Archive for June, 2013

Someone is Plotting Against You

June 30, 2013

In literary terms, the plot is defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, how the reader views the story, or simply by coincidence. Let’s be clear, I am not referring to the literary definition; however, many a story surface when Someone is Plotting Against You.

The Freedictionary.com provides an explanation of the idiom “plotting against someone”. It defines plotting against someone as to make a scheme against someone or something. There have been polls and writing activities designed to measure or explain when Someone is Plotting Against You. Indicative of that  is the poll that asked “Take this poll! If you suspected someone was plotting against you what would you do?” or the blog that directed readers to “Write about a time when you discovered that someone was purposefully plotting against you for some reason. Explain the situation. How you felt, how it turned out.”

All this leads me to ask, why would someone want to plot against you? By virtue of the definition, the connotation is that the scheme or plan is not for edification but for harm or maltreatment. One who wants to hurt you is one who has no regard for you. Simply put, that one does not care, like or love you. Certainly, there are people who fit that category. We face them frequently in life. We see them in the work place, schools, business, politics and sadly to say in church, but the greatest one whom we can say  Someone is Plotting Against You is satan and his minions.

In John 10, Jesus shares this with the disciples in the parable about the Good Shepherd versus the hired hand. We first see God as shepherd in Genesis 48Psalms 23 also asserts this aspect of the character of God. Jesus says in John 10, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The contrast Jesus demonstrates between He and satan is analogous to the light and darkness comparison. The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy. There is not one positive in that description. Those certainly do not edify where as the thief wants to take life, but Jesus laid down His life. The thief came only to steal and destroy life, but Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. The life that Jesus gives is unique because it is eternal, and He gives this life in ever-growing abundance to those whom He saves or redeems.

In Acts 9, we see that Paul is one whom Christ called and redeemed. Like Jesus and Peter, Paul frequently had Someone is Plotting Against Him. Chapter after chapter in Acts we see this. This brings us to Acts 20.

When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece,where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through MacedoniaHe was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

What can we learn about the plots against Paul? There are a myriad of things. First, we will have satan, through people, plotting against us if we stand for Christ in this world. Next, it is wise to have friends and co-laborers with us as we pursue the purposes of Christ in our lives. Next, we need to make sure that we stay in touch with our roots. Paul went back to Jerusalem to reconnect with those whom he began the faith. The benefit is for Paul, Luke and all who are traveling with them to be encouraged as they seek to proclaim the gospel. As long as we proclaim the gospel, satan will work through people to plot against us.

We sing a song, In Christ Alone, at church that reminds me that Someone is Plotting Against You, but it does not matter as their scheme will fail.  “In Christ Alone” is a popular, modern Christian song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. Take a listen if you like.

No Choice in Trusting God

June 29, 2013

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  When I learned this verse a long time ago, it was ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hoped for and certain of what we do not see.’ I am not sure of the version, but it was burned in my mind. To this day, that is the memory that surfaces when I think of Hebrews 11:1. Regardless, faith is described as futuristic experience centered around past experiences of God’s faithfulness. It is seeing now what can’t be seen.

We all see things that we want in the future. When I was smaller, I saw me growing over six feet tall. Did not happen. I saw me being financially wealthy. Did not happen. I saw me being a dynamic worker in the business world. Did not happen. What about those things that I was sure of and certain that I did not see. I had faith, so why didn’t it happen. Biblical faith has God/Christ as the object of our confidence; yet, it understands that the sovereign God has a plan for our lives that is good, pleasing and perfect. It is trusting and believing in who God is, His character, and what God has said, His Word. Faith must revolve around the promises of God and not our idea of what is best. Remember Numbers 23:19 which says “God is not a man, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Normally, I will start off with biblical examples to serve as examples of what I assert. Today, I am going to start off with me. God called me to Himself to have faith in Him. In every circumstance in life, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

God has given us His promises to thrive and to testify to His character and power. Let me give you a couple of examples. Last Saturday, I needed to get my car checked out because it was sputtering. I figured it was a spark plug or wires for the spark plug, but before I left, my wife and I prayed that the repairs would not exceed $400, $500. I went to Integrity Auto & Body which is owned by a friend from college. It wasn’t the wires, but the plugs were very worn; however, that was not the biggest problem. He took me car. He showed me the timing belt which was very loose. It’s not supposed to be. He could almost take it off with his hand. Had not the cover been on it. It would have come off. Talk about a another challenge. The technician looked over my car and gave me the estimate. It was over $500. Did not happen. I shared with him that I could not pay that. He called the owner, Dorian Rogers, who said he would be there shortly to see what could be changed. He got there and stated that they could forego some things that were normally performed for that job. With that, I got out of there for what my wife and I had prayed. On top of that, the technician found that he could repair my air conditioner without $$$$$$$. I drove away truly praising God. The air eventually went back out this week, but the point was that God wanted to show me that He could do anything. He wanted to renew my faith in Him.

Let me give you another example. A former colleague stopped by the school to see me on Thursday. Her journey to have children is similar to my wife’s and many other women. After attempting to conceive, she finally got pregnant, but she has miscarried twice. I remember discussing the last loss last year. Understandably, she was devastated after losing her second child. As soon as she responded to my text with that she’d like to stop by to see me, the Spirit of God told me she was pregnant. I thought to myself that she would be showing, so I responded that would love to SEE you. Playing on her size. Well, when she came to my office, she was not showing. I thought to myself well Lord, I know what you said. We caught up with one another, and after a while, she told me she was indeed pregnant. That was not the remarkable part. What was remarkable was that she was not cautious and guarded as most women are after losing two children. She simply stated that God has a plan. If I have a child, I have a child. If not, I don’t. Her resolve to trust God regardless of the outcome was encouraging. It is an example of true faith. She just decided to live above the hurt, the pain, the depression. She told me she did not have a choice in trusting God. It is either trust God or go on medication to live which would not be living. She also told me that she did not have a choice in trusting God.

No choice in trusting God. Like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jeremiah, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, we have No choice in trusting God if we want to please Him. Hebrews 11:6 tell us “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Those listed in the first sentence of this paragraph are a testament to God rewarding those who earnestly seek Him. If we are anxious, worried, afraid or down right fearful, we are not trusting God. If we aren’t trusting God, it is because we are not seeking Him or believing Him. We are not seeking Him in prayer. We are not seeking Him in making His thoughts our thoughts. We have No choice in trusting God in order to live the life He called us to live. In Romans 1:6, Paul tells us “And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Paul also tells us “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Without faith in God, we can’t be justified and gloried, so you see, we have No choice in trusting God.

 

Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D.

June 22, 2013

In the post Have Faith; God is with You, the main point was that God promised His presence and His power to the believer in Christ Jesus. As such, our faith is rooted in the person or character of God. Numbers 23:19 , in part, defines the character of God. He is faithful to His promises. He is immutable which means not to change unlike man who lies one moment then is truthful the next. Since God does not lie nor does He change, that should drive our response. All we need is the confidence to believe that God has said what He has said. We need a promise.

Listen to these statements about God’s promises:

2 Corinthians 1:20-22
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Hebrews 6:17-20
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

With God’s promises, the believer should have Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D. In the most common understanding, a F.A.D. is a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct according to dictionary.com. Fashion is trendy. What was hot this year is not the next. It’s here  today but gone tomorrow. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8. God has declared and demonstrated that He does not change.

As such, God requires us to have Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D. Our faith must not be temporary or ebbs and flows with the circumstances of life. It must be constant. Why? We have promises in the Word of God that serve as the basis of our confidence or Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D. Faith that is F.A.D.dish is intense but short-lived. What causes our faith to be F.A.D.dish? Exactly that a F.A.D.

By now, I am sure that you have recognized F.A.D. as an acronym. F.A.D is Fear and Doubt. Our Faith in Christ must be Beyond Fear and Doubt. We know from Hebrews 11:1 that “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We also know from verse 6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Fear and doubt work in sharp  contrast to faith. Faith says I completely trust and believe in you God that I will believe and act on things that do not make sense to me. That’s what Hebrews 11 depicts along with the posts The Joy of the Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame Finishers are based on Hebrews 11.

True faith is not temporary but consistent in trusting who God is and what God has said. It is resting in His presence and power. This is why knowing the Word of God is so essential. For in the Word of God, all the promises for life and godliness lie. If we stand on the Word of God, we will have Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D. Tomorrow, we will come full circle on Judges 6-7 as well as other scriptures that evidence Faith in Christ: Beyond a F.A.D.

Have Faith; God is with You.

June 21, 2013

I know that I have been absent for a couple of days. Forgive me. I spent a week on the west coast and my internal clock is off. I have been waking up later as I did today; however, I do not have to leave the house at 7 for a meeting.

Now that is out of the way, I am truly excited about what I am writing about today. The title of the post came as a result of my wife asking me to read the story of Gideon with her yesterday. You see, my wife sees me closer than anyone on this earth. After God, she has the keenest insight into my thoughts, feelings and actions. Gideon’s story is found in Judges 6-7. Additionally, the pivotal verse is Numbers 23:19 which says “God is not a man, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

What we believe about God will drive what we do? If we believe God, we will trust Him. If we doubt God, we will trust in someone or something else. This explains the fluctuations in the demonstrations of our faith. Remember what God says in Hebrews 11:6? “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Numbers 23:19 defines the character of God. He is faithful to His promises. He is immutable which means not to change like man who lies one moment then is truthful the next.

Since God does not lie nor does He change, that should drive our response. All we need is the confidence to believe that God has said what He has said. After meeting with an old neighbor and educational consultant Wednesday night, that was one of our discussion points. We talked about following God if we were convinced He had spoken to us. I know God confirmed that point because the very next day my wife brought Judges 6-7. As an aside but very important point, yesterday was my son’s birthday. Nine years ago, he was born on Father’s Day. God allowed that then to make a statement to him and to me that He was our heavenly Father who is present, protects, provides and powerful.

Those same attributes were presented in Judges 6-7.  A

After the repenting from their apostasy, God reminds the Israelites “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” Then this is what happened for Gideon, And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Following that, Gideon is told

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

There are so many points that are made in Judges 6-7. The main point I want to make today is that God promised His presence and His power. I want to thank Charles Stanley for pointing that out in those terms. In the post Do not fear, for I am with You, I asked you to remember God tells us in Isaiah 41:13 “13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Hold out your hand and trust the Lord. If you have been called and chosen, He promises to help those who have entered into that covenant relationship with Him. If you are not sure whether you have entered that covenant relationship, email or call me.

Tomorrow, I will write from this same text about Faith in God: More than a F.A.D.

Right Work with Wrong Motives

June 15, 2013

In the post What Can God Do Through You?, we are provided one example of God demonstrating His power through/in our lives. It was also asserted that God can do anything through a man or woman who allows himself/herself be used as God desires. God can even use those who have not yielded control of their lives to Him.

In verses 13-16, we seek those who had impure motives experience success for a season before God held them accountable. The bible is replete with the those who commit to the Right Work with Wrong Motives. Let me give you a few examples. Cain was the first to commit to a work with the wrong motives in terms of the sacrifice.  At some point, King Saul’s motives became wrong in serving as king of Israel. God allowed him to serve, but then replaced him with David whom Saul tried to kill many times over before he himself met his demise. Remember Judas one of the twelve. He committed to the right work but for the wrong reason. He betrayed Jesus for money then killed himself after awakening from his stupor. We can’t forget Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They too committed to the right work, selling their property and giving to the work of God via the disciples, with the wrong motives.

Here in Acts 19, we see another example from the Word of God where people had the Right Work with Wrong Motives.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

As you will recall from verses 11-12, there were people who took handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Not wanting this opportunity to be seen as powerful and still relevant pass them by, some Jews, who desired to remain as an authority figure among the people, went around driving out evil spirits. In ancient times it was common practice to use magical names to drive out evil spirits. Jews in Ephesus presumed “to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus” over those possessed, trying to imitate what Paul did (v. 1216:18). Commentator David Brown wrote that these wandering Jews,” who went from place to place practicing exorcism, or the art of conjuring evil spirits to depart out of the possessed. That such a power did exist, for some time at least, seems implied in Mat 12:27 . But no doubt this would breed imposture; and the present case is very different from that referred to in Luke 9:49- 50.

There those casting out demons were approved of by Christ as having the right motives; however here, the contrast is that they had wrong motives and we see that from the consequences of their actions. Listen to the Word of God: “15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” The evil spirit stated that he knew Jesus and knew about Paul, but the spirit did not know who they were who invoked the names of Jesus and Paul.

They had Right Work with Wrong Motives which led to their beating and nakedness. Do you have the right motives in serving God/Christ? This is something that we must really give attention to in our lives. From how we serve one another to God. God is always assessing our heart which is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Check your heart rate throughout the day to see if your actions are for you or for God.

What Can God Do Through You?

June 14, 2013

One attribute about God is that He is omnipotent which refers to Him being almighty or infinite in power. Power is the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something according to dictionary.com.  Since God has infinite ability to accomplish His purpose in our lives, the answer to the question What Can God Do Through You? should be whatever He wants to do. Despite that, God chooses to limit His power through a person’s life based on that person’s openness to God working through him/her. In essence, our response to God regulates the power He chooses to display in our lives. When we are “All in”, God can do anything through you.

The term “All in” is ubiquitous in today’s lexicon. God wants our response to Him to be “All in”. When we are “All in”, God can do anything through you. We know that God, of which Jesus is, did amazing miracles. Jesus turned water to wine, made the lame to walk, the blind to see and raised the dead to life. That’s Jesus. We understand that we are not God incarnate. That reality begs me to ask the question What Can God Do Through You? I must admit the sobriety of my humanity does not evoke great confidence; however, the Word of God brings proper thinking.

In response to What Can God Do Through You?, God gives us some insight throughout the Word, but today, we will focus on Paul in Acts 19. In reference to the question at hand, we are provided one example of God demonstrating His power through/in our lives. In verses 11 and 12, we are told the following:

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 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.

While I am not claiming to be Paul, God’s message is clear through Paul’s example. God can do anything through him/her that allows himself/herself be used as God desires. God can even use those who have not yielded control of their lives to Him. The text tells us that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. That means that they were not ordinary miracles. Miracles are beyond what we can do, but here we are told they are unusual or special. Regardless, God is clear that He did something beyond the typical workings in the lives of the disciples (Acts 5:12Acts 14:3Acts 15:12Acts 16:18Mark 16:17-20John 14:12;Romans 15:18,19Galatians 3:5Hebrews 2:4). We know from Romans 15:18 that God does miracles whether in word or deed to make the Gentiles obedient. That is to cause us to surrender our lives as ardent followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As with Paul, God desires to use believers to accomplish His will.

Furthermore, God will used others who were not well-known or even identified to cure people and to cause evil spirits to leave them as we are told in verse 12.  Paul was so anointed by God that handkerchiefs and aprons, perhaps that he wiped or wore while preaching or working, to be used by others to bring about healing. This was the special miracle. This is reminiscent of the woman in Matthew 9 and those in Matthew 14 touching the hem of Jesus’ garment to be healed.

The question is What Can God Do Through You?  I hope that you can see that God can do anything through anyone especially those who believe and pursue God with right motives. Tomorrow, we will see the limits God imposed on those who pursued with impure motives. What about your motives. Are they pure? Are you even seeking to be used by God to accomplish His will – mankind being obedient to God the Father. If not, God offers us all the opportunity to repent and be blessed. Repent now and be blessed.

What’s Your Purpose? To Proclaim His Name

June 10, 2013

 

Whether through philosophers like Plato and Socrates or the Zen and Bahá’í faiths, people all over the world are looking to answer the question of what is their purpose? Why are they here? There are strings of quotes, books, websites dedicated to helping people find that answer. One website claims to help you discover your purpose in twenty minutes. On the surface, the twenty-minute claim seems a little far-fetched; however, I can ‘name that tune’ in less time than that -like by 18 minutes.

Throughout the bible, the Word of God, God conveys to us our purpose. John 15 is one of those places. Jesus says, “16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” One would have to explore what Jesus meant about bearing fruit, but the reality of purpose of our lives is there. In Matthew 4, Jesus tells Simon-Peter and Andrew, “19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” There is another example of the purpose of our lives.

In Acts 9:15 concerning Paul, God told Ananias “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” What is the province of Asia? The passages in the New Testament where this word occurs are the following; Ac 2:9; 6:9; 16:6; 19:10,22,26,27; 20:4,16,18; 21:27; 27:2; Ro 16:5; 1Co 16:19; 2Co 1:8; 2Ti 1:15; 1Pe 1:1; Re 1:4,11 In all these it may be confidently stated that the word is used for a Roman province which embraced the western part of the peninsula of Asia Minor and of which Ephesus was the capital.

As we continue our journey through Acts, we are in Acts 19. From chapter 9 when God called Saul who became Paul, we have seen him fish for men. We have seen him bear fruit that will last. We have seem him proclaim the name of God. Let’s see in a few verses this again.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Just in those three verses, there is a great deal of thought, information and understanding. We learn about Paul. His approach to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. We learn about people’s response to proclaiming His name. We learn about how Paul worked with disciples. We learn that God’s purpose of speaking to the Jews then to the Gentiles was continuing as He proclaimed Jesus in Ephesus.

Paul spoke boldly. He argued persuasively. He did not argue like we know as in shouting and threatening. He used information that people knew and that which they did not to prove or have people consider Christ in ways they never had before. This was in the fashion of debate or lawyers who provide his/her point. We know that some people believed while others refused to believe and maligned the Way. The Way was what Jesus proclaimed to the disciples who in turn proclaimed to the world. It was different, so it was called the Way.

The Way is what we are here for. We see Paul demonstrate that after the Jews cause problems for him speaking in the synagogue. A Greek schoolmaster, Tyrannus, allowed him to use his place to proclaim Christ. A lot of things changed for Paul. Regions, cities, people changed, but what did not change was Paul’s commitment to proclaim the gospel. In his job as a tentmaker, Paul’s purpose did not change. No matter what, no mater where, no matter with whom, Paul answers What’s Your Purpose? To Proclaim His Name. 

If you are not convinced what your purpose is, just read the Word. It is revealed there. I am available for you to confer with as well; however, the Word of God is the authority on the purpose of your life. Jesus himself said, “16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” Find out what fruit means and why it is to be born and you find your purpose.

Spirit for All

June 9, 2013

As Paul enters Ephesus again, he encounters some disciples who had believed in Jesus as Messiah, yet, they had not received the Holy Spirit. Let’s see it in Acts 19

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

The experience the Ephesian Gentiles had when receiving the Holy Spirit parallels that of the Jews (2:411), Samaritans (8:14–17), and God-fearing Gentiles (10:44–46). This episode is an extension of the Pentecost experience to yet another group of people (v. 2 note). “Prophesying” in this passage may be equivalent to “telling . . . the mighty works of God” (2:11) or speaking so as to extol God (10:46).

While those experiences of people receiving the Holy Spirit involved similar response of people speaking in tongues and prophesying, we should not expect that response in every instance of someone believing in Christ today. Let these verses guide you.

2 Corinthians 1:22 –  set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:5 – Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Ephesians 1:13-14 – 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

In a further dispensation, God chose not to necessarily have people speak in tongues or prophesy upon receiving the Spirit. God assumed the role of conferring or placing the Spirit in believers as the verses above reveal and support as well as my life testifies. Of this matter, Matthew Henry wrote “Have you had that seal of the truth of Christ’s doctrine in yourselves?” We are not now to expect any such extraordinary gifts as they had then. The canon of the New Testament being long since completed and ratified, we depend upon that as the most sure word of prophecy. But there are graces of the Spirit given to all believers, which are as earnests to them, (see the verses above). Now it concerns us all who profess the Christian faith seriously to enquire whether we have received the Holy Ghost or not. The Holy Ghost is promised to all believers, to all petitioners (Luke 11:13); but many are deceived in this matter, thinking they have received the Holy Ghost when really they have not. As there are pretenders to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so there are to his graces and comforts; we should therefore strictly examine ourselves, Have we received the Holy Ghost since we believed? The tree will be known by its fruits. Do we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit? Are we led by the Spirit? Do we walk in the Spirit? Are we under the government of the Spirit?”

There is the The Spirit for All who believe in Christ. As with most things, there is a counterfeit of them. Matthew Henry repeats what Jesus tells us about a tree and its fruit to help us have clarity on those who have received the Spirit. Make sure that you examine your life and the lives of those who profess Christ for the Fruit of the Spirit. For as believers, we must Walk by the Spirit.

The Anchor for My Soul

June 7, 2013

In the purest sense according to dictionary.com, an anchor is any of various devices dropped by a chain, cable or rope to the bottom of a body of water for preventing or restricting the motion of a vessel or other floating object, typically have a broad, hook-like arms that bury themselves in the bottom to provided a firm hold. Generally, an anchor is any similar device for holding fast or checking motion. Specifically, an anchor is a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability or security; mainstay. Spiritually, the Word of God, which is inclusive of Jesus and the written Word, is our anchor. The Greek word used for anchor in Hebrews 6 19 is agkyra. Aagkyra means 1) an anchor 2) metaphorically any stay or safeguard.

The Word of God and Jesus are The Anchors for My Soul. As I laid in the bed earlier this morning contemplating some issues I am dealing with at work, the Word of God was presented to me in my thoughts. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse He gave me when directing me into education 23 years ago – Isaiah 41:10.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The comforts presented in this text are that 1. God is with me. You should do a search on the term “God was with you, him”. You would be amazed and encouraged. 2. God is my God. 3. God will strengthen and help me. 4. God will uphold me with His righteous right hand. I don’t have enough time to express what those things meant and mean to me, but you should inquire of God what they mean for you. They are my comforts.

Listen to this comfort from Hebrews 6:17-20

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

What hope? Ligonier Ministries conveys it as “The unchanging promise God conveyed to Abraham and the oath that confirmed it, raising it above all uncertainty or distrust (vv. 1314 note). The oath confirms that the promise was indeed the purpose of God.”Matthew Henry wrote “The comforts of this world are too weak to bear up the soul under temptation, persecution, and death; but the consolations of the Lord are neither few nor small. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their strongest trials.”  The Word of God is our anchor.

Jesus is called the Word of God. Jesus is called, “the Word of God.” Although Scripture does not define what is meant by that term it could refer to the fact that He is the personification of the written and spoken word. The testimony that God revealed through the prophets during the Old Testament period was now made human with the coming of Christ. Hence the Word became flesh. The scriptures support this claim. Listen to the written Word concerning the living Word.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God (John 1:1).

The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the word of God (Revelation 19:13).

Whether in written form or in Jesus, the Word of God is The Anchor for My Soul. What is anchoring your soul?

Demonstrate Discipleship

June 4, 2013

In the post More than a Chance Encounter, I stated that Acts 18 chronicles additional examples of how the gospel of Jesus Christ began to be spread especially as it relates to how God used Paul. In the first two verses of Acts 18, Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla who became partners with him in sharing the gospel. We see that God is fulfilling His promise Jesus made in Acts 1:8 which says, “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.” Aquila and Priscilla accompany Paul to Syria, Antioch and Ephesus.

Now at the end of Acts 18, we see Aquila and Priscilla Demonstrate Discipleship as they replicate what Paul did in their lives.  Apollos, a new believer, surfaces. He was from Alexandria which if you recall was in Egypt on the Mediterranean portion of the county. He is also said to have been a Jews and “a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.” He is credited with speaking with eloquence which enabled him to express clearly and enforce skillfully what, as a Jew, he had gathered from a diligent study of the Old Testament Scriptures

Despite Apollos’ giftedness, Aquila and Priscilla that he had not been informed of Jesus fulfilling the prophecy of the Messiah who saved through spiritual means. As a consequence, the Word says, “they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Just as Paul had done with them, Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos. They Demonstrate Discipleship in developing the understanding of Apollos about Jesus Christ. 

This begs me to ask of myself to whom have I Demonstrated Discipleship. Currently, I am guilty of not pouring into the life or lives of another for Christ’s sake. The failure to replicate the multiplication process has been another failure on my part for Christ. Sure, I share Christ. I do a poorer job of demonstrating Him in my daily affairs, but God calls on us, at least for a time, to have a life on life relationship with another whom we can share what we have been given. Paul gave to Aquila and Priscilla who gave to Apollos and others as the text tells us further along.

Father, forgive me for failing you. I have not lived up to the standard that you given me to Demonstrate Discipleship. Please help me to live out my purpose. Sharpen me that I would have Christ to offer someone without disqualifying Jesus by my words and deeds. Father, help me, like Paul, Aquila and Priscilla whom I can share Jesus with more thoroughly. You have called me to be your disciple. Move me out of the way that I would fulfill your purpose in my life. Amen.