Angst

Psalm 77: 3 – 9           NIV

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Asaph penned this psalm several thousand years ago, yet he captures the torment of our souls today. This is what I might call an “everyperson” passage, meaning most of us, throughout history, have felt this same anguish. Why is God not listening to me? Why are my prayers unanswered? Where is the fulfillment of God’s promise? Is God angry with me and in His anger has He turned His face from me? Where is God’s unfailing love?

When Asaph’s mind turned to thoughts of God, his spirit seized within his breast. His meditations on God made his spirit faint within him. How can this be? He was so troubled, so worried that sleep evaded him. This version says he was so distressed that he couldn’t even speak. The Passion Translation breaks it down a bit further. So heavy was the suffering that he couldn’t even pray.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been so stressed, so exhausted and worried that words eluded you? Was there not enough breath in your lungs to utter even a simple prayer? It’s actually true that when people are stressed, they tend to breath shallowly and actually deprive their bodies of necessary oxygen making it tedious even to speak.

Today’s passage read from the Passion Translation is very insightful too, “My mind wandered, thinking of days gone by – the years long since passed. Then I remembered the worship songs I used to sing in the night seasons, and my heart began to fill again with thoughts of you. So my spirit went out once more in search of you. Would you really walk off and leave me forever, my Lord God? Won’t you show me your kind favor, delighting in me again? Has your well of sweet mercy dried up? Will your promises never come true? Have you somehow forgotten to show me love? Are you so angry that you’ve closed your heart of compassion toward me?” How does that translation make your heart feel? It is interesting to note that this passage ends with “Selah” which means to pause in the Lord’s presence and consider what has just been sung. Stop and think on this for a moment. The message is not only in the words but in the meditation the words foster. The real message is delivered, not to your ears, but to your heart.

Tomorrow we will see what answers Asaph found for himself. Stay tuned! (Or read ahead).

Spirit of Promise

Luke 24: 49

And behold, I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

Jesus made this statement during the forty-day period between his resurrection and ascension. He was preparing his disciples for the ministry ahead of them. Shortly they would form the new church and would have to carry out all the administration and teaching of a brand new religion. He had to minister to them to get them from their deep sorrow to the dynamic profession of the faith. For all they knew, the whole mission died with Jesus. They were expecting a very different kind of victory out of Jesus and they were expecting him to establish the new kingdom. That did not happen though. And even though they were taught the scriptures, they just could not reason out this apparent defeat.

So Jesus visited them during this period. He lifted their spirits and he instructed them. The disciples saw, with their own eyes, the living Jesus. They heard his voice and dined with him. They went from defeated people who were probably wondering what to do, to world changing believers. They were then able to go out and proclaim the victory of Jesus with strong conviction.

But before Jesus released them on the world, he told them to await the promise of the Father. He told them that the reception of the promise would cloth them with power. They might have thought themselves ready to go proclaim the gospel of Jesus’ when they saw him. Certainly, their sorrow turned to joy and they must have wanted to run out to the streets and spread the good news. But Jesus told them to wait so that they could receive what the Father had promised. This was part of the preparation for the gospel.

Vow of Love

Psalm 61: 7 – 8

I will live enthroned with you forever! Guard me, God, with your unending, unfailing love. let me live my days walking in grace and truth before you. And my praises will fill the heavens forever, fulfilling my vow to make every day a love gift to you!

Wow, what a vow! I never thought of that one, did you? Make every day a love offering to the Lord. No wonder David had the relationship with the Father that he did. No wonder he could hear the voice of God. He prayed earnestly, expecting God to take care of his every need but he gave back to God as well.

Psalm 103: 1 reads, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Have you ever wondered how to do that, how to bless the Lord? I have. I mean, He has everything. He can make anything He wants, except for the one thing He wants most of all. He longs for the love of His children. He just wants us to love Him. The things we can give Him are the things of the heart. You can spend time with Him. He values that highly. You can sing to Him, extol upon His goodness, even praise Him. When you pour out your heart to Him or just desire to spend time in His presence, it blesses Him.

I think we should all take a vow to love the Lord, our God, with every fiber of our being and to express that love as fully as possible. In today’s fast paced lifestyle, we don’t always stop and consider what would bless the Father. Well, it turns out that you are the love gift He most desires. Give Him you. Vow to make every day a love offering to the Lord.

Promises, Promises

1 Chronicles 1: 9

Now, O Lord God, Thy promise to my father David is fulfilled; for Thou has made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.

When God made that promise to David it probably seemed as impossible as any of the promises you have read in the Bible. Yet God was able to fulfill all He promised to David. David’s son Solomon bears witness to us that all has been fulfilled in his sight. In other words, we have an eye witness account that God did exactly what He said He would do.

The word “promise” in the above passage is even more accurately translated as “word.” That would make the sentence read, “Thy word to my father David is fulfilled.” I do not find it any coincidence that we call the Bible God’s “word.” To bring this verse forward to each of us, that would mean that God fulfills his word to you. That would include everything that He has said to you in His Word, the Bible. This is a very significant revelation. Just as God fulfilled His word to David, He is obligated to fulfill His word to you. You have an entire book of transcriptions of what God has said to you. Every word in God’s word is His obligation to you.

You should be encouraged, therefore. If God fulfilled His word to David, then He will fulfill His word to you because the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34). In other words, He does not favor one child over another. As a matter of fact, the NIV version of Acts 10: 34 says that “God does not show favoritism.” What He was willing to do for one, He is willing to do for all.

Now you put a demand on the promise given you. That is what faith does. Expect God to be good to his word. Expect Him to meet your every need; emotional, physical, financial and spiritual. After all, He is the one that promised. We are just holding Him to His “word.”

My Buddy

John 14: 16 – 17

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I started to send you scriptures today which show the Holy Spirit as the promise of God, there are quite a few, but perhaps you have already come to that conclusion. This scripture from Haggai spells it out simply enough, “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!” (Haggai 2: 5). This scripture is great assurance that God fulfilled the promise He made. The bigger question, therefore, may be, why is this so important? What does the fulfillment of this promise mean to me? That is the question I would like to attempt to answer today.

Jesus was the first to teach about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was referred to by many prophets and writers, but Jesus told us about the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. We find key language in today’s verse. Jesus called the Holy Spirit our “Helper.” If you check this word in your Strong’s Concordance or even in the footnotes, you find the word here which is translated into English as helper also means comforter, intercessor and most interesting of all, one who is called to go alongside. This is the idea I would like you take away from today’s Word of the Day. The Holy Spirit was sent to us by God as a fulfillment of His promise so that we would have a constant companion, someone who will go along beside us regardless of the circumstance.

It is remarkable that God, at the request of Jesus, would send His Own Spirit to be our companion. Even more remarkable, though, is that this cohort, this third person of the Trinity, is called to walk along beside us. This should give even greater insight to the idea of partnership with the Holy Spirit. God didn’t send us a boss. There is absolutely nothing tyrannical in our relationship with the Spirit. At the deepest level of truth, Father God sent us a friend, a buddy. That is the key revelation of the Holy Spirit. That is the revelation that could, and dare I say, should, change your life forever.

There is so much more that he does for us but it all flows from this relationship, or friendship. He is our teacher, an intercessor, he assists us in prayer. He is the Spirit of Truth and leads us in all truth. He is our guide and our confidante. The big revelation, though, is that he is your friend. He is with you every moment of your life. He is the breath in your lungs. There is a scripture which says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverb 18: 24). This is the Spirit, the living water which quenches our thirst. This is our friend.

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).

Inheritance

Ephesians 3: 14

Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

This is the follow up verse to yesterday’s Word of the Day. There was so much contained in the two verses that I had to split them apart. Yesterday we discovered that we are sealed in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Today we find that this Spirit was given to us as a pledge. When you look up the word “pledge” you find that it means “a solemn promise.” We learned yesterday that the Holy Spirit himself is a promise. Now we discover that he is also the pledge, the symbol of another promise. God has given us a pledge that we are His heirs, that we have an inheritance in Him.

Normally I think of an inheritance only being effective when someone dies. In this case, the Father cannot die but He gave everything to Jesus then we became Jesus’ heirs at the cross. We are heirs to everything God has and the Holy Spirit was given as the solemn promise that we have an inheritance in Christ.

Paul also points to redemption. His writing tells us that we are the heirs of God in Christ Jesus but upon the view from our window also looks out upon redemption as God’s own possession, as His beloved. In this understanding of who we are in Christ, heirs of his bounty and the redeemed that we offer praise to the Father for the Glory He has shown us and for the radiance of His son shining upon us bathing us in the Father’s glory eternally. Did you notice, though, that redemption is not our inheritance? Paul in writing about a pledge given in evidence of our inheritance says, “with a view to the redemption.”

In the limited scope of our thinking redemption is enough. However, to God it is only the means to the other and greater things He has for us. It is a means by which we can enjoy the inheritance He has set aside for us. That is pretty big. Apparently, we are not beggars sitting at the castle gates waiting for crumbs to be cast in our direction. We are, in fact, God’s inheritance. We are what he gained through Jesus’ sacrifice. The trade has been made on our behalf and on God’s. Jesus traded everything God had for everything we are. Not much of a deal, I grant you but there you go. Parents are just that way. They will give you everything even though most of the time we are not worth it.

The inheritance is yours now. You can begin enjoying it today or tomorrow or next year. You can wait until you get to heaven to start enjoying it if you like, but why would you? You have been given a promise. Cash it in!