Waiting for the Spirit – Acts 8:14-17

No Believer In Christ Will Walk In Power Until The Holy Spirit Of God Comes Upon Them

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Beginning Believers

There is a debate amongst the bodies of disciples of Christ in various regions as to when the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer in power.  In order to understand this, the Bible must be taken as a whole.  For instance:

These are just a few examples to illustrate the differing circumstances that surrounded the Holy Spirit coming upon someone in power.  The simple fact is, disciples of Christ will NOT BE EFFECTIVE until the Holy Spirit comes upon them in power.

Power of Prayer

Prayer is the most powerful offensive tool that the believer in Christ has in the arsenal.  We are given unfettered access to the Throne Room of God at any time through prayer.  Anything we ask in the name of – the character of – Jesus, God the Father will do so that He may be glorified.

In this case, Peter and John went to Samaria to greet the new believers there.  Notice that the very first thing they did was pray.  John the Apostle was known by the nickname “Camel Knees” because he prayed so much!  Peter and John first prayed that the Holy Spirit would come upon the new believers (in power).  After bathing their requests in prayer, they acted upon their belief.  They laid hands upon the new believers.

Holy Hands

When they laid their hands, bathed in prayer, upon the new believers, the new disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit in power.  They recognized from their own lives, having to wait until Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit, that the new disciples would be ineffective until they had received the Holy Spirit.

The laying on of hands was to designate someone for a specific purpose or task.  When hands were laid upon the new believers, they received the Holy Spirit in power to provide them with the necessary means to be effective in ministry.  Each of us should greatly desire that the Holy Spirit come upon us in power.

If you are not sure if the Holy Spirit has come upon you in power, you should earnestly pray that God would do so.  Examine your life to see if you are living it in a manner that is pleasing to God.  Confess all sins, and repent of them.  Eagerly seek and desire the deeper understanding of the Bible and God’s will in your life.  God greatly desires that His people are ready and prepared to do the works that He has assigned for us to do since before the foundation of the Earth!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s as a question:  Has the Holy Spirit come upon me in power?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and full of grace.  Father, please help me to walk in Your ways.  Forgive me for my sins.  Help me to turn away from them and leave them at the foot of the cross, for Christ has born them already.  Help me to better understand Your word, that I would be able to live this life in line with Your word more and more each day.  May the Holy Spirit come upon me in power, that I would be prepared to do the works that You have prepared in advanced for me to do.  Strengthen me as You did when the apostles laid their hands upon the believers.  May You and You alone be glorified in what You are about to do.  This I ask in the name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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The Weather and God – Job 37:5-6

God Controls The Weather, Not Us

5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

Marvelous Mysteries

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

We read these words, and we look up in the sky, and we say to ourselves, “Oh, God created light!”  What we may not think about is that God created light on day one of creationHe created the Sun, Moon, and Stars on day four of creation.  What was the light that He created on day one?

There are marvelous mysteries waiting for us to learn.  Was light, as a construct, created first, then the objects to display the light created later?  The good news is that God has revealed some of those mysteries to us.  One of them is the weather.  God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to make known to man that He, and He alone, is sovereign over the weather.

Wonderful Weather

We have been greatly blessed to have different kinds of weather.  It was not always so.  Until the flood, there is reason to believe that it had never rained on the Earth*.  God commands His creation to give rain and snow and sleet and wind and every other type of weather that we experience:

8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Christ Commands

All power and authority over the Earth and the Universe has been given to our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is nothing that he does not have authority over in the physical and spiritual realm of all created things.  Because of this, we know that Jesus is master over the weather:

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

Jesus not only commands the weather; He has it stored up for His express purposes:

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?”

Powerful Pride

Since we know that Christ is sovereign over the weather, we must now re-evaluate our position on human-induced climate change:

  • Who warms the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Who cools the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Are we arrogant enough to believe that we, through our feeble efforts, are able to influence the weather in such a grandiose way that we are now sovereign over it?
  • Though ants can move a mountain of dirt from a hill, what significant impact does that have on the rest of the world?

We deem ourselves too important in our own eyes when we say that it is we who are causing the temperature to change in the atmosphere of the Earth.  How convenient!

Forty or so years ago, scientists were warning us that “Global Cooling” was going to plunge us into another ice age (ask your parents and/or grandparents about that if you aren’t old enough to remember.  And try to find the write-ups anywhere now – most have been expunged.  Is it not Satan who is the author of Historical Revisionism [i.e., lying and deceit]?).

When they were wrong about that, about a decade and a half later, we were told that in a decade or so “Global Warming” would be so bad that the polar ice caps would melt, all the polar bears would die, and the world’s ocean levels would rise to such a point that our coastal lines would change.

When THAT didn’t happen, they came up with “Global Climate Change.”  Not content to attribute one swing in temperature to ourselves, we are now taking full credit for changes in the weather:

  • If it is cold, WE DID IT!
  • If it is hot, WE DID IT!
  • If it is neither, SOMETHING THAT WE DID MUST HAVE CAUSED IT!

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Whom do I believe when it comes to changes in the weather?

A short prayer of preparation:

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Notes:

*In Genesis 2:6, there is indication that rain had not fallen on the Earth, but that either springs came forth or a mist came forth to water the plants.  When Noah made the Ark, and preached righteousness, if there had EVER been a flood before (no matter how small), people most likely would have believed him.  After all, if a person had survived the flooding of the Nile every year, and could see that the rains caused it, would they not have believed Noah at least about the flooding portion of His message?  Even now, we have hundred-year floods that cause great devastation.  People generally lived along streams and rivers, because water was so important in agriculture.  Noah was six hundred years old when it flooded (Genesis 7:6).  He and others would have survived AT LEAST FIVE hundred-year floods in his lifetime.  Unless there had never been a flood before…

Building the Body – Colossians 1:9-14

Prayer Is The Fuel For Spiritual Body Building

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Foundational Fuel

Everywhere you look in scripture, people are praying.  They are praying to worship God in praise.  They are praying to petition God for assistance.  They are praying for God’s will to come about.  And here, Paul and Epaphras are praying that the seed that was planted in the church body located at Colossi would flourish.

Prayer is the fuel and only offensive weapon we have in our spiritual warfare:

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Jesus definitively recognized that His disciples should pray.  Notice the words He uses when He talks about prayer:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus doesn’t say, “If you pray…”, or, “Should you decide to pray…”, or, “Perhaps you should pray…”.  Jesus says, “…when you pray…”.  One of the reasons that we are so weak is that we are not doing what our body-building trainer tells us to do – P R A Y!

Body Building

In this passage, there are several tips to successful spiritual body-building.  And just as Earthly body-builders need to practice and have workouts to keep their physical bodies in top shape, spiritual body-builders need to complete their workouts to keep their spiritual lives in top shape.  God is all about relationship.  Prayer is communication, which is a vital part of the relationship process.

Here are some of the tips and tricks provided to us to up our game in spiritual body-building from Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ:

Dominion of Darkness

Before God the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus Christ to us, we were in the dominion of darkness.  Satan was our father, for our deeds were evil and we neither sought out God, nor gave Him glory.  The world, the flesh, and the devil were our constant companions and our advisors.  We were born with a sin nature passed down to us from Adam.  It’s no wonder that we were slaves in bondage to sin.

Crown of Christ

Jesus came to rescue us from our bondage to sin and from sin itself, and reconcile us to the Father.  When we confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, we were moved into the Kingdom of Light.  We have been adopted as children into the family of God.  Jesus is our brother; we are his brothers and sisters.

This seems very basic, but it has profound meaning and implication in our lives.  No longer are we prohibited from experentially and relationally knowing God.  No longer do we look in confusion or bewilderment at who God is; God is revealing Himself to us through His Son in His word and through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

To those who have been given much, much is expected.  How much has God given you?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being faithful in my spiritual body-building exercises?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, the knowledge that You have adopted me into Your family is too wonderful for me to comprehend.  Just as an orphan is stunned after being adopted into a loving family, I am still stunned as I ponder the implications of being adopted into Your family.  You have done great and mighty things on and for my behalf.  You have given me an eternal future with You, access to You in Your throne room any time I need or just want to be there, and you have given me access to the royal treasury by blessing me with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  You have said that to those who have been given much, more is expected.  Father, what do you expect of me?  Show me that I may do all that you desire for me to do and become in gratitude for all that You have done for me.  Help me to remember my brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray fervently for them that they would be built up in Christ.  Give me Your love, so that it will be on display for all to see.  Help me to yield myself to you completely.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Protection by God – Psalm 125

God Is The One Who Protects His People Israel

1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

4 Lord, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
5 But those who turn to crooked ways
the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be on Israel.

Total Trust

God greatly desires that we trust Him.  He has shown his trustworthiness throughout His word, and history bears witness to it by external observers.  As we develop in our relationship with God, there is a level of trust that comes into play.  When circumstances seem to show that God is against us, are we willing to believe that God is for us?  Will He ever truly leave us or forsake us?  Do we trust in His character, or the blessings that He bestows?

Secure Stronghold

The Psalmist indicates here that those who trust God wholeheartedly are like a mountain – they will not be shaken.  That is because any good building is completely reliant upon its foundation.  When we trust in Jesus Christ, we are building upon the cornerstone – the very first and largest stone laid down in a foundation.  When the cornerstone is laid properly – it is level and faces in the right direction – the rest of the foundation that is laid down next to it will be straight and true.

Jesus is our foundation, our solid rock.  Anyone who builds on Jesus, through trust in Him, will build upon the unshakeable cornerstone of God.  God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; nothing and no one can cause Jesus to change.  He is securely seated at the right hand of God, His power and authority being vested in Him.  Nothing will move this cornerstone from its tried and true positioning.

Power Purged

It is good to know that the wicked will eventually be removed from power over the righteous.  God knows that if wickedness stays in power for too long, the righteous will begin to falter, and they may begin to do evil with their hands and hearts.  Human beings can only endure so much before they “crack”.

Imagine if there were continuously evil rulers since Cain murdered Abel.  What would people think and say?  “Where is our God?  Will He never deliver us from this evil?”  Their hearts would grow heavy, and under the constant barrage of evil, the unending torment of those in power, our will to endure would surely erode, and our belief that God is holy and just would fade as generation after generation prayed for relief but found none.  God surely delivers His people not only to demonstrate that He is sovereign over all, but also to give hope to the hopeless.

Crooked Crushed

And when God does act in justice and removes the wicked from power, He banishes them with the evildoers.  God originally intended the Lake of Fire to be for fallen angels only.  However, He will use this place of torment and separation from His power and presence for all who refuse to repent and turn towards the One True God in faith.  Those who suffer under the rule of evil people can take heart that God is a just, righteous, and holy God.  He will not abandon His people to the whims and depredations of the wicked, but will instead judge the wicked, unrepentant people and place them where they can no longer do any harm.

Permanent Peace

The Psalmist’s cry is that God do good to those who are good.  The funny part is that in and of ourselves, no one is good or righteous.  Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ that He died for our sins, and clothed us with His righteousness.  We who believe and are obedient to Him are declared righteous and good before God the Father*.  And the lasting promise given to those who live for God and obey His commands (in holy fear, reverence, and gratitude) will be peace, first on Earth, and then everlasting peace in His presence for all eternity in Heaven.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show that I trust God through my actions and my speech?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are my joy, my peace, and my sanctuary.  You have displayed Your awesome power through the creation of the Universe, and You display Your mercy and grace as You patiently, tenderly, and gently woo each of us back to Yourself.  Father, time is short, and even now You are calling the last of the remnant to Yourself in dreams and visions where Your people cannot work.  Give me a sense of urgency as the time grows near for Your Son to be revealed again in glory in the clouds.  Help me to show others that You seek peace for their lives in You.  Help me to get out and declare Your righteousness and our wickedness before You.  Prepare the hearts of all whom I will interact today.  Give me the strength, the words, and the will to boldly praise You in power and glory to others.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as clarity.

*Faith without works is dead – James 2:17; If you love me, you will obey my commands – John 14:15-24; Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved – Joel 2:32.

It is not our works that save us, but grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ – Ephesians 2:8.  God accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us where He found us.  God cleans us up and prepares us to be a holy sanctuary for the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  This process is called Sanctification.  God did not save us just so we could avoid Hell (fire insurance), but to be adopted as His children – Ephesians 1:5.

And just as every parent has expectations from their children (yet loves them unconditionally even when they misbehave), our Father in Heaven has expectations for our behavior as well.  He has forgiven all sins of ours, past, present and future – Psalm 103:12.  But we should, in gratitude, try to honor Him with our lives in every way, knowing the price that He paid for our freedom, and adoption into His family!  It is relationship that He desires with us, along with a singular pursuit of Jesus in holiness and righteousness – Matthew 7:21-23.

Obedience to God is not legalism, for we are to live righteous and holy lives, not sinning in order that grace would abound – Romans 6:1-2.  Obedience is an act of gratitude towards God as an acknowledgement of His holiness and righteousness – Romans 12:1-2.  Obedience to the word of God shows that we are growing spiritually and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the word of God – John 17:17.  It is something that every believer in Christ should greatly desire in their lives – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.  If you disagree, please bring this before God and the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of it to you – James 1:5-8.  God’s word is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16.

Order vs. Chaos – 1 Corinthians 14:26-33

God Infused Order Within Everything In The Universe

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Crazy Chaos

Paul was addressing the use of the spiritual gifts in worship in this passage.  The children of God were eager to use their gifts, but their eagerness tended to cause chaos when they gathered together.  Rather than build up the body, the gifts were causing chaos through cacophony.

Imagine a busy airport with everyone talking to each other.  The noise would have been deafening and confusing.  Or imagine being in a room with two hundred televisions, all set to different broadcasting stations, all at the same volume, all at the same time.  It would be nearly impossible to focus on just one of them with so many other streams of visual and audio information bombarding us, each demanding that we pay attention to them.

Chaos would be the rule.  The author of chaos and confusion is Satan.  God is truth, and the truth does not seek to cause confusion, but clarity in thought.  Truth takes the chaos and puts it into order.  Chaos can drive us crazy.  Truth pulls us out of the maelstrom and places us upon the solid Rock of Jesus, where the buffeting of chaos cannot touch.

Power in Peace

Paul attempted to address this with order in worship.  By limiting the number of people speaking at one time, it would be possible for the body to focus on what was being said, and that would result in the body being built up.  When the body is built up, working together in harmony, and focused upon the singular goal of yielding themselves to the Holy Spirit, order comes out of chaos, and the power of God is manifested through his people acting in unison.

Sovereign Signature

While we might say that these things are good for us as we relate to one another, what about the rest of creation?  Did God deem it proper to include order in the rest of creation? How about the things that exist outside of the physical universe?  Let’s take a look at the universe first.

The Golden Ratio

There is a special number, a ratio, that appears to exist in just about everything.  From the way that DNA spirals, to the way that plants’ leaves grow on the stalk, to the spiral arms of the galaxies, to the formation of crystals, and the spins of subatomic particles, there is a commonality in all of it.  The number is known as the Golden Ratio.  You can see it everywhere you look.  It appears in all of nature.  It is believed that the Golden Ratio may play a part in the human perception of beauty.

God left us a huge clue in both visually observable and non-visually observable (that which is too small to see with the naked eye) nature of all things.  God left us a signature that everything was created with purpose, and that it was the result of an ordered, intellectual pursuit rather than just random happenings.

Hierarchy of Angels

Paul clues us in to the structured order of ranks of angels, in this case, fallen angels:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The Trinity

There is structure in the Trinity.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God, yet each one has purpose and responsibility within their relationship to each other.  The following is not an exhaustive list of this order, but a very primitive overview to show that there is order within:

  • The Father oversees and judges
  • The Son creates and redeems
  • The Holy Spirit indwells, empowers, exhorts, consoles, convicts, counsels, exalts and points us to Christ

Each are co-equal as God, but each have different assigned roles.  And in this, there is great order and unity.  There is no dissension in the Trinity, only unity and order.

Course of Collapse

Careful observation of nature shows that there is another order.  There is a universal tendency for all things to move from an ordered state to an un-ordered state.  In other words, all matter moves from order to chaos.  Iron, in the presence of water, will always rust.  Rust, without some extraordinary measures, will never “degrade” back into pure iron and whatever other elements are released.  Bodies decompose after death.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if we poured chemicals into a vat, and slowly the chemicals interacted and formed a new body!

God has designed the universe to have universal, observable laws.  Laws like gravity, inertia, mathematics, and truth.  Each of these, without outside interference, will always give the same answers when they are probed.  Two plus two will always equal four, all things being equal (no outside interference).  Matter is attracted to planets (as opposed to being repelled by them).  An object in motion will stay in motion if there are no other forces exerted upon it.  We accept these as laws, and rely upon their very dependable, repeatable nature.

Imagine what would happen if the Earth no longer orbited the sun.  Imagine what would happen if the laws of inertia and gravity were nullified.  Imagine if gases, like our atmosphere, were to suddenly and without notice, change temperature and volume, with no discernible pattern.  There would be pandemonium and chaos.  Our world, and everything in it, on it, and above it, would be in constant flux.  We would be in constant panic, perishing left and right, with no ability to control or predict how the very things that we rely upon to live would contribute to our eventual, and very swift, destruction.

Love and the Law

If we look at the Law of God, the Law that God gave Moses for the people, each of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with others – our interactions with God and each other.  Whether it is obedience to God, or righteous conduct with others, these Commandments should guide our interactions.  Each of them is based in love.  In (agape*) love, there is peace and harmony.  This brings order into our lives.  Love fulfills the law because the law is designed to point to Love as the principle that governs perfect order in the universe.  Love brings order to chaos, and provides the right environment for the flourishing of relationship and conduct between us all.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Does order or chaos occur when I get involved?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious in all of Your ways.  Please help to bring order to my chaos.  Teach me what I can do to help stand strong in the waves of difficulty that occur when the enemy sows discord and anarchy in people.  Keep me strong, and guard me in all my ways.  Help others to see Your love through the order that occurs when disciples of Christ act in unison.  Help me to be a part of order rather than chaos, and to be yielded to the Holy Spirit as Your Son, Jesus Christ, was yielded to Him when Jesus walked the Earth nearly two thousand years ago.  Thank You, Father, for instilling order in Your creation and Your commands, that I would have structure and stability in my ways.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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  • The word agape is one of four Greek words that describe love (agape, eros, philia, storge).  This type of love has three defining characteristics – it is unconditional (no strings attached), sacrificial (requires that the giver make personal sacrifice over self to show love to another), and volitional (an act of the will, not emotion).  This is Godly love – love that is born from the desire to see another person prosper, grow, be nourished, and succeed ahead of our own selfish desire.

Relics and God – 1 Kings 13:21

The True Power Is In God And Not The Item

Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

Powerful Position

Elisha was endowed with a double-portion of the spirit of God at his request.  He recognized the importance of God’s role in the life of Elijah, and as his protégé, desired to be even more effective in ministry than his mentor.  When Elisha saw Elijah taken away by the chariots of God, the sign that Elijah had given to him that his request would be granted, the miracles that began to occur in his life were evidence of the granting of his request by God.  Two other important people who had items of theirs (in these cases cloth they owned or worn) that were directly implicated in the act of a healing miracle were Paul (napkins and aprons were taken to the sick and their illnesses cured and demons fled) and Jesus Christ (a woman with a bleeding disorder touched His robe and she was made well).

Miracles Manifested

In each case, God confirmed their calling with power and might.  Elisha performed great and mighty miracles to men.  This was to glorify God, and to help strengthen the faith of others.  Paul was divinely protected through many shipwrecks, survived what would have been a fatal snake bite, and many acts of miracles.   Jesus Christ fed thousands from a simple lunch of fish and bread, raised the dead, calmed the seas, healed the sick, cast out demons, and many other mighty displays of glorious power as manifested by God for His glory.  The power of God was upon each of these people mightily.

Residual Radiance

In the case of Jesus Christ and Paul, it was the person’s faith that healed.  The true power of God being manifested is through faith and not the object.  God is the giver of all power and might, and He is the one who enables miracles to occur.  In the case of Jesus Christ, He would often say, “Your faith has made you well.”  In the case of Paul, the faith that they had in God, working miracles through him, would make them well when his napkins and aprons were provided to the sick.

In the case of Elisha, we see something a little different.  The Israelites who threw the dead body on the bones of Elisha in his grave were not looking for a miracle.  They were out to bury a body.  But God sovereignly resurrected the dead man when he came into contact with the bones of Elisha as a testament to the calling of Elisha and the mighty power of God.  God sovereignly restored the man’s life to bear witness to His grace, power, and glory.

Some have taken these references to show that God somehow imbued the articles and bones of the past saints of God with special powers, and now call them relics.  But the real reason is that God is manifesting His power and glory for the deepening of our faith.  The items that people touch are not necessarily somehow anointed with the power of God, but rather God uses them to display His glory and grace so that our faith would grow in Him.

Gideon was mightily used by God, and when asked by the people to rule over them, told them that neither he nor his sons would rule over them, but that the Lord would rule over them.  Gideon later made an ephod out of some of the gold plunder of their conquered enemies, and it became a snare to them:

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson-because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”

23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

When we worship created things, rather than the Creator, it becomes a snare to us.  We must understand that all power and authority in is God and God alone.  When we look at items that God has used by others and look to the item for help, rather than God, we will be ensnared ourselves.  Give thanks and praise to the one who cures all illness and reconciles the lost to Himself, for He and He alone is worthy of the glory and praise, and it is God and God alone who is responsible for curing our disease:

He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Other Opinion

Another opinion in this is that when you take the scriptures that show that Moses’ face would glow from his presence in the glory of God, that the items worn, used, or physically part of the person were somehow infused with the glory of God.  In Act:19:11-12, it might be taken from the translation to indicate it was the power of God manifested in the miracles themselves that imbued the items with God’s power:

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

This would indicate that it was the belief that when God was working miracles, His power was still in the items.

Yet scripture must be taken as a whole.  And in every case, miracles could not happen without faith, and that in Almighty God.  When Jesus returned to His hometown, He could do very few miracles because of their lack of faith.  In every case, it is faith that enables God to work.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Where do I go first when I am in need of healing?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are the one who heals all of our diseases, gives us life and breath in our lungs.  Help us to look to You for all things.  Increase my faith, that I may always keep my eyes upon You.  And when miracles surround one of your disciples, help those watching to have faith in You and not in them or what they wear.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Fire-Breathing Dragons and God – Job 41:12-34

Myths Are Often Based In Fact

12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

Tantalizing Tale

Just when you thought you had seen everything, God decides to throw you a curve-ball.  Many people believe that dragons are merely folklore, stories to scare and entertain children, and the product of the imagination of overly bored fantasy writers.  If we believe the Bible, and that everything that is written in God’s word is truth, then we have an interesting dilemma – what do we do with Job 41?

Let’s take a closer look at the description of the Leviathan.  Perhaps we have written off a myth and lore a little too early as the delusional fantasy of bored writers?

Amazing Armor

The Leviathan has two coats of armor – an outer shell of something that God is calling shields.  Is it possible that the outer armor of the Leviathan are scales that are so thick that they are of a size, thickness, and hardness to be called shields?  Although the Bible doesn’t say exactly what the inner armor is, dragon’s skin has been said to be so tough, that spears, arrows, and swords could not penetrate it.  In folklore, only “magical” weapons could pierce it.

The shields (scales?) are so tightly connected, that not even air can get between them.  It is rumored that the scales of dragons are so tightly connected that it is nearly impossible for any weapon to pry between them to even attempt to pierce the inner skin.

Fiery Foe

One of the most powerful, and compelling, features of the dragon is the ability to breath fire.  Here in the Bible, we are told that Leviathan snorts out flashes of light, and that its eyes glow.  This might have been written off as an interesting optical feature, for other creatures can produce light.  But the Bible records that smoke pours out of its nostrils.  Additionally, flames stream from its mouth, and its breath will light coals on fire.  This is not merely some interesting optical phenomenon – it is fire coming forth from the mouth, and the smoke and light of the eyes are evidence of it.

Strangely Strong

The skin of the Leviathan is like a millstone – extremely strong and resistant to anything that might attempt to pierce it.  Even swords, arrows and spears are like hay against it.  This is no ordinary skin.  Nothing in the time of Job made by man could even touch it, let alone pierce it.  This very well could have been the second layer of armor mentioned.

Powerfully Protected

With two layers of armor – scales and skin, breath of fire so hot that it ignites coals, and powerful strength, what more could it need?  God gave it just a bit more.  It’s undersides are like pot shards – extremely jagged and sharp.  It leaves a wake as it moves, churning up the sediment below, but also boiling the water with its breath.  And it has a mouth ringed about with fearsome teeth.

Fearless Foe

Any who would come near the Leviathan would tremble with fear.  This was no ordinary creature.  God indicates that the Leviathan had no equal – nothing was as strong, powerful, dangerous, beautiful, graceful, or fearless.  The dinosaurs were large and ferocious.  But they were no match for the Leviathan.  Apart from flying not being mentioned by God in this passage of scripture, the Leviathan has every characteristic that was ever written about the fire-breathing dragon.

Superstition or Amazing Creation?  The Bible says it really existed.  We should believe what God has to say in His word.  What other interesting gems of intrigue are buried in the Bible?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When presented with information in the Bible that challenges my preconceptions of belief, how will I choose to respond?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are Wonderful Creator of all the universe, and everything in it.  Thank You for making the Leviathan, a creature of renown whose legends remain even today.  Your creativity and expressiveness in Your creation is beyond my ability to comprehend.  Help me, Father, when I am presented with truths in Your word that may conflict with my understanding of You, Your word, and reality.  Help me to accept Your word as truth, and to realign my thoughts, attitudes, and opinions to align with Yours.  Give me the grace to struggle with concepts that challenge my perceptions, and help me to come around so that I would embrace Your truth in every facet.  Father, You have taught me in Your word that we cannot cherry-pick what we want to believe, but rather that everything You say is truth, and that the truth would set us free.  Set me free from the bondage of lies, misinformation, and feelings that obscure Your truth.  Give me a heart of wisdom and discernment, that I would be able to let go of that which is false, and embrace all that is true.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity in Christ – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

God Desires Unity In The Body Of Christ

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Solidarity in Speech

God has, throughout His word, been consistent in His message to us, as He uses the life experiences of His people to reveal Himself to the world.  God has been consistent in His character, and expects us to be consistent as well.  If we are being led by the Holy Spirit of God, then we should all be saying the same things about God and His word, for His word doesn’t change.

When we are not in solidarity with what we are saying concerning God, it is because some (or all) of us are not being led by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God is not divisive, but rather gathers in unity.  It has been said that if several people are tasked to decide something, and all of them go into different rooms and pray, when they come out, they should all have the same answer, for there is but one Spirit of God who we are following.  If we have different (contradicting) answers, then we have a problem.  It is to the glory of God that there is unity in the body, and unity in speech is one of the outwardly evident signs that God is who He says He is as we live our lives.

Destroy Division

Paul further goes on to say that we need to ensure that there is no division among us.  The Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are in complete unity and harmony.  All three are in unison as they go about their assigned roles and tasks.  Each are God, and therefore omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  How can they be One if they are divided?

We are doing God a disservice when we are divided.  If there is a difference in opinion on how we are to be doing something, the people responsible need to seek God and ensure that they are seeking to submit themselves to the will of God.  It has been said, “United we stand, divided we fall”.  It is the desire and life’s work of the enemies of God to sow division among God’s people.  In unity, we are able to stand together as a single body against the power and efforts of the enemy:

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Chosen in Christ

In the Corinthian church, there was division by some people because they were proud as to who had mentored them.  They considered it a great honor to be mentored by someone of renown, such as Paul, and it became a badge of honor that was causing division among some of the people.   Paul tried to remind them that they were to be following Christ, and not men, for they were baptized and chosen in Christ, not in Paul, or Peter, or any of the other apostles.

When we categorize and rank ourselves with each other, we form cliques that cause division in the body.  Are we not all parts of the same body, whose head is Christ?  Were we not all baptized in Christ, rather than those who mentored us?  Paul reminds us to be wary of such division within The Church, for it is easy to be ensnared by the pride of life.  Each of us has been hand-picked by God to serve in our appointed roles.  We must remember that it is Jesus who is directing His church.  When we think that it is we who are directing it, we are not longer submitting to the Holy Spirit of God, but rather to our own passions.

Preach with Power

Paul uses a simple example of this with His own life.  Studying under Gamaliel was a great honor for Paul.  But Paul, as learned and capable as he was for making persuasive arguments and debating, preached Christ and Him crucified without wisdom or elegance.  By doing so, the power of the cross of Christ was made evident in the simple message – God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son for us to be crucified for our sins, that we would be able to be reconciled to the Father.  Preaching this message as “God has a wonderful plan for your life”, or using argument or pretense, is to empty the cross of Christ of its power to show the love and compassion that God the Father has towards us.

Although the great commission of Christ – to go forth and make disciples of every nation – is also followed with a command to baptize, the most important part is that disciples are made, and that they follow the commands of Jesus.  Obedience to Christ is the hallmark of discipleship, and without that, the rest is merely window dressing.  Let us walk therefore in the unity of the Spirit of God as we conduct ourselves each and every day that we may be found in Christ when He returns.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I promoting unity in the church through submission to Christ and one another?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are all-powerful, glorious, and beautiful to behold.  I ask and pray this day that You would fill Your people with the desire to walk, talk, and think in unity with the Holy Spirit so that through submission we function as the body of Christ.  Please remove division and pride within the body so that we can follow You as You intend for us to follow.  Strengthen the body through unparalleled unity so that we would be filled with Your power, presence, and purpose.  Help us to seek unity in the body, and to rid ourselves of the desire to be noticed by others, desiring only to hear our Lord and Savior say to us when we finally meet Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Strengthen us for the difficulties ahead, and place the burden of unity and submission upon the hearts of each and every person who is called by Your name and whose name is written in the book of life.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Joy of God – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

God Fills Us With Joy

4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Children are Chosen

God has chosen His children.  He has predestined that all men should be drawn to His Son since Jesus was crucified.  The true children have heard, and will hear, the message of the Gospel with joy, and it will manifest itself with power through the Holy Spirit in the deep conviction that comes with the witness of the Holy Spirit about all things that are true. Truth is no longer an abstract concept relegated to relativism, but is now the embodiment of the Son of God who has declared:

“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Holy Spirit of God bears witness to the truth and power of the word of the Living God as the word penetrates into the hearts of all who listen.  God’s word will not go void;  everywhere it is heard, His word will have effect upon all who hear it.  The soil of our hearts is being plowed by the difficulties of life and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Even in the darkest of times, the Holy Spirit of God is able to soften the hardest of hearts in the emotional pain of suffering and loss.  God has said through His servant Paul that we are predestined to be His children.  We merely need to respond to the message.

Severe Suffering

We know that we are His children because we have responded to His word, and it has grown in us through the hardship of life.  Paul reiterates that when we become imitators of him, we are being imitators of the one who sent him.  Hardship and suffering produce perseverance,  which produces character, which then produces hope – a fully justified expectation of completion of what has been promised.

When we are tried through the crucible of suffering, our faith is tested, and it grows.  Those who do not have a deep faith in the solid rock of Christ will find that whatever they have placed their faith in will be eroded by the crashing waves of hardship and suffering, just as sand is swept away by the outgoing tide.  The sand erodes, and exposes the fragility of the foundation upon which the building was laid.  But upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ, no hardship or suffering can prevail.  For it is within Christ that we have our joy. and the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Justified Joy

The Holy Spirit testifies of the Son of God, and fills us with joy as we cling tightly to the author and perfecter of our faith.  And a peace that transcends understanding fills our heart.  We may not understand why, but we know that our joy is justified, well-placed, and authentic.  Nothing and no one can take that joy from us except that we take our eyes off of the one who beautiful gaze is the sole object of our affection:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. – Helen Howarth Lemmel (1863-1961)

It is in the light of His glory and grace that we find our peace and our joy.  In these desperate and wicked times, turn to the author and perfecter of your faith, and witness the joy and peace that transcends understanding as He fills your heart with Himself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing the joy of the Lord to fill me up during my duress?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, glory and power be to You who are exalted above all.  Praise be to You in all things, for You are all in all, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  Thank You for bringing me joy through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit as I walk in Your ways.  Give me a heart of thanksgiving and joy as I contemplate the magnitude of all that You have wrought.  Tune my heart to Yours, and help me to endure the trials that are and that are to come.  Prepare me for the great and terrible day of the return of Your son.  Help my life to be a witness to the love, grace, and mercy that You extend to all people in the hopes of reconciling everyone to Yourself.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Give Thanks to God – Psalm 136:1-3

Always Give Thanks To God

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

Thoroughly Thankful

In this Psalm, the author stresses that we should give thanks to God.  Everyone benefits from God’s grace and mercy whether they realize it or not:

  • Every breath is a gift from God
  • The sun rises on the good and the evil
  • He causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust
  • Every good giving and every perfect gift is from God.

The list goes on and on.  We are the recipients of a loving and faithful God who greatly desires to pour out His blessing upon us.  We are directed to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us.  The author then goes on to list some very good reasons to give thanks to God:

God is Good

The first of these is that God is Good.  God is the embodiment of everything that is good.  He is holy – there is no evil or malice within Him.  His holiness is so perfect, that even the angels who surround His throne righteously declare the character and nature of God.  No human being can gaze upon His face without being utterly destroyed.  Moses was only allowed to see His trailing glory, and his time spent with God was so close that Moses’ face glowed, and the people were frightened.  Since God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can always count on the goodness of God.  And as such, He and He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

God of gods

The next aspect of God that the author takes note of is that He is the God of all gods.  This is not to say that there is any God other than YHWH; this is merely to highlight and denote that God is above all.  Those who worship false gods and idols do not worship the One True God.  There is none like Him.  All power, authority, and dominion is YHWH’s and His alone.  He delegates authority as He sees fit.  But God will not share His glory – for only He is worthy of all glory.

Lord of Lords

The third aspect of God that the author takes note is that He is Lord of lords.  This rightly implies that YHWH is sovereign over all.  No one and nothing is His equal nor above Him in power and authority.  He created all things, and in Him all things have their being.  All authority is invested in Him, and He gives out authority as He sees fit.  He is the ruler over all.  And when the Judgment of God comes, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord:

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Lasting Love

Because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can count on his enduring love.  God loves us in a way that we cannot even fathom.  Just as God gives parents the ability and desire to rejoice in and see the benefit of their children, God’s love for us – His children – is a million-fold greater.  We cannot even conceive of the love that God has for us.  And when the Son of God comes again in glory, and gathers the righteous to Him and the unrighteous to judgment, we will fully know as we are fully known in love by the One who is God, King of kings and Lord of lords.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I truly have a thankful heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are worthy of all praise and worship and glory.  May the meditations of my heart be upon You always.  Help me to cultivate a heart that is thankful in all circumstances.  Help me to always remember that You do not change, and that Your love endures forever.  Give me strength through my trials that I may not falter, but gaze upon Your glory and beauty.  Show me where I need to grow, and provide the necessary circumstances to get me there.  Help me to be thankful through it all, that You may receive the glory that You so rightly deserve.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Deuteronomy 6:8

When God makes promises, circumstances change.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Not Just for Joshua

The author of Hebrews took to heart that this promise was not just for Joshua, son of Nun, but reiterated it in Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

A Promise Provided

This promise is fulfilled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He is a down-deposit for our inheritance.  He won’t just go away when we sin, or are in need, or feel lonely, or scared, or depressed.  He is ALWAYS there – comforting us, guiding us, leading us, empowering us, and encouraging us in our walk with God.

Light Leads through Love

Ephesians 5:18, showing us that the Holy Spirit leads us, saying:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

The word “filled” is plErousthe in the Greek.  It means “to be controlled by.”  Just as wine controls us in drunkenness (who can honestly say that they are in their right mind and in control when they are drunk?), we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.  It is an imperative command – not a suggestion!  We are expected to do this!

Since God is love, everything that The Holy Spirit does is in love – even if it is to refine our character and test our hearts through trialseven when we sleep!  We can be confident that when God is leading, we are in good hands.

Provision of Power

God doesn’t just give us an empty promise.  He promises not to forsake us.  To do that, He empowers us through The Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God provides us with the source of the power of the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t just dwell in us; He provides power for all that we are to do.  We can take comfort and strength knowing that He is not just accompanying us through our journey, but providing for us as well.

The Fear Factor

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for prey to devour.  Lions are not creatures that we should confront without appropriate protection or weaponry.  It is easy to be frightened when confronting a force that can easily overwhelm and destroy you.  Have you noticed that just about every time an angel visits someone in the Bible, the very first words out of their mouth is “do not fear”?  There is a very good reason for that.  When confronted with the power of angelic beings, we are immediately aware of our fragile nature.

But God has provided us with the Spiritual Armor of God.  And we have an offensive weapon as well – the Sword of the Spirit, which IS the scriptures.  And God’s Word says that there is no fear in perfect love.  Since God is love, and we are in Christ, we no longer need to fear.  Fear is predicated on consequences, and ALL of our sins – past, present and future – have been forgiven.  God has chosen not to forsake us, and even in our incapacity to live life perfectly because of our sin nature, God still provides for our future sins, having known about them from before time began.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question:  given this wonderful promise, are we allowing the Holy Spirit of God free rein to lead and empower our lives as we walk with God to the extent that we should?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made us this wonderful promise.  Give me the strength today to let go of those things that interfere in Your guidance of my life.  Rid me of my own evil desires, and place within me the desires of Your heart.  Help me to yield myself to you completely as a living sacrifice.  Remove the dross from my heart, and help me to submit completely to the Holy Spirit.  Father, I recognize that in submission to You there is freedom.  Set me free from myself that I may be free in You.  Bless Your Holy Name, for You give Your children wonderful gifts and promises.  Knowing that I am never alone, and always in Your care comforts me through my trials.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Mark 9:29

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting (the text in these brackets does not appear in all of the manuscripts)].

Some of the greatest feats in the Bible were done by people who prayed AND fasted.  Fasting is a nearly lost discipline in the American church.  We have been so blessed by God, we truly miss our three square meals (and sometimes snacks in between) each day.  People in Biblical times knew the value of fasting, and its importance.

In Mark 9:14-29, we see a desperate father looking to the disciples for help with his demonically possessed son.  They had tried unsuccessfully to remove the spirit that had seized the boy and tried to kill him.  Luke tells us, however, that Jesus had already given the disciples power and authority to drive out demons and heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).  So what made this so difficult?  Jesus provides us with the clue in His response to the disciples’ question about why they couldn’t drive it out – this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.

It wasn’t the act of prayer, or even fasting, that made it possible.  It was the relationship with the Father that gave Jesus the ability to drive it out.  Prayer is our first go-to for intimacy with God (although some find it through praise worship).  However, we have a sin nature, and our flesh can cause us problems.  The flesh is constantly crying out, “feed me”, “pamper me”, “I don’t want to”, and all other kinds of rebellion towards God.  Paul said he beat his body into submission.

One of the easiest, or hardest – depending on your viewpoint, ways to bring your body back into submission is fasting.  The flesh greatly dislikes being denied its pleasures – food, sexual gratification, comfort, etc.  When we fast, the flesh initially protests.  But after a while, it calms down, and we experience a type of peace that we don’t normally have when we eat.  As our bodies are brought into submission, we are able to draw ever so much closer to God in prayer.

Jesus knew this spiritual discipline, and practiced it often.  When the Holy Spirit let Him out into the desert to be tempted (tested) by the devil, He was fasting.  He was fasting the day that he drove out the spirit from the boy that was brought to Him.  Jesus is our role model.  We should walk as He walked.  And He fasted.  Even the Pharisees fasted, but to outwardly show their piousness, rather than draw close to God.  Daniel, when seeking an answer, fasted by only eating simple food to mourn and draw close to God.

Are you lacking power in your spiritual life?  Do you require answers in order to move on?  Do you seek a more intimate relationship with God?  Be obedient to God’s word, and fast.  Tell God in prayer that it is the desire of your heart to draw close to Him, and when you fast, He will meet with you in a mighty way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is my desire to draw very close to You.  Help me to overcome my flesh, and be obedient to Your word.  Help me to set aside time to fast, that I may experience Your presence and power in a more intimate, satisfying, and joyful way.  Help me to bring my flesh into submission through fasting.  Grant Your servant success that it might bring glory to Your name.  This I humbly pray in the character of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?