129. Revelation of truth.

[John 16]

It might have happened to you too. Somebody would say: don’t worry, this is the better way and you would gasp in exasperation and confusion as to how on earth this could be better. Maybe it happens to children more often, when they just cannot grasp the full extent of circumstances and adult decisions. We are God’s children and we often don’t understand. Sometimes we say things to superficially explain things with empty words. Success would come because of luck, good fortune, “things” working out, the stars lining up. Pain and failure would be ascribed to bad luck, misfortune or cruel judgments on a person’s own inability to handle life or cope with demands.

I have often made the case for revelation knowledge. It is one of the central themes of my life and the goal of all my study and writing.

My first experience of God’s word becoming the “spoken” word, “hearing” in my inner being and being aware that God is speaking into my specific moment and immediate situation, came when I was just 14 years old. For a few years of my elementary school we lived on a remote farm. I went to the local school, but when finances dwindled and my parents had to move back to the city, I was in Grade 7 back into the school I left four years previously, towards the end of the academic year. It was clear that I was academically far behind my peers. It took me all of Grade 8 to try and catch up and by the end of Grade 9 I felt a little more confident. Exams were formal and strict.

I was really stressed on the evening before I wrote Latin and Maths with just a short break in between the two papers. At the time my mother was studying the Bible with desperation to “hear” from God in our very severe financial crisis. That evening I took my Bible and thought I would open in the middle and read a Psalm, any Psalm to calm me down. I opened to the book of Isaiah, which I didn’t even know existed and read the first verse that my eye fell on. It was the following:

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God,

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Slowly the deep realization established itself in my heart that this was God speaking to me. Today I know it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that communicates the truth of the Word to the inner man. I was overjoyed. My stress and fear were answered and I was calm to study further and sleep well. I had great success in that exam, but I cannot even remember the details. What I do remember is my experience that God spoke into my situation. My situation was not important in the greater scheme of things, not even particularly in my life, but God answered the cry of a stressed schoolgirl. On this day, 44 years later, this incident is fresh in my mind, quickened by the Holy Spirit to write as a testimony to God’s love and His provision in our lives.

It is here in John 16 that I much later learned the teaching of Jesus on my experience. He discussed the role of the Holy Spirit when His physical presence leaves earth.

In their grief-stricken bewilderment after the crucifixion, the disciples remembered that Jesus said it is good that He goes away because the Holy Spirit would come. In the body He was confined to place and time. In the Spirit there is no limitation.He is with us always, just as He promised in Matthew 28:20.

We have the gift of uninterrupted fellowship.

Jesus gives a perfect summary of the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit convicts. The word is elegchein in Greek and it was used in the cross-examination of a witness.

Questioning somebody until a person admits his errors or acknowledge the facts in such a way as to shed light on the case, often happens in court when human legal experts have to establish facts and truth. The testimony of a witness will convict of weakness or strength of argument.

We have the perfect litigator in the Holy Spirit who knows every detail of our hearts and lives better than we ever could. He convicts in love to show our weaknesses and failures to our own self in order to cleanse, redeem and restore.

1) The Holy Spirit will convict of sin [amartias = to miss the mark, failure in goal] in the most loving way so that our conviction will lead to restoration with God.

Sin is not always clear. The Jews were convinced they were doing the right thing to kill Jesus. Later, touched in their hearts (Acts 2:37) they confessed. Only the Holy Spirit can convince people they are sinners.

2) The Holy Spirit convinces of righteousness [dikaiosunēs = condition acceptable to God, a state approved of God, integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting].

 Just like the centurion at the Cross (Matthew 27:54) in that moment came to the supernatural conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God, the truth of who Jesus is, is ministered to our hearts. Isn’t it amazing that the trust of the church is in a Jewish criminal executed so long ago? Belief in the resurrection is a work of the Holy Spirit.

3) The Holy Spirit helps us to judge with insight and understanding [kriseos, krisis=selecting and distinguishing to make a decision].  Our circumstances and life situations are complicated and not always clear. We need true wisdom to make the right decisions.

By the Cross evil is condemned and defeated for all eternity. The discernment of evil is a work of the Holy Spirit.

All these together are our salvation and liberty in Jesus. He is our Saviour and our punishment for sin was on Him.

What is truth? The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth,who reveals to us who Jesus is.

Revelation is a process – it is more and deeper for those who seek it out. We start out with the basics and then move on to more life-changing revelation.

All revelation has consequences.

Faith explores revelation.

In truth we will understand the full revelation of God also in the more complex passages of the Old Testament. The wiping out of heathens and idols is for the preservation of the faith, to be interpreted spiritually as the discernment of evil and the full liberation of our lives from any bondage.

God’s revelation is dynamic. God speaks, God works, God saves and blesses continually. Jesus is alive and is therefore the living truth.

Truth is a gift from God. It is not man’s discovery. We learn it slowly, but it is there and the source of it is God.

Revelation of truth is to reveal the significance of Jesus to us. Jesus is inexhaustible. We will never fully grasp it; we will never know Him in full. The more we become like Him the more we know Him.

He is the only person on the face of the earth that ever said I am truth. All the people who claim to be God or the Messiah have never made such a bold, all-inclusive statement, to be remembered and upheld by so many over such a great span of time.

Can we be still, open our hearts and receive from the Holy Spirit the deep conviction of who Jesus is?

 

 

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126. Oh the wonder of the breath of God.

[John 14]

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.  (Genesis 1:1,2, The Message)

He always was and always will be – this third person in the Trinity. I have to admit that the doctrine of the Trinity always was a tricky one for me to understand fully. I think to this day I feel there is something I do not really grasp. My dear Sunday school teacher explained it one way. He said it is like an apple – peel, pulp and core. Together they are an apple and one calls it an apple but separately they are called apple peel, apple pulp and apple pips. So it is with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Together they are God.

In my mind they were still three separate entities. Slowly I learnt more. I realized that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God, especially in the teaching on Ezekiel 37. Just read the lovely words with me from The Message:

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of lifeto you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you.You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

More pronounced in the next verses the breath of the bones came from God.

“Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’ So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive!They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

 It is clear – just like Genesis 2:7 says:

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!

Then I read the beautiful Christmas story of Max Lucado: An Angel’s Story, which I could recommend as a reading for Christmas gatherings. It was only then that I realized the full impact of Jesus being born as God’s seed and is therefore God Himself on earth. We need the Hoy Spirit to teach us the meaning of Immanuel – God with us.

At this stage of my life, I believe God Himself showed us His heart and nature in the man Jesus. Jesus lived and breathed the words of God’s heart to bring life and be God amongst the people. God did not let His child die, He Himself died for us as Jesus was the manifestation, the incarnation of God Himself.  The meaning of the relationship of parent to child was an illustration of the unbreakable and irreversible relationship of a father to his son. You can never undo a child.

The Holy Spirit is God’s breath, the universal source of all life.

Here in John 14 Jesus revives a lost consciousness of the Spirit of God. He explains the role of the Holy Spirit in us. He promises a Helper.

We do not live our lives alone.  The Holy Spirit is in us. The Greek word is parakletos.  It is a word full of meaning nuances and almost impossible to describe accurately. It includes comforter, helper, favourable witness, expert advisor, encourager, always a help in time of need.

Comforter comes from the Latin fortis, which means to be brave. The Holy Spirit helps us to be brave. He enables us to cope with life and to emerge as a conqueror. In our difficult life and the very hard tasks before us, we have supernatural help.

Jesus will never leave us forlorn – without a parent for which the Greek word is the easily recognizableorphanos. One hears teaching on Christians suffering an orphan spirit and who do not know the full inheritance in Christ as privileged children of God.

When Jesus talks about His coming back, He means after His resurrection and their experience of His risen presence. Jesus makes us spiritually alive when His spirit lives in us. We have resurrection power in us.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

In the next passage Jesus touches on important principles. (14:18-24)

Love is the basis of everything.

Obedience is the proof of love.

Love and obedience keep us safe in the full revelation of who Jesus is. Jesus as the resurrected Christ was the ultimate revelation of the power of God.

Keep the commandments. No evil can ever be a recipient of Christ.

In the next passage He talks again about the Holy Spirit. (14:25-31)

The Holy Spirit teaches us all things. To the end of our days we should be learners to be taught deeper and deeper truths of God. We can never ever sit back and be complacent about our knowledge. The adventure continues…

The Holy Spirit will remind us of Jesus’ words. Jesus is truth and we need His words. His words are the Bread of Life. We need the Holy Spirit to remind and interpret towards our life’s practicalities.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.(John 6:63)

Truth applied is wisdom.

The Holy Spirit helps us to live the truth. Our conduct is in submission to His power and direction.

The gift of Jesus is peace. Shalom is not just the absence of trouble. It means so much more. It means everything for the highest good of the person you are addressing with this fullest of good words. Jesus’ peace is peace of conquest, the victor’s peace not the victim’s unwilling submission to stay out of trouble. It is a peace that rules in our hearts independent of outward circumstances.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6.7)

Our destination is to be released from worldly limitations and being restored to His glory. After death we have the hope of something better. We enter into the fullest blessing possible, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He breathes God’s breath in us to give us the life of truth.

Jesus knew the cross was the final battle. His death was conquest, not despair.

The cross was His vindication. Yes, it was humiliation and shame, but it would become the most powerful symbol of obedience and love in all of history. Jesus’ whole life climaxed in the cross. Everything He stood for was illustrated in His death and resurrection.

 

“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints. . . . Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

CS LEWIS

 

90. How about you?

Have you ever wondered about yourself in history? Where would you have been in the village life of the Middle Ages, a noblewoman in a castle, a knight fighting for the duke, maybe the duke himself? It is difficult to think with too much ambition about women in history. I am no Joan of Arc. My ideal women in history go a bit further back to Deborah in the Book of Judges, or Huldah in 2 Kings 22. Go ahead and read about them.

Let us take an imaginary trip and place us around the shores of Galilee at the time when everybody talked about a man able to heal miraculously, arguing with the Pharisees and Scribes and reaching out to the poor. Can you imagine the talk around the squares and wells of the villages in rural Judea? Maybe you could have been a hard working businessman in the fish industry, preserving Galilee’s riches in salt; maybe an importer of delicacies from the rest of the vast Roman Empire supplying the Roman contingent in Caesarea or Herod’s palace in Jerusalem.

This past Easter I sat in church listening to a sermon on the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. When I looked at the beautiful picture they had on the screen, I looked at the crowds around Jesus and suddenly wondered where I would have been. I have to admit I have a vivid imagination, but I have had many instances where the Holy Spirit showed me faith pictures in my mind, where I could not have come up with anything remotely so wonderful. One of my most powerful experiences of being healed of a nagging fear, was experiencing the Holy Spirit taking control of my imagination to show me how God is providing for me.

While staring at the picture on the screen in church, I was at once heartbroken. I did not see myself at the forefront, waiving the palm branches and shouting Hosanna. Succumbing to my naturally suspicious and cautious nature, I saw myself at the edges of the crowd, staying close, as I imagined myself very much fascinated by this man, but reserving judgment for later. In prayer I almost wanted to apologize to the Lord about this. I admired Mary Magdalene and John who followed the trial and so courageously found them at the foot of the cross in spite of extreme personal danger, being seen as a friend of the “criminal”.

In that moment the Holy Spirit convicted me to the complete opposite of what I was thinking. He said I would have been exactly where I was now. I was made aware of the miracle of faith, the miracle of salvation and the miracle of spiritual insight into the deep mysteries of God and His Word. Coming to Jesus is a cold rational decision, followed by a miraculous personal rebirth, experiencing the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the deepest inner being of a person. I was overjoyed by this realization that Jesus was revealed to every person who asked God for spiritual insight into His life on earth. It happened then as it happens now.

For me, it was a moment of great rejoicing. I felt my spirit leap up and shout Hosanna. I know deep in my heart just how much I love Jesus and how I treasure God’s word above everything in this world. Throughout the sermon I was enjoying my own triumphant entry into Jerusalem right there by Jesus’ side.

How then did the people know this is the Messiah? In the first chapter of John, exactly this matter is the theme. He states the case for Jesus like a heavenly advocate in a court of law, calling the witnesses to testify to the authenticity of Jesus’ Messianic title.

1:32-34

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

The baptism of Jesus removed all doubt in John the Baptist’s mind that Jesus was the Son of God. There by the waters of the Jordan God reveals himself as the Trinity, speaking from heaven and letting the Holy Spirit descend in the symbol of the dove. It was something, which only the eye of the mind and soul could see.

The baptism (Greek=baptizein – to dip or to submerge) of Jesus was a decisive event.

In Palestine the dove was a sacred bird. It was not hunted and it was not eaten. The picture of the dove was one, which the Jews knew and loved. The dove brought the olive branch, the symbol of provision to Noah in the Ark. (Matthew 3:16)

It was at his baptism that the Spirit came down upon Jesus with power in a way that was convincing to John the Baptist.

The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruach and it means wind. The Spirit of God brings us three things:

  • Power: in Acts 2 it is described as a mighty rushing wind.
  • Life: the very existence of man is by the breath of God.
  • God: it is the way by which we live beyond mere human achievement.

The Spirit controlled the prophets. (Micah 3:8,Isaiah 59:21,Isaiah 61:1, Ezekiel 36:26-7)

The Spirit: brings the truth of God, gives men the power to recognize that truth when they saw it and gives them the ability and the courage to preach that truth to men. The Jews knew the Spirit and knew it was God coming into a man’s life.

John goes out of his way to point out that the Spirit remained on Jesus. It is not just a temporary inspiration; it is a permanent abiding. John states the descending of the dove as a Holy Spirit baptism, which implies that He was saturated and flooded with the Spirit of God.

In a Holy Spirit life we are illuminated to understand the Word, strengthened to do the Word and purified by the baptism of fire, burning away the worldly baggage. Spirit prayer is a cry of the heart with no thought of theology and liturgy.

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2)

That was the Messianic promise from the mouth of Isaiah. It stands as the promise to us who invites the Holy Spirit to saturate our inner beings.

1:35-39:

 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

John the Baptist points to Jesus as the greater teacher, full knowing that his own disciples will leave him and follow Jesus. He had no jealousy towards Jesus. He was looking for the vision to be fulfilled.

The character of the true disciple determines that his eye remains on the vision.

What is your God-inspired vision for your life?

Take a moment to write it down. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind to see God’s heart for you with no attachment to your fellow men or this world. (Habakkuk 2:15)

Jesus turned to speak to the disciples who followed Him. He is always willing to meet us halfway, making things easier for us to get to Him. He is a door opener. (Isaiah 45:1, Revelation 3:8)

Jesus turning to talk to the disciples is symbolic of the divine initiative. God always takes the first step. The human mind seeks and the heart longs. God meets you on the way just like the beautiful image of the father in the story of the prodigal son, waiting for the first signs of his son and running out to meet him. That is a good heart picture to treasure whenever we think of our heavenly father.

We seek God when He has already found us – Augustine.

The fundamental question is: What are you looking for? Your desire needs to be expressed. They could have been legalists looking for an argument. They could have followed Him to enlarge their influence with the leadership. They could have been nationalists looking for political shortcuts. Or were they humble men looking for their Messiah? They could have been puzzled, bewildered and sinful, looking for light and not even sure how deep the need in their inner being might be. This is the perfect approach – dark lives looking for the Light of the World to change them forever.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

Are you looking for safety and security, wealth and superficial satisfaction for your needs? It is not wrong to look for these things; it is only a very low aim. There is no security in the changes and chances of life. Some people are searching for personal ambition, having their own goals already shaped, believing God is the instrument to get there. Beware of the detour called life!

Here in John 1 the disciples answered with a question: Where is Jesus staying?

They called Him rabbi, which literally means: my great One. It was a title of respect given by students of wise men. John writes to the Greeks and uses the word for teacher.

What does their question mean?

They didn’t want a short answer. They wanted to sit down, share a meal, talk much. They were not satisfying a curiosity or a superficial need. They wanted to truly know Him.

Jesus answers: Come and see. Those words were a well-known answer to any question of a student of a Jewish rabbi. Jesus’ words imply: we’ll think about this together. If you are in for the long haul, I am more than willing.

John was probably one of these disciples. He notes the time. Almost like in a diary. He is thinking back many years and experiencing that moment, more or less 4pm one afternoon in Galilee that his own life changed forever.

 

 

 

 

81. Heavenly words, changing earth.

We are in the process of seeking God – already knowing how awesome He is, that there is none like Him and that He loves us with an everlasting love according to His character of goodness and truth. We are now knocking at the door of heaven, praying in the Spirit that Jesus promised, reaching out to the power of heaven to change our circumstances and our community.

In the light of all of heaven’s splendour, our fears and worries have quietly moved into the background as we dwell in the presence of the Almighty, Who holds heaven and earth in His hand. Our focus on His love and power, deals with our earthly concerns.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 Paul discusses the gifts of the Spirit as well as the manifestation and practice of it in the gatherings of believers.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: or to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

 The gifts are distributed by the Spirit as He wills and according to the need.

Paul also speaks about the gifts in Romans 12. We need the Holy Spirit to live like he says in this chapter. The standard is high and we need every powerful endowment of our Father’s promise to live the life of excellence.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best (those needed in a specific situation) gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12: 28-31)

The more excellent way is the next chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – LOVE. Anything without love is useless. The love he describes is agapé – love by choice, not by chance. It is love that is not dependent on a feeling, or an affinity or any chemistry. It is love that practices unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill towards a person, without expecting anything in return. It is love that liberates us fully from the wiles and wills of the people around us.

In this chapter he mentions the tongues of men and of angels.

Let us back up to the Tower of Babel. You know the funny story in Genesis.

The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is indeed one of the strange stories of the Bible. The people of the earth come together after the flood and plan a city. The chapter states that they had one language and one speech. They want to build something magnificent – isn’t that good? Still, the unity that comes by language would have enabled amazing power. God Himself said that nothing would be impossible for them. He confuses the speech at Babel and the people scatter to fill the earth as He originally intended they should do after the flood.

Centuries later a miracle of speech unites a people for whom nothing would be impossible. On the day of Pentecost, God uses language to establish His church and give those converts the power that comes from unity. (Acts 2:4)

They spoke in known languages of the people present to spread the Gospel . The word in Greek is dialektō (Acts 2:8).

Twenty years after the day of Pentecost, Paul asks converts in Corinth whether they have received the Holy Spirit. They were rebaptized (the only place in the Bible), because John’s baptism was already happening before the ministry of Jesus and Paul wanted to establish the principle of baptism in Jesus’ name.

And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

Tongues, translated from the Greek word glossolalia – served as a sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, assuring a believer to be an invigorated living witness.

It can be explained as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Corinthians was the speaking in angelic languages, whereas Acts 2 indicated they spoke in known human languages.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels

The characteristic of this mysterious language is that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. But rising out of this, is that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered.

This is a pillar in prayer. We need to take the time and seclusion to allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us. Sometimes it is part of day-long communication. Thinking about a difficult situation with a sigh and a sore heart, submitting it to Kingdom authority just there and then – in the car, in the kitchen, amongst the sisters, amongst the difficulties of life.

Once again in the prayer of the Holy Spirit and the operating of the gifts, it can only happen in accordance to the principle of Jesus in Matthew 6. It is received in private.

What now? Be the church of Berea.

 These were more fair-minded [open-minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

They checked up on Paul. That is how we should operate – always! We have the Bible available to each individual. These days we have commentaries and other tools at our fingertips. The most important “tool” to understand and practice Scripture however, is the Hoy Spirit.

If we humbly ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the deeper and the more of God’s presence and power, He will lead us in all truth. Jesus said His words are Spirit and truth (John 6:63).

Your next step is exactly the same as those overwhelmed people on the day of Pentecost when they asked Peter:

 Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,

Brethren, what shall we do?

And Peter answered them, Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise of the Holy Spirit is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, even to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (Acts 2:37-39)

Go back to your closet and study the Word. In humble submission ask the Holy Spirit so that He will reveal Himself to you. There in His sweet and loving presence, you will mould your tongue in praise and the utterance of unknown sounds.

It is not the object of obsession,

it is the consequence of submission.

 

Forming the tongues of angels in your own mouth,

is an utterance of faith.

 

 

80. Through the door.

In searching you find a door. This is quite a mystery. In all your prayer, all your beseeching God for your fears and worries – is there still a place where you have not been?

Of course there is!

There is a more excellent life awaiting.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.  So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.( Acts 18:24-26)

Are you ready for more? Are you willing to go where Jesus leads?

Jesus adds a third command in Matthew 7.

Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Have you ever had the experience of knocking at a door that is almost immediately opened? Just as if your arrival has been precisely anticipated?

God initiates also this part of prayer. He says to the church in Laodicea:

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

Dine with me? In Judah breakfast was mostly on the run; getting out there to work. Lunch was packed and eaten in haste. But dinner was the evening meal, the time to get to the roof of the house and sit down in the coolness of the evening to dine with the family and talk. The word used here is the word for the lingering evening meal. He wants to sit down and talk.

So if you knock, he has already knocked. The door swings open. When the door of your heart opens, you can sit down at the table set before your enemies, that table that is spread in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), for a long and peaceful chat with your Father.

Then you will come to know what His promise to Jesus was and is.

The Promise of the Father:

 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

 Jesus said:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24)

 The Father is seeking people whose worship is spiritually alive and true-hearted”. He is seeking worshippers, so we can be assured that if we will worship Him, He will show up!

 Worship invites and gives place for the glory of the Lord to be realized and to bless at a given place. It is an act of God’s sovereign choice and grace, but it is not arbitrary, random, or accidental. It is a decisive action He promises in response to genuine human hunger for Him.   Jack Hayford

To worship in spirit and truth does not imply more effort on our side.

It leads us into the heart of God. God is spirit, therefore He communicates to our spirit, the reborn new man. Jesus Himself said: I am the Truth, the Life and the Way.

In prayer we live in the power and enabling of the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. Since the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit, the official birth date of the church, we live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit who is:

The comforter and reminder of Jesus Himself.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 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 and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:12-20)

 The Holy Spirit initiates prayer, long before you start praying it. When you make the decision to accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit had already done the work to prepare you for His indwelling of your spirit-man. Jesus breathed on His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22.

Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again into the Kingdom of God, the invisible kingdom on earth that Jesus and John the Baptist talked about. Then He says:

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. (John 3: 5,6: The Message)

So, if we make the decision to accept Jesus into our life, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit initiates and enables the new man, the new creation in Christ. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

And yet Jesus’ last words were:

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you… Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit is the key to receiving the gifts that enables the church for all the work to be done.

 

Come walk the power-walk of the church of Jesus.

21. This amazing power…

Welcome back Pebble pals. We are still celebrating Pentecost, the Feast of the first fruits of the harvest fifty days after Easter. It is a time to be aware of the amazing power given those who wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual ghosts are dangerous. Paul warns us in the book of Timothy against a form of godliness. See-through, wishy-washy church activities with no substance, no power, no truth. We are to avoid such people – a strong warning indeed!

Powerless Christians give Christianity a bad reputation. They fight against the wrong people and make loveless judgments to condemn and exclude. A mere glance at church history is enough to make my head hang in shame of what was done in the name of my Father. Church leaders, so justified in their own man-made doctrine, with no consideration of the revelational knowledge of the Presence of a loving heavenly Father, that they tortured and murdered, thinking they act according to the will of God.

2 Timothy 3:5:

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].

The church with no Jesus could never be the answer that the world around us so desperately seeks. Church ghosts wander around in a neutral zone of comfort-worship discussing overwhelming evil, crime and irresponsible living that reduces our world into a garbage heap of pollution and death, as the news of the day, without the sure knowledge of ultimate victory and the power in true Christianity to face the day head-on.

Church ghosts have no answer for the one-dimensional, superficial challenge from the post modern community, who constantly questions the God of love allowing blood on the streets and black flag extremism with murder on their lips. It amuses me that by asking this very question, the unbeliever puts God in control as if He, without invitation, should intervene and solve the mess. The core principle, from the very beginning of God’s involvement with mankind, is choice. Without choice there can be no love. Love is always a choice; otherwise it is not true love. Therefore it is only in the powerful rendering of our own testimony that this question can be answered.

Revelation 12:11:

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;

Our own testimony, our pebbles of perpetuity, is the story of our ultimate triumph in God. We are still living in a broken world and it may feel that God does not intervene on your behalf in a way that you perceive as beneficial, but our ultimate victory is guaranteed in Jude 24 – a verse that has been quoted numerous times as an important pillar of faith.

By the Holy Spirit we are challenged to see beyond the superficial reality revealed to our senses. We are invited to look into the unseen, into the invisible Kingdom of God, which is a greater reality, though not visible to the fleshly eye, and, by His power to overcome the obstacles.

When we combine our soul (mind, will and emotion) with our body we become flesh and are reduced to superficial thinking. When the Holy Spirit quickens our spirit the combination of soul and spirit is spiritual thinking.

Looking at the world today and the challenges of the future may cause a jungle of thoughts with a windmill-effect – round and round with no solution. Let us apply the soothing salve of ancient words.

Ezekiel 36:26,27:

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…

And I will put my Spirit in you…

God’s word stands firm and true through all the ages, just as He promised Ezekiel a two-fold process, He re-affirmed on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus breathed on His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22:

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Why then did they have to wait in Jerusalem to be filled with power?

According to Ezekiel we are given a new spirit and thereafter the Spirit of God Himself. The Holy Spirit builds the house for God to live in. The process of rebirth is all the work of the Holy Spirit, a new spirit in us, our spirit-man rebirthed. Thereafter – God Himself lives in us.

That is the true meaning of Pentecost. More than 25 centuries after Ezekiel God is saying: And I will put my Spirit in you…

This infilling, full baptism takes place by invitation only. The Holy Spirit is a true gentleman. He will not come uninvited. The promise is for all – let it be clear. Acts 2:39:

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

A friendly reminder who those are whom the Lord will call.

2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The process of rebirth is repentance and water baptism – a blessed identification with Christ in His death and resurrection according to Romans 6:1-4. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit. We need the power to overcome our obstacles and to be prayer warriors in an age where true Christianity is tested.

Rejoice in this ancient Feast that celebrated the beginning of the harvest. On the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension, the first fruits of the church were celebrated. We are the labourers that are harvesting in God’s field. We need the power; we need the indwelling of God Himself.

John the Baptist acknowledged Jesus as the One baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Nothing is possible without Jesus. He is the source of everything. Only through His blood we are cleansed and prepared for the indwelling of God Himself.

On the day of Pentecost the people heard the disciples speak with many tongues. God destroyed evil ambition and pride with the confusion in language at the Tower of Babel and united His church with language on the day of Pentecost. The different tongues of the Holy Spirit, the interpretation thereof, gifts of miracles, healing, discerning of spirits, our words of prophecy, faith, wisdom and knowledge are given to us where ever and for whatever the need may be.

1 Corinthians 12:13:

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

Be aware of the amazing power to our disposal for our lives and those around us. We are never a victim of our circumstances. We have the power of God in us and we are in prayer-control of our lives within a broken world.

Till next time – be greatly blessed.