Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Gift God Gave ~ Ganeida

Our God is a giving God. He loves to give good gifts to His children. His gifts, being good, will always be beneficial. They help us to live the best life we can. 

That is not to say our lives will be trouble free but that God’s gifts enable us to live above that trouble.

In Matthew 7:11 Jesus told His disciples: So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

It is important to settle this matter in our hearts before we approach the matter of the very first gift God gave after Jesus left earth because many, many people have attributed God’s good gifts to the devil & called them evil. How like satan to malign God’s character in this way & lead people to believe his lies!

We cannot think of God in the same way that we think of people.  His character is not a mix of good & bad, righteousness & evil. Rather This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 1 John 1:5 This is the essence of His Holiness, of being supremely unique.  He is untainted by anything evil.  All His judgments are righteous.

I want us to be very clear in our own minds so that we do not become confused about the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was given for a very specific purpose but His job description depends on whether you are God’s child or God’s enemy.

If you are God’s enemy the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment, [John 16:8] but if you are a child of God Jesus promised in John 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

Jesus understood something fundamental about people: They are like sheep.  They are easily led astray.  They like things that are bad for them ~ just ask any shepherd!  They know their own shepherd. So Jesus understood that if He left His disciples as orphans they would be easily led astray & go after things that are bad for them ~ but if He left them a shepherd they would follow their shepherd.

With this in mind He instructed them: "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.” Acts 1:4

Fifty days after Passover that gift arrived. For 40 of those days, according to Luke, Jesus was still around giving His final instructions to His disciples & proving to them that He was indeed very much alive. [Acts 1:1~3] Then at Shavuot, or Pentecost,  about 120 believers were gathered in the upper room of the house where they were staying when the Holy Spirit suddenly arrived ~ & He didn’t do it quietly.  He didn’t do it decorously. He didn’t slink in through the back door. No!

He arrived with a sound like the roaring of a  mighty windstorm.  He filled the house.  He appeared as of fire & the believers began to speak in tongues.  It was noisy.  It was messy, it was in your face. They came running from all over Jerusalem to see what was going on & what was going on was weird enough for them to declare the disciples drunk!

We need to set aside our ideas of who we think God is, what He does & how He acts & listen to what He says, & does & is!  He is not always decorous.  He is not cute & cuddly. He will not wink at your sin. He does not abide by the traditions of man when He comes into your life. He comes as God. He comes with power & authority & majesty.

Turn with me to the gospel of John, chapter 14. Here we find Jesus instructing about the Holy Spirit.  V 17 ~ Who leads into all Truth….The Greek word *truth* is alētheia & refers specifically to divine truth as revealed to man & the practice of gospel truth. It is the Holy Spirit who confirms in our hearts the truth about Jesus Christ.  This truth has a very specific role to play in our Christian lives: It makes us holy ~ hagiazō [John17:17] when we become doers of the word. Hearing & doing are meant to go together in the believer’s life.  If we hear but do not obey how are we Jesus’ disciples? For a disciple models themselves on their teacher.

The Holy Spirit will also *teach you everything & will remind you of everything I have told you.* V26 According to Jesus [16:13] the Holy Spirit will not speak on His own accord but will tell you what He has heard…whatever He receives from me…That being the case we can easily check if something we believe we have received from God is or is not from Him because it will align up with the Word of God.  It will not say something different because God does not change. God has not changed His mind about sin just because the world chooses to redefine what is or is not right. The world is notorious for getting this sort of thing wrong.

Consider for a moment how Israel manages not only to survive but to thrive in the midst of her enemies.  She still adheres to God’s Torah & so God can bless her.
Proverbs 3:6~7 says Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. If we lean on our own understanding & do what seems right in our own eyes we will miss the mark.

The Holy Spirit has been given to strengthen us that we won’t abandon our faith.[16:1] Jesus warned very clearly, very specifically that as the world hated him without cause [15:25], so too would it hate those who believed in Him. [15:18]

Sin loves company.  It validates the sinner’s wrongdoing but righteousness is prepared to stand alone ~ & that is almost impossible to do unless the Holy Spirit strengthens us because we all want to be liked & accepted, yet Jesus said: "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

Here is a list of other things the Holy Spirit does:
·          He teaches – John 14:26
·          He testifies – John 15:26
·          He guides – Rom. 8:14
·          He speaks – 1 Cor. 2:13
·          He enlightens – John 16:13
·          He strives – Gen. 6:3
·          He commands – Acts 8:28
·          He intercedes – Rom. 8:26
·          He sends workers – Acts 13:4
·          He calls – Rev. 22:17
·          He comforts – John 16:7
·          He works – 1 Cor. 12:11

I am not going to expound on all of them.  Most are self~explanatory but they serve to show how widespread the work of the Holy Spirit is in our lives. What I do want to draw your attention to is the complementary work of God the Father, Jesus the son & the Holy Spirit.  God sent His son so that we might be reconciled with Him through the blood of Jesus.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit so that we might know the Truth & walk in it & then the Holy Spirit also gives gifts that we might do the work to which we are called.

The Holy Spirit manifests in 2 major ways in our lives.  As we grow in the knowledge & truth of our Lord & saviour, Jesus Christ, we will more & more see evidence in our lives of the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us. Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  If we are not seeing fruit there is something very, very wrong & we need to address that.

The other way the Holy Spirit manifests is through the gifts He imparts & here is why we need to be very clear about what we believe about God.  Is He good?  Does He give good gifts to those who ask? If the answer is yes then we have no reason to fear the gifts of the Holy Spirit because Paul’s instruction is clear: Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives ~ especially the ability to prophesy. [1Cor. 14:1]

See Jesus also gave gifts.  He gave them to the church according to Ephesians 4:11: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors & teachers. Their job is to equip God’s people to do His work & build up the church…[v12] but the body can’t do its work unless they are equipped by the Holy Spirit.  It is foolishness to argue God only gave these gifts to the apostles or to the 1st century church!  Has God’s work of saving souls changed? Has He assigned a different agenda to this century? 

And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. Mark:~15/17

It is not ever us who heals or prophesies or casts out a demon.  It is Jesus Christ in us through His Holy Spirit!  We do not elevate men.  We glorify Christ in us who wishes to set all men free.

As we come to communion we are instructed to remember Jesus death & resurrection until He comes again.  Part of that remembering is to give thanks for everything he has done for us: Redeemed us, transferred us out of satan’s kingdom, washed away our sins, imparted His righteousness, given us His Holy Spirit to stay with us as friend & comforter & enpowerer until Jesus returns for us.

As you come to communion remember all things are to be found in Jesus Christ for in Him we live & move & have our being. [Acts 17:28] His Holy Spirit resides in us so if, in any way, you have grieved Him, if you have quenched His leading, humble yourselves & ask forgiveness. If you need a fresh anointing, an outpouring of the Spirit in your life, acknowledge your need & humbly ask Him.  His greatest desire is to magnify Christ to you, to reveal Christ to you that your love for Him might increase & the Kingdom of God reign upon earth.


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