Thy Kingdom Come

Last week I had the privilege of teaching how God formed his family in the Exodus story and what it means to the Church today.  We talked at length about how God has called His family to live as a distinct community within the pagan world.  As soon as we get the audio you will be able to find the three sessions at porterbrookstl.com. 

The Spirit has done an amazing amount of work on my heart in this area, pressing out what the distinct community actually looks like.  It’s one thing to study, exegete and preach what a community is suppose to look like.  It’s an entirely different exercise to pastor the local church to the same goal.  After teaching Sunday on the Festival of Booths, the Lord continued to work on my heart.  What does it look like to live dependent on God, faithful to His word and engaged in community?  What does it look like to be called as an empowered community distinct in and with the pagan world?

It didn’t take long for the exercise to become a reality.  How does the church engage the world with something like gender identity?  It’s a hot button issue, now that Target has chosen to allow open restrooms to our friends that identify with a different gender.  This of course has become a moral outrage in the Christian communities that I have the privileged of being involved it.  Not that the communities as a whole are outwardly making statements, but as many things in the social ecosystem, one persons comments can be taken as the opinion of the majority.

I’ve seen the arguments, the Bible teaches that this is wrong.  God made Adam and Eve, not Adam that identifies as Eve or even an Eve that identifies as Adam.  It doesn’t take much to see that sexuality is something that is deeply important to God.  So the question begs why?

I believe that we find at least a hint of why in the book of Ephesians.

Wives and Husbands Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

We clearly see here that Paul draws an analogy to relationship between a husband and a wife and Christ and the Church.  There is an implicit sexual nature to the analogy because the one thing that a husband and a wife have that is explicit to the relationship is sex.  Biblically, sex is for the marriage, a bond that is meant to be shared and nurtured through the physical act of consummation.  As a Christian this teaching shouldn’t be new or anything ground breaking.  I’m making the case for the moral outrage.  The issue with attempting to draw the moral backlash from these verses is that God through Paul is speaking about the relationship between a man and a woman whom has been called by God to be in the family of God.  Someone who’s heart has been changed by the super natural act of the Holy Spirit described in Ezekiel 36:

I Will Put My Spirit Within You “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22-32 ESV)

So the question still begs, how does the Christian react?  Again, the answer can be found in Ephesians 5.

Walk in Love Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:1-5 ESV)

We are to walk in love and be imitators of God.  The same God that came down and loved us when we were enemies of Him.  When we hated Him to the point of death on a cross, He loved us.  Our job as the church is not to make some moral outrage and boycott Target, that is the reaction of the world.  That’s the reaction of a pagan nation when something doesn’t go politically the way that they feel is right.  Do we boycott McDonalds because they help in the sin of gluttony?  Do we boycott every business that hires people what are living together but are not married?  Of course not, so the issue isn’t in fact a moral issue.

So what is the real issue?  The real issue is our hearts, Christians.  We only want to love, when it’s convenient and comfortable for us.  Someone who looks very different or has a completely different world view causes tension in our hearts and it’s a tension that we want to avoid.  How can I love this person whom looks and acts counter-cultural to my own beliefs?  And in that statement lies the very insidious sin in our hearts.  We still believe that the faith that was given to us was for us and in reality, the faith that was given to you as a gift from God is the faith causes you to engage a culture that is not like your own with the same love and grace that Christ engaged you with.

Or have we so quickly forgotten  the Gospel that saved us, is saving us and propels us into the world?

 

 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)

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Morning Thoughts

The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV)

There is something about living the Christian life that should be appealing to anyone and everyone that encounters the Gospel.  Something that is so genuine, so open and so free that it is just pouring out of every member of the body.  The something is love.  As I sat last night and pondered over the words in this passage, begging for wisdom and guidance I recognized something within the words.  Paul is talking to the church in Corinth, a church that was so eager to use their spiritual gifts that they started to misuse them.  Paul’s words, His guidance was not to throw the gifts out, but to pursue them.  His exhortation down that line starts in 14, but the premise starts here.  The Way of Love.
As I read the words, I have to recognize two things.  First, Paul is again reiterating that regardless of the gifts and the talents that we have, without love they are nothing.  This is nothing new, as Christians we should know and operate out of love.  There is something much deeper going on in the words though, something that pulls at the strings of our character.  If we read the well quoted passage about the qualities of love, and we put into context of our character we find that the passage digs into our souls.  The deepest parts of who we are, and why we do what we do.
Our character should be patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it’s not arrogant or rude.
In a series of passages that talks about our spiritual gifts, we find that the apostle Paul is writing for an inward reflection, of an outward response.  If our character is love, that is who we are on the deepest level, it’s qualities will be reflected outwardly towards everyone.
So, my prayer for this morning reads something like this:
Father,
I know that my heart needs to be focused and refocused on the finished work of the Cross.  Your Son took my place, took my punishment and my guilt on that day.  He defeated sin and death, an accomplishment that only He could do.  I know that my heart doesn’t always reflect the nature of love, the perfect nature of Jesus.  I beg Father, that you continue work in my heart, that you continue to press me deeper into the Gospel and that you teach me how to love Your bride.  Let my character reflect Your nature, let my actions and my gifts flow from a heart that is deeply in love with You.  Wrap me in your arms, hold me, so that I might know the love that can only come from you.  Amen.

The God Delusion – Riding the Curtails.

As I continue this wonderful journey of diving deeply into the writings of a man, who on the surface hates all that is religion I am met with a deeper understanding of why on an intellectual level, people hate religion as a whole. You don’t have to read but several pages into The God Delusion and you can find the premise behind the entirety of the work.   Mr. Dawkings, in the preface presents his ultimate point, and something that we as Christians should consider.

Indoctrination of our children with religiosity, rather than grace is a grave mistake.

Richard would probably refute this as the premise to his work, and in some sense that is fine.  His goal is to scientifically disprove the probability of a God and mine is to simply learn from his work.   I’m sure that there are some that are reading this article and stopping at this point, with scripture flying through their well-trained brains to refute my point.

[6] Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

[6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] 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. (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)

[19] For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

As you can see, the bible is very clear about the role of parents in the education of their children in the ways of the Lord.

I would humbly offer that the way of the Lord is grace.  It’s not the tribal language, nor the traditions of your particular church.  It’s assuredly not the ways of Christendom that have long failed in the desperate attempt to moralize and control society.  Grace, given through faith, as a gift, undeserved, is the root in which the life of the Christian steams.

This is not to say that traditions are worthless, or inherently wrong.  I personally believe that understanding the history of the Church is important, but it should not be the central teaching of parents to their children.  Instead, the traditions that are taught should point to the giver of grace, the one that walked out grace through every minute of His life, Jesus.  Central to all teaching, must be Jesus or we simply indoctrinate our children with religious idols, which will ultimately lead to destruction.

Dawkings’ point is very clear, and regrettably true.  As a Church, we have failed in many cases to articulate the doctrine of grace in words that children understand.  Admittedly, this is difficult to do especially after I offer that we should allow our children intellectually explore the world around them.  I present this idea, with the caveat that the community of believers that is influential on the child can open discuss the ideas and wonders of not only science, but of other religions as well.  We teach our children to engage the world, offering and understanding the prospective of grace.

The implications of the “Greats” in the bible ring so crystal clear here, it’s almost easy to miss.  When Jesus says,

[37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

He’s giving us the teaching for our children.  Mr. Dawkings has no need to make his continued point that “religion” indoctrinates children and is the cause of so much strife in the world (more to come on that) if the generations of children where discipled, rather than indoctrinated.  If well-taught grace is the cornerstone of all teaching it should drive the Great Commission, out of love, not fear or religious duty.

[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] 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, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

In essence, we are fulfilling the Great Commission by teaching our children grace.  We stop allowing our children to ride on our faith, but rather explore the deeper truths that will in time be revealed to them through the Holy Spirit.

We as Christians need to stop pretending as if we are God and we have the ability to change the hearts of anyone, especially our children.  We need to model grace and teach the truths of the faith with razor sharp accuracy and undeniable meekness.

 

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

clouds

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Cor 10:31)

As I sit on a plane headed to Denver to spend sometime with my family, I ran right across this verse. lt was not particularly what “I” planned to contemplate as I’m in the middle of some theological writings, but alas l keep coming back to with a yearning heart.

What are the implications in our daily lives if we take this verse literally? (I read this as a prescription)

The first implication that immediately jumps out at me is the fact that my life is not my own. We can see this weaved in and out of the NT, the idea of complete sacrifice to God, our lives. Paul points out that your life is not your own, but to be used to preach the Gospel.
(1 Cor 10:31)

Has the gospel gripped you to the point that you will do whatever it takes (short of sin) to spread the good news?

What situations do you find yourself in, where you don’t glorify God? What about when you do?  What in the circumstance changes?

Do you feel like you glorify God in your daily life? If not, are you trying to earn God’s favor or are you worshiping?

Just some thoughts at 10,000 ft. in a tuna can.

Facebook Prayer

poorprayer

I think the more appropriate prayer looks something like this:

Dear God,

Thank you for all that you have done for my family, friends and loved ones. Please continue to give them the boldness to spread the gospel wherever you would have them go. Father, I pray that you will continue to purify them through the refiners fire so that they can look more like your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you for your promise to always be with them thank you for continuing to bless them with the grace and mercy that they don’t deserve.

O and as for the blessings, thank you Father for blessing us with more of You.

We ask this in Your Son’s almighty name,

Amen.

There has been some questions to why I would repost a prayer that looks significantly different than the image that that was reposted.  Comparing the prayers I think that you will find that the prayer I wrote really focuses on thanking God for all that he has done and asks him for more talent to complete the tasks that Jesus set forth before ascending back into heaven.  Matthew records that Jesus commands us 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

 

The Great Commission

 

Now the eleven disciples  went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  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.” Matthew 28:16-20

 

The first part of the prayer focuses on the Great Commision and asking Jesus to continue to provide boldness to teach all that Jesus commanded.  I think that one of the best examples of boldness that we see in the bible is Stephen in Acts, proclaiming the Gospel to the Jewish leaders knowing that he was possibly signing his death warrant.

 

Yet the Most High does not dwell  in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,  “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” “You stiff-necked people,  uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you.  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of  the Righteous One,  whom you have now betrayed and murdered,  you who received the law  as delivered by angels and  did not keep it.”  Now when they heard these things  they were enraged, and they  ground their teeth at him.  But he,  full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw  the glory of God, and Jesus standing  at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see  the heavens opened, and  the Son of Man standing  at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together  at him.  Then  they cast him out of the city and  stoned him. And  the witnesses laid down their garments  at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And as they were stoning Stephen,  he called out, “Lord Jesus,  receive my spirit.”  And  falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice,  “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this,  he fell asleep. Acts 7:48-50

 

For my family and friends, I want that kind of boldness.  The boldness that makes a difference, the boldness to do what Jesus commanded.  I know that this idea looks different from what has been taught before but it’s what Jesus wants.  We find out more about what that boldness and life looks like in Luke 9.

 

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

 

And he said to all,  “If anyone would come after me, let him  deny himself and  take up his cross  daily and follow me.    For  whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.    For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?    For  whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed  when he comes in  his glory and the glory of the Father and of  the holy angels.    But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not  taste death  until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27)

 

and

 

The Cost of Following Jesus

 

As they were going  along the road,  someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him,  “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”    To another he said,  “Follow me.”  But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  And Jesus  said to him,  “Leave  the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and  proclaim the kingdom of God.”    Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord,  but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him,  “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

 

Obviously, the scripture points out that the cost of following Jesus is high.  You actually have to give up certain amenities (read everything) in order to make that commitment.  Thats a far cry from the prayers that read something like, “God, I want, I want, I want, I want….”.  The cost of following Jesus looks more like, “Jesus, here is what I have and it’s yours.”  And the real kicker to this whole idea is that “In the beginning God, created…. “ so all that you have is not yours anyway.

 

The main point here is that it’s not what you can give, it’s what has been given to you.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of being crushed on the cross.

 

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

He was crushed so that we can live, he died to save us from ourselves and our selfish desires.

 

The prayer doesn’t get any easier from here.  It reads “Father, I pray that you will continue to purify them through the refiners fire so that they can look more like your Son Jesus Christ.”

 

But  who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For  he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.  He will sit  as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring  offerings in righteousness to the  Lord . (Malachi 3:2-3)

 

I pray that my friends and family go through the trials and the tribulations and have been set forth for them before the beginning of time.  I pray that they go through them so that they can be refined, so that they can continue to become more like Jesus.  I pray that they walk through them pressing deep in the gospel and trusting that Jesus will be with them through the entire journey, that they will glorify the one who deserves all glory.  Psalms 23 reads:

 

The  Lord  is my  shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green  pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He  restores my soul. He  leads me in  paths of righteousness for his  name’s sake. Even though I  walk through the valley of  the shadow of death, I will  fear no evil, for  you are with me; your  rod and your staff, they comfort me. You  prepare a table before me in  the presence of my enemies; you  anoint my head with oil; my  cup overflows. Surely  goodness and mercy  shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall  dwell  in the house of the  Lord forever.

 

Jesus didn’t say that it would be easy, He didn’t say you would get everything that you want.  He said that he loves you.  We see the Jesus, all man, all divine weeping for he loved his people so much.

 

Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See  how he loved him!” (John 11:35-36)

 

We see at the end of The Great Commision that Jesus will be with us always, to the end of the age.  He’s with us now, the one who loves the world and loves you.

 

Paul lays out so clearly in Romans that grace is a gift from God.  We can’t work our way to heaven.  Jesus is the only way.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for  many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For  the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought  justification.  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness  reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass  led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness  leads to justification and life for  all men.  (Romans 5:15-18)


My prayer reads a little different from most that you will read on Facebook.  It’s deeper, it’s very real.  When I pray for my friends in family, I pray for a deeper relationship with Jesus, whatever the cost.  I know that regardless of what that looks like, the joy and happiness, the freedom and family is worth it.  Its worth it because I love them enough to show them Jesus.  I love them enough to trust that the Holy Spirit will change hearts that need to be changed and continue to provide the guidance that Jesus promised.  Thats why I pray the way that I pray. 

Holy Spirit Thoughts and Reflections Pt. 1

After teaching out Francis Chan’s BASIC series on the Holy Spirit last night I’ve been in some deep prayer and thought about who the Holy Spirit is and how God uses the Spirit in us.  Lately, I’ve been exploring Shai Linne‘s Lyrical Theology Pt. 1 and he has some deep insight into the theological aspects of the Holy Spirit.

Take a listen here:

Lyrics:

Chorus

You gave us breath, you gave us life
Opened our eyes to see the Christ
Holy Spirit we worship You
Spirit of God we worship You

Now you live inside of us
You help us serve the God we trust
Holy Spirit we worship You
Without You we can do nothing at all

Verse 1

(tim)
Spirit of God, in ourselves we’re lifeless
So we ask You now for Your powerful help to write this
God the Spirit, we worship Thee
You’ve been one with the God the Father and God the Son for All Eternity!
One in Your Substance, One in Your Honor
Spirit–You are the love between the Son and the Father!
Spirit –You’re the Creator whom we are praisin’
Plus You’re God’s personal agent of re-creation!

(shai)
We see You at creation hovering over the face of the waters
You were faithful to order the waves and their borders
We spread death- the type to contaminate earth’s inhabitants
But You’re the breath of life that animates the inanimate
You filled Your servants with skill, knowledge and intelligence
To build the tabernacle where God and man could fellowship
Where the undeserving elect could serve You with reverence
Behind the curtain- Your essence, a picture of worship in heaven

(tim)
You revealed in Your Word- it says in, Ezekiel 37
Breath of God–You’re the Worker of Resurrection!
To raise from the grave the depraved and enslaved
A new race You’ll create through Christ, the perfect Servant-Shepherd

(shai)
Speaking of Christ, we can see Him in shadows and types
The prophets, kings and judges You empowered to battle and fight
You even had them write it down- the ultimate story
The sufferings of the Christ and the subsequent glories

Chorus

Verse 2

(tim)
Holy Spirit, for Your deeds we are stunned, in awe
Like how in the virgin’s womb You conceived the Son of God
Then when He was baptized within the Sea
On Messiah You descended to empower His entire ministry
Empowered His miracles He displayed that amazed men
Empowered Him to overcome temptations of Satan
To be the Firstborn from the dead of God’s New Creation of saints
From the grave You have raised Him- so You’ll raise them
Jesus promised You’d send His thoughts
You’re the anointing oil flowing from the King’s head at Pentecost
Down to His body, His kingdom You spread across
Making effectual the message of the precious cross!

(shai)
The book of Acts is not about the acts of the Apostles
But the acts of the Holy Spirit impacting with the gospel
Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria to Africa
Empowered your servants like Stephen when they were massacred
Ananias and Sapphira lied to You
So you put them both to death to show the church what a Holy God can do
You set apart Paul and Barnabas for the work of missions
You worked in the church’s division over circumcision
You take Christ’s objective cross work and vindication
And then apply it to the elect through regeneration
You saved us from the lake of fire, make us like our great Messiah
Graciously You take us higher- praise to You, our Sanctifier

(Chorus)

Verse 3

(tim)
You’re the Author of Scripture and its illuminator
Our God-given picture to see the Ruling Savior
Your thoughts are in-scripted on our hearts with conviction
And You’re the Father’s provision who renews our Nature

(shai)
With our nature renewed, now by grace we pursue
Conformity to the Savior through the faith that’s from You
The fruit You produce is proof that Your people are real
Directing our thoughts to Jesus when our evil’s revealed

(tim)
You reveal our evil and the mercy of the cross
And You seal Your people and ensure that none are lost
Spirit of Adoption, You disperse His love abroad
Within our hearts and spirits so we’re sure we’re sons of God!

(shai)
And with that blessed assurance, we’re set for the warring
We’re kept by Your warnings and we’re prepped for endurance
You provide gifts- even miracles assuredly
But fruit is a better gauge of spiritual maturity

(tim)
You unite us to Jesus so we can die to lust
Spirit of Christ- You’re the presence of Christ in us!
(You) already began His resurrection life inside of us,
so when He returns, by Your might we’ll rise from dust

(shai)
In Revelation, we see Your presence before the throne
Forever You will help us to reverence the Lord alone
You’re the source of all life and yet Your story’s precise
Amazingly, You do it all for the glory of Christ!

Chorus

 

Without going through and unpacking this bit of lyrical genius I think looking right back into scripture will provide some deeper insight into what the Bible presents as the Holy Spirit.

Warning: The rest of this writing is scripture based.  If you are looking for some level of what I think or what a certain denomination presents, you aren’t going to find it here.  We believe that the scripture is infallible and sufficient for our understanding.  What you are about to read may press your current beliefs or how you were raised.  Let the Holy Spirit guide your heart through the scriptures that are being presented and it is my prayer that my writing is driven by the Holy Spirit and that in turn you will find wisdom and understanding in my words.

Selective OT Old Testament Scriptures on the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit as an agent in Creation:

Genesis 1:2 The earth was bwithout form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

As we see in Genesis 1:2 God presents the Holy Spirit right after he creates the Heavens and Earth.  We can derive several things from this passage.  First, God didn’t create the Holy Spirit.  He created the heavens and the earth and the Holy Spirit was with God and is God.  The idea of the Trinity is one of the few things in the Christian faith that we have to take on faith, because it can’t be explained by our limited knowledge.  I will eventually write on the Trinity but at this time we know that the Holy Spirit existed with God.  Second, the Spirit is an entity that comes down to the Earth.  It’s important to acknowledge this simply because the we see throughout the Bible the the Spirit falls on people and indwells in them.

 

Psalm 33:6 By pthe word of the Lord the heavens were made,  and by qthe breath of his mouth all rtheir host.

Ezekiel 37:1–10 The Valley of Dry Bones 37 dThe hand of the Lord was upon me, and ehe brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;1 it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, f“Son of man, gcan these bones live?” And hI answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, i“Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, jO dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause kbreath2 to enter you, and you shall live. lAnd I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and lcover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, mand you shall know that I am the Lord.”  So I prophesied nas I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, oa rattling,3 and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and …

1 Samuel 10:9–13 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to vGibeah,4 behold, a group of prophets met him, oand the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? wIs Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, x“And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, w“Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

 

The Holy Spirit source of inspiration and power:

Ezekiel 11:14–21 Israel’s New Heart and Spirit 14 And the word of the Lord came to me: 15 q“Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen,2 the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, r‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet sI have been a sanctuary to them for a while3 in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: tI will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, tand I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, uthey will remove from it all its vdetestable things and all its abominations. 19 wAnd I will give them one heart, and xa new spirit I will put within them. yI will remove the heart of stone from their flesh zand give …

Ezekiel 36:22–32 I Will Put My Spirit Within You 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: yIt is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, wwhich you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 zAnd I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. aAnd the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 bI will take you cfrom the nations and gather you from all the countries and dbring you into your own land. 25 eI will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from fall your uncleannesses, and gfrom all your idols hI will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you ia new heart, and ia new spirit I will put within you. iAnd I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 jAnd I will put my Spirit …

Obviously, we are going to go very deep with this study.  My prayer is that you will continue to read and reflect on the passages above and contemplate not only the theological underpinnings of this study, but it’s practical application in your life.

 

Join me in some converstation about what we read here.  You can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter and we can continue to press into the gospel.

Also check out this Podcast called ‘The Helper’ which happen to spring up this morning.  God is good. Justin Buzzard does a wonderful job preaching out some practical aspects of the Holy Spirit.

Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

As we read the scripture we find that God has unchangeable characteristics and works in ways that we can’t fathom. The fear of The Lord, like in the passage that’s highlighted focuses us on the fact the God is sovereign and that we should not only focus on his unwavering love, but on his ultimate and unbridled power. I think we can start in

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)

And recognize that nothing started before God, hence he is the creator of all. That power alone is nothing short of awesome. We couldn’t exist without the Creator and with that mindset and a reverent fear we start to take “us” or our selfish wants, desires, and egos out of the walk with Him.

We can also pull out several passages in scripture that show God as the judge and again sovereign ruler over all such as

and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. But the sonsof Korah did not die. (Numbers 26:10, 11 ESV)

Where we see God open up the earth, swallow the disobedient Israelites as a warning to the rest as they proceed through the wilderness. Two things with this passage, God is showing what happens when you step away from him and want to be a slave to something over than his rule, the Egyptians in this case. And two that He continues to show grace by not destroying the sons of Korah. We can also we that God offers multiple opportunities and is not quick to anger but will be the judge in His time.

The argument then goes to…. That was the Old Testament God, but as we see in

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part ofit and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold theland for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:1-11 ESV)
God strikes down two people in the beginnings of the first church in acts.  There is lots here but for this discussion I think that it shows that God didn’t change throughout thescripture.

I think that if we truly visualize the description of God in several key texts we can also see that we would be so blown away by Holiness and Majesty that our natural reaction would be to fear The Lord, just as Isaiah did in

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV)
And John did in
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:12-18 ESV)
Both men of God trembled at his feet. I think that if we had that experience we would have a better understanding of why fear is the beginning of all knowledge. If we chose not to have a reverent fear of The Lord I feel like we start placing ourselves above Him, not truly embracing his complete and perfect power, his Love and his Holiness.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 ESV)