One More Thing

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [NIV]

I discovered there is one more thing to be added to my list in last Sunday’s post about the Holy Spirit. I missed this very important point but as so often happens, God has a way of building something more complete than what I already knew.

Everything on my original list – inspiration, truth teller, guarantee, within, teacher, support, helper and confirmation – was God’s own truth from his word. God designed the work of the Holy Spirit in us to be very personal to each of us but there’s one thing more…

God has added this Word from Titus 3 to my list.  It’s important because it reveals the work of the Holy Spirit in each of us is very personal to him too: so “we might become [his] heirs…”  Now it’s a complete list!

Person of Interest

I just realized I’ve been confused about assigning pronouns when I write about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may not have a body but he’s not a ghost or an “it.” “He” is definitely a person of interest. These Scriptures from the ESV version confirm his position as a co-equal, and distinct, personality of the Trinity that plays a powerful part in the believer’s life.

• Inspiration: 2 Peter 1:21 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

• Truth Teller: John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

• Guarantee: 2 Corinthians 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

• Within: 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

• Teacher: John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

• Support: Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

• Helper: John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

• Confirmation: Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,

What I’ve learned:
These authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. They chose their words carefully but, more importantly, God chose to give their words the power of the Holy Spirit that could interpret His absolute truth to believers for all time independent of any particular language or translation.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee God has placed within us to teach, support, help and confirm our place in His family through those same ancient written words. The Holy Spirit speaks God’s language to his people forever and is still making His timeless truth relevant to life today.

Selective Pruning

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

What an amazing chapter John 15 is. I’ve decided it’s on my “all time best” list so I’m revisiting it. I have this beautiful hanging basket of yellow petunias outside my window and its become my connection to John 15:1 and my personal Petunia object lesson for the inquiring spirit.

Petunias are eager to grow, but they require regular tending. I have to water them daily, fertilize occasionally and most of all there’s the continual “pruning,” aka: deadheading or pinching back, so they can continue to flourish and bloom. I guess I never paid much attention to the vine-like nature of petunias before. Their stems are meant to grow longer and droop over the basket edge adding their flashy blossoms to the overall beauty of the plant but even those stems need selective pruning.

That plant is a beautiful example of how regular pruning keeps all that growth energy working to produce the best, and most beautiful, result for the plant over its life. It’s a plant that does have a season but with that regular tending it can look it’s best right up to the end.

Got it Petunia?

Good, Better, Best

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ESV

“God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers

Daily is pretty long and pretty regular. There are times I’d just like to do what I’m told…read the Word…and not have to think about why and how it works in my life. Those are my “servant” relationship days of obedience. They’re good but Jesus has something even better in mind. The best thing: his friendship.

I wonder if that change in our relationship with Jesus is one of the main issues we deal with as believers? Most of us enter into that relationship more or less like applying for an entry-level job. It seems much simpler to accept the role of servant. The servant has the easy out of saying “I didn’t know” that transfers a lot of responsibility to the Master in case we happen to screw up.

Reread John 15:15 and think about that change. Have you accepted that promotion from servant to friend? You need to know this amazing truth: at the very moment you committed yourself to serving Jesus he committed himself to helping you understand you are so much more than a servant to him. You’re his trusted friend. That’s worth thinking about!

No Plan B

Romans 16:25-26 All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. 27 All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes! MSG

Is spiritual strength your goal? Good! The incomparably wise God is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ.
There is no Plan B.

The Secret

NCV Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

We read the Scripture because we believe they were “written to teach us.” Learning from them is a very good reason but I don’t think that alone would keep us coming back day after day or account for the impact the Bible has had for such a long time on so many lives. There’s something far more personal happening “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

We read because we believe our faith is a gift from God that we want to learn about. We read because we believe our relationship to Jesus has brought us grace and forgiveness. We come back and read some more because we discover within those pages there’s something that gives those ancient words new life for today. We read because the secret of endurance and encouragement lies within us, the Holy Spirit – hope, that has promised to reveal the mystery of our personal connection to God and help us navigate in this foreign land we call life.

Custom Fit

Romans 14:6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. MSG

I had to smile when I read this version of Romans 14 because of thanking God for broccoli. It’s a lighthearted paraphrase and a very good reminder “it’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—.”

It’s the mystery of faith. On one hand it’s completely personal, custom tailored for you…not by you…but it grows and matures in the midst of our very public relationships as believers.

If the way you live is consistent with what you believe you can trust that God will make the necessary alterations to that custom fit as you grow so your faith and your relationships always make you look your best.