day a wise man from the East told the farmer all about diamonds and how wealthy he would be if he owned a diamond mine. Ali Hafed went to bed that night a poor man–poor because he was discontented. Craving a mine of diamonds, he sold his farm to search for the rare stones. He traveled the world over, finally becoming so poor, broken, and defeated that he committed suicide. One day the man who purchased Ali Hafed farm led his camel into the garden to drink. As his camel put its nose into the brook, the man saw a flash of light from the sands of the stream. He pulled out a stone that reflected all the hues of the rainbow. The man had discovered the diamond mine of Golconda, the most magnificent mine in all history. Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own garden, then instead of death in a strange land, he would have had acres of diamonds.  

This is a story about discontentment. It a thing of humankind that makes someone, somewhere dissatisfied with his or her position in the universe. It all started with an angel named Lucifer, the brightest star of the heavenly firmament. He wanted something more than his assigned position as the greatest of all created being. This seething discontentment of Lucifer against the Most High led him to lead a rebellion against God.  This rebellion caused him his place in heaven. He was hurled down to earth and many of his rebel followers followed him. Ever since that dark day, he and his followers have been an enemy to God and His works. It was discontentment that made Satan to do it, and discontentment has been his weapons ever since. He had some successes.

His earliest triumph in this area was in the Garden of Eden. He sowed the seed of discontentment in Eve’s unsuspecting heart.  By misrepresenting God, he made Eve to think God was cheating humankind. This very seed of discontentment brought forth the bitter harvest of disobedience, and the entrant of sin into the world. Since this one incident, we have been an unsatisfied race.

It is not a wrong thing to want something better. And a certain amount of discontentment can be good for the soul. It’s not wrong to have dreams about what the future might hold. The hope of something better drives us forward and keeps us working, inventing, striving, creating and innovating. But there is a kind of discontentment that leads in a wrong direction.  It hinder our spiritual growth.  Let us learned together what contentment is.

In our Scripture under consideration, Paul lifts two words.  Paul talked about “gain” and “godliness.” What Paul is talking about here is that true piety, and not empty profession of faith, is way of securing the very highest good and not mere earthly treasure.  Paul makes an addition of the word contentment. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Paul here learned the gift of contentment.  It is a gift from God. It is Christ who gave this gift through the Holy Spirit. Many struggle with being content. It is a universal problem. The word contentment has a deeper meaning. Contentment here does not indicate mere satisfaction with what one possesses, but a satisfaction that has nothing to do with outward circumstances.    

Paul gives a reason for this statement in the phrase that follows: “for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out.” Nothing this world has to offer can make any real addition to our salvation and our being in right standing with God.

Paul wants us to know that the real good of a person consists of his moral and spiritual being. The real good of a person is not in his wealth or possessions he may gather about him.  When we have food and clothing or our basic physiological needs, we will be content. We will be satisfied. Whatever else we have that God gave us we should receive with thanks. It will be useful and will give us comfort.  It is not, however, absolutely necessary, and the true Christian will be satisfied when his needs are supplied.

Paul, however, is not praising poverty, nor declaring it a crime to possess property. There is nothing wrong with having wealth and there is nothing wrong with seeking financial security, but there is something wrong with worshipping wealth rather than God. Paul is only rebuking extreme greed for wealth.  Paul is showing that real contentment is independent of either poverty or wealth.  It is worthy of learning here that our Scripture today is a warning against the danger of extreme greed for wealth.  Those who place before them wealth as the chief goal in life, are in danger of falling from the faith. It makes a person fall into “temptation,” namely, that of using wrong means for accomplishing their ends.  One of the things that these riches do is put the Christian into circumstances that one can not get out of. When riches increased, a person developed the tendency to develop many hurtful lusts, that is the desire for unreasonable and injurious pleasures and gratifications which overwhelm men and put them in moral ruin, or, as Paul declares, “drown men in destruction and perdition.”  Why do we struggle with contentment?

Just by way of confession, I personally have spent the vast majority of my life with my heart displaced or discontented for one reason or another. If I wasn’t discontented because I didn’t have a spouse, I was discontent with my secular job. If I wasn’t discontent with my job or the fact that I was single, I was discontent with my friendships, my roommates, me not seeing my children or my housing situation. On and on I could go. As I look back on the years of my life, a common theme and thread throughout my entire story is discontentment. So I want you to know that I have not learned what Paul is talking about here. I am still on my way to learning, by God’s grace. And I don’t think

I’m alone in that. I don’t think I even need to be a prophet to know that the vast majority of us are struggling deeply with being content.

Being discontented is a universal problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, if you’re married, if you’re widowed, if you’re rich, poor, black, brown, white, old, young, in college or out of college. Every human heart struggles with this. It’s a universal problem, and there’s no sign that it’s getting any better in our culture or otherwise. In fact, I read an online article this week from some from Wikihow.com  that essentially said from the time one turns thirteen to the time one turns forty, it’s just downhill in terms of contentment and happiness. The article points out that in this fast paced world of ours, it is hard not to constantly want something. It’s just a slow and steady decline.

The answer to our question of why we struggle with discontentment is a lack of trust in God. You and I struggle with contentment primarily because we struggle and we fail to trust God. That’s why discontentment surfaces in our lives in all the ways that it does. Deep down, we struggle badly with trusting God and believing that God is what is best for us and always does what is best for us. We struggle to trust Him in that and to hope in Him in that. And because we do, we are discontent in a myriad of ways.  It is only when we learned to be content, we will be happy to serve God. Contentment can only come if we nurtured it.

Paul said, I learned to be content.  Hebrew 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ The greatest of all treasures we possess is the gift of eternal life and the gift of faith.  Let us be thankful for what we already have, knowing that it is God who will sustain us as individuals and as a church. The same God who has brought us this far will see us through to the end.  

I just want to close with offering you to exhortations from Philippians 4. The exhortation is this: Repent of your grumbling and discontentment. Repent of that and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you contentment. Look in verse 11 with me. Paul says, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” We see in this verse that the desire for and ability to be content is wrought by the Spirit of God. Contentment is something to be learned.

Moses in Psalms 90 says in his prayer, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Apparently we don’t as human beings naturally number our days. We don’t naturally think about the fact that our days on earth are numbered. So Moses is saying, “God, I’m not going to naturally do this. So teach me to do it. Teach us to number our days.” We need to be taught to number our days, and in the same way, we need to be taught contentment. It’s something that is learned. It’s a process.  

Discontentment is a weapon of the devil to steal your worship of God.  It is a weapon he manufactured since the days of the our Genesis in the Garden of Eden.  It hinders our spiritual growth. It is not a bad thing to have financial security. God wants us to prosper. But let us put the worship of God above it.  Let us learned contentment by nurturing it through the power of the Holy Spirit. God bless you!

 

“Spiritual Wisdom for a Darkened World”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

24TH JUNE 2018

 

Title: “Spiritual Wisdom for a Darkened World”

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:14

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

 

During a period of rush hour traffic, an elderly lady made a decision to go across the street.  Because of the fast flow of vehicle, she was fearful, confused, and therefore hesitant to cross by herself.  In the end, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. The lady was grateful and very relieved.  She took his armed and stepped into the busy intersection. As the pair went down the street, the lady got progressively alarmed. She was alarmed because the gentleman zigzagged across the street to the blare of horns and screeching brakes.  They finally reached their destination. Instead of the lady telling the gentleman thanks, she turned to him and said, “You almost got us killed! You walked like you are blind.” I am,” he replied. “That’s why I asked if I could cross with you.”  

Like we do sometimes, the lady did not make the best choice.  The man she thought would guide her with a steady arm and wisdom to avoid them being killed could not guide them both. He desperately needed guidance himself. Jesus Christ talked about the blind leading the blind.  He said, “When the blind leads the blind, they both end up in the ditch.” In our world today, we need spiritual guidance.  We live in a fast paced, fast changing culture. Ours is a world where many do not believe in God or the Bible. Ours is a world where folks depend on natural, worldly knowledge as opposed to spiritual knowledge.  Living in Post-Christian America, we are constantly blitzed by powerful influence such as the media, peer pressure, social trends, culture driven religion and cults. In our everyday life, we hear things like, “All religion leads to the same god, If it feels good, it must be right.  No one has the right to tell you how to live your life. Women should have the choice to abort their babies. If what I am doing does not hurt anyone, it’s okay.”

But the most alarming and dangerous part is the reality that there is a growing lack of discernment among Christians.  Why is that so? We as Christians today lack discernment because of our failure to see the issues clearly, to think things through the eyes of God and Scriptures, failure to see the implication of actions, choices and decisions.  And also failure to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. This makes me to raise the question, “What is discernment?

The word discernment comes from the translation of two main Greek words.  The first is anakrino meaning to examine or judge closely. The second is diakrino meaning to separate, to examine, to investigate.  Discernment is the ability of make godly judgment. It is to distinguish between and be able to recognize the moral implications of situations and what course of action a person may take.  It involves distinguishing right from wrong, the good, the better, the best.  The apostle Paul speaking of discernment says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not…”  Simply put, discernment would be the ability to decide between truth and error, right or wrong. In the Christian sense of the word, it is seeing things the way God sees them.

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus Christ admonishes His followers to exercise discernment when it came to the things of God.  Jesus says, “Give not the things that are holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”  Jesus here is saying we must use discernment when it comes to God’s possessions. It is possible to waste God’s possessions by casting them unto people or influences that can contaminate them.  This tells us that it is very important to be people of spiritual discernment.  Why do we need spiritual discernment?

Spiritual discernment is needed in our lives because evil never presents itself as evil.  We are involved in a race where our primary enemy is Satan. This enemy seeks after our souls.  He is cunning and subtle. With our natural instincts, we cannot easily see the evil he brings our way.  

The life of a person who lack spiritual discernment is illustrated in the story of Elisha recorded in 2 King 4:38-41.  The record tells us that in the time of famine, Elisha sent his servant to prepare a pot of soup or stew for his school of prophets.  It was not the intentions of the servant to harm anyone. The mistake was that he did not do his research well. The servant assumed the ingredients were harmless.  The stew were served immediately it was prepared. It made them sick. The Scripture tells us that the sons of the prophet cried out, “There is death in the pot.”  Upon Elisha instruction, the meal or flour was pour in the pot.  This miraculously acted as an antidote to negate the tainted effect of the stew.  

One can see the poisonous herbs as a representation of false doctrines, foolish actions, foolish, self-serving individuals, that could come into our lives, our homes, our church, under the disguise of being harmless.  The servants who gathered the lapful of herbs could be seen as those believers who lack spiritual discernment that gather up false doctrines, worldly influences, and out of ignorance and enthusiasm, introduces these things into the assembly of God’s people.  These things are mixed with what is good putting the welfare of God’s people at risks. Discernment is the meal or flour added by Elisha to the pot of stew. With discernment, all the poisonous things are destroyed. Church, we need discernment in our lives.

I read a story in the news media that told the story of a pastor who asked Christians to quit church because people aren’t committed anymore.  This pastor was quoting a book written by someone who wasn’t even a Christian. Where is the discernment of this pastor to know that his message did not resemble the very principles Christ stood for?  I am a seminary graduate, but the only explanation I have for such a pastor is that there is a lack of spiritual growth and maturity here. Church, we need discernment because it is synonymous with spiritual growth and maturity.

Discernment has played a very important role in the spiritual growth of individuals and communities.  It is so with traditional methodism. The methodist movement created for spiritual nurture and guidance three types of small groups, one of which was the class.  

The class was a small group of people who sought a personal relationship with God.  The class leader was appointed by Wesley. The leader was a person with common sense, an experience of saving grace, and the ability to interpret the Bible to the members of the class.  On a weekly basis, the leader would inquire about the spiritual state of class members, then offer prayers and guidance suited to the needs expressed by individuals. Spiritual discernment came through interaction with the class leader, who asked questions that led people to think about and to listen for what the Spirit intended for their lives.  This kind of efforts to discern what was good and acceptable in the conduct of the lives of believers was a key to living a blameless and uncompromising life.

The white blood cells in the human body is our third line of defense against germs that invades the body.  In a person with Human Immuno Virus or HIV, the white blood cells can not fight the virus because the virus has the power to destroy the white blood cells or leukocytes. This cleansing agents immediately pounce on toxic materials when they entered the body.  Discernment is like these cleansing agents. Discernment helps us clean up the act in our lives. It is God’s grace active in our lives that helps us to clean up. In Titus 2:11 it reads, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.  People have misuse the grace of God to indulge in sin. Discernment is a dimension of God’s grace that intersects every point of our lives, helping us to walk on the safe side of caution, rather than corruption.

We desperately need to cultivate the spiritual skills of discernment.  It will enable us to distinguish between right from wrong. We must be ready to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, the best from the better, righteousness from unrighteousness, and purity from defilement.  The question here is how and where do we develop spiritual discernment?

There are some basic principles that helps us to know how and where to develop spiritual discernment.  Due to time factor, I will preach this as a series. But let us conclude by reminding ourselves that we cannot grow as disciples of Christ if we lack spiritual discernment.  We cannot reach another level in our Christianity if we lack spiritual discernment. We as Christians cannot know the secret of true wisdom without spiritual discernment.

Would you like to find the key to deeper living, to higher level of spirituality?  Would you want to find some type of deeper, hidden special knowledge or insight that offer the key to understanding life, in this deeply troubling world?  If your answer to this question is yes, it is important for us to learn about the Holy Spirit’s power on how to discern right from wrong, truth from error, and righteousness from unrighteousness.  Let us hear what the prophet Hosea says, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning let him know them; For the way of the Lord is right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumbled in them.”

 

“Father of a New Spiritual Race”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, FATHER’S DAY

JUNE 17, 2018.

 

Title: “The Father of a New Spiritual Race.”

Text: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:1-8.

 

Jim Henry told a story a pastor friend of his told him some years back. He said that a young lady came for counseling and sat down across from the pastor. She was thirty years old, single and has tears in her eyes. As she talked to him and shared her heart, it was evident that she saw that marriage had to be the key to her happiness. Without marriage, all she could see was a protracted loneliness. So, as he listened to her, the pastor asked, ”What kind of man are you looking for?” He said for the next thirty minutes, she told him what kind of man she was looking for. He said that after hearing her ideal man, He concluded that that kind of man never existed. He said to her, ”Could you just bring it down to one phrase?” And she said, ”Yes, I am looking for the ‘total man, the perfect man.”

One may wonder about the total man. Is there a total man, a perfect man? I think all of us look for the ‘total man,’ the perfect person. And certainly, all of us look up to and hope that our fathers would be the perfect man.  Sadly, there is no perfect father, except one, and it is God. However, the Bible provide many examples of great men of God, who were not perfect fathers, but have served as good, spiritual fathers.

One example of such man of God was Abraham.  Abraham has been referred to as the “father of faith.”  A brief study of this great man of God will show him as an illustration of the personal character of Israel’s religion, a good father of many nations.  It will show him as a spiritual kind of father. But even more so, it will show him as a father of a new spiritual race. This will help us to glean from his life, some helpful things about fatherhood on this Father’s day.  Let us learned together on the theme: Abraham: Father of a new spiritual race.

To begin with, let us consider the interrogative, what is a father? To some, he is a economic necessity?  To some, a father is someone who is simply the responsible party. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a father as “one who originates or institutes.  No wonder you hear a person say, “He has been like a father to me.” The root meaning of the word father is “the source or prototype.” The father is “that one from whom I get my strength.”  So a father is one whom we are privilege of gleaning strength to mold our lives. A father is the one under whom we mature because he personifies integrity and goodness and all those graces of character that God wants to see nourished and flourishing. Genesis 5:21 points out, “When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah.”  

But a father is not a perfect person.  He is someone who is mortal and is prone to making mistakes.  Genesis 12:11-13 tells us that Abraham, “the Father of Faith” made mistakes.  He lied about Sarah being his wife to aid the Almighty with a personal plan.

In Genesis 16:3 he had inappropriate sexual relations with Hagar in an effort to help God fulfill His promise of an heir.  Indeed fathers aren’t perfect people, but folks who can help lead us in becoming a new spiritual race of people in this dark age.  Fathers are folks who have been called by God to lead people to spiritual truths.

You see church, the noun form for father is fatherhood.  Fatherhood is a kinship relationship between the offspring (child) and the father.  It is family relationship. It is kinship. It is a connectedness by blood, marriage, or adoption.  And so, fatherhood is a calling wherein God calls us in our relationship with him to lead others to become spiritual people into spiritual truth.  From the passage under consideration, we will see that Abraham was called by God to be a father. Abraham was called to not only to be a father, but a father to many people.  It is important to point out that that call by God to Abraham was the beginning of Abraham’s usefulness. When we become fathers through the acquisition of a child through our relationship with a child by bring forth or adoption, we are call to usefulness.

For Abraham, It was a straightforward call.  Genesis 12:1-4 tells us about the call on Abraham’s life.  It does not tell us how the call came about. One can assume that it was an inner compulsion.  Genesis 11:31 tells us about Abraham leaving Ur and going to Haran. But the promises of God would never be realized had Abraham not gone to Canaan.  A call can be a decisive event in a person’s life. When we become fathers by giving birth to a child or children or being a father to someone through adoption or 

marriage, it is a decisive event in our life.  Abraham call was not an audible voice or a vision.  It was the sensation of a certain touch or taste of Abraham.  It was a decisive event in Abraham life to go out from where he was.  This open up the road for God to use Abraham to be a father of many nations.  What we must remember this morning is each of us have a call from God as fathers that we should not doubt.  This call is a compassion from which we cannot escape. Abraham’s call was to leave home and kindred and go to an unknown land.  It was a call to act in faith. Abraham’s obedience to the call made him a great intercessor for others (Hebrew 11:8-10).

Like Abraham, we have been call into fatherhood to lead a new spiritual race in this darkened world.  Some important things we can learned from Abraham so that we become good fathers are the outstanding characteristics that made him great.

Abraham was obedient.  First Samuel 15:22 says, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  Abraham’s obedience was the beginning of his usefulness.

Abraham was unselfish.  For one to be useful and be able to lead others as fathers, one has to unselfish.  As a father, you are potentially a child’s finest teacher about God. Genesis 13:9 gives the spiritual account of this characteristic in Abraham’s life.  It is also found in other men of the Bible, such as Joseph, Moses, Jonathan, Daniel, and Paul.

Abraham was courageous.  It is difficult to picture Abraham as a man of war.  But in Genesis 14:14, we learned about a story where, “When Abraham heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”  As fathers we are called to protect our own.

Abraham was benevolent.  Great and successful men of this modern generation, as well as men of history, have this characteristic.  Genesis 14:20 tells of Abraham giving his tithes. Tithe is a badge of love and loyalty. As fathers, we are called to be generous to our children in the good gifts God has blessed us with.  Our Lord used the earthly relationship between a father and his children to describe the relationship between God and His children. He speaks of the fact that an earthly father seeks to give only good gifts to his children.  God will not deliberately give that which is harmful and destructive.

We must give to our children good name (Proverbs 22:1).  One of the finest gift we can bestow upon a child is a character as an example and a heritage of which he or she can be proud.  In order for us to be fathers to make this generation a spiritual race of people, it is important to give to our children a humble faith.  This can only happen when we teach our children that God is real. This is a genuine faith, when our children sincerely believe that God is real and that He is a rewarder of all those who diligently believed in Him (Hebrew 11:6).  

It is important also to give to our children love.  Be available. Make time for your children. Let us express appreciation for our children.  Bestow on them praise. It is good to help our children to accept and appreciate themselves.  Let us lighten up our children’s life by giving them positive, optimistic perspective toward life and toward people.  When a child live with love, that child learns to appreciate. No one help a child to be spiritual in knowing and loving God, if that person does not know love and know God.  

Abraham was not a perfect father.  He had sin in his life. He made mistakes.  But God uses sinful people in His work of creating a spiritual race of people.  It is important to know that no perfect people are available. God wants all His children to strive for perfection (Matthew 5:48).  The word for perfect in Matthew is better rendered in modern terminology as mature. Mature people can fall and get up again and be useful.  Like Abraham, God can used us to be mature fathers. With God’s help, we can win our children to Jesus and teach them so that someday they can be worthy fathers to their children.  But this can happen through the collective help of everyone. A wife can help her husband be a good father by the sympathetic support she gave him. Let wives put their faith in God and seek to help their husbands be the best man he can be.  The church can and must help fathers to become better fathers by providing opportunities for enriching family relationships and improving the quality of home life.

To become a father in making this generation a spiritual race of people, one must first take the responsibility for being the kind of father you ought to be to your children.  Let Christ come first into your heart to help you. Let the Bible assist you in becoming a good father and make much of your prayer life. Let the church have a vital place in your life that you might be a better father.   

   

         

 

 

 

Understanding Sanctification

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS GEORGE MCCARTHY

3RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JUNE 10, 2018

 

Title: “Understanding Sanctification”

 

Text: Romans 15:14:

I myself am convinced my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.  Yet, I have written you quite boldly on some point to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Somewhere in the History of Texas, one would learned about the conversion of Sam Houston. The Texas hero was called “The Old Drunk,” because of his stunt at one time with alcohol.  His alcoholism cost him his marriage and affected his political career. His wife left him while he was governor of Tennessee. In despair he resigned as governor and tried to escape his problems by going to live among Cherokee Indians. He stayed drunk much of the time. It is said that the Indians, as they walked through the forest, would have to move him out of the path where he lay in a stupor.

Later, he went to Texas, where he became the great hero of the Texas revolution when he routed General Santa Ana’s Mexican army. Houston’s battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!” helped win independence for Texas. He married the daughter of a Baptist preacher and later trusted Christ, but he still had some of his old tendencies. One day as he rode along a trail, his horse stumbled. Houston spontaneously cursed, reverting to his old habit. Immediately he was convicted of his sin. He got off his horse, knelt down on the trail, and cried out to God for forgiveness. Houston did this each time he sinned, until he reached a point where it became difficult to do the things he did. Houston had already received Christ, but God was teaching him to live in fellowship with Him moment by moment. And as soon as the Holy Spirit made Sam Houston aware of his sin, he confessed it and strive to live more for God. Houston strive to live a sanctified and spirit filled life. What is a sanctified life? What is sanctification?

Sanctification is one word that is not used very often by Christians.  We hear sermons most of the time but sanctification is not usually mentioned.  The truth is sanctification is has become an irrelevant word, but it is not an irrelevant reality.  Sanctification is like a hundred medical terms.  Nobody but doctors use them, but our life depends on the reality they stand for.  The word sanctification comes from two Latin words: Sanctus which means Holy and fiarce which means make.  So to sanctify means to make Holy. But, of course the word holy has lose its relevance today. Today, you will hear people say “holy cow” and “holy buckets.  One of the highest and most valuable words in the Bible is being ruined.” In order to live a deeper Christian life and become more closer to God, a person would have to understand what it means to live a Holy life.  A person would have to understand sanctification.

Reading the end part of Romans 15:15 Paul says, “Grace has been given to me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” From this part of the Scripture, we see that Paul in the mission field laboring for God.  His missionary labor is sanctification. Paul is aiming not only at converting people to Christ, but to help make them holy people.  In order to do so, Paul first connects obedience and sanctification. Paul points out obedience to Christ as the a step towards sanctification.  In Romans 6:17 Paul says, “Thanks be to God that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” Being obedient to Christ is to confess our sins to Christ.  After we have confessed and have been made whole, the Holy Spirit helps us to live how God wants us to live. This is where sanctification comes in. Here, we are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We live for Christ rejecting sin. Sin keeps us in a cage.  When we find God again, we began to set ourselves apart for what God has called us to.

John McNeill, the Scottish preacher liked to tell the story about an eagle that had been captured when it was quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a restraint on it so it couldn’t fly, and then he turned it loose to roam in the barnyard. It wasn’t long till the eagle began to act like the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard life of the lowly hen. One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd who came down from the mountains where the eagles lived. Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, “What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don’t you let it go?” The farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued to wander around, scratching and pecking as before. The shepherd picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up. At last it was acting like an eagle again.

Like the farmer traps the eagle, Satan traps us in sin.  When sin weighs us down, we find it difficult to get out.  We find it difficult to get out of a sin to live for God and to live the full life for which God calls us.  When we find God and the Holy Spirit guides us, we find ourselves. We are capable of doing what God wants us to be.  But one important thing is to rely on God’s Spirit to reject sin.

Joseph is one excellent example of the process of sanctification.  Joseph was treated very unfairly when his very brothers sold him into slavery.  Joseph ends up in prison by no fault of his own. His character as a person of God was revealed when he refused to blame God and turn bitter while languishing in his cell for all those years.  As the story is told, Joseph was given the charge over Potiphar’s house. Potiphar trusted Joseph enough to leave him in charge of his entire household (Genesis 39:5). God made this entire universe including life and trusted humankind with it.  Like Satan came to tempt man, Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, but he refused.  He rejected sin. He left his cloak with the woman and kept his character.

You see church, when fighting temptations to sin against God, the Christian can choose to do one of two things; fight or flee.  We can resist temptation through prayers or we can take a flight. In James 4:7, the Bible tells us that when we are tempted to sin, we must resist the devil and he will flee from us.  Paul puts it in another way: We must flee from wickedness. This means that we must not only resist but we must run (1 Cor. 6:18)

One can imagine how hard it was for Joseph to resist this urge, day after day.  This temptation must have gone on for many days. Let us remember that Potiphar’s wife had to be one of the most beautiful women of Egypt. In such times the work of the Holy Spirit is indispensable.  It is able to convict us of things that we know are clearly wrong. It is clear that Joseph did not want violate God’s law. Joseph said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9)?  Joseph thought about God when temptation came his way. He set himself apart for the work of God. You see, Joseph’s refusal to sin and his fleeing temptation is the perfect model of holiness and how one can avoid sin.  This is sanctification. It is the same way the Holy Spirit works in us today in sanctifying us. The Holy Spirit tells us when something is wrong. He guides us if we are willing to flee or run from such wrongful situation.  It is my prayers that God will help us grow day by day and we will be “sanctified by the Spirit.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“God the Holy Spirit: His Power in our Lives”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

TRINITY SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2018

Title: “God the Holy Spirit: It’s Power in our Lives”

Text: So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: 13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. 15 For ye received not the Spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

The Gospel Herald reported how Dr. James M. Gray in a service one evening expounded Romans 12:1. He talked about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us and the power the Spirit gives us to live good lives and do wonders.  Leaning over the pulpit, he said, “Have you noticed that this verse does not tell us to whom we should give our bodies? It is not the Lord Jesus who asks it. He has His own body. It is not the Father who asks for it. He remains upon His throne. Another has come to earth without a body. God could have made a body for Him as He did for Jesus, but He did not do so. God gives you the privilege and the indescribable honor of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be His dwelling-place on earth. If you have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb, then yours is a holy body, washed whiter than snow, and will be accepted by the Spirit when you give it.

From this simple exposition of Romans 12:1, one would see that Dr. Gray is pointing out that it is a privilege given to us by God to receive the the Holy Spirit.  It is a privilege to let the Holy Spirit enter our bodies so as to allow us to tap into the great power source the Spirit brings to us. When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He told His disciples that He would send the Spirit to help provide guidance, teachings, and power to help with the mission work of spreading the gospel.  He would provide counseling for believers to lead a life of spiritual maturity (Acts 1:4-5; 1:8). This was even foretold long before Christ walked the earth (Joel 2:28-32). It happen ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. One Hundred and twenty of the disciples were gathered in one house (Acts 2:1). Suddenly, the Holy Spirit came in the forms of a audible, visual sound, like a sound of a rushing wind (Acts 2:4-11).  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in divers tongues. They received power. What did the disciples do to prepare to received the power of the Holy Spirit? What power does the Holy Spirit brings?

Last week Sunday was Pentecost Sunday.  We talked about the “The Essence of the Holy Spirit” or the nature of the Holy Spirit. We learned that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person.  The Holy Spirit is eternal and demonstrated that the Spirit possesses Godly attributes (The Spirit is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent.  Today, I want us to talk about the Power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Charles Spurgeon talking of the Holy Spirit made the following assertion, “If we do not have the Spirit of God, it were better to shut the churches, to nail up the doors, to put a black cross on them and say, “God, have mercy on us.” If your ministers have not the Spirit of God, you had better not preach and you people had better stay at home.

I think I speak not too strongly when I say that a church in the land without the Spirit of God is rather a curse than a blessing. If you have not the Spirit of God, Christian worker, remember that you stand in somebody else’s way; you are as a tree bearing no fruit standing where a fruitful tree might grow.”

Dwight L. Moody affirmed that when the Spirit came to Moses, the plagues came upon Egypt, and he had power to destroy men’s lives; when the Spirit came upon Elijah, fire came down from Heaven; when the Spirit came upon Joshua, he moved around the city of Jericho, and the whole city fell into his hands. But when the Spirit came upon the Son of Man, He gave His life, He healed the broken-hearted.” When the Spirit comes into the believer, He makes Christ dearer, Heaven nearer and the Word of God clearer (Judg. 6. 34; Luke 4. 1, 18; John 16. 13-15).  

From these great men of god and Scriptures, it is a known fact that the Holy Spirit is vital to our success in this Christian journey.   The power of the Holy Spirit builds into the temple of the Lord. Through the holy Spirit, we become a dwelling place of God (Ephesians 2:22).  Paul sought at all times to encourage believers to recognize that God is not a vague Spirit that dwells in the distance somewhere. Instead, in the Spirit, God has come to dwell in us, to live in us.  This is why we demonstrated that the Spirit is eternal and exhibits divine attributes. First Corinthians 3:16; 6:19 reminds us that the Lord promised that the Holy Spirit will come and live in us forever.  It is not necessary for us to pray for the Holy Spirit to come to us. He has already arrived when we become a believer. We need to recognize and respond to His presence. While John was on the island of Patmos, He pictured God coming to dwell with His people in his description of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:3).  In the Holy Spirit, God has already come to dwell in the heart of each believer and collectively in the church. We should be excited and encouraged.

Ephesians 3:16 reminds us that the Holy Spirit is eager to strengthen each of us in our inner person: “That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man.”  The holy Spirit strengthens our body and our mind. The most supreme importance is the strengthening of our inner person if we are to live a victorious Christian life. Without strength from the Lord through the Holy Spirit, there is no way we can overcome Satan’s strategy (Ephesians 6:10).  God gave us a task to accomplish that which will be impossible to accomplished using human resources alone. This is why God promised the Holy Spirit to enabled us to accomplish the task (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit came to give us power as a source of strength, wisdom, guidance, and the help we need .  We must recognize Him and respond to him with faith.

Talking about the power of the Holy Spirit, Flavel asserts: “As the blood of Christ is the fountain of all merit, so the Holy Spirit is the fountain of all spiritual life; and until He quickens us, imparts the principle of divine life to our souls, we can put forth no vital act of faith to lay hold upon Jesus Christ.”

It is very true.  The Holy Spirit is the fountain of all spiritual life.  In order to be Spirit filled, we must spend time in prayers.  In Acts 2:12-14, the Scripture tells us that the disciples were assembled together and they prayed together while they waited on the Comforter to come.  Paul emphasizes that the power of the Holy Spirit is to aid us in our spiritual life, in our prayer life. Paul says in Ephesians 2:18: “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  It is the Holy Spirit who invites us into the throne room of God our Father. In their spiritual journey, some folks look at prayer as a duty to be performed or a habit to be broken. I submit here this morning that we would be closer to the truth if we saw our prayer efforts as but a response to the invitation of the Holy Spirit to come to the heavenly Father.  

The Holy Spirit should always be a guide as we pray (Romans 8:26-27).  Church, the Holy Spirit helps us with our inadequacies. The Holy Spirit stands in the gap or intercedes for us according to the will of God.  This should greatly encourage us not only to practice the habit of prayer but also to be bold in our prayer life. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to aid us in our prayer life.  John Hall puts it this way: Culture is good; genius is brilliant; civilization is a blessing; education is a great privilege; but we may be educated villains. The thing that we need most of all is the precious gift of the Holy Spirit.”

This is true because the power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God.  If we will be successful as believers, we must have the power of God in us.  The Spirit, the third person of the trinity, has appeared throughout Scriptures as a Being through and by whom great works of power are made manifest.  The power of the Holy Spirit was first seen in the act of creation, for it was by His power the world came into being (Genesis 1:1,2; Job 26:11).  The Holy Spirit also empowered men in the Old Testament to bring about God’s will: “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13).  Although the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell God’s people in the Old Testament, the Spirit worked through them and gave them power to achieve things they would not have been able to accomplish on their own.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, led by the Spirit (Luke 4:14), and empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles (Matthew 12:28)  After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the Spirit equipped the apostles to perform miracles, too (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 2:43). The power of the Holy Spirit was manifest among all the believers of the early church through the dispensation of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, teaching, wisdom and more.

All those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).  The Holy Spirit still works in and through believers to accomplish God’s will. His power leads us, convicts us, teaches us, and equips us to do His work and spread the gospel.  The Holy spirit indwelling is an amazing gift we should not take for granted! God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

“The Essence of the Holy Spirit”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

PENTECOST SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2018

Title: “The Essence of the Holy Spirit”

Text: Isaiah 61:1-2

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our Lord; To comfort all who mourn.

 

In this age of scientific development and technological advancement, there is a new development called Hyper Sonic Sound (HSS). The inventor, Elwood “Woody” Norris, has engineered sound waves to travel like a laser beam for about 150 yards. This allows sounds to be heard by a person in a particular place but not by those immediately around them. You could be listening to music or specific instructions while those standing next to you would be left in total silence. If you move out of the tightly formed path of these unique sound waves you too will be unaware of any noise.

God’s communication with us is very similar to these sound waves. We must be in the right place to hear the Holy Spirit, and when we’re there the message is clear. If we move away from the pathway of His voice we become unaware of the fact that He is communicating with us and we consequently miss the message.  Charles Spurgeon speaking on the Holy Spirit noted that “without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing.  We are like ships without winds and branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”

The Scriptures tell us that God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  The sentence ‘God is a Spirit’ means God is not tangible and visible and physical. God is not limited. We worship God with our spirit.  When we worship God with our Spirit, this worship is shown in our actions. With these in mind, we may be wondering who the Holy Spirit is?  What is the nature of the Holy Spirit? What is the essence of the Holy Spirit?

In our passage, the prophet Isaiah was speaking prophetically when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” Isaiah was speaking of Jesus.  In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus Christ reading in the synagogue service confirmed that it was Him Isaiah spoke about. He spoke that in Him that Scripture was fulfilled.  There are many places in Scriptures where the Holy Spirit is spoken of. In Ezekiel 37:14 it says, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you will come to life…”  In Haggai 2:5, God is promising the children of Israel: “As for the promise which I made to you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear;”  From these Scriptures we see that the Holy Spirit is not a mere person but a divine Person.  In most instances when the Holy Spirit is spoken of, it is in association with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.  Paul makes that clearly known in First Corinthians 13:14; “May the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  All these Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, and works in association and relationship with God and Jesus Christ. If this is true, then the Holy Spirit has divine attributes: He is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

The anonymous writer of Hebrews says, “How much more, then, will the blood of Jesus Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleansed our consciences from acts that leads to death, so that, we may serve the living God.”  The Scriptures reference Jesus as the Alpha and Omega meaning Jesus has no beginning nor ending. The Holy Spirit too has no origin and no ending.

The Spirit is also omnipresent and Omniscient.  The Psalmist tells us that the Spirit of God is everywhere.  Psalms 139:7-8 puts it this way, Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into the heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there. The Holy Spirit Spirit is present everywhere.The Holy speaks to us and provides guidance and knowledge to help us lead a good life. We must listen for the Holy Spirit.

The story is told of how people store food before refrigerators were made. Before refrigerators, people used ice-houses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.

One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.

Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.‘I closed the door,’ the boy replied, ‘lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.’”  God speaks through His Spirit to us. Often, we do not hear God speak to us through the Holy Spirit because we do not listen well enough. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, and of counseling and might.  Isaiah speaking of Jesus Christ as a descendant of Jesse informs us that the Holy Spirit will rest on Christ: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, and the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” Isaiah 11:2.  In John 16:12 Jesus Christ says, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father shall send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything I have said.” It is important for us to know that the Holy Spirit knows the deep things of God. No one knows the thoughts that are within a person except the person himself.  Likewise, it is only the Holy Spirit that knows the the deep things of God.

It is also worthy to note that the Holy Spirit is all powerful.  The Holy Spirit has power to do all things. This nature of the Holy Spirit was shown to Mary when Jesus Christ birth was foretold.  The angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus Christ will come through her in a mysterious birth. The power of God was to overshadow and she would gave birth to a child to be called the Holy One.  The angel further informed Mary that there was nothing impossible for God. The work of the Holy Spirit in the birthing of Jesus in the womb of Mary is a mark of the omnipotence of the Spirit of God. The power of the Holy Spirit is meant to do God’s work.  The Holy Spirit work to accomplish the work of God on earth and in humankind.

The operation of the Holy Spirit in key areas of God’s activity in the universe and the history of humankind is apparent.  For example, the Holy Spirit is involved in the work of creation. The Bible in Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of the Lord moved upon the face of the waters.” This eloquent introduction in Scriptures of the the divine personality of the Holy Spirit is so amazing. Here, the power of the Holy Spirit brings creation out of chaos.  This indeed describes the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. Our life without God is chaos. The Holy Spirit wants to create in us the personality of Jesus. The Spirit wants to breathe into the formlessness and void of our life the life of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is involved in that creation process. It is part of His divine nature.

In creation, the Spirit brooded over the material creation of the earth and brought everything into being.  In similar manner, the Spirit is at work in the spiritual recreation of our inner life. In Ephesians 36:26-27, the Scripture says, 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.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”  Though we don’t see the Spirit, the Spirit is always trying to birth us into the kingdom of God. It is clear that Jesus after the resurrection spoke peace to His disciples.  He then breathe on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” God breathe into the lifeless form of man during creation. Likewise, Christ spoke to his disciples and breathe life into them which is eternal.  All we have to do is accept the Spirit of the Lord so that we can live a good life. We don’t see the Spirit but we feel the spirit. It lives in us.

The story is told about a little boy who was flying a kite. It was a windy day, and the kite kept going higher and higher. Finally it got so high that it was out of sight. A man passed by and saw the little boy holding onto the string. The man could not see the kite, and he asked the boy, “How do you even know you have a kite up there?” The boy replied, “Because I can feel it.”  Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we should be able to sense His work in our lives changing us into the image of Christ.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is active in the giving of Scriptures and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  The Bible says, “All scriptures is God-breathe.” The King James verse says, “All scripture is inspired.” The right or correct translation of the Greek word is, “All scripture is expired.” This means breathe out.  All scripture is the product of the breath of God. The function of the Holy Spirit is to breathe the presence of God into human life. It is important for us to read the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.  It is my prayers that we will all learn about the nature of the Holy Spirit and ask God to keep the Spirit working in our lives. AMEN!