Word of the Day

The Promise of the Spirit

Joel 2: 28 – 29

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

This is the leading Old Testament verse which told about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Here God promises to, not only send the Spirit, but to pour out the Spirit on all humanity, even those of no rank or position. Even the servants and those of the lowliest station are entitled to this special gift from God.

There is so much rich text and meaning in this verse that we could mine from it for a week. However, there is one word in it that I want to bring to your attention. It is the word “pour.” God has promised not a trickle, not a drip but rather a continuous pouring out of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is represented in Scripture as a river or flowing waters. John 7: 37 – 39 is a good example of this, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit.’” The flowing river of living water is the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is apropos that God should pour out this living water upon us.”

The anointing in the Holy Spirit is reflective of the Old Testament anointing which was accompanied by oil being poured over the anointed. Again, this spiritual gifting is represented by a pouring out.
The Old Testament saints did not know the Spirit as the poured out one as New Testament believers do. They knew him as a promise. In fact, few people knew anything about him other than him being a promise from God. Interestingly, of the 248 or so scriptures about the Holy Spirit, only about 44 are from the Old Testament. However, God was speaking to His prophets about this pouring out. It may interest you to discover that there are six more Old Testament scriptures which specifically address the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (See list below).

The significance of this pouring is distinguishable from a onetime gift or offering. God doesn’t just give us the Spirit one time. He continually pours out to those who continually seek Him. Don’t forget too, that we can seek more of the Spirit just as we seek the Father because they are both God.

Every person has a measure of the Spirit of God. When God breathed life into us, a piece of His Spirit was deposited within us. We are able to receive much more than that now, however. The Spirit is no longer a promise. He has been poured out. What the Old Testament prophets foretold, we now behold. The initial pouring out is described in Acts 2: 1 – 4, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” This is the fulfillment of that which was promised in Joel 2: 28 -29. Everyone who wishes can now be filled by the never ending pouring out. It can be compared to a water fall. The water continually pours over and onto anyone who chooses to stand in the flow. You can stay in that flow just as long as you wish. It is God’s delight to give you more and more. He is pouring. Are you receiving?

See Also: Isaiah 32: 15, Isaiah 44: 3, Ezekiel 36: 27, Ezekiel 39: 29, Proverb 1: 23, Zechariah 12: 10).

The Necessities

Nehemiah 9: 20

You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst.

Food, water and the Holy Spirit – these are the necessities of life and God has provided them all to us. There are many people on this earth that think the only true necessities are food and water, but they would be wrong. There is no life without the Spirit of God. We saw that yesterday. If the measure of the Spirit, which is given to every person, were withdrawn, we would die. We would have no breath. What good is food and water to carcasses?

Even now, we wander through our days yielding to our desire for food and quenching our want of water. These are the cares of the body, the things we need physically in order to sustain life. Meanwhile, our spirits die from lack of nutrition. We care for our physical bodies, as well we should, because we are aware and educated about the physical requirements of our bodies. We are physically aware. However, no one taught us that our spirits need constant nourishment. Most of us did not grow up with the understanding that the Spirit of God was a spiritual need just like food and water are to the body. We are not spiritually aware, but that can change, and I believe it is changing.

The Spirit is good, a gift from God and our instructor. That is a sentence we would do well to ponder, even memorize, as long as the memorization is more substantive than a rote memory exercise. Just knowing that he is good can change our lives significantly.

Jesus sent to us the Holy Spirit. He even said it was to our advantage that he go so that he could send the Spirit. Our beloved Jesus sent him to be a benefactor of each of our lives, to improve the quality of our lives. Our role is to actively and purposefully receive him and to get to know him.

I hope you will solemnly ponder this week’s verses and allow them to aid you in finding a richer relationship with the Holy Spirit of God.

Creative Breath

Psalm 104: 30

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.

Yesterday we began a glimpse into scriptures about the Holy Spirit. In my studies I have found 248 verses which speak about the Holy Spirit. They all give us insights into who he is and what his role is in the Kingdom of God. The first thing we need understand about the Spirit is that he is God. That is the great epiphany of the Trinity.

Today’s verse is particularly interesting in the study of the Holy Spirit. An alternate reading for the word “Spirit” in this verse is “breath.” Think about that for a moment. This construction yields, “You send forth your breath, they are created.” Doesn’t this sound like the Genesis account of the creation of human beings? “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2: 7). The Chumash reveals much about this passage. The breath of God created humanity. The Chumash tells us that this imparted a portion of God into the created being. People were made from matter from the earth and the breath of God, so we are part God because the breath inside us was given by the Holy Spirit. That impartation made us living souls or as the Chumash reveals, speaking spirits. In other words, God gave us his breath which is the Holy Spirit.

If you look up today’s verse you will be referred to two other verses relating the Holy Spirit as the breath of God, Job 33:4 and Ezekiel 37:9. Job reads, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Certainly, that makes clear the creative, life giving power the Holy Spirit wielded in creating humanity. Perhaps it raises some new interest as well. There is another pertinent passage from Job, chapter 32, verse 8, “But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Jesus called the Spirit our teacher. As we see from this passage in Job, it is from the Spirit that we gain understanding.

Consider also Job 27: 3 – 4, “For as long as life is in me, and the breath of God is in my nostrils, my lips certainly will not speak unjustly, nor will my tongue mutter deceit.” The footnote for the word “life” in the first phrase reveals the literal translation of this word is “breath.” The footnote for “breath” reveals the word to be “Spirit.” So, here is how it reads literally, “For as long as breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils . . ..”

Ezekiel 37: 9 is equally intriguing, “Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath,’ Thus says the Lord God, ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.’” The Old Testament folks realized two things that we may have lost. First, they recognized the Spirit as life giving. They also knew him as the breath of God. He is the creative force resident within us that gives us life.

I hope this has been eye opening and inspiring. I hope it permanently changes your perspective and enlightens your thinking about the Spirit of God. And, the next time I write, “God is as close as your next breath,” I hope it will mean something special to you.” Be blessed.

Creative Power

Genesis 1: 2

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Through this Word of the Day devotional and Ivey Ministries, you are continually encouraged to learn about the Holy Spirit and to develop a relationship with him. This week, I will endeavor to assist you in that pursuit by showing you some of the verses about the Spirit and by sharing some background information.

Today’s verse represents the first time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible. God didn’t wait long to introduce him. In fact, we hear about him before any mention of the Son. Verse one reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then God begins describing the creation of the earth and that formation starts with the Holy Spirit. We find out in the book of John that Jesus was in the beginning and that nothing that was made, was made apart from him, but we see that Holy Spirit is central to creation. Even now, he remains the creative power of God.

The Spirit hovered, many manuscripts say, over the surface of the waters. He was awaiting the Father’s vision and command. Then when God spoke, the Spirit created, or brought into being, that which the Father designed. This process of creation is how things work today also. Father began His book by demonstrating a key principle of life and of the workings of the Kingdom of God. Creation happens in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

I told you that Jesus was in the beginning (John 1: 1). His role is significant but not so obvious. The power of creation begins with an idea or a vision. In this case, God had a design in mind for the earth. We know from Matthew 6: 10 that God’s idea was to create earth in the image of heaven. So, He had a clear picture in mind. The next thing He did was to speak. What did He speak, one might ask. He spoke The Word. That is where Jesus made his entrance. The Word is Jesus and Jesus is the Word. As soon as the Father spoke the Word, the Holy Spirit took that Word and materialized God’s vision.

We can do the same thing. We have an idea in mind, employ the Word of God by speaking it and then the Holy Spirit springs into action. He has hosts of angels and spirit beings who hearken to his command. This is how things get done in the earth. That is why it is so important for us to develop a relationship with the Spirit; to get to know him. Through our partnership with him, all things truly are possible. Jesus said he could do nothing of himself (John 5: 19). It was only through his collaboration with the Spirit that he could do anything. We know how successful Jesus was so there should be great motivation to learn to work with the Spirit as he did.

Today is a step towards knowing him better. We learned that he is the creative power of the Trinity. Knowing that might well change our perceptions of creating what we need in our lives as it probably affects our prayer life as well.

The Gentiles and the Spirit

Acts 10: 44 – 45

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Peter, once brash and impetuous, matured into a grand spiritual leader. In this passage we see the perfect model of a New Testament preacher. The best message one can deliver is the one which invites and gives space to the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us the Spirit would teach us, guide us and be our constant helper. Jesus’ departure ushered in the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is on the scene, miracles happen, people are healed and the blessings of the Lord touch the hearts of believers. The presence of the Spirit of God is what is needful because he is the power of God.

How do we know, however, when the Spirit is present? In today’s passage the circumcised believers (Messianic Jews) were amazed because they witnessed the pouring out of the Spirit upon the Gentiles. How did they know God poured out the Spirit on these Gentiles? Verse 46 reads, “For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.” The manifestation of speaking with tongues comes with the Holy Spirit. These people began speaking with tongues and exalting God and the Jewish believers recognized the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon them. Apparently, as they listened to Peter’s message about Jesus, the Spirit fell upon all who listened and the Spirit’s presence was obvious to those who accompanied Peter.

It must have been quite an occasion for celebration in Cornelius’ home that day. His family was saved, adopted into the family of God and they received the out pouring of the Holy Spirit. I would say Peter did his job.

It is not important that we say lofty, eloquent prayers or deliver sophisticated sermons. Jesus said only one thing was needful. That needful thing is the Divine Trinity. Where they are allowed freedom and communion, they charge the atmosphere with power and the glory of God. We just need God in all three persons. In this generation, we have given ourselves to the lordship of Christ. Through him we have met the Father face to face. Now we need to actively pursue the same sort of relationship with God’s Spirit. That relationship takes the same thoughtful and purposeful seeking which we each employed in coming to know the Father and the Son. If we do not pursue Him, then we will never know him or the power of his might. We will not have all Jesus died to give us. We can spend our entire lives never knowing him. Our Christianity will likely remain intact but will we be two-thirds Christian? How can we be fully united with God if we do not know one-third of the Triune Divinity?

I think these are troubling questions, theologically. The fix, however, is perfectly simple. It is our responsibility to seek the Spirit and come to know him as we do the Father and the Son. Second, as we wander through this world, engaging with others, our relationship with the Spirit brings him into association with those we encounter. We are the vessels which carry the Holy Spirit into all the world. It sounds trite but it is, none the less, God’s plan. Let us devote ourselves, therefore, to knowing the Spirit or, indeed, coming to know him better. Let us pursue him relentlessly. He is the teacher Jesus spoke of so importune him to teach you about himself and about all the things of God.

Holy Heathen

Acts 10: 4

Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”

This is from the story of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. It is a story of faith and devotion. Cornelius garnered God’s attention, which is remarkable in that he was a Gentile. This soldier, though, is responsible for a major change in the church.

The Messiah was the promise of the Jews. There was a great debate in the first century church about Gentiles becoming members of the fold. It was a radical idea, to say the least. For all time, there was great separation between the Jews and everyone else. The Jews were set apart as God’s chosen. Most of the Old Testament is the chronicle of God’s people opposing and be opposed by the Gentile nations. God led the Israelites out of Egypt to the land of promise clearing out the nations before them. At times, He even gave Israel explicit instructions to slay every person, even women and children. He not only condoned, but in specific situations, ordered genocide. You will understand, then, how opposed the Jews were to share the Messiah and salvation through him with Gentiles.

As if that is not enough incentive for the Jews to exclude Gentiles, consider also that the Romans were an occupying army. They were rulers over Israel, military oppressors. The Jews were under Roman rule as defeated foes and Rome exerted great control over the Jewish nation. In most meaningful ways, Israel was again captive to a foreign power. Imagine, then, when some of these Gentiles began clamoring to join the church of Jesus. Cornelius was worse than the garden variety Gentile. He was an officer of the oppressor army. He was part of the power structure which allowed the Jews Messiah to die a horrible death on a cross. Could anyone be more vile to a Jew?

None the less, God heard this Gentile officer. Cornelius’ gifts of money and his devotion to prayer ascended to the throne room of God. Cornelius moved God through his faith and devotion. God was so moved that He summoned the Apostle Peter and sent him to Cornelius.

Peter was one of those who argued for the sanctity of the Jewish elect. In this bold move, though, God gave Peter a vision that forever changed the complexion of the Christian church. Upon his arrival at the home of Cornelius, Peter broached this very subject saying, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him,” (Acts 10: 28). None the less, there he was, standing in this heathen’s home. Why? It could not have been easy for him to depart from cultural norms and laws.

Gentiles are now welcomed members of God’s holy family but it began with one man’s devotion to prayer and the giving of alms. His prayers and his giving caught the attention of heaven. God sent an angel to him and a vision to Peter. God roused the leader of the church and sent him to the home of a Gentile so that salvation could come upon Cornelius’ household.

What will God do for those who are already of the household of faith when we emulate Cornelius by dedicating ourselves to prayers and to giving alms? How would you like the report about your prayer life and gifts to God ascending to the throne room? We need to understand that from our position here on earth, we can cause a stir in heaven. Perhaps God will send an angel to you or stir a prophet to visit you. Cornelius was as unlikely a candidate for divine intervention as one could imagine and yet because he was faithful, God literally moved heaven and earth for him. What a splendid testimony!

This is a call for us all to dedicate ourselves to greater devotion. It is early in the year; still a good time to make a New Year’s resolution. What would life look like, what would the church look like if we all resolve to be known, by heaven, as people of prayer? What if we each set a personal goal to distinguish ourselves through our giving?

Post your thoughts below in the comment section or visit our site at www.iveyministries.org. What does this story tell us and how might it impact our lives as well as the church?

Rest and Comfort

Proverb 3: 32

For the crooked man is an abomination to the Lord; but He is intimate with the upright.

I cannot think of anything more wonderful nor anything more satisfying than an intimate relationship with God the Father, His son and His Spirit. No matter what else goes right or wrong in life, a close, personal relationship with them, where you know them and have time with them, really anchors all of life. Your brokenness, or other people’s, is no longer the master of your life when you have your Dad to turn to and to talk to. Just being in His presence is joy itself, and life abundant. It is better than the best day at Disney World or even raising the championship trophy over your head. And when you are broken and defeated, He will breathe air into your lungs. He is everything and knowing Him as your friend and as your Father is all things. So many things become easy when He is your constant companion. I am not saying that there are not still challenges in the world. As long as there is a devil he is going to try to find some way to upset you but when you have God as a Father and Jesus as a big brother, believe me, they can do some real damage to your enemies. Just keep your eyes and attention on them and allow the Holy Spirit to completely fill you up. You will find the rest and comfort you need.

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