Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 9 March, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 7, (Chap. 7)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 51-56)
Our Reliance – The psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people (cf. Psalm 118:8, NLT).” While people may be helpful in many ways, it is the Lord who can be relied on to help and protect us through every challenge. God is constant, while life has many variables, some of which work against us. As Christians we have the assurance in knowing that when we entered the family of God, we were guaranteed all that God has promised us (cf. Ephesians 1:13-14, NLT). The New Living Translation says God has “identified” us as His own. Some English translations use the word “sealed.” The Greek word for these terms is, sphragizo (sfrag-id-zo), which means “to stamp,” “approve,” or “attest.” Within the Biblical world, only someone of importance had the authority to approve or declare the status of others. Paul says Christians are given the authority of possession by God. The perpetual presence and aid of the Holy Spirit is a consequence of God’s approval. The Holy Spirit assures us of our standing with God. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is important and should never become estranged (cf. Ephesians 4:30, NLT). Jesus described the Holy Spirit most often as companion and teacher (cf. Luke 12:11-12, NLT). In times of trial, the Holy Spirit is always present with the believer. In his devotional book, Begin Again, pastor and author Max Lucado shares an incident in the life of a young man who was visually impaired. The Father observed the deterioration of his son, who became depressed and remained in his room all day. The father had an idea. He saw his son moping, and he told him to stop his pity party. The father told his son, John, that there were chores to be done, and he told him to go to the garage, find the winter windows and install them. John was angered by this, but he groped his way to the garage. He found the windows and a step ladder. When John’s father returned, the work was done. Years later John learned that all the while he was groping in the dark, his father was never more than four or five feet away from him. Pastor Lucado commented, “The father had no intention of letting the boy fall. Your Father has no intention of letting you fall, either. You can’t see him, but he is present.” The reliability of a God who cares for us is certain! Jesus said when He ascends to His High priestly role, His followers would receive an Advocate, working on their behalf (cf. John 14:26, NLT).
You Have Help! – In Romans 8:26, a profound statement is made: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness (NEB).” Weakness directs attention to a specific place of need. We have the assurance of knowing that we are never left without the promise of help. In Matthew’s iteration of the promise Jesus gave His disciples, assuring them of help in the future, they are told not to worry about how to respond to false accusations. The Spirit of the Father would instruct the disciples what to say when they are interrogated (cf. Matthew 10:19-20, NLT). The assistance the disciples would receive, is akin to the help Christians can expect to receive in having our prayers heard and acted upon (cf. Romans 8:26-27, NLT). The Greek word often used in the New Testament to describe weakness, is astheneo, which means to be incapacitated physically, mentally, or spiritually. The term has a broader meaning for a person’s inability, albeit temporary, to be healthy or whole. In this context, a weakness can be circumstances or situations that prevent a person from moving forward in life. It is during such moments in life, that the Scripture gives us the assurance of help. Max Lucado comments, “Whether we are feeble of soul or body or both, how good to know it’s not up to us. ‘The Spirit himself is pleading for us.” To begin again, help is necessary. In the Old Testament, the need and acknowledgment for help is always explicit. When the world is collapsing, God’s people are still confident in the immediate help that God brings (cf. Psalm 46:1-5, NLT; Also, Psalm 40:17, NLT). The common Hebrew word that’s used for help is ezer, which is a derivative of a’zar, which means “to surround” or, “to protect.” We may also note that the man who helped rebuild the spiritual community of Israel after the exile, was named Ezra. His name means literally, “a helper.” The psalmist pondered where his “help” would come from. He emphatically states, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Cf. Psalm 121:1-2, NLT). In 202o, while writing his book, Begin Again, Max Lucado wrote: “As I write, I’m thinking of a pandemic that has clouded our planet and of those people whose lives have been derailed by the virus.” Lucado went on to say, “But a friend speaks for them.”
What We Believe
God assures us of the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit.
1. Our journey is not free from crises, but is assured of help!
2. The presence of God never leaves us!
Ephesians 1:13-14, NLT
“And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believe din Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.”
Ephesians 4:30, NLT
“And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
Luke 12:11-12, NLT
“And when you are brought to trial in synagogues and before rulers and authorities,don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”
John 14:26, NLT
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
Matthew 10:19-20, NLT
“When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking – it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Romans 8:26-27, NLT
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
Psalm 46:1-5, NLT
“God is our refuge and strength,always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge. A river brings joy to the city of God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city, it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day,God will protect it.”
Psalm 40:17, NLT
“As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in His thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.”
Psalm 121:1-2, NLT“I look up to the mountains –does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”