Blessed Are Those Who Hunger . . .

While the first four beatitudes build on each other and describe the needs of Jesus’ disciples, the fifth beatitude is essential.

If we know our weakness and sin, we will ask God to meet our need for righteousness. You may read more about this topic here: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Jonah’s Unhallowing of God’s Name

I love that God is always on the move, working in us and around us, even in spite of our failures to acknowledge Him or act in ways that don’t honor Him.

Case in point: Jonah.

Jonah—the successful Israelite Prophet—paid the fare to sail from Joppa to Tarshish. In his justified rebellion, he thought if he could run as far as possible from where God’s tangible presence rested, on His people and in His temple, He might escape a convicting one-on-encounter with God. So not only did he refuse to follow God’s order to go to Nineveh to preach, but also set out on a 2,000 mile journey in the opposite direction.

As Jonah crashes (sleeps) in the hold of the ship, God whips up a furious storm. The pagan sailors—from a polytheistic culture—cry out to their gods, whom they believe not only control a part of nature, but also are easily offended. Just maybe the sailors could garner forgiveness for any spiritual offense they unknowingly made.

The storm, however, rages on. So they toss all the cargo overboard in hopes to stay afloat. But that doesn’t help either. What about that mysterious sleeping guy, completely oblivious to their peril? They rouse him. “What’s this? Sleeping! Get up! Pray to your god! Maybe your god will see we’re in trouble and rescue us,” (Jonah 1:6, MSG). Upon drawing lots, Jonah receives the short straw and finally fesses up: “I’m a Hebrew. I worship God, the God of heaven who made sea and land” (vs. 9).

Terrified from the realization that Jonah is on the run from this powerful God, the sailors make every effort to abort Jonah’s suggestion of throwing him overboard to calm the sea. But the wind and waves only worsen.

Despite Jonah’s rebellion and detachment from caring about the sailors, God uses the storm and Jonah’s words—which don’t align with his actions—to show them who God is. So they cry out to the Lord God and ask Him to not hold their actions against them as they throw Jonah overboard. You know the rest of the story.

Was Jonah ashamed to tell the sailors more about his God? He certainly wasn’t acting as a good representative. They were the ones to rouse him and ask him to pray. But before we pounce on Jonah too much, what about us? Do our words and actions accurately reflect the holiness and grandeur of God? If I’m honest, there have been times when unbelievers have acted more Christlike. . . . Ouch!

Just How important is it for believers to point others to God and His holiness through words and actions? When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray—after clarifying whom to pray, “Our Father”—Jesus instructs them to pray: “Hallowed be Thy name.” But what exactly does this mean? My pastor, Cliff Purcell, explains the meaning and application of these words. You may listen to his podcast—“A Family Conversation – Week 3 (Jan. 28, 2018)”—here: Our Father, “hallowed” . . . what’s that?

Have a great week!

God Wants His People to be Clean, Exodus 30:17-21; 38:8

Then the Lord said to Moses, Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.  Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.’” – Exodus 30:17-21

For the priests, keeping themselves clean became a matter of life or death.

The priests and Levites had to stop regularly at the lavar—located in the tabernacle courtyard between the brazen altar and the tent—to clean their hands and feet. To enter the tent, or serve at the brazen altar, without first washing meant they were placing their lives in the path of peril.

God didn’t give the shape or measurements of the lavar. For it was the contents that mattered most: clean water. The Levites were to replenish the water all day to keep it fresh.

What does water represent in Scripture?

Warren Wiersbe (Be Delivered) writes: “Water for drinking is a picture of the Spirit of God (John 7:37-39), while water for washing is a picture of the Word of God (John 15:3; Eph. 5:25-27). The laver, then typifies the Word of God that cleanses the minds and hearts of those who receive it and obey it (John 17:17). The fact that the lavar was made out of the bronze mirrors of the Jewish women (Ex. 38:8) is evidence that it typifies God’s Word, for the Word of God is compared to a mirror (James 1:22-26; 2 Cor. 3:18).”

(RickWarren.org) . . . .There were three ways under the Old Testament to achieve ceremonial cleansing: by water, by fire, or by blood.
Under the New Testament, we are cleansed from our sin by the blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross for us. To receive this cleansing, we must confess our sins (1 John 1:5-2:2). But our hearts and minds can still become defiled by sin when we disobey God, (see Ps. 51). We may be restored through the “washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26).

The Need for Constant Cleansing

Wiersbe makes another interesting point and relays how this applies to believers today: “The Old Testament priests became defiled, not by sinning against God, but by serving God! Their feet became dirty as they walked in the courtyard and in the tabernacle (there was no floor in the tabernacle), and their hands were defiled as they handled the sacrifices and sprinkled the blood. Therefore, their hands and feet needed constant cleansing, and this was provided at the lavar. . . . When we trust Christ to save us, we’re washed all over (John 13:10; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) and don’t require “another bath” [see John 13:1-15], but as we go through life, our feet get dirty and we need to be cleansed. If we aren’t cleansed, we can’t have fellowship with the Lord, and if we’re out of fellowship with the Lord, we can’t enjoy His love or do His will. When we confess our sins, He cleanses us, and when we meditate on the Word, the Spirit renews us and restores us.”

(hipsterscripture.com)

Have a wonderful week!

God’s Plans—Who Me? What? Why?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Rain Princess by By Leonid Afremov (Etsy.com)

Rain Princess by By Leonid Afremov (Etsy.com)

God—master artist, architect, builder, designer—knows exactly where and how to apply His creative techniques on us, His canvas. I like Chip Ingram’s analogy (Your Divine Design, Living on the Edge): “Believers [in Christ] are in process . . . process of an extreme makeover.”

In order to understand God’s plan/purpose in giving believers spiritual gifts, we need to first understand the context.

Who? What?

Ephesians 2:1-3 explains who we used to be:

  • As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts [prisoners of the world system].  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

 Ephesians 2:4-6 explains who we are now in Christ:

  • But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Why an extreme makeover?

Ephesians 2:7-10 explains God’s purpose:

  • . . . in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (vs. 10)

Is your life different now because of Jesus? How?

What work is God doing in you?

More to come: “Where and how does God do extreme makeovers?”

The Holy Spirit—A Purposeful Person

I love the changes fall brings. Farmers’ Markets boast fresh produce. Traces of winter wheat peek their green blades through fertile fields. Bright pumpkins adorn porches. Sweet plum jam, pear cobbler, and wafts of cinnamon spiced cider linger in the kitchen. The extra hour of sleep is also nice. 🙂

K.D. Manes

(K.D. Manes)

But perhaps fall’s crowning splendor is the glowing foliage. It seems an oxymoron that these color-dyed leaves peak in beauty while simultaneously dying (fading away).

Likewise, when the believer dies by saying “no” to sin and instead follows God’s leading, the Holy Spirit’s beauty is released in that person’s life.

The Holy Spirit—A Unique Person

Like the wind, the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Trinity—is invisible and intangible. Spirit in the Hebrew and Greek means “wind, breath.” He is the very wind, breath of God who exerts incredible power (Ephesians 3:16-20). But, unlike the wind, He is more than a powerful force just to be used. He is the invisible presence of the perfect loving God—whom we can know and relate to—residing in the believer. (Source: The Promise and Scripture)

The Holy Spirit’s Attributes

  • Intellect: He knows things with His mind (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
  • Emotions: He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); we are not to sin against Him (Matthew 12:31; Acts 5:3)
  • Will: He acts with purpose (1 Corinthians 12:11)

The Holy Spirit’s Primary Goal

The Holy Spirit isn’t here to bring attention to Himself, or to ourselves, but to glorify Christ (John 14:16). He desires to glorify God through our words and actions.

The Holy Spirit’s Method  

One role of the Spirit is to progressively conform the believer into Christ’s character (sanctification) from the inside-out. He’s in the business of disciplining, refining, and removing sin’s impurities. He prepares us for service here and for living eternally with Him. How does He do this? Tony Evans writes: “God will deal with us in a way that cracks open the hard shell of our sin-scarred soul to release our spirits to live under the control of His Holy Spirit.”
Ouch! But it’s for our own good. And, we have access to . . .

The Holy Spirit’s Limitless Reservoir

Trials are exhausting, but we can be encouraged because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). But if we want the Spirit’s help maneuvering through life’s obstacle courses, we need to prioritize glorifying Christ since this is the Spirit’s main objective. The Spirit’s presence in the believer is ongoing. He is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:23). He is in the business of change—changing our sin hardened hearts into an oasis of abundant life and freedom in Christ. Verses 23b-24 state: “Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  – vs. 25

Is anything holding you back from experiencing the Holy Spirit’s release in your life?

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