Holy Spirit and Four Births

Brian Houston in his 2019 Christmas message to Hillsong Church spoke on Holy Spirit’s role in the Christmas story.  It is something that is easily overlooked, yet is the very heart of the story as that is how a virgin became pregnant.  This made me think of the other times the Spirit was present at the birth of things.  Now, these births cause the world and secular thinkers’ great displeasure and they often have very unnecessary things to say about each of them!  

Genesis 1: 2 – The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  The Spirit was at Creation – the birth of this Age that tells the story of His people.  The “world” cannot accept that God created the world and oversees His planet.

Luke 1: 35 – The Holy Spirit and the Power of the Highest will come to you and hover over you.  The Holy Spirit supplied the “50%” of the DNA that Mary did not get from a man.  The “world” really has a hard time with this.  Joseph even had a “hard” time with this until God sent an angel to him.  This Story, the Christmas Story, is what sets Christianity apart.  This is no less a story of Creation as the one in Genesis and unless the Holy Spirit opens your heart to it you will not believe.

Acts 2: 2-4 – On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit blew into Jerusalem and hovered over the Upper Room and 120 praying believers and birthed the Church of Jesus Christ.  The “world” does not like this either!  All sorts of attacks have been launched against the Church, but the Holy Spirit has always reserved a believing “120” to pray and carry His message to the harvest fields.

John 3: 3 – Unless you are born again you will not see the Kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit will hover over you to get you born again.  He will not make you accept Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom.  But if YOU decide to leave the “world” behind and go the opposite direction from it (repentance); Holy Spirit will birth something in you and fill you with all the power needed to live a righteous life.  See Following Jesus at the top of the page and Happy Birthday!  

Featured pic is from http://www.LumoProject.com.   

The Root, The Branch, The Fruit – The Christmas Story

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelations 22:16 (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 (NIV)

Yes, the Christmas story and the mission of Jesus is in those two verses.  In Matthew and Luke, the story is told and each writer includes a genealogy of Jesus.  Matthew uses David as a connection point for his Hebrew audience.  The number fourteen (symbolizes David) and his inclusion of women in the lists of names show Jesus to the people in many ways.  Luke speaks to his Gentile reader(s) by using a slightly different look in the family tree (probably Mary’s) and goes back to the Garden and the first Adam.  Luke’s genealogy includes the “common” members of the family, while Matthew has the Patriarchs, the Kings, and the “common” people. 

Using the picture of roots, stumps, and branches allow for interesting symbolism.

The Root

Our two verses show the root of David, which is Jesse and the root of Jesse, which is the tribe of Judah, and the root of Judah is Jesus.  The genealogies in Matthew and Luke help here!  But if you like the rest of the story turn to First Chronicles 2:3 – 17.  This really starts in Numbers 26:19 and Genesis 38 especially verses 27 – 30.  The story starts with Judah, who could hand out hard verdicts but did not do well in the receiving department.  Perez was the first one completely out but the second-born son, because stuck his arm “broke out” first.  (This is a strange picture of being the “first and the last”.)  It is his family line through Ram that produced the leaders of the Tribe of Judah.  Jesse was the “head man” of the tribe and should have been one of the “panicked elders” when Samuel showed up in their town.  (I wrote Cut Jesse Some Slack, BECAUSE!)  That would have put Eliab, by birth, as the next in line for the leadership of the tribe of Judah.  In reading 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Chronicles 2:13 – 17 you get a whole picture of Jesse’s family.  The two lists of sons don’t match and it may be that one died as David is #7 in Chronicles and #8 in 1 Samuel.  

A few thoughts as a teacher and a gardener to show the importance of the root.

  • It is the first part to show up when the Seed is covered with water.  It absorbs the water to convert the stored energy into the rest of the plant.
  • I have to include Genesis 1:2 – the Spirit was over the water, God did a lot with water in Genesis 1.  Baptism is also a must, you leave the old man under the surface and the new man comes out.
  • Roots anchor a plant.  It really is the biggest part of the plant as it spreads out in the soil working to take in water and other nutrients. 

The Branch 

Jonathan Cahn in his Book of Mysteries series talks about Matthew 2:23 where Jesus fulfills the prophecies that Jesus would be a Nazarene. (Video on YouTube) The root word for Nazareth/Nazarene is netzer which means branch.  So, Isaiah 11:1, Zechariah 3:8, and Jeremiah 23:5 are those prophetic announcements. 

I will not start “splitting hairs” about stems, trunks, etc. because I just have a feeling it is more about the foundation (roots) and what is growing above (branch).  Jesus in John 15 and Paul in Romans 11 also lean into this way of looking at a plant.

In John 15 Jesus calls Himself the vine and we are the branches – we have to be connected to Him.  Romans 11 has us as branches being grafted into “the olive tree” so we can grow.

Branches are for reproduction; the fruit will form on them.  So, if we look at Jesus as the Branch – He was to produce fruit.  If we consider ourselves as the branch, it is our duty to produce fruit!

Both 

Revelations 22:16 puts Jesus in two positions – The Root and the Branch.  The symbolism and its examples in this thought could go on for a while.  (You may have the privilege.)  If I focus on just plants I will give you this – Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning (roots) and the end (branch).  

Fruit Wheat or oak trees, a plant is about producing fruit (or seed).  Good fruit, bad fruit, or not producing fruit there are many parables about fruit in the Gospels.  We always tend to think of the fruit of the Spirit, but in context with my Kingdom series is Matthew 21:43 – the kingdom of God can be taken from you and given to people who will produce ITS fruit.

Study of the Kingdom – The Baptist in Matthew 11

In this “Study of the Kingdom” we will focus on Matthew 11: 11 to 15 (NIV).  But first, let’s fill in the time-lapse since the last post.  Jesus went through all the towns and villages preaching the good news of the kingdom.  He told the Disciples to pray about workers going into the fields and then He sends them out.  They are sent with authority and a solid block of instruction/teaching (Matthew 10: 5 – 42).  Verse one in chapter 11 leads me to think He went teaching on His own.  Jesus then has a visit from John’s disciples, again.  Steven Furtick, pointed out recently that John’s disciples did not hear verse 7 to 30 as they were leaving.  As I have said before, we tend to break things up for our convenience, but I feel it is important to remember that all of this has a “John” focus! 

Verse 11

Jesus is not shy in his accolades of John.  In doing this series I have come to believe that Christianity may be guilty of downplaying John’s importance and the shadows that he fulfilled and the pattern he shows for the future and the end times.  The part of the verse that grabs my attention is “who is least in the kingdom of heaven” and who was Jesus talking about?  Normally, you think that is referring to future Christians that maybe did not do as much as they should have.   The word “least” makes me think of a servant, so in this phrase, Jesus could be talking about Himself.  He considered Himself the servant of all.

Verse 12

I felt I needed to use the parallel function on Bible Gateway with this verse, I was very surprised at the wide interpretations of this verse!  The King James uses words like violence, violent men, suffereth, and force.  Pull this out of the context of John’s situation and add in a little fire and brimstone this will get you a slanted view of the Christian life.   

As I continue, we need to focus back on John the Baptist.  The next two ways of viewing this verse are wrapped up with him. 1) Herod and his soldiers are violent men and they are trying to stop the Gospel by taking people (John) away by force.  (This seems to be the current thought in the latest NIV.  My 1990 version more or less reflects the KJV.)  2)  That people are turning to the Gospel with a forceful change of life and attitude.  Several paraphrases pick up on the meanings of biazo (violence) and harpazo (force) in determining their verbiage.  In reflecting on the mission of John and grace, I want to think #2 is a better idea.  Luke 16:16 is a companion verse and it holds this idea.  The Disciples were out on their first mission trip and that adds strength to the second idea.  Since Jesus is speaking in current terms, it is just as easily #1.  Either view works, so choose one or both, but keep it in the context of John, his mission, and that fact he is in prison.  

Verse 13

“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.” (NIV) This verse/idea has changed my thinking on John and just how important he is in God’s timeline.  Wherever you want to stop the “prophesying”, his birth, the start of his ministry, his imprisonment, or his future death that is in just a few months or years from when Jesus is speaking.  Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and training His disciples did take an upward turn with John’s death.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:14 and 20+21 and 10:4) puts this into perspective.  Death reigned from Adam to Moses, the Law was added – Moses to John, and grace picked up with Jesus who ended the rule of the Law and ushered in righteousness (if you believe).  If you add in John to Jesus (Matthew 11:11) there is the forceful joining to the Kingdom. 

Verse 14+15    

Since this is Jesus speaking about John, it is worthy to take note.  It must have been a jolt to his audience and is as close as He comes in the Gospels to say who He was and His mission.  This does raise the question for me – If John prepared for Jesus, did Elijah prepare for Elisha?

Thoughts and Observation

  1. “At that time” is used in the NIV in Matthew a lot!  It gives the feeling of just a few hours or days.  In one respect it shrinks the stories to very special days and not a scatter-shot of time over three years.  I realize that the same parables were told and retold.  I like Luke who keeps the milestones and time markers in line and adds parables where they will have the most impact.
  2. Because of #1, Chapter 11 occurs close to a Sabbath and the Disciples returned from their trip as this session ended.  A course the disciples in chapter 12 may not have been the Twelve. 
  3. The forceful men in verse 12 made me think of the Israelites as they were coming out of Egypt.  They always wanted to go back to Egypt!  Well, that is not very forceful!  Unless, they wanted to go back, not as slaves but as invaders.  Egypt was a mess and the army was rebuilding, what better time to conquer the land!

http://www.freebibleimages.org for the pic

Three Negative Forces

There are three negative forces in our world that are the opposites of love, faith, and hope.  The opposing forces are hate, fear, and confusion and shame.  I paired confusion and shame because they are frequently together in Scripture.  Love is opposite of hate, faith opposes fear, and hope battles confusion and shame in our world.  These and more bad things flow from sin, which is the real problem.

The word negative, to be honest, caused me to stop and think awhile.  Most of this reflection is because of friction!  As a science teacher, I presented friction as a “negative” force and frequently as something to be defeated.  Just because something opposes you does not mean that it is bad, remember the angel in the talking mule story of Balaam.  If there is a “push” normally there is a “pull” that is needed to get the job done!  Without friction, we do not move.  So, in itself friction is not bad, as it is nice to move.  Friction is not the topic of this post, so back to hate, fear, and confusion and shame.  Just remember to be careful when using the word “negative”.

Sin and Satan use these three negative forces to affect this world. For Christians, they will affect us if we don’t use God’s grace given us through the sacrifice that Jesus provided.  In discussing the post of Creation Qualities #1 and #2 with my wife brought up 1 John 2:16 when I mentioned these negative forces.  The Apostle John talks about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life as not being from the Father. (These are KJV terms, my 1990 NIV uses different terms for the same ideas.)  Since lust are internal and pride can have an outward and internal manifestation I thought I could work them into the pattern of the first two posts.  Trying this thought and then that one, I just never felt comfortable in squeezing them into a “negative” form of the first post.  Pride and the lusts did not pair up nicely with hate, fear, and confusion and shame.  The thought that did develop was that pride and the lusts could develop from hate, fear, and confusion and shame individual or collectively. Hate, fear, confusion and shame, pride, and the lusts are real and they will consume you if you let them.  Jesus is the source of help when you finally realize that you have a problem – see “Following Jesus?” and find a good Bible-believing church! 

The Bible and Science – Creation Qualities #2

When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to me. John 12:32 (NIV)

A very simple definition of a force is a push or pull (draw) on an object.  Movement of some kind is the result of a force being applied to an object.  In the first Creation Qualities post, I saw three things that keep our world as we know it.  Then, I compared those things (atomic forces, light, and gravity) to Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. 

Now, I want to compare three Bible forces to these natural forces. (Light is a force because photons can physically push things.). The Biblical forces are – love, faith, and hope.  (See my post Faith, Hope, and Love)

Love holds this world together.  Father God is love, He is the glue in our existence. 1 Corinthians 13 states that love is the greatest of these three forces.

Faith – Faith shines from believers lighting the way for unbelievers to find Jesus.  Faith, like light, has two parts.  There is an invisible part of faith, but there is also the physical side of faith.  Faith will grow and change you.  This causes you to do and say things that are the result of the internal work in you (works of faith).  

Hope – Our hope draws people to us. Hope joins faith and love together. Like gravity the more you have (bigger you are) the more things are drawn in.  If you could lose all gravity nothing would be attracted to you.  Hope has the same effect.  The more you have the more people want to be around you.  If you are without hope people are not drawn to you.