Holy Spirit and Samaria #49

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Did you know John the Baptist is recorded in each Gospel as saying there was One coming after him who would baptize in the Holy Spirit? 4 times! 4 times! Must be important, don’t you think? Just listen….

In Acts 8:15-17, Peter and John were sent by the church leaders down to the new believers in Samaria, to pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. It says they laid their hands on them and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. A professional magician named Simon was so impressed that he offered them $$ to have the same authority; think about how impressive that must have been!

On Pentecost a few years earlier, only Jews and proselytes were baptized in the Holy Spirit. But now the Good News was being shared even with Samaritans.

So who were the Samaritans? Samaria was capitol of the Northern Kingdom, begun by Jeroboam following Solomon’s death. 1 Ki 11-12. It was capital of the 10 tribes. Jeroboam made 2 golden calves for the people to include in their worship. Ahab built a temple to Baal there. Genuine worship became a memory. In 721BC Sargon of the Assyrians conquered them and carried off 27,290 inhabitants, replacing them with conquered foreigners – who brought along their gods. So Samaria was a mixed race of people, mongrels, with a heathen core. You might say they were very low on the Jewish totem pole, try: at the bottom. Racist? Yes indeed.

But these ‘inferior people’ as far as the Judaean Jews were concerned, were hearing the Gospel and believing it! And truly amazing: the leadership in Jerusalem, upon hearing this, actually SENT Peter and John down to them to get the Holy Spirit baptism! It was so important that the Jewish church leaders sent apostles to them, overcoming all the centuries of antagonism, to be sure they were filled with the HS. Today I invite you to grasp this truth: God does not care about your breeding or background: He wants you born again, part of His family, and filled with power from on high. So why delay – be filled today – and COME ALIVE!

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Holy Spirit and Pentecost #48

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Hey Christian! Remember how Jesus was encouraging us in John 14? He was going away, but He would send us a Helper – our Enabler – the Holy Spirit. With us. In us. Teaching/leading/guiding us into GOD stuff!

After His resurrection, Jesus said something mysterious. It’s in Luke 24:49, “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 2 things. “The Promise of my Father,” the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham—sending the Spirit of Adoption, that we would become sons of Abraham, and sons of God, heirs of God Himself.

But then there is this “power from on high stuff.” Things can get confusing: but let’s keep it simple. Two feasts, Passover and Pentecost. Passover foreshadowing our being born again as righteous children of God, separated from the world, transferred into God’s kingdom. Pentecost: foreshadowing our Holy Spirit baptism, when the power of God comes upon us. And we are clothed with power from on high, as Jesus promised!

In John 20:22, Jesus breaths upon the disciples, saying, “receive the Holy Spirit!”  They were born again. So when did they get the power from on high? Pentecost. Ah, Pentecost—see Acts 2. Tongues of FIRE appeared upon the believers in the Upper Room. They spoke in known and unknown tongues, glorifying God. “This is that” declares Peter – the fulfilling of the words not of God to Abraham, but of the prophet Joel – the Spirit of the Living God outpoured upon the earth for whosoever would believe and receive! The power from on high: to witness of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit in many ways, before the coming Day of the Lord.

Passover, and Pentecost! Having trouble with your witness in these dark tumultuous times? Maybe you need to experience your Pentecost. With the Holy Spirit within and the Holy Spirit upon you, my friend, there is no doubt that others will say: you—have COME ALIVE!

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Little Anointed Ones #47

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I’ve great news for you today if you are a Christian. Perhaps you have been told, “Now that you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, now you need to live for Him, live the Christian life, have a Christian lifestyle.”

Well, the Good News is: YOU CAN’T! Try it and you WILL fail—guaranteed. The only One who can live the Christian life is Christ Jesus! But weren’t the early believers at Antioch the first to be called “Christians?” TRUE – it is found in Acts 11:26.

“Christians” means ‘little anointed ones’ – did you get that? Keyword: anointed. They were anointed of the Holy Spirit. They had the Spirit of God within them and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon them. Like Paul says to us in Romans (Ro 6:11), they were counting themselves dead to sin and alive to God. Alive in the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s anointing.

YOU don’t live the Christian life: The Anointed One lives His life through you! Receive new life in the Spirit – it’s what God has intended. Why else would Jesus call the Holy Spirit our “Helper” and “Enabler” in John 14:16 & 26? Why else would He tell His followers not to attempt any ministry until the coming of the Holy Spirit – Acts 1:4-8?

Our part? BELIEVE Jesus’ words. Many folk believe they got all the Holy Spirit they’ll ever get when they were born again. Hmmm. Then explain to me why there is the Jewish feast of Passover – a shadow of Jesus rescuing us from our sins, and Pentecost – a shadow of when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon the earth for all to receive?

This fact speaks strongly to me that there is something more than being born again; something to help you— COME ALIVE!

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Faith is a Fabulous Rest #46

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Struggling to keep some New Year Resolutions? That’s not surprising – the flesh is weak no matter how willing our spirits may be. But HEY, I have some GOOD NEWS for you: we live by FAITH, not by the resolutions we have made!

More GOOD NEWS: faith is a REST; not a performance test, endurance race, or contest. Just check out Heb 4. The author tells us that God has prepared a REST for us. He reminds us that the ancient Israelites heard His voice, but were disobedient to it. They refused to BELIEVE what God told them and instead acted on their own. So sad, for they all perished apart from Joshua and Caleb! He tells us to believe God’s word, His promises (which are all “Yea and Amen” 2 Cor 1:20) and enter the rest prepared for us. What rest? From our own labors of trying to make a great life happen and gain eternal life at the end.

Understand, God’s rest has nothing to do with taking a break from work and activities. It has everything to do with trusting God. What has God said? What has He promised YOU? He gave Abraham promises of blessing. And why? Because He was GOD and He said so. Abraham’s role? BELIEVE God would keep His word. REST from trying to make it happen, and trust God to do what God had promised.

Faith is not YOU doing YOUR BEST so that God cannot help but reward you. Rather, it is YOU having FAITH in GOD’S BEST: His Son Jesus! Our Savior, sin bearer, healer, restorer, provider, and fulfiller of every dream God has given us.

Believe, for instance, that Jesus is your righteousness importer. You are as righteous before the Father as Jesus Christ is. You are, if you believe on Jesus as your Savior. Check out 2 Cor 5:21. If you believe, you’ll stop trying to prove yourself worthy before God. You will simply receive HIS righteousness. Peace will flood your soul. You will enter His rest—you will have COME ALIVE!

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There is more to John 3 than :16 #45

Welcome to Hank’s Place There’s more to John 3 than :16

John 3:16 is truly awesome! The Gospel in a verse. But did you know the verses that sandwich it are also awesome? Yes! In John 3 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisee, Nicodemus. Jesus admonishes him – if you stumble over my words, Jesus tells him, when I’m speaking earthly things, what will you do when I share with you heavenly truths? Then Jesus unloads blockbuster spiritual truths on Nicodemus!

In verses :14 & :15, Jesus says that Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and in the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up. In Moses’ day, there was a time when serpents were biting and killing the grumbling, rebellious, hard-hearted Israelites. BUT – if a bitten Israelite would look to the serpent that Moses had placed upon a staff, he would not die, but be healed. Sin was the issue. Could the Israelite see his sin – in the form of that serpent – upon that pole? If he did, he got healed! Faith! And God’s mercies!

It’s the same with us today, my friend. If we can see Jesus bearing OUR sin upon Calvary’s cross, then we too will be healed from our sin and enter eternal life! This truth is stated in :15 and repeated in :16 – it is super important!

More of the sandwich – in :17 Jesus tells Nicodemus that God sent His son to SAVE us, not to judge us, and if we believe in Jesus we are not judged.

Ominously, Jesus then goes on to say he who does NOT believe in Him has been judged already. Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. God is not their judge, but they have judged themselves, choosing the darkness and evil over the Light of the world.

God does not send people to Hell; they judge themselves. And send themselves to the destination created for the devil and his angelic followers. O my friend! Help others to see Jesus bearing their sin to Calvary – that they may not die – but COME ALIVE!

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New Year – New Creation – or both? #44

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Soon people the world over will be celebrating the New Year 2018. Oh wow. Deja vue all over again. And again. And again. Last year’s New Year’s Resolution lists? Pull them out – let’s use them – they didn’t last very long. We’ll try harder this time. More determination. Persistence. Fortitude. Resolve. THIS YEAR we’ll keep them, right?

Who are we kidding? You and I both know how doomed this is! Doing things by the power of human ability is so limited—to our ability. Well, don’t be depressed my friend, but consider the power of GOD.

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:17 if we are IN Christ then we have been transformed into NEW CREATIONS, the old things HAVE passed away; NEW THINGS HAVE COME! Paul declares there is a new way of living: in Christ, in the grace of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit – by faith.

The best New Year’s resolution? RESOLVING to believe this and ALL that God says concerning us! How about we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God – 
Ro 6:11? How about the words of Paul in Gal 2:20 our own confession: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave up His life for me.”

As Paul did:
– let’s see our old man, on that cross with Jesus; dead
– let’s see ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus, not controlled by our own desires
– and let’s see Jesus alive within us, and us trusting Him with our own lives.

Reality from God’s viewpoint declares we ARE heirs of GOD; adopted into His family; with the full rights and privileges of His own son! May God’s reality become YOUR REALITY in 2018—after all, 2018 is a wonderful year to COME ALIVE! Happy New Year!

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Put Christ back in Christmas? What’s History Say? #43

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Are you troubled with the merchandizing, marketing, manipulation, greed and the excesses of Christmas? Want to go back to an Old Time Christmas? I don’t think so!

Let me give you a little background to Christmas. In 320AD Pope Julius I designated Dec 25th as a holy day in order to counteract the excesses of the Saturnalia celebrations across all of Europe. Those dated back to even pre-Christ times. Until 320 churches either did not celebrate the birth of Christ or did so on any day they chose.

Well, the edict was not very successful. People enjoyed their revelry and celebrations! Many preferred to participate in the pagan festivals—and repent afterwards. The flesh loves indulgent excesses!

Things had gotten so bad in England in the 1600’s that one of the planks of Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan political party was to eliminate Christmas! He was voted in, but when succeeded by his son, Richard Cromwell, his party was overthrown by King Charles II. King Charles promised to make Christmas as bawdy as before! The Pilgrims were thrown out of power. Soon Christmas in England was back to bawdy songs, rum, rioting in the streets and thievery. Most genuine Christians loathed Christmas, considering it an instrument of the devil for sin. In some parts of London women and children feared to go out into the streets on Christmas Day!

The Pilgrims left for the new world, and landed at Plymouth in 1620. They promptly outlawed Christmas. There were no church celebrations, businesses were ordered open, and anyone caught celebrating was subject to fines and arrest. Maybe not what you expected concerning Christmas traditions in America, eh?

These laws forbidding Christmas celebrations remained on the books for over 200 years. Congress continued to meet on Christmas Day up to 1856. However the excesses of an Old English Christmas had true appeal to the unregenerate flesh, and gradually the outrageous English Christmas appeared in America, though to a lessor degree. It was NOT Christmas as we would think of it or as most of us would want it!

But on the continent of Europe things were changing. In the early 1600’s, much of Europe, especially Germany, celebrated the season as a joyous and warm family time. Carols were sung in the churches, thanks in large measure to Martin Luther, who did not fear to bring the easily sung and well loved tunes of the streets into the church setting.

Huge changes then occurred in the first half of the 1800’s. In 1822 “T’was the Night Before Christmas” was written by Clement Clark Moore and for the first time Christmas was seen in America as a joyous holiday for children. Soon Christmas as a joyous family affair appeared – most everywhere. In1834 Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” and Christmas in England was transformed! The crushing dehumanizing industrial revolution had to give place for a time to consider the wonder of life and the birth of a Savior.

In 1840 Queen Victoria of England married Prince Alfred of Germany, and the warm German Christmas traditions were imported to England—and people were overjoyed!

Christmas was undergoing a powerful transformation, a transformation quite apart from the Church. Over the rest of the century, joy, family, giving, and worship replaced pagan debauchery, lewdness, revelry, rioting and drunkenness in both England and America.

The tradition of gift giving, at first a simple and modest gesture, exploded in America following “The Night Before Christmas,” with merchants sensing great opportunity. Soon Santa was everywhere and people around the world quickly adjusted their celebrations to include him (and the sales he brought for merchants of course). Then with WWII and the time it took to send gifts to loved ones half a world away, the Christmas buying season expanded (again to the delight of merchants) to a full month before Christmas.

So what is our takeaway? Well, the cry to “Put Christ back into Christmas” stands on pretty weak ground historically. Jesus was never the official, governmental, or church focus of Christmas in England or in America.

BUT—Christmas IS here, like it or not. So why not make your own celebration of Christmas? Why not put Jesus into YOUR Christmas? Can you not see Him in the wreath, the evergreens, the candles, the tree? Can you not share Him with others, God’s gift to us, and the Greatest Gift of all?

JESUS the Son of God, who came and enabled redemption for all who believe. The JESUS who comes today as Lord to anyone who will believe, turn, and receive Him. JESUS who will come yet again for all to see: The KING of Kings and LORD of Lords!  Hallelujah!

Yes, why not put Jesus into YOUR Christmas—and COME ALIVE!

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Dominating SIN…. #42

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SIN! Do Christians sin? Why would they? Perhaps they feel they have no choice? Don’t they know who they are? How about you?

1 Cor 6:19 tells us a Christian is one spirit with the Lord; any Christian is as righteous and holy as Jesus. This is a MOUTHFUL! 1 Cor 3:16 tells us we are the TEMPLE of the God, and that temple IS holy, for GOD dwells in it, MAKING it holy. Another mouthful!

If you don’t know it, you’ll likely do unrighteous and unholy things. Rule based religion tells you to obey the rules, and then you will be holy. It’s the cart before the horse. And because the power to resist sin in rule based religion is in your flesh, you will fail. Repeatedly.

The Gospel truth is much better. As we found in 1 Cor, you are holy, you are one spirit with the Lord. The Lord in IN you, making your holy. The Lord is bigger than any sin of yours. So live holy. Instead of FIGHTING in the flesh to RESIST sin, REST in who you are: a righteous, holy, new creation united with Jesus. Remember, Paul was writing to those fleshly Corinthians, who were getting drunk at communion and leaving others to go hungry. Yet they were holy. Righteous. One spirit with the Lord. Think about it!

“…consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus… do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts… present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s Ro 6:11 and 14.

Here is the takeaway: sin might presently have dominion over you because you don’t know the truth of who you are. The solution? Confess the truth, that you are under grace, free from sin’s dominion. Soon the KINGDOM reality will become YOUR REALITY. You will have COME ALIVE!

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Don’t sweat the will of God #41

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Some time ago I’d spoken of Jeremiah’s prophecy: a new and much better covenant was coming! Let’s give it another look-see: it’s that good!

The OLD: full of fleshly conditions to be fulfilled in our own strength.
The NEW: unconditional. God would be OUR God, We would be HIS people. A covenant of mercy and grace. He would remember our sins no more, and forever.

And there’s more GOOD NEWS! It says,
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.”

This is beyond awesome, friends! It answers those questions, “What is the will of God for my life? What am I supposed to be doing?”

Meaning what? Instead of a rulebook to follow to the best of our abilities and subject to various interpretation and application, what He desires is already IN OUR MINDS, perfectly applied to each situation. And even better, our hearts cry out “Yes, Lord! We WANT to do your will!” And even better beyond that, He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to accomplish His will despite the odds or demons or whatever.

I think that’s pretty good, don’t you? Forget trying to keep the Commandments; stop losing sleep over the will of God. Just do what He has written upon you – with GUSTO.

Feels good to Come Alive, doesn’t it?!!!

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Do you fear G R A C E? #40

Welcome to Hank’s Place – Fear GRACE? Embrace GRACE!

So many Christians become anxious at the mention of the word, GRACE. Perhaps you are one of them. Grace is no cause for alarm my friend, but for rejoicing. If you think about it you’ll realize John 1:16 says Jesus is God’s hyper-grace personified, for of His fullness which we have all received, and it is grace upon grace.

Many a preacher is scared about life without rules. “You need the Law,” they say. “You need rules for living, boundaries, like river banks—to keep a person in line,” they preach. “Beware greasy-grace – doing whatever you feel like. It’s having a license to sin.”

Time out! First of all, no one needs a license to sin: it comes naturally! I’ve done many Hank’s Place videos pointing out the Law, that is, rule-keeping, or trying to, is designed to point us toward Jesus, our Savior. He saves us, not on the basis of works, but by His grace, It is His unmerited favor toward us!

Consider: Ro 3:24 say, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” In Acts 20:32 Paul commends the Ephesians to ‘God and to the word of His grace,” which is able to build them up and give them the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Ro 5:2 tells us it’s God’s grace in which we now stand. 5:15 says the gift of salvation that has come to us by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Eph 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” See? It’s not about you, it’s all about JESUS!

Best of all is Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

Yes, the more you realize the grace of God, receive the grace of God, walk in the grace of God, WITHOUT a thought about RULES, the more you’ll be denying ungodliness, worldly unholy desires, and more sensibly, righteously and godly you’ll be living! Fear grace no longer! Embrace grace—and COME ALIVE!

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Abide or Burn? The Truth is BETTER! #39

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Hebrews 2:3 admonishes us not to neglect so great a salvation. The one Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit accomplished for us. So GREAT a salvation. Let’s apply some of this great salvation reality to a bible passage that may be terrifying you, dear Christian friend!

It is John 15:1-2 and it begins this way: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away….” And how about verse 6 to feed your fears: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

At first reading it sounds very conditional, doesn’t it? Conditional upon our performance. Jesus has saved us, but we had better stay stuck close to Him, and even if we do, but don’t bear fruit, we will be thrown away and tossed into the fire, the fires of Hell!

Friend, the Gospel is GOOD NEWS, and what I’ve just said is NOT Good News. It is NOT the GOSPEL. Here is the Good News: In verse 2, it begins, “every branch IN ME.” That means believers abiding in Jesus. Remember, He did the grafting. You are grafted into GOD Himself. It’s a great salvation. Then there is the picture is of a vine. A vine is an odd sort of tree – it grows along the ground and climbs up on objects. The part on the ground does not, cannot, produce fruit. In contact with the ground it produces roots. Check it out! But when a branch of the vine can climb up something, it produces fruit.

Now listen, because the translators had a tough time here. The verb translated as ‘takes away’ is Strong #142, AIRO. It means, ‘to raise, to take up, to lift.’ What Jesus is telling us is really good news here. He is assuring us, that if we are in Him, that is, if we are believers, and are having trouble producing fruit because we are down, downcast, downtrodden, flattened by life – whatever – He will lift us up. And when lifted up it is an easy thing for the life that is in the vine to flow through us, the lifted up branches – fruit is produced: everywhere! Hallelujah!

Verse 6 is not directed at you, if you are a believer in Jesus, my friend. Notice how it begins, “If anyone does NOT abide in Me, he is thrown away….” Do you see? Unbelievers do not abide in Jesus, only believers do. Do you believe? Then you abide in Him! Never forget that it is GOD who did the grafting in – and it happened when you first believed. And it does not ‘unhappen’ based on your performance. Salvation, eternal life, is a gift by God to those who INHERIT salvation, they DO NOT EARN IT! So today, rest in Him, knowing you are abiding in Him, by inheritance. Let those life-giving juices of the Spirit flow into you, and Come Alive!

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The Twelfth Man #38

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Watch the video! See Hank explain about the famous Twelfth Man at Kyle Field and Aggie football. And move onto spiritual truth of a Greater One who believes in you. Who never gives up on you. Who will always help you. Always deliver you. Is always on your side.

And there is more—but watch the video!

With the help of the spiritual Twelfth Man, my dear friend, you will COME ALIVE!

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Freedom: Blessing at a Cost #37

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Watch the video from College Station, Texas. It’s about FREEDOM.

Freedom comes with a cost—ever since Adam and Eve there have been challenges to freedom. And great challenges await before the return of THE King of Kings.

Check out Daniel 11:32b, which says, “…but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. (or ‘go on adventures’ from the Diane Layton translation for little people) And how about the next verse, “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days.” Sounds pressure packed, what’s to come. 

But do NOT fear, my friend, for God has faith in YOU! Walk by the Spirit, know what it means to COME ALIVE and those days will be glorious!

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Freedom Cannot Be Denied #36

Welcome to Hank’s Place on Thanksgiving Day

Watch the video! See Hank speak about FREEDOM. Freedom will win. It’s for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Give THANKS to God today dear friend!

Live in that freedom as Galatians 5:1 declares. Seek to walk in the Spirit. You will soon know what TRUTH is, the Truth about Jesus. Jesus IS TRUTH. 

Know THAT truth, and it will set you FREE. You will have COME ALIVE!

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Tower Rules #35

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Watch the video! See Hank speak about going up/down the tower. (He really did—I know—because I’m Hank.)

Hank had a blast being free to go up/down. Until he found all the rules about tower usage. Where was the fun then, eh?

Life’s like that: live by the rules and there isn’t much life to your life. On the other hand, walk/live by the Spirit of the Living God and there are oceans of life to enjoy. Personally! And don’t worry about getting into the flesh and making a scene. When you are walking in the Spirit there’s no room for the flesh to mess things up.

And remember, as you walk in the Spirit, you will COME ALIVE!

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Justification? Don’t Be Fooled #34

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In Gal chapt 3 Paul begins by asking, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” You see, people were fooling the Galatians into taking their eyes off of Jesus and putting them on themselves, especially in following rules, and religious observations. See your sins? Well, see them on Jesus, for He took them all, one time, for all time. He suffered the punishment for each and every sin, of everyone in the world including us yet unborn, and when it was FINISHED, He yielded up His spirit, and died. For everyone.

He succeeded! The proof is the resurrection, my friends. And for those who believe it, there is justification. Justification means to be made righteous before God. Eternally.

Justification is a gift by His grace (Ro 3:24). It’s by faith (Ro 3:28). It’s by His blood (Ro 5:9). Justification and righteousness are abstract terms. Let me help you understand with this little story I read on the Internet.

A college student was busted for marijuana. Totally guilty. Time for his trial. Totally guilty. Before he could even make a plea however, it was discovered that the police did not have the proper documents when they entered his apartment. Although the judge was unhappy, he had no option but to toss the case out of court, to dismiss it. The young man was not guilty by law – even though he was totally guilty in fact! Friends, we have been justified by grace, through faith, by His blood. It’s totally true we were guilty, but our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). Sunk to the depths of the ocean (Mic 7:19). Never to be found. Even if search is made, they cannot be found (Jer 50:20).

The Almighty Judge of the universe has pronounced us NOT GUILTY. And He is happy about it! We have been justified. Just like that young man, there is no admissible evidence we have ever sinned. We are righteous forever. It’s OK if you dance a happy dance right now!

Friend, the more this truth, that there is therefore NO CONDEMNATION for you – for you are IN Christ Jesus, dawns on you, the more you will COME ALIVE!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (8 of 8) #33

Paul in Col 1:27 tells us of a mystery, a rich and glorious one – Christ, the Anointed One, God Himself, was LIVING IN the Colossian believers. How can that be? They were ignorant of the Mosaic Covenant and all that people must do to be acceptable to God. They were Gentiles. They had no covenant with God. No Ten Commandments. No rites, rituals and observations from on high. So what did they DO to earn the right to have God Himself living IN them, making them complete in Him, and blessing them with every spiritual blessing?

The simple answer: THEY DID NOTHING. OBEYED NOTHING. They BELIEVED the Good News friends, that GOD had accomplished salvation, and offers it freely to everyone. Forgiveness of sins. Justification. Righteousness. Eternal life. Thanks to the BLOOD of the CROSS, people w/o a clue to the ways of the Living God found this Living God—LIVING IN THEM!

A few miles to the east of Colossae, the Galatians were in a pickle. Some law-abiding Jewish believers had come by to try to get them to obey all the Jewish Laws in order to be ‘proper’ ‘authentic’ Christians.

Paul corrected them in the book of Gal, especially chapt 3, vs 2-12. Here are some snippets: “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? …does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? …

He reminds them, and us, that Abraham BELIEVED GOD, and God counted him RIGHTEOUS. And then he quotes from  the Old Testament, saying that you can’t obey just some of the law, but you must obey ALL the rules or you put yourself under a curse! He hammers the point that the Righteous (that’s YOU because of the Blood) live by faith and focusing on keeping the rules is NOT of Faith.

If you have been trying to be a good-little-obedient-rule keeping Christian that God can be proud of, well, your thinking is mixed up.

We were made to live by the Spirit. DON’T GO BACK to observing rules, even perfect rules like the Ten Commandments. Don’t look back. Stay on this side of the CROSS — keep looking to Jesus, learn more about living by the Spirit. That’s how you Come Alive and Stay Alive in this nasty generation!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (7 of 8) #32

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In Moses’ day, people were afraid of God, and rightly so! They asked Moses to bring down orders from headquarters, and all that God says, they promised to do. That’s Ex 19:8. BOOM – there were the 10 C’s among others rules. All required strict adherence, through the power of the flesh. But flesh is weak, so although the commandments appeared to be rules to keep, they were in fact a mirror – to point out our shortcomings. And they were perfect at it.

Back in Jesus’ day there was trouble! For over a 1,000 years the Jewish leaders had opportunity to learn that mankind cannot obey God’s rules – we need a Savior. By Jesus’ time they should have or certainly could have, been ready to receive Jesus as that Savior – after all, it was the fullness of time.

But the Pharisees and law teachers placed their traditions and interpretations ahead of God’s Laws. They emptied the Law of the power to condemn. The Law’s perfect purpose was thwarted: sin was not being named as sin, and the self-righteous were not being silenced.

Today in so many places we hear a mixed message. Law – just listen for the “if’s” – “if you do this, then God will do…” or, “you need to do this before God will do… something” Mixed with GRACE – when you hear what God has done, especially concerning Calvary, you are hearing grace. Acts 20:24 says the Gospel is the Good News of His GRACE. You may hear that God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us keep the 10C’s. This is incorrect! Gal 3:12 says, “But the Law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”” The Law is a “to do” list. It is NOT of faith, and it’s faith that pleases God. Ro 1:27 “The just shall live by faith”. Heb 11:6 “…without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Here’s the point of today’s Hank’s Place. The Holy Spirit is NOT GOING TO HELP US KEEP A SET OF RULES. Rules are NOT of Faith. Read Gal 3:12 for yourself. It is only faith that pleases God.

There are a lot of voices out there, a lot of confusion when Law and Grace are mixed. Don’t be confused my dear friend. Simply walk in the Spirit, live in the Spirit. Find true LIFE by simple faith in the Living God – you will enter His rest my friend. You will Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (6 of 8) #31

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. And it is all for the GOOD!

Today’s message is so freedom inspiring that I’m concerned your head may explode if you are locked into performance based religion. Ready for the challenge? OK, let’s think about the Gospels. Where is the Cross in the Gospels? Near the end of each one, right? Now THINK! That means all of what you read in the Gospels, until the very end, are events that happened UNDER THE LAW. Jesus was born, lived, and died under the LAW.

When Jesus spoke, it was to people who were under the LAW. Keep in mind that the Gospel is the Good News of the GRACE of God that would come to us AFTER Jesus did His marvelous work at Calvary. Let’s look at an example of this GRACE from Calvary.

In Mt 6:14-15 Jesus says, “…if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Read that and you see God’s forgiveness of you is conditional on your forgiveness of others. When Jesus spoke those words, BEFORE the Cross, it was totally TRUE.

But we are living AFTER the Cross, my dear friend! Let’s read Col 2:13, written AFTER the Cross. Paul writes, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” Friend, we were forgiven while we were lost and dead in our sins. And read Col 3:13, “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

So what do we believe? Do you have to forgive first in order to be forgiven, or are you already forgiven? Before the Cross, you must forgive FIRST. AFTER the Cross, you forgive – in overwhelming thankfulness at knowing you yourself have already been forgiven. Before the Cross, forgiveness was something God would DO—only IF YOU did your part first. After the Cross, forgiveness is something God GIVES. It’s a gift by God’s grace—something you receive. The Gospel is the Good News, declaring what GOD has done for us, not what we must do to satisfy God!

My dear believing friend: you ARE already forgiven – give a shout out to Jesus! Get rid of any condemnation you may be under — RECEIVE that gift of forgiveness. Then, in gratitude and joy, forgive others—and COME ALIVE! 

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (5 of 8) #30

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. The Cross tells us He loves us more than His own life! It tells us that if God is for us, nothing can stand against us, not even our own sin!

The blood of the Lamb of God has purchased our forgiveness. Sin no longer has a claim on us, hallelujah! Because it is Almighty Father who has qualified us, our sins cannot disqualify us. The only way we can lose out is if we fail to believe the Good News!

Before the Cross we were slaves to sin, with no escape. Try to do good, or purpose to do bad – it made no difference: we remained slaves to sin. But AFTER the Cross we have a choice: stay in the prison or run free. The prison doors are open! Live according to the old Law of sin and death, or live according the Law of the Spirit of LIFE in Christ Jesus! Either way, you are free to choose thanks be to JESUS.

Here’s a hint: if your spiritual life seems based on conditions, if you find yourself saying, “I’ll be blessed IF I do such and such,” or, “I’ll miss a blessing if I miss my morning prayer time” – well, that tells me you have yet to make the right choice, to LIVE FREE in Jesus! Maybe you are just waffling. Well, STOP IT.

God qualifies us and clothes us with His robes of righteousness. It’s all through Jesus Christ. But if you ignore what Jesus has done, you wind up remaining under the Law.

Look—God did not redeem you because He was looking for a servant. He redeemed you so He could show you His matchless grace. Also, consider this: God gave up His son for us. So how are you going to pay Him back? We can’t! Instead of thinking that way, let your life be a shining testimony of the generosity of your gracious Father.

Some people say, God will bless you as you do your part. Friend, your part is to BELIEVE God has done it ALL, and has chosen to bless us abundantly as we simply believe and enter His rest. It’s past time for you to be a son in His wonderful family. So join the FAMILY; get those happy feet a dancing, and Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (4 of 8) #29

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. The Old Testament is there to create a hunger for a Savior! Now, live in His saving grace my friend, and not the letter of the Law! Enter His refreshing rest!

We faced condemnation and judgment before the Cross; now, we have NO condemnation, but justification. Instead of unworthiness we have righteousness. Instead of a distant and unapproachable God we have a freely accessible throne of Grace – to receive mercy and grace in time of need!

Although we may have it, we will not experience it if our mind is stuck in performance based religious thinking. That’s what life was like BEFORE the Cross!

Consider: the Old Covenant demanded righteousness based upon our performance: it demanded righteousness from sinful men. Deut 6:25 reads, “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” But AFTER the Cross we find Ro 1:17 “For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (that’s God’s faith and YOURS); as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Or how about Ro 5:17, speaking of “those who receive the abundance of grace and of the GIFT of righteousness, (they) will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

Consider this: before the Cross, God’s presence came and went, causing people to hunger for His Spirit. Ps 51:11 reads, “Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Friend, DO NOT pray that way! Why? Because after the Cross God makes His home with us and promises to never leave us. Jn 14:23 says that Jesus and the Father will come to us and make their abode with us. Heb 13:5 reminds us that the Lord has declared, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Despite these amazing TRUTHS dear Christian friend, you might find yourself getting confused when you read the Gospels! Why? Because Jesus spoke THE LAW to self-righteous pharisees and lawyers. And Jesus spoke mercy and grace to those who humbly came to Him. YOU are not a pharisee, are you? No! Of course not! So pay attention to who is speaking to who. People under law or under grace? This is very important!

Get your pattern for living THIS side of the Cross, and COME ALIVE! 

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (3 of 8) #28

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We have been pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. Read the Bible that comes before the Cross and chances are you will be reading about a covenant that never applied to you. It’s there to create a hunger for the God of mercy and grace, and teach us we cannot obey God even if we think we can.

Before the Cross it was important to keep a record of sins. Just read Lev 4 & 5 for sins and sacrifices for sins. Talk about discouragement! But AFTER the Cross what can be more plain than Heb 8:12, where God says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more?”

Before the Cross God gave us the 10 Commandments that begin with, “Thou shalt….” Just read Ex 20. But AFTER the Cross God says, “I will.” In Heb 8:8-12, God speaks His of being merciful to us, His forgetting our sins, He writing His laws in our minds and hearts and He giving us a knowledge of Himself. In the New, it’s all about Him and what He’s done for us, my friends!

In the Old Covenant, God’s favor hinged on your faithfulness. But in the New, His favor comes to us on account of Christ’s faithfulness. We could be faithful one moment and deny Him the next. Just ask that Apostle Peter! Walking with Jesus day in day out for over 3 years. Seeing countless miracles, signs, wonders. Hearing the voice from heaven declare Jesus is the Son of God. Staunchly declaring he would never deny Him – yet he does exactly that a few hours later. So much better to rely on Jesus Christ’s faithfulness, for He is eternally faithful!

When reading the Bible, learn to distinguish between the old law covenant, which condemns sinners, and the new covenant of grace, which makes sinners righteous. In the Old, Christ was a shadow, in the New He is our reality!

The word GRACE can be terrifying to those schooled in performance based religion. But RELAX— for another word for grace is J E S U S. Walk today my friend in the New Covenant in His blood, the covenant of Grace, and you will Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (2 of 8) #27

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We are pointing out that the Cross has changed….everything. Read the bits of the Bible that come before the Cross and chances are you will be reading about a covenant that never applied to you—and no longer applies to the Israelites.

Why is this obsolete material in the Bible? Because it helps us appreciate who Jesus is and what He has done. The Law is the shadow, but Jesus is the REALITY. The Law is a warm-up act to get you ready for Jesus—but Jesus ALONE is the star of the show. The Law is the prosecuting attorney who condemns you as guilty, but Jesus is the great advocate who sets you free.

And, as Paul writes in 1 Cor 10:11, the trials of the Israelites were written for our instruction. One judgment after another for disobeying the Law. We read, and we understand: no one can obey God’s Laws. The flesh wins out; we DESPERATELY need a Savior! And our Savior JESUS has come!

Here are two more examples of how the Cross has changed everything.

Before the cross Adam’s sin meant condemnation for everyone. Ro 5:18 says “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men….” But on the cross our sins were carried away, and there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus—that’s Ro 8:1.

Before the Cross God was distant and unapproachable. It reads in Ex 19:12, “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.’”

But at the Cross, according to Mt 27:51 “…the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” This was Almighty God bursting out of the Holy of Holies to dwell within His people, within you and me, my friend!

Yes, for Eph 2:13 states, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” And not only that, but we who have been brought near can now boldly approach the throne of GRACE. That’s Heb 4:16. That’s right, the throne of JUDGMENT has become a throne of GRACE—eternally!

My dear friend, please please please—think about this message. It’s true! Now, get rid of your condemning, works-based, flesh reliant, religious thinking—and Come Alive!

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The Cross Changes EVERYTHING (1 of 8) #26

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At the Cross, Jesus took our sins – all of them, past present and future. And hung on that Cross while the incredible wrath of God was poured out in punishment for those sins: yours, mine, everyones. Jesus took it all, out of love for us, to the point of death. Don’t you think for a moment that God does not love you!

He gave us His righteousness in exchange; a free gift—but friend, it is a gift that can only be received by faith. And, He caused us to become heirs of God, sons of God with a full inheritance. It is beyond comprehension. We don’t know the half of it!

Now, here is the issue: so many folk, including many pastors, seminary professors, televangelists and such, miss the Cross. They pay lip service, yes, but not grasping that everything has changed. So, they bring the old covenant stuff, which was not written to you, right on over into your life: law and grace getting mixed together—that is a toxic mixture my friend — for it keeps you from moving forward in who you are in Christ Jesus and keeps you from being a powerful, world-changing Christian!

Let’s take an example today of the big difference the Cross makes for us. I pray you can see the mega change. Before the Cross we were blessed if we obeyed and cursed if we didn’t. But after the Cross we are blessed because Christ obeyed, and through him we are redeemed from the curse of the law.

Not sure? Listen to Deut 11:26-28 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.”

Now listen to Post-Calvary: Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Where is the ‘to do’ list? Where are the threats? They are not there, my friend.

How about: Gal 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree””

Give Jesus praise today: believe in Him and you are blessed. Don’t belittle or overlook Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary by entertaining error filled theology that says you have things you must do in order to receive blessing from God. Yes, there are plenty of good things you can do as a Christian – but nothing you can do can ‘earn’ you favor with God.

So, give it up, rejoice in Jesus, and Come Alive!

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Storms Do Come…. #25

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Have you had days where you wondered where Jesus was? Well, so did the disciples! Let’s learn from two Storms of Life stories.

The first is Mk 4:36-41. After a busy day of ministry, as evening was approaching, Jesus gets into a boat with His disciples and instructs them to cross over ‘to the other side.’ Soon after they set sail, Jesus goes to sleep on a cushion in the back of the boat. An epic storm descends on the lake. It’s night, the huge waves are washing over the boat and even the seasoned fishermen among them are terrified.

Ever been terrified by a sudden storm of life descending upon you? And where is Jesus – well He’s there, but asleep? Doesn’t He care? That’s what they ask Him. Jesus stills the storm: “Hush, be still.” And asks them why were they afraid; why did they still have no faith?

Friend, if you are in Christ today, Jesus IS with you. It may be a sudden storm of life—but know this: Jesus IS with you, even if He appears to be sleeping. Take courage! Fear NOT! Fear not, but speak to that storm now, just like Jesus did, using His name, and tell it to hush up. As a Christian, a little anointed one, you have the authority in His name. Use it!

In Mt 14:22-33, after another full day of ministry (feeding 15-20,000 men, women, children), the disciples are following Jesus’ instructions to cross over to the ‘other side.’ Only this time Jesus has tarried to dismiss the people and take some time to pray alone on a mountain.

No fierce storm this time, but the winds are contrary and they have been straining at the oars for hours, maybe 6 or 8 hours. Jesus sees them, and comes to them, walking on the water. If His disciples are in trouble, Jesus wants to be with them. He comes to them. Friend, be encouraged! If you are in any sort of trouble at all, even just exhaustion over life’s issue: Jesus is on His way to you – and as in this instance, He is passing by! Do you get it?

You may not yet understand the truth that Christ is in you and you are in Him—keep growing! Learn from this pre-Calvary story: Jesus draws near to you in times of difficulty. So, what do you do about it? REACH OUT to Jesus, Call to Him. Ask for help in time of need. You’ll get it–and from that experience with the Living God quelling the storms in your life, you will Come Alive!

 

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