The Old Testament circumcision was of the flesh as an outward symbol of a covenant relationship with God. Our circumcision is of the spirit removing our sinful nature and replacing it with God’s Holy Spirit. Our hearts and desires were changed and God wrote His Name upon our hearts. Our baptism is the outward symbol of being buried with Christ and raised again to a new life.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”-2 Cor. 5:17” Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” – Eph. 4:24
We were spiritually dead in our sinful nature but now all things are made new. We are new creatures:
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”-Romans 6:4
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples starting at home and working our way out to the rest of the world. Making disciples requires more than just the plan of salvation. We are to spend time with new converts teaching them the discipline of the Word of God. We must show them by example that we have to spend time with the Word and talking with God on a daily basis. We also must show them that it is necessary for us to spend time together as Christians. We are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need the encouragement and help of those around us to endure in our walk with God. There is the old example of removing a red hot ember from the fireplace and setting it out by itself. It is soon black and cold. You can put it back in the fireplace and it is soon red hot and giving off warmth again. Our spirits are the same way, we need that “togetherness” to keep our passion and compassion flowing for Jesus. Learn all you can and take the time to teach what you have learned to those around you. That is the way each of us can fulfill the commission that Jesus gave to the disciples and to us
Maybe because His name is Holy Spirit we tend not to think of Him as a person. But the third person of the Trinity is just as much a person and just as much God as Jesus, the second person and God the first person. Each has a different office and duty but they are One and the Same. When we ignore God or reject Jesus, we are doing the same thing to the Holy Spirit. When we grieve God, we cause sadness in the whole Godhead. When we are obedient and faithful, we bring joy to the Trinity. There is a person living inside of every Christian who feels grief, sadness, pain and joy just as we feel those things. None of us like to be ignored, neither does He. How long would a friendship last if we walked with a human friend 24/7 and never acknowledged his/her presence or spoke to them? What if we never invited them to join in our conversations and our mealtimes? What if, for all practical purposes, our words and actions denied that we had a friend with us? Yet, hour after hour, we treat the Holy Spirit exactly this way. We deny that He is within us by our actions but more often by our lack of actions. How many times and places do we have an opportunity to introduce our Friend but we don’t? How many times does He asks us to introduce Him by that little nudge we feel but we won’t? If we say that we have never felt that nudge, what does that say about our relationship with our Friend? Let us all pray that the next time we feel that nudge, we will have the boldness to introduce Him to our other friends and acquaintances.
“The closer I get to the end of my life, it seems the only question that matters, Is the life I am living pleasing to God?” – Ken Gire In “Sacred”
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
As small tots and children, we were taught prayers word for word. There were prayers to say before the meals we ate and prayers to say before we went to bed at night. These are wonderful experiences and great memories. But just as we moved from the “Dick and Jane” books, there comes a time when our prayers should become more personal. We are still presenting the same issues to God but now instead of rote memory, they should be from a heart that understands and knows that God not only hears our prayers but He answers them. Most of us may have had more faith that God would answer our prayers then than we do now. Those were prayers from innocent hearts and minds. Now, we have a lifetime of sins and doubts to overcome. But God is still the same God we prayed to when we were children and we must approach Him with that same childlike faith. We must become as little children in the Kingdom of God. Part of that process is to understand that all of our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. God sees each of us as the righteousness of Christ. So, when we pray let us believe that we are righteous people, that God hears our prayers and that our prayers do have great power. Not because of us, but because of Jesus and His work that He finished at the cross. We can know that our prayers have great power because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying with us and the Holy Spirit is praying through us and for us.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.– Matt. 28:19 NLT
The Great Commission In yesterday’s reading, we thought about how we might have reacted to the instructions of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all the nations”. The important part for us in any work in which God asks us to participate is to agree and believe. How do we get to that point? We start by remembering that God never asks us to do anything that He has not prepared us to do and that He is ready to provide everything we need to complete the work. Look at the training that Jesus had given the disciples. They had had three years of walking and talking with Him on a daily basis, observing Him as He interacted with people on all levels of society and healing them. In today’s society, that would probably qualify them for a doctorate degree in Christianity. God had used the evil Romans to build the roads necessary and to make the country safe enough to travel. He had sent the disciples out once before with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back and the sandals on their feet. They had passed the survival test then and they would again. When God calls us to participate in His Kingdom work, He just wants us to agree and be available, He provides everything else. So when you feel that little nudge, don’t doubt, don’t fear, don’t be a Zechariah and get struck dumb for nine months, be a Mary and become “blessed above all”
14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. — Galatians 3:14 NLT
God blessed Abram with abundant natural blessings and changed his name to Abraham. What did Abraham do to deserve these blessings? He did nothing to earn them. Blessings are gifts from God, they are not rewards for good works. We can never do enough or be good enough to earn blessings from God. The greatest blessing we receive is salvation. That gift is free and cannot be earned. Since the greatest gift of all was freely given, why do we feel that we have to earn the lesser gifts? The blessings come because of God’s great love for us and His covenant promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his seed (or child), not seeds or children. It is singular meaning only one and that one is Jesus Christ. So, all of our blessings come through Jesus Christ and because He gave His life for us at Calvary. The debt was paid in full for all the blessings we receive. If good works can earn salvation or any blessing then Jesus Christ died in vain. The good works are to lay up rewards in heaven and to earn crowns that we can lay at the feet of Jesus. Good works are a part of our worship here on earth. The rewards we receive for those good works are laid up in heaven and will be used to worship Jesus there. The blessings we receive here are a taste of what is to come and to encourage us to continue and never turn back
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was a beginning of the fulfillment of this prophesy from Joel in the Old Testament. God continues to pour out His Spirit on His people even today. This will continue until Jesus returns to take all of His children home. Then the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth and satan will reign. When will this be? Only God the Father knows. If we are saved, it doesn’t really matter when it happens, we will be ready. What does matter is how we spend our time until then. When we accepted Jesus, we were saved and we are still saved. Works will not make us more saved, they are an outward sign of who we serve as Master and Lord. The works we do here are also how we earn our rewards in heaven. We are not to live as we used to live, but through the direction of the Holy Spirit and studying of God’s Word, we are to determine those things that please God and do those things only. When we see sinful things going on, we are to expose them, not participate in them. We must learn to live wisely and not as fools. We are to spend our time, not in grumbling, whining and complaining, but in joyfully serving the Lord doing everything He asks us to do wherever He has planted us.