Linking up today with Five Minute Friday. Today’s writing prompt: WORLD
I woke up this morning with the following verses from Romans 8 on my mind, probably partly because I was reviewing them yesterday on my Bible Memory app. When we stand for Christ in the midst of a world that is hostile to His message, we will experience suffering.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:16-18 ESV
When Paul wrote these words, he knew from personal experience what it was to face opposition and suffering for simply sharing the message the Lord Jesus Christ had called him to share. Before coming to Christ, he had been one who persecuted followers of Christ, and now he was one of the persecuted. Sharing the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus does two things. It changes lives for those who believe, and it stirs up opposition from those who reject the truth.
As the Christian message in our nation becomes less and less acceptable, we need to be prepared for the fact that standing for Christ will sometimes mean ridicule, slander, and emotional pain in our lives. For some in our nation, it is now meaning loss of their businesses and even being put in prison for standing for the truths Jesus taught. But we need to learn to see that suffering in light of eternity. As Peter said in 1 Peter 4:6, “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
Today, I want to encourage you to stand strong in your faith, to be a witness for Christ regardless of what it costs you. You are not of this world. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus, you are now in a different kingdom… one that makes no sense to unbelievers. Opposition to the truth has been a part of the Christian life since the early church, and we live in a time where it is again becoming a fact we need to be prepared to deal with.
“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.” Psalms 18:28
Something unusual happened while we were at church one Sunday in May. We had watched a video teaching on the Bible study we were doing at that time, and I had just finished leading our discussion on the promise of God we were covering that week – when the lights went out. With stormy weather outside, our classroom was really dark. A couple minutes later, the lights came back on, and we were able to finish the class and leave for home.
This morning, as I was preparing to write this week’s Thankful Thursday post, this experience came to mind. While it was just a small inconvenience, it brought to memory God’s promise to enlighten our darkness. And one of the ways He does that in our daily lives is through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit comes to live within us when by faith through grace we accept Jesus’ death on the Cross as the payment in full for our sins, receive His forgiveness, and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. And from that moment on, we never have to walk in darkness.
I am currently working on writing a Bible study which I’ve given the working title The Holy Spirit: Stranger or Friend. For many of us, Jehovah our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Savior are parts of the Godhead we understand fairly well. In one of the lessons from the Bible study our iConnect Bible study class at church recently completed based on Max Lucado’s book Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives On The Promises Of God, we read the following quote.
“Ask a believer to answer the question ‘Who is God the Father?’ He has a reply. Or ‘Describe God the Son.’ She will not hesitate. But if you want to see believers hem, haw, and search for words, ask, ‘Who is the Holy Spirit?’ Many believers settle for a two-thirds God.”
Yet there are more that a hundred references in the Bible to the Holy Spirit. From the Gospels, where Jesus says He will be returning to heaven but He will not leave them alone (https://www.bible.com/59/jhn.14.26.esv) through the book of Acts, and all the way to Revelation, we learn that the Holy Spirit is central to our lives as Christians.
Today, I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit and the many things He does in our lives. Here are just a few of the functions and names of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our Regenerator. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, He is the one who opens our heart and imparts life. “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” John 3:5
The Holy Spirit is our Empowerer. He gives us power to be witnesses and complete the work He has called us to do. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49
The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He encourages, consoles and comforts us when life becomes difficult. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” John 14:16
The Holy Spirit is our Teacher. As the Spirit of Truth, He shows us the lies we are believing and instructs us in God’s truth. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
The Holy Spirit is our Guide. He leads us down the path God has planned for our lives. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14
The Holy Spiritis our Intercessor. He prays for us and His prayers always line up with the perfect will of God. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier. He works in us to make us look more like Jesus. Like the apostle Peter, we too are among the elect, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…” 1 Peter 1:2
There are many more functions and names of the Holy Spirit, but these seven give you a picture of His important place in our lives as Christians. And this week, I’m grateful for Who the Holy Spirit is and for all He does in our lives. How about you? Have you stopped in your busy day to thank God for the Holy Spirit? Who lives within you if you’ve accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life.
Revelation 5 uses two very different animals to describe two aspects of the nature of Jesus Christ, a powerful and ferocious LION and a meek and harmless LAMB. Jesus is both the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, symbolizing His kingly authority and power,and the spotless Lamb of God, symbolizing His submission to the will of His Father to be the perfect sacrifice of the sins of mankind.
“And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:5-6 ESV
Yesterday we looked at Jesus as the Lamb of God. Today we are looking at Him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Genesis 49:9 describes the tribe of Judah as a “lion’s cub” (Hebrew words mean a young lion) and a “crouched lion” as if ready to attack. Based on this verse, the term “Lion of Judah” became the symbol of the Jewish tribe of Judah.
The following verse is the first prediction of a royal line of David which would come from the tribe of Judah.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49:10 NKJV
Jesus Christ is clearly identified in Scripture as a descendent of the tribe of Judah, and more specifically as of the line of David. When we use the name Lion of the tribe of Judah to describe Jesus, we are saying He is the Messiah who is to come as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling in His eternal kingdom. (The meaning of the word Shiloh is debated by biblical scholars; some understand it to be one of the names of Jesus, while others simply translate it as “tranquility”or “peacemaker.”)
As I was doing some research on this name of God, I came across a quote by Nancy Leigh DeMoss that perfectly ties these two aspects of the nature and purpose of Jesus Christ together.
“The triumphant, conquering Lion is also the slain Lamb. The Lion’s victory, the Lion’s overcoming, the Lion’s triumph was accomplished by His death as a Lamb. He conquered by His suffering.”
Having conquered sin and death by His suffering, He is now our soon-coming conquering King. And that’s a good reason to give thanks today!