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Draw Me Nearer . . . Nearer, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
August 30, 2022 7:05 am

Draw Me Nearer . . . Nearer, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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August 30, 2022 7:05 am

Flying Closer to the Flame

Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
The Line of Fire
Dr. Michael Brown
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Union Grove Baptist Church
Pastor Josh Evans
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

Evangelical Christians are notoriously cautious about the Holy Spirit. To our detriment, many times we tiptoe around this relationship rather than boldly stepping into God's glorious presence. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll will help us strip away some of our cautionary measures so we can enjoy what God intended from the beginning. And if you're craving deeper intimacy with God but can't figure out how to attain it, today's program is for you.

Chuck titled his message, Draw Me Nearer, Nearer. Now I want to begin with a candid confession. Many of us must confess the same confession. Maybe you don't want to be numbered among others of us.

If that's true, nobody's going to force you to be. But I think this represents more than a few. I think this is the majority of us. The confession is there are times we desire more fulfilling expressions of our faith. There are times we wish for more evidences of the dynamic of the Spirit of God in our lives. But fear holds us back. I sincerely think we have pulled way too far back from what the Lord has for us. So we need to relearn, rediscover by closer examination what he has said, Ephesians 5. We find here a stack of don'ts. One don't after another.

You like to take notes? Here they are. Verse 3. Don't be immoral, impure, or greedy. 5. Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you as is proper among saints. That's the first series of don'ts. Don't be immoral, impure, greedy.

4. Don't lose control of your tongue. And there must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting, but rather there ought to be the giving of thanks.

And so don't lose control of your tongue. Verse 6. Don't be deceived. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon sons of disobedience. Verse 11. Don't participate in evil deeds. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them. Verse 15. Don't be unwise. Be careful how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise. 17. Don't be foolish. Look at these.

The list is lengthy. Don't be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Verse 18.

Don't get drunk. It is disobedient to God. But there's a positive command in verse 18. But be filled with the Spirit. He doesn't say pray for the Spirit.

You don't have to do that. You have the Spirit. The Spirit of God came as part of the package deal, if I may use those marketing terms, as part of the package of salvation. Without your even knowing it, the Spirit of God came and took a permanent residence within you.

Praise His name. And you got within you the full capacity of power, like building a vast reservoir awaiting the coming of rains. And all it is is a vast chasm.

And before long it becomes full, almost running over. The capacity is there to hold it. That's what the Spirit of God provides.

The full capacity of power and dynamic. You've got all of that at the moment of salvation. Now, in light of that, let Him fill you. That's the command. Let Him take control of you. Instead of being filled with alcohol, instead of being filled with drugs, instead of being filled with guilt over deeds of darkness, instead of being filled with wrong statements and wrong acts, be filled with the intimate Spirit of God.

Like the wind would fill the sail and set it on its way. And He did not simply say, be people of knowledge. Be people of strong faith. Those things are important.

Be reasonable and be logical and be spiritually intelligent and biblically aware. There's nothing wrong with that. There's everything right about it.

But that's not all. Here, He says, be filled with the person of God who lives within you. Are you?

Have you been recently? Can you ever think of a time in your life when you really could say, I remember being so filled with the thoughts of God and the power of God that I felt invincible in the midst of this trial? That's what we want. That's what God wants for us. Now, turn from Ephesians 5 back to this great historical book of Acts, chapter 6. Acts 6, verse 3. The apostles are the leaders in the early church and there is a problem that arises because some of the people in the church don't have enough food. And there was partiality shown to the Jews and the Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked.

There was some prejudice there. And the apostles who are the leaders of the church, that is the original 11 plus one that's stepped into the ranks of the apostles, these men who are leading the church know of the need and they decide to deal with it. Somebody needs to help in the daily serving of food in this church. Verse 3, chapter 6 of Acts, verse 2, the 12 summoned the congregation of the disciples together.

This is one of the earlier business meetings, we would call it. This is one of the early congregational meetings of the church. There may have been thousands of them that gathered, maybe there were hundreds, but they were summoned together and the apostles made an announcement. It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables, but select from among you brethren seven men, and please observe the qualifications, seven men of good reputation, full of the spirit, and full of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.

There isn't a long list, I count only three. Aside from the number seven, they wanted seven selected, they were to be men of good reputation, they were to be men full of the spirit, and full of wisdom. But we, verse 4, will stay with our priorities, we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

Observe the order, usually we get that reversed. We want to be men of prayer and we want to be men of the word. Now, back to the list of verse 3, men of good reputation, men full of the spirit, and men full of wisdom.

Isn't that interesting? Obviously, a good reputation and obviously people with wisdom to work through the delicate issue of the church and the problem in the church, but we tend to pass too quickly by full of the spirit. We just read from Ephesians, be filled with the spirit, and here they're saying we want spirit filled men to do this. And so they began their selection. Verse 5, the statement found approval, the congregation voted in favor of that, they said that's great, we agree with that, whether they voted or not, that's immaterial. The point is they approved the whole idea, and so they chose Stephen. And please observe, immediately it says, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.

There it is again. Full of faith and also a man in whom the intimate spirit was carrying out his dynamic, we might paraphrase it. His sail was full of the blessed wind of the spirit.

He was moving through life, obviously, with the hand of God upon him. There was something about Stephen and these other six named for us in verse 5. They brought these men before the apostles, and after praying they laid their hands on them, and God honored this. Stephen, full of grace and full of power, verse 8 tells us. Performing these remarkable things among the people, but, verse 9, there's a sudden obstacle with that little particle. But, some men from what was called the synagogue of the freed men, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. So the disagreement in the church led to argument from some from without.

Please observe Stephen, remember, full of faith, full of the spirit. These critics, verse 10, were unable to cope with the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking. Literally, they were unable to withstand. They continued unable with strength enough to take a stand against him.

I know that's awkward, but that's literally what it says. They were unable to have strength enough to stand against him. A.T. Robertson suggests these vivid words, Stephen was like a battery charged and in action. Doesn't mean he ran over people, it means that under the dominant control of the spirit, he was unintimidated by and uninfluenced by the critics. Bold as a lion, confident in God, under the control, the full control of the spirit.

He moved through the waters of resistance without getting off course, and they were unable to hold him back. The spirit's filling is obvious. Now, they hated that. The opposition party grew in disagreement, verse 11 down through verse 15.

Let me read them for you. This is the beginning of what led to the stoning of Stephen. They secretly induced men to say, we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.

That was a lie, of course, but they got people to say that. They stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away and brought him before the Sanhedrin. This was the Jewish Supreme Court, the council. And they put forward false witnesses who said, this man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and he speaks against the law. For we have heard him say that this Nazarene Jesus will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us. Notice how they're twisting the truth, and they're building a case against him based on the sinking sands of lies, false information. Look at the 15th verse.

Don't just run on to the next chapter. Look at the 15th verse. Fixing their gaze on Stephen, all who were sitting in the council saw his face like the face of an angel.

What does that mean? Well, having never seen an angel, it's difficult to say. I would suspect he glowed.

Almost without exception, when there are angelic appearances, when there are angelic creatures, when there are evidences of the presence of heaven upon earth, there is an aura. There is a glowing. There is a shining. There is a light.

And I believe in this case, it was visible, which is why they said he had the face of an angel, like the face of an angel. I'm intrigued by that. Now, I'm not suggesting that you pray for a glowing. Well, relax.

Some of you are just as nervous as you can be. You're wondering, where is Chuck going with this? This is the first step. First step toward heresy. I knew it was coming. Gets a motorcycle.

Next thing he does is go wild with this doctrine. I knew it was coming. Relax.

Relax. It's in the book, so you might as well come to terms with what's in the book. I didn't write it. If I had written it, I wouldn't write it that mysterious.

I'd explain it. That's why my writing is a lot duller than the writing of the scriptures. It makes you think. What is a face of an angel like? And if that's what they saw and the Spirit of God led Luke to write it, what did Stephen look like?

And why now? It's all connected, I'm convinced, with his being full of the Spirit. And unintimidated by them, invincible in their presence, because of the power of God, nothing in Stephen. But there's something about the Spirit's filling that set him apart. And he delivers a sermon, maybe the best I've ever read.

Acts chapter 7. In front of opposing people with their arms folded and their frowns deep and their jaws set on murder, they're just waiting for him to get to a place where they can stone him. Never spoken to a hostile crowd? Maybe never this hostile. I have spoken on free speech platforms in the 60s. Boy, it was exciting.

University of Oklahoma, University of Berkeley, California, Berkeley. I'll tell you, the words of church, you'll come back. Few things in life are more exhilarating than being shot at without result. And when they throw things at you and when they answer back, either you step away and run or you have a sense of unintimidated confidence. And that's what Stephen had.

A lot more than I've experienced and you've experienced, perhaps. And standing there with that face like an angel, he begins the history, the precise, he delivers it with precision. Precision timing and comes right to the point of their guilt in the death of Christ.

And they can't stand it. He knew they couldn't. He knew his hours were numbered.

I'm going to the end of Chapter 7, verse 54. When they heard this, they were cut to the quick and they began gnashing their teeth at it. It's like grinding your teeth. It's a way of saying they were livid. They were livid and being full of the Holy Spirit.

Isn't that it? Now, why would they say that? Why would Luke suddenly add that? Because that was the dynamic of his power. That was the dynamic of his invincibility. He was able to stand firm.

And I'm rather convinced that his voice didn't even tremble. Full of the Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven. And he saw the glory of God. That, I know, must have been light. He saw that Shekinah brilliant light that had flooded upon the tabernacle and had rested upon the temple.

And then as disobedience invaded, the lives of the Jews had been lifted and moved away from the house of worship, as they moved into captivity. But he saw now this light of God, full of the Spirit. He saw what no other eyes could see. I wonder if that's part of the feeling.

Just wondering. It happened to him. Could this be part of the out-of-the-body experience one goes through at time of death? If you've stood by them as they're dying and they tell you of this vision that you cannot see in the room, but they can see and describe it. He's near death. Not only did he see the glory of God, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. By the way, remember when Christ was ascended?

What do we often say? Once he ascended, he was seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus is now standing up.

Maybe he stands up for certain individuals at the time they die. He did for Stephen. Perhaps he was with nail-scarred hands saying, Come on home, Stephen.

Come on home. Enough of that. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God and he said, Behold, I see heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. He told him what he saw because they couldn't see it. I wonder if those filled with the Spirit at certain moments of crisis in their lives see things no one else can see.

Just wondering. And they cried with a loud voice. They'd heard enough. And they covered their ears and they rushed upon him with one impulse.

We cannot stand another word from this man. And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. That's later going to be Paul the Apostle. Here he is, unsaved, agreeing with their act of violence as he hated Christians. They went on stoning Stephen. Can you picture it? You've never seen a stoning.

I've never seen a stoning. But can you hear the rocks as they hit him? If you've seen a fist fight, you know the sound of a bone hitting bone.

It's a sickening sound. I saw it all through my years in the Marine Corps. You've seen it on street corners. You've seen it with gangs, perhaps.

Or maybe some of you, the closest you've gotten is a television news report. But it's a sickening sound, but nothing like stones hitting bones. And they stoned this young man Stephen. And he said as they were stoning him, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Do you say that when you're filled with the Spirit being stoned?

I think so. And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. And having said this, he fell asleep. Very emotional scene. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gave him supernatural ability to deliver a message against insuperable odds, opposition that was obvious, hands already holding stones, or he could envision they would soon be holding stones.

And then at the time of the stoning, he is able to see the very presence of the living God, and he says words of praise and words of forgiveness. Is that part of the filling? I think so. Is that the kind of walk with Christ you have?

Is that the dynamic that's characterized in your life these days? That's what I'm getting at. If not, why not?

If that is possible, why isn't it? Why aren't we into it? Just ask it.

Those are convicting questions for all of us. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, Draw Me Nearer, Nearer. It's the sixth study in a 14-part series on the Holy Spirit called Flying Closer to the Flame. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at We're nearly halfway through this teaching series, and as you're prepared to dig deeper into this topic on your own, I'll remind you that in addition to these daily programs, Chuck has written a full-length book on this topic.

It's perfectly suited for personal study, or it'd make a great discussion tool for your small group. His book is called Embraced by the Spirit. Let's face it, most of us are intrigued by the Holy Spirit, but we hold back because we're afraid of getting this relationship wrong or of being misunderstood by family and friends.

In fact, some have made the third person a controversial member of the Trinity. Well, in his book, Chuck steps away from the theological debate in order to help us enjoy the one that God sent as our companion. To purchase a copy of Embraced by the Spirit, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or visit slash store. And then did you realize that Chuck writes a daily devotional email? Thousands are already taking advantage of this free resource. If you're looking for a great way to start your day with inspirational reading from Chuck, we highly recommend signing up for his daily devotional. For all the details, go to slash devotional. This daily program relies on the generosity of supportive friends like you. So thanks so much for doing your part in helping others engage with the Bible, just as you did the very first time you heard Insight for Living. To give a donation today, just speak with one of our friendly ministry reps on the phone.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. And for online giving, go to slash donate. Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in.

Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers.

To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Listen when Chuck Swindoll helps us understand how to cultivate an intimate friendship with God.

Tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Draw Me Nearer, Nearer, was copyrighted in 1992, 1993, and 2003. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 17:54:06 / 2023-03-04 18:03:04 / 9

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