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Posts Tagged ‘Spirit of God’

Therefore, We Will Not Fear

August 10th, 2015

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day. Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46

The psalm speaks with confidence of the protection of God for His people.

There will be times in our lives on earth in which everything will seem the opposite, that the program of God has failed, that the evil in the world has won, that justice is defeated and hope has expired. But through the eye of faith God proves Himself to be an ever-present help.

He helps the heart that has endured seeming defeat. The world can never know the true measure of a human being. They measure on the outside, what health and wealth you have, what power you wield, how comfortable you live. When these physical comforts are removed, they assume that they have defeated us. But there is an entire part of human living that is left untouched by these things – the soul and spirit of humanity in which God through our faith in Christ lives through His Eternal Life-giving Spirit. No person of faith is ever truly defeated. Defeat comes when hope is gone, and with God hope always endures. Faith is its own reward for it gives a treasure to each believer that the world cannot touch, that sickness and loss and material defeat cannot remove.

He also brings His work into the human heart on a deeper level than we expect. Jerusalem was an example of this, for the city had no surface water supply, no river that it was built upon, no sea port either. It was fed by underground springs, and the psalmist used that illustration to envision the mysterious work of God that bring true life into each heart of faith. “There is a river that makes glad the city of God” and there is the Spirit of God that makes glad the heart of the believer.

Simple trust is all that is required, to simply believe in Him. Faith is impossible without God’s help but He is ready to help the heart of the repentant and the one who wishes to believe. Turning from sin and turning to Him in faith, even childlike, faltering faith, is all that is required. “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” is the prayer of us all. And God rushes into help, to strengthen, to encourage.

But there is also a promise in these verses, that God will one day make all war cease. Even today there are times of peace in the world, sporadic and temporary though they be, they remind us that one day it shall all be over. Our response is to be still in our hearts before Him, to know that He is God, and to leave the matters of greater concern to Him. We should do all we can, but there is much that the best world leaders cannot predict or know what is right. We trust God and leave our burdens, along with our fears, with Him.

God is here. God is here now. God will bring life and peace to the ones who trust in Him through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we will not fear, rather we will rejoice always in the goodness of the Lord.

Daily Devotions , , ,

The Pouring Out of the Spirit

June 24th, 2015

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:28-29

Peter claimed that this prophecy was fulfilled at Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21), and that the fulfillment was inextricably connected to the Person and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:22-39) – a ministry that continues to this day through His Spirit.

As we read on in Acts we see how it was through the apostles that the gift of the Spirit continued to three other different people groups – to the Samaritans through Peter and John (Acts 8:14-17), to the Gentiles at Caesarea through Peter (Acts 10:44-48), and to a group of disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus through Paul (Acts 19:1-10). I would like us to consider three realities of the pouring out of the Spirit.

The glory of these historical moments: All that God put on Joel’s heart to prophesy came fully into reality in these places. The Spirit of God was liberally poured out upon humanity. In all four places they people had held onto some level of faith for some time, only without the Spirit of God being poured out. And though the Spirit of God is always with the people of God (Psalm 139:7-12), there was a clear difference of experience between the Old Covenant and the New.

The Spirit came in power and reality not only upon the prophets, but upon all flesh, all those who believed, as Peter said, “For this promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). It is a sad fact that some Christian groups have ignored this verse and have taught people that there are all sort of barriers or procedures, or steps to take, before the Holy Spirit will come. This type of teaching is a clear violation of the teaching of these accounts, that the Spirit was poured out on all who believed on Christ.

The reaction was prophesying power about Christ, and Christ promised that the Spirit would bring conviction to the world (John 16:8-11), but also the old and young alike will dream and have visions – this is a promise that the Lord will give divine revelation liberally to His people. The old, like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38), will again be filled with fresh insights, and the young, like John Mark and Timothy, will be inspired and have the freshness of the Spirit in their hearts. This does not mean that everyone who receives a dream from God or a vision from God will receive something that should be written down as inspired Scripture, nor that it would be more authoritative than Scripture. The Spirit may take Scripture and open up our hearts to its truth, and give us a new vision of His love for us.

It predicts something miraculous happening in hearts, the joy of the Lord indwelling the hearts of believers.

The absence of any mention of dramatic effects in other places: We must also consider the absence of any mention of these dramatic events in other places that Paul and his companions preached. Tongues itself is only mentioned happening only three places in Acts: Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Ephesus. Even in Samaria there is no mentioning of tongues. Some places there were great miracles, but other places there is no mention of miracles. Some places there were exorcisms and other places there is no mention of exorcisms. What is consistent is that people were fundamentally changed. They had true hope and true life because they had Christ. The differences were a profound love for Christ and for His Word and a new love for their fellow believers and for the world as a whole. They had a new direction in life, a new purpose for living – to bear witness to the love of God in Christ.

The opportunities and temptations we face today: I believe we need to draw from this that the Lord gives His Spirit to all who believe in His name, and the Spirit always brings freshness to our otherwise stale hearts – He brings life to our dead spirits – but the dramatic effects He does not perform everywhere. We do not need to lust for another person’s experience, but rather simply accept the life of the Spirit that comes to each of us.

We have the opportunity for life. Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” He means by this that we no longer have to seek to gain our acceptance through our good works, but that we are able to live each day in the Spirit. We do this by reading His Word and trusting Him. Perhaps we cannot see our spiritual progress, and we doubt that we are experiencing very much at all, but others who see us from the outside see remarkable changes. But the Spirit makes His impact on each life of each believer.

We have the temptation to search after someone else’s experience, and that is always a mistake. We may learn from others how God touched them and, by studying the Word, we can learn how God will touch us, but we should not seek their own personal experience because we are each unique individuals. Sometimes we must stop and say, “Lord, I trust that You have something great to do in me,” and then just trust Him to do it in His way and in His timing.

Isaiah 40:31 is a great promise to our hearts: “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” Notice the three levels of experiences – flying like eagles, running, and walking. Some have suggested that this is a description to the three stages of life – youth, middle age, and old age. Certainly we have feeling in our younger days that we do not have in our older days, but that does not mean that the Spirit has abandoned us in our final years. The prophecy of Joel was that the old men shall dream dreams – they may not be like the dreams of our youth, nor the same strong feelings present, but they will still be the work of the Spirit.

Do not worry whether it is given to you to fly, or to run, or merely to walk – most of us can relate in some way to all three of these over the course of our lives. Faith in God has its proper reward, and this reward is mediated by the Spirit of God whom is poured out upon the people of God. Even walking can be a divinely inspired activity.

The Deeper Christian Life , ,