HOLY SPIRIT 3 November 19 Yesterday we saw that with Salvation the house is now swept clean (Matthew 12:43-45); the old has passed away and you are a new creation. You are reconciled to the Father and are ready like a new born babe to be imprinted with the will and way of the Father God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21) You are ready to embark on the empowering phase of the journey back to the Father. In verse 11 of Matthew 3:1-12, John the Baptist refers to the second step of the two part process that Jesus spoke of with Nicodemus. He said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus Himself spoke of the second part of the process in Luke 12:49-50 when He said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” In other words, repentance and water baptism is only the first step and until the second step is accomplished no real kingdom work can be done. Isn’t that amazing?! Without the Holy Spirit in our lives we are not equipped to live the Christian life. Jesus knew that when He told the disciples in Acts 1:4-8 to remain in Jerusalem awaiting the promise of the Father, “....for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ............... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
Isn’t it strange that directions and explanations that are so clear have been so overlooked or down played by much of the church of today. Some sects have concentrated on the baptism in water to the exclusion of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a result, thousands of precious believers who have not received the infilling of the Holy Spirit find it necessary to be “resaved” and “rebaptized” in water again and again. Why? Without the Holy Spirit they have none of the attributes of the Spirit of God that are necessary to live as a child of God. They realize that they have truly made no real changes in their life, but they still seek to change. They have been rendered ineffective in the kingdom and unfruitful in their lives for the lack of the Holy Spirit .
The apostle Paul speaks of this condition in the eighth chapter of Romans as he carefully explains that it is impossible to please God while walking in the flesh. The mind that is set on the flesh( sense and reason without the Holy Spirit) is, in fact, hostile to God and cannot demonstrate or full fill the character and nature of God. (Romans 8:1-8) He then proceeds to explain that if the Holy Spirit is dwelling within an individual and that individual is walking according to the direction of the Spirit, it will be evident even through the physical health of the individual. God is not sick; His presence brings healing and divine health.(3 John 2) If that individual is focused upon and obedient to the Spirit of God which dwells within him, he is not fearful. (Romans 8:9-15) 1 John 4:16-18 confirms this, “God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God abides in him...................There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and he who fears is not perfected in love.” Fear and the Spirit of the Father cannot reside in the same place. Continuing ............... ...
November 18 So, why was it necessary for Jesus to be crucified? The Jewish people of His day expected an exalted ruler who would upset existing social and political establishments with a mighty army. After all, that is how it was done. That was how it had been done since the beginning of time. The king with the mightiest army, the one with the greatest provisions would be the victor. Surely, God intended to reestablish the nation of Israel under Messiah as He had under David and Solomon. Like so many people of today, the Jewish people of Jesus’s day felt a change in the government would bring prosperity to the individual; a change in the laws would bring justice to the individual. But only a live Messiah could accomplish that. Only a fire breathing, tough fisted Messiah could topple a government and change the lives of the people. WRONG!
Remember now, that we are talking about people who have been living under the influence of Satan for thousands of years. They are well trained in the ways of their father, Satan. Their minds are clouded by the thirst for power, possessions, and physical gratification. Both the dominator and those who are dominated are far from knowing the Father God’s ways. (Isaiah 55:6-11) Hmmm..... Perhaps we should really be considering our own culture at this point. Don’t we have some very similar ideas about how to change our current society? But when we study the scripture we discover that God’s ways are quiet different. He is interested first and foremost in the individual. (Romans 2:6; 2:11;3:21-25) The life and prosperity of the nation as a whole follows the spiritual condition of the individuals within it.
It was necessary for Jesus to be crucified for the individual not a nation. It was necessary for Jesus to be crucified that the sinful nature of the individual man, the nature of the first Adam, might be put to death. Jesus took all the sins of mankind (past, present and future) upon Himself and died the death of a sinner (separated from God. Mark 15:34) that He might then, rise victoriously on the third day as the new Adam, the sin free Adam.(Romans 5:12-19) He rose a new creation who was once again in perfect harmony and communication with the Father God. He rose as the first fruits of many offspring to come (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) - offspring who would enjoy a full relationship with the Father and be totally immersed in and filled with His Spirit.
We have now come full circle. The Father God has reclaimed His creation through Jesus. He has once again established a personal relationship with His children, those who would choose to be called the sons of God. (John 3:16-21; Romans 8:12-17) So, then the question comes: How do we become the sons of God?
Jesus answered this question clearly and simply in John 3:1-21 “You must be born again........... Unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” This simple statement implies a two part process. The first involves repentance from past wrongs. No matter how squeaky clean you think your life has been, no matter who your parents are, no matter how long you may have been attending church, every man must repent - and genuinely turn from his past ways of thinking, from his past ways of doing business. Remember, you, like all men, are a product of this world which is Satan’s domain; your mind is filled with humanistic thinking; your mouth is filled with words of condemnation, slander, deceit, and unbelief. (Romans 3:21-26) You must desire to change; you must decide to be changed. You must purposely choose to seek God’s way in all things acknowledging that Jesus is the son of God, that He was crucified for our sins, and rose from the grave victorious over Satan and death. (Romans 10:8-13) . That belief and change are symbolized and expressed to the world through water baptism, the baptism of John as described in Matthew 3:1-12. Continuing............. ...
HOLY SPIRITNovember 17 I hope you are enjoying your personal quest in understanding the necessity of the Holy Spirit to your life. For the next several days we will be taking a look together at His importance to our living a victorious life each day. You will find the following discussions filled with scripture that I hope you will look up and meditate upon. I think you will find it life changing.
The Holy Spirit is the very essence of the Father’s being; He is the expression of the Father’s character and His will. As such, it is almost mind boggling to be told that it is possible for the Holy Spirit of God to reside within us. It is almost unthinkable to realize that God wants His Spirit to dwell within us. From the beginning, however, this has been the Father’s plan. When God created Adam, His intent was for fellowship with children who were submitted to His will and schooled in His ways of behavior. (Genesis 1:26) He intended to be the center of the life and thoughts of His children; He intended to be their sole counselor and teacher; He intend to be their joy, peace, health, provision, and eternal life. He intended to be their all in all (Ephesians 1:23); and in so being, they would learn from Him and become like Him.
Being a just and loving Father, however, God gave to His creation, Adam, a free will. That is the right to choose who he would look to for direction and who he would emulate and honor. Looking back thousands of years, it is difficult to understand how Adam could have chosen any other than the Father; but as we know, Adam chose to accept the counsel of Satan over the counsel of God; he chose to out right disobey and dishonor the Father God (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:1-7); he chose to explore the mind and thoughts of God’s archenemy. He became a son or follower of Satan. His life was flooded with deceit and shame as he began to assume the characteristics of Satan. (Genesis 3:8-13) As far as God was concerned, Adam, and all his offspring, had died. All of the blessings and provisions that the Father God had planned for Adam’s life were now unavailable to him. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Until the moment of his rejection of the Father, Adam had been eating freely of the Tree of Life which grew in the enter of the Garden of Eden; in the Father’s presence there is Eternal Life. But now that Adam had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - now that Adam was experiencing evil, the Father God had to prevent Adam from eating again from the Tree of Life. If Adam were to eat of the Tree of Life while in his now sinful state, he would be eternally dead to the Father with no hope of redemption.
Adam was rapidly learning the evil ways of Satan (lying, deceiving, slandering, etc.) He was learning the characteristics of his new father; and in such a condition, he would never be able to stand in the presence of the Father God again if he were to now eat of the Tree of Life and live eternally in sin. (John 8:12-47) Why? Because God cannot look on sin. (Habakkuk 1:13) So, in love the Father God banished Adam from the Garden and placed cherubim with a flaming sword to the east to prevent Adam’s reentry to the garden.
Instead of washing His hands of His disobedient children, the Father God immediately set into motion the divine plan which would eventually restore His wayward children. He announced His intentions immediately as He confronted Satan in the Garden of Eden on that fateful day. (Genesis 3:14-15) God patiently and painstakingly revealed Himself, His character and His ways, again and again to a sinful and rebellious people throughout the generations that followed. And then, in the fullness of time, He sent His son Jesus to restore to Himself what had been lost so long ago He sent Jesus to destroy the grip of sin by which Satan had so tightly held the Father’s children (1 Corinthians 15:20-28); He sent Jesus to make it possible for Him to restore relationship with His children (1 Corinthians 15:45-50); He sent Jesus to make it possible for His children to partake of the Tree of Life again, to live eternally sin-free in His presence. (Romans 5:15-18; John 17:3); He sent Jesus to make available once again to His children all of His blessings (Galatians 3:13-14)); He sent Jesus to clearly manifest His character and His ways (John 17:6-8); He sent Jesus to baptize (totally immerse - totally fill) His children with His Spirit. (Luke 12:49-50) Continuing.............. ...
RELATIONSHIP 3 November 16 I am confident that the Lord’s zeal for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit is as strong today as it was two thousand years ago. The Holy Spirit’s presence in our life is the Father’s guarantee of our spiritual growth through Spirit led revelation of the Word of God. As Jesus explained to us in John chapters 14 and 16, the Holy Spirit is indispensable to us as teacher and counselor convicting us of sin and generally leading us through the transformation process. If you have not yet received the Holy Spirit, I leave you to contemplate Acts chapters 1- 19. In these chapters we see the manifestation of the power and gifting of the Spirit in various settings. Have a wonderful time in the Lord. ...
RELATIONSHIP 2 November 15 I found it quite interesting several years ago to learn that many of the parables that Jesus used as He taught were parables that had been used by Rabbis across the years. They were not original to Jesus. His understanding of the parable and the lesson that He taught was very different, however, from the traditional message. Hmmmm...... Can’t you just picture it! The same parable - a different or deeper interpretation. Of course, we have the historic advantage of being able to look back over the centuries and say, “Jesus gave the correct and full interpretation because He is the Son of God, infinite in wisdom, knowledge and understanding.” It is true that Jesus was the Son of God, but some times we forget that Jesus emptied Himself of all supernatural abilities and came to earth and lived among us a man. Although He was fully God; He was functioning as a man. He was fully human. He did not come wearing a name tag that said Son of God, Messiah. Initially, only John the Baptist knew of a certainty who He was, and John’s knowledge was by the Holy Spirit.
So, if Jesus was not interpreting the Scripture as the Son of God, where did the depth of His understanding come from? Jesus had spent years pouring over the scripture, talking to the Rabbis, and cultivating a personal relationship with God, the Father in prayer. Remember how He stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Passover to talk to the priests and rabbis when He was just a boy? He was learning. He was learning the history of his people; He was observing the cause and effect of sin. He was studying the Law and the Prophets. He was working and learning at the knees of His father, Joseph. He was learning the natural laws of math and science as he learned to design and build structures in the carpentry shop. And then, in the fullness of time, the Holy Spirit filled him and began to reveal the Truth about all He had previously learned. History was, no doubt, revealed as God’s history - the story of the life of men who serve Him and those who do not. It is the record of sin and the consequences of that sin. It is an account of obedience to God and the blessings that result from that obedience. Math and science were revealed as the nuts and bolts of God’s architectural plan for the universe, the human body and all of creation. In those hours of solitude, apart from the press of people, the Holy Spirit no doubt showed Him the nature of the old man and the sinful driving force of self; and the Truth of scripture just began to unroll before Him like a scroll. Scripture indicates that by the age of twelve Jesus had begun to realize who He was; for when chastised by Joseph for remaining at the Temple, Jesus responded, “I must be about my Father’s business.” Although we do not know when He fully understood who He was and what He was to do, we do know that the eyes of His understanding were fully opened by the Holy Spirit.
The excitement of what had occurred in His own life and His longing to share the experience with his disciples is evident in Luke 12:49 when He said speaking of the Holy Spirit who was yet to come, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” Knowing that the Father is not a respecter of persons and knowing that the in filling of the Holy Spirit would change the understanding of His disciples, Jesus was eager to share the mind opening experience that would enable them to live powerful and victorious lives together in Him. Continuing................ ...
November 14 As we are called into relationship with God, so we are called into relationship with one another. In Matthew 22:35-40 Jesus said, “And one of them, a lawyer, asked him (Jesus) a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
If we understand Jesus correctly, He is telling us the entire Law is summed up in those two commandments. Everything that the prophets tried to teach us is summed up these two commandments. SO, let’s connect the dots. Over the past several weeks we have discovered that it is impossible for us to recognize who we really are apart from the presence of God. In light of His glory we are able to see that we are not perfect. We are able to understand the necessity of repentance and we are able to experience the joy and release of forgiveness through the Life and blood of Jesus Christ. It is in His presence that we discover the necessity of reading the Word of God daily. It is in His presence that we come to desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is as we are in a growing relationship with the Lord that we are able to see other Christians hidden within Him growing and changing.
We love the Lord today more than we loved Him yesterday because we are experiencing His Life and provision personally, daily. We love our neighbor, our brothers and sisters in the Lord more each day because they are hidden in the Lord with us and we are experiencing Him together and are experiencing each other within the bounds of His love. So, we love Jesus because He first loved us; and we love and serve the brethren because we love the Lord, and they are a part of Him and a part of us. We are One. In Christ, I cannot disconnect myself to love and serve only myself.
The Holy Spirit says in 1 John 4:11-21 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us...... So, we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him...... If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Selah ...
November 13 While we are looking at the issue of persecution, we have to examine both sides. We are all too ready to holler foul when we are the offended, but what about when we offend? And you say, “Who me?” Yes, you. The old nature is ever lurking, waiting to nurse a slight or a feeling of envy; and when we think on these hurtful thoughts, they grow in magnitude. Jesus put it this way in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart (mind) produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart (mind) his mouth speaks.” And you say, “But I am good. I am in church every Sunday.” What we need to notice is that the person is not defined by their church attendance in this passage. The person is defined by what they have been thinking about - what they have been dwelling upon in those sleepless nights and anxious days. Jesus said that it was from the abundance of those thoughts that the mouth would speak. What we think about is what we talk about.
In Psalm 120:1-7 David expresses the exact issue, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue? A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree! Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” David is talking about his own tongue and the words of his mouth. The Lord has shown him that he has not spoken truth; that his words have stirred up hurt and discord. David says that he really is for peace. At last he realizes that his mind has dwelt on the negative, the vengeful, the hurtful until that is what has come out of his mouth. His words are for war; they create discord because he has been thinking about the wrong things.
We have all been there at one time or another, but that is not where the Lord wants us to be. We have seen in the past weeks that it is the Father’s will that we, the church, grow into a peaceful and unified whole that brings glory and honor to His name. We can only do that as we allow the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts with the Word of God. We can only do that if we are honest with ourselves and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit with a forgiving and repentant heart (mind). We can only do that if we are meditating on that which is “good, pure, perfect and edifying” - Jesus. As we are focused on Him, there is no offense and we are not offended. Remember, the quality of our relationship with God is reflected in our relationship with one another. ...
November 12 If you read the story from yesterday in Acts chapter 16, you know that Paul and Silas were in prison because they had been wrongfully accused of several activities. In fact, they had even been beaten for simply sharing the truth of the Gospel and ministering to the people of Philippi. We live in a day when sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ has become more difficult in this nation as well as in the world at large. Many brothers and sisters in Christ are being beaten and imprisoned and killed in other countries for the sake of the Gospel.
While we hold these dear saints in prayer, we need to realize that persecution in our own home situations will not lessen in the future that lies before us, should the Lord tarry. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that we should, “rejoice in our sufferings (persecutions), knowing that suffering produces endurance (patience), and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As we endure the harassment and slander that so often follows our witness as Christians, we are to remain cheerful and loving to all - even the slanderer; and as the love of Jesus is extended by the Holy Spirit through our life, even the unlovely will be affected positively. Even in a very uncomfortable situation, we are planting seed; and while we may not see the harvest, we have hope that the Holy Spirit will bring the planting to maturity to produce new life. In Hebrews 12:3-4 the Holy Spirit tells us to, “Consider him (Jesus) who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
As we remember Jesus, we remember that He spoke not a word as He stood before His accusers; even in the face of death He forgave them. May we find His example of silence and forgiveness to be our own staff of strength in the Holy Spirit. ...
MIRACLES November 11 The sixteenth chapter of Acts brings to mind again today the importance of our daily walk in Christ. Paul and Silas were prisoners in the jail at Philippi when an earthquake “shook the foundations of the prison” and actually unfastened their shackles and opened the doors of their cell. Instead of using the quake as an excuse for escape, both Paul and Silas remained in their cells. Doesn’t make sense, does it; but clearly, they were acting at the whispered direction of the Holy Spirit or by discernment given by the Spirit. The result? I’ll let you read the story, but the jailer and his entire family were saved as a result of the obedience of Paul and Silas.
Paul and Silas obeyed the direction of the Spirit against all reason and remained in their cells as an act of faith that the Lord would provide their release by another means. When you read the story, it does not seem that they struggled with their decision to remain in the cell. They had become so practiced in walking by faith that their behavior was calm and deliberate in the face of turmoil. They were confident and at peace through imprisonment and an earthquake.
So, we want to see that the first miracle in this story is the absolute obedience of Paul and Silas. It was their calm obedience and faithful witness that allowed the love of Jesus to shine forth through their life and bring the Life and Light of Jesus to the jailer; and then, his family. We are always looking for miracles, but some times we mistake the spectacular as the only arena for the miraculous. ...
MIND 5 November 10 In 1 Corinthians the 2nd chapter the apostle Paul is exhorting the people to seek to be transformed not by the wisdom of men or the flesh, but by the wisdom that comes only by the Holy Spirit of God. The truth is that we are unable to transform or change our own behavior through works of righteousness. Our thinking remains unchanged and the works which we do are only superficial; they cover up the unchanged mind and natural intent of the heart to produce a hypocrisy like the Pharisees.
In the 2nd chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul continues by explaining that the Holy Spirit is the necessary and vital link to understanding spiritual matters. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to understand spiritual revelations or to communicate them; but with the Holy Spirit, He concludes, we have the mind of Christ. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:16) The word mind in this passage means “intellect.” We have the intellect of Jesus Christ himself; and for that reason, we are able to understand the things of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit. We are able to understand the order and principles by which He created and established the earth as He reveals them to us. We are able to understand and therefore operate in the fullness of God’s provisions in Jesus Christ. We have the intellect of Christ; therefore, we “can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us.” (Phil 4:13)
This is another gift of God, a manifestation of His favor in our life; it is another working of the Holy Spirit to bring us to maturity in Christ. We must never forget, however, that all of God’s children have this same gift available to them. God is not a respecter of persons and He has generously given to all His children the full benefits of Salvation. It is for us, the children of God to press in to know Him and to desire to experience the fullness of the grace in which we stand. Our faith walk in Christ is not a static one; but rather an ever upward spiral. The apostle Paul reminds us that it is our choice every day to move forward and upward, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14) Selah ...
MIND 4 November 9 In Philippians 2:1-8 Paul is speaking to the Philippian church, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Yesterday we were talking about having the same mind about our brothers and sisters in Christ - looking at everyone in the same understanding light, loving one another and encouraging one another as the Holy Spirit reveals the Truth of the Word of God and brings about transforming change in each life. That is what Paul is talking about in this passage too, but he goes a little further. He says that Jesus is our example; we should do what He did.
Twice in the same sentence Paul admonishes us to be of the same mind, to be in agreement, and to specifically be in agreement in how we respond to one another. Paul directs our attention to Jesus. The very nature of the character of Jesus should be the model for our behavior toward one another. Jesus 1) Humbled himself and came down from His heavenly position of power and authority to dwell among us as a man. 2) He emptied Himself of all prideful thoughts of who He was, to walk in this life as we are: subject to sickness, to the lusts of the flesh and to the pride of life. 3) He humbled Himself to be completely subject (obedient) to the direction and control of Holy Spirit.
So, how does that affect our relationship with one another? Well, we are all equally devoid of the infinite power and wisdom of God; and while we are learning to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate through us no one of us has reached a place of being as He (the Father) is in power and wisdom. We are all still learning the obedience of faith and are growing through revelation of the Word of God and application of the Word by the direction of the Spirit. The apostle Paul said of himself in Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Just because the Holy Spirit may have worked through us in the past to extend the gift of healing to a brother or sister does not mean that we have arrived! We must forget those past experiences that we may not be puffed up in our own estimation. God has not set us apart as something special. We are still being transformed and being brought to a greater and greater depth of obedience.
In Romans 12:3-10 Paul says, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, for God has given to each the measure of faith. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ...
MIND 3 November 8 Our covenant unity in Christ Jesus is one of the first areas in which the Lord calls us to renew our thinking. Twice in Romans the apostle Paul exhorts us to “be of the same mind toward one another.” In other words, do not show preference to one another for any reason - not because of money, appearance, speech, education. In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female. (Galatians 3:28) We are one in Him, and we should equally, be building each other up to come to maturity in the Lord.
Because we are talking about a diverse group of people who have each come to the Lord with their individual imperfections, the harmony and unity that the Holy Spirit speaks of cannot be accomplished by our own efforts. It takes the Holy Spirit himself at work in each person’s life - convicting of sin and revealing the Truth of the Word of God for each life that we might be transformed and Divinely fitted into the Body of Christ. Romans 15:4 reminds us,“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As we study the Word of God individually and collectively, we are being encouraged through the patient love and endurance of those around us and the instruction of the Holy Spirit that we are being changed. In spite of the past that we have come from, we have hope that we will be fitted into the body of Christ; and we will all take our place as One flawlessly prepared by the Spirit to be the Bride of Christ.
If we are to have the same mind toward one another, we must never forget that we have all begun this life in Christ from the same sinful position. It is the love of God the Father that delivered us from the darkness and death of Satan’s realm; but it is the daily love and encouragement of fellow believers in Christ that gives us hope and encouragement to endure and triumph as we are being changed by the power of the Word and the Spirit from glory to glory. ...
MIND 2 November 7 In the last week we have studied the oneness that covenant life brings to the Body of Christ; and yesterday, we looked at how important it is to renew our mind with the Word of God that we might understand exactly what the Lord is speaking to us collectively and personally. Understanding what is being revealed to us from the Word of God is paramount to our transformation!. 1 Corinthians 2:16 asks, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” While the infinite wisdom of God is beyond our understanding, the Father God is so serious about us being able to understand what He has taught in His Word that he has leveled the playing field by giving to each of His children the mind of Christ.
So, it is with the mind of Christ that we now look at the transfiguration of Jesus and look at it in terms of unity and oneness in God. If you will remember, Peter, James and John went with Jesus to a mountain top where, “He (Jesus) was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” (Matt 17:2-3) The disciples see Jesus enveloped in extreme bright light; and as they watched amazed, they also saw Elijah and Moses standing there with Him. We need to note that the word “appeared” in Greek means to discern clearly. In other words, as they began to comprehend what they were looking at they saw three people standing in the spot where Jesus had been standing alone. This event has been called the “transfiguration” by the church. The word “transfigure” comes from a Greek word which means to morph or change form. Many times we have read this passage in reference to the extreme light that shone from Jesus; and we have remembered that He is the light of the world. (John 1:1-5) In this event, however, the Father was demonstrating so much more to the disciples and to us.
Let’s go back to the Scripture. If you will remember, Peter wanted to erect monuments to the event. Well, that’s certainly the mind of the flesh at work; but we have the mind of Christ, so we will move beyond Peter’s first thought and see that while he (Peter) was still speaking “behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The voice was the voice of God and He did not distinguish between Moses, Elijah and Jesus. It was as if He was ignoring Moses and Elijah; He gave no direct explanation to their presence other than the fact that He did not distinguish between them. The Father did not distinguish between them because Moses and Elijah were within Jesus. What we want to see is that the cloud overshadowed THEM and said, “This - Elijah, Moses and Jesus - is my beloved Son Jesus.” Both Elijah and Moses were caught up to God just as Enoch was. They are seen here in Christ who is in God. They are in the same position in Christ that we, the church - the Bride, are and will be forever. We are all together hidden in Him; He is in us; we are in God.
So, did the Father make this point with Elijah and Moses and not Enoch and David or Isaiah and Ezekiel? Well, that brings us to the second thing that we want to see about the transfiguration In Luke 24:44 after His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” The transfiguration was also the physical manifestation of what was about to be accomplished. Elijah represented the many prophets who the Father had sent to proclaim His will and the coming of Jesus, the Redeemer. Moses represented the Law which the Father had given to identify sin and bring conviction and prepare the repentant heart for Salvation. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled both the Law and the words of the prophets.
So, the Transfiguration spoke of the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and revealed the mystery of the New - that We are one in Him. ...
COVENANT 17 November 5 After the fall, Adam and Eve were separated from God; they had lost continual access to the bond which held them together. As sin nature grew within them (to know evil is to partake of sin or to develop the sin nature), the union that God had planned for their life developed less and less. It was no longer their life, but their lives. Before Jesus came as Savior and Redeemer, the marriage of man and woman was little more than a legal contract that is subject to the whims and deceits of the sinful, selfish old nature. When asked, however, about divorce Jesus referred back to the Garden and said, “It has not always been so.” No, before the fall, Adam male and Adam female were one.
It is no different today than it was in the day of Jesus. We still look at husband and wife as two separate disposable entities. In fact, the divorce rate within the “church” is over 50%. We could be daunted by those numbers and just wistfully sigh, “Impossible!” Yet, all the while the Father still patiently holds out the answer in covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. When marriage is approached as a blood covenant cut in the blood of Jesus; and both man and woman are blood bought, born again Christians, the union is a working manifestation of the covenant union of the members of the Body of Christ who are being transformed into the perfectly flawless Bride of Christ. Because each individual is in Christ and Christ is in them, they are already one before the marriage is sealed at the communion table.
Each man and woman needs to see themselves in Christ Jesus filled with His Life and His love (He is Love). They need to see their spouse in Christ Jesus filled with His Life and His love. It is not so easy to attack one another or to stay angry with one another when you realize that you are attacking Jesus Himself. And no one of us wants to break relationship with the Lord. We all have flaws; none of us yet manifests the perfection of the Life of Jesus; but as we are before Him daily in prayer and praise, and as we are in the Word of God, we are being changed from one degree of glory to another. Remember, Love is patient, long suffering and endures. And while we are changing and enduring ourselves, we pray for one another to be transformed into the image of Christ. We ask the Holy Spirit to convict us of our own short comings that we might repent and change. And all the while, in the midst of discord, the love of God (expressed through our personal relationship with Jesus) is the unbreakable cord that holds it all together. Guess that explains why the Holy Spirit counseled in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Selah ...
COVENANT 16 November 4 When we allow ourselves to think on the unity of the Bride of Christ and the flawless perfection that she will be as the New Jerusalem, we might wonder why the Lord leaves this beautiful picture to the last chapter of the book of Revelation. The truth, however, is that the Father has been speaking to us about this wonderful mystery since the second chapter of Genesis when He created Adam, male and female. In Genesis 2:20-25 the Holy Spirit relates exactly what happened when God created Adam female. (It is very important to note that Adam female was not named Eve until after the “fall.”)
Scripture says in Genesis 2:21 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;” We need to note at this point that the Hebrew word for rib is sela; it means side. A side is significantly different from a single rib. Adam seems to understand this because as he received his bride, he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Any surgeon who has attempted to separate conjoined twins will attest that in the creation of Adam female, the Word of God has performed that which seems impossible to human reason; but the Holy Spirit does remind us in Hebrews 4:12 that “ the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Although the Scripture does not say that God separated Adam female from Adam male through the power of His spoken Word, like the two drops of food coloring which are mingled in a glass of water, He separated what the human mind would declare inseparable. From that which had been one flesh the Lord God made two; and then, directed, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Adam male completed and made whole Adam female, and Adam female completed and made whole Adam male. They were to live as one; not that they were the same, but they each played a separate role that made the whole complete. It made the whole complete because of their differences. The closest relationship they had to model was the relationship of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit with whom they walked every day. God is one, but each person in the Holy relationship has a distinct role in that relationship; and as those roles are fulfilled, God in His totality is manifest. Not that in our finite mind we can comprehend the totality of God or even a wee measure of the individual God head, but we press on to know Him and be found in Him.
And that is the other point that we want to see about the relationship of Adam male and Adam female. They were both naked, but not ashamed. They were not embarrassed or sheepishly guilty because they were covered in the glory and righteousness of God. They were hidden in Him, just as we who are in covenant with God through the blood of Jesus are hidden in him. All sin and shame are gone. Adam male and Adam female were in God; they were complete in God (Col 2:9-10) God was shining out through them just as He will manifest Himself through the New Jerusalem.
So, the marriage of man and woman was to be the first visible evidence of the unity of God (the three in one) in the world. Remember we were created in His image. And as we consider God’s plan in “the dispensation of the fulness of times to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him,” (Eph 1:10) we can see that Jesus is the third cord that binds all things together. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Continuing......... ...
COVENANT 15 November 3 We are continuing today to talk about the power of the Blood of Jesus. The Blood Covenant which was cut by Jesus on the cross of Calvary was liberating. We are set free from sin and are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus through the work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in our life. That begins the elimination of the differences between us which are not according to the Father’s will and character. This is where the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is so important to our daily life. Since we cannot change ourselves or recognize those sins in our life which so easily beset us, it takes the illumination of the Word and Spirit. But as we are delivered from these works of the flesh we are again set free to fellowship in love with other Christians. Remember, we are one flesh with them because we are one in Christ.
In Galatians 5:13-26 Paul put it this way, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
According to Ephesians 2:21-22 “we, the whole structure (all the saints), being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Collectively, (we are one) we are the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem. How can we envy our self? We each have our place; we each have our part. So, our eyes should individually be set on Jesus, as the Bride as a whole is being transformed into a greater and greater purity. Then, as we individually yield our self to the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to be fitted into our place within the Bride. That is a work of the Spirit and not our own; but it is a work that produces peace and harmony within the Body. It is a work that maintains the inseparable unity of the New Covenant cut by Jesus on Calvary. ...
COVENANT 14 November 2 So, we individually have a blood covenant with God as we enter into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. As we saw yesterday, Jesus gave us the structural picture in John 17: 20-23. Jesus (His Eternal Life) is entwined in the Eternal Life of the Father; they are one. As I have, by faith believed on Jesus as Lord and Savior, I (my individual life) am entwined in the Eternal Life of Jesus which is entwined in the Eternal Life of the Father; we are one. I have entered into Eternal Life because I have entered into Him. I am in covenant with the Living God. Now, if you have also by faith believed on Jesus as Lord and Savior, You are also entwined in the Eternal Life of Jesus, in the Eternal Life of the Father. You are one with Jesus and the Father. You are in covenant with God. That means that your life and my life are both entwined in His Life; as such, we are entwined together. We (you and I) are one. We are in covenant with one another because we are both in covenant with Him. The blood of Jesus is the unbreakable bond because it is His sinless blood, His infallible Life that flows within each of us.
The Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus came to this understanding, when the Lord Jesus in Acts 9:4-6 said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” Paul had been persecuting men and women who had by faith believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior; he had been killing covenant believers. To our knowledge, Paul had never seen Jesus personally; he had never actively persecuted the man, Jesus before the crucifixion. But on that day, on the road to Damascus, Paul understood that the Life of Jesus Christ was in each one of the people he had previously persecuted. He understood that they were all one with the Son of God.
We find further evidence of Paul’s understanding of our covenant relationship with one another through the blood of Jesus as he gives the church at Corinth directions regarding communion. Paul begins by reminding them that they are reaffirming the covenant which was cut by Jesus with His own blood; and in the same breath reminds them of their behavior toward one another. In other words, they should be celebrating their oneness in Christ through expressions of love and deference for one another. If the works of the flesh are present among them, they have not rightly discerned the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 Paul says, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Paul is pointing out that when we forget that our brothers and sisters in Christ are one flesh with us, and when we attack them verbally or through unkind behavior, we are attacking our self. Remember, the mingled blood cannot be separated. The anger and unforgiveness that we harbor within ourselves erodes our own well being. The absence of inner peace produces: high blood pressure, anxiety, ulcers, depressed immunity, rheumatoid arthritis, sleeplessness, over eating .......... The list is endless; but this is surely enough to give us pause to reflect on our relationships, particularly in the Body of Christ. Continuing............. ...
COVENANT 13 November 1 We understand the role of Jesus as intercessor in keeping our relationship with the Father in good standing, but there is a little talked about role that He plays between the members of the Body of Christ in our covenant relationship. Jesus began to move into this role just before His crucifixion. Jesus was praying to the Father for His disciples and for us. In John 17:20 -23 when He said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word (that’s us) that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Whoa! You say. God created each of us to be different and He celebrates our differences. Yes, this is true. The Father loves variety in that He loves all the colors in the rainbow of our nationalities; He loves all the notes in the scale of our voices as we worship Him. He celebrates the slow and methodical pace of the teacher and the fire of the evangelist’s exhortation. He revels in the pastor’s and mother’s tender and consistent demonstration of His principles. He enjoys the business man’s firm and honest display of His Truths. The truth is, however, that (1 Peter 2:5) we “ourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” That is God’s plan. Ephesians 1:10 tells us that it is God’s plan, “for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him (Jesus), things in heaven and things on earth.” And in 1 John 3:2 the Holy Spirit tells us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
Yes, it is not that I am to be like you or you are to be like me, but we are both to be like Jesus. We are to think as He thinks, speak as He speaks and act as He acts. In 1 Corinthians 2:16 we are told that in Jesus (through Salvation) “We have the mind of Christ.” When we first come into the family of God, our mind is like an empty page that must be written upon by the Word of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah 55:8-9 the Father tells us, “ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So, while our minds are being transformed (Romans 12:2) and our behavior toward one another is being changed through the renewal of our mind, Jesus is there maintaining the unbreakable New Covenant: 1. By receiving our pleas for forgiveness and repentance when we have wronged a brother or sister. 2. By showing us how to make amends and restore fellowship 3. By pleading our cause before the Father so that both parties remain in right standing before the throne of Grace. 4. By helping us to show His love and patient endurance in the face of slight and offense 5. By helping us to walk on silently when amends are not received. You can fill in the rest. No doubt the Lord has shown you many ways to walk in love and peace within the Body.
Because he knows the Father’s plan for unity within the Body, the Apostle Paul pleads in Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Because man kind has proven that we are incapable of keeping covenant, Jesus is the mediator between us (the believers) and between us and the Father in covenant relationship during this transformation process. It is a transformation period in which all parties are changing and will continue to change until the Lord’s return. It is like the swirling together of those two drops of food coloring that we talked about a day or two ago. The melding of the two drops will take place. So, we must set ourselves to realize that change to become inseparably One will take place within the Body of Christ. We cannot remain the same in Him. ...
We have spent several days talking about covenant and our relationship to the Father in the New Covenant; but today we want to see the role of Jesus in light of the New Covenant. We have already seen that the New Covenant was cut with the blood of Jesus Christ; and we often do not allow ourselves to see Jesus beyond His role on the cross as Savior and Redeemer. We speak of Jesus as being alive today, but we rarely speak with confidence when explaining what He is doing in heaven right now! We know that He is sitting at the right hand of God (Luke 22:69) and speaking to us daily from the Scripture (John 1:1-14); but there is, another vitally important job that He performs every moment of every day under the New Covenant that is little talked about. Jesus is mediator of the New Covenant.
In speaking of the work of Jesus today, Hebrews 8:6 says, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” It is hard to realize that the Holy Spirit is telling us that Jesus’ job as mediator of the New Covenant is better than His previous job as Savior! His new job is as much better as the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Wow! So, what does that mean? Well, let’s look at it this way. (Remember we were made in His image.) There are seasons in life. We all have them. We are student, then parents, then providers...... The list goes on. The same was true for Jesus. He was/is Teacher, Savior, Redeemer, Scapegoat, Covenant Maker, .... He has successfully and perfectly accomplished those roles in Life. They are set before us to accept by faith and move into the Life which He has provided for us or to reject them. That does not mean that we will not meet Him personally as Savior, but it does mean that He will not hang anew upon the cross of Calvary for each person who is saved. He did the work of the cross once - for all - for whosoever will believe. Now, Jesus has moved on to the next role that He must function in; He is mediator for the New Covenant which He cut with His own blood.
The word mediator in Greek means “go between or reconciler.” As we enter into the eternal Life of Jesus by faith, we enter into relationship with the Father. By His blood Jesus has made peace between God the Father and mankind. Jesus has spanned the gulf of sin that separated us from fellowship with God. He has made it possible for us to boldly come before the presence of the Father. And when we carelessly turn from the Lord’s directed path and go our own way in the quest of selfish desires, Jesus stands ready to forgive the humbled heart and reestablish us in right standing before the Father. Romans 8:34 says, Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Thank you Jesus that you are alive and ever interceding with the Father on our behalf today. Continuing............ ...
COVENANT 11 October 30 When we are in blood covenant with God, He is always the “greater” party. Jesus was God’s “stand in” that day on Calvary. Jesus was our “stand in by virtue of His perfect (sinless) life. On that day as Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, the blood of God was mingled with the blood of man to cut an unbreakable covenant. So, now, thankfully, the condition of the covenant does not depend on the faithfulness of man.
The selfish nature of man has not changed. We of ourselves are still unable to perfectly keep covenant, but in our transforming state as a new creature in Christ, our imperfections are not a deal breaker. The New Covenant was cut in the blood of Jesus Christ and not our own. It is the blood of Jesus that forever holds out the love, provision and protection of the Father God to His family. It is the blood of Jesus that spans the gulf between the Eternal Father and dying mankind to give him the Father’s Eternal and transforming Life. This covenant is comprehensive. It covers every area of our life. No other covenant could come close to matching the provisions of the New Covenant which was cut in the blood of Jesus Christ!
So, when Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood He was clearly defining our part in the blood covenant of the New Testament. We are but to partake of Him and His life by faith and live. We are to live daily by faith that His covenant is true, His provision is complete and more than enough for our life. And as we walk by faith, never wavering, that His covenant provisions are true, His life and nature as well as his provisions will be manifest through our life before the world as we renew our mind with His Word. Our life, in other words, will bear much fruit as we rely and trust in Him and not the arm of flesh to meet our needs. That is what attracts the world. When they see you walk in peace while trouble boils around you, when they see your provisions supplied when others lack, when they see you healed and walk in Divine health while sickness abounds, they will take pause and ask, “How can this be?” Your response? “I have a covenant with the Creator, God. He meets all my needs through the blood of Jesus Christ!” ...