Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

You Either Have it or You Don’t

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

What exactly is fear? The online dictionary says fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused be the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” I like the word “belief” in there. Belief means that it may not be supported by any evidence other than the thoughts of the one who is fearful. The believe a thing, so it is that thing that dominates their mind. They believe something might harm them or be dangerous. They believe it and it sends them to a place of unpleasant emotions. They cringe and do everything they can to get away from that feeling. They just don’t like it! Fear can cause us to hide in our rooms, or to shy away from someone or some task, or to try and get someone to fight the fight for us.

Take the school bully for example. This is a person who exists on fear. He does everything he can to antagonize others and put fear in their hearts. He will make fun of them, intimidate them, challenge them, and do anything he can to maintain power over them. He just wants to be the one in charge, and will not take no for an answer. If he is challenged back, he will start to use physical force to get his way. Pushing and shoving at first before it gets into a full-blown fight. Often, the one being bullied will give in to the fear tactics and let him have his way whether it’s giving him the lunch money or letting him have the best swing in the playground. Fear is his weapon of choice.

Our spiritual enemy, the devil, is a bully. Just like that kid on the playground who always got your lunch money, he will do everything he can to put fear in your heart. Only this fear Paul is talking about with Timothy is a little different than the fear of the world. This fear is a loss of the moral gumption that is needed to follow Christ. It is a spirit of timidity and cowardice that makes us back off form our witness, or from sharing our testimony, or from reaching out and praying for others. The devil will do everything he can to keep you from witnessing and telling others of the glorious salvation that comes from Christ alone! He will tell you that you just don’t have the right words, or that you can’t find anyone to listen, or that you don’t have time today to share Christ’s story. He will put obstacles in your way that will scare you from sharing your faith. Obstacles like feelings if ineptitude, inadequacy, unworthy and unwanted. He will tell you you’re not perfect so how can you say Christ has cleaned you up.

This is not the same as the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Without the fear of the Lord we would not know wonderful feeling of hearing His voice and following His way because that wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord. We would not understand His awesome power and His glorious mercy because that comes through the fear of the Lord. We need the fear of the Lord to effectively serve Him. We do not need the kind of fear that makes us afraid to witness. That does not come from God. God gives us other things, better things. He gives us power, love and a sound mind!

You see, this verse is all about witnessing and sharing our faith. It is all about letting other people know the glorious message of Christ crucified and risen again. He does not give us a spirit of being afraid to witness! That comes from the enemy. God gives tools to make us better witnesses, more effective witnesses. These tools are listed here; power, love and a sound mind. So how do these three things help us in our day to day witnessing?

His power enables us to stand boldly and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In myself, I am shy and inward. Look at the disciples. They were all huddled in an upper room waiting for the power. They were afraid and were not doing anything for God. Peter had joined them after He denied Christ three times. Do you think he had any inclination to go out and witness? We see no sign of that in scripture. Jesus had told them to wait until they received power in Acts 1:8. Now in chapter two we see them doing exactly that – waiting. Then the Holy Ghost came into the room and filled them up. The power and authority of the Holy Ghost filled them so full Peter just had to speak. He witnessed to thousands that day because of the power Gpd had placed in him. That same power is available to us! If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just ask God to fill you up and trust Him to do so. He will when you ask this question!

His love compels us to go out and witness. 2 Corinthians 5:14 tells us this. Paul writes that the love of God constrained him, or compelled him. It signifies an urging to tell others of the sacrifice Christ made to give us freedom from sin. This urging is placed inside of each one of us when we experience the love of Christ. It’s like the urging we have when our favorite team wins the championship, or when we get married or have a new baby. We have an urge to tell everyone about it! He loved everyone and He died to save everyone. We have experienced this salvation and now He wants everyone to know about the love He has for us. So, His love compels us to share this love with others. How many people are you telling? Are you showing His love to others around you in small and simple ways?

The third thing He has given us to help us effectively witness is a sound mind. A mind that can rightly divide the word of truth. A mind that can take every though captive to the obedience of Christ. A mind that can help us study to chow ourselves approved unto God. A mind that can keep the message simple and diverse enough to reach everyone. The testimony of our salvation will help us to overcome fear, but it also says volumes to those who don’t believe. We have to be able to share it in our own way, listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to gives us the words we need to say in any given situation. We should not fear witnessing just because we are not good speakers! The men who followed Jesus were simple men, not learned and scholarly. Yet they were given the words to say every time and many came to the Lord. The sound mind within you can be a very effective witness if only you will allow it.

I urge you to stop having fear about witnessing. The power within you is greater than the power that is in the world. The love that is in you is gr3eater than any power this world has. Your mind will for the words when you need them. Give God a chance to make a bold witness out of you. Open your mouth and let His praises go forth!

Stir Up the Gift

2 Timothy 1:5-6

5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

One of the things Paul remembered about Timothy, while he was sitting in that Roman prison, was the faith that Timothy had. The word unfeigned is used in the KJV while sincere is used in the NIV. Some other ways this Greek word is translated are genuine and without hypocrisy, which is the most literal translation of the word. This says a lot about Timothy’s faith and makes me wonder if someone would say the same about my faith. Paul says this faith was first seen in both his mother and grandmother so it was a heritage in his family. What a great heritage to pass on!

I had a wonderful conversation\n with my oldest daughter last week. She really has not been active in church and her faith did not show very much through the years. At times she even said she didn’t know how she believed anymore. She is currently going through a big change in her life. She has always enjoyed travelling by car and bought a conversion van once her daughter had graduated school and gone into the National Guard. There were some changes happening in the company she worked for which she did not like, so she gave her letter of resignation. She sees this as an opportunity to carry out her dream. She has always been very frugal and has a good sum of money pout away for that “rainy day.” Even after her job ends in May, she has enough put back that she can go 6 months without working and be okay.

She has a double master’s degree in accounting and is looking for an accounting job that is 100% remote – and she says there are plenty of them out there. She made the statement that she has bene praying to God about finding the right job and knows that He will bring that to her. What music this was to her father’s ears. But there’s more! She told me she remembers that she felt called to be a traveling evangelist when she was at teen camp (I thought it was a missionary) and that perhaps this was God’s way of helping her fulfill that call! She mentioned that she thinks she will start attending churches as she travels and if people need help she will help them. I was in tears! What a precious thing to hear from one’s child!

I am sure Lois and Eunice felt the same way. Imagine if Billy Graham wrote your child a letter telling you that he remembers the faith of your mother and grandmother being in you. Paul was kind of the Billy Graham of his day. I am sure, if your parents had a strong faith, that they would be elated and overjoyed by such a statement. Timothy had sincere and genuine faith. He was not faking it. His life was lived according to the faith that he proclaimed to have and Paul could see that. What a testimony about Timothy’s life! I can only hope people see that kind of faith in me.

One of the big problems in the church is hypocrisy. I think we can all agree on that. Many people claim to have faith but their life shows just the opposite., They worry about everything, they complain incessantly and they mistrust everybody, including God. They walk around saying they are Christians and the world wonders what good it is to be a Christian if this is the attitude it produces. They don’t stay with their commitments, they identify with the ways of the world and they walk in sin on a regular basis. This has given the church a black eye! It is no wonder the world has no attraction for the church anymore. It is not wonder the world sees no advantage to being in the church anymore. If the church exhibited the sincere and genuine faith that Timothy had, I think we would see a more vibrant church today. Let us each make sure we are displaying this kind of faith!

I love to bake! I make some awesome cookies (not my words, but everyone else’s). I am one of those people that always follows a recipe when I bake. I want to make sure the ingredients are correctly measured because I know that the baking soda will only affect the amount of stuff in the recipe. If it is not right, the recipe will not rise correctly and it would taste different. Al of the ingredients are important. But most important of all is that you stir them together and not just let them sit separated and try to make cookies. That would be one ugly mess in your oven!

This is what I think of when Paul tells Timothy to “stir up the gift.” On a daily basis I am meeting all kinds of people. I am talking with them, listening to them, helping them, offering advice to them, being kind and considerate to them and many other things that come into my life. Among the things I do I need to stir up my spirit so the gift of God is blended in with everything else I do. It is not isolated inside me so I use it only when I am in church or in a Christian setting. The gift of God should be used in our daily conversation. People need to see and know that God is working in our lives. They all need Jesus more than anything else, and the gift within us is what will draw them to Christ. The gift must be evident in everything we do.

What is the gift that is given by the laying on of hands? It is the infilling of the Holy Spirit as happened ion Acts 2. He is the power of God that comes and falls upon us to make us more effective witnesses. This is another reason we must stir Him into our daily activities. The Holy Spirit will give us power. He will bring God’s word to our remembrance. He will teach us the truth. He will speak to us and give us the words to say when we are faced with difficult circumstances. He will always be with us. There are also gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us. These gifts come by the same laying on off hands. In contrast, these gifts need to be stirred up within us so that they rise to the top. We cannot let them stay dormant. Like stirring up a sleeping child, these gifts will minister to people as needed. The gifts of wisdom and knowledge, healing and discernment, miracles and faith, tongues and interpretations. All of these are useful not only in our churches but in everyday life. We must be attentive to the Holy Spirit as He helps us understand when to use these gifts.

Paul calls these two things to Timothy’s remembrance and He also calls them to our remembrance. He asks us to keep in mind the faith we have received from those mentors in our lives. Those who have guided us through this journey. Those who have a special place in our hearts because of their devotion to Christ. And He asks us to always be mindful to stir up the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, so that we can faithfully minister to those around us. Is your gift stirred up?

Give Good Gifts

Matthew 7:9-11

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Life is full of good things and bad. We all seem to accumulate plenty of both throughout our time on this earth. There are good possessions and bad possessions. There are good habits and bad. There are good emotions and bad. Good actions and bad. If I would ask you to make a list of the good things in your life alongside a list of the bad, many would come up with more good than bad because we don’t want to admit our bad qualities and we try to magnify our good. But we all have both.

These verses focus on the good possessions we might accumulate as far as the word “gifts” is used. But the much broader context in is anything we give our brother, not just material things. How often has someone come to you seeking sympathy and you give them a cold shoulder. Or they come to you with complaints and you give them contemp. Have you ever had a friend come to confide in you with someone personal and you just happened to let it slip out to someone else? Have you ever shared a private prayer request only to use it as gossip?

Certainly if someone came to you asking for a cup of sugar you would lend it if you had it. If they came and asked for a couple slices of bread, you would willingly give it. Each one of us has an inbuilt sense to help others if we can when it comes to material things. We will share anything we can spare to help someone else. But often that only goes as far as our material things. When it comes to the greater gifts in life, we often hesitate to help because that makes us vulnerable. And our pride keeps us from being vulnerable.

Jesus says the Father will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask. This gift brings with it fruit. This fruit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

These are the most precious things we have. All the gold, rubies and emeralds on earth do not stack up. To a hungry soul even these would help to fill the void. We all have need of these fruit at certain times in our lives. How much do we give these gifts to those that are in need of them? The Lord says here that he will supply them to us just by hearing us ask. Will we do the same for others

If someone comes to you seeking love from you than do you keep involved in your own interest or do you put the other person’s interests above your own (Phil 2:4)? If someone is overtaken in a fault do we start to chastise them and tell everyone else or do we try to restore them (Gal 6:1)? Do we just mind our own business when someone else is burdened or do we take up our brothers burden (Gal 6:2)? These are all questions that call on our love, or lack of it, to take action.
If someone is in sorrow, do you just turn away because you don’t know what to do, or do you weep with those that weep (Rom 12:15)? Do we go to the one who has sorrow, knowing that perhaps even our joy will not be enough to help them, but just to be with them, knowing that life is short and any help is good (Eccl 7:2)?

If someone’s life is in turmoil, do we become the peacemaker who can bring a sense of reality back to them (Matt 5:9)? Do we make every effort to be at peace with those around us (Rom 14:19)?

These same types of questions can be asked for each of these fruit. This is the key to being fruitful in our lives. These seeds are planted in us and we are to take them and spread them wherever we go. As always, some of our seed will fall on hard ground, some will fall on stony ground and some will fall among thorns. But much will fall on good ground, and will grow and bring twenty, fifty or one hundred fold.

So when someone comes to you, whatever they are asking, are you ready to give of yourself whatever you can? Our Lord gave His all for you. Will you give your all for Him? You are the very best gift you can give!

The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 5:17-18

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Jesus did not come to destroy the law, as many were accusing Him of, especially the Pharisees.  These Pharisees were listening to Christ’s teach and thought to themselves that this was new teaching and must be stopped.  The law was established for the Jews and no on had the right to change the law except Messiah Himself.  Of course, we know that Jesus was their Messiah, but we will put that aside for this post.  The teaching Jesus came with did not destroy the law/  His teaching strengthened the law and made it even harder to obey.  Then he says He came to fulfill the law. The Greek word for fulfill used here means to fill completely, or obey completely.  Christ came and obeyed every step of the law.  He was sinless and never broke any law that the Old Testament declared.

What truly happened is that the religious leaders of the day got caught up in the letter of the law.  They saw the law word for word, memorized it, studied it and taught it day after day.  The law encompasses the first five book so of the Bible. It became as familiar to them as the Lord’s Prayer is to us today.  They could recite it word for word, but they could not see the deeper meaning behind the words.  They missed what the spiritual applications were and they carried on as if they knew everything about this law.

We have a lot of people and churches today who live by the letter of the law philosophy.  They demand you wear long sleeves, a white shirt and tie to every service because this shows dignity and honor to God.  It is true that this honors God, but there is no Biblical reference on how to dress when we approach God.  Others demand a women should not teach, or that women should not wear jewelry and must always put their hair up.  These types of laws are the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.  The purpose of Paul saying things like this is that those who worshipped pagan gods adorned themselves lavishly with make-up and jewelry.  Paul was saying that’s not necessary to please the true God.  These types of outward appearance laws can also lead to piety and pride in an individual.  I can identify with this because I used to be one who wore suit and tie every service.  I always said it was to honor God as I was part of the leadership in the church.  But when I think about it, the upscale clothing was only meant to impress others that I was more spiritual because I was going to dress appropriately for God.  God is concerned with what is in our hearts, not our outward appearance.

Let’s look at some examples of how Jesus made the law even more difficult to follow.  Many of these are in our future path to study, so I will try to be brief here.  I don’t want to give away anything!

Matthew 5:18 – 47 is a part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus compares the letter of the law with the spirit of the law.

Concerning Righteousness – The pharisees were seen as the most righteous people.  Jesus says our righteousness must exceed theirs  (Matthew 5:20)

On murder – The 6th commandment says thou shall not kill.  Exodus 21:12 says if a man intentionally kills another they shall be put to death.  Jesus goes many steps further by saying if we are angry with our brother we will face the council and if we call him a fool we are in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22)

On our offerings to God – the OT put these offerings above everything else.  Jesus said we should reconcile with our brother if He has offended us before offering our gift (Matthew 5:24-25).

On committing adultery – the 8th commandment condemns adultery  In the OT, adultery is defined as sleeping with someone else while you are married.  Jesus takes it a long way further by saying we commit adultery even if we look at a woman with lust (Matt 5:28).

On divorce – the Old Testament authorized a bill of divorcement for any reason.  Jesus says if we put our wife away for anything but fornication, we cause her to commit adultery, and we commit adultery if we marry a divorced woman (Matthew 5:27-28).

In other places, He tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40), to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41) and to lend our coat as well as our shirt (Matthew 5:40).  Jesus always taught to go a step further than the law.  He taught us to have mercy at all times.

There are many more examples, but I will stop there as a lot of this material will be covered in future lessons.  The point is that the spirit of the law goes much deeper then the letter of the law.  It goes into the very heart of a man or a woman and examines the inner thoughts and intents.  When Jesus says He came to fulfill the law, He means that He came to show us the complete law, not just what is on the surface.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This one verse really sums up what Jesus is saying.  He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14).  The word of God carries power all of its own.  It is the most powerful force in the universe.  When we stand on the word of God, we stand on a power that is eternal.  It has been here since before time and will still stand when time ends.  It is stronger than any force on earth or in hell.  When the Word is applied to our situation, we can be sure the answer is on its way.

When the Word is applied to us, though, it’s power will infiltrate our very being.  It divides the soul and spirit.  There is nothing on earth that can accomplish this.  It makes us realize what is in our soul that even our mind does not know.   The Word will reveal our pride, our anger, our offenses and many other things that we can put out of our mind.  It will bring to remembrance things from our past that will help us solve what is going on in our present situation.  The Holy Spirit will then convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-13).  Our soul will want to hang onto sin, but our spirit will agree with the Holy Spirit.  If we are listening, this is a moment when we can change the direction of our lives,  Following the Spirit will have eternal effects.

When the word is applied to us, it divides the joint and marrow.  The joint represents our physical body, that which makes us move about and do the things we do,.  The marrow is where the blood is made, representing the inner workings of our very being.  When

The Word divides these two, it starts to put into action those things that our inner spirit knows are right and good.  In other words, we start to act more Christ-like in the things we do.  The Word comes in and the Spirit starts to transform us into His image, perfecting us in our actions.  This can be seen in everything we do and say.  People around us are amazed by the changes taking place in our lives, and they start to ask.  We then have an opportunity to witness to them about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lastly, the word discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart.  Jeremiah 17:9-10 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”    The Holy Spirit knows our heart, and it is searched by the Word of God.  Do we really want to know God and draw closer to Him? Do we really want to be perfected by His love?  Then we must allow His word to search our hearts.  We must ask Him to search us and see if there be any wicked way in me.  God knows if there is, but we do not.  The Holy Spirit and the Word discern these things for us, not for God.  The challenge here is to allow the Word to become more real than it ever has before.  Allow it to penetrate your mind and really sink in.

The best Bible study I have ever been through is called “The Walk of Repentance” by Steve Gallagher.  It is readily available on Amazon.  This is a 24 week daily Bible study that will take you into every nook and cranny of your life.  It will really make you take a hard look at your life and your actions against what the Word of God says.  My good friend and I will be starting this book for a second time in a few months.  We have decided we need this kind of study on a regular basis to keep ourselves walking uprightly before God.  I challenge you today to take it up for the first time.  It will bless you tremendously, I guarantee.  But it will also challenge you deeply.  If it does not, I personally will refund the cost of the book to you.  But you must stay with it daily and finish the book to get this refund.  I am not too worried about having to pay it back to you.

I went into this verse to show you the depth of the Spirit of the Law, or the Word.  The way the Pharisees heard Jesus, He was destroying the Word that they protected with all their might.  However, Jesus was showing them the deeper, spiritual part of the law that they were missing.  They were only concerned with the outward law.  In Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces woe to the scribes and Pharisees for several reasons.  One of these reasons is that they ”shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matt 23:13).  In other words, they did not show them the true meaning behind the law that would get them to heaven because they did not take the time to understand it themselves.

Another of these is that they told people anyone who took an oath by the temple or altar, it was nothing, but whoever would swear by their offering or by gold, it meant everything.  Here they ignored the fact that the temple and the alter are the spiritual aspects of their offerings of gold and other things, and are much more powerful to take an oath on.

A third is that they tithed the things they were supposed to tithe, which was good, but they forget to give out mercy, judgment and faith, which were the weightier matters of the law.  They missed that God required these as well.

Let us not be so.  Let us make sure we are following the spirit of the law in everything we do.  Jesus revealed these things to us and that is how He fulfilled the law – He made it complete for us to understand.  We now know what is required of us.  Let us do all we can to learn this truth.  Allow God to search you today and let you know where you fall short.  We all do in some ways, and God is just waiting for you to ask.  Get into the Word.

 

Be blessed

Let the New Creature Live!

Galatians 6:15-18 (KJV)

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

Paul  concludes his letter with a very straight forward conlusion. He says the only thing that matters for being in Christ is that the new creature shows up. This new creature is not one that walks after the flesh but he walks in the spirit. This new creature does not display the things of this world that so often destroys but it displays a fruit of the spirit which brings life. The fruit are alive and active in everything that he does. This new creature does not take glory for itself but gives all the glory to God. This new creature is not of this world and does not answer to any authority in this world but answers to the authority of Jesus Christ and lives in heavenly places.

But this new creature must to live in this world. It must rise above difficulties and trials that come its way in this world. It should walk in joy whenever Trials Come Along. It should have peace instead of anxiety. It should have unbounding patience towards everybody that it comes in contact with. Gentleness and goodness should exude from its body and its mouth at every turn no matter what the circumstances may look like. This new creature will have faith that is undeniable both in God and in those people that it comes across. It will walk in meekness knowing that it is to esteem others more highly than itself but also knowing that inside it has the power of almighty God at its disposal. And this New creature will display self control in every area of its life so that the message is brings is always calm and reassuring.

This new creature will never have corrupt communication proceed from its mouth but it will minister grace to the hearers with every word that it says. This new creature will think on things that are just, pure,  lovely,  true and honest.   It will always listen to the good report and not the bad report. It will look at things that are virtuous and praiseworthy in those around it and not focus on the negative. This is the mindset that will always be prevalent. This new creature will be content in whatever state it is in.

When we walk according to this rule peace and mercy will follow us. What more could we ask for it? When we have peace following along behind us turmoil will avoid us and we will see that God is always at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We will place those things in His hands and know that He will bring good about through them. This piece will pervade every other emotion that we have so that we will always trust God in every situation. And we will trust him because we know that He will have mercy upon all those who follow him. His Mercy will saturate this new creatures life more and more as he grows in Christ.

When we get to this point in our walk it is like we bear the mark of the Lord Jesus Christ. His life is so infused in ours that we always walk in the place of grace and mercy. There’s never a moment that we doubt God is working in our lives. When we trust in that new creation He has put within us we know that the old man will be defeated and the new man will rise. We know that the Holy Spirit resides within our body because we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. We know that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is always on our side and will always come to our rescue. There’s not a day we doubt in our mind about this so peace and joy is always by our side.. what a wonderful place this is to live.

Paul ends his letter with the same salute that I will give you.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

We have come to the conclusion of Paul’s letter and I am at a loss what direction to take this blog next.  But I know God will guide me where He wants this to go, so  keep watching for what will come next.  Whatever it is, I will learn from the words He gives me as much as you will, I am sure.

Be blessed