John 15:26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. ESV
The titles the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit range from Advocate to Intercessor and Companion to Friend. All titles have the same implied message; Jesus has provided 24/7 personal support for those who abide with Him. Your commitment is involved and your mind is involved but the bedrock of your personal faith is formed by what the Holy Spirit reveals to God about you, and to you about God.
The Advocate recognizes, and targets, our needs through the transformative stories we read and hear as part of our personal devotion. Those stories become the seeds of His purpose – to direct our personal growth. The Advocate is the Intercessor between all involved parties – God, Himself, Jesus and you. He is the one Companion you have that can speak absolute truth to God on your behalf, fully aware of your needs. Only a Friend with the absolute knowledge of God’s truth is able to testify this encouragement back to you: “Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.”a
The bedrock of personal faith, devotion and growth is the testimony of the Holy Spirit that teaches you to “live deeply” in what you are still being taught.
a I John 2:27 [MSG]
I’ve finally reached Chapter 1 of the book of Hebrews. Honestly this grand finale feels like one of the biggest accomplishments of my years of study. I began at the end of Hebrews and have ended at the beginning of the book to discover this simple proof for myself; there is no “the end” anywhere in it. It’s all about beginning.
God’s provision of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are still at work in every chapter even with my own limitations of what I could comprehend from this theologically challenging book. The weeks of reading with the expectation I would personally discover an ultimate conclusion taught my heart something more than I expected. That is surely the gift of the Word of God.
Chapter 13. ”Outside” is where Christ receives your brokenness and disgrace and makes them his own. It’s the plan of God that we who are outsiders can go to where “new” begins, the Cross.
Chapter 1. I’m in God’s Kingdom because of the provision of that righteous scepter, His Son, “the exact imprint of God’s very being,” being the “crutch” that held me up so I could limp into it.
The ultimate conclusion of the Word of God always leads you to the cross and Christ and the reality there is no “the end” to your beginning.
Hebrews 13 – 9
Throughout the book, we are also challenged to remain faithful to Jesus and follow great models of faith from the Old Testament despite hardships and persecution. These challenges will make us uncomfortable but instead of fearing them, remember that rejecting Jesus is foolish. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s love and mercy and is worthy of all our trust and devotion.
[The Bible Project]
All of Scripture is God letting us look into the past to show us how to build our life of faith today. Usually I read as if chapters are layers that pile up one after another to result in the truth of the book. Reading Hebrews backwards is like peeling those layers back, one a time, to discover for myself truth that can be built into everyday life AND the future. So these are cliff notes from my writings on chapters [13 – 9] each numbered and listed without further editing in that same “backwards” order. My goal is to discover confirmed evidence the Holy Spirit is working through these layers of God’s word to teach me exactly what I need to learn.
 Outside” is where Christ receives your brokenness and disgrace and makes them his own. It’s the plan of God that we who are outsiders can go to where “new” begins, the Cross.  God has saved the unmerited favor of His Grace IN us. Living with the reality of that forgiveness is the discipline of Grace that turns faith into action.
 Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US. That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds. US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative.  Today we have God’s incredible exception to those annual sacrifices. The blood of Jesus and the Grace of God have provided a way to remove the guilt of our sin from God’s memory forever…but our memory is still a natural consequence of sin.  Circumstances are where God begins. Right from the beginning God desired to be present with us because of love. Right from the beginning when circumstances might have denied that truth, God began.
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
NIV Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…
• from the prophet Joel Acts 2:17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
• from David the king 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
• from Peter 2:32 “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
A big part of renewal in a life of faith is having the courage to come to grips with the Holy Spirit. Identifying the Holy Spirit as wind is familiar but I’ve never noticed the word “violent” before [other versions use “mighty.”] The idea that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit might not be a gentle and virtually invisible interaction at all but the surgical removal of the sin within us that’s so violent it might even require fire to cauterize the wound. That’s just my theory. The truth is the moment the Holy Spirit enters into us the dramatic renewal and healing within us begins. ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”
For the “first” time since I began this blog in 2015 and settled into two posts a week I missed my post this Sunday. Oh, I have a list of reasons but when I ticked them off to myself I didn’t find much justification in any of them. I just don’t always get it right. In keeping with my recent theme of “Firsts” I’m reposting an updated version of my very first post. The reality is I need to remember what inspired me to begin this blog in the “first” place. Consistency is of great value in a blog but it doesn’t compare to God’s consistency. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Hello world! – Edited “First” Post from June 5, 2015
I began what I call a timid, limited slog through the Old Testament. It’s timid because I’m not a scholar, limited because what I read is often far less than a whole chapter and slog because sometimes reading to find faith in my daily life feels like trying to run in a dream. I wanted to explore the human identity of some of the main characters of the Old Testament that I pretty much skip over to get to Jesus. They often seem so remote to me but they’ve become heroic examples of what faith looked like in the “good old days;” days that were so much closer to God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of those real people.
I wanted to look at them as people who didn’t always get it right the first time and see what happened in their lives. Some stayed faithful and learned from their mistakes and some just let their worry or anger destroy them. You know, people just like us. People knowing and believing God but held back from becoming what God created them to be by flaws, or maybe just indifference. This is exactly where many of us find ourselves. This word journey is my attempt to see how God moved them, and still can move us, from being satisfied with being not Godless, but not Godly either.
I am absolutely convinced there is a process God has designed for the purpose of revealing himself to those who care to look and listen. It involves his Word, the Holy Spirit and time. I read many versions of Scripture online and watch for the mental “stop sign” in those words that says “notice me.” These are the methods of the digital age. I copy and paste them into my iPad journal. Yes, I’m a geek. I type, I think, I backspace [a lot] and then I think and type some more until there seems to be a completion of the thoughts I believe the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind. Sometimes I need to be reminded what makes my thoughts important is where they come from and my ability to hear what God is trying to tell me. That’s where I am today.
It brings a smile to my face to imagine that God might use that oft repeated cell phone phrase of the digital age, “can you hear me now” as an object lesson for me. I want to listen, I want to hear, but sometimes I just have to quit moving and stay in one place long enough to get good reception. One thing is absolute though, God is faithfully consistent to ask the question over and over, “can you hear me now?”
Lord, “yes.” Amen.
Luke 1:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught
This chapter’s recent history as part of the Christmas celebration gave me pause as I began. The familiarity of these beautiful Christmas passages can make it easy to overlook other details. I read the chapter several times before something caught my eye. The angel brings up the Holy Spirit when he introduces Mary to what God has in mind for her but the Holy Spirit “filling” John, Elizabeth and Zechariah is a big truth that got lost for me in the familiar.
*15… he [John the Baptist] will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
*41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
*67 His [John’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied
It makes so much sense now that I’ve noticed that truth. The main characters of this unlikely mystery were given the verification of one Spirit to another. The Holy Spirit was a work of God in the flesh for them that knit them together in unique kind of baptism of spiritual recognition.
This is truth for us today too. Living a life of faith is still a mystery of God that only becomes recognizable to the eye or mind when the Holy Spirit verifies itself in the flesh, one to another.
I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I once had someone ask me “what does born again mean anyway? I didn’t know quite how to answer except using some analogy I’d heard about an airplane and a pilot that I can’t even remember. I could tell my response made no sense to the one who asked and now I understand why. I was trying to explain what someone else understood. It gets more complicated because it’s so personal.
Stories of what God has taught others are good but they are only meant to be a small cell the Holy Spirit plants in you with the possibility what “they” understood might become something more for you…spiritual curiosity. That’s spiritual conception.
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads you to something more over a period of time. Spiritual curiosity develops the desire to “search and find” spiritual answers. That the period of your spiritual gestational development.
Finally curiosity, conceived and developed, gives birth to your own praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” knowing with complete certainty that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” the Holy Spirit has personally taught you spiritual truths you’d never known before.
That dear friends is your “new birth into a living hope” and an inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
I’ve been starting each morning with a very simple short prayer. “I love you Lord, please lead me.” Then I start reading and wait for that to happen.
• Thursday: Waiting
Read Esther 1 👎 [that’s a thumb’s down sign]
Scanned Joel 1 👎
Read a new resource: Os Hillman TGIF [Today God Is First] on BibleGateway.com. The apostle Paul said, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13)
…He [God] has foreordained that we should accomplish great things in His name – not so that we will be accepted or become more valued, but to experience the reality of a living relationship with a God who wants to demonstrate His power through each of us.”
• Friday: Still Waiting
Read Oswald Chambers
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
“Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.”
• Saturday Morning: Read Philemon👍
At last, Scripture that catches my attention! Has God been leading these last few days while I thought I was floundering? Re-reading all my notes…again. Finally I do see a thread in one single verse that ties these last few days together!
• Sunday Blessing: Seeds of Grace
Philemon 1:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
God wants to demonstrate His power through each of us as the Spirit of God works into us this sense of indebtedness. That’s where our understanding of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” is revealed as more than comfortable personal assurance and becomes the Seeds of Grace to share with each other. That’s the blessing.
The Book of John – Chapter 1 NCV
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘A man will come after me, but he is greater than I am, because he was living before me.’ 31 Even I did not know who he was, although I came baptizing with water so that the people of Israel would know who he is.”
32-33 Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was. But the God who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and rest on a man; he is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen this happen, and I tell you the truth: This man is the Son of God.”
Really a Dove
Why didn’t John know the reality of who Jesus was? I would have though family history would have cleared all that up. John’s relationship with Jesus was probably just like any other family. Relationships are all about perceived and shared experiences that have occurred over time. They can become the comfortable, and sometimes restrictive, place we expect others to fit in called the pigeon hole.
I don’t know if that was the case with John and Jesus but have we created a pigeon hole for Jesus? Did you know a pigeon is Really a Dove? …Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was. Something to ponder.
1-2 Now in that first agreement between God and his people there were rules for worship and there was a sacred tent down here on earth. Inside this place of worship there were two rooms…this part was called the Holy Place. 3 Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was a room called the Holy of Holies…6 Well, when all was ready, the priests went in and out of the first room whenever they wanted to, doing their work. 7 But only the high priest went into the inner room, and then only once a year, all alone with blood that he sprinkled on the mercy seat as an offering to God to cover his own mistakes and sins and the mistakes and sins of all the people…9 This has an important lesson for us today…The people had to keep these rules to tide them over until Christ came with God’s new and better way.
The design and function of this place of worship, this “sacred tent down here on earth” is more than a description of a place, it’s a picture of us. God certainly had us pegged didn’t he? This earthly-body place of worship has those same two rooms; an outer one and an inner one.
That first system was comfortable, most of the time. The outer room, a Holy place, was maintained to make sure it was possible to get to that inner room with it’s limited access. The inner room was the place where “mistakes and sins” could be dealt with by the right person at the right time and “all alone.”
Faith compartmentalized like that is comfortable for us. We do have a place we can manage the maintenance of that Holy outer room. We call it church. We have someone we call pastor or priest we can depend on doing their best work to make us acceptable to God. But there’s still that curtained-off room where Holy is actually changed into Holiness.
“This has an important lesson for us today.” There is no more need for separate rooms to “tide us over.” No more mere maintenance waiting for the right time to come. No more limited access. No more “all alone.” “Christ came with God’s new and better way,” Open Concept Faith.