God’s Spirit in Us

Today, we’re looking at Isaiah 11:1-2, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (NASB) These verses are Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus and His reign on earth. 

Notice the Scripture says the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.  God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is in Jesus.  As Believer’s we have that same Spirit in us.  In his commentary on Isaiah, J. Vernon McGee states, “This is the sevenfold spirit that rested upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  The plentitude of power is the sevenfold spirit: (1) of the Lord; (2) of wisdom; (3) of understanding; (4) of counsel; (5) of might; (6) of knowledge; and (7) of the fear of the Lord.”  All these attributes are also in us because Jesus lives in our hearts.

Because Jesus had the Spirit upon Him, He has the power of the Holy Spirit, and we do as well.  We learned in our last post that, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;” (Acts 1:8 NASB)  Because of this, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to be witnesses of God’s love, He gives us the power to overcome obstacles the enemy throws in our pathway, we have power in every circumstance we face.  When we allow the Holy Spirit’s power to work through us, we cannot be defeated.

Our Scripture today also tells us that the spirit of wisdom was on Jesus.  When we utilize the wisdom given to us from the Holy Spirit, we can make good decisions.  We also rely upon His guidance in making those decisions and following Jesus’ footsteps.  Yielding to the voice of the Holy Spirit helps us do battle against the enemy of our souls as he tries to lead us astray.

We also see the spirit of understanding resting upon Jesus.  This is spiritual understanding.  When we delve into God’s Word, we need the understanding to be able to “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV) It also means spiritual discernment.  Being able to sort out fact from fiction.  As Believers, sometimes Satan whispers in our ears, feeding us half-truths and outright lies.  We need discernment to know the difference between the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation or lies of the enemy.

Jesus also had the spirit of counsel.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus asking for anyone’s advice or counsel.  Instead, He was the one giving the advice.  He was the one counseling others on right living and how to have a relationship with God.  Because we have that same Spirit in us, we receive that same counsel from Him.  If we are tempted to hand out advice to others, we had better be unquestionably positive that our counsel lines up with Scripture and is sanctioned by the Holy Spirit.  There is also is a time and a place for advice.  Sometimes that time and place is never.

Jesus had the spirit of might.  This is the same as power, but I think it may have a stronger connotation.   We need to be able to use that power in every situation.  The Apostle Paul desired “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:10 NASB) Jesus had the power to be resurrected from the dead.  That same power is within us.  We also have that might and power to go through suffering with strength, just as Jesus did.

The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord are available to us through the study of God’s Word.  Many misunderstand what it means to fear the Lord.  It doesn’t mean to be afraid of Him, rather it is to respect Him and honor Him.  The more time we spend in God’s Word learning about His character, the more we get to know Him and what His attributes are, the more we become more knowledgeable of who He is and how much He loves us.

God’s Spirit resides in us, and because He resides in us, we can be confident that we have the ability to let Jesus’ light shine through us and His Spirit work in our lives so that others will see and know that Jesus is Lord and Savior of our lives.

Receiving the Holy Spirit

We are beginning a series on the Holy Spirit.  Today’s Bible Journaling is from Acts 2:38, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (NASB) Allow me to give a little background on what has happened.

The disciples had been given a directive from Jesus right before He ascended to Heaven, to stay in Jerusalem until God, the Father, gave them what He had promised, telling them, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NASB) They went to the Upper Room and stayed there.  On the day of Pentecost as they were together, the sound of a mighty, rushing, wind came with tongues of fire and lit upon each one of them, and each one received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Peter preached to those who were witnesses to this occurrence, explaining what had happened. People from every nation were there and the disciples were able to speak to each one in their own language because the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of speaking in tongues (speaking languages they had not learned). 

Peter told them how Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world, how He was crucified, was buried, and rose again, and is alive, and ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father. Then, Peter gives the first altar call and asked them to repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as the disciples did.  Three thousand people came forward and became Believers, and the Church was born! 

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  He is God in spirit, and when we ask God to forgive us of our sins, believe in Jesus, and ask Him to come and live in us, He sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in us, so that we can have a constant communion and fellowship with Him. 

The Holy Spirit is also our guide, our counselor.  He speaks to us, not always in audible words, but in our minds, or a nudging in our hearts.  He is the still, small voice that whispers to us the way we are to walk.  As new Believers, He teaches us through promptings and opening our minds as we read God’s Word, helping us to understand what the Scriptures are saying.

Many times, in churches I’ve attended, I’ve heard people talk about the Holy Spirit as an “it”.  But the Holy Spirit is not an “it”, the Holy Spirit is a “He”, for He is a person…the third person of the Trinity.  There’s a song we sing in Pentecostal churches call “Send it on Down”.  My Pastor doesn’t like it when we sing it that way, He changes it to say, “Send Him on Down.”  The Holy Spirit is not a thing, He is a person…living inside of us, guiding us, loving us, helping us.

The only way we receive the Holy Spirit is when we become Born Again.  We must be saved to receive the Holy Spirit.  Once we have made that decision, we can be assured that the Holy Spirit is residing in us.  We then can walk in peace and in power.  Remember what Jesus told the disciples?  “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” (Acts 1:8) The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be witnesses of God’s love and forgiveness.  We must be sure we are listening to His voice as we walk daily with Him. 

When we are saved, we are initially filled with the Holy Spirit, it is called the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  This is different from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in Acts 2:4.  The Baptism of the Holy Spirit gives us power…power to live a holy life, to witness about God’s love and forgiveness, and to evangelize the world.  It is for today to give us power to be witnesses.  We receive Him by faith, and He becomes our comforter, counselor, our friend, and so much more.  What a blessing to have God, the Holy Spirit in a Believer’s life.

Following Jesus Transforms Us

In this last post on our series on following Jesus, we look at the results of following Him.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (KJV).  I found the King James Version a little hard for me to understand, so I looked at other versions.  The Living Bible puts it like this, “But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.”  I decided to try another version as well.  The NIV states, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

If we read before the passage, the chapter is comparing living under the law versus living under grace.  The Apostle Paul talks about Moses and how, when he came back from being with God in the mountain, he had to wear a veil to hide the glory of God that shone on his face until the glory completely faded away so that the people wouldn’t see it fade.  The people recognized he had been with God because they could see it in his face.  Moses brought the law (the Ten Commandments) down from the mountain to give to the people to show them God’s requirements for living a holy life.  The covenant of the law shows us our sin and we are condemned because the law is impossible to follow perfectly.  If we break one law, we have broken them all.

However, as Believers, we live under grace, which Paul says is a better or greater covenant.  As we follow Jesus and allow Him to change us from the inside out His glory, or His light, shines through us, and those around us can see Him shining out in our very appearance.  Paul talks about looking into a mirror and seeing God’s reflection.  When we follow Jesus wholeheartedly, He begins to change us from the inside out.  We are transformed when we allow Him to make the changes in us that will result in us looking more and more like Jesus; we are reflections of Jesus’ glory.  Romans 12:2 tells us we are not to be conformed to this world, looking like the world; rather, we are to be transformed by letting God change our thinking, “renewing of your mind”. (NIV)

The closer we follow in Christ’s footsteps, the more we become like Him.  When we are saved, His Spirit comes to live inside us.  The Holy Spirit directs us.  He is that little “nudge” when we need correcting or a prompting to do something out of our comfort zone.  The Holy Spirit speaks to us if we will only listen to His still, small, voice; and He will guide us to live in the light that shines from Jesus so that we reflect that light to others.

Some may say they don’t know if they hear the Holy Spirit speak to them.  We all have times when we aren’t sure we hear His voice.  Lately, I’ve been aware of His nudge to share something in my blog as I write my posts.  It’s like a strong urging from the Holy Spirit to give insight on something He wants my readers to know.  When we keep our hearts open to receive, He will give us what is needed.  The more we are receptive to His prompting, the closer we get to becoming more of a reflection of His glory.  The more we reflect His glory, the more we are transformed and become a mirror image of Him.  Today, let Him transform you by following Jesus closely.

Following Jesus Requires Obedience

As we continue our series on following Jesus, our Scripture today reminds us that we must be obedient to what Jesus is asking us to do, and that means even when it is difficult or what we are not comfortable with.  1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” (NLT)

There are times when God calls us to step out in faith and do something that is so far beyond our comfort zone, that I think some of us tend to say, “Wait a minute Lord, I can’t do that!”  It reminds me of Moses.  God called him to rescue the Children of Israel from Pharaoh and take them out of Egypt,(Exodus 3) and Moses protested, saying that he couldn’t do it because he didn’t talk well when in reality, I believe he was afraid.   When it boils down to it, I think that’s where we are when we say we can’t.  We are walking in fear instead of faith, and we don’t obey the call to a mission He has given to us.

Peter reminds the early church that we must live holy lives and must be obedient to what God calls us to, whether it be a ministry, or asking us to conduct our lives in righteousness.  Obedience is key.  Peter says we are not to live to satisfy our desires, but we are to live to seek God’s desire for us.  What does He ask of us?  “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8 KJV) In following Jesus, we should walk in an upright manner, our actions, speech, and attitudes should be just.  Our lives should show mercy to others with love in our hearts for them and if they are unbelievers, our hearts must break for their lost condition.  Our lives ought to be an example of how God wants us to live, as we show our love for them in everything we do and say.  As examples, we are to follow God with humility, not with an attitude of, “Look at me, I’m a Christian, I’m better than you.”  Nothing will drive an unsaved person away quicker than a “holier than thou” attitude.

When God calls us out to step into a new arena, yes, it can be scary.  Our knees are knocking, and we can feel fear rising.  But we also know that God has promised not to abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will help us take that first step of obedience.  Remember, obedience means we are dying to our selfish desires and accepting the task God is asking us to take up.  One way to remember this is to look at the word, “obedience.”  Obedience.  See the word inside the word?  The word, “die” is tucked inside the word, “obedience.”  We are to die to self and turn to Christ and follow Him, and we are to do this with an attitude of humility, just as Christ was humble. 

Is God asking us to witness to others and tell them what Jesus has done for us?  He will help us. He will give us the courage to open our mouths and share with them the love of Jesus.  Is He asking us to take a new job?  Is He asking us to move clear across the country?  I’ve been in all those situations (I had to move across the country twice!) …and yes, I was scared to death. But He helped me put one foot in front of another and I now know why I had to walk those paths.  As I was obedient in each of those cases, my faith became stronger, I learned something new.  I learned about myself and I learned about the faithfulness of God.  Being obedient to the call of God brings peace and a life that is full because we have obeyed the voice of the Lord.

God’s Grace Abounds

In today’s Bible Journaling we look at Romans 5:20-21, “The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (CSB) The Living Bible, which is a paraphrase and not a translation, puts it this way, “The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. Before, sin ruled over all men and brought them to death, but now God’s kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I must admit, I have had a hard time with this passage.  Not in understanding, but in trying to put down what it was that God wanted me to share.  I began my Bible Journaling page yesterday and then when it came time to write, I hit a roadblock.  But I think God is beginning to show me what I need to share.

When we look at following Jesus, one of the things I see is that part of following Jesus involves sharing what He has done for us with others.  When we talk to unbelievers, a lot of times we’ll hear the phrase, “I’m no worse than anyone else,” and that may be true.  But we must remember that all of us were born in sin because of Adam’s original sin of rebellion and disobedience against God. (Romans 5:12) Because of this, we are all sinners, not that we are sinners because of inheritance, but because Adam passed the sin nature to humanity by his actions and attitude (his defiance, if you will).  So, Salvation also is not inherited from God, even though we are considered children of God when we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, but because we receive the righteous nature of God when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and live in us.

Our Scripture talks about the law, the Ten Commandments. Even before the Ten Commandments were given there were unrighteous and righteous people on earth.  Those who remained in the unrighteous nature of Adam faced death.  They faced physical death, yes, but they also faced spiritual death, just as we do today. Those who were righteous people, who followed God, were given grace from God, even though people didn’t know it as grace at that time.  The law was given to show us our failings, our sin.  God knew that man would never be able to keep the entire law, for if even one commandment was broken, the whole law was broken.  But Jesus’ sacrifice brought grace to those who believed in Him and His death, burial, and resurrection, and His mercifulness became greater than the sin we were in and His blood covered our sin nature.

This is what we are to share with others, that God’s grace is granted when we become Believers.  We are to tell them that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we can have eternal life.  Now, that may seem like a frightening prospect to some.  But I believe that God does not call us to remain in our comfort zone but to step out and deliver the message of His love and forgiveness to those around us.  It is when we delve into areas that we are not comfortable in, that we see growth in our own lives and our relationship with Jesus becomes stronger.  His grace also extends to us as we step out in faith to do what He calls us to do.  Not only do we see His grace being greater than our sin, but it also grants us His favor when we, in obedience, do what He calls us into, whether it is the ministry, or just befriending someone and leading them to Jesus.  His grace abounds! It is greater than our sin, greater than our insecurities, greater than anything!

Finding Rest in Following Jesus

As we continue following Jesus, we learn that we can find rest in Him. Matthew 11:29-30 says, “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (CSB) Even amid an unsettling time, such as enduring quarantine during a pandemic where people are so full of fear, we can find rest.

There is a variety of types of rest. There is physical rest, where we need our eight hours of sleep for our bodies to rejuvenate. There is Spiritual rest, where we take the time to get alone with God and be refreshed by Him. This can include daily Bible study and prayer time, attending church, and fellowshipping with other Believers. Then there is emotional rest. Sometimes, I think this is the hardest to achieve. There are so many who are so in turmoil emotionally, that rest is the farthest thing from them.

We are seeing this so evident right now with the pandemic. People are fearful of something they can’t even see. We can see it on their faces, their expressions are full of anxiety and fear because they are afraid of getting the Coronavirus and dying. Some are in full-blown depression, pandemic or not, they feel like they are in a deep pit and can’t find a way out. The world is a dark place for them, and they have no hope. They have no desire to even participate in this thing we call “life.” For some, it is more than they can do just to get out of bed.

Depression such as this is debilitating. I have a new friend who is battling depression. She’s a Believer, but depression has taken hold. The enemy of our souls uses something like depression to defeat God’s children. Sometimes, it is a Spiritual issue, sometimes it is a chemical imbalance, there are various reasons for depression. My friend wants to get out of this pit, but she feels like it’s almost more than she can bear to try. She knows that Jesus is her source of peace, she knows that He can help her by taking the burden she is carrying (depression) and giving her a light burden to carry. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I think she is dealing with physical imbalances, and her depression has nothing to do with her Spiritual life. She knows Jesus and loves Him with all her heart. As much as I want to do something to help her; all I can do is pray for her, and that, most times, is more than any of us can do for someone.

Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy. He doesn’t require anything of us that would load us down. He desires to give us peace and rest. I think of Psalm 23:1-2, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (KJV) These verses speak peace and rest to me.

One time when I was on vacation out west, my husband and I were in Wyoming camping on the side of a mountain. When we woke in the morning my husband said, “It sounds like a crowd of people talking.” We looked outside our camper and saw a shepherd with his sheep on the side of the mountain. We walked over and talked to him for a while. It was so calm and peaceful, the bleating of the sheep and the quiet mountainside except for the sheep quietly saying, “Baa”. That scene brought peace and rest to me. Jesus is our Shepherd, He will take any burden we carry be it fear, depression, anger, anxiety, guilt, you name it…He will take it. Then He gives us His yoke, a light yoke, one that is not hard for us to bear and walks with us, shouldering the mountain we were carrying, so that we can have rest.

Take His yoke upon you, you will find rest!

His Word is a Light

As we follow Jesus, we need to know what He says. God’s Word is written down for us to read and absorb. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (NASB) God’s Word lightens the pathway that is set before us.

As we travel this road God has given us to walk, we need to be immersed into His Word so that His precepts are buried deep into our hearts, so much so, that they become part of us. As we follow Jesus’ words and memorize Scripture, the Word lights our pathway.

2 Peter 1:19 says, “We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (Berean Study Bible) God’s Word gives instruction and discipline, “For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life…” (Proverbs 6:23 NIV)

The Bible is our road map through life. It tells us how to deal with everyday situations, it tells us of God’s love for us and His plan for us. It opens our eyes to ourselves and then gives instructions on how to deal with those things that need to be removed from our lives.

The Apostle Paul said that the Scriptures are “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB) When we read God’s Word, we gain insight as to who He is. We learn about His character so that we can imitate His character and become more like Him. My husband says, “When we walk BEFORE Jesus, we are walking in our own shadow. But when we walk, FOLLOWING Jesus, we walk in His shadow!” Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12 NASB)

As we walk in Jesus’ light, His light shines through us. Jesus also instructs us to let our light shine. Matthew 5:15-16 says, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” When we allow the light of God’s Word to penetrate our hearts, Jesus’ light shines within us so that others can see.

The Bible is our guidebook for life, a marriage manual, a guide for raising children, a self-help book on how to deal with others, a book of poetry and songs for praising and worshipping Him and is our very life’s blood. God’s Word is precious to us! It is the light that shines, not only to light our pathway but to light the world with God’s love as we show the world Jesus in our daily walk with Him.