Controlled by the Spirit

the-holy-spirit-364251_640Fifth Sunday in Lent (April 2, 2017)

Romans 8:6-11 | New Living Translation (NLT)

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Last week we looked at living as children of the Light.  This week we are reminded that those of us who are living as the children of the Light should not be controlled by our sinful nature – aka, the carnal nature.  Paul even goes as far to say that we should not be dominated by our sinful nature. – i.e. sin should have no dominion over us.  If we are controlled by the Holy Spirit – if we are living as the children of Light then we must live controlled by the Holy Spirit or we should think about the things that please the Holy Spirit.  What Paul is saying is that a Spirit-led believer should look so much different than a carnal-led believer.  Even that sounds weird – I mean how disobedient do we need to be to be cut off and thrown into the fire.  So many times we want to see how close to the edge of sin that we can live, but we really need to be seeing how close to the Spirit we can live.

What is the penalty for letting our sinful nature rule over us?  Death is the penalty, but (and here is the good news) letting the Holy Spirit control our lives leads to life and peace.  The sinful nature is hostile toward God.  We saw that in the Garden of Eden and we see that even now.  The sinful nature – no matter how hard it tries – can be anything but hostile to God.  The sinful nature cannot obey God’s laws.  That’s the whole point of the Old Testament and the laws.  It is only by and through the Holy Spirit that we can follow God.  Otherwise, you can never please God.

If you have the Spirit of God living in you, Paul states, you are controlled by the Holy Spirit – and he goes on to say that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ living in us, we do not belong to Him.

So what does that mean to us?  Although our bodies may die physically, the Spirit gives us life – eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Because of that sacrifice we have been made right with God.  We have looked at that over the last couple of weeks.  This Spirit of God – who is the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, lives in us.  Think about that.  If we have the Spirit of Christ living in us, we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead.  I am more than sure that the power that raised Christ from the dead can keep us from living lives displeasing to God – that same power can help us live lives of power – full, abundant lives – that same power can help us live lives of service….this same power that raised Christ from the dead, we are told, will also give life to our mortal bodies – through the power of the Spirit living in us.

I encourage you to ask God to fill you with his Spirit so that you can live a life controlled by the Spirit of God.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Last week we weren’t quite to spring…we even had some snow left on the ground.  During the past week, we have celebrated the first day of Spring, even though some of those days didn’t seem much like spring.  Friday and yesterday were quite different.  The snow is gone and yes, there is a possibility that we might get some more – it’s not in the forecast at the moment, but last year when we interviewed, which will be next Sunday, we had 4 inches of snow here in Eldred.

It has been a busy week here.  As I mentioned last week, we are having Lenten Luncheons each week in March.  This week our luncheon will be hosted by St. Raphael’s Catholic Church.  Each week I have led the music and this week will be no different.  I have also been directing the community choir for a Palm Sunday concert.  The music we are using is music that I have used before.  If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now…we have some incredible musicians and singers in our little corner of the world.  I am excited how fast they have learned the music and we are using live accompaniment.

Over the past week, our church has hosted revival services.  Our guest for the week was Joe Payne, who pastors the Hess Road Wesleyan Church.  We were blessed by his messages and we were challenged and revived in our spirits.  The spirit of revival is alive and well.  This past Saturday, I was able to rest a bit.  This week takes a little more relaxed turn, although I will need to stay on the ball.

I think that’s about all I have for the night…Blessings….

Prayer for the Week

LentFourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Annunciation of Our Lord

Hebrews 10:4-10 | New Living Translation (NLT)

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”

First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Luke 1:26-38 | New Living Translation (NLT)

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Children of Light

panorama-2098812_640.jpgFourth Sunday in Lent

Ephesians 5:8-14 | New Living Translation (NLT)

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

Light…it really is an amazing thing.  Paul is reminding us to live as children of light – If Jesus is the Light of World, we could really say, “Live as children of the Light.” He tells the Ephesian church that they were once darkness…note it doesn’t say living in the darkness…no, it says they were full of darkness. This could apply to everyone who doesn’t know Christ – without Christ we are full of darkness.

However notice the contrast. “Once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.”  What does this light produce? In the NIV, we hear The fruit of the light produces goodness, righteousness, and truth. Last week, we looked at Abraham and how the Lord counted him righteous because of his faith and not because of the things he did.  We were reminded that our good deeds – the good things we do – don’t count toward righteousness – those are not the things that save us – those are not the things that will take us to heaven. BUT…when we switch from darkness to light…those good things we do are products (they are fruit) of the Light.  We have a light from the Lord and we should live as people of the light…People of the light should “produce only what is good and right and true.”  So how do we know what is good and right and true?

Paul gives us the answer in the next verse.  We should carefully determine what pleases the Lord.  He says, “take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness.” Goodness and light go together and evil and darkness go together. Paul tells us not only have no part with evil and darkness, but to expose the darkness.

This is the great part.  How do we expose darkness?  By shining the light on it. Paul says, “their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them.” Think about it this way.  We live out in the country.  At night, there is very little artificial light.  It is amazing the amount of stars that you can see on a clear night.  Because of this, our house is very dark at night.  One of the things that we have here is a nightlight in the bathroom because when you get up in the middle of the night – when there is no light on, it is difficult to find your way.  I know that I have stumbled around in our bedroom trying to find my way back to bed.  The thing about darkness is that all you need is light and the darkness goes away.  Even now as I write, it is dark outside and yet as soon as I turn on a light, there is light and not darkness.  It is amazing that even with just the light of the dining room, I can see around.  I wouldn’t want to go looking for something small in the kitchen, but I can make everything out.  Light turns away darkness. Think of it this way…the only way to have darkness is to extinguish the light.  Darkness is the absence of light…so shine on.

Paul tells us to wake up from our sleep…to rise up from the dead…and Christ will give you light.  So many times we, as Christians, are quick to curse the darkness…today reminds us that instead of cursing the darkness…we should light a candle and be the light that comes from Christ.  We need to live as people of the light and make a difference in the world around us.

Below is a great song from Kari Jobe about being the light of the world.

Sunday Night Thoughtss

It is late evening on a Sunday night.  A Sunday night that has left my heart full.  It has been an incredibly full week.  But let me start at the beginning.  Since we interviewed at McCrae Brook, God has been laying on my heart the need for revival – by the way – not just at McCrae Brook, but in all of God’s church, for our county, state, country and world.  God has been laying on my heart the need for the church to be at prayer and even (as I have been learning lately) for individual believers to be at prayer.  Over this past week, we have been preparing ourselves for our services that began today.  More about that in a moment.

I do want to put a plug in for the book again “Ablaze for God.” This book is powerful.  The church needs to read this book – whether you are a pastor, lay leader, or a member of the congregation.  I believe this book describes how to attain a heart for God. It’s not an easy read, but it is a needed read for all of us.

Pam and I have had several things on our plate this week.  The first was the Lenten Luncheon.  I am so excited about what is happening in our community.  The weather (I believe) kept our numbers down this week.  But I have been excited at churches reach across denominational lines to gather together for lunch and a devotional during Lent.  It has really been amazing.

Also this week, another community pastor and I met to help plan a Baccalaureate Service for our graduating seniors in the community.  As part of that service, we are awarding a local graduating student scholarship. We didn’t have any funds raised so the churches of the ministerial association hosted a dinner fundraiser.  We had chicken and biscuits.  I didn’t know chicken and biscuits was a thing this far north but it is.  The community really came out to support the fundraiser and we are thankful.  Each church was responsible for parts of the dinner and then we all came together to serve the meal.

In addition to all of that, I am directing the community choir for a program on Palm Sunday. We are using music that I have used before at Parkway and Preston Wesleyan Churches.  It is called “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. It has several Getty tunes, several Chris Tomlin songs, supported by several traditional hymns.  I am looking forward to directing this.  We have some wonderfully talented musicians in our little, rural corner of the world.  We meet every Thursday evening.



On Friday nights, we are assisting our friends over at First Wesleyan in Bradford with a coffeehouse service.  This week the family led worship.  They did a great job.  Please be praying for this endeavor, because our meeting place has decided they don’t want to do the coffeehouse…pray for wisdom and discernment as the team figures out what to do.

Which finally brings us back to today.  Pastor Joe Payne from the Hess Road Wesleyan Church is our evangelist.  We have been praying over many, many months for these series of services.  Because our regular worship leader was sick, I led worship and I have served as the song evangelist.  It’s a different role because I am doing that as the pastor of the church.  We had two powerful services, but tonight was special.  The Holy Spirit showed up – made himself manifest and hearts were touched.  We are thankful for the ministry of Pastor Joe.

I am looking forward to the next three nights of revival.  Tomorrow we take our guest out to Sprague’s.  It is a local restaurant that also has a working maple syrup operation.  They make some great pancakes and great breakfast.

Oh, I forgot, then there was that snowstorm.  We didn’t get what most of the rest of the Northeast got.  In fact, the kids in our district went to school all week – no closings or delays.  This despite 6 or 7 inches of snow and then the blowing snow on Wednesday.  We have some hardy people here in Northwest PA.