God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit - Past, Present, Future

God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit - Past, Present, Future

We have, the past two Sundays, thought about five Bible passages that help us to celebrate the past and look forward to the future

Psalm 118:24. “This is the day which the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That speaks of right now, but the promise is that every day in the future will also be made by the Lord. On each of those days we will again have the privilege of rejoicing and being glad.

John 6:68-69. “Lord, to whom shall go?” To whom else would we go, now and in the future? “For You, Lord, have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.” That is a promise that believing in Jesus has not just been a privilege in the past and now. It will continue to be a privilege.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil.” They can help each other up if they stumble. They can keep each other warm. They can defend one another. And “a threefold cord,” which represents adding God to our relationships, is even better. Worshiping and working with each other and with God will pay benefits in the future as they have in the past.

Philippians 1:6 “I am sure that He who began a good work in you [which celebrates the past] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ [which helps us look forward to what is ahead].”

And Numbers 6:24-26, which gives hope for the future. “The LORD God bless you and keep you [now and always]. The LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you [now and always]. The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace [now and always].”

Those five passages help us celebrate the past. They help us look forward to the future as well. Today we will once again look back and ahead. We will do that by thinking about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In addition to talking about how they have and will benefit us, we will sing about them. Welcome to today’s emphasis on the past and the future, which begins with the  hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past. As the hymn puts it, God is also our hope for years to come.

O God, our help in ages past, 

Our hope for years to come, 

Our shelter from the stormy blast, 

And our eternal home!

Under the shadow of your throne 

Still may we dwell secure; 

sufficient is your arm alone, 

and our defense is sure. 

Before the hills in order stood, 

or earth received her frame, 

from everlasting Thou art God, 

To endless years the same. 

A thousand ages in your sight 

Are like an evening gone,

Short as the watch that ends the night,

Before the rising sun. 

O God, our help in ages past, 

Our hope for years to come,

Be Thou our guide while life shall last, 

And our eternal home!

*       *       *       *       *

Today’s message is divided into three sections, one each for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In each section we will continue to think about the past and the future.

First, God. For that, we will consider, then sing the hymn To God Be the Glory.

The hymn begins with, “To God be the glory. Great things He hath done.”

In the Old Testament there are many, many examples of great things God hath done. 

One is creation. How wonderful that is. As was discussed last Sunday, creation includes the wonder of pets, along with birds and animals we enjoy seeing outside, and flowers, trees, and other plants. And clouds, lightning, and thunder. Plus the sun, moon, and stars. And beautiful landscapes of mountains, deserts, valleys, prairies, and vast oceans. 

Another great thing God hath done is, again in Old Testament times, allow His people to escape slavery in Egypt. God’s people had been enslaved for generations, but one day, God intervened so His people could escape, taking with them much of the wealth of Egypt.

For 40 years the people wandered in a wilderness. That was a difficult time. However, God saw to it that food and water were always available and that clothes and shoes did not wear out.

After 40 years, the people of God arrived at and took over the Promised Land. That was a great thing done by God

Unfortunately, even in the Promised Land, God’s people often rebelled. But He always restored them when they came to their senses.

God kept helping His people until a very great thing happened in the New Testament. He showed His love for the world.

Think of the significance of that. His love “for the world.” Not just His people at that time, but everyone everywhere at every point of history. He so loved the world that He gave us His Son Jesus, “who yielded His life as an atonement for sin,” thereby opening “the lifegate” that all may go in to Heaven.

Do we realize what that means? Jesus came so we do not have to be condemned for our sins. That is great news since condemnation means missing out on blessings now and Heaven later. We who accept Jesus are forgiven for past sins. Those who accept Jesus have the freedom to rise above sin now, and in the future.

The chorus of the hymn explains what our reaction is to be. We approach God through Jesus. When we arrive to God, He deserves our praise. He deserves our rejoicing.

Going back to the promise that God gave His Son, let’s think specifically of where that is taught. John 3:16, which is summarized in verse 2. 

Whosoever - anyone and everyone of every tribe, as it is worded in another hymn - can be redeemed. As in rich, poor, young, old, tall, short, black, white, yellow, brown, those who try to do good and the vilest offenders - anyone - whosoever - believes in Jesus - every believer of every time - will have life everlasting, which includes good, blessed life here, now and in the  future, and continued blessings in Heaven.

Thinking of the future, verse 3 of the hymn reminds us of hope that is ahead. Great things God hath already taught us in the Bible. Great things God hath already done. But even purer, higher, and greater things are coming when full spiritual victory is achieved, which is when we will see Jesus in Heaven.

To God be the glory - great things He hath done! 

So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, 

Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, 

And opened the lifegate that all may go in.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, 

To every believer the promise of God; 

The vilest offender who truly believes, 

That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done!

And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; 

But purer, and higher, and greater will be

Our wonder, our victory, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 

Let the earth hear His voice! 

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 

Let the people rejoice! 

O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, 

And give Him the glory - great things He hath done!

*       *       *       *       *

To God be the glory. Let’s think next about Jesus. For that, the hymn All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name” is how the hymn begins. “Hail” is defined as enthusiastic and public praise. “Jesus’ name” refers to what He is called, but also to everything about Him. His love and patience. His understanding, power, and creativity. His ability to know everything and be everywhere at the same time.

“All hail the power of Jesus’s name.” Who and what Jesus is needs to be praised enthusiastically. And publicly. We are to let others know the greatness of Jesus.

According to the hymn, angels already do that. We need to do the same. That is part of crowning him. We cannot crown Him in a physical way, but we can crown Him spiritually by enthusiastically and publicly praising Him.

Who should hail Jesus? Everyone, but especially those of us “ransomed from the fall.” The fall of sin, of which we are all guilty, but which we can overcome, now and in the future, by accepting Jesus. Put together, we are saved from past sins when we accept Jesus and we can avoid future sins “by His grace.”

“Let every kindred [people like us] and every tribe [others] on this terrestrial ball” we call the Earth glorify God. The way it is worded in Revelation is “all tribes and peoples and tongues.”

Right now there is strife between black and white. That should not occur among different races of Christians because whosoever believes in Jesus is saved. We are to be together in this. Together we are to crown Jesus Lord of all. “Let every kindred and every tribe ascribe to Jesus the wonder of His majesty.”

Let’s “fall at Jesus’ feet.” Let’s “join the everlasting song” that angels have sung, are singing, and will sing to Him. That all nature sings to Him.

I recently heard a devotional on MyBridge Christian radio that talked about how even flowers sing to God. Not in words or with sound, but with their beautiful colors, shapes, and fragrances. They are to be reminders of the wonder of Jesus.

Let’s join with all of nature in enthusiastically and publicly praising Jesus.

All hail the power of Jesus' name!

Let angels prostrate fall;

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown him Lord of all;

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown him Lord of all!

Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,

Ye ransomed from the fall,

Hail him who saves you by His grace,

And crown him Lord of all.

Hail him who saves you by his grace,

And crown him Lord of all!

Let every kindred, every tribe,

On this terrestrial ball,

To him all majesty ascribe,

And crown him Lord of all.

To him all majesty ascribe,

And crown him Lord of all!

O that with all the sacred throng

We at his feet may fall!

We'll join the everlasting song,

And crown him Lord of all.

We'll join the everlasting song,

And crown him Lord of all. 

*       *       *       *       *

To God be the glory. All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Next, the Holy Spirit. For that, the hymn With Thy Spirit Fill Me.

The hymn opens with, “Lord, possess me now, I pray.” That is a prayer. A request that the Lord’s spirit, represented in the Holy Spirit, possess me. That the Holy Spirit will take over my life.

Why? Because “I want to be Yours, Lord.” “Wholly Yours.” I want that “today.” And not just today. The promise is that we can belong to the Lord in the future as well.

The prayer continues. “Make me glad to own the Spirit’s sway.” That means to willingly do as the Spirit directs.

That is how we pray. How we should pray. That we can know God’s will. The Lord’s will. The will of the Spirit. And then do it.

I have not been asked very often, but occasionally it has been asked, what is God’s will about what car to buy or what house to buy or what college to go to or where to go on vacation? My answer has always been the same. “I don’t know. But I can pray with you that the Lord will let you know what is best for you in anything.”

Actually, the Spirit has already let us know. He reminds us of words spoken by Jesus. Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as you love yourself.”

So actually, my answer to the question sometimes asked is more than, “I don’t know,” because I add, “Love God and love others. Then whatever you do will be in God’s will because whatever you do will be guided by what is best for God, others, and yourself.

How is it possible to follow the Spirit’s leading. It is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for which we can pray.

Our goal now and in the future is to yield ourselves to the Spirit’s leading. But that is not just for our benefit. The hymn reminds us souls are dying every day. Souls are dying. That refers to spiritual death which, unless that changes by acceptance of Jesus, can lead to unhappiness now and will result in Hell for the rest of eternity.

Souls that are dying need to know God. They need to accept Jesus. Yet how can they know about their need unless they have heard? And how can they hear unless someone tells them? May we be some of those someones. May we be “commissioned” in that way. “Help me lead them in Your way, Lord,” which can be done when the Holy Spirit fills us.

Concerning the Holy Spirit, I want to share just a bit of something I heard a week ago online on the last evening of the Virtual Church of God International Youth Convention. The Sunday evening speaker provided a very meaningful explanation.

What God has done for us, including creation and giving us Jesus, and what Jesus has done in us, which is being transformed from being slaves to sin to a life designed to be free to worship God and help others, are to be used through us, the Holy Spirit empowering us to affect the lives of others so they, too, can learn about God and accept Jesus, thereby enjoying the benefits of being a Christian. Benefits we have enjoyed in the past, that we do enjoy now, that we will enjoy in the future. Our future here and a future in Heaven.

Lord, possess me now I pray,

Make me wholly Thine today;

Gladly do I own Thy sway,

With Thy Spirit fill me.

Lord, I yield myself to Thee,

All I am or hope to be,

Now and through eternity,

With Thy Spirit fill me

Lord, commission me, I pray!

Souls are dying every day;

Help me lead them in Thy way,

With Thy Spirit fill me.

With Thy Spirit fill me,

With Thy Spirit fill me;

Make me wholly Thine, I pray,

With Thy Spirit fill me.

*       *       *       *       *

To God be the glory. He is worthy of our praise.

All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Every part of His name. Every aspect of Jesus. Including His love, compassion, grace, mercy, teachings, and miracles. All of who and what Jesus is deserves to be enthusiastically and publicly praised.

Holy Spirit, please fill me so I can and will be willing to do the will of God the Father and His Son Jesus. That for my benefit and for the benefit of others as more and more people join those of us who already believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Two more songs for today. The second one will be our benediction. The first is a reminder of the hope we can, should, and will feel in our future. Hope based on the fact Jesus is alive. Because He is alive, we can face tomorrow with joyous anticipation.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow;

Because He lives all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future.

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives.

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,

He came to love, heal, and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon,

An empty grave is there 

To prove My Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow;

Because He lives all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future.

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives.

To God be the glory. All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Holy Spirit, please fill us. Today’s benediction is the Doxology.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.