Tag Team

I used to love watching wrestling. I loved it even knowing it was scripted I just loved it. It was so much fun watching, Hulk Hogan, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, and Macho Man. Those were some of the greats, but there was a bunch of great tag teams too. The Bushwackers, The Steiners, The Nasty Boyz, Legion of Doom, The Heart Foundation, and so many more. Tag team matches were so much fun to watch because you had one guy going at it then he tags his partner and then they are both in there doing their job and it was flips, and drops. Oh it was great!

That is what I think about when I read some of the passages towards the end of John when Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit. You and the Holy Spirit are supposed to tag team life and even though He is the predominant member of the team you are still a part of the team. He won’t do it all but He will equip you to do your part. There is no part of life that He won’t help with either.

In John 15:26-27 Jesus talks about how the Holy Spirit will bear witness or testify of Jesus and how the disciples were supposed to testify as well. Now before you go and say Jesus was talking to the Disciples remember there are enough other verses to support the idea that all Christians are supposed to bear witness of Christ. The point is that both the Holy Spirit and you are supposed to testify of Christ. Now this can be done a lot of different ways but the important thing is that both of you do it. It’s crazy that a function of the Spirit is to help you do your job. As you go about letting your light shine before men or giving an account of what God has done in your life you are being helped by the Holy Spirit. When you’re nervous or scared because you don’t know what to say He gives words. When you feel like you are not getting anywhere with the person you are talking to He is actually doing His part and convicting them and showing them Christ. As a preacher there has been many times I gave a message and someone said how did you know about X, and I’m like I didn’t say anything about that. It was the Holy Spirit working on that person. It has happen to me as I hear others as well.

Like I said there are quite a few things that He does, but for now I also want to point out that the Holy Spirit helps you resist fulfilling the lust or desires of your flesh. Galatians 5:16 says “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” and the word for Spirit there is the same as in John. It is the word “pneuma” which also means breath. So the actual breath of God which is His Spirit is with and in you helping you overcome yourself. Not just overcome the things in life but overcome you. Maybe you don’t need to be overcome but I know I do. I am all too aware that I am my own worst enemy. As you walk in the Spirit you cannot at the same time give into your own desires. It would be like walking down Main Street and Broadway at the same time. You cannot do it because these are two different places.

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit. So thankful that He is always present to help me because man do I need the help. Knowing that He is in my corner and wants to be tagged in, knowing that He does not get tired or worn down, and that He can win every match I let Him fight in. That is a good feeling.

Just a thought,

Mike

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Give us Bread daily

When my daughter gets home from school she usually asks two questions: first can I have a snack and second what is for dinner. Both questions relate to food and while one is permission to eat something knowing dinner will come soon they both have the same understand namely that we have food and she can have it. She does not wonder if we have food, she does not worry about if we will have more tomorrow she knows we will feed her it is a given in her mind. These things are settled, they are not questions to her.

Likewise in Matthew chapter 6 Jesus talks to the people about making God’s will and desires a priority in their life and not to worry about what you will eat or drink or wear. He says your Father knows you need these things so don’t worry about it. We question whether or not God cares for our physical needs and He does. Jesus says in Luke 4:4 which is a quote of Deuteronomy 8:3.

But Jesus answered him saying “It is written man should not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

When we read this often times we emphasis the second part of this “but by every word of God” but there is a but there. If you have seen SchoolHouse rock then you remember the song about conjunctions and “but” is a conjunction. It serves the purpose to bring two clauses, phrases, or ideas together. In this case it connects the first idea that man needs bread to live and the idea that man needs the words of God to live. Both are required for a person to live a real life. Jesus is not proposing that we live off Unveriverse Juice like in Kung Fu Panda but that we need both our physical and spiritual needs met.

It should be a given in our mind that God cares for our physical needs, it should not be something we wonder about. Some who are either convinced miracles do not occur or are too scared to pray in faith for miracle make everything spiritual. Every reference to something physical becomes about a spiritual truth, and any attempt to seek something physical is met with charges of carnality. One of the many problems with this is that it leads to a belief that the physical world is inherently evil and there is nothing of value in it. This idea was popular during the Dark Ages and we see how well that worked out.

Some others who are so worldly minded have decided that everything is physical. It is not great faith that motivates them it is a love for the world and the things of the world. There are those who so love the world that they have named and claimed everything under the sun. I can admit I have been on both sides of this and fear that I will continue to battle this at times.

When we move to the point of settling the idea that God does care for our physical needs and physical well being we can move on to maturity and start to focus on His will, plans, and desires. We can pray for things like resources to accomplish plans, salvation for others, ways to reach the lost, ways to equip the saints, but it starts with an understanding that God cares about you physically and not just your eternal soul.

That is why Jesus tells us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask for this day’s bread. Don’t worry about what you’ll put in your belly tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough problems of its own sufficient are the issues of today. That does not mean you do not plan if you can but don’t worry about it. Be anxious for nothing but in all things with prayer and supplication let your request be known to God.

I would be remiss if I do not mention something very important. Jesus refers to Himself as the bread of life and this is part of the reason settling the question of physical provision from God in your life is important. When we first learn God provides for our physical we can then move on to understand that Jesus also provides for our spiritual provisions.  In John 6:27 & 35 Jesus says:

Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the father has set His seal on Him – 27

And Jesus said to them “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” – 35

We do need physical substance to survive but we need spiritual substance to really live. This is where wisdom in reading the Bible comes in. We need both but one is more important than the other, and the most important one is spiritual. Preference to your spiritual needs are always to be met first. If you can only choose between reading and pray or eating than reading and prayer are to be given priority. You are to feed your spirit before your body because that is the part that connects you to God and realistically skipping a meal is not going to kill you. It might make you grumpy but you probably won’t die (maybe if you are a diabetic but I don’t know anything about that). The point is again you need both and God cares for both but connecting with Him and spending time with Him is the most important thing you can do.

So how do we feed on the Bread of Life? We do it by praying, reading and studying the Bible, by worshiping, by serving, by making ourselves second, and I think most importantly by understanding our place. Our place is in Christ. Everything we are is tied with our resurrected Savior. Everything we need is found in Him, and there is nothing we need that is outside of Him because again all that we are is bound up in Him. I want to give you a few verses to chew on over the week.

Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3, Ephesians 2:5-6, Romans 6:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:15-21, and Philippians 3:20.

The point of the matter is this; God cares for you. He cares for your body and your soul. We should rest the issues of physical provision and seek the Bread of Life so that we can truly be filled.

Just a thought,

Mike

A more excellent ministry

Sometimes I read the Old Testament and think “wow look how cool it was” or “people were hearing from God left and right.” But that’s just not true and in fact hearing from God was not common like we think. What’s more is that for a period when they did hear from God it was about judgement (see the prophets). We just have this idea of that is what was happening because we read the Bible like it took place in a short time period when actually the story of Abraham to Jesus is thousands of years. Moreover we think of Abraham and God sitting down and chatting all the time but really it was only a handful of times that God spoke directly to Abraham. A lot of times when we read the Bible we read what we want it to say or what we would like it to say or even what we think it says but not always what it says.

The reason I bring that up is I am re-reading Hebrews after a pretty quick read through the OT and came across Hebrews ch 8 which is fantastic. Specifically verses  6 & 7 (the rest of the chapter is pretty much a quote from Jeremiah 31) and it talks about how much better we have it.

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

We know that we have forgiveness of sins through Christ but we also have other things that come in that covenant. We have direct access to the throne of grace (Heb 4:6) which we can go to whenever we want. We do not have to wait for a specific time or season but when you need help you can go there all on your own because you have the Mediator. But still there is more.

You now have gifts from God like wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, other languages (tongues), and interpretation. All these things are given to us by God and yes it says “to some” but I see that as meaning more to the point of not everyone has all. The point is God gave gifts. Ephesians 4:8 says Christ gave gifts to men. But there is more.

On of the best things we have under the new covenant is knowledge of God. Specifically laid out in the new covenant is that we will be taught by God. You become a Christian and you get indwelt with that Holy Spirit (that means He takes up residence in you) and in that you get one on one teaching about God by God. Now that is awesome! God says I want to teach you about me. That is like having Bill Gates says he wants to show you how MS Office works. You cannot get a better instructor than the one who made it all.

Now as a side note to that there are a few things to keep in mind. If you want the instruction you need to read the Bible. You cannot get directions and avoid the manual. You need to pray and listen. If you want to talk to God then you actually need to talk to Him, and if you want to hear from God you need to actually listen. I know it sounds redundant but I have spoken with people who want to talk to God and hear from Him but do not want to pray or listen. Another thing you need is to spend time with other Christians. I know I said God will teach you but you need to spend time with other believers to be encouraged, and to help equip you for the work of ministry. Christianity is not a sit down and do nothing religion. You become a Christian and you get a new job title. You are now ambassador to the King of Kings. And in that some people have the ability and gifting to help encourage and equip you to do that job.

So just remember you have the better covenant, and you are now in the good o’le days. You can sit down and chat with God anytime you want so maybe you should take Him up on that offer.

Just a thought,

Mike

Thought on Kempis thought.

Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul
Chapter 12: The Love of Solitude and Silence:

“Hence, for many it is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be tried lest they become too secure too filled with pride, or even to eager to fall back upon external comforts.” – Thomas Kempis

I both like and dislike silence and in our modern day it is easier to not have silence than to have it. I like the silence because it is in the quiet that I can hear the voice of God, but it is also in the silence that I hear the voice of temptation and accusation. Thomas Babington Macaulay said “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out” and I must admit that at times I am afraid of myself. I am not so much afraid of what I would do but what I am capable of doing and in the silence those fears can be seen. I am aware that it is also in that same silence God is pruning and bringing things to the surface so they can be dealt with but the pruning is painful while it happens so I wish to avoid the pain. But at the same time I desire the pruning because it will continue to remove those things I desire removed. It is a sad state to be sure; to desire the thing you do not want in order to be the one you wish to be. Maybe that is what is meant in Hebrews 12:2 where it saysFor the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Christ had to do nothing to be God but in order for us to be reconciled (which He desired) He had to endure the cross. So too must I take up my cross not to be reconciled but to continue to prune away those things which are not fitting for a child of the King.