Position and Privilege in Christ, part 3

Our Position and Privilege in Christ pt 3                      August 2, 2020
Complete Trust and Focus: Life or death in Christ Jesus      Philippians 1:18 – 30

Opening prayer
Worship in Song: #48 I will Sing of the Mercies, #50 God is So Good
Reading of Psalm 89:1 – 18
Sharing and Prayer
Worship in Song:   #560 Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Phil 1:18 What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice

Paul has one focus in life – that Jesus Christ is proclaimed. Because Christ is being proclaimed Paul is resolute that no matter the circumstances or situation he is in he will rejoice.

Psalm 89:16 In Your name they rejoice all day long,
by Your righteousness they are exalted
                          17a  For You are the glory of their strength

19 because I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

When believers pray, the Holy Spirit provides!

Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit, Paul doesn’t mean that having a Christ-like spirit, the attitude of Christ, is what will deliver him. There are those who practice being Christ-like without actually surrendering, or believing in Jesus. They believe it is in their own power to exercise peace, humbleness, and love. Their actions and devotion are commendable but the missing key is the fact that we can’t save ourselves from our sin nature. We need Jesus!

20 My earnest/eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Paul may have coined the word “Apokaradokia” which translates “earnest” or “eager expectation”.
Literall “to look intently into the distance with outstretched hand”
We picture the young child who sees a beloved parent coming from a long way down the block. The child eagerly stretches out arms and hands in eager anticipation.

21
 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—

Paul feels the pulling tension of two opposing realities, “hemmed in and under pressure from both sides.” There was a strong, equal pull from both desires: release or the sword.

“To depart” Paul uses a soldier’s term which means to weigh anchor or break camp. There is no going back. It’s time to press forward, to move ahead to the next phase.

24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Paul’s life was literally in the hands of the magistrate – whither he lived or died was entirely out of his control. He had no say in the matter, other than to clearly and truthfully state his case on the authority he had due to his Roman citizenship and his position as a citizen in Christ’s kingdom. He certainly didn’t have a death wish,  he viewed his life as completely in God’s hands. His trust and confidence in his position in Jesus Christ was secure and complete.

Don’t mistake his attitude for indifference, but for determinations that in either life or death Jesus would be honored.

Paul knew people were praying for his deliverance and he had confidence that their prayers, along with the Holy Spirit would bring about the outcome that God desired.

He was able to be at peace since his focus was completely on glorifying Jesus Christ. If he lives he’s thrilled to continue to share Jesus. His life was not precious for its own sake but centered on Jesus. Whole-hearted devotion is not focused on self but on glorying Jesus Christ.

Every time our prayers are answered we grow in confidence and trust in God’s goodness.

27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

In the original language Paul uses the term “politeuomai” “To live as a citizen”. In other Epistles he often writes of the Christian’s walk here he deliberately used the term to live as a citizen. The people of Philippi, a major Roman colony understand the responsibilities and expectations of being a citizen of a specific country. The believers understand that they’re no longer participants in a pagan society but were now citizens of heaven, bought with the blood and redemption of Jesus.

… Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28  not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God.

Paul is encouraging them to not depend on him, or his presence – he wants them to be strong in the Spirit of the Lord God. He uses terms of gladiator combat in these verses:
Don’t be frightened; Take a firm stand; Join in combat; One spirit – a unified offensive: One soul – unity extending to inward disposition.

29 For it has been given to you (Literal: it has been graciously conferred – grace) on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, 30 having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

Jesus said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus didn’t promise us a life of ease and wealth. He knew his followers would be persecuted and suffer in his name. In the face of suffering Christians are to be joyful knowing that they’re following Christ, with confidence and trust that our lives are in God’s hands.

Rising Above Circumstances

Rising Above Circumstances                                           July 26, 2020
Philippians 1:12 – 21

Reading of Psalm 1
A little background about when and where the letter to the Philippians was written:
Scholars believe that there are good grounds that Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus rather than Rome.
1) Paul’s reference in 1 Cor 15:32 about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus
2) Evidence of a detachment of praetorian guard and members of Caesar’s household in Ephesus at that time.
3) Distance and relative ease of communications between Ephesus and Philippi, a journey of 7 – 10 days as opposed to an 800 mile overland plus an ocean crossing.
4) Paul’s determination to “push west” with the Gospel doesn’t make sense if he was already in Rome when he wrote that he desired to return to them when he was released.
If he was indeed imprisoned in Ephesus then he wrote Philippians around 54 A.D.

Read 1:12-30
Current circumstances can’t circumvent God.
Challenging times and conditions can be the best time for God’s Good news.
When a person who’s following God goes through hard times -especially situations out of their control, other Christians will rally around.

The focus changes from self to other.

What would be the natural reaction of the Philippians on learning that Paul, the stalwart apostle and evangelist was imprisoned? The man whom they loved and respected had been arrested and thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel in a town only a week’s journey from them.
What was going to happen to the fledging movement now?
What would happen to them?

Paul doesn’t focus on himself. He doesn’t write about the conditions, what food he has to eat, if he’s sleeping okay, or not.
Instead he writes a letter from a heart and perspective filled with joy. Why?

Joseph Clair spoke on Psalm 1 during the NWYM Monday evening service.
Especially during strange and hard times do we need to be like the tree planted by the waters of life. Jesus said in John 15 that He is the vine, we are the branches. He is also the living water.
Take all of these pictures and apply them to your life: be the branch deeply and firmly grafted into Jesus the Vine, who is like a solid Tree as well as the Water of life!

Paul was firmly grounded in Jesus who was his life, his confidence, his savior and future. Paul’s life was entirely in Jesus.

Paul had a positive attitude about his situation. Having a positive attitude changes perspective and helps us to see beyond self. Because he was rooted in Jesus he didn’t stop sharing the Good News of Jesus.

“My circumstances have turned out the greater progress of the gospel!

What propelled the expanding of the gospel? A mega church? A revival? A thriving mission field?
No Paul being arrested and thrown into prison results in the spread of the story of Jesus.
“My imprisonment has reward in people coming to know Christ!

Doing the right thing caused Paul to get arrested. God used Paul’s arrest to spread the Gospel to people who wouldn’t have heard it firsthand. The Praetorian guard throughout the system heard the good news of Jesus.

And other Christians become bold in sharing Jesus.

Other believers caught the zeal of Paul’s sharing the gospel also began spreading the Good News which introduced even more people to Christ.

The remarkable thing is that some shared with the wrong motive – they wanted fame, to shift the focus from Paul to self. But their personal insincerity didn’t change the truth of the Gospel. Motive will not negative true truth. The story of Jesus spread, and Paul rejoiced!

He didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by those who wanted to undermine him, instead he viewed it as a positive: God’s gospel was being advanced! Rejoice!

Paul’s story is Christ, and Christ alone! He didn’t fixate on the injustice done to him; he used the opportunity to share Jesus. Paul’s focus and message was Jesus – always Jesus.
21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!

1) Sink your roots into Jesus, draw strength, courage, wisdom from Jesus
2) No situation is outside of God’s knowledge or presence
3) Share Jesus’ story anywhere and everywhere.
4) When Jesus is proclaimed the Spirit of God harvests!

Privilege and Position

Philippians 1:1 – 11
Followers of Jesus Christ have privilege and position!

Are you able to live so you reflect God’s truth, wisdom and sound discretion?
We need to pray daily for God’s insight and guidance in how to live pleasing to Him.

As people who believe the Bible is God’s Word and instruction manual, it’s really no mystery how we’re to live. Over and over, in various ways and stories, we’re told to live in a manner that sets us apart.

A favorite book of many people, often called the book of rejoicing, is Philippians. It’s a book written to a people who understood their role as partners with Jesus Christ. Knowing that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of all, these believers patterned their lives after Jesus who took on the form of a humble servant. Paul declares his joy in knowing they are serving and fully participating in the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi as a prisoner in Rome.  Acts 16 tells the story of Paul going to Philippi – the major Roman city of that area of Macedonia. He met Lydia and some of her friends when they were at the river. Lydia’s keen interest in what Paul had to say about Jesus, and evidence of a solid belief in God, was the seed for a vibrant Christian community in Philippa.

Position and Privilege
     We are in Christ Jesus – We have our being!   (vs 1)
We are in a relationship to Christ Jesus – saints!
servants of Jesus Christ
As the children of God, our Father, His grace and peace are given to us. (vs 2)
We are all participants of the Gospel (vs5)
God will complete the work He is doing in you, and make His work in you perfect! (vs 6)

These points condensed into three aspects of our privilege and position:
   1) A new status in relation to God – I am His beloved child!
2) A new life
saints and servants of Jesus – my life in Jesus will be completed and perfected!
3) A new community
community & family of believers – we are brothers and sisters in Christ!

Paul’s Prayer vs 9 – 11
That Love abound more and more.
What does that love look like? Real knowledge and all discernment! In God’s grace and wisdom our love becomes genuine and solid. It’s not a love based on emotions but God opening our eyes to seeing others with His heart and understanding.
Illustration of a Shelter & food insecure/homeless person:  A team of people can intervene with excellent intention supplying all sorts of intervention: support, instruction, medical and dental, personal and emotional validation, and encouragement to the person but until that person truly wants to change in heart, mind and soul nothing will change.
It’s the same with us. Jesus welcomes us and baths us in His love and forgiveness. He covers us with His garments of grace as though we are sinless – God sees us as righteous in Christ! This is our new status! Jesus desires to do His work in us but free will is a reality.

We need to be open and accepting to the moving and guidance of the Holy Spirit to do the work in us. To restore us as His Child in heart, mind and soul.
We have to do our part – to yield to God, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.
To get out of the way of self.
So, we need to seek God’s wisdom/knowledge and discernment. Why?

To be sincere and blameless!
To be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Set apart, different, victorious in living this life here on earth.
To discern, to understand, and to love as He loves us.

Hearts for God

Hearts for God                                            July 5, 2020
Prov 3:3-4
Prov 16:7 / Prov 16:25, 32
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

How do we live in these off-balance times when there’s so much
uncertainty, confusion, lack of civility and discord?
Prov 16:25
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

As followers of Jesus we look to the Word of God
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

The Bible is filled with advice, instruction and examples of how to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. We can take comfort and hope in Prov 16:7 “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Example #1
Gen 31:13 – 35:42  Jacob, God and Laban:
God told Jacob to leave Laban’s place and go back to the land of his birth. Jacob, though a willful contriving, sneaky man, had a respect for and revered the Lord God of his grandfather Abraham. Laban was prevented by God from coming against him & destroying all he’d worked to earn for 20 years.
Gen 31:29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, “Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.”
Gen 31:42 Jacob’s answer to Laban of God’s protection and judgment

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Examples 2 & 3 Two Kings and the results of following God, or not: Asa and Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 14 – 17:10
14:2 Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God… when the armies from Ethiopia invaded Asa relied on God’s protection
14:11 Lord, our God there is no one beside You to help in the battle. Help us O Lord our God, for we trust in You and in Your name…let not man prevail against You”
15:2 The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him He will let you find Him.
15:17 …nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.
Yet!
Chapter 16 But later in life when the Israeli King invaded, Asa didn’t turn to God but asked the King of Syria to align with Judah. . God was not pleased. 7-12
It is comforting to know that even though Asa sought the help a human army instead of trusting God as he had in previous conflicts, that God still had it recorded in His Word that Asa’s heart was blameless all his days! Believers make mistakes and often forget to completely trust that God’s got us but He knows the sincerity of our heart despite our failures.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord; He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

#3 Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 17:3
and the Lord was with w/ Jehoshaphat because he walked in the ways of his father David’s earlier days and sought the God of his father, and followed His commandments.
18 Jehoshaphat aligned with Ahab
19:2-3
Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord? But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set you heart to seek God.”
20:3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah gathered together to see help from the lord.

Remember:
1) Set your heart to seek God with everything you have.
2)
Prov 3:3 -4 practice kindness and truth so you will find favor with God and man
3) When your way is pleasing to God He will make even your enemies to be at peace with you!

 

Patience and Wisdom

Patience and Wisdom                                                                                    June 28, 2020
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

This verse has been on my mind a great deal this week as I’ve been pondering patience, and wisdom. They go hand in hand.

Patience isn’t natural to most of us! It seems about as elusive as wisdom!
James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach/criticizing, and it will be given to him.

These days we certainly need wisdom! So much knowledge and expertise but where are the wise voices that can be heard over the angry shouts?

Solomon wrote much about wisdom:
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Knowing that God is real, is supreme, and that He has the final say is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.
The foolish person thinks he knows it all, and he tends to despise patience.

Proverbs 2:3-12
Discern righteousness and justice, equity and every good course, wisdom will guard you.

How valuable sound discernment and wisdom is needed these days! We need to be able to discern the truth of what is really good or evil.

How did Solomon gain wisdom? 1 Kings 3:5 – 11 God came to him in a dream and told him to ask anything of Him. Solomon asked God for an understanding heart to discern between good and evil! Discernment to understand justice.

Lately we’ve been hearing shouts for justice from all sides. But, whose justice? Which justice? Justice has been reduced to what a person or particular group thinks is right.
We really need God’s wisdom and discernment right now!

It takes patience to wait on the Lord, for His guidance and wisdom. But as James tells us – let’s ask God for wisdom! I believe that with wisdom we have a better grasp of patience.

Prov 3:3-6 Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5 & 6 but the two verses preceding also are key to successful living for God: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you.”

Exercise kindness and truth; make them such an integral part of your life that they become part of who we are. Learning to lean, trust, and depend on God instead of focusing on our own understanding and opinions. Acknowledge God and He will make your paths straight. A straight path is a clearly defined course of how to proceed.

Gaining wisdom and patience from God helps us to reflect God.

Prov 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Pray for peace with God and the people who you encounter as you purpose to live so that your actions and thoughts are pleasing to God.

Next week we will  look at a couple of examples of people who allowed God to direct them, or not.

The Patience of our Heavenly Father

The Israelites took great pride in and often referred to “the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Their ancestorial fathers knew Him, their sacred writings of almost 4000 years were all about God and His dealings with and expectations of their ancestors. God of your fathers… Yahweh, the God of your ancestor David, 2 Chron 21:12 (Elijah in a letter to Jehoram)

“The God of our fathers.” Sounds like a God of the past.

Jesus changed the perspective!
Instead of God being the God your ancient fathers worshiped, God is your Father.
Jesus spoke of God as being Father more than 150 times!

God longs to be the Father of all. But, it’s up to each individual whether they will are willing to surrender their autonomous self to the Heavenly Father who expects obedience and desires faithfulness and love.

God is Father – that’s a part of who He is. What are some characteristics of a good father?

Galatians 5:22:23 Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are all attributes of God. They are the fruits of God’s Spirit when we walk with God.

James 1:19… be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (!)

James 3:17 Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable
full of mercy and good fruits unwavering, without hypocrisy.
18 and the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

As Christians we want to have our lives bearing these fruits – our lives to reflect the character of our Heavenly Father. It’s not easy when times are turbulent and Satan is at war dividing and creating animosity and hatred.  We need to listen, to not rush in with our thoughts, opinions and ideas.

Most of all we need to be slow to get angry. Anger will never achieve God’s righteousness.
Our anger will never persuade anyone that God loves them.

We need to be the peacemakers. The only way we can be peacemakers is to live in harmony with our Heavenly Father and to allow His Spirit to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise but is patient toward you, not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.
18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s not easy being patient or at peace!

Heb 12:1-2   Running a long distant race takes patience. Not only does a person have to become physically able to endure running many miles, the mental work is often even harder. The body is able but the mind becomes inpatient and wants to quit. That’s when we focus on the goal and set our mind on the goal that we are running towards. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Let His patience fill you so you may endure.

We need the patience of our Father.
This is the patience that is required.
Patience which endures over the long haul.
Patience that brings peace and unity.
Patience that reflects our Heavenly Father’s loving patience with us.
Patience that brings God’s peace.

Unity in God

It’s been a week of heavy rains, cold temperatures and social turmoil. The deluge of media stories focusing on protests and riots seems ceaseless. The roaring lion is roaming throughout the land stirring up animosity, chaos, and division.

God is the God of Unity and order. Living in the state of this world unity seems harder and harder to achieve.

Unity is sadly missing during the current social climate. What’s the solution?

Only God! Praise His name, He desires unity among His followers and when we turn to Him He will give us endurance and encouragement to live in harmony with each other. (Rom 15:5-6)
“… accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other…

Jesus knows how hard it is for us to be in unity! Look at His disciples! There must have been times of tension and animosity between some of them. We have Matthew who collected taxes for the Romans, and then there were two who were known zealots: Thaddeus, also known as Judas the Zealot and Simon the Zealot. It had to have been only Jesus Himself that caused these three to get along! You can imagine the discussions Jesus had with the disciples in teaching them to behave with respect and eventually love towards each other. As followers of Jesus they became united, because of Jesus!

During his last evening with them Jesus specifically prayed asking the Farther for unity among His followers: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11

John 17:21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us, may they be one as We are one.
17:23 I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

There are two reasons that Jesus prays for unity for all believers:
1) so the world will know Jesus was sent by the Father
2) so the world can know that God loves us as He loves Jesus

Romans 15:5–6 “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

God wants us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” Ephesians 4:3.

Ephesians 4:2-6
I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
JB Phillips New Testament for Modern Readers

Just as Jesus’ disciples learned to be united together through Him, the Holy Spirit is in the work of uniting us together in Him.

Satan seeks to destroy unity, peace and replace it with greed, chaos, and division. In Jesus Christ we have the protection and power of God to let go of self, to accept life with humility and patience. Because of the unity we have in Jesus we can make allowances for each other, because of love.

Bind us together with Your Love, Heavenly Father!

The Trinity

The Trinity                                                                                        June 6, 2020
As beings created in the image of the omniscient God we want knowledge.
As children we demand answers to our What and Why. Humans tend to love mysteries… ones we can neatly solve.

We’re really not thrilled with mysteries that we can’t sleuth out answers to. We want to make sense of the unknown, to solve them with our reasoning and understanding.

There is one mystery that we humans simply do not have the capacity to fully unravel and comprehend. Not for lack of trying! We use various illustrations which we think helps us to grasp the concept. Eggs, water/ice/steam, triangles, to name a few.  But none of them really works.

The concept of God as three in one: One God yet three distinct persons has long been a concept that is hard to wrap our finite minds around.

Three distinct Persons in One God. All three — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — have been around for all eternity; all three co-exist so that all can be apparent at the same place at the same time, as at Jesus’ Baptism:
God the Father speaking
God the Son being baptized in the Jordan,
Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus.
Each of the Three present, talking to each other as distinct Persons.

In grappling with the Mystery, St. Augustine came to equate the life of the human soul with the Triune God’s image. The soul remembers, it knows, it loves. These are three activities, and yet they are the activity of one soul. But it still falls short when we contemplate “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

He is
He knows
He loves
With Him, these three are one.

God is omnipotent
God is omnipresent
God is omniscient – all knowing

God the Father
God the Son
God the Spirit

Three persons and one God: all equally divine, all absolutely God, one nature, one reality.
God is one.

We’re firmly told in Deut 6:4, and numerous times throughout the Old Testament:
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. I am the Lord; Besides Me there is no God. Is 45:5 No other God, no other God.

So, what about the Three in One God, what we call the Trinity?

The first revelation comes in the beginning when God said “Let Us make man in Our image… And God created man in His own imagine in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen 1:26, 27

John the Apostle wove God as One yet three throughout his gospel. In fact he bookended declarations of Jesus as God at the beginning and end of the Gospel of John.
John 1:1,2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 5 is full of declarations of Jesus’ authority and equality, especially vs 18 He was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 8:58 Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” Ex 3:13, 14

In the Jewish understanding of God, the Great I AM, there was no debating that Jesus was declaring Himself as God. The Jews were so outraged by Jesus’ statement that they picked up rocks to stone Him to death.

Throughout John 14 Jesus claims His relationship with God, the Father: 10 – 11 I am in the Father, the Father is in Me. The Father will be glorified in the Son.

Then Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth  “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever. But you know him for he lives with you and will be in you. But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” 16, 17, 26

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

John 16:7 Jesus sent the comforter, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.”

John 16:13-15 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

John 20:28, 29 When Thomas worshiped Jesus and declared, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus does not correct Thomas. Instead, he calls him blessed. As the Truth bearer Jesus would not have allowed Thomas to worship him as Lord and God, if He wasn’t.

Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Later when he told the disciples that he would send the Spirit of Truth He was equating Himself to the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at some verses which distinctly show the existence of the three persons of the Trinitarian Godhead existing at the same moment of time.

Matthew 3:16-17“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’”

Jesus states in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”

The Apostle Paul made many references to the God who is Three in One:
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

I Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The Bible ends with Jesus declaring “I am the Alpah and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

God doesn’t expect us to be able to fully understand how He is One, yet Three, He only desires that we believe – to fully embrace Him and be devoted to Him in order that we might live for Him and have eternal life with Him.

Repent, Receive, Reflect    

Today we celebrate Pentacost. The day that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ followers filling them with God’s power and authority.
A day when the early believers reflected God.

What does Pentacost mean right now? In this bloodied, deadly, burning present?

On this Pentacost Sunday we must repent of our sin, our blindness, our pride in order for the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifest in our lives.

It’s been a week of soul searching: asking God to reveal to me my own short-comings and prejudices.
A week of mourning and seeking God’s face.

I am horrified by the violence, the destruction, the selfish pride.
I stunned by the senseless, appalling death of George Floyd.
I’m deeply saddened that we who identify as followers of Jesus haven’t figured out how to root out prejudice and deep-seated animosity towards those who we perceive as “different”.
I grieve that we haven’t shown the world what it means to love other humans created in God’s image.
I’m dismayed that my sweet, Jesus-loving, ten year old nephew has to always be mindful of how he acts, of what he says when he’s out and about in his city, even playing at the park. That boy knows how to love and let Jesus shine through him but he’s judged by bigoted people who automatically hate him for the color of his skin.

How can we, as followers of Jesus, be the peacemakers that Jesus calls us to be?

Jesus’ message was one of repentance – turning from sin and believing in Him. Luke 13:3 and 5 Jesus proclaimed, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Before He ascended back to to His throne, Jesus said in Luke 24:47 “that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations….”

Repentance is at the core of Christianity. It is only after repentance, that renewal and restoration comes. Then we will be able to reflect the Love of God to the world.
I can repent only when I’m confronted with my wretched state as a sinner.
Acknowledge that I am a sinful, stubborn person who wants to put selfish pride first, above all else.

With repentance comes salvation! The gift of salvation given by Jesus bleeding and dying for my sins, saving me from this wretched sinful condition.
Repentance leads to relationship and restoration with God!

We need to repent and open ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit who longs to guide us and fill us with God’s power and love.

Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas that you need to release in repentance to Jesus. Allow Him to have His way in your heart and soul.

Allow the Holy Spirit to restore you to relationship with God and to plant His fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!

We must spread the message of repentance, love and hope in Jesus. Not by might, not by human power but by the love, salvation and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

God’s disciples are made new creations, new people with the love of the Holy Spirit coursing through us, informing us of what to say, where to go and how to live.

Do our lives reflect the love, mercy, justice and power of the Holy Spirit?

Lately I’ve been thinking of Ravi Zacharias, of how when he looked at a person he saw a person made in the image of God. No matter how hotly a skeptic may have challenged him, Ravi responded with the compassion and love for the person created in God’s image.

How does Jesus call us to live?
In repentance
Receptive of the Holy Spirit’s guidance
Love God, love each other.

God’s Word also admonishes us to:
Do justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with God

Set aside prejudices and generalizations.
Let the Holy Spirit fill us with God’s love.
Understand that every single person is created in God’s image.

Reflect the Holy Spirit, Let Him restore you, let His power be manifest in your life so that you reflect into the world:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22

Align with the Holy Spirit

Do you wonder how long it will be before the Shelter at Home is lifted? When all the businesses can open and function as needed? When you can get that desperately needed haircut?

More and more people are chomping at the bit to get back to life as we want to live it; the way we think we need it to be.

But there are regulations mandated to keep us from life as normal. What’s the consequences of blatantly disregarding physical distancing? Will you be thrown in jail? Fined? Do the regulations cause you to fear punishment over taking matters in your own hands?

Many people will carefully obey the regulations. Others will take their chances weighing personal freedoms against what they perceive as overstepping government.

How do we live as children of God? What is my personal responsibility?

We certainly need to be listening to the Holy Spirit and following His leading!

As Paul says in Romans 7:19: “My human nature is filled with sin. My human nature prevents me doing the good that I want to do. Instead I do the evil I don’t want to do! What a miserable creature I am!””
He wants to do the right thing but human nature is bent on sinning and destruction. Clearly laws and regulations aren’t enough to make us do the good we need to do, to live in freedom from slavery to sin. But what’s the solution?

Romans 8:1  “There is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Lord Jesus Christ…”

Jesus’ death paid the price and has set me free from the law that couldn’t accomplish freedom from sin and death. The law lacks the power to make the old nature cooperate!

Only Jesus’ blood and death has set us free from the law. When we set our minds on doing things “my way” we are ruled by sin. 8:6 Having our minds controlled by the HS is life and peace!

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior, the one who died to pay the price and set us free from sin the Holy Spirit lives in you and the Holy Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous! The Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in your, then the One who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies!

We don’t owe a thing to our human nature!!!

14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children! 15 We’re no longer slaves to fear.  Holy Spirit living in us lets us cry out “Dear Father”

We don’t know the road ahead, what lays around the corner from May. What we can do is pray for sensitivity to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit! We need to be praying for release from false hopes and expectations, to make plans and live day to day always realigning our focus to listen to the Holy Spirit, to align with God and follow the openings and paths that God’s provides.