“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13 (ESV)
Three words which we use often in our thoughts and conversations. But does our use reflect the power and fullness of these words for us? The first is Joy and this verse should fill our hearts with rejoicing. We fully believe that these blessings are for us today just as they were available to the Christians in Rome to whom these words were written long ago. God desires to fill us with joy. God also offers to us Peace. But the peace God gives is not the peace found in this world. Peace treaties and conferences and summits all mean just one thing – lack of conflict between warring parties. The peace from God is the removal of the hostility that separates us from Him and binds us to His love. If our hearts and minds are disturbed by some crisis or difficulty, God wants to fill us with His peace. If you are wondering about your eternal future God wants to remove the uncertainty and doubt and fill us with His Hope. His joy, peace and hope are our promise today and so we give thanks God for His love.
“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.” Romans 8:26 (ESV)
Our verse is in a context that makes known the creation* and believers* both groan for ultimate restoration, the Holy Spirit does as well. One of the last promises Jesus made to His disciples was that he would send a helper and fulfilled it through the Holy Spirit sent from God our Father. The groanings too deep for words is communication within the Trinity that cannot be expressed in words. It is the Holy Spirit that works with our Lord Jesus in His high priestly work of intercession. All on our behalf for all who have believed in Jesus as their Savior, have the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Holy Spirit is helping us to pray by praying with us to our Heavenly Father. To start with, we really don’t know in ourselves how we should pray. God promises that if we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us He will impress on our hearts what things to pray for and even how to pray. As we pray we can trust the Spirit to pray with us and we can depend
* For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23
“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”” – Zechariah 4:6-7 (ESV)
After seventy years as exiles, taken by Nebuchadnezzar from Israel had been captives in Babylon. Cyrus the Persian freed the captives and about 50,000 returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. They immediately began to rebuild the temple, but opposition from neighbors, followed by the people’s indifference from within, caused the work to be abandoned. Zechariah, is a priest and a prophet⸺contemporary with Haggai. The Lord commissioned them to stir up the people to rebuild the temple. God give Zechariah the prophet a vision for Zerubbabel to take up the task and finish the job. But a caution and a promise are also given that we can learn from and trust as a promise for ourselves. Whatever our assignment, neither our might, wealth, or physical stamina will be sufficient for us to complete the work God gives to us. Only an abundant supply of the power of the Holy Spirit, will enable us to carry out the task. Because the outcome is guaranteed, any mountain-like opposition will be leveled by God to become like a flat surface. As was promised to those rebuilding the Temple of God it was completed 4 years later in 516 B.C.
“For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” – Ephesians 2:18 (ESV)
One precious truth about believing in Jesus Christ that is not offered in any other religion is that we have access to God our Father. No sinner has any right or worthiness in himself for access to God, but believers have been granted that right through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death. The resources of the Trinity belong to believers the moment they receive Christ, and the Holy Spirit presents us before the heavenly throne of God the Father, where we are welcome to come with boldness at any time. We might think of our access as our introduction to the Father. But it seems better to understand that Christ gives us access to our heavenly Father as our Savior and our advocate. This access is also by faith into the grace of God in which we stand (Romans 5:2). In the next verse we are promised standing as citizens with all who are set apart in holiness and therefore in God’s household. We are IN by faith in Jesus through what the Holy Spirit has provided to us, direct access to God. We need no human intermediary, God accepts our prayers, our confessions, our faith one on one.
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” – Philippians 1:27 (NASB)
As believers professing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are called to live our lives in such a way that other’s notice a difference from those who don’t believe. Paul the Apostle frames this as ‘conduct that is worthy of the gospel.’ The Greek for ‘gospel’ means the Good News. We live and walk in Christ because of the good news of the Lord Jesus. The Old Testament spoke of the suffering and resurrection of Christ so this was not a new message. We know of the resurrection, believe in it, and have been saved by it. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Standing firm in one spirit with one mind introduces Paul’s theme of unity that core to his words of encouragement. Paul’s call for sincere unity of heart and mind is based on:
- the necessity of oneness to win the spiritual battle for the faith (Phil. 1:28–30);
- our love of others in the fellowship (Phil. 2:1-2);
- genuine humility and self-sacrifice (Phil. 2:3-4); and
- Jesus Christ our example who proved that sacrifice produces eternal glory (Phil. 2:5–11).
First as one soldier standing at his post, then as a team resisting a common foe.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” – 1 John 4:1-3 (ESV)
The mention of the Holy Spirit in the previous chapter (1 John 3:24) motivates John to advise his readers that other spirits exist, such as demonic spirits, who produce false prophets and false teachers to spread their false doctrine. We are warned repeatedly through Scripture of the danger of apostasy, especially in later times. (1 Timothy 4:1-2). We are in later times as it is the period from the first coming of Christ until His return for his Church and judgment of the world. Do be on guard against falling prey to false teaching that tickles our ears and stirs our desire for the things of the world. Our promise is this, we can know and do know the Holy Spirit of God if we by faith given to us have believed in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf. We just might be in a time where the opposition is increasing and it is wise for us to cling to this instruction. We can test the spirits by discerning whether they confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who do not so confess, but pretend to be preachers and teachers, are apostate.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” – Psalm 51:10-11 (ESV)
David, King of Israel, made a serious error in judgment and broke God’s Law. His lust for Bathsheba led him into adultery and the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. David, about whom God testified to be “a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do,” (1 Samuel 13:6; Acts 13:22) failed to do so always. It does not have to be any acts of such serious consequence in order to reflect on our own lives and the times when we have failed in obedience to God’s commandments. David writes this Psalm after he is confronted by Nathan, God’s prophet who was sent for that purpose. David confesses his sin and begs forgiveness from God. This promise, we have from God, is found throughout the Scriptures – God is merciful and loving. God will forgive all who come to Him in repentance, confessing their sins. Just as 1 John 1:9 confirms for us, God is faithful and just. He promises to forgive and cleanse us from sin and its residue. David’s request was for a clean heart and a right spirit within himself. God promises that when we acknowledge our failings.
Read 2 Samuel 11-12 – For context
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” … “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:1 & 4 (ESV)
The first letter written by the apostle John that we have in our Bible is a powerful letter of truth. A great amount of encouragement is given to those who have by faith, believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. When we accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness and in faith believe that He is our Lord and Savior, we overcome the false teaching and false teachers. They are everywhere and we must be on our guard not to be tripped up by them. In another verse we share today from John’s letter is this: “I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:14 (ESV) We know that all who believe and have the word of God abiding in them have by God’s will the strength to overcome evil. Since John addresses “little children” and “fathers” and “young men” we know that none are excluded from this promise. All faith believers overcome evil and false teaching. All are made strong in God love.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (NIV)
The popular Southern Gospel song, “Family of God” includes the lyrics “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.” Our verse selected today reminds us of this important work of the Holy Spirit. When we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are brought into the family of God. God puts within us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the knowledge of our joining the family of God very real to us. Others might tell us this fact and we can read and sing about being children of God but in order for it to become really meaningful for you and I we need to hear confirmation from the Holy Spirit. How wonderful that the Spirit of God Almighty testifies with us that we are His children. Children of God by Spiritual re-birth and by God the Father’s adoption of us into his family. There need be no question about it and no doubt at all. Let’s just listen to Him and let Him convince us each day that we have been adopted and full members of God’s family of love.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11 (ESV)
If we were to look back two verses we find that the Apostle Paul was confirming that all who have God’s Spirit dwelling in them are no longer bound like a slave to their old life of desires and actions of the flesh (the natural man). We know that when Jesus Christ rose from the dead it was a marvelous miracle. It was something that only God could do. It was the very action that gives us new and eternal life. Our verse today reminds us that God’s power is available to us even while we’re living here on earth in our earthly bodies. Yes, God has made this power available to us through the Holy Spirit. The things that we could never do in our own strength we can do by His Holy Spirit power. So when we find it difficult to do God’s will in specific instances we can trust God through His indwelling Holy Spirit to enable us to do it. God does this for us using the same marvelous power that raised Christ from the dead. Since we have the Spirit dwelling in us we are assured us of this promise.