PRAYERS TO PRAISES

 PRAYERS TO PRAISES

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AS WE LOOK AT GOD'S CREATION, AND SAVOR THE PEACE WE GET TO EXPERIENCE WITHIN, IT OUGHT TO BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO OVERLOOK GOD'S PRESENCE. HIS INSPIRED WORD TELLS US THAT, ONCE UPON A TIME, HE BROUGHT EACH LAYER, EACH DIMENSION OF OUR BELOVED WORLD INTO EXISTENCE. AS GOD SPOKE, EMPTINESS TURNED INTO FUNCTIONING BEAUTY, ONE AFTER THE OTHER; EACH CREATION BEING INTENDED TO COMPLETE THE PREVIOUS. THERE WAS ALWAYS A PLAN AND A PURPOSE FOR ALL THINGS, AND THEY WERE TO OPERATE IN HARMONY, PRODUCING GOOD RESULTS. FROM THE GREATEST TO THE SMALLEST, THE ENTIRE CREATION WAS TO DISPLAY GOD'S MAGNIFICENCE AND HIS INFINITE WISDOM. IT IS AMAZING TO SEE HOW GOD USES HIS CREATION TO REMIND US TO PRAISE, LOVE, AND WORSHIP HIM. IN FACT, IF WE WERE TO KEEP SILENT, AND FAIL TO REVERE HIM, ACCORDING TO LUKE 19:40, JESUS SAYS, "I TELL YOU, IF THEY KEEP QUIET, THE STONES WILL CRY OUT". AT THE TIME JESUS WAS RESPONDING TO THE PHARISEES WHO WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SURROUNDING WORSHIPERS' LACK OF RESTRAINT. THEY WANTED THEM TO BE MORE SUBDUED. YET JESUS KNEW THAT TRUE AND HEARTFELT WORSHIP COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE TAMED OR CONTROLLED. SO HE DISAGREED WITH THEM. IF WE REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS, WE WILL UNDERSTAND THAT NO ROCK SHOULD HAVE TO DO WHAT WE HUMANS WERE CREATED TO DO. (psalms 107:8; 1 Corinthians 6:20)

ACCORDING TO GENESIS 1:25, "...GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD" BEFORE HE SAID, "LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, ACCORDING TO OUR LIKENESS; AND LET HIM RULE OVER THE FISH OF THE SEA AND OVER THE BIRDS OF THE SKY AND OVER THE CATTLE AND OVER ALL THE EARTH, AND OVER EVERY CREEPING THING THAT CREEPS ON THE EARTH".


AGAIN, ACCORDING TO GENESIS 1:31, "GOD SAW ALL THAT HE HAD MADE, AND BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD".

WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO BE "CREATED IN GOD'S IMAGE"? OBVIOUSLY IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PHYSICAL FORM, FOR THE ONE WHO CREATED PHYSICAL REALITY IS NOT A PHYSICAL BEING HIMSELF. IT CERTAINLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SHARING IN GOD'S INFINITE PERFECTIONS, SUCH AS OMNIPRESENCE, OMNIPOTENCE, PERFECT KNOWLEDGE AND GOODNESS, ETC. RATHER IT MEANS THAT WE SHARE A DEGREE OF GOD'S ATTRIBUTES OF PERSONALITY, MEANING INTELLECT, EMOTIONS, WILL, RELATIONSHIP, RESPONSIBILITY, AND MORAL SIGNIFICANCE. THROUGH INTELLECT, WE CAN THINK AND LEARN. THROUGH EMOTIONS, WE CAN LOVE AND HAVE JOY, OR WE CAN HURT AND GRIEVE. THROUGH WILL, WE CAN MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES. THROUGH RELATIONSHIP, WE CAN LIVE IN INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND THE REST OF HIS CREATION. THROUGH RESPONSIBILITY, WE HAVE GENUINE IMPACT AND ACCOUNTABILITY WITH RESPECT TO OUR OWN LIVES, AND THE LIVES OF OTHER HUMANS. WE HAVE A STEWARDSHIP OVER THE EARTH. WE CAN CREATE, BUILD, GROW THINGS, AND MAKE A FUTURE THAT IS OURS, OR WE CAN SIMPLY FAIL TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS. AND THROUGH MORAL SIGNIFICANCE, IN ALL OF THINGS, WE CAN DO GOOD, OR NOT. OUR CHOICES HAVE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE IN A UNIVERSE WHERE MORALITY IS AS REAL AS THE GROUND WE WALK ON.


GOD STARTED US OUT IN A WORLD NEARLY WITHOUT LIMITS; BUT NOT QUITE: HE GAVE US THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CHOOSING TO REJECT HIS GOODNESS AND LOVE. SINCE THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL WAS SO APPEALING TO ADAM AND EVE - AND THAT COULD BE REPLACED WITH ANY FORBIDDEN OBJECT, IT WOULD BE FAIR TO BELIEVE THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE ABUNDANCE OF KNOWLEDGE. YET OUR INNOCENCE WAS OF GREATER KIND THAN WHAT WE ARE USED TO APPRECIATE THESE DAYS. IT WAS NOT A STRUGGLING INNOCENCE, OR AN INNOCENCE RESTORED, OR EVEN AN INNOCENCE AMONG BLAMEWORTHINESS. THIS OPENNESS AND FREEDOM WAS WHAT WE WERE MADE FOR. THE WICKEDNESS WE DETECT IN HUMANS IS REFERRED TO AS "NATURE" IN ANIMALS. IT IS "EQUAL" TO OUR FALLENNESS FROM A BETTER NATURE WHICH ONCE WAS MEANT TO BE OURS.


AS ADAM FOLLOWED EVE'S SUGGESTION ABOUT DISOBEYING GOD, THEY BOTH RECOGNIZED THINGS THEY HAD NEVER KNOWN BEFORE. AND THEY ALSO REALIZED THAT WHICH THEY ENDED UP LOSING THROUGH THAT ONE DISOBEDIENCE, HAD DEPARTED FROM THEM FOR GOOD. THEY WERE FRIGHTENED, EMBARRASSED, AND EXPOSED. THEY HID! ISN'T THAT WHAT WE DO WHEN WE KNOW WE'VE DONE WRONG? WE HIDE FROM GOD; WE HIDE FROM OTHERS; AND WE HIDE FROM OURSELVES. THAT ONE DISOBEDIENCE IS OFTEN WHAT CAUSES A BROKENNESS IN JUST ABOUT EVERY RELATIONSHIP OF OUR LIVES.


YET WE ALSO SEE THAT GOD WALKING THROUGH THE GARDEN AND ASKING, "WHERE ARE YOU?"  YOU DON'T SUPPOSE GOD MAY HAVE NEEDED A GPS TO KNOW WHERE ADAM AND EVE WERE HIDING, DO YOU?  I DON'T THINK SO!  THE REASON GOD ASKED THAT QUESTION, AND HE CONTINUES TO ASK THAT QUESTION TO US EVEN TODAY, IS BECAUSE GOD WANTS TO HEAR A CONFESSION.  GOD DOESN'T WANT TO LISTEN TO A SOAP OPERA VERSION OF THE TRUTH.  HE'S ALREADY SEEN IT ALL.  HE SIMPLY WANTS US TO COME CLEAN WITH THE TRUTH.  HE WANTS TO HEAR WHAT WE'VE DONE, WITHOUT INVOLVING OTHERS' BEHAVIOR AT ALL.  HE WANTS TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT WE'RE REMORSEFUL ABOUT OUR BEHAVIOR.  IF AND WHEN WE START TALKING ABOUT WHAT PROMPTED US TO DO A CERTAIN THING, WE SOUND AS THOUGH WE'RE TRYING TO JUSTIFY A BAD DECISION.  AND THAT COULD NEVER LEAD US TO A HEARTFELT PLEA FOR FORGIVENESS.


OBVIOUSLY, FOR US CHRISTIANS, GOD IS GLORIFIED THROUGH OUR EXPRESSION OF HIS IMAGE. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT! HOWEVER, IS IT ENOUGH TO GLORIFY GOD THROUGH OUR "SPIRITUAL" ACTIVITIES ONLY? CAN WE NOT ALSO GLORIFY GOD AS WE LIVE OUT HIS IMAGE IN US THROUGH OUR "NON-SPIRITUAL" ACTIVITIES? COULDN'T GOD BE INTERESTED IN CERTAIN NON-SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF OUR ACTIVITIES AS WELL? THAT ANSWER IS SIMPLE: GOD IS INTERESTED IN ALL OF OUR ACTIVITIES.  HE IS WATCHING AND SEEING IT ALL.  AND HE IS PLEASED WHEN WE GO BEFORE HIM WITH THE TRUTH, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, AND CLEANSE OURSELVES BEFORE HIM.  AND SINCE WE ALREADY KNOW ALL OF OUR MISTAKES ARE FORGIVEN, THERE IS NO MORE WORRIES OF BEING PUNISHED.  WE WILL STILL REAP THE RESULTS OF OUR BEHAVIORS, NOT AS A PUNISHMENT; BUT AS A CONSEQUENCE.  THAT'S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAY OF SEEING THINGS.  WE MUST LEARN TO BECOME THE ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS AS GOD HAD INTENDED FOR US TO BE, INSTEAD OF HIDING FROM GOD OR BEHIND GOD, JUST SO WE CAN CONTINUE TO USE THE VICTIM MENTALITY AS OUR ALIBI.


YES, IT IS TRUE THAT WE WERE CURSED WITH HARD LABOR DUE TO THE GREAT FALL OF ADAM AND EVE. BUT IS WORK REALLY A CURSE? ISN'T IT THROUGH WORK THAT WE SHAPE OUR WORLD? ISN'T THAT HOW WE CREATE? THAT'S ONE OF THE MAIN CONTEXTS WHEREIN WE RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER; MEANING DOING THINGS TOGETHER. AND THAT'S ALSO HOW WE BLESS ONE ANOTHER AND EXPRESS OUR INDIVIDUALITY. AS WE AIM TO ADD TO OUR ENVIRONMENT AND SHARE IN OUR COMMUNITIES, THERE ARE NO LESSER POSITIONS IN LIFE, AS LONG AS WE APPLY GOD'S ATTRIBUTES WHILE PUTTING OUR HEARTS INTO PLEASING HIM FIRST.


A GOOD BOOK, A GREAT PIECE OF MUSIC, A BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED BUILDING, OR AN OUTSTANDING FILM IS HOW WE ENJOY AND APPRECIATE EACH OTHER'S CREATIVITY. OBVIOUSLY THOSE AREN'T SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES AT ALL. YET AS WE FOCUS ON PERFECTING THEM THROUGH OUR GOD-GIVEN ABILITIES, WE ARE DIRECTLY AND INDIRECTLY WORSHIPING GOD. OUR RELATIONAL NEED FOR ONE ANOTHER HAD ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE GREAT FALL OF ADAM AND EVE; AND SO WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF OUR MORALITY. OTHERWISE IT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN A MORAL SORT OF FALL.

 

 

 

"JUST AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH, SO ALSO WILL IT BE IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN" READS LUKE 17:26. WICKEDNESS AND DRUNKENNESS WERE RAMPANT DURING NOAH'S DAYS. THEN THE FLOOD CAME AND DESTROYED EVERYONE EXCEPT FOR NOAH AND HIS FAMILY. THE VERY SAME REASON CAUSED THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH; THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WAS THAT THE DAY LOT LEFT SODOM, FIRE AND SULPHUR RAINED DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. ONE VERY OBVIOUS THING ABOUT THE EVENTS THAT LUKE DESCRIBES IS THAT MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THE EVENTS ARE UTTERLY UNPLEASANT. 


LUKE IS TELLING US ABOUT DESTRUCTION, SUDDEN DEVASTATION, SEPARATION FROM LOVED ONES, AND PAINFUL DEATHS. PLEASE NOTE THAT LUKE TAKES TIME TO COMPARE BOTH, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE A FEW HUNDRED YEARS APART. IN EACH CASE THE DESTRUCTION WAS SUDDEN, DEVASTATING, AND ONLY A FEW PEOPLE SURVIVED. LUKE ALSO TAKES TIME TO EMPHASIZE THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE DESTROYED WERE APPARENTLY EITHER UNAWARE OF WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, OR THEY DIDN'T CARE, BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T STOP THEIR ORDINARY DAILY ACTIVITIES IN ORDER TO AVOID OR PREPARE FOR THE DESTRUCTION THAT WAS SOON TO COME. 


IN EACH CASE HOWEVER, ONLY A SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE WERE PRESERVED. SO IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD INTENDED TO DESTROY ANY KIND OF WICKEDNESS THAT HAD STEMMED FROM HIS CREATION'S DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE TO HIS LAWS. WERE THERE NOT OTHER RIGHTEOUS ONES WHO ENDED UP DYING THROUGH THE RUIN? WERE ONLY THOSE WHOSE LIVES WERE TOTALLY WITHOUT SIN SAVED? THE ANSWER TO BOTH QUESTIONS IS NO. THE FEW  WHO ENDED UP SURVIVING GOD'S WRATH WERE THE ONES WHO HAD SOMEONE RIGHTEOUS  VOUCHING FOR THEM. NOAH AND ABRAHAM BOTH WERE FOUND RIGHTEOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. AND EACH ONE OF THEM PLEADED FOR THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS; MEANING THEY GUARANTEED TO LOOK AFTER THEM, AND PROMISED GOD THAT THEY WOULD LEAD THEM ONTO A PATH  FAR MORE PLEASING TO GOD'S EXPECTATIONS. THAT'S THE ONLY THING THAT SEPARATED THE SAVED FROM THE UNSAVED!


DOESN'T THAT REMIND US OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO IS ACTIVELY SPEAKING ON OUR BEHALF, RIGHT NOW, ASKING GOD TO RELEASE US FROM HIS PUNISHING ANGER, AND ALLOW HIM TO LEAD US ONTO A PATH OF HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AS LONG AS WE ARE WILLING TO RECOGNIZE HIM AS GOD'S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON?  HOW DIFFICULT COULD THAT BE, AND WHY TAKE A CHANCE WHEN IT SOUNDS THIS SIMPLE?  ISAIAH 64:6 READS, "BUT WE ARE ALL AS AN UNCLEAN THING, AND ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE AS FILTHY RAGS; AND WE ALL DO FADE AS A LEAF; AND OUR INIQUITIES, LIKE THE WIND, HAVE TAKEN US AWAY."  AS WE CONTINUE TO RIPEN IN OUR INIQUITIES, WE HAVE LESS ROOM FOR GOD'S WISDOM; OUR VISION OF OURSELVES GRADUALLY  BECOMES BLURRED, AS WE  MAKE A HABIT OF  COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS. AND THAT KIND OF BENCHMARK IS DESTINED TO  LURE US TO OUR DOOM. IT HAS NO VALUE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. IT WILL SHAPE AND DESCRIBE OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHILE IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GOD'S STANDARDS.  

 
 

JOHN 3:14-17 READS, "AND AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT IN THE WILDERNESS, EVEN SO MUST THE SON OF MAN BE LIFTED UP: THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVRLASTING LIFE. FOR GOD SENT NOT HIS SON INTO THE WORLD TO CONDEMN THE WORLD; BUT THAT THE WORLD THROUGH HIM MIGHT BE SAVED." MANY INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BIBLE HAVE AIMED TO CONVINCE US THAT JESUS CAME TO SHOW US THE WAY BY BEING A PERFECT ROLE MODEL FOR US. THIS KIND OF TEACHING HAS MANAGED TO LEAD US INTO A PATH OF FRUSTRATION AND EXHAUSTION; SINCE OUR EFFORTS ARE FUTILE IN COMPARISON TO GOD'S STANDARDS. IT ALSO SUGGESTS, AUDACIOUSLY I MUST ADD, THAT OUR WORKS MIGHT  EARN US A TICKET TO SALVATION. THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT INTERPRETATION: WE ARE SAVED NOT BECAUSE OF WHO WE ARE; BUT BECAUSE OF WHO GOD IS. THE JUDGE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE HAS MANAGED TO GIFT US A WAY, JUST SO WE WON'T HAVE TO BE JUDGED. 


SUCH A SACRIFICE IS HARD TO COMPREHEND BY MERE HUMANS LIKE US WHO CAN'T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND THE MAGNITUDE OF GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. WE CAN'T GET SAVED BY IMITATING CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR; WE GET SAVED BECAUSE CHRIST BECAME OUR SUBSTITUTE; AND DIED THE KIND OF  DEATH THAT WAS APPROPRIATE FOR US. WE GET SAVED BY BELIEVING WHO HE IS AND ACCEPTING  THE AWESOME PRICE HE PAID FOR OUR SALVATION.


1 JOHN 3:16 READS, "HEREBY PERCEIVE WE THE LOVE OF GOD, BECAUSE HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US: AND WE OUGHT TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN". AS WE UNDERSTAND WHO JESUS IS, AND WHAT HE DID FOR US, WE ARE ENTIRELY HUMBLED, ALMOST CRUSHED UNDER GOD'S IMMENSE GIFT THAT WE DIDN'T DESERVE; WE DIDN'T EARN; AND WE STILL DON'T QUALIFY FOR, AND NEVER WILL.  THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT WE AIM TO OVERLOOK OUR DIFFERENCES, AND  WILLINGLY HELP OUT BY SHARING OUR SAVIOR WITH EACH OTHER.

 

 

JESUS INSTRUCTED HIS DISCIPLES TO WAIT FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT; WITHOUT WHOM HE KNEW THEY DIDN'T STAND A CHANCE IN THIS FALLEN WORLD. HE ALSO UNDERSTOOD WHAT REJECTION WAS LIKE. WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE COMFORTER. IT COULD EXPOSE THEM TO ALL KINDS OF UNNECESSARY RESULTS: THEY COULD END UP RESENTING THE ONES WHO WOULD REFUSE TO BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS; THEY COULD BECOME DISCOURAGED AND  FAINT IN THEIR ASSIGNMENT OF SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS; THEY COULD EVEN END UP RESENTING THE GOOD NEWS FOR CAUSING ENDLESS MEASURES OF PERSECUTION AND MOCKERY. THAT'S WHY HE SAID ACCORDING TO JOHN 14:16, "AND I WILL PRAY THE FATHER, AND HE SHALL GIVE YOU ANOTHER COMFORTER, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOREVER."; AND ALSO IN JOHN 16:7, "BUT I TELL YOU THE TRUTH. IT IS FOR YOUR GOOD THAT I AM GOING AWAY. UNLESS I GO AWAY, THE COUNSELOR WILL NOT COME TO YOU; BUT IF I GO, I WILL SEND HIM TO YOU". JOHN 14:26 SAYS, "BUT THE COUNSELOR, THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL TEACH THINGS AND WILL REMIND YOU OF EVERYTHING I HAVE SAID TO YOU".


IT IS OBVIOUS THAT JESUS, OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, DID NOT WANT US TO TAKE THE JOURNEY ALONE. HE KNEW WE NEEDED THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO EVEN REMEMBER HIS WORDS. HE WANTED US GUIDED, PROTECTED, AND PROVIDED FOR AT ALL TIMES. BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR US TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT TODAY? THE BIBLE TELLS US IT TO WALK IN TRUTH; TO WALK AFTER GOD'S COMMANDMENTS; TO WALK IN THE LIGHT; TO WALK IN WISDOM; TO WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT; TO WALK BY FAITH, AND TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE, AMONG OTHERS. TO WALK MEANS TO CARRY ON, TO CONDUCT OURSELVES. IT MEANS TO BELIEVE NOT JUST IN WHAT WE SAY, BUT IN HOW WE BEHAVE. IT SIMPLY MEANS OUR WHOLE LIVES BEING PLEASING TO GOD. 


AS WE LEARN TO TAKE EACH DAY AS A GIFT FROM GOD, INCLUDING THE VERY BREATH WE INTAKE FROM ONE MOMENT TO NEXT, ALL OF OUR  ABILITIES TO MOVE AROUND AND CHOOSE FOR OURSELVES, AND ALL OF THE OPPORTUNITIES WE GET TO EXPERIENCE THROUGHOUT A DAY TO BE ABLE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, WE UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO TRULY LIVE FOR GOD. OFTEN RESTLESSNESS AND FRUSTRATION TAKE RESIDENCE WITHIN WHEN WE'RE TRYING TO OPERATE ON OUR OWN. BUT WHEN WE ADMIT OUR LIMITATIONS AND SURRENDER TO THE POWER AND THE PROMPTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THERE IS NO LONGER A SACRIFICE, BECAUSE WHAT GOES OUT OF US IS SIMPLY GOD'S UNFAILING PROVISIONS MOVING THROUGH US TO REACH THE NEEDY AND THE HURTING. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT ENOUGH IF WE DON'T LET HIM SATURATE US WITH HIS PRESENCE AND COMPLETELY TAKE OVER, SO HE CAN USE US AS VESSELS WITHIN THIS TEMPORARY WORLD OF OURS.

 

 

 

GENESIS 1:2 READS, "DARKNESS WAS OVER THE SURFACE OF THE DEEP, AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS HOVERING OVER THE WATERS". REVELATION 22:17 SAYS, "THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY 'COME! " THE HOLY SPIRIT IS PRESENT ALL THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE, BUT HIS FUNCTION IS A BIT DIFFERENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THE HOLY SPIRIT DWELLS UPON CERTAIN PEOPLE IN CERTAIN TIMES. THE GREAT PROPHET MOSES THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM GOD AS A HELPER IN HIS GIANT MISSION TO LEAD GOD'S PEOPLE OUT OF EGYPT. AND WHEN THE BURDEN BECAME TOO HEAVY TO CARRY,  GOD LET THE SPIRIT ALSO COME UPON SEVENTY OTHER MEN. THEY TOO RECEIVED THE POWER TO BE LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE. SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH, MOSES PUT HIS HANDS ON JOSHUA AND PRAYED FOR HIM. JOSHUA THEN RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT AND TOOK OVER THE LEADERSHIP. IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES WE FIND THE AMAZING STORY OF SAMSON AND THE ENORMOUS STRENGTH HE NEEDED TO FULFILL HIS MISSION FOR THE LORD.  WHEN THE PROPHET SAMUEL ANOINTED SAUL AS KING, THE SPIRIT OF GOD FELL UPON HIM AND CHANGED HIS HEART AND MIND. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS EVIDENT WHEN THE PROPHET NATHAN CONFRONTED KING DAVID OVER HIS ADULTERY WITH ONE OF HIS WARRIORS' WIFE BATHSHEBA. DAVID'S HUMBLE ATTITUDE ABOUT THE TRUTH IS DESCRIBED IN PSALM 51 WORD BY WORD. THE PROPHET ELIJAH, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, HAD THE ABILITY TO RUN IN FRONT OF KING AHAB'S CARRIAGE ON HIS WAY BACK FROM THE BATTLE WITH THE PROPHETS OF BAAL. THE PROPHET ELISHA POSSESSED THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHEN HE COULD DIVIDE THE WATER WITH HIS CLOAK.


GOD PROMISED THAT HE WOULD POUR OUT THE SPIRIT ON ALL PEOPLE. THAT PROMISE WAS FULFILLED ON THE DAY OF THE FIRST PENTECOST IN JERUSALEM. AND THAT PROMISE IS BEING FULFILLED EVERY TIME SOMEONE COMES TO FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. THEREFORE THE SPIRIT IS NO LONGER GIVEN TO SELECT FEW, HE IS POURED OUT ON ALL BELIEVERS. ACCORDING TO 2 CORINTHIANS 3:17 WE KNOW THAT, "...THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT, AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS FREEDOM". AND WE ALSO SEE THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON WHEN WE READ EPHESIANS 4:30, "DO NOT GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, WITH WHOM YOU WERE SEALED FOR THE DAY OF REDEMPTION". IT IS THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT WE RECOGNIZE OUR SINFUL TENDENCIES AND HAVE A CHANCE TO REPENT; WITHOUT WHICH WE CANNOT RECEIVE THE MEANING OF CHRIST'S DEATH ON THE CROSS. HE DIED FOR OUR SINS AND BECAME OUR SIN, DURING WHICH GOD COULDN'T LOOK UPON HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. AS BELIEVERS, EACH TIME WE APPROACH GOD WITH REVERENCE AND HUMILITY, GOD SEES CHRIST, OUR SUBSTITUTE, WHO CONTINUES TO PRAY ON OUR BEHALF.  JESUS HIMSELF PROMISED IN JOHN 14:12, "...ANYONE WHO HAS FAITH IN ME WILL DO WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING. HE WILL DO EVEN GREATER THINGS THAN THESE, BECAUSE I AM GOING TO THE FATHER..." HE IS OUR MEDIATOR, OUR HIGH PRIEST, OUR REDEEMER, AND THROUGH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, OUR EXISTENCE BEFORE GOD.

 

 
 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRIT-FILLED? THE ONLY WAY TO DESCRIBE IT IS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS NOT TO BE SPIRIT-FILLED. NOT BEING SPIRIT-FILLED MEANS TO BE FILLED WITH SELF! WHATEVER WE'RE WORSHIPING TODAY IS WHAT'S GOING TO COME OUT OF OUR MOUTH. IF WE'RE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT WE'LL MAGNIFY GOD. IF WE'RE FILLED WITH SELF WE'LL MAGNIFY SELF. IT'S THAT SIMPLE. OFTEN WE HAVE A NEED TO CONVINCE PEOPLE AS TO HOW MUCH WE KNOW ABOUT CHRIST, OR HOW MUCH BETTER WE CAN DESCRIBE HIM. WE COME UP WITH ELOQUENT WORDS TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH. IF WE LOOK BACK AND REMEMBER THE TIME WHEN WE WERE JUST SAVED. WE KNEW A WHOLE LOT LESS, YET WE WERE FAR BETTER WITNESSES THEN. PEOPLE COULD SEE THE RADIANCE OF CHRIST THROUGH OUR EXCITEMENT. WE WERE ABLE TO REFLECT HIM INSTEAD OF SIMPLY SPEAKING ABOUT HIM. IN FACT THE LESS WE ARE, THE GREATER HIS POWER CAN BE SEEN THROUGH US. DEMONSTRATING HIS LOVE IS FAR BETTER WAY OF WITNESSING FOR HIM THAN UTTERING PLAIN WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IF WE ACT A CERTAIN WAY, WE'LL NEVER HAVE THE INFLUENCE AS IF WE WERE A CERTAIN WAY.


WHEN WE BECOME SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE, THE SPIRIT DOESN'T JUST CHANGE OUR LIVES, BUT HE ALSO CHANGES THE LIVES OF OTHER PEOPLE CHRIST LOVES THROUGH US. THEREFORE THE WORDS WE SPEAK CARRY A DEEPER MESSAGE, A REVELATION IF YOU WILL, TO THE HEARER; THAT IS, OF COURSE, IF WE WOULD MANAGE TO KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AND ALLOW GOD'S WORD TO STAND OUT. ACTS 10:44 STATES, "WHILE PETER WAS STILL SPEAKING THESE WORDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON ALL WHO HEARD THE MESSAGE". IN OTHER WORDS, PETER WAS SPEAKING WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT TOOK OVER; PETER WAS INTERRUPTED, AND LIVES WERE CHANGES THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS PEOPLE WERE LISTENING TO PETER'S WORDS, THE UNDERLYING MEANING CAME ALIVE AND GRIPPED THE HEARTS OF THE LISTENERS. WE TOO MUST FOCUS ON NARRATING A CERTAIN EVENT THAT MIGHT HAVE ENCOURAGED US TO BECOME CHRIST-FOLLOWERS, BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO CONVINCE PEOPLE INTO OUR SEQUENCE OF THINKING. GOD'S SPIRIT IS FREE TO MOVE IN ANY SEQUENCE HE SEES FIT.


A BETTER WAY OF DESCRIBING THIS IS TO BE INVISIBLE ENOUGH JUST SO PEOPLE CAN SEE CHRIST THROUGH US. THE DAYS WE'VE HAD A TRUE OR BETTER ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST, ARE THE DAYS WE WERE ABLE TO SEE PAST THE SPEAKER, PAST THE PREACHER, PAST THE LOCATION, PAST ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. THEREFORE WE OWE IT TO OTHERS OUT THERE AT LEAST THE VERY SAME. ANYONE AND EVERYONE CAN WITNESS ABOUT CHRIST AS LONG AS THE LISTENER IS EXPECTING TO RECEIVE A SOUND MESSAGE FROM GOD. JESUS IS GOD'S WORD. HE IS ALSO THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S LOVE FOR US. BEING ABLE TO SEE HIM IS RECEIVING GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AS WELL AS THE PLAN OF SALVATION hE BESTOWED UPON US. IN FACT, AS PEOPLE OBSERVE US, THEY MUST BE AMAZED AND PERPLEXED ABOUT THE PECULIAR ABSENCE OF SELF. SUCH QUALITY BECOMES CLEAR UNDER DIFFICULTIES OR UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCES, DURING WHICH OUR TRUE CHARACTER COMES THROUGH. NO BODY IS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH, KNOWLEADGEABLE ENOUGH, OR SMART ENOUGH TO HIDE WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE UNDER PRESSURE. WE CAN NEVER TAME THE TONGUE. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO MAINTAIN A CONTROLLED LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCE. THEREFORE WE MUSN'T AIM TO HAVE MUCH POLISH, WE MUST SIMPLY AIM TO HAVE MUCH POWER THROUGH GOD'S SPIRIT. JUST REMEMBER, WE GET SAVED BY KNOWING CHRIST. BUT WE SHOW CHRIST BY GETTING TO KNOW HIM BETTER.

             "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,

                                           it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Corinthians 13: 4