THE MIGHTY RUSHING WIND – PART 2

In an earlier post, we ruminated about the wind which can remind us that the Spirit of God is characterized by wind or by the breath of God.  We then thought about the influence of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost when He came into the room like a “mighty rushing wind” and enabled the apostles to preach to the foreigners in Jerusalem in their own language.  Acts 2:2-5

The Spirit of God did not stop His work on earth when Pentecost was over.  Even in 2017, the Spirit has continuing involvement with those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Spirit convicts us of our sin so that we can repent, and the Spirit teaches us the way of righteousness.  Paul says it like this:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. [John 3:18] For the law of the Spirit of Life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. “

Romans 8:1-2 NIV[Amplified]

And again Paul says it like this:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” 

Romans 6:1-2

And again, like this:

“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. … But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. … But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:5, 16, 18, 22-23. ESV

As Christians, the Spirit of God enables us to walk in ways of righteousness, not in sin.  We, as sinful creatures, cannot defeat sin by ourselves; we need help outside of us to overcome our sinful desires, and that help comes from the Holy Spirit.

What does all this have to do with wind?

Fence with trees felled by wind
Trees felled by strong wind along neighbor’s fence.

There is a fence between our house and our neighbor’s house.  It has been standing there for well over 30 years and has withstood numerous rain/wind storms.  After a recent storm with ferocious winds, we noticed a change in the backyard fence.  Something certainly looked amiss, but we couldn’t quite tell what it was.

Fence with tree root ball and uprooted fence
Root ball of tree with upended fence posts.

Upon a more detailed inspection, it immediately became apparent that a 70+ foot tall oak, along with several smaller trees, had fallen over. Further, it had upended one of section of the fence when its root ball, which apparently had grown under the fence and into our yard, was pulled out of the ground as the large tree toppled over. 

I certainly am not going to say that the tree sinned so it was knocked down by the wind.  But, I am going to say that this can be seen as a mini-parable describing the cleaning out that the Holy Spirit can do in my heart when I give control to Him. 

Paul says that we are not to continue to sin.  We are under grace so sin has no control over us … that is to say, sin cannot make us do wrong.  Because our sinful nature is not yet under the full control of the Spirit of God, we will be tempted to sin.  But, praise God, the Spirit is with us and He can knock down any sinful thought that we have, He can prevent any sinful action that we desire to take, and He can mute any sinful word that we yearn to speak.  Just like the tree came down, and it mattered not that the roots were under the fence – it came down as the roots were pulled out of the dirt, lifting the fence with it.  The Spirit will stop at nothing to rid our hearts of sin, because transforming us into the image of our Savior is His job and He knows how to do it.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29 ESV

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:2 NKJV

We are to be transformed into the image of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the Spirit’s work as He leads us away from sin and into righteousness. 

Here is Romans 12:2 as presented in the song entitled “Do Not Be Conformed” and sung on Renewing Your Mind, an Integrity Music Scripture Memory Song album.

When you see or hear the wind outside, ponder and ruminate on whether you have allowed the wind of God’s Spirit to blow through your heart and uproot any sin that is hiding there.  Consider whether you have experienced the freedom in Christ as a result of the Spirit’s snapping the bonds of sin that had entrapped you for so long.  Praise the Lord for His provision of the loving Spirit who desires only that we be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, now and forever more.

Father, I praise You for sending the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, and for calling me to Yourself so that I could partake of this infinite gift of salvation that You have given to those who believe on the name of Your Son.  I praise You for providing the Holy Spirit as the enabling wind Who can eradicate the sin that besets me, and Who guides me in the ways of righteousness.   

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 11, PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PART TWO

We have previously spoken of the peace, shalom, that we find in the Old Testament.  Now, let’s look at peace in the New Testament.

What does Scripture say?

Peace is a prominent feature of the Messiah – Jesus is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Greek word for peace, which is transliterated as eirēnē and pronounced ā-rā’-nā, is the word used by Paul in Galatians 5.  It has much the same meaning as Shalom has in the Old Testament.

  • The gospel of Christ is a message of peace from God to men.

In Acts 10:36 we read:

“As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, …” 

Paul says in Romans 5:1:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

  • This peace is also between people, see for an example Ephesians 2 regarding Jews and Gentiles.

 

  • Further, this peace is an essential element in the spiritual kingdom of God

Romans 14:17 says:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

 

  • Peace is to be cherished and followed by Christians. Jesus told His disciples:

Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another”

Mark 9:50.

Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers:

“Live in peace: and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

2 Corinthians 13:11.

 

  • God is the God of Peace.

Paul says:

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. ”  

2 Thessalonians 3:16.

How can Paul say this?  He notes the basis for this prayer for peace is found in the nature of God Himself:

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

1 Corinthians 14:33

 

  • Lastly, we have “peace” as a greeting. It was the Lord’s own greeting to His disciples as found in Luke 24:36 “Peace to you” and before He left them He gave them specially His blessing of “Peace” in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. “ 

 

Jesus well knew that He was the source of true peace.  But, there is a short caveat that must be raised here, and it refers to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39 where He said that He did not come “to send peace on the earth, but a sword,” referring to the searching nature of His call and the divisions it would create.  In the Wycliffe Bible Commentary on the New Testament, we read the following regarding verse 34:

Jesus explains that his message, delivered in a rebellious and wicked world, would be met with hostility.  Sword: A symbol of sharp conflict and division, as shown by examples in verses 35-36.

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says it this way in TableTalk Magazine, in an article entitled “Fearing the Right Person”:

However, though Christ brings the sword, He does not create the conflict. The peace Jesus offers comes on terms many refuse to accept. Strife comes not directly from the Lord’s hand, but from the response of secondary, human agents who hate Him and those who embrace the Gospel. Saying that He brings the sword is a Semitic way of attributing an indirect result of His mission to Himself even though He is not to blame for the outcome. Christ does not directly set family members against one another; those who reject the Lord are the culprits.  See Romans 9:19-20.

Of course, the spirit of the gospel and of the Christian is one of peace, and it is a Christian duty to seek to bring war and strife everywhere to an end. This is represented as the ultimate result of the gospel and Spirit of Christ; universal and permanent peace can come only as that Spirit rules in all men’s hearts.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

When things seem to go flying out of control, you don’t need to panic or react in a frenzy.  Be at peace.  Slow down … let the dust settle while you seek the Lord and His guidance for you at that time.  You will have peace even when people around you go crazy because the Holy Spirit is within you and peace is one aspect of the fruit that He desires to grow in your life.  Let Him grace you with peace.

 

In his book entitled The Holiness of God, [Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 151] Dr. R. C. Sproul says:

In His last will and testament, Jesus left His heirs something else, something very special: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27)

This is the legacy of Christ: peaceIt is His peace that is our inheritance.  He gives the gift in a way that is different from gifts that are given in this world.  There are no ulterior motives and no sinister strings attached.  He give us His peace not for His benefit but for ours. It is an otherworldly gift given in an otherworldly manner. It is ours to keep forever.

 

This peace is referred to in the Old Testament as well, when the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 26:3:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” 

 

Listen to this verse as sung on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Songs album entitled Overcoming Anxiety.

 

 

Next week we will conclude our consideration of peace as a fruit of the Spirit.  Until then, ask the Spirit to give you His Peace even as you face difficult circumstances, and then spread that peace to those God puts in your path.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

HEAVENLY PRAISE, HERE AND NOW

What do we do in worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and of the Father, Creator of the Universe and Lover of our Souls?   Some of us go to large churches with beautiful scenes depicted in stained glass and a carillon ringing from the bell tower.

Church with stianed glass window
Large, stone, church with beautiful stained glass windows.

 

Others of us go to neighborhood churches that do not have the same type formal adornments but which provide a family atmosphere  among the members.

Church in neighborhood
Neighborhood church with large cross adorning the front of the building.

 

There are a variety of activities that we engage in as we worship in our local church, and those activities vary with the denomination of which we are a part.

 

However, I suggest that we could look at the worship in heaven and take that as a guide for our worship here on our spinning globe.

 

We have a beautiful description of the praise that is given to God in the vision that Isaiah had of the Lord, sitting upon His throne.  Read the words of Isaiah and then close your eyes and picture what he saw.  The heavenly creatures whose function is to praise the Lord because the Lord is deserving of all praise and glory:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:1-4.

Scripture continues to say that, in response to the incredible vision of the Lord, Isaiah fell to the ground proclaiming that he was a sinner, that he had unclean lips. Then, he was cleansed when the angel touched his lips with a coal from the fire, thereby allowing him to stand before God.  [I submit that a true understanding of who God is and who we are will result in terrible awe as we recognize that we cannot stand before God, without His intervention to cleanse us of our sin.  A holy God cannot look upon sinful creatures nor can a holy God tolerate or excuse sin.  However, back to the topic of praise!]

 

Isaiah is not the only one in Scripture who had a vision of the Lord and the praise rendered ceaselessly to Him.  This praise to the Lord is described by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation:

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”   And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:8-11

 

Clearly, we should praise God with our lives, our words and actions as well as the motives of our hearts.  But, our praise to God also extends beyond ourselves, even to our corporate worship each Sunday, for it is there that we glorify God in the presence of other believers as the Holy Spirit is present with us.  In fact, Scripture exhorts us to worship the Lord and give Him glory in all that we do, whether it is in church or not.

 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31.

 

So, the question becomes:  “Do I praise the Lord every day?”  Do you?  Not with a plastic sneering grit your teeth mantra of “praise the Lord” whenever something bad happens, but with heart-felt humbleness as we remember all that God has done for us through Christ our Lord.  Even if a trial comes our way, if distress raises its head, we have the calm assurance that God is in control and He is sovereign.  He will use even the things we consider negative to teach us something about Himself and to draw us closer to Him.

 

Go ahead … join David when he says “Praise the Lord!”  In fact, the exhortation to “Praise the Lord” is found 49 times in Psalms alone.  Clearly, praise is important to our God!  Here are just a few verses from Psalms about praising God:

 

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 106:1

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:1

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

Psalm 148:1

 

In fact, make praise the default position of our spirit no matter what comes our way.  Anticipate that God will use each situation for His purposes, and praise Him for having you in His hands and for Him being with you all the way.

 

How can I praise the Lord?  Sing.  Not only do Scriptures exhort us to praise the Lord, but we are told to sing to the Lord.  Here is a sampling of verses with this directive:

 

Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.

1 Chronicles 16:23

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Psalm 104:33

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!

Psalm 147:7

 

Singing to our God is exhibited in the New Testament as well.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, … .

Act 16:25

… addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, …

Ephesians 5:19

 

Praise God.  Sing a song, out loud.  [You don’t even need to be in the shower!]  Go ahead and let out your praise in prison, at home, in the car, in church, in the choir, wherever you are.  It matters not whether you can carry a tune or read music … your song will be transformed by the Spirit into heart tones that are pleasing to our Father and that will bounce back to you in enriching joy and peace, filling you with His comfort throughout the day.

 

Here is Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song entitled “O come, let us sing”  which features the text of Psalm 95:1-3.  This song was composed by Joey Holder and is on the album entitled The Power of Thanksgiving.  I pray that you will listen and memorize these verses so you will be reminded as you go through your day that the Lord desires praise and we can rightfully provide that praise because He is a great God and a King above all gods.

 

 

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:1-3

 

Go ahead, praise Him even now.  Lift your voice in song and praise the Lord!

 

Father, forgive me when I have gone through the day with a grumpy spirit, or with a frown on my face rather than the glow of your love.  Forgive me when I have forgotten all that you have done for me through Jesus Christ. Accept my petition and enable me to give You praise today, through my words, actions and thoughts.

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 3 OF TRANSFORMATION

We come to to the end of the introduction to the Fruit of the Spirit and consider here transformation.  That is, our transformation into the likeness of our Lord by the renewing of our minds.  In short, it is our growth in righteousness!

What does Scripture say?

 Paul tells us that the evidence of our being new creatures in Christ is the growth of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:21-22.

He then commands that we not remain glued to this world but that we should change our focus to our Savior.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

We are to allow our minds to be transformed and renewed by the Spirit of our Father.  As the believer matures in the Lord, as she prays for understanding and wisdom, and as she reads the Word and is taught by teachers and preachers who base their lessons on the Word, the Holy Spirit will grow these characteristics in her.  The ultimate purpose of this growth is that we will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

The Holy Spirit renews our mind and heart by giving us a divine attitude. Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24 that we are

 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteous and holiness.”

Paul is repeating what Jesus said about pursuing righteousness.  In Matthew 6:33, Jesus told his disciples:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seeking indicates active desire and longing.  Seeking is not passive – it is not considering a suggestion.  Seeking is searching and striving for the object sought.  Seeking something is pursuing it with intent to find it.  This seeking and pursuing righteousness is enabled in our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit.

We cannot be “created after the likeness of God” as Paul noted in Ephesians 4:24 other than through the transformation brought about by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this transformation is evidenced by love both to God and to man. 

How does this apply to my daily life?

So, what does all this have to do with the topic of our study – the fruit of the Spirit?  Righteousness.  It is what we are called to seek – it is what we are called to nurture – it is what we are called to desire – it is what we are called to do.   He also reminds us of what John Calvin has said:

 “There will be no excuse of the indolence of those who both conceal the gifts of God, and waste their time in idleness.

Now, regarding Calvin’s statement, I was pretty sure I knew what “indolence” meant, but I checked it in the thesaurus just to be sure – I am sorry that I did.  See what you think.  I have listed the various synonyms for indolence, now you insert whichever word you think fits best in that quote – “There will be no excuse of the laziness, idleness, sloth, sluggishness, inactivity, apathy, or lethargy of those who both conceal the gifts of God and waste their time in idleness.”

If we are transformed into the image of Christ Jesus, how does this reveal itself?  As previously noted, the transformation is evidenced by love to God and to man.  That being the case, there are some questions that we have to answer:

  • Do I conceal the gifts of God by refusing to use my gifts, time, talent, and money for the kingdom of God?
    • Do you?
  • Do I waste precious time God has given me in idleness or sluggishness, in apathy or, perhaps, in activities that do not reflect His presence in my life?
    • Do you?
  • How do I express my love to God?
    • What about you?
  • How do I express my love to others?
    • What about you?
  • Am I pursuing righteousness or am I hoping that it will just drop on me in some sort of cloud?
    • What about you?
  • Or, do I even care about righteousness in the first place?
    • What about you?

The fruit of the Spirit becomes evident as the Holy Spirit works in our lives as we pursue righteousness in obedience to our Lord’s command.  We can pursue righteousness because we know that God will supply all that we need to do so through His Holy Spirit.

Dr. R. C. Sproul encourages us by noting that “God has not given His people an unattainable goal; the Spirit enables us to please Him (see Hebrews 13:16).  This is also reflected in Philippians 4:19 where Paul says:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” [KJV]

 Listen to the words of Philippians 4:19 as sung in My God Shall Supply from Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Songs album entitled “Truth Sings the Word”..

 

Take some time to meditate this week on these questions and on the Scripture referenced above, and ask the Spirit of our God to prepare your heart and mind for the study of His work in our lives.

Next week we will begin our look at the first of the listing in Galatians 5:  Love. [Hint:  it is far more than casseroles and cards!]

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.