Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Communion of the Holy Spirit...Ganeida

Today is Communion Sunday & we have been seeing expressly over the last few Sundays how central to our faith communion with the Holy Spirit is. Over these next few weeks we are *counting the omer* to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out onto all people.

Many churches use 2nd Corinthians 13:14 as their benediction.  It reads like this:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, & the love of God, & the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
It is a wonderful verse but there is something interesting here.  Grace is a free gift.  Love is a free gift.  Fellowship is an opportunity.

Last week we looked at the Greek word koinonia.  Remember it means partnership & the way the Greek is construed it means very specifically partnership with the Holy Spirit.  Partnership requires at least 2 participants.  Partnership requires agreement.

What I want to do today is begin to show you what fellowship with the Holy Spirit looks like & what it means for us as believers & tie that back in to the communion meal.

I am going to start with Jesus because Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith.  It is his death that cleanses us from sin, his resurrection that gives us assurance of eternal life, yet note something very specific:  Jesus was 30 or so years old when He began His ministry & He did not begin it without the unction, the benediction, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Please come with me to John 1:29~34
29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

If Jesus, The very son of God, could not function in the supernatural & do the will of the Father without the help of the Holy Spirit, how much more do we who are merely human, need the fellowship & partnering of the Holy Spirit.

In John 5:19 Jesus says: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. And again in 12:49~ I don't speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.

The first Christians did not call themselves Christians.  It was a derogatory term first used at Antioch.  What Christians called themselves was *followers of the Way* based on Jesus saying He was the Way, the Truth, & the Life. They followed so well others referred to them as being the slaves, or followers of Christ.
As Christ followed the father His disciples followed Him.  You see the pattern.  So what has gone wrong?  Why do so many Christians look exactly like the world?  Why do they talk like the world & walk like the world?  I believe it is because we have forgotten how to partner with the Holy Spirit.  It is He who leads us into all Truth.  It is He who gives us understanding & revelation.  It is He who illuminates the scriptures so that we might fully know the will of God & it is He who helps us to obey!

So I would put to you there are 2 main components to a successful partnership with the Holy Spirit.

James 4: 8 says: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.  The first part of this verse gives us an instruction ~ Draw near.  The second part tells us what is preventing us from drawing near.  We need to develop the single eye, the undivided heart & the Holy Spirit will help us to do that if we so desire it but He will not force Himself upon us against our will because right at the very beginning God gave mankind free will.

The 2nd thing is Obedience.  John 14:23 says : "All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.

Knowing God, Knowing Jesus, knowing the Holy Spirit is a developmental thing, just like any other friendship.  The more time you spend with them the better you will begin to know them.  The better you know them the easier it is to discern their voice from the rest of the voices in our world.

  Now we are given 2 specific commands with regard to the Holy Spirit & both are in the negative.
Ephesians4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God or as the NLT puts it, do not bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way you live…  & Thessalonians5:19 Do not quench [stifle] the Holy Spirit.

I said last week that we needed to be very careful in our dealings with the Holy Spirit because it is a very serious offence in the Father’s eyes to deliberately offend the Holy Spirit. I am going to list for you some of the things scripture very clearly says we are to avoid.

Hebrews 10:29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to us.

Acts7:51 ~ "You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That's what your ancestors did, and so do you!

Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled against him and grieved  [or vexed] his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.

Acts5:3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.

Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years

Acts 5:9 And Peter said, "How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this?

And the worst of all is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:31~32

The Old Testament records the dispensation of the Father & was revealed through the Law.  The Gospels reveal the dispensation of the Son through the Grace of God but now the Son sits at the right hand of the Father.  Before He left He promised us one who would be just like Himself & He would remain with us forever, even until the end of the Age. We live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.

 The Father said, This is what I want.  Jesus said, This is how you do it.  The Holy Spirit says, Let me help you.  Jesus even calls him the Helper.

Now we bandy words about & we have heard them so often & said them so often we have rendered them meaningless.  Just what do we mean by *helper* & with what is the Holy Spirit meant to help us? 

1 Corinthians 1:9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

What the Holy Spirit has primarily been sent to do is to bring us into fellowship with the Father & the Son.  For this to happen we have to agree to accept the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, heeding His directives, advice & correction, obeying His commands because He will always highlight the work of Jesus in our lives, what He has done for us, the price He has paid for us, the love he has for us ~ & Jesus will intercede for us with the Father so that just as the 3 are one, we too become part of their fellowship, united by the work of Christ & the communion of the Holy Spirit.

What does that look like?

I find long car drives when I’m not the designated driver really good for meditating.  I was thinking about the finished work of Christ on the cross & thinking how devastating it must have been for Jesus the moment our sin blotted out His relationship with the Father, separating them from each other for the first time since the world began!  And as I was thinking about that the Spirit rose up in me & said, *And God lost a son that day.*

Ouch.  As a parent the thought of losing a child is the worst imaginable pain. I’ve seen what it has done to my mother to lose her youngest child.

So you see when we come to the communion table & we remember Christ’s sacrifice, The blood poured out for us, the body broken for us, the stripes inflicted for us, the suffering endured for us we cannot forget the One who gave His only begotten son for our sake.  This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  He makes real to us the things of the Spirit.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

What does the Church look like? ~ Ganeida

 Ekklesia is the new testament word for church.  It means gathering or assembly, not the building!
Hebrews 10:25 says: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

The writer to the Hebrews is very clear that believers are to gather together.  They are to assemble together. When they do so they become the ekklesia. 
In the opening chapters of Acts, where we see this new religion forming & beginning to establish itself Luke informs us that there are 4 elements that dominated the ekklesia:

1.  Doctrine: they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.  This formed a firm foundation which informed the rest of their lives, their thinking, their motivation, their actions.
2.  Fellowship.  Now I will be really, really blunt here as I think this little word has been much abused by Christians.  If you study out the Greek word koinōnia you will find it has a variety of meanings none of which means companionship or socialability.  It can mean partnership.  It can mean communion.  It can mean relief or contribution in aid. So, with what, or with whom do we partnership?  You see.  When you look at the scripture the correct way in the context of all scripture it becomes obvious we fellowship with Christ through the partnership of the Holy Spirit.  He is the head.  We are the body.  We have the mind of Christ & His Holy Spirit resides within us. This becomes even more obvious as we move to the 3rd & 4th points.

3.  The Breaking of bread ~ that is the communion meal.

4.  Is Prayer ~ literally as we have seen in our study of the Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer.  When you understand that what we know as the Lord’s prayer is actually a teaching outline you have a better idea of how the newly formed church prayed for itself & its community both in private devotions & public worship

In other words the inward fellowship of the Holy Spirit resulted in an outward manifestation: common worship; mutual kindness & benevolence; Alms.

Well, you might say, we are not the first century church.  Things have changed.  True we are not the first century church but God does not change and a testimony is established by 2 or 3 witnesses so please turn to Ephesians 4:11 & 12

11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

I particularly want to look at the 2nd part of this passage.  Firstly note those in *ministry* are to minister to the ekklessia, the church body.  It is the church body that ministers to the world.  The only exception would be evangelists but they too are expected to train others to perform this ministry.  Remember too that the spreading of the gospel is the responsibility of all believers.  

Now I want to break the Greek down so that you all understand completely what Paul is saying to the church in this passage.  The first word we need to look at is equipping.  Strong’s translates it this way: a perfectly adjusted adaptation; complete qualification for a specific purpose. Those who are being equipped like this are the *saints*.

 Saints is hagios which means : separate from common condition and use; dedicated; hallowed; used of things, τ για, the sanctuary; and of persons, saints, e.g., members of the first Christian communities; pure, righteous, ceremonially or morally; holy

Work is ergon which can mean charge, that is an obligation or a command.  Ministry is diakonia which actually means acts of service. Why?  To build the living body of Christ.

When we put it all together we find that God appoints people within the body of Christ who help believers become completely qualified & adjusted to be set apart [that is what holy means, to be set apart for a specific purpose] so that they might fulfil the obligation or command  of service, which builds the living body of Christ. That is why you come here each Sunday. 

Even if you did not realise it, that is why we are commanded to come together.  It is perfectly possible to worship privately.  Indeed we are encouraged to do so.  It is possible to pray privately.  It is possible to praise God alone.  What it is not possible to do is to exhort, encourage & build up each other without each other. We are nowhere commanded to hold church lunches, Ladies teas, men’s breakfasts.  I am not saying these things are wrong.  I am saying they are not what scripture means when it talks about fellowship.  It is talking about what Paul refers to as communion with the Holy Spirit that results in a specific lifestyle.

Now I want you to look at something very carefully because our misunderstanding of these things has resulted in both the church’s disobedience & its ineffectiveness.  When you read through Acts closely you understand that the first apostles had a very, very close relationship with the Holy Spirit & when they spoke they spoke with the mind of Christ.  What Paul is saying to the Church is a directive from Christ Himself & we ignore it at our peril.

Let’s look at the words of Christ Himself.
Matthew 5: !4~ 15 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.… "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

It is our light that is to shine before men ~ but what is that light?  Christ said:  I am the Light of the World. He also said: Abide in me.  The result, when we actually do what Christ said to do & abide in Him is that we become more & more like Him.  Paul understood this.  In Corinthians he remarks that we will be purified like gold.  The thing about purifying gold is it is done in the fire & you know it is done when you can see your reflection in the gold.

In other words, it is not easy to be a Christian, not even in the free west, not even in a nominally Christian country, not if you are serious about it. This world has a king & he is our enemy.  He hates us because he hates the one we represent.  He hates the one we love. It is he who creates the fire.  Very, very few people are capable of persevering when everything around them conspires against them.  At the very least they are tempted to compromise.  At the worst this world corrupts then deceives them.

The Father knows this & so in His lovingkindness, goodness & mercy He has provided a way for us to be encouraged to persevere in our walk by coming together for mutual support.  It is not to create a *Christians Only* club.  It is to build us up in the faith that we might do the works that Jesus did ~ yes, & even greater works.  This is what the bible teaches. John 14:12

Acts13:47 teaches: For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'
One of the plagues of modern Christianity is its cliqueyness. Instead of focusing outwardly it has focused inwardly & the problem with that is we begin looking at each other & as we all are sinners & have flaws they begin to loom large in our eyes. 

However, when we do the biblical thing & understand our focus is to be outward towards the unsaved we understand how much we need each other. 

The story goes: A mother went to get her son out of bed with the exhortion:  Come on, son.  You have to get up.  You are late, but her son didn’t want to get up.  He whinged & he moaned.  I don’t want to get up.  Nobody likes me.  Nobody listens to me. Why should I get up?  Exasperated his mother explodes:  Because your congregation is waiting for you in the church!

We laugh ~ because there is a lot of truth in that little story.  It illustrates a very salient point.  If we play at church, if we don’t do what the ekklesia was designed by God to do, then what was meant to be a blessing to us becomes a curse. 

There is nothing sadder than a church whose people have so lost their way that they squabble & bicker amongst themselves, who will not listen to sound doctrine or do what the Word expressly tells them to do.  Jesus is very clear & quite specific.  He is the head.  We are the body.  What does the head do?  It does our thinking for us.  It directs our actions.  What does the body do?  The body does what the head tells it to do.

See, God isn’t running a democracy.  He is running a theocracy.  Do it my way or you show you do not belong to me.  Now, we all make mistakes.  We all have moments when we are overwhelmed & feel we cannot go on.  I am not talking about that.  I am talking about a deliberate perseverance in sin.  Wrong thinking.  Wrong actions.  Wrong motivations.  We must understand we are in a battle & we are called upon to become so radically altered we do indeed become a light unto the world.  We do not do that by remaining the same.  We cannot do that by becoming lone wolves. We cannot do it alone.  We need each other.  Where I am weak you may be strong.  Where you are weak I will be strong.  We have each faced trials & tribulations & learnt spiritual lessons from them about how to overcome the world & thus we can help each other.

God gave me a vision for this church ~ & not just for this church but for these islands.  He began by showing me 2 things:
·       Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
·       &
·       Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee,...
That is the problem.  We have no vision because we lack the knowledge of God ~ but there is a solution! 

This is why we come to church.  To grow in the knowledge & love of God, to strengthen each other in the vision God has given our church & to exhort & encourage each other in our various ministries. This is the vision God has for us.  It is found in the book of Acts & I will give it to you from the King James Version because that is how it was given to me: Acts 17:6 ~  These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

I envision a people who so know & love their God & saviour that everywhere they go they turn their world upside down!  They say what Jesus would say.  They do what Jesus would do.  They do not talk like the world.  They do not walk like the world.  No! They walk & talk like their lord & saviour, Jesus Christ!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Holy Spirit our Helper.~Rabqa

 The book of Matthew tells us that the activity of the Holy Spirit is evident in every phase of the life & ministry of Jesus. It was by the power of the Spirit that Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb (1:18&20).

Before Jesus began His public ministry, He Was filled with the Spirit of God (3:16) & followed the Spirit's leading into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil as further preparation for His messianic role (4:1)The power of the Spirit enabled Jesus to heal & cast out demons.

Just as John immersed his followers in water, Jesus will immerse His followers with the Holy Spirit (3:11). In 7:21-23 we find a warning directed against false charismatics, those in church who prophesy, cast out demons, & do wonders, but to not do the will of the Father. Presumably the same Holy Spirit who inspires charismatic activities, must also empower the People of the Church to do the will of God. (7:21)

Jesus declared that His works were done in the power of the Holy Spirit, giving evidence that the kingdom of God had come & the power of satan was being overthrown. Therefore, to ascribe the power of the Spirit to the devil was to commit an unpardonable sin (12:28-32).

In 12:28 The Holy Spirit is connected to Jesus' exorcisms & the present reality of the kingdom of God, not solely by the fact of exorcism per se, for the Pharisees' sons (disciples) also practice exorcism (12:27) Rather, the Holy Spirit is with the Messiah effecting a new event that is the kingdom of God has come upon you (V28)

In 28:16 The disciples are commanded to go out & make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit (V 19). That is they are to baptise them in their obedience to this commission, Jesus' disciples are assured of His ongoing presence with them.

When Jesus ascended into heaven He explained that He was leaving another Helper The Holy Spirit. The Bible has much to say about who the Holy Spirit is & His role.

The apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, 1st,2nd & 3rd John & the book of Revelation. He begins his Gospel by saying
Jn 1:1 (NKJ) In the beginning was the Word & the word was with God & the Word was God.

Here he is using the Greek word Logos for the "Word"This reference indicates a name for Christ Himself who was the visible divine expression of God on earth dwelling amongst men.

In 1 Jn 5:7-8 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: The Father the Word & the  Holy Spirit; & these thee are one. For there are three that bear witness on earth the Spirit, the water & the blood; & these three agree as one.

Understand that those who are born again, loves other believers & obeys the Word of God & the Holy Spirit.

In Jn 1:14 we are told that the Word became flesh & is the only begotten Son & in verse 34 we see that Christ is the Son of God. So we see that the Father, His Son who is Jesus Christ & the Holy Spirit are all the same.

If we Look at Gen 1:1 we see that In the beginning God created the heavens & the    earth.

In V 2 the Bible tells us that that the earth was without form, & void; & darkness was on the face of the deep, & the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
& in V 3 God said let there be light; & there was light.

 v 1 reveals God as the Creator; the Hebrew word for God is Elohiym, which is an early name for God & is used throughout the Book on Genesis. We read in the 2nd V that the Spirit of God is moving on the waters The word Spirit here is Ruwach which can be translated as wind, breath & Spirit. This word occurs nearly 400 times in the Old Testament.

The 3rd V is quite interesting, as God said let there be light, this was not the cosmic light of the sun, moon or stars, as these heavenly lights were formed on the 4th day of creation (in vv 14& 15). Here the Spirit & light are joining together on the 1st day of creation

 (v3.I read in Perry Stone's book where he asked Rabbi Getz what the light was on the 1st day of creation, the Rabbi said that it was an unknown light that was connected to the glory & presence of The Almighty Father.
     (I will come back to Genesis later)
When God asked Job in 38:19 where the light dwells & where the abode of darkness is He was making a point about His limitless knowledge & about the mystery that surrounds Him. We will never know everything He knows, nor will we ever know everything there is to know about Him. But He knows everything there is to know about us, & in His awesomeness, He is doing great things for us & in our lives.

In Jn 15:26Jesus told His disciples (NKJ) " When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify for Me".

God wants us to depend entirely on Him. He wants us to lean on, trust in & rely on Him. Actually that is part of the definition of faith. We are partners with God & that means that we have responsibilities. BUT we must lean on Him in order to do the things that are our part. If God calls you into ministry He will anoint you & give you the gifts that are needed, BUT you still have to trust Him & remember how much you need Him at all times.
Sometimes we may think that we don't need the Holy Spirit help with things we have done over & over again successfully.
 Why would we need help with something already know we can do? It is so dangerous to become self-reliant. The book of Proverbs speaks frequently of the self-confident fool. People who think they are self-sufficient & can take care of themselves are being foolish-& eventually that will be proven to everyone even themselves.

An independent attitude is part of the baby stage of Christianity. A mature Christian knows that he can do nothing of any real value apart from the Holy Spirit. Of course we can do things, but that does not mean they will be done right or that we will enjoy them, or that we will produce any real lasting fruit.

When the Lord says we can do nothing apart from Him, He means things will not work out properly in our lives unless we invite Him into everything. His presence can eliminate much of the struggle we experience in life.
He makes impossible things possible, hard things easy & frustrating things peaceful. do not ever be afraid say "HELP, Lord, I can't do this without you."

Jesus also said in Jn 14:16 ( NKJ) & I will pray the Father, & He will give you another Helper that He may abide with you forever.

The word "another" used in this verse can be defined as "of the same kind" So Jesus is saying that the father would give them, & therefore us, a Helper "of the same kind" as Himself. In other words He will do in my absence what I would do if I were physically present with you. The Spirits coming assures us of continuity with what Jesus did & taught.   

Jn 14:17 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is "The Spirit of truth". He works continually in & with all believers to bring us into new levels of truth & awareness. Entering a new level always means leaving an old one behind, But we have nothing to fear because He promises to be with us always.

We can see in these Scriptures that Jesus mentioned three different parts of the Godhead: Father God & also the Spirit of God & of course Himself, being Jesus the Son. Just like we are in one family who has many members, so God is one entity that has three members, God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.

As part of the Godhead the Holy Spirit shares the same nature & Characteristics as God the Father for example He is omnipresent (everywhere) & omniscient (all knowing)  omnipotent (all powerful).

Just as Father God & Jesus, The Holy Spirit is also a person. When speaking of the Holy Spirit the Bible refers to "He" or "Him" rather then "it" for example in Jn 14:17 (that I just mentioned) Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit says "The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you & will be in you".

To whatever degree we love God, to that same  degree we obey Him, that is the measure of our love for Him. as our love for Jesus grows, so will our obedience.

Things get hard when we try to do them independently without leaning on God's grace. If everything in life were easy, we wouldn't need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us,

One of the ways the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit is our helper. He is in us & with us all the time to help us, enable us to do what we cannot do-& I might add to do with ease what would be otherwise difficult without Him.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is referred to as the spirit of God or the Spirit of the Lord. for example in Gen 1:2 (NKJ) The earth was without form & void & darkness was on the face of the deep, & the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Hear we see God's first creative act "the earth was without form" means that it was lacking the order it would have when God's commands were complete. & "darkness was on the face of the deep" is a further description of the lack or complete order & beauty that would emerge within six days. Both statements reveal that creation reflected God's normal process for bringing order out of the chaos.

"Hovering" connotes a sweeping or moving rather then stationery. The Holy Spirit is the executive arm of the trinity, so He was quite active as God spoke each word.

Now the writers of the New Testament used a different word for Holy Spirit. Greek words have a greater depth of meaning then our English equivalents & so understanding the true definition of a word can help. When talking of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament the writers use the Greek word parakletos which literally means comforter, intercessor, standby, advocate, helper, & strengthener. This fuller definition helps explain the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

In Old Testament times, that is before Jesus came to the earth, the Spirit of the Lord came upon men for a specific task. For Example In 1 Sam 16:13 (NKJ) Then Samuel took the horn of oil & anointed him (David) in the midst of his brothers, & the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.

The Spirit of the Lord accompanies the anointing by Samuel. From the moment God begins to equip David & direct the details of His life though it will some years before he ascends the throne, as David is about fifteen years old at this time.

In the Old Testament times the Hoy Spirit mainly came upon those people who were in the position of a prophet, priest or king. However, when Jesus came to earth He explained that the Holy spirit would now live within believers as we saw earlier in Jn 14:16 we will look at it again again but from the N L T.) I will ask the Father, & He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot see Him, because it isn't looking for Him & doesn’t recognise Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now & later will be in you.

Ezekiel prophesied about God's plan for the Holy Spirit 36:26,27 (NLT) & I will give you a new heart, & I will put a new Spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart & give you a tender, responsive heart. & I will put My Spirit in you so that you will follow My decrees & be careful to obey My regulations

When we receive Jesus as our Lord & Savior, He takes our old hard heart & gives us His heart instead. This new heart that God gives us one that desires to love & be involved with people. It usually takes time, & We go through  a process of change before our actions & behaviour catch up with our new hearts, but God does give us new desires. He gives us a heart to obey Him &, for this reason we can no longer be comfortable with sin.
We still sin, but we not want to.  Our consciences are bothered when we go against God & His Word. Our new hearts war against the flesh; the two are continually antagonistic towards each other BUT thank God, when we submit areas of our lives to Him little by little, & as we do, He changes our behaviour to match our new hearts.

It is important for us to see that now the Holy Spirit lives in each of us to help us. When we allow Him to lead us He will become involved in very decision we make both major & minor. He leads us by peace & wisdom, as well as by the word of God. He speaks a still small voice in our spirits, or what we often call an inward witness. Those of us who desire leading by the Holy Spirit must learn to follow the inward witness & to respond quickly.

For example, if we are engaged in a conversation & we begin feeling uncomfortable inside, that inner discomfort may be the Holy Spirit signalling that we need to turn the conversation around or in another direction or be quiet.
 If we are about to purchase something & we feel uncomfortable inside, we should wait & discern why we are uncomfortable. Perhaps we do not need the item, or we may find it on special somewhere else, or we may be trying to purchase it at the wrong time. Remember, we not always have to know why; we just need to obey the Spirits leading to find peace & contentment in our daily living.

God gives us His Spirit & only because of His Spirit within us we can obey God& His Word. The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, strengthens us & enables us to do the will of God. We must learn to lean on Him & not be independent, trying to do things in our own strength.

  Rom 8:6-15 Helps us understand the differences between following our fleshly desires & allowing God's Spirit to lead us. Any time our flesh wants to do one thing & the Spirit of God wants us to do something else, by choosing to follow the Spirit of God we need to know that our flesh will suffer. We do not like that, BUT the Bible tells us that if we want to share Christ's glory we have to share His suffering also.

I would like to encourage those who are just beginning to walk with God that once the fleshly appetite is no longer in control, they will get to the point where it is easier to obey God. Even if obedience is difficult they will get to the place where they actually enjoy doing it. So if you are new to the Christian faith be encouraged.

Verse 15 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption, here the word adoption means that we have been bought into God's family even though we were outsiders, unrelated to Him in anyway. We were sinners who served satan, but God in His great mercy redeemed us & purchased us with the Blood of His dear Son.

In Romans 8:16 The Holy Spirit confirms our relationship with God the Father (NKJ) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Lk 11:13(NLT) So if you sinful people 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.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 " if you then,  evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good & advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him." As we saw in Luke 11:13 much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask & continually ask Him.
Notice both of these passages say that if we who are evil know how to bless our children with good gifts, how much more will our heavenly Father who is perfect to bless His Children with good things. The most important of those "good things" that God wants to give us is His own Holy Spirit. This is truly an amazing gift.

 Peter one of the apostles said In Acts 2:38-39 (NLT) Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, & be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receiver the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, & your children, & even to the Gentiles all who have been called by the Lord our God.

We can see from these passage that the Holy Spirit is a good gift who is available to all people who choose to repent & turn to God. Repent & Be baptised & receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be saved receive the forgiveness of your sins & that they are forgotten by being converted. Enjoy the refreshing that comes from God's presence.

You will have received the Holy Spirit when you were born again; however the Bible explains that there is a further filling up with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus last instructions to the disciples before He ascended to Heaven, He explained it this way in Acts 1:8 (NASB) You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,& you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, & in all Judea,  even in Samaria, & even to the remotest part of the earth.

You may be wondering how to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there are a number of thing that you need to do:
The 1st you need to be born again. To be filled with Spirit you must have the indwelling Spirit & belong to Jesus (Rom8:9)

The 2nd thing you have to ask. The Bible says, if we ask for the Holy Spirit, that prayer will be answered. (Lk 11:18).

The 3rd thing you have to surrender, the apostle Paul made this very clear in the book of Romans when he said present your bodies a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).
4th you must be willing to obey the Spirit. God does not give this power to someone & then say "You can take the part you like &leave the part you do not like". If you want to be immersed in the Holy Spirit, you need to be preprepared obey the Spirit. (Acts 5.32).
5th you need to believe. The apostle Paul said, "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith (Gal 3:2). The answer, obviously is faith. You have to believe that if you ask you will receive.
Finally exercise what God has given you. Having asked, having received, having been willing to obey, & having believed, you need to respond in a biblical fashion.

The Bible says those baptised with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost "Began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4) This means they spoke words that the Spirit gave them. The Holy Spirit gave the words, the apostles & disciples voluntary responded. There was action based on faith, not merely passive acceptance of the blessing. That is the way it is with God. God is offering the baptism of the Holy Spirit to people who need only to reach out & take it & enjoy the blessing.

Acts 8:14-17 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God's message, they sent Peter & John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them, for they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter & John laid there hands upon these believers, & they received the Holy Spirit.

This act of Holy Spirit was visible to those around them, which means that there was evidence of the baptism as in Acts 10:44-46. Which tells us that whilst Peter preached to the people, the Holy Spirit fell on all who listened. The believers who came with Peter were amazed how freely the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the crowd as evidence by their talking in unknown tongues.

AS I said earlier to ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit here is a prayer that you might like to use.
Father in the name of Jesus, I ask you to baptise me in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Grant me boldness as you did for those who were filled on the day of Pentecost, & give me any other spiritual gifts that you desire me to have.

Now you may want to confirm your faith by saying a loud, 'I have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, & I will never be the same again"

I want to stress that the importance of believing by faith that you have received & not making your decision based on feelings. Believe & keep believing.

As A Christian you have been sent into the world to do the work that Jesus began. If you ever get tired or discouraged as you do so, ask  God on a regular basis for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit so you will be empowered to do all that He has called you to do.

In Acts 19:1-7 describes Paul's trip to Ephesus where he found believers who had not yet heard about the Holy Spirit, they had only been water baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid hands on them , the Holy Spirit came on them, & they spoke in other tongues & prophesied. there were about twelve men in all.

1 Cor14:2 (NKJ) For a person who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries

Paul is clearly telling us the primary purpose for tongues as the gift of the Holy Spirit is for private worship. It is a unique God-word & not a man-word gift.
1Cor 14:4(NLT) A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks prophecy strengthens the whole Church.
Prophecy builds people up. It does not tear them down; rather it constructively aids their spiritual progress & gives them encouragement  & consolation in the process.

Eph 5:18-19(NLT) Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life, instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms & hymns & spiritual songs among yourselves, & making music to the Lord in your hearts.

This is such a powerful passage! How can we obey it & stay ever filled with the Holy Spirit? We can do it by speaking to ourselves (through our thoughts) or to others (through our words) & in psalms & hymns & spiritual songs. We need our thoughts & words to be full of God's Word by continually offering praises & giving thanks to Him.  

Heb 9:14 (NLT) Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Notice that Jesus offered His blood by the Spirit. The Spirit & the blood work together. The promised Holy spirit could not be poured out on the day of Pentecost until after the blood was poured out on the cross at Calvary. The Blood & the Spirit still work together today. Honour the blood, & you will see the Spirit poured out in your life.

In closing:
Remember that now that you have your heavenly language YOU need to speak it out. With practice you will become more & more & more fluent in your language.

Acknowledgement I Believe An Introduction to Christian Living Rhema Family Church

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Holy Spirit. ~ Ganeida

Reading: John 3:1~21
Hosea 4: 6 says:  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge

Nowhere is this more evident amongst God’s people than when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

2 Tim 4:3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

Proverbs 29:18 When people do not accept divine guidance they run wild

So our plumbline for what is true about The Holy Spirit, His character, His purpose, His attributes is based on what the word of God says because All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Tim 3:16

Not everything I have to say is popular.  However there is evidence for everything I will teach about the Holy Spirit in God’s word, the bible, & we are not free to pick & choose just because we don’t like something.

So we will start at the beginning.  In Hebrew the word for spirit is haRuach; Holy Spirit is Ruach ha~Kodesh.

The first use of this word is found in Genesis 1:2.  It can mean breath, wind, mind, spirit.  It is used in a variety of ways but it is always talking about the very life force of God Himself.  The Greek equivalent that we find in the New Testament is pneuma, while Jesus uses the term paraclete which means comforter, intercessor, advocate, helper strengthener.  It is a legal term because the Holy Spirit does 3 things: John 16:7"But 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 go, I will send Him to you. 8"And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

The ruach imparts the divine image of God to man. This has always been true.  Remember God breathed life, His life, into Adam & he became a living being.  Under the new covenant the Holy Spirit makes us a new creation, a creation able to respond to the promptings of God through the impartation of His Holy Spirit into our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Under the old covenant God designated a special dwelling place for Himself in the midst of His people after Moses pleaded with Him to dwell amongst His people & you can read about that in Exodus 34:9.  The tabernacle was built so that God could dwell in the midst of a sinful people without consuming them, & eventually the temple became His dwelling place & you can read in 2 Chronicles 5 how the Glory of God filled the temple after Solomon dedicated it ~ so much so the priests were not able to stand. Eventually the temple was destroyed.  God’s presence departed from the temple & never returned. This is the pattern.  God’s dwelling place was always meant to be with His people.

I want you to see the O.T pattern because when we come to the N.T  both Peter [1 Peter 2:5] & Paul [1 Cor 3:16/17] agree that Believers have become God’s temple, a living house for His Holy Spirit.

John 3:1 ~ 21 tells the story of Nicodemus. In verse 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus very plainly "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

All our understanding of God & scripture comes to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Again & again scripture teaches that the natural man cannot understand the things of God, only the spiritual man can.  We must be born again.  We must be born of the Spirit.

Why?  Because it is perfectly possible to believe & yet not be saved.  James 2:9 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

In Acts 2 we read how the Holy Spirit is given & received but we will start with John 1:12  where it says: But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God

We know that faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God Romans 10:17... that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  Romans 10:9/10

This is what Peter did on receiving the Holy Spirit & what we see described in Acts 2.  He preached the word & the Holy Spirit convicted his hearers of their of sin.  They then asked,[2:37] what then must we do?  Peter replied, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We receive by faith.  We never ever go just on our feelings or our experience.  We can be deceived by both.  Always we go by what the word tells us & the word tells us we receive by faith.

And there is always evidence of our having received the Holy Spirit.  The most controversial one is the evidence of speaking in tongues which we see numerous times in Acts. I am not going to argue with anyone about it.  It is there in the word.  The word says God does not change so I see no reason to believe tongues has ceased.

However there are less controversial evidences.  I will give you just 3:

Romans 8:16 ~ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.

Acts 1:8 ~But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Galations 5:22/23 ~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.…

You see when you walk by the Spirit of God you have the mind of Christ ~ 1 Cor 2:16 &
you begin to look more & more like Christ.  You produce fruit ~ good fruit.  You have the same resurrection power Christ has.  Scripture tells us we can pray for the sick & they will be healed, not because of anything wonderful in us but because Christ lives in us & we do the things he did:  John 14:12  whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the FatherWhen we ask in Jesus name it is granted;  John goes on to clarify so that the son might be glorified ~ & because the Father loves the Son.

I am going to say something that should be obvious but sadly is not:  The Holy Spirit is for believers.  The power & fullness of the Holy Spirit is for believers but ~ it is our job to receive. He gives us boldness: to approach the throne of Grace [Hebrews 4:16] & to witness [Acts 1:8]  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.Romans 8:15

When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on those first disciples no~one was in any doubt that something had happened to them.  They acted like drunk men.  They spoke in other tongues.  They became suddenly bold.  And all down the ages all sorts of people have evidenced the baptism of the Holy Spirit:  Martin Luther, The Hugenots in France; The Quakers in England; The Methodists; the Salvos ~ every great movement within the Church Universal, every renewal, has seen as people come under the conviction of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit they fall down; they prophesy; they speak in tongues. They have been jailed, martyred, persecuted & all down the ages the cry has gone up: These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also

In every age the Holy Spirit has driven men & women to minister to the afflicted & dying, the poor & outcast & the hallmark of their being was joy & joy is the 2nd fruit of the Spirit.

James tells us that faith without works is dead ~ not because we are saved by works, we are not, but because works is the outflowing of a Christ filled life where a person walks in obedience to the instructions of the Holy Spirit.

If you want a litmus test as to how much you have of God’s Spirit controlling your life you only have to check your life against Galatians. 

Are you walking in Love ~ as defined by 1 Cor 13 ~ not the namby~pamby stuff the west defines as love? 

Is your life defined by joy?  Joy, not happiness, so that you are able to rise above your circumstances?

Do you have peace?

Do you consistently practice patience, kindness, gentleness & self~control?

I always find God is incredibly clear ~ & He wants us to know too. God’s children bear His imprint, & produce the fruit of His Spirit. The world looks like their father, the devil, too. Whose likeness do you bear?