The love you had at first

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:1–5, ESV)

What is the love that the Ephesian church had at first that they have abandoned? Is it their Love for Jesus, or is it love for others, or could it be the love that we are to reflect from Christ to the world around us?

Jesus when asked the question, what is the greatest commandment, responded with Love God and love your neighbor. How does that look? What can we learn from the New Covenant writers, and the stern warning that is given to the churches at Ephesus?

In the book of John Jesus is teaching his apostles when Philip asks this question – “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”” (John 14:8, ESV)

It is from this point forward that Jesus unpacks some deep teaching on the coming of the Spirit and abiding in Him. Much of the language through this section is soaked in various forms of Love. Some of those ideas are – “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:21–23, ESV)

Continuing in chapter 15, John continues to unpack this genuine Love in the form of abiding in the vine. The Greek root used for abide is “meno” and has the sense of to await or to stay in, also having a sense of an eschatological promise already in possession.[1] It is also of interest that a form of the Greek word for abide hypoménein is used in the Septuagint also with a sense of Waiting on or cleaving to God. The Theological dictionary of the New Testament abridged has this entry on the word…

… so that the idea is not that of standing against but waiting on. In this sense it is used for Hebrew terms expressing tense, steadfast, or patient expectation (cf. Job 3:9; Ps. 37:7; Job 32:4). The noun hypomonḗ similarly denotes either confidence or tense expectation. It is a mark of the righteous in the OT that they wait on God. In distress and opposition, they look to God for deliverance (cf. Ps. 37:9; Mic. 7:7). God is the almighty covenant God on whom they can rely (Is. 51:5; Zeph. 3:8). As the God of Israel (Jer. 14:8), he is also the God of Israelites (Ps. 39:7). Only the wicked abandon hope in him (Sir. 2:4). The final deliverance is eschatological (Hab 2:3). Those who endure to the end will be saved (Dan. 12:12). The focus here is neither on the hostile forces nor on inward strength but on the power and faithfulness of God. Yet this divinely oriented hypomonḗ confers courage (Ps. 27:14). This is the strength of cleaving to God or waiting for him (Is. 40:31). There need be no fear of weakening it by a link with hope. It focuses on hope and issues in it. What sustains the righteous is that God will establish justice (Ps. 140:12).[2]

It is a wonderous journey where we are fully dependent on the power and faithfulness of God, clinging with expectations to the time when the bridegroom returns for His bride. But, in that tense, steadfast, patient expectation there is a movement forward with the works that Jesus has prepared beforehand that we are to walk in them (Eph 2:8).

Did you catch that? The works that Jesus has prepared that we are to walk in. But how are we to do that? Paul gives us some clues…

We must first start with prayer– “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21, ESV)

In prayer and through faith we seek to be strengthened through His Spirit in our inner being, grounded in the Love that Christ has shown us, together with the body of Christ the assembly of believers all filled with the fullness of God who then works through us more abundantly than anything we can ask or think according to His power within us.

Soak ourselves in The word of God – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2, ESV)

Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the scriptures and a serious read through shows the many benefits of the Word in the people of God when they soak themselves in its richness.

The Lord asks the Ephesian church to repent and do the works they did at first. They had lost their first love. Were they no longer seeking His strength, seeking the things that are above or walking in the works that He had prepared for them?

Today, do we do similar things, racing ahead of the Spirit of God with our plans, then claiming they are from God? Prayer lives that barely give him a few minutes of their time in a single day then crash forward with their plans, maybe even feeling good about themselves for what they accomplished in their own strength.

Jesus took the time to seek the Father in prayer continuously. There are so many times we are given glimpses of this simple communion with God and yet it seems today seeking after God is lost in the busyness of life.

Jesus told the Ephesian church, most likely in a better place than many churches today, to repent and return to that first love – a passion for God that takes us deep into prayer, deep into His words, and moves us forward in His power to do the works that He has prepared that we should walk in them.

Why? Jesus gives us that simple answer…

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7, ESV)


[1] [2] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 582). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Spirit of God – Part 3

In part 2 of this series, we finished by looking at passages from the Old Covenant and will now turn our attention to the New Covenant and the work of God’s spirit through the Messiah of Israel…Yeshua, Translated in English as Jesus.

It is in the New Covenant that we are given further insight into the actions of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit is shown to descend upon Jesus giving him power and enablement for the ministry before him.

I again want to stop here for just one moment and remind ourselves that the actions of God’s spirit here in the New Testament are still given in descriptive ways for us to have a better understanding of the actions and work of the invisible God, whose very essence is spirit. So when we see terms of being led by the spirit or speaking against the Holy Spirit, the writers are communicating to us, the actions of our God in ways that we can understand yet ever so poorly our God. It is Jesus who through the apostle John, will provide us with the fullness of this understanding when he makes this statement about God – “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”” (John 4:23–24, ESV)  Did you catch that – God is spirit!!

I spent a couple weeks in Israel and had the opportunity to talk with some Jewish Brothers who are now following Jesus, and they expressed this in a way that made more sense to them. They said that the Spirit is the manifestation of the power of God and that Jesus is the manifestation of God in the flesh. To these men, the Trinity doctrine that is very prevalent throughout all of Christianity is to them taking those anthropomorphic expressions of the one God who is Spirit and breaking Him into individual persons. This in essence is bringing God down to our human level and borders on the same views that the pagans had of their Gods and the limitations they would have as more human-like in form.  Are these valid arguments or not is one of those areas that can lead to division in the body. Since the early church fathers there have been discussions, councils, and development of doctrine regarding the nature of God both for our own understanding and also to combat false prophets and ideas. The best we should do is to remain open about the study of God’s character while still being on guard to doctrines and ideas that the scripture simply does not support.

As people who are followers of Jesus, what do we take away from all of this? Well, we have a foundation in the Scriptures of God’s spirit already at work in the lives of His people, and with the resurrection of our Lord, the actions of the Spirit of God have been renewed or refreshed in the people that God is calling back to himself. What are those things that we see of the Spirit in the New Testament?

First, as in Genesis, He gives life. Jesus expressed this in the passage that we quote so often – “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:3–8, ESV) Being born of the Spirit is considered the new life of every believer called by God.

Then what happens after that? The spirit (whom we are told is sent forth from the father and son – another expression for our benefit) will teach us (Jn 14:26), bear witness to the life of Jesus (Jn 15:26), guide us in all truth (Jn 16:13), represent the power of God in the lives of his people (Acts 1:8, Rom 8:26, 15:13), bears witness to our spirit that we are His children (Rom 8:16, Gal 4:6), instills in us the qualities of God’s character (Gal 5:22), and as it is in Genesis, the Spirit Speaks. (Rev 2:29, 3:6, 3:22) Finally, just as with the people of God in the Old Testament, the Spirit can be grieved or quenched by the sinful actions of His own people. (1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30)

So, as followers of this amazing God and the example he has given us in His Son Jesus, what should we do with this amazing gift of His presence living within us. A fresh expression of Life given from the creator of all things. I think Paul wrote it best when he penned 2 Tim 1:6 – “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6–7, ESV) The power of God, that resurrected Jesus from the grave is the same power that lives in each one who truly follows Jesus, and that power enables us to live a life that is an expression of Love and Self-Control. We just have to choose to allow him to be in control rather than I, for I is the center of sIn. God in His grace and mercy has refreshed his presence in the lives of those who choose to accept this wonderful gift, so then how shall we live?

Spirit of God – Part 2

Continued from Spirit of God Part 1

Throughout the Torah, the early writings that were given to the people of God through Moses contained many examples of God’s spirit and His action in the lives of His people. Not only would the spirit be attributed to creation and life, but it would be seen as the power of God working in and through His chosen people. Examples of this can be seen in passages like Ex 28:3, 35:31, Nu 11:17, 11:25, Dt 34:9. Later writings would also have similar descriptions of God’s spirit at work in his servants. Sometimes anthropomorphic terms would be used to describe the work of the spirit in such a way to emphasize importance or urgency in the Spirits action like we see in 1 Sam 11:6 – “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” (ESV)  The Spirit which is present everywhere and at all times is shown here to rush upon Saul, giving urgency to what the Spirit was doing through Saul.

Later on in the scriptures, David would pen various psalms (Ps 139:7-10) that would also give us more insight into the very essence of God. In many Eastern cultures, their gods were more like humans and were not present everywhere at all times, but in the Psalms, David shows us that God’s spirit is present everywhere and at all times. Throughout the scriptures, God’s spirit would be attributed to His presence, so we could understand that the very essence of God is present everywhere and at all times.

In the prophets we would see even more of the Spirits actions in the lives of his people when they would show that from the Spirit would flow wisdom and understanding, yet, the prophets would also repeat the original theme of life and creative power like in Isaiah – “Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:” (Isaiah 42:5, ESV) It is also shown that it is God’s spirit that enables men to continue to carry His image to a world that has lived in darkness and chaos. (Is 61:1)

The prophets also show us another aspect of the very presence of God, that in our rebellion and sinfulness we can grieve the Spirit, which is just a way of showing that we are grieving God. “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore, he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit,” (Isaiah 63:10–11, ESV)  In this very passage the He is God and it shows that He is the one who is in the midst of His people, and it is His spirit, the very essence of who He is that is grieved.

A beautiful passage where we see future actions of the ruah is the wonderful promise to all the people of God is Ezekiel 36:25-27. It is here that God tells His people that he will gather them from the places they have been scattered and cleanse them. Then he tells them that he will give them a new heart, a new or fresh spirit, He will put His Spirit (ruah – breath) within them so that they will walk in His ways. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27 ESV)  This should drive the reader straight back to Genesis and the ideas regarding God as the Life-giver.

A similar passage is also given in Jer 31:31, where it is tied to a new or refreshed Covenant that will be given to the people of God. ““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV)  If you ponder these passages you will see an interesting parallel to God’s spirit and God’s Torah. In Ezekiel God says he will put his spirit in them and cause them to walk in His Torah, whereas in Jeremiah he says that he will put his Torah in them and that they will Know the Lord.

This opens the door to the world of the coming of God in the flesh as the Messiah of Israel. We will continue to explore these ideas found in the New Testament in Part 3.

The Spirit of God…Part 1

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2, ESV)

            What kind of images does this opening passage from Genesis create in the mind of man? What might this new nation of people that have been redeemed from Egypt by the hand of God think when they heard “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”? The Spirit here is called the ruah of Elohim which can mean breath, wind, or spirit of God. This Spirit of God would become an active agent of God’s power manifest throughout His creation, and would also become a very hotly debated aspect of the nature of God down through the history of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. Here in the opening of the book of beginnings we have a picture of the Earth formless, void and covered in waters, possibly an expression of chaos and disorder, and the Spirit of God hovering or vibrating over the face of these waters. Many of the creation stories of the ancient eastern cultures feature a theme of chaos to order, with chaos being very much associated with water. It was also expected that order would follow out of this chaos.[1]  So, here in the beginning of Genesis we begin to see one aspect of the Spirit of God’s power and actions in the creation story, bringing order out of chaos. Later when God creates man in His image is it then possible that one of man’s roles as an image bearer (one who acts as a representative of God) is to also continue to bring order out of chaos. (subdue the earth)

God would continue to give us more insight into His very nature as the scriptures would unfold to His people. At this point, we should stop for one moment and consider a very important aspect of how God has revealed himself to man. It is through His Word, and in His Word, we have ways in which God has described himself in terms that we can relate to.  One way this is done is through what is called in the theological world an anthropomorphism. What that means is that God describes himself with human-like terms that we can associate with. When it says God’s righteous right arm, it does not mean that God who is spirit and invisible has arms or legs or anything else of that nature, but that for us to understand an aspect of His nature that is how He is described. This is very important to keep in mind, if we forget that basic concept we can begin to bring God down to our human level rather than keep him exalted.

That said, God’s Spirit, the very essence of who he is, is first revealed in the very opening passage of the scripture. It is the ruah of God that is hovering over the waters closely followed in the text with God speaking. What would Spirit, a word that also means breath mean to a people that had just some come out of Egypt?

Breathing is what shows life, so the Spirit would be seen as the source of life, and it is that source of life that is later shown to have given life to the first man. (Gen 2:7) We now have a theme about the very nature of God in that it is He that gives life to all things. We see this theme, as well as the creative theme, vividly displayed when Job says “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4, ESV).

We will continue this Journey to discover more about the Spirit of God in Part 2.


[1] A Study on the dual form of Mayim, Water; Min Suc Kee, Ph.D. University of Manchester (England), teaches Bible at the Korea Baptist Theological University in Daejeon, South Korea

Whatever you ask

“Praying in the name of Jesus”. This simple phrase has been so abused in our modern era. It is based on a section of teaching from Jesus to His disciples where he was responding to a request from Philip for Him to show them the Father.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:8–14, ESV)

This small phrase has been turned into a quick memory verse that is often quoted to support praying whatever we want in Jesus name and expect that God will honor that request as if it some magic incantation.

The context though really does not support this. Jesus tells them that whoever believes in Him will do works greater than the ones that he has done. Those works are the many acts that He has done throughout the gospels. Jesus tells them that it is the Father working through Him that they have seen.

He then goes on to tell them that whoever believes in Him will also do the works He did. Not only those works, but even greater works. Essentially you could say that Jesus will be accomplishing His works through us, and it will be connected to prayer.

This can be seen in what Paul teaches us in Eph 2:8-10…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8–10, ESV)

We are His workmanship and the works we are to do are the works He has prepared for us. How do we know what those are? The Holy Spirit works in us in combination with the Word of God and Prayer.

I like how the IVP Bible background Commentary puts it…

In this context “name” means something like: those who seek his glory and speak accurately for him, who are genuinely his authorized representatives. Nothing could be further from the pagan magical use of names that sought to manipulate spiritual forces for one’s own ends.[1]

There is a similar verse in John 15 where Jesus is teaching about His disciples abiding in the vine and bearing much fruit.  He then tells them this…

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:7–8, ESV)

So, if His words abide in us, the works we do will be in line with His will and teaching. This is tied together with asking whatever we desire because our desires will be in line with His will.

We see a perfect example of this in the book of Acts…

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”” (Acts 3:1–6, ESV)

Peter was acting in the power of the Holy Spirit, accomplishing the works that God had prepared for him to walk in.

What can we learn from this? We must be careful that we do not do what the pagans did and use the name as a magical incantation to manipulate God for our own desires. Instead, we need to abide in His words and seek His will through prayer, so that we can do His works for the Glory of God.


[1] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Jn 14:12–14). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

The Torah of Yahweh (Part 2)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and apart from him not one thing came into being that has come into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1–5, LEB)

In the book of John we start with a beautiful expression of “the Word”. The faithlife study bible comments on it this way…

The “word of Yahweh” evokes associations with creation, divine revelation, personified wisdom, and the law of Moses. The “word of Yahweh” and the law had already been closely related in prophetic poetry (see Isa 2:3). The “word” is the agent of creation in Psa 33:6, but divine wisdom is personified and depicted in that role in Prov 8:22–31. In the deuterocanonical book Sirach 24:23, this personified divine wisdom is connected to the law of Moses, similarly given preexistent eternal status in Jewish tradition (see the rabbinic text Genesis Rabbah 1.1). Jesus is connected with divine wisdom also in 1 Cor 1:30. By choosing this language, John makes Jesus the very power and essence of God.[1]

John ends his opening thoughts with this statement…

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, ESV)

Many Bibles insert the word “but” between Moses and grace. It is not there in the original text. Careful study of this verse reveals that instruction was given to Moses, how to live it correctly comes through Jesus. Put another way – the instruction is the Grace of God, revealing to us how we are to live, and Jesus is the one who demonstrates it to us and enables us to carry it out by His Spirit.

Recently I have been listening to some old sermons from the late Rev Billy Graham. The more I listened that more I realized that he provided solutions to many of our greatest problems through the word of God and the saving grace of Jesus the Christ. He literally lived out and preached 2 Tim 3:16 –

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

Do we believe what Paul wrote in this verse; I mean do we really believe it? The unfortunate thing today is that we have turned so many verses into short pithy quotes and out of context promises that we throw at people without first demonstrating the compassion and mercy that Jesus showed.

Scripture should be used, yes, but done so through prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit who is the one who brings those words to life in us. It needs to be kept in the full context of what is written and not just popped out and used like a pill.

I think back on Psalm 1 and ask myself, do I delight in the Torah of Yahweh, if so, how do I show it? Do I spend quality time meditating on His words or do I fill my mind and life with unfruitful junk food.

Listen carefully to your prayer life, what is you main focus. A life filled with God’s word should be more upward focused, seeking His will and not our own. God already knows our needs and desires before we even ask. Is your prayer life guided and driven by His Word and the Spirit or do you find yourself continually praying a laundry list of what you want God to do? Try this exercise – allow scripture to guide your prayer life. Develop a discipline of spending a rich amount of time in God’s word and not filling your mind with junk. (Facebook, Netflix, games, social media, Instagram etc.) These are ok when we limit our time with them, but the greater amount of our time should be reading and praying in God’s Word.

[1]Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 1:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

And these words…

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, ESV)

I was reading through a course activity on the Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus and at the end of the session the author challenges his audience by asking a simple question. Do you practice this teaching? What does it look like?

The passage here is part of the Shema which is recited morning and evening as the centerpiece of a Jewish prayer service. In the world of the Christian church we also have part of this prayer as a central idea behind how we should live and that is this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, ESV)

As I pondered this verse I had to stop and really think about what it was saying. Do I talk of them when I walk by the way, or when I lie down, or even when I rise? How much does the word of God permeate my life every day?

Some may argue, well, that is the Old Testament, that does not really apply today. But then you would have to consider the words Paul give to Timothy in the New Testament:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

What does this really mean for me as a follower of Jesus our Lord? In the end I believe that the Word of God should fill every part of our daily routines. We should be challenging each other with what we are learning from the scriptures and through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Every day we should be encouraging one another with God’s words and allowing them to sink deep into our soul.

One thing that really made me think about this even more is that fact that this part of the Shema comes right after the section about loving the Lord with all your heart. To me this is important because it suggest that part of loving the Lord your God is tied to God’s word and its impact on our lives every day.

The challenge today is how to do this amid a distracted world, and with so many things pulling us in so many different directions? Paul understood this even in the early days of Christianity and gives these good words to Timothy which are still good for us to hear today:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:11–16, ESV)

The Lord is going to appear, he will return, and what will we be doing when he does? Will we be distracted by the desires of the world, or will we be fighting the good fight and holding fast to the eternal life in which we are called?

Quenching the Spirit – Part 3

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–19, ESV)

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to teach us. (Jn 14:26) Are we allowing Him to teach us or do we ignore spending time with Him. Do we spend time in prayer and rejoice always in His work in our lives? The Spirit bears witness to the life of Jesus (Jn 15:26) Our lives therefore should be that light on the hill to bear witness to the life of Jesus.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church the things that are not of the Spirit and the things that are of the Spirit. If we walk in those dark places we are quenching the light of the Spirit in our lives.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16–26, ESV)

The only really effective way to be able to walk by the Spirit is to quite our flesh, and listen to the Spirit in our lives through prayer and the Word of God.

In Ephesians Paul teaches us that we are to be filled with the Spirit, this really is the opposite of quenching the Spirit, it is allowing him to flow out from our lives…

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18–21, ESV)

What occupies us when we come together? Do we spend more time talking of all that God is doing in our lives, speaking of what God is revealing to us in His word, rejoicing and making melody in our hearts? What occupies our conversations, is it the Lord, or is it the world? What do we glorify in our lives?

The Apostles passed on instruction to other disciples all the things that they had received and their greatest desire was to be faithful in imparting those instructions to us. So, Paul’s words to the Church of Thessalonica still hold true today…

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1–8, ESV)

The Spirit wants to work in our lives, but we must listen to the things that have been passed on to us, and seeking His wisdom through Prayer, the word of God, and the People of God. Let’s learn from what Paul imparted to Timothy…

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Timothy 1:6–10, ESV)

Fan the flame, share the good news of Christ, keep the Temple of God Holy and allow the Spirit to shine brightly through our lives in the unity of the whole body. We are to be the city on the hill that cannot be dimmed. Our lives must be lived so we do not prevent the spirit from working through us to accomplish the works he has prepared beforehand in Christ that we should walk in them.

Quenching the Spirit – Part 1

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–22, ESV)

Have you ever considered what it truly means to “quench the Spirit”? As I was reading through 1 Thessalonians, I came across this verse again and had to stop and think about it. What does it mean to quench the Spirit, or better what do we do to not quench the Spirit? If we do quench the Spirit how does that impact our lives in Christ?

To really answer this question, we must first look at how the Spirit works in the body of believers.

The testimony of the Scriptures shows us God’s spirit at work in the lives of His people, and with the resurrection of our Lord, the actions of the Spirit of God have been made new in the people that God is calling back to himself. What are those things that we see of the Spirit in Scripture?

First, as in Genesis, He gives life. Jesus expressed this in the passage that we quote so often – “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:3–8, ESV) Being born of the Spirit is considered the new life of every believer called by God.

Then what happens after that? The spirit (whom we are told is sent forth from the father and son – another expression for our benefit) will teach us (Jn 14:26), bear witness to the life of Jesus (Jn 15:26), guide us in all truth (Jn 16:13), represent the power of God in the lives of his people (Acts 1:8, Rom 8:26, 15:13), bears witness to our spirit that we are His children (Rom 8:16, Gal 4:6), instill in us the qualities of God’s character (Gal 5:22), and as it is in Genesis, the Spirit Speaks. (Rev 2:29, 3:6, 3:22)

A very important role of the Spirit in our lives is to give manifestations of Himself through the people of God. The Greek word for this word found in 1 Cor 12:7 is phanerosis and essentially means acts in which the Spirit manifests himself.[1] Paul speaking to the Corinthians discusses with them the Spiritual gifts of the body. There are all kinds of gifts given by the Holy Spirit which are to be used for that common good of the body. What I find interesting is that it says to each is given the manifestation, but if we are all given this, then why do we not see His power moving that well in the body today?

 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–11, ESV)

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12, ESV)

Are we living lives that allow the Spirit to manifest his presence through us, or are we doing things that hinders the Spirit in our lives?


[1] [2] [3] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 1245). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

The Triune Nature of God

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11, ESV)

When Jesus was giving one of his most beautiful prayers before his crucifixion. Jesus was praying for us to have unity, just as he and the Father where one. Just a few minutes on the web looking at Christian blogs, articles, and various group specific writings I would say that we are far from being one.

One such area where this is most obvious is arguments over the word Trinity. Yes, it is a word that is not found in the scripture, yes, at times the political agenda of some ancient church organizations have abused the term, but does that mean it is wrong?

It is believed that Tertullian was the first to use the trinity sometime between 160-225 AD, but this is just a term, a definition that allows him to explain the concept in a way to try and help someone understand his position. But, do we see evidence of the triune nature of God before this term was used? (Update – Turns out someone used the term earlier than him, Theophilis of Antioch. He used the term in a way that sounds like people already had heard it before)

The verse that I quoted above from John 17 hints at Jesus and the Father being one. Let’s examine some other passages that we can find in the writings of the apostles and early church leaders.

But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:4–15, ESV)

This first verse is long, but it is very important. This is Jesus teaching through a long discourse with his disciples. In the previous section Philip asked for Jesus to show them the father and Jesus responds by saying that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father. In John 16:4-15 Jesus is explaining what is going to happen after He leaves. He tells them that if He does not leave then the Helper will not come. Jesus is going to send Him, and he is going to convict the world concerning sin. The word “he” in this translation comes from the Greek word “ekeinos” and is a pronoun that refers to distant persons or things, or persons or things that have already been mentioned.1

Jesus continues and says:

  • I will send Him
  • When He comes He will convict
  • He hears and He will speak
  • He will glorify Jesus

We should also note that the word for Him in this passage is the Greek word “Autos” which is a reference to a specific person or persons spoken or written about.

Later in the text Jesus says this:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26, ESV)

In the previous section Jesus tells them that He is going to send the Helper, in this section He tells them that the Helper, The Holy Spirit (“ho hagion pneuma”) will be sent by the Father and will bring remembrance of the teachings of Jesus. This section alludes to a triune nature of God but very subtly. It definitely suggests a very personal interaction between all three.

Take a look at a few more verses:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26–27, ESV)

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34, ESV)

Here the Spirit is interceding for us, but just a few verses later we have Jesus interceding for us, I find this very interesting.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14, ESV)

The word used here for fellowship is the Greek word “koinonia” and is a word that means to have close mutual relationship or involvement and is very relational. Not sure you can have a relational experience if the Holy Spirit is just God’s power. We must also ask this question, Paul a Pharisee, a Jew of Jews brings the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and fellowship of the Spirit together in the closing remark. Paul, one who would believe in the ONE God brings all three together and seems to give them all equal position.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2–5, ESV)

The verses above are full of 3 separate descriptions of how God is representing himself to us His creation. They are all described with personable characteristics. I know that it is harder for someone who may be Jewish to understand a term like trinity, but it is our job to just preach the good news. I may not use that word if I were ministering to that culture but that does not mean it is a horrible creation of the church and thus cause the amazing amount of arguments that separate people from being one. I still am wondering whose agenda we want to follow. Ours or that of the Christ.

What did some of the earliest Church fathers write about this? Let’s take a look:

Irenaeus: Know thou that every man is either empty or full. For if he has not the Holy Spirit, he has no knowledge of the Creator; he has not received Jesus Christ the Life; he knows not the Father who is in heaven;2

Methetes: We wish you, brethren, all happiness, while you walk according to the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; with whom be glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of His holy elect, after whose example the blessed Polycarp suffered, following in whose steps may we too be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ!3

Justin Martyr: Melchizedek was described by Moses as the priest of the Most High, and he was a priest of those who were in uncircumcision, and blessed the circumcised Abraham who brought him tithes, so God has shown that His everlasting Priest, called also by the Holy Spirit Lord, would be Priest of those in uncircumcision.4

These are just a few selections from these early writers, there are a lot more. In the end though the concept of the triune nature of God has existed through the apostolic writings and even the early church leaders. When it really comes down to it, are we just quibbling over words? Is it just so we can show that we are right and they are not? Do you really think this is what loving as Christ loved us means?

I have written about this once before in this blog, but I keep coming across it. People that have great influence over people, who have books published, who go around and speak to many people, are teaching things that seem to divide the body, not unify. I stand by my final statement in my previous post…

“None of the groups out there have all the right answers, even God has told us that every inclination of our hearts is evil. That includes me and you. So before we criticize, lets figure out how to lift each other up, encourage, equip, and edify the body. If someone does not agree with you, have productive discussions on the subject and pray for one another. Then maybe we can be ONE like the Father, Spirit and Son Are One.”

Original Article – fttps://rcannata7.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/dis-unity/

 1Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990–). Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

2 Irenaeus of Lyons. (1885). Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenæus. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Vol. 1, p. 572). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

3 Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., & Coxe, A. C. (Eds.). (1885). The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna. In The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Vol. 1, p. 43). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

4 Justin Martyr. (1885). Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Vol. 1, p. 211). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.