THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT

Gen. 1:1-3 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

I saw the importance of the relationship between the Word and the Spirit from Dick Mills. Brother Mills memorized thousands of scripture passages as a young man, when he began to move in the power of the Spirit it became unusually powerful. He always spoke about the importance of the word and the Spirit and how they work together for the unveiling of God in our lives. Today, I try to build our church on these two pillars, the word and the Spirit. The word is the basic ingredient of our faith, the Holy Spirit makes it real. John Calvin was well none for his two fold emphasis, he taught that the word and the Spirit are the fountain of all divine revelation. Here are some comments from John Piper on Calvin’s emphasis.

“So two things came together for Calvin to give him a saving knowledge of God: Scripture itself and the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Neither alone suffices to save. But how does this actually work? What does the Spirit do? The answer is not that the Spirit gives us added revelation to what is in Scripture, but that he awakens us, as from the dead, to see and taste the divine reality of God in Scripture, which authenticates it as God’s own word. He says, “Our Heavenly Father, revealing his majesty [in Scripture], lifts reverence for Scripture beyond the realm of controversy.” There’s the key for Calvin: the witness of God to Scripture is the immediate, unassailable, life-giving revelation to the mind of the majesty of God manifest in the Scriptures themselves.”

The gift of prophesy is the one gift of the Spirit that was emphasized by Paul. He said, “Covet earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy”. If Paul said it was something we should pursue it must be important. Think about it, what does prophesy consist of? Of course it is the classic picture of the combination of the word and the Spirit. If you want to follow Paul’s directive this is how you can do it, soak your mind in the word of God. Read it and chew on it incessantly. Next, be filled with the Spirit. If you do those two things, prophesy is not far away.

WOMEN IN MINISTRY

Luke 8:1-3 – Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

One of the blessings I have received over the years is being honored by ministering in many locations in the world. I have done meetings in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Central America, and Australia and all are beautiful and extremely diverse. There is one common denominator in all of the locations, there is always a much larger number of women in the services than me. I have thought a lot about it and concluded that women are naturally receivers and men are doers, most women recognize their need for the Lord much sooner than men. Reading between the lines it seems that was true in the ministry of Jesus as well, He was followed and supported by large numbers of women. In today’s verse Luke points out that women played a large role in the support of Jesus ministry. They used their substance, their finances and resources, for the work of the ministry. Here are some thoughts from the

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE COMMENTARY about the role of women in the ministry of Jesus.
“Luke probably had three reasons for mentioning these women: (1) to show that the women who witnessed the crucifixion (Luke 23:49) and the empty tomb (24:10, 22, 24) had been with Jesus from the time of his Galilean ministry (which in effect meets the qualifications for apostleship in Acts 1:21-22); (2) to show that women may (and [Luke, p. 123] will) have influential roles in the church (see Acts 1:14; 8:12; 16:13-15; 17:4, 12; 18:24-26); and (3) to show that financial liberality is a mark of discipleship and is essential for the continuation of the ministry.”
We have seen a huge influence of ladies in our church over the years. Women have often been our largest financial supporters, cell leaders, ministers, teachers, soul winners, business and administrative leaders; actually women have lead every area of our church. Thank the Lord for the many women of God in the church. It seems that Jesus led the way in freeing women to be used for the work of the ministry.

LOVE POURED OUT

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his
love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Rom.5:5

The love of God is not a concept or even an emotional experience, God’s love is a person. Just as the revelation of God’s thoughts or words are expressed in the person Jesus Christ, God’s love is so powerful that it too is expressed in a distinct person, the wonderful Holy Spirit. Every time we are drawn into the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit we are engulfed, swallowed up, in the love of God. His presence is all consuming and more powerful and real than any earthly encounter. Often times our response when we are baptized in this love is to be filled to overflowing with joy. Think about it, even natural love evokes joy in our hearts, how much more will supernatural love cause us to burst with joy. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the relationship between God’s love and the Holy Spirit.
“God the Father pours out the Holy Spirit into your heart, and the Holy Spirit pours out God’s love into your heart. As surely as God gives His Spirit, He will also bestow His love. Why do we so seldom experience this truth? Simply because we do not believe. It takes time to believe in the mighty work of the Holy Spirit, through whom we are filled with the love of God. We need time to withdraw from the world and its interests, time to revel in the love of God so that His great love can take possession of us. If we believe in the great love of God and its power, we will receive what we ask. God wants you to love Him with your whole heart and with all your strength. He knows your shortcomings. That is why He gave you His Spirit, who knows about the deep secrets of eternal love with which He desires to fill you.”
Jesus said that the first commandment is to love God with all your heart. This is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls. The first evidence of someone being filled with the Spirit is an extreme attraction and love for God. Falling in love with the Lord is a sure sign that you have encountered the touch of the Spirit. So go ahead, me filled with the Spirit; before you know it you too will be consumed by His love.

ALL FILLED

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Why do we all need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Actually, there are many answers to that question found in the Bible. The Holy Spirit fills us with boldness to testify about our faith. Stephen teaches us that we can look into heaven and have a glimpse of Jesus and His glory when we are filled with the Spirit. The disciples needed the Holy Spirit to fulfill their individual callings. Even Jesus, ministering as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, was totally dependent on this anointing for Him to move in the power of signs and wonders. Tozer shows us from the Bible why we too need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

“His presence fulfilled that whole list of fragrances found in the holy anointing oil. When New Testament believers were anointed, that anointing was evident. Read it in the book of Acts:

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. (2:4)

They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (4:31)

But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven. (7:55)

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (10:44)

The list goes on.

“I am happy to tell everyone that the power of the Spirit is glad power! Our Savior, Jesus Christ, lived His beautiful, holy life on earth and did His healing, saving deeds of power in the strength of this oil of gladness.

We must admit that there was more of the holy oil of God on the head of Jesus than on your head or mine—or on the head of anyone else who has ever lived. That is not to say that God will withhold His best from anyone. But the Spirit of God can only anoint in proportion to the willingness He finds in our lives. In the case of Jesus, we are told that He had a special anointing because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity.”
The book of Hebrews tells us about the oil of joy, this is the joy that totally fills our hearts when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. What an amazing gift, we are filled with power to do His work and joy to want to do it. So ask the Lord to fill you again with His Spirit, this is really the source of our Christian life.

THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

If I go, I will send him [the Counselor] to you. He will bring glory to me by
taking from what is mine and making it known to you.

John 16:7,14
When I first began to pastor I remember struggling to lead people into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was confident in preaching about salvation and leading people to Christ but Holy Spirit baptism was a little intimidating for me. After several years of struggling with this I saw something in the scripture that really helped me. It was actually in Peter’s explanation of the manifestation of tongues that gave me the insight that I needed. He said in Acts 2:33, “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing”. Peter was saying that the outpouring of the Spirit which resulted in the 120 receiving the Spirit was connected to the exaltation of Jesus. His crucifixion was connected to salvation, His glorification was tied to the outpouring. That was a huge breakthrough for me. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this phenomenon.
“After His ascension to heaven, the crucified Christ was glorified on His throne at the right hand of God. And from that glory He sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples, fulfilling His promise to them. It is the Spirit that searches for the deep secrets of God, who is an indissoluble part of God, who was with Christ during His life on earth and at His death on the cross. The same Spirit would now support the disciples and make them aware of the presence of the glorified Christ. The Spirit of God would be their power in a life of obedience, and their instructor in all for which they had prayed. It would be by the power of the Holy Spirit that the disciples would defeat God’s enemies and proclaim the gospel to the world.”
From that time on it became easy for me to lead people into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Look to Jesus, He is seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. There is a River flowing out from Him for everyone who is thirsty. You too can be filled with the Holy Spirit, His presence is being poured out on all mankind today.

RESURRECTION IN YOU

Believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:1
The disciples were amazed at the life Jesus led. They had no idea that they too would begin to live a supernatural life. Inside of all of us there is a deep longing for the supernatural, a longing for the real. The disciples were about to be changed in more profound ways than they could imagine. That’s why Jesus had come, to provide each one of us a different kind of life, to provide a supernatural life for all of us. Jesus told His followers that He had to leave them so the Holy Spirit could come, it was the Holy Spirit that would change them into different men. They had seen the power of God working in and through Jesus, now they were being prepared for the same thing. The Holy Spirit would not only be with them, He would now be in them and work through them just as He had done in the life and ministry of Jesus, This is the life that we receive because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here is how Andrew Murray describes it.
“In Jesus’ farewell words to his disciples before His crucifixion, He told them that they must believe in Him with the same faith that they had in God: “If you know me, you will also know my Father.” On earth, Jesus could not yet reveal Himself completely to His disciples, but in heaven the abundance of God would be His, and He would do even greater things through His disciples. Faith must concentrate on the person of Jesus Christ in His union with the Father. Everything that God can do, Jesus can also do. The divinity of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. Christ the person is also God. The same power that worked in Christ and raised Him from the dead works in us and provides for all our needs….Be assured of His presence as Redeemer who can equip and strengthen you. Remember that Christ works in and through you, and provides all that God desires for you and all that you need.”
Wow!! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is now in us. He is not only with us He is in us desiring to display His power in us and through us. That is what Resurrection is all about, His death, resurrection, and exaltation released His power in us.

JOY’S SOURCE

Psa. 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For most people joy is that elusive dream. Everyone thinks they know what will finally complete their joy but I don’t think any of us really have it quite right. Why would I say that? I sat that because of a life time of observations. The athlete never has enough titles (ask Tiger Woods), the beautiful face is never quite right (check with Hollywood on that), and the coffers of the rich are never full enough. Joy, lasting joy, is only found one place and for most people it is the place they would ever look. Lasting joy is found in Christ alone. Here are some thoughts from Gill on today’s verse.

“Whom have I in heaven but thee,…. Which includes God the Father, Son, and Spirit; God the Father, as his only covenant God and Father; Christ as his only Mediator, Savior, and Redeemer, Head, Husband, Advocate, and Intercessor; the Spirit as his only sanctifier, Comforter, earnest, and sealer; and is expressive of their being the one and only Lord God, the sole object of worship, trust, and confidence; his only helper and guide; and in whom his supreme happiness and glory lay.”

Who would have ever looked there for joy? The trinity? Really? I thought that was for monks or druggies or maybe con artists in jail. According to David, God is his portion or his true source of joy. Oswald Chambers also has an interesting concept of heaven’s joy.
“Whenever the angels come to this earth they come bursting with a joy which instantly has to be stayed. This earth is like a sick chamber, and when God sends His angels here He has to say—“Now be quiet; they are so sick with sin that they cannot understand your hilarity.” Whenever the veil is lifted there is laughter and joy. These are the characteristics that belong to God and God’s order of things; somberness and oppression and depression are the characteristics of all that does not belong to God.”
So from heaven’s perspective we have a hard time recognizing real joy because we have some kind of sickness. That sickness is our sinful behavior that flows out of a fallen nature; the solution is the mercy of God. There is a way out of our joyless world, the blood of Jesus tears away the veil of blindness through forgiveness and transformation; then the streams of joy come flowing in.