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Monday, October 27, 2014

A Ghost Story Part Two

This is part two of my version of a ghost story. It is about the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) and how we can have a relationship with Him that brings life changing power into our lives.

Well I left you with a question "Why doesn’t a follower of Christ who is “sanctified” (in other words living according to the word and in God’s will) not have evidence of powers of The Holy Spirit like the apostles had of healing, prophecy, words of knowledge, speaking in tongues?" After all it says in Acts 1:8 “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. And why aren’t believers doing “greater things than Him when the Holy Spirit comes”. As Jesus promised?
Maybe you don’t believe that believers get any more than what you have at salvation, and many are content to just be saved but not do greater things than Jesus. Many believe the powers ceased with the apostles (and this is where a division in Christianity is formed). Many think they received the Holy Spirit at salvation and that is all there is, nothing more. But I think not and I show why I feel this way.
First off let’s look at an event that happened in Acts 19:1-6. Paul asked these believers “Did you not receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said “We have not so much as heard weather there is a Holy Spirit.” So in Acts 19:6 it says “the Holy Spirit came upon them”. So here we see people who are believers with a deficiency of the Holy Spirit. And latter they receive more.
The Old Testament is a picture or illustration of the spiritual experience. It illustrates with physical pictures experiences what we can have in our spiritual life. Well I’m a slow learner you see, like a child in these things so like most children I need pictures in my book to aid with my comprehension.
So the picture of being born again in the Old Testament is The Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt. Just like them Jesus set me free from my slavery to sin. Just like them Jesus led me out of captivity to a place where I can follow God. But just like the Israelites in the desert following God I know there can be more.
Like I said in the first part of this “Holy Ghost Story” Much of Christianity today offers us life after death (Salvation). But most people are looking for a life before death. Jesus did not just come to prepare us to die but to teach us how to live. He wasn’t just about getting us up to heaven after we die but about bringing a taste of God’s kingdom to earth. Jesus spoke of an abundant life not a life of abundance. Not a life with a lot of money or things but a life with a lot of. . . . life.
So the picture of this abundant life in the Old Testament is the Promised Land. A place where there is Holy Spirit power to fight the giants (giant problems) in our lives not a place where there are no problems. It’s a place where there is abundant spiritual fruit not just abundant wealth. It’s a place where the real battles for territory in God’s kingdom are fought and sometimes lost if we are not careful. But most of us get to the “Place of The Crossing” and turn back. We see in the bible that twelve spies went in to see the Promised Land and only two of twelve wanted to enter. And most Christians today are the same way. Content with their “dry” walk with God in the desert. This “Place of the Crossing” is an important spot in the bible, it is the same place where John The Baptist did his ministry and it is where the Holy Spirit fell “upon” Jesus, and from then on He had great power, and it represents where it can fall “upon” us too.
So what I see in this entering of the Promised Land is a second baptism the first is the born again experience as pictured by the crossing of the Red Sea but the crossing of the Jordan is a picture of being baptized in the Holy Spirit as Jesus spoke about in Acts 1:5. Now you may say wait a minute, I received the Holy Spirit when I was born again. And well. . . you would be right. But there is more. There are three types of relationships to the Holy Spirit. There is the Holy Spirit with you, The Holy Spirit in you, and the Holy Spirit upon you. I will use the Apostles relationship to the Holy Spirit to illustrate this. In John 14:17 Jesus said to the Apostles, “The Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him, nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will soon be in you”. The Apostles could not receive salvation yet because Jesus had not yet died for their sins. And this for us is our relationship to the Holy Spirit before we receive the blood of salvation, the Holy Spirit with us. This is when the Holy Spirit works to bring a non believer to God. Now look in John 20:22. Jesus has died on the cross and is resurrected and He is with the Apostles. Jesus breathed on them and said to them “receive the Holy Spirit”. At this moment they are born again and the Holy Spirit is in them (like most of us). They could not receive the Holy Spirit until Jesus paid a price for their sin and neither could we. So now the Holy Spirit is in them. Then why didn’t they start doing things with power? It’s because there is more than just having the Holy Spirit in you! Now let’s look at Luke 24:49. Jesus said “I send the Promise of the Father upon you”. And Jesus said in Acts 1: 8 “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me”. So the Apostles waited and then on the day of Pentecost in Acts 23 “Tongues of fire came upon them.” And they became witnesses to Him. They were not just witnessing but they were a witness. When the Holy Spirit is upon you, you don’t go and witness you just are a witness where ever you go! Note that the Spirit in you is to refine and change you, and the Spirit upon you is for you to have the power to bring change to others.
So how do I receive this second Baptism? The same way you receive the first gift of salvation. Just like salvation you can’t earn it, and you can’t buy it. It comes simply by believing and asking. And the first thing is a step of Faith that it is real. The Israelites had to step out into the Jordan with the faith that the waters would part. The water did not part first it only did once they took a step of faith. And it stopped 50 miles upstream from them. So they had to have faith in something not seen. So once you have faith you must ask, just like we do for the gift of salvation. Jesus said in Luke 11:13 “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” So ask.
So you say I have asked I pray and nothing happens. So what is in the way?
So what does the picture of the book of Joshua tell me about how they entered the Promised Land. Perhaps it will give us more clues of how we can receive the “Promise of the Father” the Holy Spirit upon us not just in us? Here is a little of the many things I found. When they crossed the river before they could get busy taking the land they had to build a monument of 12 stones (Joshua 4). To me this relates to us the “living stones” being united in body and in spirit. That’s why they built two 12 stone monuments, one for all to see on dry land (the body) and one in the river bed that got covered by the Jordan once it flowed (the spirit). This relates to Acts 2 “They (the 12) were all with one accord in one place” when the Holy Spirit flowed upon them. They were all of one accord. They were unified. Jesus prayed in John 17:20-26 three times for our unity. Why? Because it’s important! He prayed “that they all may be one” and again, “that they may be one just as We are one” and “that they may be made perfect in one”. In 1 Peter 2:5 it says “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.” We are the stones that make today’s memorial. But it’s not easy. And Satan wants us broken apart. If we look at the construction of the memorial the stones are taken out of the river and carried on the shoulders. This represents that we have to carry each other, work together and place others above ourselves to get the job done. Ephesians 5:21 Apostle Paul said we should be “Submitting to one another in fear of the Lord”. Submitting means to place others needs above yours or to lift them up. The rocks used are river rocks and that means they have spent time bumping into each other to be ready to be used. Until this memorial is in place the Israelites did not move forward. Until the memorial was built the water (Spirit) did not flow.
So what’s next in Joshua before they got busy and took the Promised Land? Look at Joshua 4:19. They camped at a place called Gilgal which means rolling. This is where they made the memorial and this is where they camped for a while and had a group circumcision as seen in Joshua 5:2-9. Well I’m not suggesting circumcision ... am I? Well not a physical one at least. This is where the comfortable get uncomfortable. But I feel this is where we get things rolling so to speak.
So let’s look at what circumcision means to us in the spiritual context instead of the physical context. It says they used flint knives, so what knife are we going to use? We should use the sharpest thing I know of, the word of God. So we use the word of God to trim away parts of our life that don't belong. So what does the act of circumcision represent? The most obvious is it represents a cutting away or removal of sinful behavior. What is sinful behavior? Anything that separates us from God. It could be surfing the web when I should be in the word. It might be any number of things. It might be that love of possessions like the rich young ruler who Jesus asked to give away all he had. If you place it first before God it’s what keeps you from God. If ministering to your possessions makes you too busy to take time to read God’s word or pray it might be something to look at. You might be in bondage to your stuff and it might be your master.
So maybe you still can’t identify anything like that what else could it be? Let’s go deeper. This is about the spirit not the physical. What keeps me from having the Holy Spirit flowing in me might be that I am operating from my intellect instead of from my heart, for me this was a big one and for me it was my intellect not wanting to speak in tongues. But it says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 I am to desire spiritual gifts. And so the word of God cut back my intellect and I feel now this is a sign and a seal for us spiritually just as circumcision was a sign and a seal physically. For some people their intellect won’t allow them to believe the gifts are for today and that they ceased.
In Ezekiel 47 Ezekiel sees a vision of water flowing out of the temple. This represents the Holy Spirit flowing. This is the type of place we want to be or we won’t make an impact for God’s kingdom. Not by might nor by power but by the Holy Spirit says the Lord. Well in Ezekiel 47 the source of the water is the alter. The thing that will get the Holy Spirit flowing for our life often is sacrifice. The thing that will get the memorial built is a cutting away of ourselves and placing others before us by giving up my jealousy of someone, or giving up my resentment toward someone who hurt me in the past. Giving up my fears that I carry because of my past experience and letting go of the bitterness about what happened. That’s what true Christ like love looks like. . In John 15:12 He said “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. So how did He love us? He loved by sacrificing. He’s not asking here, He is commanding us. This is not optional.
Giving up control and trusting others. Placing others needs before my own. Laying down my own ambitions and agendas and not expecting others to. Having Love and compassion and grace for each other. Forgiving others if they make mistakes and not being offended by others if they point out mine. So it is true that all who are saved receive the Holy Spirit. But often we hold back parts of our lives and don’t let the Spirit control that part.
So you have the Holy Spirit but does the Holy Spirit have you?

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