Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Holy Spirit and Control Issues

Acts 8:14-20 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 
The Holy Spirit is a Gift, plain and simple.  We do not control Him, though often we try.  We tend to want to be in control, and to control others for what we want.  Simon wanted not only the Holy Spirit, like every one else - He wanted to ability to "dispense" the Holy Spirit, as if He was not a Person, and as if He was a power he could control and command.  Before we dwell on how foolish this was, how do we seek to control the Holy Spirit?  By ignoring Him, shutting Him out, and thinking, saying and doing things with no regard for His presence in our lives right now.  We have control issues. What we really need is to relinquish to Him full control.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The REAL Immaculate Reception...

Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 
For non-Steeler fans, I digress... but the greatest reception of all time was not a football catch, or a party after a wedding; it was when a follower of Christ repented of his/her sins, trusted in Him as Savior, was cleansed and forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit to indwell him or her.  HE is what changes our lives now and for eternity.  The pass is right on target; the place setting is perfectly arranged; have you received Him?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Spirit Who writes...

2 Corinthians 3:2-6 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 
We often think of the Holy Spirit as the One Who inspired the writers of Scripture; He wrote what the Godhead wanted us to know.  But He also writes on our hearts. He makes us living letters as Christ changes our lives.  Not only does this make us a part of God's plan to reach the world with the Gospel - it gives us confidence because we can see God at work in our lives, and this bolsters our confidence in coming to Him in prayer.  Write away, Holy Spirit!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


John 14:16-18 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
At the beginning of this chapter Jesus has made a disturbing announcement: He is going away and they cannot go with Him.  They are devastated: "After all that has been said and done, this is it?"  They felt abandoned.  But they had not listened to the full message.  He was going to prepare a place for us, and would come back and receive us to that place.  He was not abandoning them, or us.  As a sign of that promise, He was sending His Spirit, Who would comfort them in the grief of His going, and Who would actually be their Representative to confirm their Adoption process. They were not going to be orphans at all, just adoptees awaiting the final day when they could go to their Father's house.  There are no orphans of God.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Spirit, our Counsellor

Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 
The Holy Spirit does so much for us - comforting, convicting, cleansing, giving advice.  He also is with us when we pray, and when we do not know what to say, He approaches the bench as our Counsellor to plead for us and speak for us.  Like many of the things the Spirit does for us, we tie His hands and fight against Him.  How can He intercede for us if we do not pray ourselves? He helps us; He does it with us, not without us.  So pray away; we are not alone.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Groaning of the Spirit...

Romans 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 
Signs of the Spirit within include many things, including this inner groaning as we await the coming again of Christ.  In a sense, we feel the weight of the world in this wait.  Ever since the Fall, all of creation has been groaning, but we, who know Christ, understand what the non-human world cannot, and since the Spirit is changing us now, with a focus toward then, we realize how much this world is not right.  We are waiting for the full adoption to be complete, and we go home with Christ to be with our Father.  He will not abandon us; He will come back for us; we just want it to be NOW!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Spirit of Resurrection Life

Romans 8:9-11 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 
Who is this that indwells followers of Christ? He is the Spirit of Life. He is the very one who raised Christ from the dead.  Paul's point is that if He can do that... He can breath new life into us - that just as Jesus laid our sins down for us and came back to life, through the Spirit we can lay those sins down and life the life that pleases God.  It's not us; we cannot do it without Him, but we can live life in the Spirit. Let's get in tune.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Minds set on the Spirit...

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 
When God chose to give us His Holy Spirit as residents on our lives, He gave a great gift.  He gave us an internal tuner to set our minds to, to guide us into obedience to the Law of God.  He helps us please God, which is what we long to do. He brings harmony into our lives so there is peace, purpose and progress in our sanctification.  Without Him, we do not have purpose or power to do so.  Let us "set on minds" on hearing and responding to Him today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Set free by the Spirit...

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 
The Holy Spirit has bailed out the believer in Jesus Christ.  As our Advocate, our legal representative,  He steps up and says we are "not condemned." He explains to the Judge that the Son has paid our penalty and has lived out righteousness in our place.  We no longer need to live like convicts. We need to listen to our Lawyer give us advice. He has set us free and knows how we can and should live.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Spirit of Adoption...

Romans 8:12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 
What difference does salvation make?  What does it matter that as followers of Christ we have the Holy Spirit?  All the difference in the world!  The Holy Spirit brings us to the point that we can not only say, but cry out "Daddy!" to God!  He gives us the assurance of our relationship with and inheritance from the Heavenly Father.  That means we are no longer slaves to sin, death and Satan, but children of God.  Let us live like HIS children.  Let the Spirit inside show outside!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Where the Spirit is leading and working...

Acts 9:28-38 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 
Acts 9 is an exciting chapter.  Besides recording the conversion of Saul(Paul), it also tells us that a major milestone is being reached - the borders of Judea and Samaria have been reached with the Gospel, and the church is becoming well-established throughout.  That leads us to the next frontier: Gentile territory on every side.  The first inroad will be Caesarea.  At the ned of chapter 8 we are told Phillip is there.  Paul passes through there, and now Peter is on His way.  The Holy Spirit is up to something;  let's see if we will stay on board!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Knowing the Spirit well enough...

Acts 19:21-22 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 
Knowing the Holy Spirit is like knowing the Father, The Son, or The Word - we can never know them well enough.  But by this point in his life and ministry, Paul knew the Spirit well enough to have a confidence about His leading.  He knew where he was heading and why, and was convinced that on the way there - to Rome - he had some lose ends he needed to tie up, because he would not be back that way again.  He was confident enough in the Spirit that he would go it alone, sending on his trusted companions in ministry.  It was after this that the riot took place there in Ephesus, as Paul told the people their idols were dead gods.  He had to stand against the crowd alone, having sent his team away. This helped prompt him to start his journey.  It was probably hard to do after having a long, successful ministry there, with many coming to Christ. But he was able to, being "resolved in the Spirit."  May we be growing in our relationship with the Holy Spirit in like manner.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

After the Closed Doors...

Acts 16:11-15 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 
On their second missionary journey, after delivering their message of the council, and encouraging the churches of their first journey, Paul and his missionary band began to seek new places to share the Gospel.  They kept coming to closed doors, with the Holy Spirit repeatedly telling them "no, not here, not now."  Rather than give up and go home, Paul persisted, until the Spirit gave Him instruction to go to Macedonia.  Upon arriving, he went to the place where the leading of the Spirit would be confirmed: the place of prayer. Prayer is where God confirms and gives confidence, as we come into communion with Father, Son and Spirit for a holy conversation.  There they found exactly what they needed to confirm their call: open hearts, responsive lives, hospitality.  Let us not be discouraged by closed doors.  They help us find our way through the maze of life to where God wants us to be.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When the Spirit moves... don't stand in the way

Acts 11:11-18 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” 
Location, location, location.  Caesarea was just outside... Samaria.  The church at Jerusalem had just gotten accustomed to Samaritans being one in Christ with them.  Peter had gone to the outskirts of their territory and was near Caesarea, where Philip had already traveled.  The Holy Spirit was at work, ready to take the Church to the next frontier.  He was ready.  Were they?  When He spoke, Peter obeyed, and what he experienced and witnessed was more than enough to know: Never get in the way of the Holy Spirit.  May we be in tune and stay out of His way today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Holy Spirit: No Secret in Stephen's life...

Acts 6:5-10 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen as it was called, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 
In the original Deacon Draft, Stephen was the number one choice.  The evidence of the Holy Spirit in his life was obvious.  He becomes one of the few side trips from the apostles in the book of Acts.  His life and ministry was outstanding - almost irresistible - not because of his personal characteristics, but because he allows the Holy Spirit to flow through him.  If we want to see God do the most He can in and through us, the starting point is submission to the Holy Spirit to take full control.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"It seems good to me... and the Holy Spirit"

Acts 15:22-29 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 
Sometimes a word or phrase seems to jump off the pages of scripture as we read.  Here in this passage we twice find this phrase: "Seemed good".  There is this consensus of opinion, this oneness of heart among God's people and with the Holy Spirit.  As believers we should be all for things "done in order" as Paul says in I Corinthians 14, but sometimes that orderliness is more of a coming to consensus than it is a formal business meeting with voting.  These believers had seen the Spirit at work in their church and the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles.  They were witnessing and being a part of what God was doing in joining together Jew and Gentile into the church.  In the spirit of the Unity of the Spirit, they wanted to see that process go as seamlessly as possible, and came to oneness of mind in the instructions they gave.  It is important to note that their concern was what was best for these new believers.  This was not "do this and you will have our approval", but "this is the way that will please God and bring His blessing. "  May we learn to become more and more of one heart and mind in this way, and all we do seem good to the Holy Spirit.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Carried Away by the Holy Spirit...

Acts 8:34-36, 38-40 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
When we hear that phrase "Getting carried away," we usually associate it with going to extremes or going off the deep end.  But scripturally speaking, getting carried away by the Holy Spirit is more a matter of being so filled with Him that He leads us to places we had not intentions of going to - that His influence is so complete our selfishness is out of sight.  The proof of that is found in what Philip is doing: sharing Christ with whomever God brings His way.  It is not some self-centered emotional experience or some emotional pep rally; it is following God's leading in ministering to others.  So, let us get carried away by HIM. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When the Speaking, Sending Spirit says "Stop"

Acts 16:6-10 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 
Paul had been set apart and sent by the church to go to the Gentiles.  He and his missionary team went boldly, proclaiming the gospel far and wide, following the call the Holy Spirit had given them.  But sometimes He said "Stop, don't go there."  What an ear we must have for the voice of the Holy Spirit to be able to discern, respond, and obey Him at those times.  Just as many things are contrary to our old nature, this must be contrary to our new: to not go somewhere and proclaim the good news.  But God knows what He is doing.  He is not saying "They do not need the gospel there." Rather, He is sending us where and when it is best for us to go.  He has others listening whom He will tell to go there.  The Macedonian Call, as it has been labeled, is as much learning to hear God say "no," as it is to hear Him say "Yes, there, now, them." May we learn to discern His voice ever more loudly and clearly day by day, and obey.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Right Temple...

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,and I will be their God,and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst,and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing;then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you,and you shall be sons and daughters to me,says the Lord Almighty.” 
Corinth had a lot of temples for a lot of gods.  It was easy to tell by the inscriptions, sculptures and activities which god a temple belonged to.  The same is true of us. We are the temple.  People should be able to look at us and know Who lives within - the Spirit of the Living God.  If we don't "feel" like God's children, are we acting like we are?  Can people look at us and know Who we belong to?

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Holy Spirit stays here...

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
These people lived in a promiscuous society much like ours.  They lived for the moment, for pleasure, for outward appearances.   They acted as if their sin would wash off from the outside, with no regard for WHO was living inside.  For us today it is ditto: sensual society, self-fulfillment, looks mean everything.  Paul's plea? Flee! Run from it to what is important: living to glorify God.  That is where the Spirit will lead you.  That is what will fulfill and give joy; there is the peace that satisfies - in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Jealousy of the Holy Spirit...

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 
In the Old Testament God is described as Jealous for His people, and it's a good thing, a protective kind of zealous love.   Here, as Paul deals with those who were causing division, desecration, and disruption in the church, tearing it apart, he speaks in a similar way.  The Church, God's people, the body of Christ, are His temple, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We are to reflect His holiness, to be a people in whom the unseen Holy Spirit can be seen.  The above-mentioned actions violate that representation and agonize the Holy Spirit of God.  Do we have that Holy fear that refuses to make the Holy Spirit jealous?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Holy Spirit and Being Sent...

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 
There is sense in which when mention of the Holy Spirit is made, sending, being challenged to GO, is always in the background.  Whenever Jesus talked to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, like here and Acts 1:8, He made reference to the fact that they would be going places.  In fact, that is the life that they had led with Him.  When He talked with Him about the Spirit's coming upon them, He also talked about the Father sending Him, His sending the Spirit, and implied... "you're going to be sent too." In Acts, those who were full of the Spirit - the Apostles, Phillip, even everyday believers, were going places.  When  Peter could hear the Holy Spirit so loudly he responded verbally, He was told to go to the house of Cornelius.  It may be only out the door, across the street, or even around the world, but the presence, power, and fulness of the Spirit never means hiding and keeping it under wraps, for ourselves.  We are sent to a world(People) who need Christ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When the Holy Spirit Speaks... It's not Selfish!

Acts 11:27-30 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world this took place in the days of Claudius. So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
One of the big concerns we have about the Holy Spirit speaking into our lives today is discerning if it is really His voice.  This passage is instructional in that they response of the church was to do something totally unselfish.  And they were wise in handling the situation. They did not give the offering to Agabus to deliver, but to men they had come to know and trust as wise stewards of the Word of God.  When it is the Holy Spirit speaking, He gives messages consistent with His Word and His Ways, and the response will be one of selfless sacrifice and love towards others, especially in the Body of Christ.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Holy Spirit: Setting apart and Sending

Acts 13:1-4 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 
What an exciting time for the Church!  Christ had promised and prodded His followers to "go into all the world", and they had been forced to do so through persecution.  But now the Holy Spirit was moving them to do something more intentional - to go on a mission.  It was not that these were the most holy of the followers - maybe just more prepared.  They had travelled together before, and Paul would have had a lot of sky miles already in our day and age.  These two balanced on another in their personalities and approaches.  But this really had as much to do with the church as them.  The church was listening, so together they could hear the Holy Spirit say: "Set them apart and send them away." He was the one sending, not them.  That explains the remarkable success of their journey.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Believing what the Holy Spirit has breathed out...

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
God's Word is a solid foundation for what we believe and how we respond to life.  It tells us what we need to know, where we go wrong, how to get back on track, and very importantly, our responsibilities in relationships, with God and others.  It is our "get ready for life" book - for today, tomorrow, future encounters, and for eternity.  let us continue to incorporate it into our lives with confidence.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When the Holy Spirit is at Work, It's the Word that is Prominent

Acts 13:4-12 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician for that is the meaning of his name opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. 
This is the first stop of Paul's first missionary journeys.  In a sense it sets the stage to confirm his call.  They proclaim the Word of God, when this encounter takes place.  The one who came to hear the Word of God believed, not because of this awesome demonstration of power against evil, as much as "the teaching of The Lord."  The Holy Spirit is not into showing off His powerful presence; He wants to get the Word out. He is used to being unseen, in the background. Anything He does is to draw attention to and faith in His Word.  He gives Christ's followers boldness, the words to say, and the lives to back it up.  May we be into what He is about.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Word and Spirit

1 Thessalonians 1:4-7 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 
This letter is probably one of the most positive letters by Paul in the New Testament: He likes what he sees in and hears about this church.  He hears the Word being spoken and He sees the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of believers living out their faith.  It makes sense, because indeed both are activities of the Holy Spirit - He has breathed out His Word, and He influences us, sanctifying us into Christlikeness.  Whenever we find ourselves ignoring or overemphasizing one over the other, we are creating a tension that does not exist.  May we be consistent Christ-followers in Word and Spirit.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Holy Spirit - Figuring it all out...

Acts 1:15-20 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers the company of persons was in all about 120 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”...  “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,“‘May his camp become desolate,and let there be no one to dwell in it’;and“‘Let another take his office.’ 
As the Apostles were obediently awaiting the promised Holy Spirit, according to Christ's command, they were praying.  Peter, putting together the truth of Scripture with current events, was able to come up with another next step.  Key to this process was their view of God's Word: the Holy Spirit, Whom they were waiting to come fill them, had spoken.   His Word is Truth, and worthy our acting upon.  There are many things about which we do not need to "wait for a sign", we simply need to listen to God's Word and Spirit putting it all together, and respond.  Today, let's read, pray, listen, respond.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Speaking the Language of the Holy Spirit...

Acts 4:23-31 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,and the rulers were gathered together,against the Lord and against his Anointed’— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 
As we look back on the early church, it is easy to become... jealous.  It looks so exciting, and it was!  The Holy Spirit was rushing in and controlling His people to share the Gospel with others. As they were praying and waiting for His leading, one of the things they did was pray the scriptures. They understood that the pushback they were receiving for sharing the good news was the same as David had alluded to - a resistant world with darkness in high places.  They were speaking the language of the Holy Spirit, the one Who had led David to write and record these truths of Scripture. And they asked for boldness, the exact thing Jesus had told them the Holy Spirit would provide.  Let us not be jealous, for these can be great days as well.  We have the same message; we have the same Holy Spirit; we face the same darkness.  Imagine what God will do when we get on the same page.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Holy Spirit: Protector of Truth

2 Timothy 1:8-14 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 
In Paul's last recorded words, we find his most passionate statements about the Gospel of Jesus Christ which He has been entrusted to share.  In charging Timothy to follow with likewise conviction, Paul knows that it is not our own power and inner strength that is needed to endure, but ultimately, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to protect the truth in our lives.  The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will go all out to keep us from twisting the truth in our words and in our lives.  In a day marked by revisionist history, we must have the same convictions when it comes to the Gospel, both what we share, and how we live it out in our lives.