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Category Archives: The Holy Spirit

The Sword Of the Spirit

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:17)

the sword of the Spirit

What does a sword do? Well, as can probably be gathered by the blade at the end of it, its effective at attacking. It’s also used to parry attacks against you. The strange thing though, is why our sword would be the Spirit. Sure, He can protect us (parry) but can He really attack? For that matter, isn’t all the Spiritual life defending against Satan’s attacks?

As shocking as this may seem, the Christian does not cower in a corner waiting for Satan’s fire to cool down. A battle, like an argument, requires two people to continue. If one person is cowering in a corner, it isn’t a battle; it’s a hunt. However, we in of ourselves can’t fight. Thus the Christ part of Christian. We can’t do anything, however, the Holy Spirit (the sword) and Christ (the armor) let us fight and actually stand a chance. In fact, more than simply standing a chance, it becomes one of those old mythological hunts. The kinds were the knight inevitably slays the dragon. The main difference between back then and now being that we aren’t the knight, Jesus is. And He already slayed the dragon. Really, we’re more like the princess who was trapped inside the tower which the dragon was guarding. Or maybe the writers which went with the knight to sing His praise and write extremely long poems after he slayed the dragon… But now we’re getting off topic.

As Christians, we aren’t supposed to sit around and do nothing. Yes, our opponents commander (Satan) has been taken out of commission. But there are still a couple of guerrillas who won’t call it quits (the flesh). But how does one attack sin?

9But when(U) the archangel(V) Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing(W) about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said,(X) “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9)

One attacks sin by letting the Holy Spirit driving it out. Our job is actually incredibly easy when compared to Christ dying for us (though, everything seems easy in comparison to that. So I suppose that’s not really saying much). It may seem hard to drive out sin. Just like it seems hard for someone to have brain surgery.They don’t really do any of the work, the surgeon does it all. In fact, they’re sedated the whole time! Yet it seems to be so hard to have the surgery done. The difference is that our Spiritual surgeon knew that because of the blood we’d lost we’d die, so He gave His own blood to keep us alive. And through that act, allowed us to live and cured our illness of the brain.

In short: in order to fight against sin, we can’t be the one fighting. Christ must fight through us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Eternal Life or Corruption?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:8-9)

We’re presented with two things here, we can either sow to the flesh, which will reap us corruption. Or, we can sow to the Spirit, where we’ll reap eternal life. Not a very hard decision to make. Or is it? After all, sowing to the Spirit requires work. Sowing to flesh on the other hand, is where we take a million dollar loan and never have to actually sow a thing. Easy, but results in corruption.

Eternal life, or corruption?

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. (Galatians 6:10-13)

What exactly does it mean to sow to the Spirit? Does it mean being perfect? Does it mean we buy a dove and ‘sow to it’ seeds by giving it bird-seed? Well, actually, no it doesn’t mean either of those things. We neither buy doves in bulk, nor do we have to be perfect. In fact, the impossibility of our being perfect, is the very thing Paul has been saying throughout all of Galatians! So then, I repeat, what does it mean to ‘sow to the Spirit’? Well, before I answer that question, let me point something out: “but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (notice it never says, will reap his/her eternal life. Instead, it simply says, “reap eternal life”)

There isn’t anything required of us, as Christians, to be saved. With that understood, let’s answer the questions Sowing in the Spirit, means bringing others to Christ. There are two ways to understand the verse, the first, is that we, the sower, reap eternal life. This is incorrect. The second was of understanding it, is that when we bring others to Jesus, we reap the reward of their eternal life.

On the other hand: If we sow in our flesh, and don’t do anything to help others, we will reap corruption. Specifically, we will witness the corruption of everyone around us as the world eats them. For that matter, likewise will happen to us. – If a father and husband simply sits by and doesn’t even try to help his family grow Spiritually, his family will corrupt. In the world, marital disputes are common; expected. Children who hate their home? Part of life. That is because their Spiritual life is non-existent! No one stepped in and helped them grow in(to) Christ. Or, to put it another way: corruption reigns.

So the questions remains: Eternal life, or corruption? Which do you want to see around you?

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Fleshly and Divine Warfare

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ–I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!– I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:1-3)

Well, it’s fairly clear Paul had gotten some sort of letter from the Corinthians in response to his first letter to them by this point (this is clear for several reasons that I’ll leave to another time). In the letter Paul apparently has found out that people were saying that he was bold in his letters to them, where-as he’s a weakling in person. So he simply responds by saying, “would you rather I come and treat you as I do those who think we’re walking in the flesh?”. Then he seems to say that the people who claim he walks in the flesh are in the right! – If Paul walks in the flesh, why shouldn’t we?

First, does Paul walk in the flesh? … Isn’t this the same Paul who said, “we’ve died to the sinful nature”?

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

Paul, when he says, “For though we walk in the flesh,” isn’t saying that he does walk in the flesh, he’s only using it to make his point (which is that we don’t wage war as the flesh does, but instead with divine power). But how does the flesh wage war? Well, he listed a couple of ways. By infiltrating your thoughts. By inciting disobedience. Arguments and lofty opinions raised against God? All part of the package. – What Paul is saying is that we can destroy these, “strongholds” with the Holy Spirit; we can take every thought captive to Christ

Second, what’s the point?

I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. (2 Corinthians 10:9-11)

His actual point is writing this part in particular was to deal with the people who were saying he was powerful in letter but not in presence. However, within that main point of writing this, he’s worked in another point, which is what we just “talked” about. But as usual, he’s hinting at something. Also as usual, the thing he’s hinting at is the Gospel of Jesus.

Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. (2 Corinthians 10:7)

How is it that one could destroy strongholds in that person’s actual head? How can someone take captive their “own”  thoughts? What force works in a person to make them destroy arguments and lofty opinions against God? Is it their own self? Well that can’t be, everyone’s, “self,” is from birth against God. So what is it? It’s the Holy Spirit who works in us to will and to do, but how did we receive the Holy Spirit? When Christ was crucified and died on our behalf, that’s when the Holy Spirit came. All this to say this, through his death, we are saved both now and forever, in Spirit and mind.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Point of Being a Christian

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. (Colossians 2:2-4)

How is it, I wonder, that knowing that in Christ are hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge, will help them not be persuaded by plausible arguments. Well first let’s identify what some plausible arguments would have been for them:

1. Perhaps they were like the Corinthians, and might be persuaded into believing “super-apostles (super-imposters).

2. Maybe they would be tempted like the Galatians were, to observe special days (the law) instead of believing that Christ is all they need.

How could just knowing that Christ has treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him really help anyone with any problem? Surely it wouldn’t help them not believe in an imposter, or help them to realize that Christ is our (their) only hope of salvation. – Let’s look at one particular part of the verses in Colossians:

riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

As a Christian, we are Christ’s “temple” where he dwells. Paul is reminding the Colossians that Christ now dwells in them, and therefore Christ’s wisdom and knowledge also dwells in us. All that to say that with Christ dwelling in us, we can recognize one of Satan’s traps. Notice how exactly Paul phrases this:

riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

God’s mystery is Christ. But let’s get more specific, what about Christ?

26(BP) the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27(BQ) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are(BR) the riches of the glory of(BS) this mystery, which is Christ in you,(BT)the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)

More specifically, Christ, the hope of glory. – Christ can live in us, because he died for us. Hence giving us a ‘hope of glory’ as Paul phrases. But now there’s another question that we see, “So what’s the point?” Sure Christ living in me is pretty cool, and being able to recognize and bring to God a trap from Satan is amazing, but really, it’s not exactly what I had imagined becoming a Christian would be like. Where’s the unexpected quadrupling of my salary?

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:8-9)

God promises to provide all our needs not necessarily our wants (salary raise, etc). In fact, it usually means hardship (what form of “hardship” I don’t know). – “But, what’s the point of being a Christian then?” Is another question that arises. The point of it, is that we have Christ living in us and hope of glory. The point of it, is that we’ve been saved through Jesus’ blood. The point of it, is how could anyone do anything but praise the very one who died so that they could live?

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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True Faith?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned! (Lamentations 5:16)

Why would God, our God, cause His chosen people to “loose the crown”? It doesn’t seem to make sense, sure they sinned and turned away from him to idols, but is that worthy of total annihilation?

But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. (Lamentations 5:19)

So that’s why God would let the crown go from His people. Yes, to punish them, but also it seems to teach them a lesson. They’re mortal, he isn’t. In short, they should shape up now and do good before they actually are “no more”. But does that apply to us? Do we too need to hurry up, repent, and start doing good? Well, in fact, to a certain extent yes. But not in the context you’re probably thinking of now:

 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Looking at it from God’s point of view, we have a small speck of time in which to repent. So from that perspective we do need to “hurry up and be saved”, but are good works required for repenting and salvation? According the above verse it seems that we need to in essence “prove” we have faith by our actions, but are good works required for salvation? Well, is faith required for salvation?

28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Romans 3:28-30)

Now it seems we have to conflicting passages, the one says faith without works is dead. Yet the other says works are not required for salvation, and only faith is needed. Well let’s dissect this:

We are justified, or, “saved” by faith in Jesus alone. Yet that faith is not true faith, unless it is accompanied by works. No work’s “under the law” are required for salvation, instead works of the Spirit are required.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

So what’s the conclusion? – The Israelites required works of the law to be saved, we require only faith. And when we have faith, God sends his Spirit into us so that we back our faith in him, with works for him. That’s why faith without works is visibly dead; If you don’t have the Spirit of God working in you, even if he only causes you to say a nice word instead of angry one, you don’t have true faith.

It’s important not to “fall off” on either side; either that we are saved by works alone (that’s the law perspective), or that nothing is required of us at all.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The People of God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.'” (Isa 51:16)

my words in your mouth

And I have put my words in your mouth

But what does having God’s word in our mouth(s) mean? Does it mean we’re automatically good speakers?

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

But how do we use that “power, love and self-discipline” to help us spread God’s word?

11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

“For it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit”, so what you’re saying is that should someone have the calling to preach God will just sort of give them what they should say when they’re at the pulpit? – Or maybe, and here’s a thought, you’re saying that what we do and say will change because of the Holy Spirit!

I’m covered.

and covered you in the shadow of my hand

So what again does it mean to be covered in the shadow of God’s hand?

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress
   my God, in whom I trust.”

 3 Surely he will save you 
   from the fowler’s snare 
   and from the deadly pestilence. 
4 He will cover you with his feathers, 
   and under his wings you will find refuge; 
   his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

So to be covered by the Lord means to be safe from the Devil’s temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The People of God

establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.'”

And now the final question comes; what does it mean to be the people of God?

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

So as people (i,e, Children) of God , our duty is quite simply to praise God for saving us.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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God – The Ultimate Landscaper

Hello again!

This is what God gave me in his word today:

For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. (Isaiah 51:3)

wilderness

For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD;

Have you ever really thought of your own heart in terms like; formerly: barren, waste, wilderness, or desert? And if so why? What’s different about being a Christian? – What exactly does it mean to have your wilderness and waste turned to Eden?

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

What, exactly, it means to have your wilderness turned to “Eden” is that you have the “fruits” of the Spirit in your life! Peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and joy. Which lead’s into the second section of this:

Joy and Gladness

joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Why is the Christian happy? Because the Christian has Jesus inside of him/her! – Jesus is the fountain of joy and gladness and without him there is nothing. Without Jesus our hearts are a desert; void of any life, much less joy or happiness of any sort. A complete wasteland of life. It’s only because Christians are on “the vine” (Jesus) that we can get the water. If we were cut off of the vine we would be dead.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

So what’s my point? Why say all of this; just to make a “non-Christian” jealous? – The reason is this: I believe the church in general is significantly lacking in happiness, why? Because the church in large is lacking in Jesus! My hope is simply that you as the reader will understand that as a Christian, we should in fact be joyous and singing God’s praise!

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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