Category Archives: Holy Spirit

The how’s and why’s of God’s Spirit of judgement and fire?

‘… he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.’ (Isaiah 4v4)

It is easy in this verse to misunderstand what is being said by the prophet. The reference to a spirit of judgement and a spirit of fire seems to suggest that multiple spirits are in operation – each with their own particular function. And yes, our New Testament understanding is that there is One God and One Spirit so how are we to understand this?

For me, this passage speaks of the future way in which God will operate in the world – a time that was heralded at the first Pentecost in which the visitors from many nations came to Jerusalem are were cut to the heart by Peter’s words (Act 2) as he tells them the way to God is through Jesus Christ who was crucified by one and all who fail to believe his message. ‘What must we do?’ comes the collective reply of the visitors who are mortified and experiencing judgement as the spirit touches them. ‘ Repent and be baptised,’ replies  Peter as God’s Holy Spirit, like a fire descends on the visitors, who then go back to their communities taking the message of God. In short, in this instance – One Spirit- two functions: to help people recognise their need for forgiveness and (once achieved) to physically, mentally and spiritually receive God into their lives as the Holy Spirit indwells them as Counseller, Guide and Enabler (to name but a few). Be blessed and know God’s Spirit lives within

 


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

God’s eternal plan?

‘and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.’ (Ecclesiastes 12v7).

I can remember as a child learning how the majority of dust that finds its way into a home arises from our decaying bodies – by that I mean, the erosion of minute skin follicles that collectively settle on surfaces until someone gets a duster or vacuum and cleans up. I also remember learning that skin replenishes itself every seven years – an obvious necessity given that we can’t erode skin without new skin appearing at some point to replace it.

With the development of DNA in more recent years, I remember hearing how within each human being, traces of star dust can be found. In other words, we are intrinsically linked to the physical act of Creation in a much larger way than first supposed – and why not if Adam is created from the soil of earth which is part of an expanding universe?  Personally, I love the thought that within my DNA is the essence of the start of the universe, the far flung places on the farthest edge of the Milky Way or wherever. But what has this to do with  ‘dust returning to the ground it came from and (our) spirit(s) returning to God?

Well, much as we may like to think that God and Creation are one and the same, this is inaccurate. We know this because from a theological perspective,  God is the author of Creation. Indeed, Creation occurs through God’s spoken Word and made for Himself…but also for others things to inhabit and grow: humans, insects, mammals, dinosaurs, birds etc. Now, interestingly, the Holy Spirit who was instrumental in the creative act at the start of time, also figures in God’s rescue plan for humanity. The Holy Spirit who infills humans with the presence of the eternal God creates a blend between the physically created and the eternally present God. Hence, the reason why at the end of our lives, our dust returns to the ground it came from, and our spirit returns to God who gave it.’


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

The Holy Spirit and speaking face to face with God?

‘I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord’.(Ezekiel 39v29) I love the fact that this verse is loaded with far more than the scripture suggests at first glance. Reading ‘on the line’ it seems to be saying that change is in the air and that God will pour out His Spirit into the people. Remarkable in itself but…

 

…journey back to Israel’s exodus in the desert when they came out of Egypt and the ark travelled with them. Each time they set up camp in a new location, the ark was placed in the centre of the community with various priestly family groups gathered around it in close proximity. Why? Because there was a fear that ‘ordinary’ Israelites might get lost and in the camp and inadvertently come too close to God and be consumed by holy fire. Another  possible reason why God mentions hiding his face from the community is that many people  believed that should they catch sight of God they would die. In short, God’s holiness would be seen as a holy and awesome thing. And yet, here is  God declaring that in the future He will engage with people in the same way humans do – face to face. This is the ‘between the lines message’ made possible by the fact that God’s Holy Spirit would be within people.

And lastly, ‘beyond the lines.’ In the future, people will no longer need to carry an ark around or go to a certain place to find God with someone interceding on their behalf – why? Because God will live in each person through His Holy Spirit. No longer with they fear accidentally happening across God and catching a glimpse of his holiness and dying (more likely from a heart attack at the shock of it). God lives in us and can be reached at any time we lack without fear of death visiting us for being unclean before him. This is what God is doing and has done!


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Holy Spirit in History?

‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”(Ezekiel 37v14)’ (Ezekiel 37 v1)

What I love about this scripture is God’s promise to ‘put’ his Spirit into the people. Of course, it is only when we factor in that it was spoken during the period we now refer to as the Old Testament that we realise its significance. God’s eternal plan of infilling his creation has begun.

Here we have the first inklings of what the disciples will encounter at Pentecost. Six hundred years on after the death of Ezekiel and Jesus instructs the disciples to wait on God’s Counsellor who will come to them after his departure. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples begin a period of fasting and praying in readiness for the Counsellor to come – but truth be told, they had no idea what to expect!

The Holy Spirit enters into each of them and – filled with the life and presence of God – they fall into the streets telling everyone the good news of Jesus. The persecution that follows only makes them bold and resilient. Soon their numbers grow as a handful of disciples multiply into the 2.18 billion followers in the world today. Not by clever marketing or strategy but because God lives within each person and what they have is good news. This is how we know ‘the Lord has spoken and he has done it!’ (Ezek 37v14)

 


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Irrevocable change – the work of God’s Holy Spirit

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’   (Ezekiel 36v26)
Continuing our series on the work of the Holy Spirit in History – that is, the period preceding Jesus – we come to this interesting passage that foretells what is to come for all when the Holy Spirit will enter into the disciples and change their world and lives irrevocably.

Of course, this outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon all people comes at great expense as it requires Jesus to return to heaven in order that the Spirit might replace Him on earth. Now, while it is amazing that the Holy Spirit who is part of the Godhead Trinity who was present at the start of Creation hovering over the waters  – it is even more remarkable that God uses his life-force to equip the disciples to think, act and be present like Jesus in their thinking, answers and actions.

Hence, Jesus’ promise to remove the peoples’  cynical and jaded hearts and replace them with ones that are more malleable, echo the real promise that each believer will soon receive – namely: Christ in you.., the hope of glory! (Col 1v27) In short, God’s transformation that will transform lives, equip and revolutionise his followers to reach a nation and lead others, also has the provision for a direct ‘one to one’ relationship with God via the Holy Spirit..
The promise that God will place within each wayward believer, a new spirit and a heart  of flesh has been proven by many believers over the centuries as they have found God to be true. Hallelujah!

Continue reading Irrevocable change – the work of God’s Holy Spirit


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Why the divided heart necessitates a new spirit?

‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.’ (Ezekiel 11v19)
Have you ever wondered what it means to have an undivided a heart? In this context it meant being so inclined towards God that you make His objectives your own. And of course, to do that you need to have a heart that is set on His will and purposes – and here lies the problem:
Oscar Wilde is  quoted as saying that he could ‘resist everything except temptation.’ In other words, he had no problem resisting those things that didn’t tempt or lure him but as soon as  he encountered something he desired, he would yield in an instant.
Why? Well, our human ability to exercise will power is insufficient because sooner or later we will slip up and give in to temptation. Hence, God’s promise to gives us an ‘undivided heart.’
Q) So how does God achieve this?
A) Well, by putting a ‘new Spirit’ within us. In short, the verse is a prophetic (future) telling of the time when Jesus will return to heaven and  the Holy Spirit will be sent upon all the believers. Does this mean we will no longer be tempted? No- we will – and at times we will fail. Thankfully, God’s forgiveness covers that! However and quite  incredibly, God’s Holy Spirit that”
  1. hovered over the water that existed from the beginning of time(Genesis 1)
  2. was instrumental in Creation and Trinity agreeing  that creation was good
  3. and fell in tongues of fire at Pentecost after Jesus returned to heaven

…now lives and resides in you and me to guide us so that we won’t have divided hearts.

Be blessed.

.

Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Do you know how God has spiritually equipped you to build the Church?

There are many reasons why Christians  may fail to discern their spiritual gifts within their churches. In the series starting today we will consider six reasons. The first of these being:

‘a pervading culture of volunteerism.’

It’s no surprise that many church leaders when faced with gaping holes in church minstry areas often resort to taking matters in their own hands. For some, this might result in a plea from the front of church seeking  people to help with youth work. Or to assist with creche. Or to be part of a social action group or children’s ministry.  Naturally, it makes perfect sense to ask people to help out where no one presently exists  to run it. However, useful as volunteers are as a temporary fix to an ongoing problem, they are never the complete answer as that will always involves someone with a God-given passion for the ministry and the accompanying spiritual gift that will drive and sustain it in the long term.

What usually happens when servant-hearted people  help out with a spiritual ministry outside of their own passion and calling is that they find themselves ill-equipped for what they have been asked to do. While there is nothing wrong with helping out in the short-term, problems occur when ‘temporary’ ends up replacing ‘long term.’

While volunteerism is always a short-term fix for churches, the wise minister audits his or her congregation to elicit each person’s passion and the primary spiritual gifts they possess – maybe as teacher? Or preacher? Or pastor? Or evangelist? etc.  Only as leaders move to this type of forward planning will the need for volunteers be replaced  by a congregation where each person knows their God-given passion and equipping that is ready-made for that particular vacant ministry within the church. Be blessed!

ps If you don’t know which one of the eleven spiritual gifts is your primary spiritual gift – that is, the one you should occupy a large percentage of your ministry time – why not  take the test to find out. https://www.primarygift.co.uk/take-spiritual-gift-test/

Be blessed!

ps You will need to be connected to printer to download materials and descriptors.


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Are you using the spiritual gifts God has given you?

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13v44

A good number of years ago, I decided to start an Arts Cafe at the church. As we neared the opening night, the minister asked me how much I was charging for tickets. I told him a minimal amount and he encouraged me to double it because his experience was that when you charge little (or put things on for free) people do not attend. Why? Because without an adequate price tag on it, I had inadvertently suggested to people it was not worth them investing their time. (And I discovered over the years that he was right!)

The verse above – taken from the parable of The Kingdom of God and the Pearl – emphasises the enthusiasm that should accompany such a remarkable find. The realisation that God’s Holy Spirit (like a pearl) is now living in every single believer to guide, strengthen, teach, and equip – should have every believer jumping and shouting for joy – and it does…but all too soon, the fact that His Gift is free can cause many of us to become complacent and idle.

Central to spiritual demise is the incorrect thinking that developing and using our spiritual gifts is an optional task. True, for those people who have no understanding of spiritual things, why would they believe in God or worry about developing their spiritual gifts? However, for those of us who do believe and are aware of spiritual outcomes in this world, the question must be: why wouldn’t we develop our spiritual gifts? After all, to engage with our spiritual gifts is to engage with God – and to reverance the special pearl that now lives within us – that being the kingdom of God!

Want to know how to do this? Then take the free (but incredibly valuable!)  spiritual gift test at primary gift.

 


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

God at work?

‘Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: “We are yours, David! We are with you, son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.” So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands.’ (1Chronicles 12v18)

It is helpful to view this verse in context. The group led by Amasai seek out David and his men who are living in the wilderness where they operate like a hit and run raiding party. David’s question to Amasai about whether he and his men have come in peace or to betray him to his enemies gives us an idea of the times and the fluidity of loyalty and agenda.

From scripture, Amasai’s response – swearing allegiance to David and his cause – is seen as a Spirit led decision. The fact that it is inspired in the moment by the spirit that rests ‘on’ him suggests it is a momentary revelation. Whatever way we understand this, what is clear is that Amasai considers David a man worthy of following because God’s favour and providence rests on him


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Does your reading of scripture keep God good?

Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you…Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”   Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.’  1 Samuel 16:15-16, 23

This passage is interesting for many reasons, not least because God’s integrity is at stake if we read the verses in such a way so as to believe the Divine is actually sending out an ‘evil spirit to torment Saul’.(1 Sam 16v15)

If we believe that God is doing this to Saul then we must ask serious questions about whether these are the acts of a loving Deity?

Perhaps, more interesting is the observation made by Saul’s attendants as they attempt to make sense of his fluctuating mood swings and deep depression.

Now, if in his disobedience, Saul rejects God and turns away it is possible to see a situation in which God’s Spirit might be withdrawn from him because the King’s heart has been hardened against Him. In this scenario, Saul could easily end up in a situation where he is outside of God and susceptible to other spiritual forces attacking him. But let us be clear, the attack is not from God but rather the enemy who comes to kill and destroy John 10v10.

In his novel, ‘The Go-Between’, author LP Hartley opens with these words:

‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’

As Christians – attempting to make sense of these verses  4,000 years on – it is likely that we (in one sense) have more of an insight today as to what  was happening during that period. Rather than the simplistic understandings of the attendants,  we know that the Israelites (like many people of that time) believed in dualistic deities that were often considered capable of wreaking good or evil on a person or community, dependent on the capricious whim of the moment. However, that is not how God is that He should be a slave to his emotions in the same way that humans are. Perhaps an adapted reading of JP Hartley’s opening might be better rendered as:

‘The past is a foreign country; they understand things differently there.’

 

 


Share this page

Facebooktwitterredditmail