Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Battle of the mind

Romans 7:25 NIV

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. 

The Greek word for "mind" here is "νοῒ" or "νοῦς" (G3563), which is the reasoning faculty.  I think it is fascinating that I receive spiritual instruction/directives from God and am thus a slave to God's law in my mind, instead of some other faith organ. (The same word is used in Romans 12:2.)  It is also interesting to me that the "mind" used only a few verses away in 8:6-7 is actually a different Greek word. The Greek word in 8:6-7 is "φρόνημα" (G5427), and here are definitions from HELPS Word-studies: 

phrónēma (a neuter noun) – properly visceral opinion (the innermost, personal level of opinion); inner perspective as it determines (regulating) outward behavior, especially as it bears on the outward results (i.e. of exercising personal insight). Note the suffix, -ma, pointing to the result of the verbal idea. 

phrónēma – ("the results of gut-insight") connects how the individual processes opinion-making to how they act.

You can see how several different translations try to communicate that concept for "mindset" in Romans 8:6-7:

(NIV) The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

(NASB) For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

(ESV) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

(NKJV) For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

(DLNT) For the way-of-thinking of the flesh is death, but the way-of-thinking of the Spirit is life and peace. Because the way-of-thinking of the flesh is hostility toward God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, for it is not even able.

Thinking (no pun intended) about the connection of Romans 7:25 and 8:6-7, it is not enough to think or reason about God, but we must consciously and intentionally use our mind to set our will to follow the Spirit.  As a consequence of sin, the impulses of the corrupted flesh are so hard-wired to control the mind.  We must be vigilant in denying these impulses, and instead, as a matter of internal will, choose to obey the Spirit.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a mind to hear you speak to me.  Holy Spirit, I want my mind to be governed by you.  I want to set my will to act in obedience to you.  Lord Jesus, I want to follow your example of walking in obedience to your Father and in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Lord, please help me grow in maturity and discipline in denying the impulses of the flesh.  I want to trust you and obey you.  I want to love you and honor you in the way that I live, which is a result of my mindset and heart-posture.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Elijah and Elisha as types of Christ and the Church

In the children's Bible that I read with the boys at night, a couple of days ago I read the story of Elijah getting a chariot ride to Heaven.  I have always thought that it was interesting that Elisha had the idea to ask for a double-portion of his spirit (2 Kings 2:9).  I have not double-checked (ha! no pun intended) this for myself, but I have heard that the Scriptures list twice as many miracles for Elisha as Elijah.

I think Elijah could be a type of Christ, and Elisha could be a type of the Church.  Jesus told his disciples that we would do even greater things than He (John 14:12), and then He told them about sending the Holy Spirit.  Since we have the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit, in a way, we have a double-portion of the Spirit.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we saw disciples all over the world doing the works of Christ: healing the crippled, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead!

How do you enter into that level of operation?  Elisha got to watch Elijah and then replicate. The disciples got to watch Jesus do it and then replicate.  Who do I get to watch?

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your goodness and power.  Lord Jesus, please give me a double-portion of your Spirit.  I want to do your works, and even greater things.  Holy Spirit, please lead me and empower me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

keeping an open mind

I ate an ant this morning.  A roasted ant.  From Columbia.  Definitely outside my box.

Listening to 1 Corinthians 12 this morning, I realized that I have come full-circle on my interpretation of some of the topics in this passage.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

First, the Spirit manifests Himself.  He demonstrates His presence and power.  And it is for our good.  Second, Paul lists nine gifts (not an exhaustive list), and included in this list are four gifts that I previously dismissed as obsolete or faked.  But recently, I have come to believe that the Holy Spirit does still heal and demonstrate miraculous signs and wonders, and I believe that He gives people the supernatural gift of speaking and/or interpreting unknown languages that are spoken somewhere in the world.  

The middle of the chapter is about us being one body with many members, each with different functions.  The end of the chapter returns to the distribution of gifts:

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Miracles, healing, and tongues are right in there with teaching and helping, and it seems to me that no one has all of these gifts.

Previously, I have thought that speaking in tongues as a prayer language was bogus, but after listening to Chapter 14 this morning, I have changed my opinion.

13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays,but my mind is unfruitful.

Paul spoke in tongues, and he thought that it was profitable in certain circumstances.  But he also thought that prophecy was very helpful for the body.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Heavenly Father, please help me be open minded to your truth, and please teach me.  Holy Spirit, please demonstrate your presence and your power through me.  I want others to know believe in Christ and experience your goodness.  Lord, please speak to me, and use me to speak prophecy to others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

knowing God

God said:

but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,"
declares the Lord.
(Jer. 9:24)

Jesus said:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
(John 17:3)

The word "know" in Jer. 9:24 is Hebrew 3045 יָדַע ("yada"), which means to know by experience.  The word "know" in John 17:3 is Greek 1096 γινώσκω ("ginóskó"), which means to know by experience.

I think God wants us to know Him as our Father, our Brother, and our Friend, and I think having conversations with Him is essential to establishing a relationship with God.  Conversations require listening. 

I want to learn to hear God's voice.

Heavenly Father, thank you for desiring to know me and for me to know you.  I want to learn to hear your voice.  Please help me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Training versus maintaining

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Run in such a way as to get first place.  That is pretty challenging.  There is a significant difference between committing to exercise consistently to stay fit versus just not being concerned about fitness.  But then there is a significant difference between a commitment to fitness and training to WIN a competition.  Staying fit requires discipline and committment, but training to win consumes you.  When you are training to win, everything in your day and week centers around winning, and it seems to me that the critical difference is a commitment to continuous improvement.  You never settle for "good enough"; you are constantly striving for "better" so that you can be the best.  I think we should continue striving until we become like Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 NIV
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Heavenly Father, please help me have more than a commitment to be spiritually disicplined; help me have a commitment to continuous improvement.  Lord Jesus, I want to train for being like you.  Holy Spirit, empower me and coach me; give me strength, and challenge me to push harder and run farther with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

indwelling and annointing of the Holy Spirit

This passage made me think about how we receive and experience the Holy Spirit:

ACTS 19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. 2 "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" he asked them.
"No," they replied, "we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 "Then what baptism did you experience?" he asked.
And they replied, "The baptism of John."
4 Paul said, "John's baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus."
5 As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

It is my understanding that, upon faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates the spirit of the believer and indwells their spirit (e.g., what Paul wrote to these same folks in Eph. 1:13).  Until recently, I haven't thought much about the annointing/manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but it seems to me that in Acts 19, the Holy Spirit manifested himself to confirm their receiving Him.  It doesn't seem to me that all believers should expect to experience the Holy Spirit in such a way upon belief or water baptism.

I have wondered about the purpose or value of such manifestations, but I think Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2:

 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.

By God's power, He spoke the universe into existence.  By His power, He rose Christ from the grave.  This same power is at work in us and through us to convince others of God's great love for them.

Heavenly Father, please use me to communicate your incredible love demonstrated in the good news of Jesus Christ. And please show your power through me to provide evidence for people to experience and believe.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Words and power

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 NIV

I think it is interesting that Paul considered both words and power to be connected with the Gospel.  In the past, I think I have focused almost exclusively on the logical explanation of the Gospel, and mainly justification.  But now I want to share the Gospel with words and power, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.  I want to be an imitator of Paul, who imitated Christ.

Heavenly Father, please help me seek you.  Lord Jesus, I want to imitate you in preaching the Gospel and demonstrating your power.  Holy Spirit, lead me, and help me learn and mature.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Commissioning and empowering to be overcomers

Acts 13

I listened to a message from Bill Johnson about Acts 13, one of my favorite passages.

Saul, Barnabas, and others were ministering to the Lord.  Seems like they didn't have an agenda in that particular meeting, other than to wait on the Lord.  In that space, God commissioned Saul and Barnabas to go on a missionary journey.

On that Journey, Saul cast out evil spirits from a slave girl and an advisor to a governor.  Bill made the observation that God intends for us to be victorious, but He accomplishes that in us through opposition.  At the end of this chapter, Saul is called Paul.  Seems like a promotion.

Heavenly Father, please help me have a good attitude about perseverance.  May I continue to run the race.  You are the goal and prize; help me remember that.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.