Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Because God was with Him, Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil”. Those were Peter’s words to Cornelius as recorded by Luke. I like that phrase – ‘because God was with Him’.

There were many who believed otherwise. In fact, they believed the opposite so strongly that they had Him crucified. In spite of all they saw Him do while He was alive, they still did not believe that God was with Him.

And that became the first part of the message of the early church. They kept the fact that God was with Him before the people. ‘You killed Him’ they would say, ‘but God has raised Him from the dead’; just a little more proof – a little more confirmation – that God was in deed with Him.

Is there anything better that could be said of anyone? At the end of our lives, will it matter what we have accomplished if it cannot be said that God was with us? And if that can be said, will anything else really matter? If that can be said, there will be a trail, not of all we have acquired, but of all we have helped.

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A Solitary Place

Why is it that so many people wonder whether or not they are actually saved?  Whether or not they are actually born again?  Whether or not they have actually experienced new life?  Why has all of the old not passed away?  Why have all things not become new?

Part of the answer relating to the doubts is the fact that we have an enemy that does his best to cause us to doubt.  Just as he said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God”, so similarly He approaches us; ‘If you were a Christian’.  ‘If you were born again you would not have done that.’  ‘If you really were saved, you would want to do this.’  Sound familiar? 

But then there is the legitimate question of why has all the old not passed away – why have all things not become new.  Have we just come to believe that we are hamstrung by our old nature and the best we can hope for in this life is to hobble along in it? 

I hobbled for 30 years.  There were times that the old was passed away and that all things were new.  But the old always seem to find a way to work its way back in.  I knew I was saved, but I also knew that what Jesus did was supposed to free us from the power of sin.  So why was I not totally free?  Is it even realistic to think that we should be – can be?

I believe the answer to both of these questions, the doubting and the actual absence of the new nature in our lives, is found in the 4th chapter of Luke.  It begins with this line; “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit”.  By being ‘full’ of heaven’s spirit, He was quick to recognize the deceitful scheme of Satan.  By being ‘full’ of heaven’s spirit, He was also not tempted by it. 

It made me think of the times that I had more of the new than the old; it was the times I was more ‘full’.  The only problem is that I did not stay full.  I compromised.  I was distracted.  I believed it when the thought came to mind that you cannot expect to stay ‘full’.  And so I hobbled.

It is tempting to think that the fact that Jesus didn’t compromise – that He was not distracted – was because He was Jesus, and that we can’t expect to be that perfect.  Thinking that way is the great deception; thinking that way puts the work on us; thinking that way puts us trying to live out the new nature from our old one.  You can’t do it.

The answer is in 4:42; “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place”.  It is one thing to be saved from the penalty of sin, but to be saved from the power of sin, where the old passes away and all things become new, we must maintain a ‘solitary place’.  In the ‘solitary place’, His nature flows into ours. 

Jesus has made it impossible to have the new life without our constant connection to Him.  If we do not stay constantly connected, we will be hamstrung by our old nature.  It may seem impossible to think of always maintaining a ‘solitary place’, but what is really impossible, is trying to live the Christian life without it.

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A Call to Arms

As much as John, in his 12th chapter, shows us the path to life through Jesus’ gut wrenching decision to obey what God was requiring of Him, so Luke here in this 4th chapter shows us the means by which He was able to make that decision; “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit”.  He was so full that as a fire it burned heaven in and hell out.  He was so full of heaven that when hell reared its head to tempt Him, He spotted it.  He was so full that it was not tempting.

“In the power of the Spirit”, He returned to Galilee where “news about him spread throughout the countryside”.  In the power of the Spirit He spoke with authority and healed many who were sick.  While teaching in a synagogue, He drove a demon – an evil spirit – out of a man.  Are demons – evil spirits – as comfortable in today’s churches as they were then in the synagogues? 

By our not being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’, do we not readily spot them?  By our not being full of ‘the power of the Spirit’, do we not have the authority to demand they leave our presence?

The world is waiting – actually the church is waiting – not for another book to be written or sermon to be preached, but for a demonstration of this power.  When there is this demonstration, ‘news will spread throughout the countryside’.  Individually, while we are waiting on God to change us, He is waiting on us to fill ourselves with Him that we might be changed.

Luke, who has already seen the events of which he writes in the book of Acts, cannot help but to weave the same into his Gospel account.  To him, the Spirit was the key for the disciple’s transformation that resulted in boldness and power.  It was the key to Jesus being able to do all that He did.  And the key to this key . . . “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place”. 

There are no shortcuts in Christianity.  There is a battle going on, whether we realize it or not.  It is a battle that the men of Christianity must absolutely engage in if we are to see anything newsworthy.  Until the men – the valiant men – the warriors among us – rise up and ‘go out to a solitary place’, where battles are fought and won, evil will wander comfortably and roll vehemently enticing and destroying everything in its path.  It is time to man up and reclaim the territory that is God’s.

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