Better Than Jesus

What could be better than having Jesus around? According to Him, it is better for us to have the Holy Spirit around:

“But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.
(John 16:5-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Having the Spirit among and in us is what makes our ministry in the earth possible. It is how we will know our God so well that we will reveal to the angels and demons more about His wisdom than they know from their experiences with Him:

This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints!—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to the purpose of the ages, which He made in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness, access, and confidence through faith in Him.
(Ephesians 3:8-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Listen to Wisdom

My [child], if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure,  then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity  so that He may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His loyal followers. 

Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity—every good path. For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you, rescuing you from the way of evil—from the one who says perverse things, from those who abandon the right paths to walk in ways of darkness, from those who enjoy doing evil and celebrate perversity, whose paths are crooked, and whose ways are devious.

(Proverbs 2:1-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Household of Truth

We are the people who live in Yahweh’s household. We eat at His table. We are welcome at His meetings and gatherings.

I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon. But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

We are the foundation of truth. Yet, we are so undiscerning of truth that we cannot tell who is lying as we read the news. We cannot tell who is in error as we read books by popular writers who lead the Church.

As we continue to build each other up in love, each part doing our part, we will mature to the point of standing beside our Lord and Husband in a unified manifestation of faith and truth (Ephesians 4). We will stand for nothing but the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.

The path to that place of being a foundation may be painful and costly. Brace up!

Angels Seeing You

Angels who have seen the awesome glory of their Creator, with no veil to shield them, not needing it because they have no earthly flesh from an ancestor like Adam, have seen much!

They have seen more than John saw in the Revelation of Jesus that he received. Some of that was shown to him by angels. They have seen judgement after a great war in Heaven. They have known the positions of authority given to some of them over places in Heaven and places in Earth – powers, principalities, world rulerships.

It must have been an incomprehensible mystery to them to see, after centuries of observing humanity, their Master become a human. Having seen, with a few surprising exceptions, nothing but failure and misery and ungodliness in humans, they watched as their God became one. Then, seeing Him be despised and spit upon and beaten, by the humans He joined in their misery, for their sake, must have made their mouths gape open in astonishment.

Now, His servants see us. They see His sons and daughters. They see, in human frailty and failure, the spirits who were given birth by the Holy One. The One Who overcame in the earth. They see a tide of change – sometimes sweeping, sometimes creeping – spreading through the earth to create a new race of humans. Sons and daughters of the King of Heaven and Earth.

Father, make us able to see at least what your spirit servants see – to recognize the Life of our Father in our brothers and sisters. Make us able to honor You as we honor each other. Make us able to discern Jesus as we receive each other in love.

Owning the Scriptures

It was the middle of the 15th century before a person could purchase a copy of a Bible that had been printed instead of transcribed by hand. Reduction in the cost of printing continued to progress until in 1579, a law was created in Scotland that required every household that could afford to do so to purchase a copy of a translation of Scriptures into English called the Geneva Bible.

Jews were still arguing about what to include in the Hebrew version of Scripture in the 1st century, so having a one-volume version of the Old Testament was only possible much later than that. This means that for their first several hundred years of existence, the Church had various scrolls available to a few scholars, and a few letters from their leaders that were copied by hand and circulated among the rest of the leaders.

Having to lean on the leadership of the Holy Spirit made them successful. Now that we have the Scriptures available in hundreds of English versions, we should be even more successful. I have, in my pocket computer (smart phone) 11 English translations, Strong’s concordance and dictionary, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (a 3″-thick  huge cross-reference book), and other dictionaries and commentaries.

The Scriptures can inform us, but they cannot change us. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can transform us into the likeness of Jesus. The Pharisees had the Scriptures available to them memorized. They still could not recognize Jesus apart from the empowerment of the Spirit.

Owning the Scriptures is a gift that has immeasurable value, including the lives of many translators, but it amounts to maps and road signs in contrast to the Holy Spirit being the means of transportation we need to get moving.

Read the maps, and learn how to read the signs on the highways. Then, ask the Holy Spirit where to go and with whom.

Letting Jesus In

In the Revelation of Jesus that John received, this was the message Jesus sent to the believers called to be the church in Laodicia:

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
(Revelation 3:14-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Jesus was not knocking at the door of an unbeliever’s heart, hoping to save her/him. He was knocking at the door of the congregations, or at the home of believers in those congregations in Laodicia, wanting to be welcomed among them. They didn’t know that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. They thought that they were free of needs.

All of us, to some degree, are suffering from blindness to some of our weaknesses and distractions. We are very sensitive to our financial or health needs, but the more important spiritual needs are difficult to discern. We need to have frequent visits from Jesus, during which we ask Him how we are. Even then, we are in danger of resembling James’ description of seeing our faces in the mirror Jesus holds in front of us and turning away unchanged.

A visit from Jesus is sometimes painful, but always beneficial.

Answered Prayers

In Acts 16:16-34, Luke described a sequence of events that led to a miracle. Paul and Silas were preaching in Philippi. They cast an unclean spirit out of a girl whom it had empowered to predict the future. Her owners drug them to a Roman court in the city. The judges had them stripped, beaten, and jailed with their feet stocked.

Around midnight, while they were praying and singing, their prayers were answered through a very violent earthquake. Earthquakes don’t generally happen to one building at a time. Either the quake was so great that the entire city was shaken to its foundations, as the jail was, or the quake was so focused that only the jail was rattled. Both are impressive miracles.

The doors of the jail were opened and the chains fell off the prisoners. This is strange impact of an earthquake, too. Suddenly, everyone in range of the praying was free, by a violent shaking. The jailer and his family got saved and baptized and served Paul and Silas a midnight meal.

Our God is so much wiser than us, and sees so much farther than us, that when He answers our prayers, we can’t always recognize what He is doing as beneficial. Every step we take and every word we speak should be in response to asking Him, “What are you doing, and how do I cooperate?”

Fully Committed

Whether we are sent to be the only messenger Yahweh has yet sent to a group of people so deep in the jungles or mountains that we will never again see anyone who looks like us, or we have an assignment that seems so insignificant that anyone could do it, and probably better than us, we should be fully committed to Him and to the people He has blessed us with the privilege of serving.

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God granted to the churches of Macedonia: during a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God’s will. So we urged Titus that, just as he had begun, so he should also complete this grace to you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this grace.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Strong and Full of Courage

What are you in the earth as a son or daughter of Yahweh to be and do? If you don’t know yet, ask Him. Ask others to pray for you to get this very important revelation.

If you do know, but you are not yet prepared to be able to do it, then get prepared. Does it take a certain skill? Do you need to be in a different place? Ask Him to prepare you and to align you.

If you are ready, be about it! Whatever it is, He is at work in you to want to do it and to be able to do it. You can do anything that He calls you into.  “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

(Joshua 1:9 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

 

Big Siblings

In families, especially at times when family members worked in family businesses or on farms, as the older children grew, they received increased responsibilities. The new duties were not just related to the business, but to the younger children. They taught them the way to live and work.

Many congregations are so relationship resistant that they are more like orphanages than families. Someone who moves to town and joins a congregation is received like a distant cousin whose parents died and left them needing a place to stay – they aren’t really close family, but we have to put up with them as long as they stay.

God, however, likes to set the solitary in families (Psalm 68:4-6). He sees each believer as a son or daughter, born of His Holy Spirit. I believe that He expects each of us to take some responsibility for the brothers and sisters who are younger than us in Him. We don’t have to have a degree in anything to be a big brother or an older sister to some who need that type of influence.

We all need it, and we all are capable of it if we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Encouragement, correction, teaching regarding a certain ministry or a certain discipline, such as prayer or reading and meditation on Scripture – these are powerful influences that we can offer those with less time or experience in being believers.

The more we mature in character and service, the more we are likely to be drawn to a level of service and sacrifice that resembles parenting. Even a 5 year old can be a good influence on the life of a 3 year old, though. Invest in someone!