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nChrist
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« Reply #45 on: February 25, 2006, 08:36:54 AM »

February 24

The Holy Spirit and Going On with God

Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

The work of the Holy Spirit is required for people to start out with God through new birth and justification. The Holy Spirit must also be at work in believers if they are to go on with God in growth and sanctification. These truths are declared in Gal_3:2-3 (which we viewed earlier regarding "The Inability of the Law to Sanctify").

The opening portion of our present scripture passage uses a question to address starting out with God. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" The answer to this question is obvious. No one could ever have the Spirit of God come to indwell them on the basis of their performance before God's law. Only the "hearing of faith" could ever cause that. The Holy Spirit came to live in us when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and believed in Him. At that time, our sins were forgiven, we were justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight), and we were born again by the Spirit. All of this marked our beginning with God. All of this involved the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

The closing words of our passage use two additional questions to apply this issue of the Spirit's work to our going on with God. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" We who are the children of God began with Him "in the Spirit." Now, it would be spiritually senseless, to think that we could progress with God "by the flesh." Surely, we agree with the Lord that we could not produce our own spiritual birth into His family. We had to be "born of the Spirit" (Joh_3:6). Certainly, we want to agree with God that we cannot manufacture our own spiritual growth, that is, be "made perfect by the flesh."

The Lord desires that we mature and develop in this new life in Christ. Such growth in Christ is a spiritual matter. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The resources that we have all received from our earthly parents are of the flesh. These natural capabilities cannot cause spiritual development to take place in our lives. The perfecting process, being made increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ, necessitates the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us. Remember, the means God uses to start us out with Him (to justify us) are the means He uses to grow us up in Him (to sanctify us).

O Holy Father, I humbly admit that I have frequently been so foolish as to think that I could produce more godliness in me through my own best efforts. Lord, I see that I need Your Spirit as much for spiritual growth as I did previously for spiritual birth. As I seek You through prayer and Your word, please take me on with You in growth and sanctification by the work of Your Holy Spirit, through Christ, I pray, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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« Reply #46 on: February 25, 2006, 08:38:48 AM »

February 25

Walking in the Spirit

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Gal_5:16, Gal_5:25)

The term "walk" is used dozens of times in the New Testament to describe the manner of life that a person is leading. Many of these occurrences depict the Christian life; for example, "walk in love . . .  walk as children of light . . .  walk circumspectly" (Eph_5:2, Eph_5:8, Eph_5:15). In our passages, we are told to "walk in the Spirit."

Walking is a very insightful description of spiritual life. A walk has a beginning and a destination. Our beginning was in new birth: "born of the Spirit." (Joh_3:6). Our destination is heaven forever with our Lord and Savior: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1Th_4:17). A good walk is steady and progressive. We are called to be faithful: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mat_25:21). We are called to press ahead: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal" (Phi_3:13-14).

In addition, a walk has many potential adventures along the way. We are likely to encounter stretching challenges and paradoxical blessings: "in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness. . . as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2Co_6:5, 2Co_6:10).

Ultimately, a walk must have an available resource that provides sufficient vitality, strength, guidance, and assurance. Here, our passages offer special hope through the injunction to "walk in the Spirit." Day by day, each step of the way, we are to rely upon the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Every issue of life (whether at home, office, school, or church) is to be faced in this manner. Otherwise, the influence of our flesh (our natural humanity) will prevail. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." We are not able ourselves to overcome the inadequacies and improper tendencies of the flesh. However, the Holy Spirit is more than able to become our sufficient provider of whatever we need for an effective and fruitful walk.

This perspective on Christian living makes complete biblical sense, when we connect our daily walk to how we found spiritual life in the first place. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit," It was strictly by the work of the Spirit that we received life initially; therefore, let's take each step of life "[walking] in the Spirit."

Lord God Almighty, I am so weak and so easily enticed in my flesh. I cannot produce what is needed for the spiritual walk to which I am called. O Lord, I cry out to You for the indispensable work of Your Spirit within me. Lord, teach me to walk day by day by the grace that Your Spirit alone can provide, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
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« Reply #47 on: March 02, 2006, 05:14:46 PM »

February 26

The Contrary Desires of the Flesh and the Spirit

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  (Gal_5:17)

Every believer in Christ has had the frustrating experience of wanting to do what  pleases the Lord, but being unable to actually accomplish such. We are told here a spiritual struggle is behind that failure. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." The Spirit of God dwells within our lives. He is the "Spirit of holiness" (Rom_1:4). He desires that we be "partakers of His holiness" (Heb_12:10) and thereby walk in godliness. However, the flesh (natural humanity) is also present in our lives. These natural desires of man are not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. Thus, what the Spirit desires and what our flesh craves are set against each other. "These are contrary to one another." The consequence of this internal conflict is "that you do not do the things that you wish." Even though godly desires develop in us as new creatures in Christ, we find ourselves unable to implement these new longings by our good intentions.

The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Rom_7:19). The problem was that Paul's personal resources (the flesh) were not adequate to produce the desired results. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom_7:18). Yes, Paul had some godly desires. "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" (Rom_7:22). Nevertheless, there was a problem that he could not resolve on his own. "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom_7:23). A  tendency to sin that dwelt in Paul's human members (his body, his brain) pulled him down to defeat. He needed help.

Access to that necessary divine rescue was through a humble cry for a deliverer. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom_7:24). This appropriate confession of the spiritual bankruptcy of his flesh led to another confession of certain victory. "I thank God [it is] through Jesus Christ our Lord! " (Rom_7:25). This humble turning from self to Christ allows one to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8), living by His victorious resources. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom_8:2).

Dear Jesus, Mighty Deliverer, I humbly admit that I am not able to implement by my best efforts the godly desires that are developing in me. I need You, Lord. So many times I have had holy intentions that ended up in carnal defeat. So, Lord, I cry out to You to deliver me from my present struggles, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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« Reply #48 on: March 02, 2006, 05:16:30 PM »

February 27

Set Free by the Spirit

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  (Rom_8:2)

There is a destructive spiritual tendency that resides in every human being. It is "the law of sin and death." This indwelling principle is always pulling people downward into sin and spiritual deadness. It comes from being born physically into a fallen race of sinners who are like their earthly father, Adam. Being born anew spiritually does not remove this problem, since this principle still operates within our natural humanity (the flesh). Yet, becoming a child of God does make His remedy constantly available to us.

God's remedy for"the law of sin and death" is a higher, more powerful principle, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." This lofty principle involves the Holy Spirit making the life that is in Christ Jesus our resource for living. This principle is operating in the life of any new creature in Christ who is not walking  "according to the flesh but [is walking] according to the Spirit" (Rom_8:4). This approach to Christian living is the only one that can increasingly liberate us from the internal carnal tendencies that influence us all.

In fact (as we have noted previously), this is the only hope of growing in the godliness that the law demanded: "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom_8:4). Our lives can only measure up to the holy will of God when we are walking in the Spirit, because Christ is then being allowed to express His life through us. Jesus was, and is, the only one who could ever walk fully pleasing to the Father. Jesus said, "I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_8:29). For a victorious Christian experience, we need this same life of Jesus living in and through us now, by the working of the Holy Spirit. We need the higher law ("the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus") setting us free from the lower law ("the law of sin and death").

Again, what is our responsibility in this? We are to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. Humility can develop as we agree with our Lord that "the law of sin and death" characterizes our flesh (our best natural resources). Faith can be exercised as we look to our Lord to demonstrate that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Dear Lord Jesus,You alone can supply the life I am called to live. I humbly agree with Your word that my resources are marred by a tendency to sin. I gladly trust in Your Holy Spirit to increasingly liberate me from my the defeat of living by my flesh. I thank You in advance for the faithful ways You will answer this prayer. Lord Jesus, live in and through me by the power of Your Spirit, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

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Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #49 on: March 02, 2006, 05:18:06 PM »

February 28

The Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  (Rom_8:5-6)

The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference concerns facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God's. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." When a Christian deals with life by his flesh, he typically thinks about "what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when a Christian deals with life by the Spirit, he typically thinks about "what God wants for my life" or "what God can accomplish through my life."

The consequences related to this choice are monumental. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly self-indulgence ("what I can get out of this") or religious self-accomplishment ("what I can do for God"). The result of either carnal perspective is "death" (spiritual deadness). On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual tranquility).

Another analysis of these two options can be seen in the contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." When we put our hope in our own capabilities, our flesh produces deeds such as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Gal_5:19-21). Contrariwise, when we place our expectations upon the Lord, His Spirit brings forth through us fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal_5:22-23).

Consider this fundamental truth. These "flesh-Spirit" choices are what all of us will face every day of our lives. The persistency of these issues is inherent in the fact that God only offers two options for every issue of life; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit."

O Sovereign Lord, I bow to Your wisdom and authority that offers these two choices alone. Lord, I renounce the natural path of my flesh which brings severe, but deserved, consequences. I gladly embrace the supernatural path of Your Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of Your grace at work in me, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
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« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2006, 05:19:57 PM »

March 1

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit . . . and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him . . . Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  (Mat_1:20; Mat_3:16; Mat_4:1)

We gain great insight into the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by considering the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. From the very beginning of Jesus' history upon earth as Emmanuel, God with us, the Holy Spirit was involved. When Joseph was troubled over Mary's pregnancy, an angel comforted him by announcing: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Jesus' conception was not of man, but of the Spirit.

When Jesus was identifying Himself with sinful humanity through His baptism by John, the Holy Spirit was again at work. "And He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him."  Here, as Jesus was presenting Himself for the commencing of His public ministry as Messiah, the Spirit of God came upon Him for authentication and empowering. The Son of God came to earth as a servant, laying aside the independent exercise of His ongoing deity. Jesus "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Phi_2:7). He would serve in dependence upon the Spirit. Jesus' ministry would not be of man (even the perfect Man), but of God.

When Jesus went forth from His baptism to fulfill His calling, the Spirit was still fully engaged in His life. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Although Jesus never ceased to be God, the Son, He would not lead Himself about through reliance upon His divine omniscience (His perfect and complete knowledge). His guidance would not be of man, but of God.

These three glimpses into the work of the Spirit in Jesus' life have implications for us. First, the Holy Spirit had to be working for Jesus to be birthed here on earth. The same Spirit of God had to work for us to be born into the family of God. "Unless one is born of . . . the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Joh_3:5). Second, the Holy Spirit was active in the ministry of Jesus as Messiah. The Spirit must be the one who brings us spiritual validation and power in our service of God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zec_4:6). Third, Jesus looked to the Spirit to lead and guide Him through life. We also need that same work of the Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Rom_8:14).

O Shepherd of my soul, please lead me in this Christlike path. Thank You for bringing me new birth by Your Spirit. O, Lord, would You now empower my life for service unto You. And would You lead me by Your Spirit day by day. I admit my total need for such works of the Holy Spirit in my life. Please work in fullness, in Your name, I pray, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #51 on: March 02, 2006, 05:21:39 PM »

March 2

More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit

A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  (Isa_11:1-2)

In this prophecy of the Messiah, we are told how the Lord Jesus (walking upon earth as a man) would function in order to manifest godliness. He would live by this prophetic promise: "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him."

The Holy Spirit operating in Jesus would be to Him "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding." No one ever displayed wisdom like Christ. Whether dealing with the woman taken in adultery (Joh_8:2-11) or answering provoking questions about Caesar's image on a coin (Luk_20:20-26), He wisely circumvented every attempt to undermine His ministry. Jesus also demonstrated perfect understanding. When confronting the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees (Mat. 23:13-35), He applied perfect discernment, exposing the corruption of their hearts.

Operating in Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him "the Spirit of counsel and might." Jesus was truly the "Wonderful Counselor" (Isa_9:6). When counseling Nicodemus, the religious ruler (Joh. 3:1-21), and the Samaritan woman at the well (Joh. 4:7-42), He fully gave them what their hearts were seeking in the truths they needed to hear. Also, Jesus distinctively exhibited the might of God. Whether boldly speaking to calm the raging sea (Mar_4:35-41) or courageously remaining silent at His trial (Mat_27:11-14), the mighty power of God was on majestic display.

Ministering to Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him  "the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." No one ever possessed knowledge like the Lord Jesus. "Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men" (Joh_2:24). "Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father" (Joh_13:1). Jesus not only had thorough knowledge, but that knowledge was always controlled by "the fear of the LORD." Everything that Jesus ever did was under the full influence of His godly fear (reverential trust and loving respect) toward the Father. "The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_2:17).

Remember, all of these wondrous expressions of Jesus' character were based upon the enabling work of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him." This same Spirit of God can bring forth in our lives every appropriate application of these same realities manifested in the life of Jesus.

Who is like You, O Lord? Who could ever match Your majestic character certainly not me. Yet, I need manifestations of such fruit in my life. Please work deeply in me by Your Holy Spirit, producing such Christlikeness, I pray, in Your holy name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #52 on: March 05, 2006, 12:01:53 AM »

March 3

Once More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.  (Isa_61:1-2)

In this prophetic scripture, we see the ministry of Christ is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit (as noted before in the manifestation of His godly character). "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me."

By the empowering of the Spirit, Jesus was sent forth to "preach good tidings to the poor." This refers to the gospel of salvation. "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages . . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mat_9:35). This good news of salvation would be received by those who admitted their spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_5:3).

Also, Jesus was sent forth to "heal the brokenhearted." The heart of man can be broken by so many things: condemnation, grief, failure, betrayal, and more. Jesus comforts and restores those who trust in Him. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mat_5:4).

Additionally, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." As with captive Israel of old, people today get into bondage to the world system. They become captivated by worldly thinking, bound by bad habits, and imprisoned by ungodly relationships. Jesus is the great liberator for all who cry out to Him and feed thereafter upon His inspired word. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (Joh_8:32, Joh_8:36).

Furthermore, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." Ultimately, this speaks of the entire age of grace, whereby lives are accepted by God through faith in His beloved Son and enriched by Christ with immeasurable spiritual riches. "God . . . has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ . . . to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph_1:3, Eph_1:6).

We are also sent forth to minister. "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (Joh_20:21). As it was with Jesus, we can only fulfill our calling by the same Holy Spirit who empowered His ministry.

Dear Father, please apply all of these ministries of the grace of Jesus to my life in fullness. Then, Father, would You empower me by Your Holy Spirit to go forth in the name of Jesus, offering these same realities to others who need them as well. I place my hope for effectiveness in the enabling anointing of the Spirit, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2006, 12:03:43 AM »

March 4

Holy Spirit Power to be Witnesses

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Act_1:8)

After the cross and the resurrection, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples for forty days before He ascended to the Father. One of His strategic messages of preparation concerned the Holy Spirit enablement they would need to fulfill their ministry. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." After this vital promise was given, Jesus was taken up into heaven to the right hand of the Father. Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, this promise was fulfilled by the outpouring of the Spirit. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Act_2:4). The grand result of this empowering would be the spread of the gospel, region by region, throughout the entire world. "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Act_1:8).

Their success is documented in the scriptures. The religious opposition admitted that Jerusalem was promptly reached. "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (Act_5:28). Soon thereafter, Judea was being touched. "At that time a great persecution arose . . . and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea . . . Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word" (Act_8:1, Act_8:4). Next, the message of Jesus entered Samaria. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip" (Act_8:5-6). Finally, the gospel of grace poured out around the world. "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world" (Col_1:5-6).

This worldwide outreach was an astounding development, considering the unimpressive human credentials that characterized Jesus' followers. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus" (Act_4:13). The explanation for their effectiveness was contained in the last phrase. These men had spent time with Jesus, had been impacted by Him, and were now walking in the spiritual strength of His Spirit.

In order for any disciple (then or now) to be an effective demonstration of the reality of the risen Christ, they must live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, my strength, make my life a daily witness, declaring in word, deed, and attitude that Jesus is alive. Lord, my own abilities will never be sufficient to accomplish this. So, I humbly pray, empower me by Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.

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« Reply #54 on: March 05, 2006, 06:25:25 PM »

March 5

Holy Spirit Empowering: Three Terms, One Reality

You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now . . . you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Act_1:5, Act_1:8; and Act_2:4)

When the book of Acts addresses Holy Spirit empowerment for ministry, three different terms are used to describe the same reality. When Jesus promised this power, He used the term "baptized with." "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." When He indicated that this power would result in a worldwide witness, the term "come upon you" was used." You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Then, when these promises of the Spirit were fulfilled, the term employed was "filled with." "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."

It is clear that these three sets of terms in Acts 1 and 2 are all referring to the same spiritual phenomenon, the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus' followers for witness. Each terminology may carry its own descriptive implications. To be "baptized with" the Spirit is like being inundated by Him. To have the Spirit "come upon you" is like being "impacted from above" by Him.  To be "filled with" the Spirit is like overflowing with Him. Nevertheless, although the words each bring their own picture, they all are describing the same reality. All three terms are biblically accurate, although "filled with the Holy Spirit" is used most frequently throughout Acts.

These promises of Holy Spirit's empowering cannot be monopolized by any denominational group or theological heritage. Nor can they be ignored by any individual or segment within the body of Christ. These truths are for all of God's children. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus must continue to learn and to grow in this essential spiritual empowerment.

Perhaps a word of clarification is in order. These promises are not about the Spirit indwelling the people of God. The Holy Spirit definitely lives within every born again believer in Jesus Christ. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1Co_3:16). The Spirit already lived within the apostles when they were given these promises. "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Joh_20:22). These promises are about the indwelling Spirit flooding and overflowing our lives with the empowering reality of His presence.

Dear Lord Jesus, You came to give us life abundant. Please fill my life to overflowing with the empowering work of Your Spirit. Lord, I am not seeking personal benefits. I am asking to become a more effective witness. I need the Holy Spirit's power that I might reflect the reality of the risen Christ, in Your mighty name, Amen.

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« Reply #55 on: March 10, 2006, 01:30:32 PM »

March 6

Spirit Fullness: A Way of Life, Not Merely Events

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . . the place . . . was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . And do not be drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.  (Act_2:3-4; Act_4:8, Act_4:31; and Eph_5:18)

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our lives thereafter (1Co_3:16). At times after new birth, our lives may be repeatedly filled to overflowing by the empowering presence of the Spirit. The testimony of the early disciples illustrates this.

On the day of Pentecost, the 120 followers of Jesus were filled with the Spirit. "Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Subsequently, the Apostle Peter, who was originally filled on Pentecost, was again filled as he stood before the religious hierarchy of Israel. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them." After this encounter, Peter joined the other disciples for a prayer meeting. "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." In this event, those who had been filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were filled a second time.
Peter, who had been so filled twice before, was filled a third time. Therefore, it is evident that the filling of the Spirit is not a once for all time matter.

Furthermore, being filled with the Spirit is not automatic or universal for Christians, as is the indwelling of the Spirit. This fact can be clearly seen in the instruction given in Eph_5:18. "And do not be drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit." Since this is a command and not a description, it only becomes a personal reality to those who respond properly.

Additionally, the form of this command contains tremendous insight concerning the fullness of the Spirit and God's desire for us. The injunction to "be filled with the Spirit" is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing condition. It could properly (though awkwardly) be translated "be (always) being filled." This imperative is a call to a way of living, not merely periodic events. It is the will of God that we actually live, day by day, more and more, by the fullness of the Spirit's empowering work. We should humbly pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit as we face each day, each challenge, each opportunity of life.

Lord God of all power and might, I rejoice that Your Holy Spirit dwells within my heart. I thank You for those times when Your Spirit has worked powerfully upon my life. Help me to see that the fullness of Your Spirit is not merely an event-to-event experience, but a lifestyle to be developed. Lord, with great expectation I humbly seek You now for a fresh, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in me. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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« Reply #56 on: March 10, 2006, 01:32:20 PM »

March 7

Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.  (Eph_5:18-21)

When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, what will the results be in his life? What evidences will develop to validate the work of the Spirit in fullness? In some church traditions, which give considerable attention to the fullness of the Spirit, limited evidences are stressed (such as those mentioned often in Acts: tongues, prophecy, or boldness). The full biblical picture is much larger than this viewpoint.

Eph_5:18-21 is a classic example of the scriptures broad perspective on this subject. In Eph_5:18, the command is given to "be filled with the Spirit." The subsequent verses (Eph_5:19-21) list the spiritual consequences that will follow in a life that is characteristically Spirit filled.

When a believer in Jesus Christ is living in the fullness of the Spirit, he will be led and empowered unto fellowship with, and ministry to, others: "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." These words fit those times when believers gather together for spiritual celebration through music. Some of the music of the church is directed toward other believers in the form of exhortation and edification. A Spirit filled Christian will be involved in "one another life" in the body of Christ.

Closely related to this, however, is the essential presence of a worshiping heart: "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Genuine fellowship and effective ministry flows forth from an inner life focused in adoration upon the Lord Himself. A Spirit filled Christian will be a worshiper of the true and living God.

Further, when a disciple of Jesus is filled with the Spirit, his life will typically overflow with thanksgiving: "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The world and the flesh produce complaints and dissatisfaction. The Spirit of the Lord stirs gratitude and appreciation.

Additionally, servanthood submission is a common attribute of one who is Spirit filled: "submitting to one another in the fear of God." Natural humanity wants to control people and exercise mastery over them. The Spirit of Christ, the servant of all (Mat_20:28), brings forth humble service from those who revere the Lord.

Father, I bow before Your command to be filled with the Spirit. This I need; this I desire. Lord, forgive me for times of isolation and selfishness. Flood me with Your Spirit unto fellowship and ministry. Forgive any lifeless religion in me and fill me unto true worship. Forgive my griping and complaining and inundate me unto thanksgiving. Forgive my desires to rule and fill me unto servanthood, through Christ, I pray, Amen.

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« Reply #57 on: March 10, 2006, 01:34:09 PM »

March 8

Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (Eph_3:16-19)

For those who are wondering how to be filled with the Spirit, the prayer in Ephesians 3 offers excellent insight. The precise relevance of this passage for our present subject is obvious, when the concluding purpose of the prayer is noted: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

The opening phrases use the language of grace: "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory." Grace is about God at work, giving us blessings we cannot deserve. These blessings are in proportion to His glorious spiritual riches. This perspective fits our studies on the Spirit perfectly, because when the Holy Spirit is at work, He pours out God's grace.

The initial request pertains to an inner working of the Spirit: "to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." Note, this request is made on behalf of those who already have the Spirit residing in their hearts. The specific issue is about receiving new measures of spiritual power at the core of our being.

The desired result of this work of the Spirit is "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Jesus is present in the heart of every believer. Here, He is being asked to settle down fully and make Himself at home. Jesus is being given free rein to rearrange our innermost being to fit His good pleasure. Allowing Jesus to rule our hearts requires the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to break past spiritual obstacles such as apathy, fear, self-focus, and temptations. To allow Jesus to lead us in His way, we need the Holy Spirit enabling us to stay in God's word, to pray without ceasing, to worship daily, and to fellowship regularly.

Then, as Jesus rearranges our inner life, He wants to anchor every aspect of our lives in God's love: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love." With this, He wants to us to experience the dimensions of His love, which are beyond mere head knowledge: "to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." This Holy Spirit process is always leading to more spiritual fullness: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Dear Father in heaven, I humbly cry out to You every word of this majestic prayer. I earnestly desire the reality of its every implication, all by your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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« Reply #58 on: March 10, 2006, 01:36:39 PM »

March 9

More on Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit

And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened . . . your heavenly Father [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!  (Luk_11:9-10, Luk_11:13)

Here again, the work of the Spirit in our lives is associated with prayer.

Prayer is that wonderful God-ordained means of relating to the Lord in humility and faith (the two means by which we access grace). In praying, we are humbly admitting that we need God. In praying, we are exercising faith toward God that He will act on our behalf. We pray; God moves by His Spirit, pouring out whatever grace is necessary for any given situation.

We saw this in our previous meditation. "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph_3:16-19). Here, prayer was the avenue to being filled with the bountiful work of the Spirit in our lives. We humbly ask; the Lord faithfully works. This is precisely the teaching of Jesus in our present passage.

The end of Jesus' message involves the Spirit being given to those who ask. "How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" This is also where our scripture began. "And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." These are three parallel commands, followed by three parallel promises. Who receives Holy Spirit fullness? Those who ask God for such. Who experiences the life-empowering work of the Spirit, that every child of God must find? Those who seek God to impart such. Who is flooded with the outpouring of God's Spirit? Those who knock prayerfully on heaven's doors.

Then, making these three "command-promise" couplets even more sure, Jesus adds three more statements of certainty. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." These are absolutes. There are no exceptions. Those who genuinely ask, seek, or knock can go on their way by faith, knowing that the Lord will be doing a thorough work of His Spirit in them.

As with the earlier command to be filled with the Spirit (Eph_5:18), these imperatives are also in the present tense. They could be rendered: keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Again, this is a way to live; not a singular event.

Giver of every good and perfect gift, I humbly ask You for a fresh new work of Your Spirit. Lord, I rest on Your promise that everyone who asks receives. Manifest Your fullness in me in any way that You desire, in Jesus name, Amen.

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« Reply #59 on: March 10, 2006, 01:38:45 PM »

March 10

Another Picture of the Fullness of the Spirit

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit.  (Joh_7:37-39)

These words from Jesus provide another picture of what the fullness of the Spirit is all about, as well as how to walk in that spiritual abundance. His remarks are addressed to those who are thirsty: "If anyone thirsts." In this spiritual context, thirst can speak of the painful dryness that often accompanies need or lack. Pressures, responsibilities, busyness, disappointments, and preoccupation with earthly matters can dry out the soul of man. Corresponding to this need, thirst can refer to the eager yearning after those heavenly blessings that refresh and restore our inner life. Such thirsty conditions apply to all of us at various times.

Jesus tells us exactly how to remedy such thirst. "Come to Me and drink." We are to bring these needs to the Lord Jesus Christ and drink of Him. So often, we attempt to satisfy such thirsts by drinking at other wells. Thirsty people around the world attempt to find relief through education, work, religion, politics, entertainment, money, drugs, and more. They all encounter the truth that our Lord revealed to the Samaritan woman at the well. "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again" (Joh_4:13). We must take our spiritual thirsts to a person, to "the Person," the Lord Jesus.

Yet, how do we drink of the thirst-quenching resources of Jesus? He indicated the means in the next phrase: "He who believes in Me." When we bring our dry, thirsty needs to Jesus and believe that He can meet those needs, we are drinking from what the Lord alone can offer. We drink of Christ's resources by faith. Jesus included this insight earlier in His discourse on the bread of life. "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (Joh_6:35).

Unquestionably, Jesus will always satisfy legitimate thirsts that are brought to Him. Yet, there is more available here. The spiritual water that Christ provides also works within the thirsty soul. "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (Joh_4:14). This Holy Spirit supply develops abundant life within the trusting heart. Ultimately, this fountain that grows within flows outward to others. "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Dry, thirsty hearts that come to Jesus in faith, not only find satisfaction for the thirst, but eventually pour out life in the Spirit to others.

Lord Jesus, You know the thirsty places within my life. I bring them to You now. I believe that You can meet these needs. I open up to the work of Your Spirit to quench the thirsts deep within my heart. Lord, I praise You for the expectation I have that You can turn my dryness into torrents of living waters to bless others, in Your name, Amen.

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