Tag Archives: the Holy Spirit

December 15; Attitude Check

Philemon; Philippians 1-2

I remember that, as an adolescent girl, I could be a bit moody. No really, I could. I could get upset over what now seems insignificant, but at the time seemed the end of the world. And I remember on more than one occasion, during one of my displays of emotion, I’d hear the stern voice of my Dad say, “Change your attitude.”

It was not a suggestion.

I hear God say the same thing to me today. I hope you’ll read Philippians 2:5-11, and do an attitude check on yourself. Paul tells us our attitudes should be the same as Jesus’.

I’ve always loved these verses which speak of what Jesus did to pay for my sins, the lengths He went to die on a cross. And these verses thrill me every time I read about the Name of the One I love.

The truth is, I have no reason to have a bad attitude. I have no reason for self-pity, jealousy, bitterness. When I get a good look at what Jesus gave up to ransom me, and I realize He never complained or regretted what He’d lost, I am ashamed to remember the times when I made a big deal of things unimportant in the light of eternity.

I don’t believe God is talking about sadness, or grief, or disappointment as being sinful. Those were emotions Jesus Himself felt. But God is speaking to me about my overall attitude when bad – or good – things happen.

Paul says IF I have any encouragement from being united with Christ, IF any comfort from His love, IF I have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and IF I have received tenderness and compassion, (I emphasized the “ifs” because of course I have received all of that and more. It’s not an “if.” It’s a definite) then change your attitude!

Time for an attitude check. May my attitude, and yours, be the same as that of Jesus.

November 23; Be Sanctified

I Thessalonians 2:17-5:28; II Thessalonians 1

What does it mean to live a holy life? Paul tells us it is God’s will that we be sanctified in order to please God. Then Paul tells us what that looks like:

that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (I Thessalonians 4:3b-6a)

So is holy living, or sanctification, restricted to sexual behavior? Remember, Jesus told us that we commit adultery when we lust. It doesn’t have to involve bodily contact. Sin comes in all shapes and sizes.

Trying in our own strength to do what Paul is telling us to do only leads to failure. We can’t muster up courage, or find strength inside us to defeat the power of sin. It’s impossible. A sinner can’t sanctify a sinner, so I can’t sanctify me.

But the Holy Spirit can! When we humble ourselves and accept the gift of God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, when we place our faith in God, the Holy Spirit is given to us. Then we can avoid sexual immorality because the Holy Spirit gives us His strength and His desires. We can control ourselves in holy and honorable ways because the Spirit in us is holy and honorable.

Paul tells us it is the work of the Holy Spirit to grow believers, or to sanctify believers. But he also says it is possible to “put out the Spirit’s fire.” Then he tells us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (5:19-20)

Then Paul prays: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (5:23-24)

Does that thrill your heart? Yes we have responsibility in our walk with the Lord. But the good news is that the Spirit within us gives us wisdom, and the ability to hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. The Spirit within us gives us exactly what we need to be sanctified.

He is faithful. And He will do it!

 

November 20; In Step

Galatians 4:8-6:18

Have you ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time? You need to check out the Ohio State University marching band on You-Tube sometime.

In a military style marching band, each person takes an exact 30″ step, or 8 steps in five yards. No matter how big or small an individual is, their steps are exactly the same length. Knees are all lifted at exactly the same angle, no matter how short or tall the marcher is.

With all that precision, one person out of step sticks out like a sore thumb. One person marching right, left while everyone else is marching left, right ruins the whole effect of a precision marching band.

Paul is talking to the Galatians about precision marching. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (5:25) In verse 22 he tells us what that looks like:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.

So what happens if one of our number falls out of step? Paul tells us what to do in chapter 6. “Restore him gently.” Paul doesn’t say ignore it, or kick him out, or even to just pray for the one out of step. When a brother or sister is out of step, we who are in step need to address it with them.

Paul calls it carrying each other’s burdens.

I asked if you’ve ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time. I wonder, have you ever been awed but the precision of a church fellowship in step with the Spirit?

I pray that each of us will be a part of an awe-inspiring fellowship of believers, walking in step with the Spirit, and making an eternal difference in the hearts of people in our communities. In a world where we are encouraged to “do our own thing,” let’s do the Spirit’s thing as we walk with Him in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Awesome!

 

 

November 12; Unschooled and Ordinary

Acts 3:1-5:16

Peter amazes me. The disciple had spent most of the three years he was with Jesus, with his foot firmly planted in his mouth. You can’t fault Peter’s enthusiasm for the Messiah. He just didn’t always think before he acted or said something. He seemed an unlikely leader.

But something happened to Peter. Acts 4:8 tells us what that something was:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit…

Peter and John were known as “unschooled and ordinary men” to everyone in town. But, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter could stand before the same church officials who had crucified Jesus, and boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Truth!

Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t back down, was willing to go to jail rather than deny Jesus. But this same Peter had very publicly denied Jesus three times just a few weeks earlier.

Here’s the thing: God uses unschooled and ordinary people who are filled with His Spirit to boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Truth. You don’t need a seminary degree. You need to accept Jesus as your Savior. You need to be yielded to the Spirit. He’ll take hold of you like he took hold of Peter, and who knows where that will lead?

Do you feel God is prompting you to talk to a neighbor or friend about the Lord? Maybe you hesitate because you think you wouldn’t know what to say.

Good!

You are in a perfect place to be used by God on behalf of that person for whom He died, and in whom He is preparing a heart to receive Him. Let Him fill you with His Spirit. Let Him use your voice to speak His words to that soul. He will if you let Him.

You may be unschooled compared to your pastor, but you are anything but ordinary when the Spirit fills you. Peter said in verse 20:

For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

And neither will you be able to stop speaking about Jesus. When His Spirit fills you, it just naturally spills out, bubbles over, and touches everyone around you. Nothing ordinary about that!

 

November 11; It’s Thrilling

Mark 16:9-20; Acts 1-2

Yesterday’s Scripture had me reaffirming my belief in the resurrected Jesus. Today Peter reminded me of the Old Testament Scriptures, prophecies that were perfectly fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

It must have been thrilling to have been part of those first few days at the beginning of the Church; the dramatic coming of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people accepting Jesus in one day, then boldly being baptized in a public declaration of their faith in Him.

That act of baptism in itself is amazing considering they were aligning themselves with the very Man the Jews had just crucified a few short weeks before. Talk about thrilling!

But it is also thrilling to be part of God’s Church in 2019. Sometimes we get caught up in the negative, we lament the sin in our world, and wring our hands at the seemingly weakening of the Church.

But God is reminding me today that He is still alive and well and working in the hearts of all men and women in every corner of the world. Jesus still lives! The Holy Spirit is still present! Hearts are still being changed, and eternity is won every day.

Now that’s thrilling!

October 6; CANNOT

Matthew 5:21-7:29

Every verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a precious Truth that blesses and challenges me every time I read it. Today, however, it was one word that jumped out at me.

The other day I was convicted as I read that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives has to show Himself in a change in our lives. (September 30; Baptized With The Spirit). There is no room for sin in the life of a believer because God does not stay where sin is.

I was reminded of that when I read 7:18, “A good tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, and a bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit. (emphasis mine)

Jesus was talking about recognizing false prophets. They look righteous, sound righteous, but they are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, Satan dressed up like a Christian.

I am once again reminded how important it is that my actions align with my profession of faith, that I am a light in a dark world, that I am able to address the speck in my brother’s eye because I have dealt with the plank in my own.

God CANNOT bear bad fruit. God CANNOT sin. God CANNOT think those thoughts, say those things, do anything which hurts or angers Himself. He CANNOT.

And if Jesus has really taken up residence in my heart, I can’t either, and be ok with it. If Jesus lives in me He WILL be seen.

Jesus said, “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (verse 19)

People CANNOT NOT recognize Jesus if He lives in me.

September 30; Baptized With The Spirit

Matthew 2:1-23, 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 2:41-52, 3:1-20; John 1:1-18

John baptized with water for repentance. But he was always quick to say One greater than he would come after him and baptize with the Holy Spirit.

The thing about saying baptism saves, or repeating a prayer saves is that it gives people a false sense of security. The Jews thought they had an in because they were circumcised. But the Bible clearly teaches nothing we do can save us. Not surgery, not a dip in the pool, and not even saying a prayer can save anyone.

What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Many people point to the dramatic initial coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts, and say that receiving the Holy Spirit is accompanied by euphoric babble. (which is not at all what we see in Acts) There are many examples in the New Testament of quiet humility in response to God’s grace.

I was appalled when I Googled “receive the Holy Spirit,” and found dozens of books written on the topic: “How To Receive the Holy Spirit.” As if there is something we can do to force God’s hand, or demand that He give us the gift. Friend, put those books down.

Salvation comes when we repent of sin, turn from sin, and ask God to forgive us. The Holy Spirit is given to us the moment we accept Jesus as the Savior. You can’t separate the Trinity. Paul in I Corinthians 12, Romans 8, and Ephesians 1 makes it clear that if a person doesn’t possess the Spirit, he doesn’t belong to Christ; that when we believed we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. There is no indication that a person is saved, then receives the Spirit after jumping through some hoops.

I’ve always bristled when anyone talked about “true” Christianity, or people who are “really saved.” I found that to be judgmental. After all, how can we know a person’s heart?

Well, I am beginning to realize my non-judgmental take on salvation is not Biblical. God through His Word, is showing me I not only can, but I need to recognize what is true and what is false in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. John said to the crowd, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8a) It wasn’t a suggestion.

How often did Jesus call people out for being hypocritical? How many verses can you find where Paul insists that the way we live is a direct result of our relationship with God? James went as far as to say, “faith without works is dead.”

If we receive the Holy Spirit when we repent of sin and accept God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, then God Himself lives in us. Our lives have to look different than they did before that happened. They have to.

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit produces fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.

Notice Paul says “fruit” not “fruits.” All these things listed above are a direct result of having the Spirit in us, being baptized with the Holy Spirit. All of them.

So, am I saying if a person is kind or patient, but isn’t gentle and self controlled he’s not filled with the Spirit, and therefore not a Christian?

I’m not saying that. But I’m beginning to think God is.

April 28; Home

2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 6:1-11, 23:13-17; I Chronicles 11:4-9, 11-19, 14:1-2, 8-17, 13:1-14

Our worship service this morning centered around the second coming of Christ. I will tell you it made me a bit homesick thinking about the day God the Father will tell His Son, “It’s time to go and get my children.” What a day that will be!

Sometimes I read psalms like 101 that speak of God making things right, and I find myself asking, “When?” When will slanderers be put to silence? When will evildoers be cut off? And then I am reminded that God warned us things would not be easy while we walk this earth. Evil still exists because God still wants to save evil people.

The pastor reminded us when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Comforter. God Himself lives within all of us who know Jesus as our Savior. Is there anything too hard for God?

So today, as I consider who God is, I am so grateful that He is mine, so humbled by His love, and so underserving of any of it. One day I’ll look into those eyes, hold those nail-scarred hands, and know I am home.

January 15; The Man Upstairs

Job 35-37

People who know about God may think like Elihu. In fact, most false religions in the world have gods like the one Elihu describes.

Do you know people who refer to God as, “the man upstairs?” There are some who picture God on a cushy throne, wine glass in hand, feet up and eyes closed, with no thought of his creation, no involvement in the lives of his people. In a sense, it’s convenient to believe in a god like that. What does he care how I live my life?

Some people might think of God as a big old bully, sitting up there in heaven with lightning bolts in his fists, hurling them at helpless people like a villain in a video game. “Take that, human!”

Nature does declare God’s power. But Jesus reveals a different side of God; the softer side, the side that loves and cares for people, the side of God that rubbed shoulders with the least of us, and called us His friends. Jesus told us God not only sees every sparrow out there, not only counts every hair on our heads, He wants to gather us up like a chicken gathers her chicks to protect us.

The truth, contrary to what Elihu would have you believe, is that you DO matter to God. He DOES answer when you call out to Him, and He DOES listen to your pleas. Not only that, but if we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, we can have an intimate relationship with this great God of ours. That means everything to Him.

Do you know this personal, great God of ours? He’s not at all like “the man upstairs.” He is here, right now, and He wants you to know Him.

Leviticus 8-9; The Holy Spirit

I understand that oil in the Old Testament represented the Holy Spirit. Oil played an important role in the sacrifices, and in the ordination of Aaron and his sons. I am reminded that the oil was important because the Holy Spirit was not living in men at that time.

Do I understand how blessed I am in 2017? When God says He will never leave or forsake me, He means it! And the Presence of the Holy Spirit lives in me.

Lives in me.

What more is there to say?