Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Galatians 4:1-7 – Children and Heirs.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 NRSV)

In Paul’s letter to the Galatian church he is dealing with Judaizers who were saying to the Gentile Christians that faith in Jesus alone was not enough, but that they also needed to become Jews and live under the law of Moses.

The whole letter is a treatise from Paul calling Jew and Gentile alike back to living by faith, not by works. This is central to the gospel, and the crux is Jesus’ death on the cross. It is not the whole counsel of God on faith, works and their relationship to the rest of the gospel. We need to see things in context, only then will we be good workmen and women when it comes to our handling of the Word of God.

The law of Moses was given to the Jews, yet all it did was reveal the sinfulness of all people. Even throughout the OT time we see that people lived by faith just as Abraham had done. But the law was necessary, at least for a time.

Jesus was born a Jew, ‘of a woman’ as Jewish lineage even today is through the female side of the family. If your mother is a Jew, then you are a Jew. He redeemed everyone under the law (the Jews) first, and then everyone else (the Gentiles) through the blessing of Abraham. We are now all equal children of God!

We are now children of God and this means something, this is one thing that makes being a Christian unique that, ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts’. We are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and what the Holy Spirit says in our hearts to God is ‘Abba, Father!’ We never need to doubt our relationship with Father God because the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, living inside us confirming that relationship both to us and to Father God.

We are now heirs who are old enough to receive our inheritance through what God has done for us.

Father God, help us to grasp what it means to call you Father and to live as children and heirs in the freedom you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galatians 3:10-14 – Jesus Lived By Faith… So Can We.

Jesus is unique. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law completely. But did Jesus live by works or by faith. Jesus was fully God, but he laid aside all the rights and privileges that were included in that when he became a man. All he did when he was on earth was because he was a man who was untainted by sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit and in conversation with the Father.

As Jesus fulfilled the Law he would not be under the curse for not fulfilling it. Jesus was righteous and Paul quotes, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith’ (Galatians 3:11 NRSV), so Jesus must have lived by faith. What hope does this have for us?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14 NRSV)

This also means  as Jesus lived his life by faith and empowered with the Holy Spirit so can we.

Heavenly Father, help me realise that Jesus lived a life of faith as a man empowered by the Spirit, so I can live a life just like him. Help me to live such a life touching others, doing miracles and revealing you glory. In his name, Amen.

Galatians 3:3-4 – Keep Living in the Spirit…

Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing? – if it really was for nothing. (Galatians 3:3-4 NRSV)

Paul still sounds exasperated with the Galatian Christians, and is still trying to get them to get their focus back where it should be – on living by faith and not by works.

This is such a challenge! Am I foolish like the Galatians? Are we? I would say that if you cannot hear the challenge of the first five verses of chapter 3 of Galatians then you are in a bad way! It is a damning indictment on any Christian or church if they can no longer even hear when God challenges them!

The Christian religion is a living and experiential faith – or at least it should be. True knowledge of God is not primarily theological (although theology is important). True knowledge of God is experiential and it is not to be a one off experience but a continuing experience of God’s mercy and grace.

Paul wants the Galatians to come back to where they once were. Back to living in the Spirit, back to living by faith, back to experiencing God afresh.

He also wants them away from where they are now. He wants them to move away from living in the flesh, and away from a life living only on past experiences.

Heavenly Father, help me to keep living in the Spirit and to always be open to be challenged by you to keep going and keep growing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galatians 3:2 – Receiving the Spirit.

The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2 NRSV)
 

Asking questions is powerful! Here Paul challenges the Galatians on a central point of their faith. He wants to know how they received the Holy Spirit – was it by works or by faith.

This is such a pivotal question, and it is also a rhetorical question, Paul knows that the Galatians really know the answer already, they have just forgotten it!

If we received the Holy Spirit by our own works in fulfilling the law, then Jesus’ death is worth nothing. The Holy Spirit could not indwell us as we could not be filled with him if we still had unclean hearts, and we would not live in the power of the Spirit as all works would continue to be done in our own strength alone.

If we received the Holy Spirit by faith, then Jesus’ death on the cross was effective at cancelling sin. He was also physically resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven from where he sent the Holy Spirit who played a vital part in our accepting Jesus as Saviour. When we were baptized in the Holy Spirit we were empowered to live for God and serve him, and to perform the good works that he had prepared in advance for us to do.

It is not by doing good works that we receive the Holy Spirit, but by receiving the Holy Spirit that we are able to do good works!

Lord Jesus, thank you that baptize us in the Holy Spirit whom we can only receive through faith and believing in your promises. Amen.

The 7 Ps of Revival.

Coal Fire

The seven Ps of revival:

PROMISE – God gives general promises from Scripture and specific promises from prophetic words.

PRAYER – This is not nice tidy prayer, but costly prayer as we humble ourselves before God and seek him and his face and hand before everything else. Continuing prayer movements is also a mark of revivals

PROCLAMATION (1) – This is both bold proclamation of the Gospel and of what God is already doing elsewhere.

PRESENCE – One hallmark of a true revival is the presence of God, both in a building and beyond it and associated with people wherever they are.

PURITY – One response to God’s presence is confession of sin and sin being dealt with radically, compromise is no longer an option.

PRAISE – Whenever God moves in revival power a new sound of praise and worship comes out of it as people sing a new song to the Lord.

POWER – Revival is a power encounter with God, God moves in healing, deliverance and miracles in an extraordinary way.

PROCLAMATION (2) – Continued boldness proclaiming the Gospel and new missionary movements are born out of revival.

I’ll look at each of these in turn in blog posts and link them to this post as I do them.

1 Kings 18:41-46 – A Cloud The Size Of A Man’s Hand

I originally blogged about ‘A Cloud The Size Of A Man’s Hand’ in October 2011 when my blog was elsewhere, and had shared about it in the church I was in about a year before that.  I was just thinking of reposting that blog post after mentioning about it the other day on Facebook, but on re-reading it I could see that a complete rewrite was in order, so here goes!

Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of rushing rain.’  So Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees.  He said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look towards the sea.’  He went up and looked, he said, ‘There is nothing.’  Then he said, ‘Go again seven times.’  At the seventh time he said, ‘Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.’  Then he said, ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”‘ In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was heavy rain.  Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel.  But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.  (1 Kings 18:41-44 NRSV)

The land was dry, Israel had been in drought for three and a half years, it hadn’t rained since Elijah had prayed that it wouldn’t.  God had answered Elijah by fire when he burnt up the sacrifice on Mount Carmel and the false prophets of Baal had just been killed, but the land was still physically in drought.

The land was still physically in drought, but it was no longer spiritually in drought.  Like Jesus centuries later Elijah saw and heard  what God was doing and responded accordingly.

Elijah HEARD and PROCLAIMED, he PRAYED  and EXPECTED, then he PREPARED and RAN.

Elijah HEARD ‘the sound of rushing rain’ in the Spirit. He heard it because in the spiritual realm it was already raining.

Elijah PROCLAIMED what God was doing to Ahab.  It is powerful when we start to speak out God’s word.  Even before Elijah prayed he proclaimed what God was doing. In the spiritual realm it was already raining, it would soon also be raining in the physical realm.

Elijah PRAYED for the rain, in fact it could not rain until he had prayed for it, which he did.  He returned to Mount Carmel to pray, he had prayed for fire which God had answered there, now he was praying for rain which he knew God would answer.  Elijah’s prayer was prayed in faith, he was expecting God to answer.  In fact, God not answering would not even have been considered an option by Elijah.

Elijah EXPECTED rain, he sent his servant to see the physical signs of the spiritual reality, if there was going to be rain then there would be a cloud.  It wasn’t until the servant had been seven times that he was able to see what Elijah already knew was there.  We do not know if Elijah just prayed once or if he prayed more than once, but both his actions that of praying and of sending the servant to look were done out of faith expecting to see the answer, than out of fear worrying that it might not happen.

Elijah PREPARED himself. He ‘girded up his loins’, or to put it another way he hitched up his garments and tucked them in his belt. This was a short time of preparation and change for Elijah, now was the time for him to change his focus from prayer to action.

Elijah RAN in the power of the Lord. It is between 15 and 20 miles from Carmel to Jezreel and although we cannot say for certain what that chariots top speed would be it would probably have been at least 12 miles an hour. Elijah could have done this in human strength alone if he was a world-class marathon runner on flat ground. The terrain is definitely not flat, and though probably very fit by modern standards I doubt that he was a marathon runner! If the chariot pace was higher he couldn’t have humanly done it at all. Elijah ran because the hand of the Lord was on him, we too must run in his power as his hand is upon us.

So where are you? Are you hearing and proclaiming the future in faith? Are you praying in faith and expecting the answer from God? Or are you preparing to run or running in the power of the Spirit, with the hand of God upon your life? Where are we as a country? Can you hear the rain? Can you see the cloud the size of a man’s hand? Are you running in the rain?

Different people and different churches and areas are at different places, so wherever you are seek God to move you on. What if you can’t sense anything at all? Than ask God to open your spiritual senses and let you hear and see what he is doing.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you are on the move in this land once again, you are speaking revival and the rain is coming. Help me to hear and proclaim your word, to pray and expect you to answer in power and to prepare and run with your hand upon me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21 – Its All About Jesus

‘The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen.’ (Revelation 22:20-21 NRSV)

These are the last two verses of the book of Revelation and so are also the last two verses of the Bible, but these are also the two verses that I feel that God wants me to bring into 2013.  They are my verses for the year.

Now in context this is referring to Jesus’ Second Coming.  I am not quite using it in context, but am interpreting it prophetically for this year ahead.

What do I feel God is saying about the year ahead?  I feel he is quite simply saying ‘Its all about Jesus’.

God has promised that he will move in revival power once again in the UK.  If there is one thing about a true revival it is always Christocentric, Jesus is always at its heart.

It was Jesus who bought our salvation on the cross, Jesus who is the firstborn of the dead, Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit and Jesus gives the glory back to the Father!

It is Jesus who must be central to our prayers for revival as we seek the Father’s face, power and presence in his name alone.  In fact to live in revival is to experience the ultimate expression of the Kingdom of God here on earth that we can until Jesus returns.  Our prayer is Lord Jesus touch us again with your glory for your sake!

Yet it is still more than that!  We need Jesus to be central to all we do!  We need to be like Jesus in doing only what we see the Father doing.  We need to be like Jesus by sacrificially serving one another.  We need to be like Jesus in moving in the power of the Holy Spirit and glorifying the Father in all we do.

We also all need to grasp that we are saints who are seated now in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, we are defined now by God’s holiness, not by mankind’s sinfulness.

And we need more of his grace, both for ourselves, and to extend to others.

Heavenly Father, help us to make this coming year all about Jesus our Saviour, God and King, and about seeing his kingdom come on earth as it already is in heaven.  Help us to know his grace, truth and power in all we do.  In his name we ask, Amen!

Two Visions of Jesus – Like Revelation 1 and Commissioned by Jesus

About four months after I became a Christian, I had two visions within a short space of time.  You may ask whether these visions were in or out of the body.  Paul says (though speaking in the third person, he is probably talking about himself), ‘whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows’ (1 Corinthians 12:2 NRSV).  If it was not important to Paul then neither should it be important to us, and to be honest I don’t know, but I do know that I was there physically in both cases and that God knows even if I don’t!

By sharing these visions in this blog post I am sharing something that is very personal to me.  When I first had the visions I did share them, but most people did not seem to be able to comprehend what I was talking about and if anything gave me strange looks, or just had glazed expressions since they could not get their heads round it.  As I result I went for many years not sharing these visions, now I understand more that visions in general are well beyond many Christians experience, which is why in my post Ezekiel 1:26-28 – A Vision of The Glory Of God I talk about how ‘like’ is used a lot as you try to describe the heavenly in earthly terms.

In the first vision, I saw Jesus glorified, almost identical to the vision of Jesus that John saw in the book of Revelation.

‘and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed in a long robe and with a gold sash across his chest.  His head and has hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like flames of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.’  (Revelation 1:13-17a NRSV)

As I have already said my vision was almost identical to that of John, but not quite.  I only saw Jesus, I did not see any candlesticks or stars.  I saw Jesus glorified as John described with his voice like many waters, which I visually saw like transverse waves coming out from his mouth and spreading out.  I did not however see the two-edged sword come out of his mouth, but next to him.

I was in a time of prayer when I saw the vision, and like John I also had the same reaction, I fell as dead before Jesus, I lay prostrate on my bed unable to move for about 4 hours.  The first prophetic word I had given a month or so earlier was of a picture I saw of Jesus saying, ‘Come to me’.  Jesus in this picture had been gentle, and was asking us to draw closer to him.  In this vision however I saw another side of Jesus.  This was Jesus glorified, he was almighty and all-powerful, this was no gentle Jesus meek and mild, but Jesus as he will be when he comes to judge the world.

Whenever I think of this vision I am still filled with holy fear, Jesus is not to be messed with!  He is our best friend, but he is also our Lord, our King and most of all our God and we should never forget that.

In the second vision I was among a crowd of worshippers and was commissioned by Jesus.

In the second vision I was kneeling near what was like an altar in a church, behind me there were crowds of people as far as the eye could see worshipping and praising God.  Jesus came to me, he anointed me placing his hands upon my head and spoke one word to me, ‘Go!’.  My reaction to this vision was the same as the first, I was prostrate in worship and unable to move.

At the time, I did not really understand what this vision meant, but now I do understand it.  Jesus is saying that it is he who has:

  • Called me – I was there with him and not with the rest of the worshippers because he wanted me to be there.  Jesus has called me to a close walk with him;
  • Anointed me – It was Jesus who was anointing and enabling me, not anyone else.  After all, it is Jesus who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, and I was baptised in the Spirit on conversion (read Prayer is … #1 Adventure for more information);
  • Commissioned me – Jesus has sent me out to work in his church, and now I know in what way.  I have always known that my heart is primarily in this country, and that I have always had a focus on church, up until now I always assumed that would be on one local church, but now I know that God is calling me to itinerate ministry to the whole church.  What God is calling me to do is to grow prayer, both personal and corporate prayer in churches.  I will share more about that in the future.

Prayer is … #1 Adventure

Here goes our adventure into prayer.  So what is more natural than to start by saying that prayer is an adventure.  It is not just any adventure, but one into more of God.

For everyone prayer is a journey.  I shall share some of my prayer journey, my prayer adventure, in this post.  Why because you may be able to connect with my story in this post, and it will help you all to get to know me a bit better.

My prayer adventure started as a child, like most children I was taught to pray with hands together and eyes closed, prayer was a formality there was nothing real about it.  Now here’s a thought, to pray with hands together and eyes closed is not in the Bible at all, so should we pray like that or teach our children to pray like that?  I’ll look at that more in another post sometime!

When I was at university, I started being interested in the things of God, I thought I was a Christian because I had nominally been brought up that way, but in fact I wasn’t.  Prayer was interesting, I prayed formally in chapel and less formally in the Anglican Christian Union, then I started going along to NCCF (New College Christian Fellowship) and here I experienced prayer that really connected with God for the first time, this had me extremely interested!

When one of my friends asked me if I would like to go to a half-night of prayer they were having, I jumped at it!  Here there was prayer, worship and some teaching all combined.  People prayed in different ways for different things, including praying out loud together (all at the same time) in tongues or English.  This spoke to me, I knew that their unknown languages were from God, and that their prayer in general that evening was somehow connecting with God in a big way.

I became a Christian when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit like Cornelius in Acts 10, now prayer became real to me, as it was based in a relationship with God.  I got things wrong at times, but I also saw prayer answered as we prayed together for people to be healed of things, and they were healed.

I soon got involved in a church prayer meetings, prayer meetings with para-church organisations, and spent time praying alone with God.  I read books on prayer which I brought from Canaan bookshop where I was working on Saturdays.

Some of the books I read included,

  • Rees Howells, Intercessor, Norman Grubb;
  • Learning the Joy of Prayer, Larry Lee;
  • Prayer the Key to Revival, Paul Yonggi Cho.

I went to a prayer conference in 1991 (I think) praying for London as a financial centre for it to be shaken which it has been substantially since then.  On the second day we prayer walked, the group I was in for the Bank of England, and we prayed for finance to be released for the Kingdom of God, and God gave a sign to us (a 5p piece) that he would.

After university, I got married and life and prayer continued, sometimes prayer was easy and sometimes it was hard.  But about 2001 I fell in and for quite some time all my prayer were tears and asking the question ‘Why?’, which I never got an answer for, but despite that I held onto one thing.  That God would never abandon mr like the Father had to abandon Jesus on the cross and turn his face away because of my sin.  God healed me over about 1 1/2 years after I was given a prophetic word that he would heal me.

Since then God has grown me a great deal, to where I am now.  I fought with him in prayer like Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok (see Day 4. Practice – Wrestling With God – When Intimacy Gets Personal).

Where am I now?  God is calling me to lead prayer, and to grow churches in prayer, both in its depth and breadth, and helping to restore prayer to the place it should have in this land.  Why?  To see revival and this nation restored to God!  To God alone be the glory! Amen!

What is your prayer journey like?  Do you see it as an adventure?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Ezekiel 2:1-2 – Holy Spirit Enabled.

‘He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.  And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.’  (Ezekiel 2:1-2. NRSV)

Ezekiel is unique in the Old Testament in saying that the Holy Spirit ‘entered into’ him.  Elsewhere we read of the Spirit being upon people, but not entering into them.

We do, however, read of one other person in the Old Testament who was ‘filled … with the divine spirit’ (see Exodus 31:2-5), and he was filled with the Spirit to design and create everything for the tabernacle, God’s dwelling place on earth which was based on the heavenly pattern. God filled Bezalel with the Spirit to build his tabernacle, and we are filled with the Spirit to build his church!

I came to know Jesus by asking God to baptize me in the Holy Spirit, which he did.  I know nothing except a Spirit-filled Christian life.  What some people consider not necessary is normality for me, and always has been!

God shared a great vision with Ezekiel, but it overwhelmed him.  It was only when the Spirit then entered into him that he was able to respond God and listen to him, and go on from there to prophesy to the Jews in Exile as God asked him to.  Like him we need the Spirit in us to enable us to do the work God has called us to do!

Heavenly Father, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit.  So that when you speak I am able to hear and receive what you say, and then to go out and speak and do it. In Jesus’ name, Amen!