No Power to All Power

Matthew 28: 18          NMB

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, all power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

So, if, as Jesus said, all power was given to him, then why could he do nothing in and of himself? Is this a perplexing problem or a simple question? Remember from yesterday’s Word of the Day that John 5: 19 records Jesus as saying that he could do nothing of himself. So how was he able to perform so many miracles? The answer is, he was given all power when he was given the Holy Spirit. Recall that the Spirit of God came and rested upon him at his baptism. From then on, he walked in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than in his power.

I hope that brief recitation paints a picture in your mind. It can be very perplexing to think of walking as Jesus did, living as he did and carrying on his ministry, which is what we are all called to do. We try, in vain sometimes, to imagine what walking in and with the Spirit looks like. The good news is that we can look at Jesus. He has already modeled it for us. He was just a man, and by his own admission a powerless man. He couldn’t do miracles in himself. He was so aware of human shortcomings that he said that in and of himself he could do nothing. I can relate to that, can you? Doesn’t it seem sometimes that even the simplest things take more power and energy than we can produce?

The brilliance is in understanding we were never meant to stand on our own. It turns out, even to my chagrin, that individualism is a farce. We are not individuals. We are constituent parts of a whole and meant to be woven into the very fabric of our father. Actually, you know that we are called the body of Christ, each of us an important part of the whole. We are also the house of God; “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 2: 5). Jesus is the high priest who will offer spiritual sacrifices to God in the temple. It turns out that we are that temple.

My point is this. You were never designed to function on your own. That’s like a one person basketball team. You were created to function as a team; with all the rest of us but more importantly, in harness with the Holy Spirit of God. If we, as the body of Christ, as his spiritual house can grasp this, we can, and I mean this literally, change the world overnight. When we lay hold of this concept our lives will change dramatically as well as the lives of every person around us. You will not be able to contain yourself or that power resident within you. You become a world changer like Jesus. Everywhere you go, he will exude from you. I want so much for us to be that functioning body that Jesus is looking for. It isn’t only up to me. More importantly, it is up to “we.” The world changing phenomenon is in us, and we are learning to walk in the Spirit and emulate Jesus. If we are to ever be true disciples, that is what is called for.

Of yourself, you can’t do much, but then, Jesus said the same of himself. He was given a gift, though, a gift which not only changed him but changed the world. That was the gift of the Holy Spirit. If there is any one message of this age it is that we need to embrace the Spirit of God and walk with him daily. We need to meet this third part of the Trinity and know him as we know and love Jesus. Though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things with him. That includes caring for your family and being successful in what God has called you to do.

Make this your Spirit day. If you don’t feel you have a relationship with him, make this your day. If you know him, decide to go deeper with the Holy Spirit today. Determine to walk every step with him and purpose in your heart that he will be in your every breath.

Fill ‘er Up!

Ephesians 5: 18

Be filled with the Spirit.

If you thought yesterday’s scriptures and the miraculous acts of ordinary people was something, just wait until the New Testament revelation of the Holy Spirit unfolds for you. We saw from the Old Testament scriptures how the Spirit would settle “upon” individuals. When the Spirit came upon people, they were emboldened and empowered. People who were moments before afraid became great leaders, prophets and miracle workers under the power that came upon them with the Holy Spirit.

The story of the New Testament is quite different though. In the New Testament, a different word appears in the context of the Holy Spirit working with and through people. Whereas the Old Testament regales us with stories of the Holy Spirit being “on” people, the New Testament transitions us to the Holy Spirit “infilling” us. He is now in us rather than upon us. There are only three Old Testament scriptures about someone being filled with the Spirit while there are twelve New Testament scriptures about being filled. Likewise, there are very few New Testament scriptures about the Spirit being upon a person. One notable exception is Jesus.

In Matthew 3: 16 is the account of Jesus’ baptism. When he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended and alit upon him. Shortly thereafter, Jesus was led, by the Spirit, into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan. Luke’s description of this event says Jesus was “filled” with the Spirit (Luke 4: 1). So, which is it? Did the Spirit alight upon him, as in the Old Testament or did he fill Jesus? I believe the answer is that Jesus, again, is the exception to the rule. Jesus was an Old Testament Jew, but he ushered in the New Testament. In this sense, he was the bridge between how the Holy Spirit interacted with people in the Old Testament and how we are supposed to interact with him now.

At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him. That language is clear and consistent. A short time later Jesus is described as being filled with the Spirit. In the intervening time Jesus bridged the gap between the Old and the New. He was the conduit through which the Old and New Testaments were reconciled. In him, the Father found the unity of paradigms which orchestrated the fulfillment of His promise to Israel, namely, the pouring out of the Spirit.

We have the greatest of all situations in Christ. He told his disciples that it was to their advantage that he depart because in his leaving he would send us another helper who would be with us and in us forever, the Holy Spirit (John 16: 7, John 14: 16). In this new dispensation the Spirit does not rest upon us for a time and then leave. He is with us and in us all of the time. He is as close as your next breath. In fact, you and he can be so intertwined that he is part of your DNA and that is where we want to go.

The Holy Spirit is who made Jesus the miracle worker he was. It was the Holy Spirit which made Jesus so attractive that he could simply say, “Follow me” and people would leave their occupations and follow him. The Holy Spirit was the power of articulation that gave Jesus perfect teachings and wisdom in his speech. How do I know? “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner (John 5: 19). Now, the one who empowered Jesus to do all that he did, is available to us. We can be as intimately intertwined with the Holy Spirit as Jesus was which means that we can be led as Jesus was led and we can do everything he did (John 14: 12).

(See Also: Exodus 31: 3, Exodus 35: 31, Micah 4: 8, Matthew 4: 1, Luke 1: 15, Luke 1: 41, Acts 2: 4, Acts 4: 8, Acts 4: 31, Acts 6: 3, Acts 6: 5, Acts 7: 55, Acts 11: 24)

The Brass Ring

Isaiah 42: 1

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

I am sometimes asked which book is my favorite of the Old Testament. That’s easy! I love the book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah undoubtedly was in the flow of the Holy Spirit. He saw into Jesus’ life and ministry as no one else did. Because of Isaiah’s own intertwining with the Spirit, one can see the person of Jesus all through this book.

Obviously, in this verse, Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah. He also was shown the partnership that would exist between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Before the Chosen One would bring forth justice to the nations, he would experience his own union with the Spirit.

It is through this partnership with the Holy Spirit that Jesus was empowered to do any of the things he did. Without the power of the Spirit, Jesus could do nothing (John 5: 19). This is one of the most profound realities of Christian life. Isaiah’s fullness of understanding of Jesus’ anointing is seen in the sixty-first chapter. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me,” (Isaiah 61: 1). These are the very words which Jesus read in the temple that launched his earthly ministry (Luke 4: 18). This prophesy shows two examples of partnership with the Spirit. First, it shows that Isaiah spoke by the power, leading and unction of the Holy Spirit. Second, it reveals Jesus’ collaborative relationship with the Spirit. This is Jesus’ commission. I have only given a small part of it but you will appreciate reading the entire chapter.

Nowhere is this cooperative relationship defined more precisely than in Zechariah 4: 6, “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord . . . saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is critical language but an idea that we, perhaps, are yet to fully realize. While simple in theory, it is a bit more challenging in application, especially in that most of this applied theory is new in many parts of the body of Christ. We are only just now learning how to work in the flow with the Holy Spirit as Jesus did. However, he is giving us this revelation at this time in Church history so that we may go forward as a dynamic body of believers. As we increase our walk in and with the Spirit, we bring his power and wisdom to our own lives. That must be our first step. Only when we, through the Spirit, have met the pressing needs of our own lives can we set our eyes upon the horizon. However, having learned how to cooperate with the Spirit of the Lord for our own needs, we then take his power to the world. Our perspective changes along with our vision. We can then begin to cooperate with the Father on His goals and His vision instead of constantly being bogged down by earthly issues.

This intertwining with the Spirit is the key element necessary for us to arise as the mighty church of God, The Eternal. If there is any singular expression of needed deep revelation for believers it is the knowledge of how to walk with the Spirit such that every one of us is in continual communion with him, following him step by step. God spoke through Zechariah to reveal to us that everything we need to do, everything we are called to do is to be accomplished in the strength and power of the Spirit. What does this mean? This is the critical question. When we can answer this question definitively, we will have laid hold of the Kingdom of God. This is the brass ring!

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.

Incapable

John 5: 19

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself.”

Is there any better news in the whole of the New Testament. Jesus, by his own admission, could do nothing of himself. Consider all the miracles of Jesus while on the earth. There were some pretty big ones chronicled in those pages. Yet, Jesus tells us he was incapable of any of it in himself. Isn’t that great?

You see, when Jesus came to earth, he emptied himself of his deity and became human. He was born a little baby just like you. He needed nursing and caring for like all children. I don’t imagine people receiving their healing just because they held the infant. Nope, there is something much bigger to Jesus, his miracles and his victory. He had a father. If you read the rest of this verse you will find that Jesus credits his power and success to attending to his Father’s example, “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Whatever Jesus saw God do, he emulated and Eureka (!) he had great success when he did as the father.

Jesus was born under the Old Covenant. He lived and learned as an Old Testament Jew. He read the books and listened to the Rabbi’s. He saw his Father’s ways in those old books and Rabbinical teachings. Then when he was baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit of God came and rested upon him. Then he had the witness of the scriptures and the leading of the Spirit. Those two blessings led him in the way he was to go. He walked by the leading of the Spirit daily and the power of the Holy Spirit healed and delivered whosoever would believe.

That is why I consider this verse such good news. If Jesus could do nothing apart from his Father, then there is hope for you and me. Jesus had to rely on the same gifts which we must depend upon. We have been given the Holy Spirit without measure. We have all that he is within and with us at all times. Everything Jesus had, we have. The power that operated in his life such that miracles were common, rests upon us; lives within us. The obvious conclusion, then, is that everything Jesus did, we can do too. Jesus said it himself, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14: 12).

Jesus did not create miraculous results of himself. He understood how to follow the Father’s example and the Spirit’s leading. The Spirit is the power but Jesus learned to cooperate with the Spirit so that the Father’s will would be made manifest in the earth. Jesus was a human who learned how to partner with divinity for the benefit of humanity. There is nothing he did which you cannot do. I find that tremendous good news. I only have to be me. You only have to be you. You don’t have to be Jesus. Isn’t that a relief? We have to same capacity to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and allow him to manifest himself to the world. He can heal our families and save the damned. He is the light in a dark and decaying place. We are vessels of his greatest. Surely we can manage to be jars, jugs, bottles or bowls. We do not have to perform the miracles ourselves, just partner with the miracle maker. Maybe we can do that and if we can, then we can change the world.

Where you lead . . .

Exodus 40: 34 – 38

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.

There is so much which could be said about this passage but my favorite part is that the Israelites did nothing unless the Lord went before them. This reminds me of Jesus in John 5: 19 where he was quoted as saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Do you see the correlation between today’s verse and Jesus’ admission in John? No one is moving until God moves, then they follow His lead. One would speculate that this is the model our lives are to follow.

Another thing which screams out from this passage is that God rested on the tabernacle day and night. Wow! To get the revelation of that you have to acknowledge what the New Testament tabernacle is. In case you don’t know, it is you! There is nothing, other than your belief, which is preventing you from the glory of God resting on you day and night. Honestly, this is what the new dispensation is about. The glory of the Lord has come and it makes its abode with you.

This passage’s meaning, or inspiration, is pretty simple; follow God, let Him lead you, wait for Him to move before you pack up your tent. If you will make it a point to watch and wait for His spirit to lead you, you will abide in the glory of the Lord. How great is that?

Walking

John 5: 30

I can do nothing of my own initiative.

If Jesus could do nothing of his own initiative, what makes me think I can do anything of my own initiative. I am trying to get a big revelation of this verse and what Jesus was conveying to us. In verse 19 of this same chapter Jesus said that he could do nothing of Himself, only what he saw the Father doing. As I pondered these couple of verses the story of Jesus walking on the water came to mind. I am trying to understand what happened as Jesus approached the water.

Jesus earlier sent his disciples on ahead of him in the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus prepared to follow them I presume he walked down to the water’s edge. Did he look for a boat for hire or one to borrow and there were none available? What happened next? If Jesus only did the things he saw his father do then he must have had some sort of revelation from God; a vision, a memory, about walking as a viable means of transport across bodies of water. Did He see in his spirit God walking before him on the water and so just launched out following the father? Did God show Jesus an image in his mind’s eye of Jesus walking on the water with God the Father?

I just don’t know but we know that Jesus did nothing of his own initiative. Therefore, God initiated Jesus’ stroll on the sea of Galilea. We also know that Jesus could do only those things which he saw His father do so God had to have, in some way, demonstrated walking on water. I am guessing that God didn’t sit down on the edge of the lake with Jesus and explain the physics of water molecule cohesion to him. He didn’t give him a course on water walking, I don’t believe. No, it seems to me that perhaps Jesus had to receive the concept by faith. 

Jesus didn’t explain the physics to Peter either. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and emulated him. Paul told his disciples, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11: 1).  That is our essential model. Jesus is only doing what he witnesses his Father doing so we are to imitate Jesus as he imitates the Father.

Stop striving, stop trying, stop planning all your moves. Put your eyes on Jesus and just walk.