Iyar/Sivan 5773 May 2013
MA CHADASH? WHAT’S NEW?
Annual Conference: Our second conference for Messianic Jewish Believers and their families is scheduled for the afternoon of July 20. If you know Messianic Jews in the area, please let us know how to reach them so that we can send them an invitation.
A Blessed Passover Season: Each Passover season we get invitations to speak in churches around the Metro Detroit area. This year our representatives shared Messiah In The Passover presentations or led Seders in 20 different congregations. We also hosted two of our own Seders with 200 at each dinner. Several Jewish guests attended their first Messianic Seder. Please pray that this experience be used by God to bring them to Himself. There isn’t anything quite like a Shema Seder!
THANKS VERY MUCH!
The Apostle to the Gentiles, instructing the community in the heart of the Roman Empire, writes this: Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings (Romans 15:26-27). We appreciate all of you who are fulfilling Romans 15 – who are sharing with us as we serve the Lord by proclaiming the Good News to the Jewish people first, and also to the Gentiles – and by building up Messiah’s Community. Todah rabah, and may the Three-In-One God of Israel richly bless you!
SEVEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT
Because God is the Supreme Being. He is our Creator and Redeemer and Provider. Our relationship to Him is the most important relationship that we have. Our obligations, duties and responsibilities toward Him are the most important obligations, duties and responsibilities we have. We come into this fallen world with a fallen nature, dead in our trespasses and sins, confused about God, alienated from our Creator who is the Source of Life. We come into this fallen world headed to death, not life; headed to Hell, not Heaven. If we are to be reconciled to the One who is the Source of Life, it’s essential for us to know God as He really is – not as we assume He is. It’s crucial for us to get right with God, become loyal to God, get close to God, and stay close to God so that we can live forever with God. To help us do that, here are seven things I like about the Spirit of God.
The first thing I like is that the Spirit of God is a person. He is a person, with all of the essential elements of personhood – mind, emotion and will. He is a person, not an impersonal force. He is a person without a body. Because the Spirit is a person and lives in the sons and daughters of God, He is able to understand us and help us become the persons we need to become. The Spirit helps the image of God in us be renewed. He transforms us into the image of the Perfect Person – Messiah.
The second thing I like about the Spirit is His relationship to the Father and the Son. He is equal to the Father and the Son as to His nature, but distinct as to His Person. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are equally divine, equally eternal, equally uncreated, but separate as to their Persons. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit. The Son is not the Father or the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father or the Son. Separate yet equal. Maybe that’s why I like being a distinct person, with my own personal identity – united to the Three-In-One God, united to all of the other sons and daughters of God, and yet my own distinct person. The Spirit is equal to God the Father and God the Son in nature, in deity, yet lower than the Father and the Son in position and authority. The Father and the Son sit on thrones in the center of Heaven. The Spirit does not have a throne. The Spirit of God appears as seven lamps of fire burning before God’s throne, which are the seven Spirits of God – which I understand to be the seven-fold Spirit of God. The Father and the Son send the Spirit. The Spirit does not send the Father or the Son. The Spirit directs us to Messiah, not to Himself. The Spirit is equal to God the Father and God the Son in nature, in deity, yet lower than the Father and the Son in position and authority. Because the Spirit of God is humble, He can nurture humility in us – a virtue that we desperately need.
The third thing I like about the Spirit is that this immaterial Person, this Person without a body, is omnipresent – present everywhere throughout the universe and beyond. King David beautifully expressed this when he asked: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. How comforting to the children of God to know that God’s Spirit, who does so many things for us, protects us and guides us, and will be with us now and always, here and everywhere!
The fourth thing I like about the Spirit is that He is our Helper, just like Yeshua was while He lived on Earth. The Spirit continues Messiah’s wonderful ministry to us, but in a greater way than was possible before (John 14:16, 16:7). Before His ascension to Heaven, Yeshua promised: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He lives with you and will be in you. Messiah’s ministry to His followers was limited while He was here on Earth. He could only be in one place at one time. But His Spirit shares His mind and will and power and is able to bring Messiah’s wonderful life and ministry to all of us wherever we are, all the time, now and forever and ever and ever! He is the same kind of helper that Yeshua was. The Spirit does what Yeshua did while He was here on Earth. The Spirit comes alongside of us and helps us. He defends us, teaches and encourages us, comforts us, advises and corrects us.
The fifth thing I like about the Spirit is that He restores our relationship to God and to one another. Because of the Fall, human beings are alienated from God and from one another. The Holy Spirit unites us to God and to one another. The Spirit lives in all of the sons and daughters of God, and He lives in the Father and in the Son. He joins us to the Father and to the Son and to one another. He makes us into a united and loving and eternal fellowship. Because we all share the same Spirit, the children of God have a bond with each other that is strong and full of love and good will. The unity that the Spirit gives is greater than the disunity between Jews and Gentiles; rich and poor; educated and uneducated; black, white, Asian and Hispanic.
The sixth thing I like about the Spirit of God is that He is holy. He is the Holy Spirit. That Spirit is kadosh, holy, pure, perfect, separate from anything that is impure or unholy. In Heaven, in front of the throne of God, burn seven lamps (Revelation 4:5). That is the Spirit of God. He is pictured as fire: immaterial, powerful, pure, cleansing.
Mankind is in deep darkness, confused about the most important truths, confused about God, confused about the way of salvation – but the seven burning lamps give light – truth, revelation, wisdom, understanding, insight, knowledge that leads to salvation. Mankind is sinful and impure, but fire purifies. The seven burning lamps of the Spirit cleanse us and make us holy. The Holy Spirit produces a desire to be holy, to be separate from evil, to be set apart to accomplish God’s purposes. Because He is holy, and He lives in us, He can make us holy, and we desperately need to become holy.
The seventh thing I like about the Spirit of God is that He does so many fantastic things for us.
* The Holy Spirit lives in us. Don’t you know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19). Ruach can mean breath. Just as our breath is close to us, so God’s Spirit is close to us. The Holy Spirit anoints us – which means He gets close to us. This closeness to God brings a sense of intimacy with God and a sense of God’s love and nearness and presence.
* Since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, He makes us more keenly aware of God. Those in whom the Spirit lives will find themselves more interested in God Himself – not just the external trappings of religion. Having a relationship with the living God and getting close to Him will be the focus of their religion. They will find themselves more aware of God’s reality in the daily events of life. The Spirit gives us the desire and the power to serve God. The Spirit helps us dedicate our lives, our thoughts, our actions to serve God.
* Because He is the Spirit of the Son, He helps us fix our eyes on Messiah. He helps us see how the Word of God points to Messiah. He gives us the mind of Messiah. He makes us more and more like Messiah, developing Messiah-like character in us, helping us to walk like Yeshua walked, to live like Messiah lived. Since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Yeshua, the mission that Yeshua came to accomplish – to save human beings from Satan, sin and death, bringing people the Good News that will enable them to live forever, teaching those who are interested, doing good deeds for hurting humanity – will become our highest priority.
* We come into this world alienated from the Creator, dead in our trespasses and sins, disconnected from the God who is the Source of Life. Fallen human beings have a fallen nature that only has the capacity to serve sin (Romans 6:20). The Holy Spirit connects us to God and gives us a new life (John 3:3-7, Titus 3:5), and a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new nature has the capacity to serve God with the right motivations and please Him (Romans 6:18).
* We come into this world as rebels against God. We are disobedient, and by nature we want to act independently from our Creator. The Spirit gives us a new nature that has a new desire to obey the Lord. The Spirit writes the teachings of God on our hearts. At the very core of who we are, it becomes our desire to please the Creator and fulfill His requirements.
* The Spirit gifts us. Every child of God has at least one spiritual gift from the Spirit, designed to help him fulfill the mission of the Messiah – evangelizing the world without and building up the community from within. Find out what your spiritual abilities are and start using them.
* The Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and He guides us into the truth. He teaches us, helping us to understand and apply the Word of God (John 16:12-15). He brings to remembrance the things that Yeshua taught. He produces a desire to know and practice the truth. And since the truth is primarily found in the Holy Scriptures, which were inspired by the Spirit of God, we receive a greater respect for, interest in, understanding of, and genuine resolve to live by those Holy Writings.
* The Spirit guides us, leading us toward God, toward Messiah, toward truth, toward God’s Word, toward God’s community, toward repentance, toward holiness, toward salvation, toward Heaven, toward everlasting life. He leads us away from evil, danger, confusion and temptation. The Spirit leads us in specific directions when we are in need of that guidance (Romans 8:14).
* The Spirit of God intercedes for us. We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). The Father hears these Spirit-initiated inarticulate prayers and responds to them.
* The Holy Spirit produces wonderful, positive, tangible results in us, known as the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Because we are fallen, and because sin has affected every aspect of who we are, our lives are not characterized by good fruit. But a Spirit-indwelt life will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – a life that is characterized not by selfishness, but by love for others, even the unlovely; a life that is characterized not by being short-tempered, but by patience under trial; a life that is characterized not by meanness, but by kindness, even to those who don’t deserve it; a life that is characterized by doing good for others; a life that is characterized by faithfulness to God, faithfulness to Messiah Yeshua and the truths found in the Scriptures, faithfulness to commitments, vows, and promises; a life that is characterized not by being quarrelsome, but by a desire for gentleness and peace; a life that is characterized not by loss of control, but by the ability to control one’s actions, so that life is lived in a God-honoring way.
* The Holy Spirit guarantees our inheritance. Mankind is spiritually destitute. Like prodigal sons, we have squandered our inheritance, but the Holy Spirit is like the down payment on a fabulous inheritance. God put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). In human affairs, once a down payment has been made, the purchaser is pledged to go through with the transaction. The presence of the Spirit in our lives is a guarantee that God will never fail in any of His promises connected with our salvation. The presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we will receive all the promised blessings that are part of our salvation and our great inheritance. Which is greater, the gift, or the one who made and then gave the gift? It’s the one who made and then gave the gift. If you have the Spirit of God Himself, who is greater than this world and also the World To Come, then you have it all! By giving us His Spirit, which is Himself, God is guaranteeing us an amazing inheritance, which is reserved in Heaven for us, an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.
* The Holy Spirit seals us. A seal demonstrates ownership. A seal gives protection. Because we are sealed by the Spirit of the Almighty God, we are safe, we are protected, we are secure (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). It is the Spirit of the All-Powerful God who seals us, and there is no force in the universe that can break that seal! That means that we will get to our final destination!
* The Spirit gives marvelous assurance that we belong to God. You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). If we have been born again, if the Spirit of God has truly been given to us, there will be an assurance that we belong to God and He belongs to us. In spite of our ups and downs, the sons and daughters of God have an “inner witness” that God is our Father, and that we are His beloved sons and daughters. Deep within us, we sense that God is our dear Abba – our beloved Father. Do you have that inner witness – that God is your Father and you are His child?
The Holy Spirit does so many wonderful things for us! So, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? We receive the Spirit when we understand that Yeshua is the Messiah, and transfer our loyalties to the Three-In-One God of Israel. After that initial salvation experience, we need to be filled with the Spirit by staying close to God and practicing the spiritual disciplines: being an active member of a good New Covenant Community, serving within the Community, reading the Bible, praying and engaging in evangelism on a regular basis. These good spiritual habits help us get close to God and stay close to God. Sin interferes with our relationship with God. If you sin, and you will, confess your sins and pray to be filled again with the Spirit, and you will be. Before you leave this world, make sure you have received the Holy Spirit, that He is living in you in that special way that can only happen to Christians and Messianic Jews. Be filled with Him. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing in sin. Is the Holy Spirit living in you? Is He filling you? If you are not sure, make an appointment to talk to your spiritual leader and get his help.