Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

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!

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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

Walk With Him

Wil you walk with Jesus today?  Will you allow Him to guide your steps?  These two questions should be in our minds all the time.  I have a tendancy to put me first and do the things I want to do.  It is built into my human nature.  As each day begins I have choices to make.  They are the same everyday.  What will I wear?  Does my face look presentable?  What will I have for breakfast?  What will my atittude be?  Hundreds of choices to make, and I make them rapidly and often with barely a thought. Then I am on my way in our pursuit of a good day.  I hope for the best results from decisions I have made and will make.  These days, I am working from home.   I must allow time for every task that I have to do.  There is breakfastm exercise, blogs, map work, housework, reading, correspondence, groceries…the list goes on and on.  All decisions I must make.

In the middle of all these decisions, I need to oout God!  Yes, even the groceries.  I wan to buy healthyy things so I need His guidance.  I want to be frugal, so I need His guidance.  I want an opportuity to witness in the store, so I need His Holy Spirit and His wisdom.  I want to help someone, so I need His discernment.  I want to walk worthy, so I need His guidance.  There is nothing I do that does not need Him there, walking alongside, helping me.

In order to have His presence with me all the time, I must keep my mind on Him.  Prayer and praise are key to my existence and fellowship withe Jesus.  Meditating on His word is my inspiration.  I can allways know He is there. because His word tells me He is (Deut 31:6).  I can aways know He willl guide my path, because His word tells me so (Prov 3:6).  I can always know hHe will light the way, because His word is a lamp (Psalm 119:105).  Wherever I go, He is there (Psalm 139:7-12).

So I will determine each day to walk with Him.  To talk with Him.  To tell Him I am His own.  I know He will be there for me.  And when I do this I can walk in victory no matter what storm may come or what obstacle comes before me.

How about you?

The Blessing of Abraham

Galatians 3:4-10
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Paul first asks the Galatians if they have gone back to the works of that law for no reason.  It is useless to expect salvation from the works of the law.  It is vanity!  The law was merely a covering for sin – salvation erases it.  Jesus too away our sins – removed them as far as the East is from the West (psalm 103:12).  He has washed me white as snow (Is 1:18).  He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Notice these verses do not say this will happen by the works of the law.  They are accomplished by faith alone, by confessing our sins.

The miracles that were being performed by the disciples are covered next.  Were they the result of the law?  NO.  They were the result of faith – faith in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit within them.  Remember Jesus what Jesus said just before He ascended to heaven in a cloud;  Acts 1:8 records these words:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Note that in verse 5 He tells them they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.  We spoke of this in the last lesson. Now He tells them this Holy Ghost will give them power to witness.  This witnessing is by many different means, not just verbal in nature.  This witnessing includes the Gifts of the Spirit, which we read of in 1 Cor 12:8-11

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spiit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

These gifts  are still the sign of the Holy Spirit.  Miracles back then were recorded often, and the people flocked to them.  Just look at all the people that followed Jesus.  He performed miracles all the time.  We read accounts of miracles the disciples performed, and I’m sure there were many not recorded.

Peter and John at the steps of the temple heal a lame man (Acts 3:1-10)
Ananias and Sapphira fall down dead for lying to God (Acts 5:1-10)
Peters shadow and has hands heal multitudes who have gathered (Acts 5:15()
Paul casts out an evil spirit from a woman (Acts 16:18)
Paul sends handkerchiefs to the sick and they are healed (Acts 19:12)

We will not delve into the rest of the gifts at this time, since Paul only mentions miracles here.  We will leave that for a future study.  Jesus told them miracles would be a witness to Jerusalem first, then Judea and Samaria and then throughout the earth.  Paul started the last part of this prophetic word from Jesus. I think at first the other disciples forgot about it.  Peter at first protested about going to Cornelius, but later went and had a great result (Acts 10).  These miracles are works of faith, not a result of the law.

Next, Paul dicusses how Abraham pleased God by His faith in God.  Abraham had left Canaan with his family, gone to Egypt, then back to Canaan.  He separated from Lot and then fought the battle with the 5 kings to get Lot back.  Then these words come in Genesis 15:5-7

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.

This is before offering Isaac.  The belief He had to gain that righteousness was based on the promise given by the angel of God above   That his seed would be like the stars of the heaven.  At this time Abraham was 100 years old.  This part of Genesis is commonly known as the 2nd Covenant between man and God, or the Abrahamic Covenant.  God never breaks His Covenant, and this one is today passing onto Abraham’s seed.

The important thing to remember here is what that seed is.  It is not just Abraham’s fleshly seed, although the Jews are blessed by that part of the Covenant.  The seed of faith in God’s promise is the important one.  It has passed down to us today!  We are Abraham’s seed by faith, and God blesses us on that Covenant when we believe Jesus Christ and confess our sins. Nothing about works.

God told Abraham that his seed would be like the stars of heaven.  The stars are too numerous to count.  They cover an immense area and are afar off.  This was a promise that eventually, the seed of Abraham would be greater than the nation of His offspring.  It would include the Gentiles as well.  At this time there was no Jerusalem, no Jews, no Israel.  The seed of Abraham is greater than that.

We should all be eternally grateful for Abraham believing God.  I think we often forget how important he is to us and to this faith that we have.  Without this Covenant God would not be obligated to bring in the Gentiles.  He would not be obligated to pass the blessing on by faith alone.  This covenant is one of five God has made with man.  The others are:

Covenant with Noah that He would never flood the earth again  (Geneses 9:11-17)
Covenant with Moses to make Israel His nation (Exodus 19:3-6)
Covenant with David that his heir would sit on the throne of Israel eternally (2 Sam 7:12-13)
Covenant through Jesus – the New Covenant of salvation by grace and faith and the symbol of that Covenant being His blood shed for us (Luke 22:20,Heb 8:8-12)

When you look at these Covenants, you can see how important the Covenant with Abraham is. While we know that God keeps His promises, He puts the highest regard on these Covenants.  We should take special note that all of them apply forever.

Paul concludes with stating the fact again.  All who come to God by faith are included in the blessing of Abraham.  He will go on to explain further as we proceed.

 

 

Holy Spirit by Faith

Galatians 3:1-3 KJV

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Paul opens chapter 3 by calling the Galatians foolish and asking them who has bewitched them. What an interesting way to start a chapter!  If I was a proud Galatian, I would probably stop listening at this point. Sure, Paul was a respected teacher, but who is he to call me foolish!  I would say to that person that their pride has made them foolish.  It has made them drop the teaching of a man they all admired and loved for the preaching that put them under bondage.

The word foolish means lacking good sense or judgement. Foolish also means unwise. We saw in the last two chapters why Paul calls them foolish. They ignored the grace message and thought that their works is what would get them to heaven. If you are believing that today Paul would apply that word to you. Knowing the truth about God’s amazing grace is not rocket science.  Yet it is the most profound thing in the Bible!

Next, Paul tells them they have been bewitched. This is the only place in scripture where this word appears. It actually means to put someone under a spell so they no longer can think according to reason. It can also have a connotation of exercising evil power over someone. These are very strong words from Paul.  We need to be careful who we listen to and who we follow. Paul was pretty harsh to the Galatians by saying this and I think we should all take heed to his warning.  Make sure you can defend your position in the Bible with sound understanding of scripture.

We must stay in the truth of the grace message that Paul preached. We have talked about this for the last several lessons so I’m not going to get back into it now. I only ask that you look take a hard look your life.  Did you accept get saved initially by grace or do you think Heaven was yours by works. Once we are saved and made heaven our home, then works should result.  These works make our salvation complete.  They keep us headed to heaven.

Jesus was crucified for us. He was crucified to provide our salvation. It was the greatest mercy that was ever done by God. And we should try not to add anything to it. Christ did everything necessary to provide our Salvation on that cross. All we need to do is accept His mercy.  Paul says if we require anything else, then Christ’s death was in vain.

Now Paul asks a different question. Did they receive the Holy Spirit by works or by faith? I want to take you back to Acts chapter 2 and The Upper Room experience. There were 120 gathered in that room on the Day of Pentecost.  They were worshipping God and they were all in one accord. Suddenly, there was a mighty rushing wind in the room.  It was the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire settled in above each one. They started speaking in these tongues and it ministered to the crowd outside.  At first the crowd thought they were drunk, but then realized that God was doing something supernatural.

This experience of Holy Spirit baptism is something that Paul firmly believed in. But we cannot gain that by any works that we do. It is taken only by faith once we are saved by grace. You cannot receive the Holy Spirit before you get saved. It must come after. But there is nothing you can do for the Holy Spirit to come into you. It has to be by faith. You have to trust the Lord that He wants you to have it and that He will give it to you.

Jesus said that earthly parents will give good gifts to their children.  Then He asks how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those that ask (Luke 11:13). Have you asked God for His Holy Spirit?  Have you asked him to fill you to overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit? He wants you to have the Holy Spirit because it’s his greatest gift besides salvation. It’s something that will give you power.  Power to witness, power to be bold. It was promised to the disciples in Acts 1:8.

Along with the Holy Spirit comes a prayer language.  This language is not for our understanding, but for God’s.  I believe it is some language that is spoken somewhere in the world.  We use this prayer language when we are not sure in our own understanding what to pray for.  This heavenly language makes intercession for us in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26).  Paul says he prayed in the spirit (1 Cor 14:15).  He is telling us he prayed in tongues here. Acts 19:6 and Acts 10:44-46 both show us this sign being given to those filled with the Holy Spirit.  Even Jesus said we will speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17)

 

Paul also says he spoke in tongues more than anyone else (1 Cor 14:1-6).  This speaking in tongues is the gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10, and should always be followed by the gift of interpretation of tongues.  This is not to be confused with out prayer language.  Our prayer language is operate and distinct.  There is no interpreter except God, or except we are in a place where that language is known. Paul goes on in 1 Cor 14:7-24 to discuss speaking in tongues of both kinds.  Make sure you understand the distinction between the two.

Paul uses the word foolish again.  He asks them if they started in the spirit by faith, how can the flesh possibly be the thing that will perfect them. How can works of the flesh be a perfecting element in our lives. Our flesh needs to be put aside. Here is where working out our salvation with fear and trembling comes in (Phil 2:12).  Here is where allowing patience to work in our lives brings us to perfection, or maturity in Christ (James 2-4).  Paul and James do not contradict this statement fond in Galatians 3:3.   We have discussed this at length in our studies.

What Paul is saying here is that the Galatians received the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit by faith, not works.  How can they now think that both come through works that they do in the flesh?  Works come AFTER these two things are part of our life.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation, but salvation is necessary before the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I believe this baptism brings us to a deeper spiritual walk.  I feel many may disagree with that statement.  Jesus said it will give us power.  Paul says it gives us a special language to pray more effectively.

I will not go to the point of saying it brings me closer to God than someone without it.  I know many people that are deeply devoted and in tune with the Holy Spirit who do not have the baptism we have spoken of here.  I am keenly aware that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy (Exod 33:19).  He will give to whom He desires, and who has he desire.

I am convinced this gift will give us a more powerful prayer life, because we pray God’s will every time.  We pray what the Holy Spirit speaks to us.  When we speak with our own understating, we are thinking about our words, and it’s easy to put our desire in there.  We pray “Lord, heal them now. They need a miracle now”.  We should pray “God, give them strength to go through this trial until you are willing to heal them.”  Maybe they will miss a huge blessing of they are healed now.  Perhaps God is going to do great things in their life, as He did in mine.  A magnificent testimony of healing will strengthen others, especially if this healing is a visible one.  Seeing someone recovery slowly builds faith!  Who knows, we could find ourselves praying against God with our understanding.  That will never happen when we pray in the Spirit.

I you desire this baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask God.  He is a loving Father and this is a special gift.  The sign that you have received it is your prayer language, just like in that upper room.  It is allowing your tongue to speak what the spirit speaks to you.  Sometimes the spirit speaks to us in our own language, and we understand that.  But other times He speaks in a foreign language.  Without this gift we dismiss this and toss it out of our minds, not even remembering He has spoken it.  This gift is accepted by faith only.  Ask today, and allow your tongue to speak His words.

Paul – Taught by God

Galatians 1:13-24 (KJV)
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
It is believed Paul – then known as Saul – was born in 5 AD in Tarsus (Acts 22:3. That made him a Roman citizen by birth. He then studied at the school of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). At this school he says he “learned the perfect law of the fathers.”

Acts 5:34 tells us this about Gamaliel: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

This tells me that Paul really knew his scripture – Old Testament that is. He knew the law and the prophets. He knew the Psalms and proverbs. He was as well versed as any other student in Gamaliel’s school. Gamaliel held a leading position in the highest court of the land, so he must have been well versed. As such, Paul received excellent teaching.

With the knowledge he gained here, he was commissioned by the Pharisees to bring in these heretics who were preaching Jesus Christ. We get our first picture of Saul as he stood and consented to Stephens stoning in Acts 7:58-8:1. He may have even thrown the first stone!

From here, Paul set out to persecute the churches. He would go into the Jews houses and drag them out, arresting them. At the ripe old age of 27, he became a terror to this new uprising that had the Jewish leaders in a tizzy. They had their hearts set on ending the church with Saul’s help.

What is my zeal like? I must admit that there have been times I have waned from that zeal that gripped me when I first met Jesus. There were very slow times. But in the last two years, the zeal has returned. The desire to spread the word is stronger than ever before. I have been through the hardest battle of my life with cancer. This has brought me closer to God than I have been in many years. God is putting an intense desire within me to take the healing message out to all. Along with that, He gives me poems and songs, and the ability to teach once again. Oh, how I love Him!

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb
, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

It’s interesting to me that Paul says “when it pleased God”. Paul recognized that God was in charge, not him. This man Saul, who was tearing down the uprising, was doing whet he believed was serving the God of Israel. With all his heart, Paul thought He was doing the right thing. Little did he know how wrong he was until that fateful day

Jesus met Saul face to face on the road to Damascus. The men that were with Saul saw the light and heard the voice, but they did not see a man. I would not be surprised if Saul got a glimpse of Jesus in the middle of that light before he lost his sight. Jesus told Saul what to do next, and Saul obeyed, his life forever changed. (Acts 9)

Are you in the middle of a battle? Take heart! When it pleases God, He will make Himself known, just as He did with Saul. God knows what is going on with you. He has you right where He wants you, and He will come in and turn it all around when it pleases Him, not on your timetable. Remember that every time the troubles of life overtake you and you’re looking for God to come to your rescue.

Saul was not looking for rescue. He did not even know he was going the wrong way. But God knew. Sometimes we can be going the wrong way and not know it. But God knows and He will correct our path. Saul, who soon became known as Paul, never lost His zeal for God. It just changed direction! Now he knew the truth. He had been fighting against God, and he was going to make up for it.

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

Paul went to Arabia and then back to Damascus. It was three years before he headed to Jerusalem to meet with Peter. During those three years, God instructed Paul directly. Paul’s familiarity with the Old Testament turned into his schoolmaster to the things of Christ. He recognized the thread of salvation throughout the Old Testament. He knew the law, and also understood that Jesus paid the penalty for the law.

God gave him his message, not the disciples that were with Jesus. He did not even meet with them for three years, yet he was preaching in Damascus during that time. I am convinced that God can teach us better than man can. Here what David says:

Psalm 119:98-100 (KJV)
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

A college degree is not required to know the things of God. Spending time with Him and being obedient is the best schooling we can have! The Holy Spirit is our teacher (John 14:26). Paul had that Holy Spirit instruction while he was in Arabia and Damascus. By the time he came to Jerusalem, word had preceded him that something drastic had happened. He spent only 15 days with Peter, and met James while he was there. He did not see any of the other apostles at that time.

20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.

He headed from Jerusalem to preach in Syria and Cilicia next. The people of Judea did not recognize him at all! They only heard about the change that had taken place in his life. The one who persecuted the church was now building. If God be for us, who can be against us! Why wouldn’t they glorify God for this amazing turn of events. I’m sure the Pharisees were furious! After all the trust and schooling they had given Saul, now he was there enemy.

With Paul on Jesus side, his zeal was even more intense and his message was powerful. But there were a few obstacles he still had to overcome, and we’ll look at those in the next lesson.