The Power Of The Holy Spirit

Standard

John 18:4-9

In his drama “The Trial of Jesus”, John Masefield has the centurion Longinus report to Pilate after the crucifixion of Jesus. Longinus had been the officer in charge of the execution, and after his official report, Pilate’s wife calls the centurion to come and tell her how the prisoner had died. Once the account is given, she asks, “Do you think he is dead?” Longinus answers, “No, Lady, I don’t.” “Then where is he?” asks Procula, to which Longinus replies, “Let loose in the world, Lady, where neither Roman nor Jew can stop his truth.”

The Christ we serve is alive and living in us! Kierkegaard was once asked what the greatest miracle in scripture was? The questioner was expecting to hear “walking on water”, healing the blind, etc. Kierkegaard’s response was, “That God loves us.”

Matt 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Dr. Paul Brand was speaking to a medical college in India on “Let your light so shine before men that they may behold your good works and glorify your Father.” In front of the lectern was an oil lamp with its cotton wick burning from the shallow dish of oil. As he preached, the lamp ran out of oil, the wick burned dry, and the smoke made him cough. He immediately used the opportunity. “Some of us here are like this wick,” he said. “We’re trying to shine for the glory of God, but we stink. That’s what happens when we use ourselves as the fuel of our witness rather than the Holy Spirit. Wicks can last indefinitely, burning brightly and without irritating smoke, if the fuel, the Holy Spirit, is in constant supply.”

When Jesus said, “I am he,” in the Biblical story, the Bible says they (Disciples) drew back and fell to the ground. None of the other evangelists (Matthew, Mark & Luke) mentions this very important circumstance. Our Lord chose to give them this proof of his infinite power, that the solders might know their power could not prevail against him if he chose to exert his might. Satan cannot defeat Christ. The world cannot destroy Christ. However, Christ can allow Himself (God) to die for the world. At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish. (Job 4:9) Thus by the blast of God they might have perished, and by the breath of his nostrils they might have been consumed.

Pentecostals refer to this passage as being “slain in the Holy Spirit.” When Peter is on the rooftop in Joppa, he is slain by the Holy Spirit. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. (Acts 10:10) Paul is slain by the Holy Spirit in the temple in Jerusalem. “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance….(Acts 22:17) Being slain in the Holy Spirit is when the power and presence of God is so great that it overwhelms the physical body. Moses had been in the presence of God so many times that his face began to glow.
Moses started wearing a veil over his face to protect the people. Being in the presence of God changed Moses physically.

Do not pray for more of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity and is not in pieces. God is one! Every child of God has all of Him, but does He have all of us?

A strange event occurred on September 17, 1997 in Bologna, Italy. Bob Dylan sang and played for Pope John Paul II. The occasion was a religious congress for young people. It was a chance for the 77-year-old pontiff to spend time with young people. When he spoke to the crowd of 20,000 the Pope referred to a classic Dylan song: “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The Pope said the answer was indeed blowing in the wind, the wind that is the breath and life of the Holy Spirt. He answered the query of another Dylan song, “How many roads must a man walk before he becomes a man?” The pope said, “I answer you, ‘One! There is only one road for man and it is Christ who said, ‘I am the life.”

Think of it – the very presence of God, living inside each one of us! God who is omnipresence (everywhere), omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and eternal lives in us. You and I don’t understand how this is possible. And the reality is that we don’t have to fully understand it, to benefit.

The seed planted in us at our baptism does several things: The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. The Holy Spirit speaks to us. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation. Power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can. Or it can be channeled through the engine of a car in a controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles. Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have lasting effect, staying power. The Holy Spirit works both ways. At Pentecost, he exploded on the scene; his presence was like “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God’s power, but he also works through the church through this institution, God began to tap the Holy Spirit’s power for the long haul. Through worship, fellowship, and service, Christians are provided with staying power.

If you have the Spirit without the Word, you blow up. If you have the Word without the Spirit, you dry up. If you have both the Word and the Spirit, you grow up.

Developing Healthy Boundaries

Standard

Psalm 16:5-6

An exasperated mother sent her naughty son to his room to discipline him. He stormed up to his room and defiantly hid under the bed. When the boy’s father got home, he went up to check on his wayward son. He entered the room but did not see the little guy. He wandered around the room for a moment and then looked under the bed. When he looked under the bed, he saw a couple of eyes looking out from under the bed. Then he heard his son’s voice: “Hi, Daddy. Is Mommy trying to get you, too?”

At times one hesitates to reprove or admonish evil-doers, either because one seeks a more favorable moment or fears the rebuke might make them worse, and further, discourage weak brethren from seeking to lead a good and holy life, or turn them aside from the faith. In such circumstances forbearance is not prompted by selfish considerations but by well advised charity. What is reprehensible, however, is that while leading good lives themselves and abhorring those of wicked men, some, fearing to offend, shut their eyes to evil deeds instead of condemning them and pointing out their malice.

We find the old saying is true, “It is better to build boys than to repair men.” Boundaries define us! In the physical world, boundaries are easy to see. Fences, hedges, signage, manicured lawns, walls, alligators, etc. They all give the same message, “this is where my property begins and ends.”

In our spiritual lives, boundaries are just as real, but often harder to see.
However, your spiritual boundaries define your soul. (Prov 4:23) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Thomas Paine wrote, “Character is much easier kept than recovered.” The whole reason that God gave the Ten Commandments was to help us establish our boundaries. Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences. We need to keep things that will harm us outside. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out.

When God established the one boundary for Adam and Eve, it was for their good. When the Israelites re-entered the promised land, they were to eliminate certain nations of people and some they were to allow to be their slaves. The reason was to establish boundaries. The nations to be destroyed would influence the Israelites to worship other gods.

A young man sitting in my office, shared how his life was in ruin. Ever since he was a teen, he had been very promiscuous. Sex with so many that he couldn’t even remember some of their names, problems with drugs and he had even been arrested for D.U.I. We talked about his total disregard for boundaries. It was a home where no one went to Church. He said, “My parents never once said anything about sex or drugs.” The need for boundaries!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Joyce Jones is a renowned concert organist and teacher at Baylor University. Several years ago she played the first full concert on the new pipe organ at the Crystal Cathedral in California, which cost over $1 million. At the age of sixteen she was a piano major at the University of Texas. A sprained wrist interrupted her promising career as a pianist. For six weeks she could not touch a keyboard. Not wanting to waste the time, she decided to learn to play organ pedals with her feet, and a new career was born. “God has a way,” she relates, “to get your attention and say, ‘Hey, I have something better for you to do.'”

Whatever our lot in life, build something on it. God has a master plan for our lives. Our spiritual journey is to find that plan for our lives.

Were You There When He Broke Bread?

Standard

Mark 14:12-26

The world drinks to forget, the Christian drinks to remember. There was this tea-totaling mother who was very vocal from time to time about her theory that only grape juice — not wine — was served at the Last Supper. During one of these discussions her daughter said: “But mother, don’t you remember at Cana Jesus turned the water into wine?” The mother, eyes blazing, said, “Yes! And He NEVER should have done it either!”

When Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, Paul reminds them of the importance of the Lord’s Supper. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Transubstantiation is the view held by the Roman Catholic church. The Council of Trent teaches that after the consecration the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, are contained “truly, really, and substantially in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist.” Consubstantiation in the Lutheran church insist that the body and blood of Christ are mysteriously and supernaturally united with the bread and wine, so that they are received. Symbolic is partaking of the supper and merely commemorates the sacrificial work of Christ, and its value to the participant consists only in the bestowal of a blessing

We do not take the Lord’s Supper because we are righteous and good, we take the Lord’s Supper because we are sinful. “Philip Haille wrote of the little village of Le Chambon in France, a town whose people, unlike others in France, hid their Jews from the Nazis. Haille went there, wondering what sort of courageous, ethical heroes could risk all to do such extraordinary good. He interviewed people in the village and was overwhelmed by their ‘ordinariness’. They weren’t heroes or smart, discerning people. Haille decided the one factor that united them was their attendance, Sunday after Sunday, at their little church, where they heard the sermons of Pastor Trochme. Over time, they became by habit people who just knew what to do and did it. When it came time for them to be courageous, the day the Nazis came to town, they quietly did what was right. One old woman, who faked a heart attack when the Nazis came to search her house, later said, ‘Pastor always taught us that there comes a time in every life when a person is asked to do something for Jesus. When our time came, we knew what to do.'” The habits of the heart are there when they are most needed.

I heard a story recently, supposedly true, about the new pastor at the church. After the first worship service, the pastor heard rumblings that he had not done “communion” the right way. Puzzled at this, he studied his worship books, but came away with the conviction that he had used the proper order. He next asked an officer of the church. The officer told him, “Yes”, he had done it the “wrong way”. “What am I doing wrong?” he asked. “Well,” replied the man, “the previous pastor (who had been at this church for many years) always touched the radiator before serving the cup. You don’t touch the radiator.” Only half enlightened, the pastor called his predecessor, who said, “Yes, I touched the radiator before serving the cup. I did it to get rid of static electricity. The members were complaining of sparks on their lips.” In the breaking of bread and the drinking of this cup we touch God.

Were You There When He Rose Up From The Dead?

Standard

Mark 16:1-8

“An old man and a little boy were out fishing on a pier in Florida late in the day. They’d been talking about all the important things in life – why the rain falls, why the leaves turn golden in the fall. Later in the day, they’re putting their bait and their tackle up, and the little boy looks up in the old man’s face and asks: `Does anybody ever see God?’ (The old man looked out across the darkening horizon, his eyes filled with mist, and said, `Son, it’s where I hardly see anything else’.”)

No matter how often we have heard the Easter story, we need to hear it again. As one person said: “To the child it is wondrous because it is so new; to the grandparents it is wondrous because it is so old.” We always remind people to prepare themselves for Heaven because they can’t take their possessions with them. There once was a man who wanted to take his gold to Heaven with him. So, he had it put into suitcases and placed in the attic above his bed. Months after his death his wife found the suitcases still in the attic and said to herself, “I knew he should have put these in the basement.”

I have changed my viewpoint, there are some things that we can take to Heaven with us. Our children are the one possession we can take to Heaven. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a powerful force in our faith and in our lives. Miracles are important in our lives, but none more important than the resurrection. When Vickie was dying in the hospital, it was the certainty of the resurrection that held my sanity and peacefulness together. To hold no promise of life after death makes facing death frightening and peace less. The thought of dying only to come back as a cow or some other animal, really doesn’t seem to satisfy the soul. But the thought of awaking from death to find ourselves in Heaven with God brings fulfillment and makes this life worth living.

I remember as a boy living on a farm. One year we had a problem with snakes. My dad and older brother killed the snakes and hung them on the fence. But I wasn’t allowed to go check out the snakes because as everyone knows, a snake won’t die until the sun goes down. But when the sun went down, they were dead.

In death, the body and the soul are separated. When God created humanity from the dust of the ground that body was merely a shell without life and without value. It is when God breathed life into the dust that it lived and had value. In death, the body and the breath of God (our soul) are separated. In the resurrection the soul and a new body are joined.

What happens to us after we die is addressed in resolving the issue of the resurrection. In the Old Testament we have four resurrections occurring.
The Widow Zephathah’s son died and Elijah by the power of God restores life to his lifeless body. The body and the soul are separated. But by the grace of God they are reunited in a healing. Shunammite’s son was raised by Elisha. A valley that is filled with dry bones of a large army is raised to life by Ezekiel’s hand. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

When we move into the New Testament we find three resurrections occurring before Jesus’ resurrection and two following. The Widow of Nain’s son is given life by Christ. Jairus’ daughter comes back to life. Lazarus, even after several days of death, is restored to life.

Following Jesus’ resurrection, the miracles continue. The graves outside Jerusalem break open and the dead walk into the city. Eutychus falls asleep in a third story window and falls to his death and Paul bring him back to life.

What the caterpillar calls the end, God calls a butterfly. There came an ever so slight knock on the bedroom door. It was one of the kids who had gotten sick in the night. I glanced at the clock and it was 2:45 A.M. “Dad, I need help!” I quickly learned that Jonathan was sick. He had vomited twice — once on the floor and once in the bathroom. After helping him, I cleaned up everything and went back to bed. That evening my son was the opposite of his usually active, independent, loud, at times even boisterous, self. I didn’t want him to be sick, but I did enjoy the dependence and the closeness. We forget how vulnerable a teenager really is. When Jonathan is healthy, he will often push me away because he has more important things to do.

So often I do the same with my heavenly Father! When things are going well, I “push him away” because I’m busy with “important” tasks. But when things don’t go well, I run back to God, acknowledging my need and dependence.
And like my child, who had come to me during the night, I can go to God any time. My heavenly Father wants me to come to him when I need him. But even more, he wants me to seek him on the good days as well as the bad.
I know deep down that He is the real Source of my strength each and every day.

Donald Barnhouse was widowed at a young age. The death of his wife left him and a six-year-old daughter in the home. He had real difficulty working through his own grief, but the hardest part was to comfort and explain the death to his daughter. He later recalled that all of his education and theological training left him at a loss. One day he and the little girl were standing on a busy corner at a downtown intersection waiting for a light to change. Suddenly a very large truck sped by the corner, briefly blocking out the sun and frightening the little girl. To comfort her, Dr. Barnhouse picked her up, and in a moment, the wisdom of God broke through and he was able to explain to his daughter: “When you saw the truck pass it scared you, but let me ask you, had you rather be struck by the truck or the shadow of the truck?”
She replied, “Of course, the shadow.” He went on to explain that when “your mother died, she was only hit by the shadow of death because Jesus was hit by the truck (death).”

The Psalmist reminds us that God is with us even though we walk through the valley of the “shadow” of death. All that death can do, it did to Christ. Our Lord felt the chill of it. He died alone. But He did for us what we are not able to do for our loved ones, He explored the basements of death to the very bottom, and came back to tell us to be of good cheer.

He has risen! He is not here. Said the angel. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter. He is alive. He is alive! HE IS ALIVE!

Have You Heard The Gossip?

Standard

Leviticus 19:16

Will Rogers once said, “LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE ASHAMED TO SELL YOUR PARROT TO THE TOWN GOSSIP.” Abraham Lincoln’s coffin was opened in 1887 because a rumor had convinced many people that the pine box was empty. To the surprise of quite a few, Lincoln’s body was found just as it had been buried 22 years earlier. Some good rumors never die though. Fourteen years later the same rumor circulated again. The critics would not be silenced so Lincoln’s body was exhumed again. Like most rumors, facts really mess up a good rumor.

George Eliot said, “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.” Research shows rumors reveal our fears and desires. “It’s very important to hear about them the instant they start,” it says. “A rumor is like a fire. You have to be on the spot. Otherwise you find yourself working on hearsay about hearsay.” Rumors reveal the desires, fears and obsessions of our society. “They are an echo of ourselves.” Look at the tabloids in our stores. Rumors are hard to fight back, since some rumors seem irrefutable. An example is Sheila, a celebrated French pop singer. Her delivery of a baby did nothing to dampen rumors in France that she was a male transvestite.

In the book, Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back, Charles Swindoll writes about a woman who committed suicide. She left an unfinished note that simply read, “They said…” She never completed her final thought, but whatever “they said” was painful enough for her to extinguish her own life.

A little child asked a man to pick a flower for her. That was simple enough, so he did. But when he had done so, she said to him, “now put it back,” and the man said he experienced a helplessness which he had never known before. How can you explain to a child that it cannot be done? How can we make it clear there are some things which, when done, can never be undone. There are some words which, when spoken, can never be brought back.

Gossip in scripture is any conversation that has a malicious intent. We often think that gossip has to be a groundless rumor, however in the Bible whether it is true or not, is not at issue. Just because it is true does not mean that you can tell it. Idle chatter often opens doors for talking about someone. Prov 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. The issue isn’t whether it is correct or incorrect information, but why is it told?

One of the things I like about the Book of Proverbs is that it tells you how it is! For the believer it has a solution for the person who gossips. Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Did you hear that men? The man who talks too much. And we thought it was only a problem with women. One day, an 8 year old boy was playing beside an open window while a neighbor confided to his mother about another person. When the visitor was gone, the mother, realizing how much her son had overheard, called him to her side. “If Mrs. Brown had left her purse here just now, would you give it to someone else?” “Of course not!” the lad replied. “Ah,” the mother commented, “Mrs. Brown left something more precious than her purse. The story she told could hurt many people and cause much unhappiness. It still belongs to her, and we shall not pass it on to anyone.”

After three years of researching gossip, Indiana University sociologist Donna Eder has identified an important dynamic involved in gossip. Eder discovered that the initial negative statement was not the starting point for gossip. The critical turning point was found in the response to the initial negative statement. “She’s a real snob,” is not the start of gossip. It’s when someone else agrees that the gossip first begins. Eder found the key is whether or not a negative statement is “seconded.” If a second is provided, gossip ensues. If not, the conversation changes direction. The moral, you can abort gossip bound conversations by quickly affirming the person being targeted for negative comments.

If we come to view ourselves as working for an external reward, we will no longer find the activity worth doing in its own right. An elderly man, harassed by the taunts of the neighborhood children, devised a scheme. He offered to pay them a dollar each if they would return on Tuesday and yell their insults again. The children did so eagerly and received the money. Then he told them he would pay only twenty-five cents on Wednesday. When they returned, insulted him again and collected their quarters, he informed them that Thursday’s rate would be just a penny. “Forget it,” they said-and never taunted him again.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26). We say “words can be deadly” and indeed, sometimes they are, literally.” The sin of murder extends to the use of the tongue in gossip. To destroy someone’s reputation is the same as murdering that person. A person is no better then his/her reputation – it lies in our hands. A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he was to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

God’s Stuff First

Standard

Haggai 1:3-8

The great task of the church is to get sinners into heaven and saints out of bed! Fortune magazine (1/13/97) reports that the nation’s top twenty-five philanthropists gave away more than $1.5 billion in 1996. The most generous was George Soros, president of Soros Fund Management, who donated $350 million last year. Of the top twenty-five philanthropists, only four inherited fortunes. Most attributed their generosity in part to religious backgrounds. And most were donors even before they became wealthy.

I rode in a car with a Christian physician recently. As we drove through an area of new homes, I commented on the beauty of this community. I was startled by the response of the doctor. “Those beautiful homes hide a great deal of illness. This is one of the sickest communities I have ever seen. They keep us doctors going night and day. The sad part is that we are fighting a losing battle, because the physical complaints these people present are for the most part only symptoms of a crazy, mixed-up society where everybody is striving for the wrong things. These people don’t need physical care as much as they need spiritual care. As doctors, we have hesitated to tell them this because we felt that such advice is out of our line. In fact, I have bent over backwards in the past to say that my patients’ moral lives are none of my business. Now I am not quite so sure.”

We are not just talking about diet or sleep. We’re talking about lack of stability in these homes, the bickering, envy, jealousy, moral laxity, wife-swapping. These people don’t know what inner stability is. They just keep wanting something. They keep buying things on time, things they don’t need. They’ve never heard of self-discipline or sacrifice.

Sometimes it is the Church itself that stands in the way of understanding God’s expectations. We sit in padded pews. We watch as the sun comes shining through the stained glass windows. The minister, dressed in a velvet robe, opens the Bible, marked with a silk bookmark and says, “One thing you lack,” Jesus said.
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Have we sacrificed anything of late, solely for the purpose of drawing closer to Jesus Christ. That question is at the very heart of what Haggai is asking. Some call him Hagi but in Hebrew, he is called Haggai. The 10th prophet of the 12 minor prophets in the Old Testament. A man who lived during the 6th century B.C., Haggai was the first prophet to prophesy after the return from the Babylonian Exile. Together with Zechariah, he urged the renewal of the building of the Temple.

What is the problem? “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” The people who have been in exile are more interested in establishing themselves! They want to build their homes and get their crops out. Everything is for themselves. What is wrong with looking out for yourself? There is nothing wrong with looking out for ourselves. However, at the very heart of the Jewish faith and at the very heart of our Christian faith is the nagging question, “what is our first love?” Every Hebrew worship service starts with the same call to worship, “Hear O Hear Israel the Lord thy God is One.” Every Hebrew understands that this is a reminder that God was to be first. The first commandment, You shall have no other gods before me, forces the believer to ask the question, “what is most important in our lives.” As Christians we don’t escape that question. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Making a life is more significant than making a living. The problem with living life in the fast lane–is that we get to the toll booth quicker. Seeking God with one’s whole heart is no joke, especially if it might be the only way to find him. Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

James writes to the Church and says, You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.

The very first Commandment was clear and to the point, You shall have no other gods before me. And yet we need to be reminded and reminded of its importance and impact in our lives. We feel so much discomfort when we hear the words of Jesus Himself, Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

All of these things are important to us. But the question, are they more important than our relationship with God? Joshua understands the truth and says, but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

What Gender Is God Anyway?

Standard

John 14:9-14

An interesting bit of trivia about Mother or Father’s Day. “The Illinois Bell Telephone Co. reports that the volume of long-distance calls made on Father’s Day is growing faster than the number on Mother’s Day. The company apologized for the delay in compiling the statistics, but explained that the extra billing of calls to fathers slowed things down. Most of them were collect.”

A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father. Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?

In seminary a student is required to take Clinical Pastoral Education. I had to do 700 hours at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Three hospitals cooperated in this C.P.E. program. About 80% of the students were from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and most very conservative. The speaker started his prayer with the words, “Heavenly Mother….”

Who is God anyway? To understand things that are beyond our understanding we put them in human terms. The whole reason that we have the Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) is to understand God. So it is not unexpected that the Bible uses human terms to explain God. The Hebrew and Greek languages like most languages is very gender oriented. Almost every word has a gender assigned to it and most are male.

In the scheme of creation, the establishment of a gender and the giving of sex was for the purpose of procreation. However, when we turn to Heaven, procreation appears to have no place. Jesus said, At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Paul writes to the Church at Galatia, There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In the Bible the Father is an exalted position. The social structure described in the Old Testament is known as a “patriarchal” society. The word patriarchy means “the rule of the father.” The father commanded a high position in the family of Old Testament times; his word was law. The fifth commandment carries this idea of the importance one step further when it states, “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12). The word honor refers to one’s response to God. In other words, this commandment suggests that the parents should receive a recognition similar to that given to God.

Along with the honor of the position as head of the family, the father was expected to assume certain responsibilities: spiritual, social, and economic. First of all, the father was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the family, as well as the individual members of the family. In the earliest ages, the father functioned as the priest of his family, sacrificing on their behalf. Later, when a priesthood was established in Israel and the layman no longer functioned at an altar, the father’s spiritual role was redefined. He continued to be the religious leader in the home. Socially, the father’s responsibility was to see that no one took advantage of any member of his family. Those who were not protected by a father were truly disadvantaged persons. The two most common categories of “fatherless” people were widows and orphans. Economically, the father was to provide for the needs of the various members of his family. From time to time, however, a lazy person failed to provide for his family. The apostle Paul rebuked those who considered themselves Christian but did not look after the needs of their families (1 Tim 5:8). He teaches him the way that he should go (Hos 11:1-3) and supplies all of his needs (Matt 6:33). In turn, the Father expects honor from His child, although He does not always receive it (Mal 1:6). Jesus sought to instill reverence and honor in the disciples when He taught them to pray: “Our Father in heaven” (Matt 6:9-10).

The NT brings the Fatherhood of God into greater prominence and distinctness than the OT. In the NT, God is more than just the creator and judge, but our Father. The term thus used refers to the natural relationship between God and His creatures. Christ taught His disciples to address God in prayer as “our Father,” He did not use that form Himself. He spoke of God as “My Father” and “your Father,” but at the same time He made plain that He distinguished between the relation in which they stood to God and that in which He Himself stood. The first words of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” are first of all a recognition of this deep truth of Holy Scriptures.

To be brought into God’s family, the believer must be “born from above” or “born again” (John 3:3,5). When a person has God as his Father, he must realize that other believers are his “fathers,” “mothers,” “brothers,” and “sisters” (1 Tim 5:1-2). The body of believers known as the church are also referred to as the “household of God” (Eph 2:19) and the “household of faith” (Gal 6:10). Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).

Karl Stegall tells of two brothers who entered the first grade. One said he was born January 1, 1984. The other said he was born April 4, 1984. “That is impossible,” said the teacher. “No,” replied the first brother, “one of us is adopted.” “Which one?” asked the teacher. “I don’t know,” he replied. One day I asked my Dad and he kissed us both and said, I forgot.”

Christians can never forget that every one of us was adopted into the family of God. So Paul wrote to the Romans that we are “God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family.” (Romans 8:15) His is my Father!