All posts by markkharris55

About markkharris55

Mark K. Harris is an officer in United States Coast Guard who has enjoyed over 16 years of active duty naval engineering assignments. He is married to his beautiful wife Vanessa for 8 years; they have three children Joshua, Andrew and Hannah. They are actively involved with our church and other community based activities. Having had the opportunity to both learn and lead during his career on both Coast Guard Cutters and high level Naval Engineering units, Harris’ intention is to continue in the Coast Guard for or beyond twenty years. After that, we will reevaluate family, ministry and career priorities to determine all opportunities that might be available to us.

The Holy Spirit’s Conviction

Jn 16:8 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

God created a plan for all of humanity when He created man. We don’t know His ways, but we do know His heart for us and it is to love and spend eternity with us. Yet for ages man has been confused about what the roles of the Trinity are. Like many of us feel about those that we love, the disciples did not want to face the reality of Jesus leaving them to return to God the Father. So in order to comfort them, Jesus shared a portion of God’s great plan for us. Today I want to talk about what Jesus declared as part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose on earth was to be.

He convicts the World: (Sin) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me.  Jesus specifically calls out the world in this part of the text.  They are the only group that the Holy Spirit convicts for their sin.  He does it to remind them of their need for a Savior.  His desire is that all of humanity be saved (Jn 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved); so He convicts to give every possible opportunity for His salvation.  
Now I hear you saying well why do often feel convicted when I sin?  I know that I’m saved.  I commit to you the devil’s conniving ways (2 Cor 11:14); he will seem like an Angel of light, but utter lies and confusion.  He will speak as if he’s a still small voice yet his words will contradict God’s Word.  Let’s go further.  

He convicts (US) the Believer: (Righteousness) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: ……of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more.  Here Jesus is talking directly to us, as believers as He reminds us of God’s plan (because I go to My Father and you see Me no more); He has to ascend to the Throne of God, He’s always talked about His Father and now it was time to return. Yet for Him to return it meant that His mission was completed (Phil 2:1-11) and He did it with such dignity and grace.
The Holy Spirit is not convicting us of Sin because our Sin has already been addressed (Jn 3:16 , Rom 5:8), but He convicts us of His Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him). His Righteousness and not ours because our righteousness is filthy (Isa 64:6).  So the Holy Spirit wants to make sure that we: He convicts us to walk in His righteousness (Rom 8:1-5), to know that we are righteous (Gal 2:20-21) and to move away from dwelling in our shortcomings and failures (Rom 6:12-14), but to dwell on His Righteousness (Phil 4:8).  

He convicts the Devil: (Judgement) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: ……of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  The Holy Spirit judges the Devil and him alone.  He is not judging us (Rom 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus) or even those who don’t know him.  However, all of those who align themselves with the devil subject themselves to the same judgment from God.  We as believers, can be fooled to believe that we are being judged when something does not go our way, but Jesus took on all of our Judgment and more on the Cross so we would not have to.  
God is a just God and does not believe in “double jeopardy.”  Just like in our court system, we cannot be judged for the same crime twice.  For if we could be judged for our sin again, it would render Jesus’ sacrifice void.  And we know better than that; His sacrifice was once and for all, now He’s at the right hand of the Father (where He’s made room for us; Gal 3:1).  

Caught Away

So one weekend back on college, my best friend and I were driving back to school, trying to make our midnight curfew (military service academy; henceforth the curfew). Like I said it was back I College so the car I was driving was not in the best shape and I was having a fuel filter problem. The car stopped on the side of the road, my friend and I were exhausted from all of the fun we’d had that weekend so with the car not working properly, no money to call for roadside assistance, no AAA or any real since of help coming, we did what any students would do. We said Lord help us and we both fell asleep, maybe we’d wake up and it would have been a dream 😀.

All of a sudden we were both startled by a knock on the window. This was a major interstate (I-95 N), so the likelihood someone would just pull over to help us was very unlikely. Yet this smiling older gentleman said “Is everything alright?” I said “we were just having some car trouble.” The gentleman then said these words; “Everything is fine now; you’ll be fine.” That’s it!!! He didn’t give us any help with the car; didn’t diagnose the problem. He simply got into his car and drove off. My friend and I looked at each other laughing, we then looked ahead to see what type of car the man was driving and could not see anything; it was as if he disappeared into the evening sun. I then turned the key without much expectation; the car not only started, but we drove the remaining 5 hours or so back to school without any issues. God had answered our halfhearted prayer by sending this mysterious man to speak a word to us.

Why this story? Because that old man seemed to just be “Caught Away,” or taken away. That would not be the only time this type of situation had happened to me in my life; but when reading Acts recently, this was brought to mind:

Acts 8:38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

Here we find such an event in scripture (one of several such events) with the explanation for our car trouble situation. It’s was not happenstance; it was the Holy Spirit.

In this text we see the end of a Holy Spirit interaction. This Ethiopian leader was on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem. When the Holy Spirit told Phillip Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26).” When Philip arrived, he found the Ethiopian seeking to understand scripture. Phillip led him to Christ, then baptized him. And Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more. The minute Phillip’s assignment was completed, he was caught away, by the Holy Spirit.

We should never be surprised when God sends His angles to assist us in our times of need. The Ethiopian man needed Christ and Phillip was sent to make the introduction. Yet following Philip baptizing the Eunuch, the man saw him no more. Once the “old smiling man” gave me and my fried a comforting Word, we saw him no more. When you’re in your time of need the Spirit of the Lord will send help (Psalm 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills; From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth). We are reminded in Hebrews, to treat everyone with kindness, because they may just be positioned as your help (Heb 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels).

What’s Your Synagogue?

John 12:42-43 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

The synagogue before the early church days represented the central point for life in a Jewish community.  It is where many rites of passage take place.  It was where the children learned about life and where adults made decisions critical decisions, even more so than the politics of today.  It was a place that every Jewish person wanted to be and, honestly, would do anything to remain in.  So here in the text of John 12, we find a group of Jews who have been around Jesus, seen the miracles of Jesus, heard the teachings of Jesus, and most of all, felt the impact of Jesus’ presence.  Vs. 42 tells us that they believed in Jesus (even among the rulers many believed in Him), but because of their connection to the Pharisees, they could not confess Him (but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue).  They feared the ability of the Pharisees to impact their lives over the power of God in Jesus Christ.  Even with what they witnessed, they feared being put out of their community found in the synagogue.  What is your synagogue?  What is that community you’re so conscious of being in that possibility of not being in it produces fear in your heart? 

What could be a synagogue?  Well, it could be friendships, family, maybe work colleagues, or the cool kids at school. 

There are many communities we desire to be involved with. However, we just cannot be like the Jewish rulers.  In vs. 43, John said, “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,” they could see man’s praise up close but didn’t understand the generational impact of the praise of God.  We must be able to hear God and obey as opposed to fearing what our synagogues might say.  Two seemingly short verses, yet they pack such a significant punch.  In a nutshell, Obey God and not man.  I was reminded of this earlier today” Yahweh; there is no one greater!!” 

What Separates David From the Rest (5)

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Don’t you just hate being lied too?  It doesn’t matter who lies to you (Spouse; children or even colleagues), but that they didn’t trust or respect you enough to be honest. 

This hits home because I was raised on lying.  I did it so that I wouldn’t get in trouble of course; I did it to “protect” the family (what happens in this house stays in this house); and I did it to try and promote an image that I wanted others to see in me (that I didn’t see in myself).  I did not see the impact of my lies then being a lack of trust or respect for others back then.  I also didn’t realize how “practice makes perfect,” and the continuous lying would continue off and on later in life even when I didn’t want or need it to.  

David realized what we all should, our relationship with God is the first and foremost relationship that is impacted by our lies and God desires truth in every part of us (You desire truth in the inward parts).  One of the things David actually taps into is that most of us have many parts.  If we’re not careful the inward parts, get corrupted by our other parts; unless we walk in truth.  What am I saying.  I happen to be a Son of God; a Husband, a Father; a Brother; a Minister; a Mechanical Engineer; a Project Manager; a Board Chairman; a Friend; a Mentor and even a few more.  The truth is we have many parts and it’s very easy to become a different person in many of them, and in doing so lose a bit of ourselves.  Which is why it is so important to be a person of truth in the inward parts

David understood that we often try to hide those things we don’t others to know about us, he called them or hidden part.  When we’re truthful with God in the inward parts, He will give us His Wisdom to overcome our hidden parts.  

What Separates David From the Rest (4)

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

David was not confused about his past.  I remember being so zealous that I wanted everyone to also be saved.  I would tell many what I had just recently come to appreciate; Jesus Christ is Lord.  There is nothing wrong with that level of excitement (zeal).  The issue that can raise its early face is the seeming erasing of your memory, when you quickly become “holier than thou.”  This is when your conversion is so excellent, that you cannot resonate with those who have remained sinners or Christians struggling to live holy.  

This verse demonstrates a certain level of humility and introspection.  David understand that he was indeed at one point a sinner (Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity).  Since birth, he was full of sin.  

What Separates David From the Rest (3)

  1. Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

If I had to title this characteristic of David highlighted in these verses, it would be “Perspective!”  David had a perspective that I believe most Christians don’t have in present day.  This psalm was written after David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the follow up murder of her husband Uriah was exposed by Nathan.  However, David understands that he sinned against God.  Yes, he did Uriah wrong, he slept with his wife. He forced himself in Bathsheba and wronged her.  He was unfaithful to his wife/wives.  But he did not sin against them, David’s sin was against God.  

We often put people on pedestals that they do not belong on; and nobody belongs in God’s prominent position.  We worry way too much about what people think about us and our actions.  We’re often more concerned about people than we are about God.  

Our sin is against God and Him alone.  He is the only one who has a heaven to allow us in or a hell to let us choose.  He is the one we need to be reconciled with.  It’s our sin that alienate us from God and while our actions affect people here on earth, they grieve God who’s in heaven.  Jesus was crucified on the cross because of our sin, all of our sin.  

We need the same Perspective that David had, our sin grieves God.  Yet He sent Jesus to act on our behalf, so That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

What Separates David From the Rest 2

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.

Every night we take communion together as  a family.  Not because we are so super spiritual, but because we were taught about the power of the Blood of Christ and the healing found in His broken body represented by the bread.  What I realized in this Psalm is that David realized the same thing.  The cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, look at what he says, “Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.“  The blood of Christ cleanses us from all of our sin, when we believe on Christ.  David wanted God to wash him from his iniquity and cleanse him from his sin.  The only way that could be done is via the Blood.  This is just one more thing that sets David apart from the rest.  He understood then what we know now.  Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all of our sins when we are saved.  Remember Rom 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

What Separates David From the Rest

So last year, I set out to follow David throughout scripture in an effort to see what made him a man after God’s Own Heart.  I found one of those things that separate David from all others in Psalm 51.  I will dive deeply to comprehend the depth of insight in these 19 verses. 

But Let’s start at the beginning; verse 1 finds David just after the prophet Nathan confronts him about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murderous cover-up.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

David’s immediate reaction/response is to pray.  Asking God for forgiveness.  WHY. 

  1.  David knew he was wrong, and he acknowledged it.  You only ask for forgiveness when you know that you’re wrong.  Your actions were at fault for the problem. Because he acknowledged his wrong (after being called out), he asked God for mercy (Have mercy upon me, O God).
  2. David knew God loved him.  David didn’t see God as some Angry Tyrant but as a kind and merciful God, a loving father (According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies). It mattered just how David viewed God, loving and tender.  It made coming to him easier, yet it made the deception and sin even more damaging for David. Contrary to popular belief, David did not enjoy sinning against God because of His love and mercy.  
  3. David was sincere in his request.  David’s posture was humility, he knew that he could not deal with his sin, but God could.  So he was willing to go to the one who could do something about it and asked for help. We can not deal with our sins, but Jesus already dealt with them on the cross.  So it should be easy for us to go to Him as David pleaded to God, Blot out my transgressions.  We can go to Jesus and acknowledge that He has already blotted out our transgressions and thank Him for it.  

That Was Not God

James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

People like to blame God for many things, horrible tragedies, the actions of some of our loved ones, and even for people in authority.  However, there are certain things that the Bible tells us are definitely not God’s doing, and one of those is temptation.  James, the brother of Jesus is very clear, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  God is not testing you, He does not need to see if you can be trusted.  God knows everything about us, he does not need to figure us out.  

However, while we are tempted by the devil, we’re drawn to the thing we desire (Greek word actually means: lust and longings, especially for the forbidden).  The text says, But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  That word enticed means: to entrap or to allure.  So we are not tempted by God; however, the devil uses our list and longings to allure and entrap us.  Therefore, when we understand that God’s not behind the temptation and that our weaknesses are being used to pull us astray; we can go to God for his help.  After all; And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

Just Do It!!

Gen 22:3

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Nike had a tremendous slogan some years back; “Just Do It!! Millions of people worldwide made it a part of their everyday vernacular. The reason I bring this up is that this was Abraham’s way of life. God would say something to Abraham, and he would immediately take action.

In this text, Abraham got up early and prepared for the trip to take his son with him up to the mountain which God told him. Why??

Because God said so!! Gen 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” This has got to be the most difficult task he has ever been given. How in the world could God ask him to do this? The thing God told Abraham to do was so difficult; I’m utterly amazed at how quick he was to take action. I struggle at times to do what God said immediately. Not because I don’t fear and respect Him. I struggle at times because, unlike Abraham, I tend to have these concerns:

1: Was that Indeed God speaking? Am I sure that was God? Would He ask me to do that?

2: Is what God asked too difficult for me? I don’t know God; I’m not sure I can handle that.

3: If I do this, what will other people think? Will the people follow me? What about those who don’t agree? Will it make me look silly? Holier than thou? Stupid? Any manner of other things.

4: What happens if I don’t do this? What will I lose by not doing what God told me to.

I’m not proud of those questions, but I have to be honest about it. Abraham’s swift obedience positioned him to become the Father of a great nation. So why did he not deal with these same questions, or did Abraham just surmise that all that mattered was what God said? We’ve got to get to that point. If God Said it, then we must do it. Abraham moved to do God’s will by believing:

1: God’s voice was not cluttered by any other voices that were given a place in his mind. We often have other voices in our heads that clutteand r, are louder than God’s still small voice. God will not compete with other voices, and His sheep know His voice.

2: God’s plans for us are to give us a future and hope. These plans are the very best situation for us. Our ways are not His ways. We have to trust that, and Abraham did.

3: Who cares what people think? We do; Abraham did not; the only person that matters is God. We have to comprehend that.

4: You will fail! Nothing that opposes God will prosper, and we must determine the Lord’s will, not our own. Proverbs 19: 27 says, “Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” We go away from God’s Wisdom