Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Verses 13-19: “Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

When I was on a mission trip with the Carpenters for Christ to a town in Kansas, we were driving down the road one day and had to stop at a railroad crossing. A very long freight train was stopping and starting as it made its way through the railyard. What caught my attention was to hear the “rat-tat-tat-tat” rapid-fire halting of each car from right to left as the entire train stopped. Not sure what I had heard, I listened more closely; soon enough, the train started up again and the “rat-tat-tat-tat” sound was from each car jerking the car behind it into motion, again very quickly the sound travelling right to left. My father reminded me that this was how a train got all the cars going; it couldn’t pull all the cars at once to start moving; each car in succession would tug on the one behind it, as the engine moved forward, eventually getting all the cars to move together.

There was a footnote in my Holman Bible referring to how Saul didn’t receive all his “marching” instructions and duties at one time. First the Lord Jesus “got his attention” by appearing to him and blinding his sight. Then Jesus had Ananias come to him; laying his hands on him, he was used by God to restore his sight and bless him with the Holy Spirit. Now Paul was saved in Christ. Next he physically recovered through nourishment, strengthening, and fellowshipping with the Damascus disciples. Up next, he himself would begin preaching Jesus in the synagogues. Just like that long train, one thing had to move before the next thing was in motion. That Bible footnote made note of the fact that Saul would’ve been overwhelmed by what Jesus had in store for Him, had he heard it all at one time.

I was assigned to a very good business manager and mentor in my early years in the IT industry. Before he turned me loose to be on the rotation for the oncall contact list (which is how Operations would contact help support during the nighttime batch jobstream updates, in case there was a problem), he had me accompany him, in person, when it came to fixing issues. He would review with me how to diagnose the problem, what the solution was, and how to implement the fix. I made notes of all this in a “crash log” which would help me remember how to fix things. Finally, he told me, “you’re ready.” Even on my first solo oncall, he assured me I could call him to verify my diagnosis and solution if I was contacted by Operations. This gave me great confidence and assurance that I wasn’t being “thrown to the wolves”; that I was being prepared for my work.

Jesus was doing the same thing in preparing Saul.

Something to think about today.

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Verses 18-21: “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.””

Luke Skywalker attempted to use the Force to lift his half-sunken X-wing fighter from the swamp on Dagobah. Master Yoda had told him the same Force which he used to levitate a rock was the same Force that could lift the heavy star-craft. Luke’s attempt failed and he turned away discouraged, believing the attempt to still be impossible. With a small look of disappointment on his face, Yoda concentrated, pointed, and not only raised the X-wing fighter out of the swamp, but levitated it over to the dry ground. As Luke looked on incredulously, all he could say to Yoda was, “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda’s classic reply? “That…is why you fail.”

This scene from The Empire Strikes Back came to mind when I read the below section of Acts 8. Simon the sorcerer had seemingly became a Christian convert, but in his heart, he didn’t believe. He still thought that the giving of the Holy Spirit through Peter and John to be some sort of magician’s trick that he could simply buy and then capitalize on. Peter tore into him, giving him a verbal rebuke that got Simon’s attention. He goes on in the next verse to encourage him to truly repent; Simon’s weak reply is to ask them to pray for him. You see, Simon wasn’t repentant…he just was sorry he got caught in his lie.

So for those considering becoming a Christian…remember in the ABC’s of becoming one, the ‘B’…stands for ‘believe’. Without that, you will fail.

Something to think about.

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Verse 5: “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Phillip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,”

One became the first Christian martyr. One embarked on several missions, especially one concerning an Ethiopian eunuch. Some are only mentioned in history as later having positions in the church. Others are never mentioned again. And one unfortunately became associated with hedonistic followers that Paul himself congratulated other early churches in opposing.

Names are interesting labels, and the names of the first deacons are intriguing. Like other Christians then and now, some stayed faithful to God, and some did not. Of those that were faithful, some had more known of them, and some did not. Regardless of how history records what you do in the service of the Lord, remember that in God’s eyes, it will never be forgotten.

Something to think about.

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Verses 40-42: “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

I’ve been enjoying football when I can this season. I did get to see the end of the Seattle-Green Bay matchup this past Sunday for the NFC Championship. Let me quote a few statements from sports articles regarding the play of the Seahawks’ quarterback and receiver duo of Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse:

“News: Wilson completed 14-of-29 passes for 209 yards with one TD and a career-high four interceptions in Sunday’s 28-22 overtime win over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. (Sun Jan 18)
Spin: Wilson, who added seven carries for 25 yards and a TD, struggled for much of the game, but came through when it counted on Sunday, leading the team to two fourth-quarter TDs in the final two minutes of regulation time, along with the game-winning TD throw in overtime to Jermaine Kearse, which propelled the Seahawks to their second consecutive Super Bowl.”
(http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/14881/russell-wilson )

“With less than three minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse were having the worst games of their careers. Wilson attempted five passes to Kearse, who caught none of them. The first four throws were intercepted by the Green Bay Packers, two of which deflected off Kearse’s hands. But Wilson gave Kearse one more opportunity, a 35-yard pass completion for a touchdown that won Sunday’s NFC Championship Game 28-22 on the first possession in overtime.”
(http://espn.go.com/blog/seattle-seahawks/post/_/id/11466/wilson-and-kearse-never-gave-up-on-each-other?ex_cid=espnapi_public ).

Talk about feeling dejected. Had the Seahawks lost that game, I dare say a lot of focus, right or wrong, would have been negative focus on the play of Wilson and Kearse. But just like the old zero-to-hero scenarios sometime go, they rallied their teammates and won the game in overtime (I still can’t believe Kearse caught that touchdown the way he did! But I digress…)

You could say Peter was feeling similar. One of his final acts during Jesus’ life on earth was to deny Him…deny Him! After he said he would die for Him. But Jesus forgave him and showed His love and faith in His disciple before He left for Heaven after His resurrection. And when Pentecost came with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter pulled off the touchdown catch by proclaiming Him to the gathered crowd. “…and that day about three thousand souls were added to them”.

Game over? Nope, it had just begun!

Something to think about.

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Verses 12-13: “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.””

The Great Santini was a master magician, who regularly was thrilling audiences with his illusions and prestidigitation. He was also a man with dark secrets, who was not above murdering the blackmailing owner of the club he was performing at. To give himself an airtight alibi, he performed the murder during his great water-tank escape act…no one would suspect him, since he was in a locked trunk submerged in water in full view of the audience…or was he? The only person to suspect him, of course, was Lt. Columbo. “Now You See Him…” is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. Jack Cassidy plays Santini, an illusionist and magician par excellence, who audiences marveled at. Even the rumpled detective, played by Peter Falk, had to marvel at how Santini would perform his magic. However, he knew that it was illusion, and continued to pursue him to bring him to justice.

Folks can be like the players in this mystery. Some marvel at what seems impossible, wondering if it’s real magic. Others scoff at the trick, professing to know how it’s done. Others are left just plain wondering. The witnesses of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are just such a crowd. Some knew of the disciples and marveled that they were speaking the gospel in different languages. Others just said, “Ah, they’re drunk!” Peter took that opportunity that God gave him to get up and address the crowd with a sermon that was God-inspired and struck right to the need they had for salvation and forgiveness.

Jesus is no illusion; He’s real!

More to come…

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Verses 8-9: “for the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”

Some of the books I have kept from my childhood and shared with our children and others have to do with the adventures of Josh McBroom and his family and their wonderful one-acre farm, whose soil was so rich, you could grow anything in it in no time flat (The McBroom stories were authored by Sid Fleischman…a lot of them are out of print, but you can probably find them in libraries). Anyway, the soil was so rich, that besides garden vegetables growing to miraculous sizes, ordinary things would grow too (like tacks into nails, marbles into boulders, and so forth). The farm had been a boggy pond that dried up over time and was nitrogen rich.

The person who inadvertently sold them this farm was Hector “Heck” Jones, whose farm was pitiful; he was always scheming to get the land back from McBroom. One night he spread out a bunch of weed seed, which resulted in the whole McBroom family and friends battling weeds for a time, just to clear the ground of them. Don’t worry, Jones got his comeuppance in “McBroom Tells the Truth” (copyright 1966 by Fleischman).

The illustration here was that whatever was planted grew incredibly big and fast, whether it be vegetables or weeds. The passage today, in contrast, refers to what is sown. As human beings, we are constantly sowing seeds…if you sow seeds in the material things of this world, don’t expect anything short of corruption in the long run. Sowing in the Holy Spirit, in God’s direction, will yield a bounty like none that Josh McBroom could’ve gotten from his farm. So what are you planting today?

Something to think about.

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Verses 19-23: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

My son, as we speak, is working on a science experiment on how to fireproof a balloon. Apparently, there is a process using water and air, to show that a balloon filled with air will pop when a fire is applied to it, but one with water will not pop. Somehow (and I’m curious as to how this works), the water is a change agent to prevent a normally combustible balloon from popping.

We, as sinful human beings, produce sin. When left on our own, no matter how “good” we are, the deeds of our flesh are listed above. On our own, we can’t earn our way to heaven…our righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God. Only when we invite Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior, does the changing agent of His grace make us “fireproof”, so to speak. Then working with the Holy Spirit (because we can’t do it on our own), the fruit we can produce is that of the Holy Spirit…also, listed above.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Ephesians 6:17: “And take the HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

According to Merriam-Webster.com, “sword” means “a weapon (as a cutlass or rapier) with a long blade for cutting or thrusting that is often used as a symbol of honor or authority” “Spirit” has several definitions, but I like the first one best: “a supernatural being or essence…Holy Spirit…soul”. Holy Spirit and soul were synonyms on that definitions, I think.

The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible states that “sword” occurs 448 times in the Bible (in its singular and plural forms). “Spirit” occurs 505 times as the root word “spirit”; 28 times as “spiritual”, 3 times as “spirituality”, and 46 times as the plural “spirits”. However, there are many references to the Holy Spirit as well as other spirits in the Bible. “Holy Spirit” actually has a separate mention in the concordance; unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the number of times “Holy Spirit” was mentioned, although it is included in the above word counts.

We come to the final piece of the armor of God, the sword of the Spirit. I have a Bible footnote that mentions that it is the only offensive weapon mentioned in the armor. There is an old football phrase states that “defense wins championships”. That may be true, but the score of a game is kept by the points on the scoreboard. The only way that the bulk of the points get on the scoreboard is usually by offensive means. God gives us protection and defense, but I don’t believe He wants us to just sit and “take it” from the devil. God wants us to tell others about Jesus, to spread the Good News, to go and make disciple makers.

We’ll talk more on that tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

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