May 12, 2019
How do you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? The Gospel Coalition, founded by D.A. Carson and Tim Keller, cites ways we experience the Holy spirit in our lives. Here are five of them:
1. In the Gospel
Paul equates the fullness of the Spirit with going deeper in the Gospel – see Ephesians 3:14-18. Through the knowledge of the Gospel, as we experience the fullness of God’s awesome, redemptive work in Jesus Christ, we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
2. Through the Word of God
A very significant way by which the Holy Spirit interacts in our lives is through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach us and brings to remembrance His Word in various circumstances of our lives (see John 14:25-26). So, as the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word, and as we remember the Word of God in our daily circumstances of life, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
3. Through the church
The Holy Spirit speaks through the church. In Acts 13:2-4, the Holy Spirit called out Barnabas and Saul for a specific ministry. This passage declares that the Holy Spirit not only called them but sent them out. So, as we discern the Holy Spirit’s call and obediently respond to it, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
4. In our giftings
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes that every member of the Body of Christ is given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” This manifestation of the Spirit is what we also refer to as spiritual gifts. So, as we share our spiritual gifts, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
5. In our Spirit
J.D. Greear of the Gospel Coalition writes, “Throughout Scripture we see that God guides His people in mission by putting special burdens into their spirits. When Nehemiah left for Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, he didn’t have a command from God. He simply said that God had “put it into his heart” to do it (Nehemiah 12:2). So, as we grow in the Lord, we will sense a calling from God. As we experience such a calling or burden, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
This week as you meditate on the things of God, reflect on how you have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Write them down, and lift them up to God, ask Him to confirm. Share your experiences with a godly, mature believer. Ask that person to confirm.
April 28, 2019
Read John 14:6-7
Jesus says that if you know him, you know the Father, and if you have seen him, you have seen the Father. This means that the ultimate revelation of God is Jesus who suffered and died on the cross for us.
Pray to God about your relationship with Him. How do you imagine Him? Do you imagine Him as a generous genie? A distant clockmaker? An angry judge? How would your relationship with him change if you imagined him as our loving, forgiving and self-giving savior, Jesus?
April 14, 2019
Jesus said in John 13:34, “you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Furthermore, he prefaced this statement by saying that it was a “new commandment.” Let’s explore this verse..
The charge to God’s people to love is not new. In the OT, Leviticus 19:18 commands God’s people: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But Jesus’ command in John 13:34 is new in the sense that the love that we are to have for one another must be at a new standard of love, one that is based on the example of our Lord Himself! Instead of loving one another as we would love ourselves, we are to love one another as Jesus loves them.
Given this very high bar, how are we doing keeping this commandment from the Lord? D.A. Carson, a respected theologian and author wrote about this new command to love one another:
The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Savior; the more we appreciate the love of the Savior; the higher His standard appears; the higher His standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centeredness, the depth of our own sin. With a standard like this, no thoughtful believer can ever say, this side of the Parousia, “I am perfectly keeping the basic stipulation of the new covenant.”
Our utter failure in keeping our Lord’s new commandment must never become a justification to ignore or marginalize it. Quitting is not an option. John MacArthur offers two practical ways to practice the new command from the Lord to love one another:
Practice apologizing and seeking forgiveness from those around us, as a priority (Matthew 5:23-24).
Grant forgiveness to those who have hurt us. MacArthur writes that Christians should be eager to forgive those who have hurt us, in light of the forgiveness we have received.
During this week, prayerfully develop a lifestyle of humbly practicing the above two things. Journal your thoughts as you prepare and do, in obedience to our Lord.
March 31, 2019
Read John 13:30
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was given every chance to repent until it was too late – “it was night”. Often Christians get caught up in the achievements of the world that they have forgotten their first love in Christ. As a result, their relationships are marked by routine instead of the agape love made available through the cross.
In his book, “The Mark of a Christian”, Francis A. Schaeffer tells us that “The Mark” is about the Impact Christians have in the world around them.
Do you bear the “mark”or do you bear the “mask” that Judas wore?
Here are some practical questions to ask and apply to your life:
Are your relationships marked by routine or authenticity?
Is there anyone that has betrayed me that I need to forgive?
Is there anyone that I have betrayed that I need to confess to?
Is there a mask that I am wearing that I need to get rid of?
What is the action I need to take to get help? (Talk to a pastor, counselor, join a small group, etc…?)
March 24, 2019
Read John 13:1-20.
Jesus tells us to serve, as Jesus served us. Obeying this command is a challenge, but not terribly so if the target of our service is people we like and get along with. Jesus’ command, however, means serving people we don’t like so much, perhaps even dread. How then can our service overflow, and not be a periodic trickle, only as it applies to people we like?
The key is humility. When our hearts our truly humble, God’s love fill our hearts and overflows to those around us, including people we might even despise and dread. Study and meditate on this passage during the week. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart for:
Elements that are opposed to biblical humility: arrogance, pride, self-sufficiency, confidence in our gifts, talents, knowledge, and experience.
What the Holy Spirit reveals to you, renounce such things from becoming part of your identity, things that give you a sense of well-being and confidence.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how the true meaning of humility.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage to live out being humble before God and those around you, even those you may not like very much.
March 17, 2019
Read John 17:20-26.
In this passage, Jesus prays to his Father, asking that all of his followers would be united as one with them in love. He prays that the love between himself and his Father would overflow into us and into the whole world. He prays that we would see his glory and recognize the eternal love of God. He prays that we would then see that we are loved by God just as the Father loves the Son.
Pray to God for a few minutes. Talk to him about what your relationship is like right now. Are you overflowing with the eternal love of God? Or, do you desire to receive a greater awareness of God’s love for you? Take some time to meditate on God’s love for you in his forgiveness on the cross. Take some time to remember that God is with you throughout the day in his Spirit.