Monday, June 27, 2011

Embraced, Chapter 1

When I started reading Chapter 2 of Embraced by the Spirit I realized I might need a refresher course on John 13-17. I grabbed up my Bible (The Message) and was caught up in this one verse: "Master, said Peter. Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!" Of course this came after Peter refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet, to which Jesus replied, "Alright then, you can't be a part of what I'm doing." (...that was the Angie translation).
I'm with Peter...if washing my feet lets me be a part of what Jesus has going on, by all means, don't stop there! Of course there was no need for a complete shower, and Jesus let Peter know it, but I see where Peter was coming from. Gentlemen, you will forgive the girly reference here, but I'm just saying, if I'm getting all gussied up to go out on the town, I'm not just going to flat-iron one section of my hair! I'm getting my nails done, I'm using the expensive lotion, and I'm using my best hair fact...I'm even going to apply all three colors of eye shadow! So why is it that when it comes to the Christian life we just go through our everyday routine rather than going all out? I'm not pointing fingers, I'm in this one with you.
So I am shouting out today, "Jesus, don't stop there...give me a good scrub down if you must...I WANT IN ON WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!" (He doesn't mind us just lets Him know just how much we mean it).
How does this apply to our book study? Well, first, I want in on what the Lord has for me. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, but many Christians haven't really given permission for the Holy Sprit to have His way with them. Some time ago I sat in a church service and the pastor, Steve Meeks of Calvary Baptist, said something like this, "The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He is just waiting for you to give Him permission to have his way in you." Yes, all believers are given the Holy Spirit, but we have to ask Him to be our companion. We have to listen to His voice within us. This brings freedom to the believer. On page 24 Swindoll writes it this way, "...They long for depth, for passion, for satisfying peace and stability instead of a superficial relationship with God made up of religious-souding words without feelings and on-going struggles without healings. Surely there must be more to the life of faith than church meetings, Bible study, religious jargon,and meaningless prayers. Surely the the awesome Spirit of God wishes to do more within us than what is presently going on." That night at Calvary Baptist Steve gave an alter call...not for salvation...but for those Christians who wanted more of God, who wanted to invite the Holy Spirit to have control. There was no head slapping, pastor screaming, people dropping moment. I don't really remember what was going on around me, but I went forward. I had to have more, there had to be more to the Christian life. The prayer I received was gentle and quiet. I asked God to have his way in me through the power of the Holy Spirit.
On pages 26-27 Swindoll refers to Phil. 3:10 from the Amplified Bible, "For my determined purpose is that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in the same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection." Without the guidance from the Holy Spirit we are left with head knowledge, the Holy Spirit is the intimate part of the Trinity. He is the power Jesus promised us (Acts 1:8). He is the promise that we will never be alone.
This week find time to spend alone with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you through the Holy Spirit. Then listen. We spend so much of our prayer time me...I'm chuckling a little at that...all of you know how much I like to talk. It is in the quiet time that God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. I have mentioned ministry team training to you before. One of the concepts taught when praying for others is to sit and wait on God to take control. It is difficult to do at first, but I am going to encourage you to just allow time for the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer time with the Father. I can't wait to hear what He has to say to me...and you.
Blessings friends.


D. Crowe said...

Ok, just read chapter 1: random thoughts to ensue

First, my critique- one small issue that I couldn't ignore (please remember, I am an unholy sinner saved only by grace, I know very little, I am not perfect): pg. 33 Swindoll said "Get this: the same Spirit who filled believers in the first century is ready to fill us today." At first I thought he might be referring to unbelievers but I quickly realized he was still writing to us-believers- (p. 34) "But, child of God, I've got wonderful news: you are never alone...He gave you His Spirit to be with you. When you came to know Christ, He took up His residence and began living inside you." This, plus the truth claims he makes about the Holy Spirit found on pp. 21-22 (of which I absolutely loved!) and especially the universal nature of the Spirit's indwelling in all believers, leads me to wish his sentence on p. 33 was worded differently. I believe that a better sentence would have been "the same Spirit who filled believers in the first century is filled in us today." Of course, the point Swindoll is making is that we don't think about the Spirit, don't realize its power within us, etc. which of course he does an excellent job pointing out. I just had to throw that in though! Ok, now to my commendations (as if he needed any):

I wrote exclamation points beside his paragraph in pp. 14-15, " We all want very much to give the impression that we can handle anything that comes...The big lie is that, 'We can handle anything.'" It's amazing (and appalling) to think about how often I find myself trusting in my own strength and my own will...which always seems to fail. "This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5). This in contrast to "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). As the lowest of the low, I need to be constantly reminded of my weaknesses and frailties, because as Christians we are not a parade of flawless people, but rather of broken people pointing to a flawless Christ was who broken for us (Mike Yaconelli).

I also loved Swindoll's paragraph about the presence of God on p. 17 when he contrasts the dwelling of God in bodily form in Christ with the Spirit's permanent presence indwelt in all believers. It's so cool to think about how God has manifested His presence to His people throughout history: From the tabernacle, to the Temple, to a Person, to the Spirit. I will never be able to grasp the grace and faithfulness of God who, is not passive (p. 20), but rather an active God intimately engaging in the lives of His people throughout the course of human history from beginning to end in a holy commitment to be relational with us.

I have much more that I can say on this chapter but for now this comment is long enough, maybe I'll write more later this week, for now I will simply state my prayer to God is that we will experience and be witnesses to the power of the Spirit as God continues to do His good work on earth. May our hearts reflect Swindoll's words, "I have witnessed a dynamic power in His presence that I long to know more of firsthand...To say it plainly, I am hungry for Him. I long to know God more deeply and more intimately" (p. 26).

D. Crowe said...

Can't figure out how to comment on my own comment but my comment was too long....HA! So here's my addition

P.S. I plugging in my praise of F.F. Bruce and Eugene Peterson here. In the 20th century there was a big (and stupid!) debate on the reliability of Scripture, specifically the New Testament. I believe that no person in the 20th century did more to settle this issue and affirm the inerrancy of scripture than F.F. Bruce. This is a man who dedicated his life to honoring the Word and I am so thankful for his willingness to be used by God to uphold Truth. Peterson is a solid pastor with a wealth of experience and is a great student of both the biblical languages and sound doctrine. Although I would never recommend using the Message as your stand-alone Bible for studying-after all it is a a paraphrase of Scripture.....ANGIE! ; ) - it is extremely profitable for gaining a wise man's opinions on certain passages of Scripture that are difficult to understand, plus to me reading through alot of it seems like reading through a sermon, which is always edifying and good for the soul...anyway that's my input there!

P.P.S. Sorry can't let these go either- p. 16: Plan B Chuck? God doesn't have a plan B boi! And p. 17: "Why was it advantageous for Jesus to leave?" I know what he was getting at but all I kept thinking when I read this was "uhhh so that he can be our once for all sacrifice that we may have right standing before God...DUH!" C'mon C-Swin! Ha

Angie Love said...

For clarification, just in case there needed to be any, I actually use multiple translations of the Bible, NIV, Amplified, NKJ, and go to these translations first when I am studying God's word. I would never encourage any of us to solely use The Message as our "Bible."

Lynn Andreas said...

Sorry this took so long to post, but here are a few of the things that spoke to me.
I had never really put myself into the disciples shoes and thought about what they felt when Jesus told them he’d be leaving them. Now that I’ve actually thought about that, I can imagine how painful, unexpected, and confusing it must have been for them to be left there by their mentor, friend, and Lord. But I love how Jesus explains to them why He must leave and who He’s leaving in His place. John 16: 7 says “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” I can just picture them saying, “But Lord, who could be better than you?” Of course we all know why Jesus had to die and be the sacrifice to cover our sins but it’s still kind of crazy to think about, that it’s better to have the Holy Spirit in us than Jesus with us in person.
I absolutely love the quote from Ian Thomas on page 13-14(It was my facebook status for a while :). No one is perfect, but Jesus allowed us to truly be able to live in His image when the Holy Spirit was given to guide us. I don’t think many people even let the thought enter their mind that through His spirit they can live like Christ. It’s a difficult idea for me to grasp as well.
I’m so glad Swindoll brought up the fact that the Spirit has been referred to as it and not He. I’ll have to admit I’ve called Him it before. The idea is so abstract to us that I think it gets lost who He really is, one and the same as Jesus and God.
I just can’t wait to learn more about the Holy Spirit and how I can rely on Him and see His power work in my life. Chuck stated the Holy Spirit wants to do more in us and I’m so ready for Him to do more in me and through me. I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to see those miracles and healings and hear a word spoken through me for someone. It’s so exciting and possible if we just let Him work. I think the hardest thing for me is just spending quiet time listening and letting Him speak to me, but I’ve been trying to set aside more time for that and letting Him speak truths to me that I and others need to hear.

Angie Love said...

Lynn, Allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through you involves risk. Think again about the friend who told me to eat carrots! What a risk that must have been, and the person who receives such a word must then also ask for discernment once the word is spoken. In my eagerness to be healed I was willing to eat carrots until I turned orange, but what I failed to do in my youth was to take the word spoken over me and ask the Lord what the word meant. Risk isn't really the right word for the Christian is Faith. Faith to believe that the Lord would use sinners such as us to minister to someone else, faith to believe you heard, faith to go to a friend...or stranger and to humbly share what you have been given. Last summer our focus of home group was to do just wait, to listen, to risk. Our group this summer is the perfect "training" ground. We are eager to "faith" away my friend!

Laura Andreas said...

In this Chapter I really connected with the paragraph on p. 14 & 15, where Swindoll speaks about wanting to appear secure, giving the appearance that,"We can handle everything." That is totally me, I want everyone to always appear that I'm fine and I go to great extent sometimes to pull that off or play that role so I felt kinda convicted reading that! And with that I really liked the verse that he followed that paragraph with - John 14:18. That was comforting and especially when thought of more in context of the disciples as he went on to explain.
And then other things that stuck out to me, on p. 17 I liked the use of the phrase permanent presence to describe the Holy Spirit. A good reminder even when we struggle or can't feel him moving he's here with us and he will never leave us. Also the only full paragraph on p. 24, where it talks about the Spirit wanting to heal, wanting to reveal but then how none of that can happen as long as the Holy Spirit, "remains a sterile, untouchable blip on our theological screen. We need to allow ourselves to be embraced by Him." I like how Swindoll points out that this is our game our doing that Jesus has done his part and the Holy Spirit is ours but we have to want to have him and feel him move, we have to acknowledge his presence. Like he said earlier if we don't he's still there, but to get the most from this relationship we must embrace it! I loved the verse he closed the chapter with: Eph. 3:15-19 " I ask [the Father] to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God."