An Audacious Request

Luke 11:13 (NIV)

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

As you can see, the topic of prayer (communication with God) is being examined … and more specifically … the aspect of “asking” God for real needs in our lives.  I think it very important to examine this verse in the surrounding context because it follows Jesus’ teaching of a “model prayer” … followed by a parable … that leads to a teachable moment … and culminates with the life application of our verse … which should itself prompt us to seek and ask God for His incredible gift … His indwelling Holy Spirit!  Follow along with me:

Luke 11:1-13 (ESV)

The Lord’s Prayer

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins (debts), for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Parable of the Inopportune Friend

And Jesus said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence* (or persistence) he will rise and give him whatever he needs. (*The NIV Translation renders the expression “shameless audacity”.)

Teachable Moment

And so I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What fathers among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

Application

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Now, given the background and foundation laid here, it is evident to me that the focal point of this passage is Verse 13.  Jesus begins with teaching that prayer is about connecting with God the Father.  Prayer acknowledges God is … His dominion … His power.  We are to show Him reverence – “hallowed be your name”.  “Your Kingdom come,” means God has authority and sovereignty over all HIS creation … including us.  Jesus encourages us through prayer to ask for our physical needs … to request forgiveness … and to avoid the temptation of evil.  But then, Jesus shares a parable to emphasize our need to be “persistent” in prayer.  It is as though we are urged to be bold and tenacious in the expression of our hearts before God.  But why the need for perseverance?  Perhaps our resolve and steadfastness in prayer reflects the sincerity of our hearts … that we have not come before God with just some vague hope laced with doubt or a general wish for something without deep expectancy to receive it.

I find confidence in that Jesus moves into an imperative concerning prayer at this point: “And so I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  If prayer was futile or pointless, why would Jesus instruct us to ask, seek, and knock during prayer AND assure us the Father will favorably respond?  Jesus goes on to compare the responses of human fathers to their children when they “ask” for various physical needs.  He observes, “if sinful human fathers know how to respond to requests based upon their mortal capacities to give, then how much more will our perfect Heavenly Father know how to respond to His children when they ask for even greater needs … something so “audacious” or “outrageous” as to want the Holy Spirit?  Yet, Jesus indicates that the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit is exactly what we should be asking to receive!  I dare say, He is indeed our greatest need!

I know that I have quoted this passage quite often, but I believe it shares great insight into this issue:

2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

  1. His divine power (the Holy Spirit) is a gift. (Cf. Acts 1:8; Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45)
  2. His divine power (the Holy Spirit) is promised. See Joel 2:28-29. (Cf. Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:33, 39; Ephesians 1:13)
  3. His divine nature is effectuated in us through the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Cf. Acts 10:38; Romans 15:13, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 2:4; Ephesians 3:16)

You might note that most of the cited cross-references above point to the power of the Holy Spirit to endue the ability to proclaim the Gospel … the Word of God … with boldness or with tongues (other languages) so that the message of Jesus Christ is spread to anyone and everyone who will hear or listen. I believe the reason this “power” is so prominent it because the Word of God induces genuine faith (Cf. Romans 10:17); and it is faith in Jesus Christ that effectuates the divine power we need for a transformed and Spirit-filled life as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit. (Cf. Galatians 5:22-23) Indeed, His divine power is essential for the Kingdom of God to be realized in our lives; and I believe that is our greatest need to be sought through prayer. As Jesus shared, we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit (His divine power) with “shameless audacity” and “persistence”!  And although I think such brash language was used in His parable to urge us to be fearless and courageous as we approach the Father, I cannot help but believe we should always be humble and reverent before Him … even when feeling zealous for His precious promise.  And this is His promise: Our Heavenly Father, who is perfect in all His ways, WILL give His Spirit to those who ask Him.

One final thought:

James 1:5-8 (NIV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

So when you ask God for anything … believe God! By His own glory and excellence, God has promised to grant us His Spirit, and He has promised to grant us eternal life through His Son, Christ Jesus. And so my prayer is that you and I will believe His great and precious promises in these latter days and ask for them with expectant boldness! Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

A Prayer For Power

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all (exceedingly, abundantly above all – NKJV) we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

We have a “power” full passage from the Book of Ephesians. Paul uses some exuberant language here to get believers focused on a core issue; namely, the POWER of the Holy Spirit and His function in your life.  Paul’s prayer is for us to be strengthened with the power of God’s Spirit in our inner beings … our souls.  Why?  “So that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith!”  That is the bottom line of how we abide in Christ and He in us.  It is through His Spirit and no other avenue.  As Paul taught, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, s/he is not His.” (Cf. Romans 8:9) And Paul goes on to pray that we might have this power of the Holy Spirit within us “to comprehend and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge – so that we may be will with all the fullness of God.” (Verses 18-19) This is incredible truth for us to examine and to incorporate into our theology … our understanding of God!  In addition, we need to understand that how God works in our hearts and lives is “according to HIS power”.  This “filling” of power to comprehend and spiritual know is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God … given to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus.

So, this is some great teaching for us to examine.  If we want more power for living; for knowing God in a more intimate way; and for conforming our lives to that of His Son … we need to pray for this power to become real within us.  The Holy Spirit has been sent to indwell (to fill) your inner being … and to give you the capacity to increase intimacy in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  The more you comprehend His love for you … the more you will become the man or woman God created you to be.  You will become like Jesus.  You will walk just as Jesus walked. (Cf. 1 John 2:6) It is not impossible. His power makes it possible. But remember Jesus told us, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (Cf. John 15:5) Without Christ dwelling in our hearts, we can do nothing of spiritual value … nothing of eternal value.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

I AM the Resurrection

Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

It’s hard to believe we are already a week into April.  Easter is just two weeks away … and I am excited about the celebration to come.  I will address the Verse of the Day above in a moment, but first I would like to explore the topic of the resurrection itself because Paul addresses how we should live and walk under the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. During His time of ministry, Jesus Himself affirmed that the resurrection of our own bodies will occur:

Matthew 22:23; 29-32 (NIV)

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Cf. Exodus 3:6) He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Jesus confirmed to the Sadducees that the resurrection is not some foolish hope or religious myth. God has revealed to us the truth of the resurrection through His Word.  And later, Jesus shared with His disciples regarding His own power and authority to grant eternal life to those who believe in Him….

John 11:21-27 (NIV)

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Again, from this conversation between Jesus and Martha, Martha professes her belief in the resurrection and Jesus assures her that Lazarus will “rise again”.  But Jesus goes on the reveal something much greater than her belief in a theological concept.  Jesus claims to be the agency and reality of her faith! “I AM the resurrection and the life.” And then He asks her (and us) a very pointed question: “Do You believe this?” His question was not about whether she believed in the possibility of physical resurrection.  His question concerned whether she believed that HE is the resurrection and the life?  And her response was indeed the correct one!  Jesus IS the Messiah, the Son of God, who came into the world as testified through the Word of God spoken through the Holy Prophets and now revealed to us through His life.  (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3)

But in our Verse of the Day, Paul challenges us to living a “resurrected life” now! Since Jesus has already died to take away the sin of the world, Paul indicates that His death became our own death to sin.  Likewise, the resurrected Jesus became the new life that we can live through faith in Him who loves us and gave Himself for us.  This is an incredible theological construct for us to embrace.  And Paul goes on to explain the application for us. In Verse 21 Paul continued, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Romans 3:20) For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. (Romans 3:28) Salvation and eternal life are not earned, gained, or otherwise merited upon human effort. No human has ever been 100% obedient to the commandments of God except Christ Jesus alone.  A blood sacrifice for atonement was required … and God sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sin of the world.  Jesus, our Redeemer, was the Lamb of God … without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

So what I believe Paul is teaching in this passage is that the efficacy of His sacrifice should become immediate in the life of a believer.  That is, we should individually identify with His sacrifice – specifically to the death of our sinful, human nature and to the resurrection (spiritual rebirth) of our lives through faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  The lives we now live in our redeemed bodies, we live by faith in the One who loves us and gave Himself for us…. Look at these incredible words of longing Paul wrote as He contemplated living in light of the resurrection:

Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and the power of participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

No, Jesus did not die in vain. He accomplished all the Father sent Him to do. “It is finished!” And through His resurrection, we have full assurance of and confidence in His promise to grant us eternal life! We receive this assurance through the Holy Spirit. And as Paul asserted with Timothy, ” For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:17) Yes, we can live in the power of His resurrection now and become vessels of His righteousness in us. So I pray that we will all give deeper thought and consideration to these truths for our lives….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Spirit-Filled Grace

2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time …

In his appeal and instruction to Timothy in this letter, Paul affords some great theological concepts for us to ponder. Let’s look at our verse in a wider context:

2 Timothy 1:6-14 (NIV)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit a few times in this passage.  In Verse 6, Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God….”  The implication is that Timothy has some degree of influence over the Holy Spirit within him.  Here Paul is basically telling Timothy to “get fired up for God.” Why?  Well in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul is giving instructions to believers and admonishes them: “Do not quench the Spirit.” When you quench a fire, you are stopping its source of fuel or air.  You are attempting to extinguish it.  With the use of this metaphor, Paul indicates that we (believers) can “inhibit” the power and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  There appears to be an exertion of the human will that can counteract the will of the Spirit to give us power, love, and self-disciple as Verse 7 mentions.  To me, the application is that if we are timid … if we are ashamed of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ … if we are unwilling to suffer for His sake … it is not because of His unwillingness to empower us. Verse 8 tells us that God gives us the “power to suffer for the Gospel”.  So if we are timid, it is our own unwillingness to “unleash” the Holy Spirit to drive our spirits and guide our souls.  So Paul tell us – fan into flame the gift of God who indwells us and do not quench Him!

Part of the suffering we will encounter as believers appears to be related to living a holy life!  That’s right!  We will suffer from being good and doing good for others…. But that is the reason we were saved by the grace of God.  We have been called to holiness … and that is the hardest thing for a human to do.  In fact, we cannot do it apart from the power of God through His Spirit within us.  As Jesus asserted, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Cf. Luke 18:27) And this power sometimes comes to us in the form of grace … a grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.  And we know that His grace is sufficient because His power is made perfect (complete) in weakness. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9) So we just need to realize that suffering goes with the experience of being human … but as a believer there is great reward for going through it … eternal life!  All the more reason to fan into flame the gift of God!

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. This is pretty straightforward advice. The theological intellect that Paul had to share was incredible.  I think that is why God called him to be a herald and an apostle and a teacher; and we would do well to heed his instruction and guidance in matters of faith – wouldn’t you agree? Paul tells Timothy to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  So what is Paul talking about here?  Well, I believe the concept here is the “depositing” of the Holy Spirit within us.  Let’s look to some other Scriptures to captures this point:

2 Corinthians 1:21-23 (NIV)

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,22 set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NIV)

For while we are in this earthly body, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly body, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the One who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Ephesians 1:13-15 (NIV)

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.

Notice how Paul uses this concept to explain the function of the Holy Spirit in our salvation – to be a deposit (like a down payment) on a promise or covenant to be kept in the future.  A deposit is similar to a pledge or an oath to do something further, but you want to go ahead and “seal the deal” now.  You put a deposit on a house because you intend to purchase and you want the seller to know you are serious about your commitment to follow through on the deal.  Well, in this context, God has given us His Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  It’s an awesome analogy that Paul uses here to help us understand what God is doing.  When you come to faith in Jesus Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  He is sent to indwell you … put in your heart … as a guarantee of what is to come … eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  That is what you and I have been called to embrace and believe with our entire being! So why would we ever want to quench the Spirit of God who was given to us for life here and now … especially since we know that suffering will be part of what we must endure?

Well, I hope that I have stirred your thoughts on this subject.  I know Paul has challenged my thinking through this letter; and I pray that I will not quench the Holy Spirit in my life at all … nor grieve Him through willful conduct in conflict with the call of holiness.  (Cf. Isaiah 63:9-11; Ephesians 4:29-31For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. Amen!

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Evening!

Verse of the Day – 02/28/19

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  Another Translation: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Our Verse of the Day revisits some direction and guidance that the Apostle Paul shared with Timothy.  As you probably know, Timothy was a young convert who had sat under the teaching of the Apostle Paul “as a true son in the faith” – 1 Timothy 1:2. I think that in many ways, Timothy represents each of us who have struggled with theological and doctrinal questions as we mature in our faith and grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  In his letters to Timothy, Paul often offered insight and wisdom to Timothy who needed encouragement to remain steadfast when challenges and hardships occurred along his own journey of faith.  Here we find Paul explaining the gift and power of the Holy Spirit … and what believers should expect from Him.  I’m going to reprint the verse in its surrounding context:

2 Timothy 1:1-14 (NIV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine (honest, sincere, transparent) faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Well, this passage is filled with many exhortations, but the key point I believe we need to understand is Verse 7.  When we come to faith in Christ Jesus and are born-again of the Spirit, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We are sealed for the day of redemption. (Cf. Ephesians 4:30) And the Spirit we received is not a spirit of fear; rather, it is a spirit of power … of love … and of a sound mind.  Maybe we should break that down:

Spirit of Power:

Micah 3:8 (NIV)

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.

Acts 1:8 (NIV)
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

1 Corinthians 2:4 (NIV)

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

People, in general, are in pursuit of power – power over their own lives, but often, power over others.  But the power of the Holy Spirit appears to be more associated with the preaching, teaching, and sharing of the Gospel – the message about Christ Jesus revealed within the Word of God.  The few examples I cited above are indicative of this function.  Through the Holy Spirit, power is given to proclaim the Gospel.  Power is necessary to go beyond reading the Bible to living out and proclaiming its truth.  Why?  Well, consider how timid you and I … Christians in general … are in this current age?  Do we not keep our Christianity to ourselves because of fear of confrontation, intimidation, or persecution?  It is not popular to take a stand based on the Word of God or you’ll be labeled narrow minded, bigoted, racist, unloving, just to name a few kinder labels..  But the Gospel was not always received or believed then … and it certainly is not much better now.  Paul is telling Timothy (and us) that we have received a Spirit of Power … that overcomes this fear and intimidation.  And the implication is that we need to harness that power to be effective witnesses for Christ.

The Spirit gives us power to be bold and courageous – to be fully convinced of the truth we have received through Christ Jesus so “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Cf. Ephesians 10:14-15) The Holy Spirit gives us power to be passionate about what we believe … and He guides our walk with wisdom toward those who are lost and ensnared in the culture of this world.  The Holy Spirit gives us power to recognize and redeem every opportunity that presents itself to share the Gospel; and He empowers us to guard words with grace and to season the conversation with salt so that we might know how to answer others with their questions or their assaults. (Cf. Colossians 4:5-7)

Spirit of Love:

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance (endurance); and perseverance, godly character; and godly character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

1 Peter 1:2-23 (NIV)

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere (honest, genuine, transparent) love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of perishable seed but imperishable, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

The Spirit gives us the ability to know the love of God has for us in Christ Jesus AND the ability to love one another in deed and truth.  The Spirit endues us with power to fulfill the commandments of God: To love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength … and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is through knowing the love of God that we are enabled to love one another as He has loved us.  Love is the motivation for the power we receive through the Spirit.  Love for others is demonstrated through sharing the Gospel of Truth with them … both with words and with actions. (Special Topic – Love: See 1 Corinthians 13)

Spirit of a Sound Mind:

I looked up the definition of “sound mind”.  Here are some of the definitions I found:

  • To be sane or rational;
  • To have the capacity to think, reason, and understand oneself;
  • To mentally calm and self-confident in your actions.

I like these descriptions of a “sound mind” because too often people inside, and especially outside of the Church, tend to associate Spirit-filled believers with “craziness”.  There have been different labels used such as “charismatics”, “holy rollers”, “snake handlers”, “Jesus freaks” to describe what I would simply characterize as “fervent or passionate”. But I think Paul wants Timothy (and us) to know that Spirit-filled believers are sane, rational, mentally calm, and possess the capacity to think and reason.  And I believe it is important for us to understand that the Spirit has been given to us both to exercise freedom in the expression of praise and thanksgiving to God AND to equip us with rational, intentional thought for the purpose of engaging the culture of this world through the fruit of the Spirit.  (Special Topic – Fruit of the Spirit: See Galatians 5:22-23)

2 Corinthians 5:11-13 (NIV)

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

The Spirit of God has been given us to overcome the fear and trepidation we might naturally feel when confronted by outsiders who do not believe in Christ Jesus.  The Spirit has been sent to indwell us in order to complete the love of God demonstrated to us.  The Holy Spirit is intelligible and He is relational. Yes, we can be cognizant of His presence and we can enjoy fellowship with Him as we do the Father and the Son!  And He is imperative for us (our souls) to grow in the knowledge of God, the truth of His love, and the understanding of His will for us.  Power, love, and a sound mind are essential to our fellowship with God and with one another.

I want to end with a couple of passages that I believe will drive these last few points home:

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)

16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being (soul), 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

2 Peter 1:3-8 (NIV)

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, I am not sure if I have done an adequate job here, but I hope that I have reminded you to stir up the gift of God within you … that is … to awaken the Spirit of God and His presence and power within you to proclaim the Gospel … to love others … and to do so with a sound mind and intentionality. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  Indeed, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to empower and guide our spirits so that we will be effective and productive for the Kingdom of God….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/01/19

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

This verse from is probably a familiar one for most of us.  It is a doctrinal pillar for the Judeo-Christian faith and distinguishes monotheism (belief in a single God) and pantheism (belief in many gods).  If we went back into human history, Adam and Eve, would have testified to only one God … the One who walked and fellow-shipped with them in the cool of the day each morning.  Noah believed in the one God; and his reverence compelled him to build an ark to save all living creatures from the appointed judgment (Epic Flood) God would inflict upon the earth for the continual evil intentions and thoughts of their hearts … including the worship of other gods and idols. If we continue up until the time of Abraham, there are diverse human cultures and civilizations had developed belief systems that included multiple gods – most of whom represented celestial bodies, animals,  forces of nature, and human ideas which led to the creation of idols.  Except for a remnant of the Adamic lineage, it appears most people had abandoned the one, true God who is the Creator … who is the Lord.

In some of the earliest literature contained in our canon of Scripture, we can find this philosophical and theological chasm between monotheism and pantheism.  The Book of Job, for instance, is the oldest inspired narrative recorded in the Bible according to most scholars.  It was written before Moses even penned the Torah (Pentateuch – the first five books of the 24 Books of the Tanakh).  Job believes in and dialogues with one God; and of course; Moses develops an entire structure of worship for the “I AM” or self-existent One under holy inspiration.   And so along with other records from the contemporary period (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we find the Jewish descendants holding firm to faith in the “one” true God.  He is not a plethora or composite of many gods, but a single, self-existent being who created all that is seen and unseen – with a unique, revealed purpose for the people He created “in His image”.

While we understand and believe that God is One … there is language found in the Scriptures that might suggest something other than one unique, self-existent Creator.  We can find it in the Book of Genesis … the foundational construction (the beginning) and explanation of how human existence came into being.  The first sentence … Verse 1 … states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  The word translated “God” here in our English bibles is the word “Elohim”.  It is a plural form of the general name “El” as used for God in the Ancient Near East.  So when we arrive at Verse 26, we see the plural form used again, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness….”  Yet, in Verse 27 we read the singular form, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  I mention these distinctions not to imply an inconsistency in the concept of God or His nature; rather, the two forms to me will actually affirm a singleness or oneness of the revealed nature of God in the whole of Scripture.  The trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) and the unity (God) are evident in the inspired language used to impart this theological concept to us.

While the word “trinity” is not used in the Bible; its applicability to our understanding of the “One” God is revealed when Jesus Christ boldly declares His oneness with the Father in John 10:30.  And when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in Luke 12:10, He taught that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  In essence, Jesus implied that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was blasphemy against God.  When the resurrected Jesus gave “parting” instructions to the disciples in Matthew 28:19, He instructed them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…. 

The name of God is the unifying image or concept of three beings of the same substance or nature … if you will.  God is One, but He manifests or reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.  Jesus taught us that God is Spirit in John 4:24. When Jesus prayed for His disciples as recorded in John 17:11-12, He said, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”  I find it interesting that we can infer here that the name of the Holy Father is the name given to the Son – Jesus.  The interpretation here does not have to literal (i.e. the name Jesus).  But think of it in these terms, the name (image or nature) of the Father is the same name (image or nature) given to the Son.  The concept is still the unity of oneness of the Father and the Son … as well as the Holy Spirit as we will see.

So where am I going with this train of thought?  The OT Scripture declares God is one – but it reveals that God is plural in His nature and in the sense of His self-revelation to man.  Mankind is commanded to love God … the Lord our God … with all of our heart, soul, and strength.  Contrast with the NT Scripture and the declaration in 1 John 5:1 which reads, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.  When you and I love Jesus with all of our heart, soul, and strength … we fulfill the commandment of God.  Perhaps the following passage will better explain what I am trying to share here:

John 16:7-15; 25-28 (NIV)

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

So, the message I want to share is that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has revealed Himself to us … to all people … in “forms” or “persona” that we can understand in order to have the fellowship and life He desires for us to have and experience.  He has made known His passionate, everlasting love for us.  And though we should respond with like passion … I believe if we were honest… we often fail to love God as we ought … with ALL of our heart, soul, and strength.  But I hope we might consider that God has given us relational ways to experience Him AND to express our love to Him.  Profoundly and literally, Jesus the Son, has truly shared our human form.  And Jesus said “the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”  So, again, we have an Advocate who is relational to us as well.  And as we pray to the Father, I believe our own spirits can feel connected to Him as approach His throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Cf. Hebrews 4:16)

There is so much we do not know and will never know about God.  But instead of focusing on what remains mysterious, let us delight ourselves in all He has revealed.  We have creation itself which reveals God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. (Romans 1:20).  We have Jesus Christ the Son who is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) And we have the Holy Spirit … the gift from God (cf. Acts 1:8; 2:4; 2:38; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19).  He is the seal of our redemption through Christ Jesus … who is the only way to the Father.  I pray that we will walk in the knowledge we do have … and love the Lord our God with ALL of our hearts, souls, and minds as He has empowered us to do….  Amen.

So Know You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!