Archive for the Category » Holy Spirit «

December 30th, 2009 | Author:

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but as this year draws to a close, I’ve been trying to step far enough out of the daily grind to see the bigger picture – and it’s not pretty.  While the secular world debates such earth-shattering questions as whether next year should be called two thousand ten or twenty ten (Honest.  That was a poll on a local news cast), I’m seeing the death throes of the ungodly American empire and the subsequent challenge that lies ahead for Christians.

Individually, the Lord will test each of us in different ways, but our underlying challenge will be the same:  to represent our Lord and Savior through it all without sinning.  Weak as our flesh is, the only way we can win this battle is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

With this in mind, I did a search for power and Spirit and was a little surprised at the number of verses that came up.  As you read through some of these, take note of just what it is the Holy Spirit empowers people to do.

On the other hand I am filled with power– With the Spirit of the LORD– And with justice and courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious act, Even to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8)

“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
(Luke 1:17)

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:14-15)

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:18-19)

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:14-16)

for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

As a result, here is my prayer for the new year:

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:17-25)

November 04th, 2009 | Author:

Following up on last week’s post about being guided by the Holy Spirit – even when we are ignorant of the Bible – this week I’m sharing a personal story about that same guidance.  I posted this when I first started blogging, but I think it’s worth repeating, although I’ve done some minor editing.

*   *   *

When I was born again, not only did I receive forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, God provided me with a pair of wide-angle singlasses. The whole world looked a lot different when I wore them. Everything I encountered was colored black or white, sin or not sin.

I was 39 years old when this happened, so I had a lot of habits that looked black. I learned early on that the only course of action that gave me any peace went like this:

  1. see sin
  2. confess sin
  3. stop sin
  4. repeat as necessary

I got good at repetition.

As time went on, I discovered that these glasses also highlighted the sin that was around me. It didn’t matter if it was a song on the radio, a book I was reading, a TV show, or a comment from a friend. The singlasses screamed “SIN!” …  so I changed the radio station, shut off the TV, or tossed the book.

It was a little trickier when it was a friend. They didn’t seem to appreciate my new-found knowledge, provided by my ever-present singlasses and my four-step plan. In fact, most of them got seriously ticked off. So I had to develop a new course of action for other people’s sin. It went something like this:

  1. see sin
  2. bite tongue
  3. pray that God will give them their own singlasses

There are exceptions to step 2, of course. At one extreme, there are times when we really do need to speak up: a friend wants our input, or a child is being beaten. At the other end of the spectrum, there are times when we just need to walk away from those who cling to their sin:  “come out of her, my people” and all that. (I think I hear another post coming on this topic.)

Deciding which of these courses to follow, of course, is the tough part. That’s where step four comes in:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,
who gives to all men generously and without reproach,
and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

October 28th, 2009 | Author:

Before all my regular readers have heart attacks, I don’t really mean throw out your Bible … well, not exactly. What I do mean is that knowing the Bible oftentimes becomes more important to Christians than knowing Christ, and as James would say, “That ought not to be!”

So today I’m going to look at what the Bible tells us “ought to be.” I’m sure this won’t be a complete study, but there is a point here, so stay with me.

What is the purpose of the Bible?

- Recording Prophecy

And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

Over the centuries the scriptures have recorded many prophecies, that we may know what is to come, and when it does come, that we will recognize it as fulfillment of God’s Word.

- Identifying Sin

because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)

- Testing the words of man

Now these [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

Many Christians have gone astray because they trusted in man’s traditions or the words of false prophets, and did not receive a love of the truth. (2 Thess 2:10)

- Leads us to Christ

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

- Teaching and Correcting

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)

The scriptures can be used effectively to teach, reprove, correct, train, and exhort. But how do we square that with these verses, that say Christians won’t need a teacher?

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)

for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:12)

Let’s go back to the verse from Galatians, but this time in context.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:16-26)

Tutors by definition are intended to be temporary.

From Strongs:

From G3816 and a reduplication form of G71; a boy leader, that is, a servant whose office it was to take the children to school; (by implication [figuratively] a tutor [“paedagogue”]): - instructor, schoolmaster.

from Webster’s:

a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another: as a : a private teacher b : a teacher in a British university who gives individual instruction to undergraduates

So are we to be children and undergraduates forever? I think not. How much confidence would you place in a doctor who consults his textbooks every few minutes? Or a computer technician? Or a farmer? Not much, and the same is true of Christians. Setting false modesty aside, we are supposed to grow up.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15)

So what is the goal? How do we function without a tutor?

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:29)

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:5-6)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18)

Quite simply, an adult Christian is led, not by the Bible, but by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the student shouldn’t strike out on his own if he hasn’t learned his lessons. And the Bible is still useful in other ways, some of those listed above. But we can’t follow it, because it’s just a tool. It’s a crutch to use until we can stand on our own. The Law leads us to Christ. Christians should follow Christ.

In the parable of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30) Jesus tells us, not once, but three times, that His sheep hear His voice. Listen:

vs. 3 … the sheep hear his voice

vs. 16 they will hear My voice

vs. 27 My sheep hear My voice

Jesus didn’t mean this figuratively. He meant it literally. We are to hear His voice. We are to know His voice and follow His voice.

Peter and John didn’t know the scriptures. They had about three and half years with Jesus, and then they followed the Holy Spirit.

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Acts gives us many other examples of Christians being led by the Holy Spirit. Here are a few.

While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” (Acts 10:19-20)

While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; (Acts 16:6)

The Holy Spirit speaks the things which are not written in the Bible. He tells us, on a day by day basis, what we need to know for our specific situation.

So why aren’t we hearing Him? Why don’t we write, “Yesterday the Holy Spirit told me to do such-and-such.” Why do we still rely so heavily on our tutor, the Bible?

Speculations begins at this point, but I think one of the reasons is that we don’t know to listen. We think if we know the scriptures, and walk according to what they say, we’ve completed our mission.

Or maybe we’re scared we aren’t really hearing the Holy Spirit, but we’re hearing another spirit. This is a valid concern, and we certainly need to test the spirits (1 John 4). But that doesn’t mean we stop listening. It simply means we listen with discernment.

Or maybe we’re just not comfortable with “spiritual stuff.” All I can say to that is – get comfortable! – because “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

If you’ve managed to read this very long post, and something has stirred inside of you and you’d like to go farther; if you’d like to know the voice of the Holy Spirit and be led by that voice, then I have some very sound advice for you: Read these words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Believe these words. Pray these words.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:9-13)

January 20th, 2009 | Author:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:41-45)

I know it’s a little late for the stories of Jesus’ birth, but I recently had an experience that reminded me of this passage. Has it ever happened to you? You meet someone new, whether in person or online. A conversation starts, and suddenly, your heart gives a little leap: this person is a fellow traveler! This person is filled with the Holy Spirit! It’s a rare and blessed moment, and I just had not one, but three – and when I have time to explore other links, maybe more to come!

So here are some new blogs to check out.

Be About Your Father’s Business Sherri ruminates about her daily life with the Lord in a very transparent fashion. Her son recently got married, so she’s dealing with that letting-go process.

Shooting the Breeze Kevin is a pastor in British Columbia, who gets excited about sharing the Word of God, about seeing new truth as the Holy Spirit reveals it. He’s just started a new series about Jonah that’s very insightful.

Rediscovering the Church And then there’s on-fire, do-it-now Peter. Peter is writing my posts! Okay, not exactly my posts, but we definitely share the same soapbox! The following is from his “About” page, and says it all.

I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!

Author unknown