Ministry and The Holy Spirit

Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students:

“In order to the holy and useful exercise of extemporal speech, the Christian minister must cultivate a childlike reliance upon the immediate assistance of the Holy Spirit. “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” says the Creed. It is to be feared that many do not make this a real article of belief. To go up and down all the week wasting time, and then to cast ourselves upon the Spirit’s aid, is wicked presumption, an attempt to make the Lord minister to our sloth and self-indulgence; but in an emergency the case is widely different. When a man finds himself unavoidably called upon to speak without any preparation, then he may with fullest confidence cast himself upon the Spirit of God. The divine mind beyond a doubt comes into contact with the human intellect, lifts it out of its weakness and distraction, makes it soaring and strong, and enables it both to understand and to express divine truth in a manner far beyond its unaided powers. Such interpositions, like miracles, are not meant to supersede our efforts or slacken our diligence, but are the Lord’s assistance which we may count upon at an emergency. His Spirit will be ever with us, but especially under severe stress of service.”

Apple of Temptation

No, this is not about Adam and Eve or even Jony or Tim. This is about me.

Last week, Apple launched the new IOS 8 update. A new IOS is always eagerly expected. It adds new functions and often almost feels like your device is a new one.

My device is a an older one – they don’t make that particular model anymore. But ‘old’ in terms of tech nowadays is anything from yesterday rather than yesteryear.

There were plenty of online tech gurus who warned against upgrading, even though might Apple said the device was upgradeable. I was torn. I wanted the new features but didn’t want the hassle of a device that is so slow, it’s rendered useless. And there was this…curiosity. This niggling desire not to feel left out.

I updated and it wasn’t good. And I am understated in my evaluation. Thankfully I was able to restore to the older IOS.

There are lessons to be learned though. For me, some are spiritual lessons.

  • Temptation will always dim the warnings and highlight the ‘benefits’. Rose tinted glasses complementary. Think carefully. Read the spiritual small print. Weigh the implications.
  • Temptation will always play at your insecurities about ‘missing out’. Everyone is having fun and you’re not… Truth is: appearances are very deceptive.
  • Temptation will almost always leave you full of regrets and often make you look like a fool. Don’t fall for it. Play the ‘if…then’ scenario just to see if you’re really willing to look like a fool.
  • Temptation almost always will use impatience as a strong avenue by providing short-cuts from the narrow but right path. Short-cuts need to be double checked as they often get you lost.
  • Temptation will play on your discontent with the simple things that you have – pushing you towards the next ‘must have’ materialistic idol. Contentment is rare and must be cultivated daily. You’ll reap a great reward from that.

He Will Hold Me Fast

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Saviour loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight,
Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight,
He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost;
His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died,
Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life,
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight,
When He comes at last!

Shortcuts

Human beings grow by striving, working, stretching; and in a sense, human nature needs problems more than solutions. Why are not all prayers answered magically and instantly? Why must every convert travel the same tedious path of spiritual discipline? Because persistent prayer, and fasting, and study, and meditation are designed primarily for our sakes, not for God’s. Kierkegaard said that Christians reminded him of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through…We yearn for shortcuts. But shortcuts usually lead away from growth, not toward it. Apply the principle directly to Job: what was the final result of the testing he went through? As Rabbi Abraham Heschel observed, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”

Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God, Zondervan, pp. 207-8.