Archive for February, 2015

The Spirit is like the wind: dynamic

February 17th, 2015
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First Message

Many times we would like to understand how God did things.

We ask “how” questions like:

How did create the universe?

How did Jesus become united to a human nature? How was Jesus fully man and still be God upon this earth?

Or, How did God inspire the Bible through human beings? How does the Bible speak to us today in the 21st century?

Or, How does God perfect us?

Or, How is our body changed at the resurrection?

Many of the “how” questions about God actually are answered by a “who” answer, which points directly to the Spirit. The answer to “how” God does something often is, simply, “by the Spirit.”

Question: How? Answer: By the Holy Spirit!

The truth is, we can know the “who,” without necssarily knowing the “how”!

Reflect on how Jesus answers the “how” question of Nicodemus : Does Jesus tell Nicodemus the mechanism of how one becomes born from above? Did he offer him a technique? Did he list a bunch of rules that if we do this and that and the other, then bingo, it happens?

Read John 3 (CEV)

1 There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above[a] before you can see God’s kingdom!”

4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”

5 Jesus answered:

I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6 Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 Jesus replied:

How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11 I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12 If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?

13 No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14 And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert.[b] 15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.

16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! 18 No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son.

19 The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. 20 People who do evil hate the light and won’t come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. 21 But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do.

22 Later, Jesus and his disciples went to Judea, where he stayed with them for a while and was baptizing people.

23-24 John had not yet been put in jail. He was at Aenon near Salim, where there was a lot of water, and people were coming there for John to baptize them.

25 John’s followers got into an argument with a Jewish man[ about a ceremony of washing. 26 They went to John and said, “Rabbi, you spoke about a man when you were with him east of the Jordan. He is now baptizing people, and everyone is going to him.”

27 John replied:

No one can do anything unless God in heaven allows it. 28 You surely remember how I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am only the one sent ahead of him.

29 At a wedding the groom is the one who gets married. The best man is glad just to be there and to hear the groom’s voice. That’s why I am so glad. 30 Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.

31 God’s Son comes from heaven and is above all others. Everyone who comes from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all others. 32 He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him. 33 But everyone who does believe him has shown that God is truthful. 34 The Son was sent to speak God’s message, and he has been given the full power of God’s Spirit.

35 The Father loves the Son and has given him everything. 36 Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.

Firstly, did you notice in the last section

34 The Son was sent to speak God’s message, and he has been given the full power of God’s Spirit.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are involved in Jesus’ ministry, as acknowledged by John the Baptist.

This remind us of what was said last time: all the works of God are inseparable.

But now I want to focus on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.

Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, trying to explain to him something foundational regarding the nature and work of the Spirit.

Jesus says to him, : John 3:3-8 (NIV)

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Nicodemus wants to understand how God works.

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Jesus tells him how God works with us is by the Holy Spirit.

But that doesn’t answer the how, only the who?

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Gary Deddo:

Jesus’ answer to that “how” question amounts to his saying: How the Spirit works is like trying to talk about how the wind works. We see the effects, but we know very little about it, not even where it was a few moments ago or where it will end up going a few moments later! The Spirit is not predictable or controllable by us.

We don’t and can’t have an answer as to how the Spirit works, the mechanics of it. Apparently the “how” question is the wrong one to ask.

And, given Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus, we can assume that it’s not necessary for us to know either, even to receive the benefits of the working of the Spirit!

Jesus’ “no-explanation” answer does makes sense. How can we possibly put into words, concepts and ideas something about the Spirit given that it is like the wind? You can’t actually predict its movement or say much about it except that “it blows where it wills.” The Spirit has a mind of his own! I think that’s part of our experience. The wind of the Spirit blows where it wills. We did not necessarily see it coming and don’t necessarily see exactly where it’s going. So it is with the Spirit.

Did Jesus tell Nicodemus the mechanism of how one becomes born from above? Did he offer him a technique? Did he list a bunch of rules that if we do this and that and the other, then bingo, it happens?

No. He explained that, because the Spirit works more like the wind, there can be no such kind of explanation given. The working of the Spirit can’t be controlled or predicted by us. That’s the nature of the Spirit– both who he is and how he works!

Many of our questions, especially those regarding the Christian life, are answered simply by identifying the agency of the Holy Spirit. And that’s it. But we always seem to want more that involves some mechanism, technique or steps.

It is sufficient to know that the Spirit is working, so walk in that reality. Just go forward trusting that the Spirit is working – sometimes mysteriously to our way of thinking.

So the important point we need to acknowledge: God works by the Holy Spirit and like the wind we can observe the outcome.

Read more…

Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin January

February 13th, 2015
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January-February Church Matters

February 9th, 2015
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The January-February Church Matters is now available. In this edition we have reports on the women’s ministry in PNG, work in Buduburam, Bangladesh.

To view please click here.