Sunday, 28 May 2017

What sort of Spirit is in You? ~ Ganeida

We have discussed sin: what it is, its repercussions, & what we need to do about it.  In Acts 2:38 we see that there is a promise attached to repentance.  Remember the definition of repentance is to completely stop following the ways of the world & our own desires & to begin following God & His ways. Acts 2:38 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.

When we repent & turn to God we receive the Holy Spirit. Many Christians say they believe in the Holy Spirit since the Apostle’s Creed endorses Him as part of the Godhead:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…
I believe in the Holy Spirit….

But many are woefully ignorant of who He is, what He does & His role in our salvation.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Paul understood that a person who has repented of their sin & turned to God is immediately engaged in warfare for James 4:4 clearly states: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Thus the opposite is also true.  When you choose God you become an enemy of the world, of its values, of its interests, & of its pleasures & the world will persecute you. No~one can overcome the world in their own strength.  

Satan is cunning but not very original.  He uses the same 3 hooks over & over again: For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. [1 John 2:16]

Knowing our weakness our Heavenly Father made provision for us; He provided us with His very own Spirit so that we could know the very heart & mind of God Himself.

The Apostle Peter demonstrated very clearly the day the Holy Spirit was first given that He was given for a purpose for Jesus had said: 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." Acts 1:8

That word power is dunamis.  It is the root of our English word dynamite, so this power both Jesus & Paul speak of is dynamite power, the sort of explosive nuclear power that raised Jesus from the dead because Jesus promised "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

The first reason the Holy Spirit is given to God’s people is to make us brave. We need to be brave. Most people are terrified of public speaking.  To stand in full view of strangers & talk about anything at all is terrifying.  It is even scary to speak publicly to friends & family but we are called to testify & we can’t do that if we are silent. Nor can we defeat satan for Revelation 12:11 says: And they have defeated him [satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

The second reason that God gave us His spirit is that He loves His creation ~ all of it! He loves you & he loves me.  He loves our muslim neighbour & the drug dealer on the corner. He loves the adulterer & the liar, the murderer & the sex worker.  He does not love the sin people practice.  He hates our sin so much He had to cover it with the blood of His only son but that blood will do us no good if we reject Jesus Christ. Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. [Ephesians 5:6]

Without the Holy Spirit we will mistake condoning sin as love, rather than loving people while refusing to condone their sins but Romans 5:5 tells us: And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

There is a natural love common to all mankind: love of spouse, love of family, love of friends, love of country but supernatural love is different. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. [Matthew 5:44~45]

Jesus is the ultimate example of how to love your enemies but the same spirit that was in Jesus resides in His followers & I will give you one example. 

You may have heard of Maximillian Kolbe.  Kolbe was a Polish monk imprisoned in Auschwitz during WWII. In July 1941 3 prisoners escaped from the camp so the camp commander decided to choose 10 to die by starvation in an underground bunker. One of the men chosen cried out, “My wife! My children!” 

Kolbe offered to take his place, someone he didn’t even know, giving him a chance at surviving the war to be reunited with his family. This is the testimony of one of the Poles, Bruno Borgowiec, who was assigned to look after the cell the condemned men were in:
'The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men.
Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him.
Scripture calls on us to rise above the evil done to us.  The Holy Spirit enables us to do that. This never makes wrong right.  It does not ever condone that which God calls sin but it does enable us to differentiate between the sin & the person. Bear in mind the Greek word for witness is the same word for matyr: martus. Thus our love is a setting aside of ourselves for others, just as Christ did.

The third attribute given is sōphronismos, variously translated as self~control, a sound mind, discipline, sound judgement, wise discretion, sobriety, prudence.  I like *a sound mind* because it includes all of these things. 1 Corinthians 14:33 informs us that God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people.

The Holy Spirit brings order & clarity.  The Hebrew understanding of peace is not merely an absence of conflict. It includes the concept of wellness, wholeness, serenity, joy. This is why we find the Apostle Paul standing up to his waist in the filthy sewerage of a Roman prison cell writing to the Philippian Church about the Joy of the Lord.

Scripture tells us that satan is a liar, & the father of lies [John 8:44] ,that he blinds the minds of unbelievers [2 Corinthians 3:8], that he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom He might devour [1 Peter 5:8] but that the Truth will set us free [John 8:32],  That God’s word is Truth [John 17:17] & that He whom the son sets free is free indeed. [John 8:36].

The Truth brings order out of chaos.  It allows for our minds to be unclouded by falsity for Jesus promised that And when He [that is the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:8

Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit we are not convinced of our sin & so long as we remain in that condition our minds are blinded, we are deceived, confused & ultimately we will perish without a saviour. A sound mind is a clear mind.  It recognises the Truth & the Truth sets us free.

Isaiah saw clearly the end result of an unsound mind. What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold. Isaiah 5:20~22

We live in the world where we see all around us the end results of those who are confused about right & wrong: Manchester; London; Paris; Jakarta. We hear the voices of those who are wise in their own eyes declaring foolishness, denying what is obvious.  We see the results of too much alcohol, drugs & partying in the violence in our homes & families & there is nothing of peace, little of joy.

Yet Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. [Hebrews 13:8] If Jesus does not change then His Spirit, the Spirit He sent to us, does not change.  He is absolutely consistent.  He still leads us in courage, in love & with a sound mind.

What of you, my friends?  Do you know God’s Holy Spirit?  Do you have His courage, His love, His order, His peace in your life? If not, do you want to know Him? Be lead of Him, be led on the path that shows you how to walk in joy, victory, & the peace that passes all understanding?  It is possible.  Romans 10:13 says: For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

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