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Shutdown Devotion 3: Assurance

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit,
that we are God’s children. Hi! I’m Pastor Luther Oconer recording here
in our home in Dayton, Ohio. Happy Palm Sunday and welcome to the third
episode of Shutdown Devotions! My hope is to share with you some words of
encouragements from the Bible, which can speak to us during this time of crisis. I do believe we’re in this only for a season. Yes! “Spoiler alert!” Yes, this is only for a season and we will
get through this. So as long as everything’s in lockdown I
will try to record a message at least once a week. My hope is not only to encourage you, but
also to help you encounter God in this very difficult time. So, for this episode, I would like to talk
about assurance. For assurance is an important element of our
relationship with God. And especially in these times of uncertainty
we are looking for assurance. Actually, assurance is important in any form
of relationship. For a relationship is bound to fail without
it. So, what is assurance, anyway? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary—
So, when you apply this to a relationship, assurance means knowing with certainty that
your relationship is secure. For example, if couples don’t have this
sense of assurance—there will be a lot of insecurity in the relationship. Like, for example, if the husband goes on
a business or work-related trip and the wife doesn’t have this sense of assurance, she
will easily imagine that her husband is having an affair. [She thinks her husband is womanizing!] There is insecurity. So, what needs to happen then? Should the wife have him injected with some
kind of a GPS tracking device just like in the movies? Or probably should she change her attitude? Should she think happy thoughts whenever her
husband is away? You know? Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! Think positive! Think positive! No, I think much of the burden lies on the
husband. Can I hear an amen from the women? The husband will have to do things that will
assure his wife of his love for her. Perhaps, a phone call would help. Or a quick text with an emoji. . . saying how much he loves her. And mind you, this is not only when he’s
away. He needs to maintain this relationship by
constantly doing things that would assure her of his love for her. In the same way, God always moves to assure
us of his love for us. How? First, of course, is through the Bible. And that’s why it’s important to read
and study the Bible because it is God’s revelation to us so that we are not left guessing,
so that we know. But also, the Bible itself tells us that aside
from what’s written in the Bible, God himself actually communicates this assurance to us? So how, you may ask? Through Holy Spirit. So how does the Holy Spirit assure us? Well first: The Holy Spirit Assures Us of
Our Identity. For according to Romans 8:16: So why do we need this type of assurance,
then? Because we tend to forget that we are God’s
children. By the way, how did we become children of
God, anyway? Well according to John 1:12: We become children of God the moment we receive
Jesus. Before we used to be children of the devil,
the father of lies according to Jesus in John 8:44. But when we receive Jesus, that’s when we
become children of God. And so, we now know through the revelation
of Scripture. Our minds know because the Bible says so. But that’s not all. We’re not only physical beings with brains,
we are also spiritual beings. We have spirits. And so, because of that, our spirits also
receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit. And Romans 8:16 says that the Holy Spirit
speaks to our spirits that we are God’s children. This is what we call the Witness of the Spirit
or the Testimony of the Holy Spirit. It is a Spirit to spirit communication. It cannot be articulated through words, but
when the Spirit communicates to your spirit, you simply know! So, why do we need the Spirit’s assurance? Why? Because we easily forget. We tend to look at things only in the physical. Like now we’ve been in quarantine for three
weeks now because of COVID-19, there’s just a lot anxiety going around. And you may have filed for unemployment or
if you’re a daily wage earner, you lost a lot of income. You don’t know how you’re going to pay
the bills. You don’t know how you’ll support your
family if this continues. And so, you’re insecure, you’re fearful. You’re now responding to this Covid-19 crisis
from a place of insecurity instead of security. And I have to admit just the other day I was
in that place too. I wasn’t feeling good. I didn’t have fever, but somehow, I lacked
the usual energy and so my mind started playing tricks on me. “Maybe I have coronavirus!” I said to myself. What if I’ve infected my wife? O no! What will happen to our kids if something
bad happens to us?! I had all these negative thoughts going through
my mind but thanks be to God for the witness of the Holy Spirit. I got over those thoughts very quickly. So, when we don’t listen to the Holy Spirit’s
witness to our spirits, we easily forget our identity. You forget that you’re the child of the
living God! You forget that you’re God’s beloved. That he knows every cell in your body, he
knows the numbers of your hair! The one who knows every fiber of your being,
surely, he-will-deliver you! He will deliver you. Well, this reminds me of my son, Wesley. When he was 5-years-old, he easily forgets
that he is my son and I am his father. For example, when I pick him up from school,
I strap him in his car seat at the back of the car. And as we get home, we park at the garage. And the moment I step out of the car, he begins
to cry. Why? He fears that I am going to abandon him. And sometimes I’m beginning to have doubts
about him. I think he has amnesia! Amnesia of what? Well, he forgets that I’m his father. He sees me more like a stranger out to abandon
him in the garage! And unfortunately, friends we too behave that
way in terms of how we relate to God, isn’t it? We too have amnesia! How? When we let fear takeover, we forget our identity
in Jesus. And so, this is the reason why we have Holy
Spirit. He communicates to our spirit. That even though we see things to be bad on
the outside, in the physical, we have an inner witness! And even when circumstances aren’t going
the way they should be, the Spirit is witnessing to your spirit that things will be okay. So that’s why Paul says in Romans 8:14-15,
he says: See, we are led by Holy Spirit, we are no
longer slaves to fear. He brought about our adoption into sonship. We now can call God, Abba, Father! Abba, by the way, is an Aramaic term. We’re not talking about the 70’s supergroup
Abba, okay? Abba is a term used by Jesus and Paul that
connotes deep personal intimacy with God. It’s like saying Daddy. Imagine that? Holy Spirit enables us to cry out to God,
Daddy! So aside from assuring us of our identity,
what else does the Holy Spirit assure us of? It is this: The Holy Spirit Assures Us of
Our Destiny. So as Christians, what is our destiny, anyway? Well in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, Paul says: Friends, you need to understand that Paul
was a tentmaker. He made a living out of making tents. He knew tents are not that durable. And so, that’s why he said that our physical
bodies are like tents that will someday be destroyed. In other words, our bodies are subject to
death. Our bodies will eventually die but then, according
to him, we also have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven. In other words, [our bodies], our bodies they
will be replaced with bodies that do not die, or as Paul said we will be clothed with heavenly
dwelling. This is also what we call the resurrection
of the body or glorification. So that’s a fact stated in the Bible. You’ll find this also in 1 Cor. 15 which
says that when Christ returns, our body which are corruptible [one that spoils] will take
on the incorruptible [one that doesn’t spoil]. That someday we will have glorified bodies. And then in Revelation 21, we will be in this
New heaven and New earth, and since by this time we are clothed with resurrection bodies
we will get to see God face to face. If you look at Revelation 21:3-4: Friends, God will wipe away every tear from
our eyes. God will put a period to death! In other words, He will put an end to suffering
and sickness, and that includes Covid-19! Church, know that that’s our destiny! But the problem is how can we be sure about
all of this? How can be sure about this? Well, obviously, we’re still alive and there’s
just no way of telling if this is true while we are still living. But praise be to God, we have Holy Spirit
to assure us of our destiny. As Paul said in continuation to what we’ve
read a while ago in 2 Corinthians 5:5, he wrote: It’s interesting, Paul refers to the Holy
Spirit as a deposit. Well, what does he mean by that, anyway? I think what he means here is something more
similar to making a down payment. Like for example, when you buy a house or
a new car, you need to make a down payment. Why? It is to guarantee your lender that you are
capable of paying. That you will be faithful in paying your installments
regularly until you complete the payment. Amen? That’s the same with God. He gave us Holy Spirit as a deposit to us
that he will fulfill what he had promised…that he will fulfill our destiny. And Paul reiterated this too to the Ephesians
in Ephesians 1:13-14: See, the moment we believed (that moment we
professed faith in Jesus) we were marked with a seal, and who is that seal? It’s Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing
our inheritance, our destiny. Also, in John 3:8, when Jesus was talking
with Nicodemus that those who are born again they are born of Spirit. So, if you consider yourself a believer in
Jesus and someone who is born again you have Holy Spirit in you. But the problem, though, is even though we
have Holy Spirit we are either ignorant or we suppress his work in our lives. And this is the reason why in the midst of
this crisis we’re behaving like everybody else. We’re so insecure. We do not have assurance. And so, friends, it is my prayer that as you
are watching this, may you become more in tuned with the Holy Spirit in your life. And this is actually Paul’s admonition in
Ephesians 5:18, he said: Friends, be filled
with the Holy Spirit today! Receive his testimony, his witness to your
spirit, of your identity and destiny in Christ. Let us pray…. Gracious God we come to you acknowledging
our fears and insecurities in this challenging time. We asked your forgiveness for behaving like
people who do not have assurance. We ask your forgiveness for ignoring the seal
of the Holy Spirit and the many ways we’ve suppressed hi work in our lives. Today, we ask that you turn our lives around
through the witness of the Holy Spirit. Let Romans 8:16 become real to us that Holy
Spirit will testify, will guarantee to our spirits that we are your children. Fill us anew with your Spirit. Friends as you pray this prayer with me, I
would like to ask you to lift up your hands or open your palms before God as a gesture
of receiving. As Paul said in Ephesians 5:18: “Do not
be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Be filled with the Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit as you fill us, may you communicate
to our spirits right now. And as you do that, I declare anxieties, fears,
insecurities being lifted out from our shoulders. I declare your light piercing through the
dark corners of our lives and replacing them with a confidence knowing that all will be
well in Jesus name. Amen. Friends, there might be some of you who are
watching who realize that you don’t really have the witness of the Holy Spirit in your
life because you don’t really have Holy Spirit in your life to begin with. Well it all begins with Jesus. For John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did
receive him, to those who believed in his name he gave them the right to become children
of God.” And so, if you haven’t really receive him
in your life before, today is the day of your salvation. Please pray this prayer with me. Dear God in heaven
I come to you in the name of Jesus. Who died on the cross to save me from sins. I admit that I’m a sinner in need of a savior. Forgive me from my sins. Come into my heart. Be my savior, be my King. Be the Lord of who I am. And I will never be the same again in Jesus
name. Amen. Friends, if you sincerely prayed that prayer
for the first time, know that Christ dwells in you and as Paul said in Ephesians were
also marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. Also, please send me a private message. I would love to know more about you and I
would be glad tell you more about next steps on how to begin your walk with Jesus. Friends, thanks again for tuning in. See you again next week. God bless!

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