The Holy Spirit and You

How should we relate to the Holy Spirit?
Does he come and go, do we ‘leak’ after receiving him?
The concept of ‘leaking’ is unscriptural, we are not a ‘container’ but a channel of the Holy Spirit.
Do we need to seek a ‘fresh outpouring’; do we need to ask God for more?
No, we simply ‘drink’. Imagine yourself like a garden hose with a trigger control on the end, you are always full of water and you are in control of the flow. Or electricity, if we want the lights on do we ring up the power company and ask them to send the electricity? No, we just switch it on. You are in control.
When we speak in tongues it is ourselves that make that choice, the Holy Spirit has enabled us just as when we prophesy ‘according to our faith’ (Romans 12:6). A gift, when given, is in the receiver’s control. If you were to give a car to your son or daughter you would not tell them when and where to drive, they make those decisions. The Holy Spirit is a gift to you; his power and authority are in your hands.

Isaiah 55:1
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Cross References
John 7:37,38
On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.'”
Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 10:8
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

John 4:14
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

Revelation 21:6
And He told me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.

Revelation 22:17
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely.

Old Covenant believers did not have the Holy Spirit
Psalm 42:1
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs after You, O God.

Psalm 42:2
My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and appear in God’s presence?

Psalm 143:6
I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Isaiah 41:17
The poor and needy seek water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
Isaiah 44:3
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and currents on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.

Ezekiel 47:1
Then the man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.

Ezekiel 47:9
Wherever the river flows, there will be swarms of living creatures and a great number of fish, because it flows there and makes the waters fresh; so wherever the river flows, everything will flourish.

Joel 2:28,29
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
Joel 3:18
And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will run with water, and a spring will flow from the house of the LORD to water the Valley of Acacias.

It is our responsibility to ‘stir up the gift’!
2 Timothy 1:6,7
I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Water, fire, honey, milk, wine, power, authority, blessing, righteousness and eternal life!
What a gift, and you have got it for free! Only believe.

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Search the Scriptures (Romans)

Romans 1:1-17

What does the apostle say about himself?

Firstly Paul calls himself a ‘bond servant’, one who has chosen to stay with his master for life. He is called ‘apostle’, he was called such by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13 2-3). Paul was called and sent by the Spirit in and through the Church. In v.14 Paul states the he is ‘under obligation’ to both the Greeks and the ‘Barbarians’ (persons of other language groups). His calling was to the Gentiles.

What does Paul say about the gospel?

  1. It is God’s gospel.
  2. It is the promised gospel.
  3. It is to do with His Son.
  4. It is the power of God for salvation to all believers (Jews and others).
  5. In it the righteousness of God is revealed by ever increasing faith.

How do I feel about preaching the gospel?

To preach the gospel is an act of love towards mankind. Without knowledge of the gospel it is difficult or impossible for man to reap the benefits obtained for him by Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection. It would be wrong to focus only on spiritual salvation because Jesus clearly demonstrated that the good news of the Kingdom was wider than the purely spiritual, he was interested in the whole man. Man was to believe for and accept healing, body, soul and spirit, brotherhood in the Church, material provision and eternal security.

To be a disciples of Jesus demands that I must do the works He did. Like Paul I am under obligation to all men (actually to all creation) to preach the gospel.

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Immunized Against Christianity?

Why do so many think they are Christians when they aren’t?

Walk into the average ‘Church’ of almost any denomination and ask someone if they are a Christian, they will almost certainly say ‘yes of course’ or perhaps ‘I hope so’ or ‘I try to be’. But ask them a much more pointed question such as ‘if you were to die today and were stopped at the pearly gates and asked ‘what makes you think you can come in here’ what would might they say?

I believe in God.

So does Satan!

I’m a good person.

There is none righteous, no not one. Romans 3:10

I’m a member of the Church.

So were thousands of persecutors of Christians down the centuries.

I attend Church regularly.

I go into my garage regularly – that doesn’t make me a car!

The point I am trying to make is that most ‘Christians’ have been made to believe that they have got the ‘real thing’ when actually all they have is religion. It’s a bit like giving a child a polio jab, they don’t get the ‘wild’ variety but a really weakened version that there immune system is able to handle and defeat so when the real thing comes along they are ready to fight it off. See what the kids version of Wikipedia says:

Immunization

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A child being immunized against polio.

“Immunization is a way of preventing a person from getting a disease. This is done by making the person’s body come into contact with a bit of the disease so that the body learns how to fight it. The body’s ability to fight off a disease is called its immune system.

The material is known as an immunogen. Immunization is the same as inoculation and vaccination because inoculation and vaccination use an infecting agent (something that infects) in the same way that immunization does.

When the human immune system is exposed to an infection once, it can learn how to cope quickly if it is exposed to it again. By exposing an individual to an immunogen in a controlled way, the body will be able to protect itself from that infection later on in life.”

Now Christianity is not a disease, in fact it’s the opposite, but unfortunately ‘Christianity lite’ has much the same effect as ‘polio lite’, it can make you immune to the real thing!

So what is the ‘real thing’?

What do you think? Please leave a reply below.

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Death before the fall?

It is commonly believed amongst evangelical Christians that there was no death before the fall. Some believe that no animal of any description died and that neither would man. Some believe that no living thing, human, plant, animal, microbe etc. died. I have a problem with both these interpretations of Genesis.

Genesis 2:16-18New King James Version (NKJV)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Note that the context is God talking to Adam. Adam must have known what death meant otherwise God’s words would have been meaningless. How did Adam know what death meant? Perhaps he had seen animals kill one another. Did he know about the lifecycle of a plant? He must have, else how could he eat seeds of wheat or oats; the plant dies after the seed is ripened.

Did God recreate all the predators after the fall? If so the bible is remarkably silent about it. What kept the abundance of nature in check? It would not take very long, without death, for the world to be knee deep in insects, and walking on water would not be a problem because it would be as full of life as your cereal bowl is of cornflakes.

What would be the purpose of the tree of life if Adam and Eve were going to live forever anyway? I suggest that as always in his relationship with God, man had a choice, life or death, and in this case he chose death because he believed a lie. Man again has a choice of life or death by accepting Jesus and the salvation (life) only available through him, or death, by attempting to ‘do it himself, by being good’ (the knowledge of good and evil), faith or works, it ever was and ever will be. Did you know that ultimately we get to choose which universe we inhabit?

Revelation 21:1-3New King James Version (NKJV)

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. ….There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

Even the physics of this universe (heaven and earth) will be different, no sun and no night, just light everywhere. If you think that this is just the ramblings of a silly, confused old apostle marooned on a Greek island check out what modern physics has to say on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation. No, I didn’t understand it either, but they seem to think that alternative universes based on our choices are probable!

Have you made your choice, life or death, Jesus or self? Hurry up, you may not have much time (whatever that is) Revelation 10:6 And he swore by him who lives to the eternity of eternities, him who created Heaven and that which is in it, and The Earth, and that which is in it: “Time shall be no more.” (no more delay). Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Meditation

Meditation

Given the current interest in New Age practices and Eastern religions it is not surprising that many Christians are doubtful about the application of meditation to their spiritual life. Just the mention of the word ‘meditation’ can bring to mind an image of a saffron-robed monk sitting cross-legged in front of a statue of the Buddha. Let us try to change that automatic image; think for a while of a psalmist as he sat one evening out in the hills contemplating the Law of Moses. He is comfortable, he is secure, his family is well-ordered and prosperous, and all because they have, and obey the Law of God. He is able to write: Psa 1:1-2  Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is only in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night.  I think you will agree that this changes the image of meditation from something rather ‘dodgy’ to something useful and effective. There are some 20 direct references to meditation in the King James Bible whereas there are only 3 for ‘study’! No one would claim that we should not study the bible, or any other useful subject, but it is interesting to note that scripture itself makes more of meditation than it does of study! Why might this be?

Study as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is: • noun (pl. studies) 1 the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge. 2 a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. We all know about study, it is what we did, or should have done, when we were at school. Meditation, however, is different. The OED defines it: meditate • verb 1 focus one’s mind for a time for spiritual purposes or for relaxation. 2 (meditate on/about) think carefully about.
I would suggest that it from meditation that leaps above and beyond existing knowledge come about. Newton did not make his discoveries in the fields of physics and mathematics by studying the knowledge of others but by meditating on the universe and on the meaning of what he saw, felt and heard. The inspiration come first, the experiments, mathematics and proofs follow. ‘Inspire’ is and interesting word, it actually means; (OED) • verb 1 fill with the urge or ability to do or feel something. 2 create (a feeling) in a person. 3 give rise to. 4 inhale. It has a Latin origin meaning to breathe or blow into.
Whenever I see words to do with breath or wind I remember that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. Wherever you see the word ‘Spirit’ in scripture it could be translated ‘Breath’. This is really significant because part of the process of preparing oneself for meditation involves being aware of and controlling one’s breathing in order to relax, separate oneself from the bustle of life and concentrate on what God wants you to know.

Eph 5:18-19  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
This passage implies a deliberate choice, ‘be filled with the Spirit’, and commands us to ‘speak to ourselves’. ‘Speaking to ourselves’ means both to each other and to oneself. If we were to be singing in a choir we would learn how to breathe properly to aid our singing; it would seem sensible then, that in order to ‘sing or speak to ourselves’, we also need to learn the appropriate breathing techniques.

Relaxation
The verb ‘relax’ means:
(OED) 1 make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid. 2 rest from work or engage in a recreational activity. 3 make (a rule or restriction) less strict.
The bible tells us:
Php 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

So, if to relax is to be less anxious then we are being obedient. We might also consider the verb ‘rest’:
(OED) 1 cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength. 2 allow to be inactive in order to regain or save strength or energy. 3 place or be placed so as to stay in a specified position: his feet rested on the table. 4 (rest on) depend or be based on. 5 (rest in/on) place (trust, hope, or confidence) in or on. 6 (rest with) (of power, responsibility, etc.) belong to. 7 (of a problem or subject) be left without further investigation or discussion. 8 N. Amer. conclude the case for the prosecution or defence in a court of law.
The scripture also tells us to rest and to ‘commune with your own heart’, that sounds like meditation to me!
Heb 4:10-11  For he who has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Therefore let us labor to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief.
Psa 46:10  Be still, and know that I am God! I will be praised among the nations, I will be praised in the earth.
Psa 4:4  Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
In Hebrews 4:11 we are encouraged to ‘labour to enter that rest’. The word translated ‘labour’ means:  to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study. In other words we are to ‘work at’ resting! Work suggests knowledge and use of knowledge to achieve an end product. In this case the end product is rest or dwelling in God so we should ask, ‘what do I need to know and do in order to enter into rest in God’? What do we do to enter into our daily rest of sleep? We usually lie down, close our eyes, relax, perhaps follow a deliberate routine of activities leading up to sleep. If we have things ‘on our mind’ which are preventing us sleeping it is often useful to write them down, I call this ‘brain dump’. It means that one’s mind can shelf its work until another day in the knowledge that the main points are stored and will not be forgotten. We don’t empty our minds when we go to sleep, in fact it seems that the subconcious can go on working on a problem whilst we sleep. I have experienced the solution to a problem dropping into my consious thoughts during that brief period of time between sleep and being fully awake, sometime between being aware of the end of sleep and leaving the shower! How do these concepts of entering into rest and meditation come together?
As a child I recall the radio programme ‘Listen with Mother’ the announcer would say "Are you sitting comfortably?" "Then let us begin". The idea was that we were focussed on the story to follow. Similarly as we prepare to ‘listen with God’ it is only right to focus on what He has to say and to deliberately separate ourselves from our normal activities and thoughts.
If you are someone who regularly watches a TV program, especially if it is informative you will usually give it your full attention, you may disconnect the ‘phone, ask the children to be quiet, dim the lights, whatever you need to do in order to ‘receive’ properly. It should be just the same with meditation. You will be intent on what God’s word has to say to you; deliberately opening your mind and spirit to receive the intent of His heart for you.

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What’s Your Motivation?

Will Doors, the multi-millionaire owner of the direct marketing giant Streetsell fell ill on his 40’th birthday. After a simple blood test the doctor told him that he had leukaemia. Will was devastated. He decided to take a few days off work to come to terms with this news before telling his wider family and friends. Obviously he couldn’t keep his diagnosis secret from his immediate household and the sad news was soon known by his household staff.

Within a few hours his Philippine housemaid asked if she could speak to him privately about his illness. She explained that in the Philippines she had often seen people instantly healed of all kinds of diseases following prayer and asked if she could pray for him. To cut a long story short he was instantly healed and became a Christian.

The Church he joined was quite a large one for the UK, it had about 300 members and a youth group of 100 or so. One Saturday in the summer the youth leader had arranged for a street witnessing day as part of the lead-up to a series of meetings to be held by an evangelist. Will was interested to see how the young people would do at what he knew best, street marketing.

The Saturday arrived and the witnessing group met in a corner of the town square. There were plenty of people about, it was a market day, there was street theatre and there were buskers, the sun was shining, an excellent day for street work. Will watched from the side of the square, he didn’t want the youth group to know that he was there. After a few minutes discussion they dispersed about the square in groups of three or four. Some of them looked in the shop widows or watched the street theatre, others silently handed out invitations to the evangelistic meetings, most just stood around looking embarrassed. Will was disappointed and a little angry but he had an idea. He would get them motivated.

Quite near to where he was standing was a Big Issue seller. Will called him over and bought all his magazines, the guy was flabbergasted! Then Will asked him if he would do him a favour………

One of the youth group was a little more bold than the others and right in the middle of the square approached a couple who were listening to a busker, she asked them if they were at all concerned about what would happen after they died and then was able to share the gospel with them, and to finish, gave them an invitation to hear the evangelist speak. Shortly after she had finished she was approached by a rather scruffy looking bloke who told her that God had seen what she had just done and was very pleased and by way of reward gave her a ten pound note! She was so stunned that she stood there open mouthed and accepted the gift. The scruffy bloke disappeared round a corner and she rushed over to her friends to tell them what had just happened. Someone suggested that it could have been an angel; others said that the scruffy bloke was probably just a nutter. As they were discussing this one of the group rushed over to report that the same thing had just happened to him, and then another. One of them had three tenners and she said "it only happens when I stop and talk to people, if I just give them an invitation nothing happens, but if I witness to them within a few moments this scruffy bloke appears from nowhere and gives me a tenner".

Suddenly quite a few of the group had started trying this out for themselves, they didn’t always get a tenner but now and again they did, the best thing though was that they had found that witnessing was not that bad and tenner or no tenner they could do it and they could sense that God was with them and was pleased with them. Will said nothing but a few years later the Church was a thousand strong, sending out groups to start new Churches and young people were going into ministry. Not a bad investment, Will thought.

What had Will found? Was it that reward could overcome fear or was it that their God was not Yahweh but Mammon? Perhaps it would be kinder to say that they had two gods, Yahweh and Mammon, or perhaps three, Yahweh, Mammon and Self. In the story they are initially motivated by their love of money following the reports of cash received by the few brave ones who were rewarded first. What was holding them back from witnessing in the first place? Self? Thoughts such as; ‘these people will think me stupid if I tell them about Jesus, I will not appear ‘cool’ if I associate myself with ‘religious’ people, they may reject me and be rude and possibly offensive’.

All of the above may be true, if we take our self esteem from the society around us. But if our self esteem comes from, at best, God’s view of us, and at worst, the Christian community’s view of us, we will probably see ourselves differently. How has this skewed, world- centred, self image crept into the Church? The answer, I would suggest, is false conversion or poor ‘birthing’.

Throughout the New Testament, entry into Christ was always, like a natural birth of the time, fraught with danger. It began with the recognition that the wrath of God was focused on the sinner, followed by repentance, baptism in water and in the Spirit. The accounts in Acts of Peter’s preaching major on his reminding the Jews that the Messiah, whom they had just killed, was now at the right hand of God and was coming to set up his Kingdom and put his enemies (those who had just rejected him) under his feet! Scary stuff!

No ‘come to Jesus and have a better life’, no ‘God has a wonderful plan for your life so just invite him into your heart’. This was ‘repent, you Christ-killers, before he comes to destroy you’! Read Acts 2:22-39 and check it out for yourself. We are all ‘Christ-killers’; it was because of our sin that he died. Those first century Jews had to turn their backs on the prevailing culture, risk disinheritance and possibly death at the hands of their own families just as Moslem converts to Christ do today. Why do we try and ‘make it easy’ for people to ‘become Christians’ out of a western culture? Are numbers more important than quality? Is it better to have thousands with a ‘slight touch’ of Christianity than just a few with it ‘real bad’? Didn’t Jesus start with just twelve and keep the bar to joining really high? Are large numbers of vaccinated ‘Christians’ any good to anyone or are they not ‘at the feast in the wrong clothes’. Vaccination means that you get a dose of dead ‘bug’ so that you can fight off the live ‘bug’. Isn’t that exactly what we are doing in our Churches today? In other words our weak version of Christianity has vaccinated us against the real thing!

What sinners need is a strong dose of the live Christian ‘bug’, strong enough to kill them. We can then safely bury them in baptism and birth them into a new life in the Spirit! A life in which we have but one God and one Lord for whom we have a burning fever of love which expresses itself in obedience and rejoices in suffering with him.

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The Salesman

 

One sunny day a middle manager in a large insurance company went for a walk at lunch time. He happened to be passing a BMW dealership and noticed a sign advertising the latest model. In he went, just to satisfy his curiosity. He knew that he could expect a good bonus that year and so a new BMW was not out of reach! Being a fairly assertive guy he went straight in, sat in the driver’s seat, felt the leather steering wheel and gear lever, played with the electrically adjustable seat and generally imagined himself as the new owner. Unsurprisingly he was approached by a salesman who greeted him in a friendly manner and enquired into his interest in the car. The salesman, because he was a professional, had quickly obtained the man’s business card, through some subtle questions had ascertained that this potential buyer had sufficient income to afford the car, was interested in buying and had fixed an appointment for a test drive.
 
The sales manager meanwhile was viewing the whole transaction from his office overlooking the sales floor. He was pleased. George, the salesman, had done all that was expected of him and they could now look forward to an almost certain sale and, if they handled the customer well, years of an excellent relationship, servicing, accessory sales, new models and referrals to his friends and colleagues.
 
The sales manager had not always had such a pleasant experience with his salesmen/women. Often he would notice a prospect enter the showroom and wander around looking at the cars for what seemed like an age with no one approaching them. He had picked up the phone and called down to the sales office, as the receiver was lifted he could hear the idle chatter and clink of coffee cups in the background, this sales team was just not ‘on the ball’! A few choice words soon produced some action. One of the team approached the prospect looking embarrassed and awkward. Shortly after the prospect left. No contact details had been collected, the salesman didn’t know if this was a genuine ‘buyer’, no reason to buy had been created in the prospects mind and a potential £30,000 sale had gone ‘down the pan’! The sales manager was not a happy bunny! Words were exchanged in the sales managers office. "Let that be the final time I have to tell you, next time it will be as they say in ‘The Apprentice’ "You’re Fired!"
 
Now the words ‘You’re Fired’ are rather uncomfortable if you know anything about the Bible. They remind us of the parable of the unprofitable servant, the one who was cast out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is a parable of the Kingdom, the Church. it was believers that Jesus was talking about, some profitable, some unprofitable. How often do strangers walk into our ‘church dealership’ and not hear the gospel? We put on special events, special speakers, coffee mornings and jumble sales often with the express purpose of outreach and yet all too often are too scared of what ‘they’ might say to confront them with the good news. Of whom should we be more scared, the prospect or the ‘sales manager’ looking on from above? Do we even know the ‘good news’? If we are to believe Jesus then the ‘bad news’ is what happened to the unprofitable servant, the destiny of all who have sinned, hell. But the good news is that Jesus has paid the price for all who will repent. As Peter said addressing the crowd at Pentecost who asked "Men
and brethren, what shall we do"? (They had just been told that they had crucified messiah and that He was coming back to get his enemies!)

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


This is problem of two halves. One half of the problem is that we have forgotten what it is that we are ‘selling’, the ‘full gospel’ i.e. bad news – good news. Perhaps the other half is that we have forgotten that we are personally answerable to God for our ‘profitability’ as His servants. The rewards are heavenly but the punishment for unprofitability is hellish!
 
Be blessed,
 

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