Knowing Is the Key to Possessing (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 316

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, NKJV).

The mysteries of God are the inheritance of His children. In former times, these mysteries were hidden. But now they are revealed. And it is by the Holy Spirit that they are revealed to us (Ephesians 3:1-6). As Paul notes in our opening Scripture, these mysteries are about “things God has prepared for those who love Him.” They are things which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man.” The Father kept these wonderful plans close to His chest. But at the appointed time, He unveiled the plans to His apostles and prophets through the Holy Spirit. This is the point Paul is making.

The Spirit is able to search the depths of the Father’s heart. It is with this ability that He drew out the mysteries of our inheritance in Christ and declared them to the apostles (and prophets). The Spirit’s work in the Church is to oversee the faithful transmission of this revealed knowledge from one generation of Christians to another until the return of Christ. He does so by leading every believer to the truth, especially through the ministry of those appointed to shepherd the flock of Christ (Acts 20:27-28). This last point will be the focus of our concluding message on “Knowing Is the Key to Possessing.”

The Father never does (or says) something except by His Spirit. This ensures that all His deeds are mighty and effective. His prophets of old were effective communicators of His will because they ministered by the Holy Spirit at work in them (1 Peter 1:10-11). As Son of God and Messiah, Jesus did the same thing. He effectively and accurately communicated the Father’s will because He taught by the Spirit that was in Him (Acts 1:2).

The apostles were no different. Paul writes, for example, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Peter confirms what Paul said. Concerning our inheritance in Christ, he spoke of “the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

Notice the Holy Spirit’s role in ensuring that those who preach do so according to His leading. This is crucial because what we are in Christ is a profound supernatural reality. And our inheritance in Him is so vast and marvelous that even angels desire to look into what we have. Therefore, to bring this knowledge home to Christians, one must be in tune with the Spirit. 

To teach others by the Spirit, you must first be taught by the Spirit. In other words, to effectively communicate God’s will to His children, you must first be a student of the Spirit. Otherwise, you risk delivering a superficial message. Superficial messages will keep the flock of God ignorant, anemic and frail. And if they remain ignorant, they risk despising their inheritance or losing it altogether.

To sum up:

Knowing is the key to possessing. As God’s people, we have a right to understand our inheritance in Christ and be able to appropriate what is rightfully ours. For this to happen, the Holy Spirit’s revelatory role is indispensable. As we welcome the Spirit, we welcome His insights. And as we welcome His insights, we welcome the ability to take possession of (and enjoy) the unsearchable riches of Christ. Therefore, let us stay enlightened by the Spirit. Amen.

For further studyLuke 15:11-32

Knowing Is the Key to Possessing (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 314

“And the LORD said to Abram [Abraham] . . . ‘Lift your eyes and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever . . . Arise, walk in the land through its length and width, for I give it to you’” (Genesis 13:14-15, 17).

Before we get into today’s message, let us recap what we said yesterday. Our Father has bestowed upon us abundant blessings. And He wants us to possess these blessings. To help us possess the blessings, He wants to equip us with knowledge of those blessings, because knowing is the key to possessing. In this process of knowing and possessing, the Holy Spirit plays a vital role. According to the Scriptures, the Father gave His Spirit to us that we might know the things which He has freely given us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Therefore, throughout this series let us keep 1 Corinthians 2:12 in mind. It forms the basis for the things we are discussing. Yesterday, we saw that God gave to Adam and Eve knowledge of the blessings He had bestowed on them. Today, we will look at another example from the Old Testament. It is about God’s dealings with Abraham. From tomorrow we will shift our attention to the New Testament, God willing.

Let us pay attention to the details in today’s opening Scripture. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, had just departed to settle in the land of Sodom (Genesis 13:5-13). Not long after this incident, God spoke to Abraham concerning His plans to bless Him. Recall that He had previously promised to give him the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:7). But in today’s passage He reinforces the promise. Notice how He goes about it. He commands Abraham to perform a set of exercises. The purpose of the exercises was to help Abraham visualize the blessing. God, therefore, asked him to survey the land and become acquainted with its boundaries and its riches.

First, God told Abraham to lift his eyes to the north, south, east and west. And He said to him, “all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.” Second, He commanded him, “Arise, walk in the land through its length and widthfor I give it to you.” Now observe this: From God’s standpoint the land belonged to Abraham. However, if Abraham was going to possess the land, he first needed to know that the land had been given to him. God asked him to walk through the land to reinforce his knowledge of what he and his descendants were about to possess. Knowing is the key to possessing. This is why God has sent us His Spirit that we might know the things which He has freely given us.

Before you take possession of an inheritance or estate, you need to know the content and extent of the estate that you are about to possess. Our inheritance in Christ is vast and infinite. If you are unaware of what belongs to you, you cannot enjoy it. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see what belongs to you in Christ Jesus that you might possess and enjoy your blessings. Amen.

To be continued . . .

For further studyDeuteronomy 1:5-8; 11:1-22

Knowing Is the Key to Possessing (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 313

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12, NKJV).

Knowing leads to possessing. What you know, you can possess. What you do not know, you cannot possess. If something is yours but you do not know that it is yours, you cannot possess it. In fact, you might even feel unworthy to have it. The point is, you can have something without knowing that you have it. And you cannot enjoy something you do not know you have. Ignorance is the enemy of progress and a weapon of the enemy. If the enemy can keep you ignorant, he can keep you enslaved and impoverished.

God has freely given you many wonderful things. And He wants you to possess and enjoy them. But first, He wants you to know what those things are and to know that they are yours for the taking. One of the main reasons we received the Holy Spirit, Paul says, is that “we might know the things which have been freely given to us by God.”  After all, what is the point of having something if you don’t know you have it?

 The purpose of our current series is to help us understand the connection between knowing and possessing, and the role the Holy Spirit plays in this process. We will discuss the first part of this teaching by visiting the Garden of Eden. Something important happened there, and for our edification we want to find out what it is.

Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, God gave them an inventory of the things He had given them to possess as well as the range of their dominion. God did not leave them ignorant of this matter. He gave them knowledge of those things, because knowledge is the key to possessing. If Adam and Eve did not know those things belonged to them, they could not appropriate them.

Therefore, in Genesis 1:28, God let them know that He had given them “dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Imagine what would have happened if they did not know that they had dominion. You cannot occupy a throne if you do not know that you are a king and that the throne in question is rightfully yours. In other words, you can exercise dominion if you know that you have dominion. God is aware of this, and He made sure Adam and Eve knew what had been given them.

In Genesis 1:29, God let them know also that He had given them for food every herb and fruit that yields seed. In Genesis 2:16, He told them they could eat freely of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Essentially, God was showing Adam and Eve an inventory of the blessings He had freely bestowed upon them. God wanted them to take possession. But first, He needed to make them aware that those things were theirs to possess.

The Father’s plan has not changed. And the principle remains: Knowing is the key to possessing. This means as a Christian, pursuing knowledge of God’s mysteries should be your priority. Once you know what is yours, you can possess it without stress. God willing, we will continue this subject tomorrow. Until then, keep knowing and keep possessing. Amen.

For further study1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Your Blessings in Abraham: Spirit, Promise and Power (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 312

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, NKJV).

Yesterday we saw that the giving of the Holy Spirit was the Father’s chief promise to Abraham and his descendants. Our aim today is to conclude what we started by answering the following question: Why was it necessary that God pour His Spirit on the children of Abraham? Let’s find out, starting with today’s opening Bible passage.

Note carefully what is happening in the passage. What we have is a conditional statement with a basic logical structure. The passage contains one premise and two conclusions which flow from the premise. If the condition is met, then the two conclusions will automatically execute. The condition is this: “If you are Christ’s” (i.e. if you belong to Christ). If this condition is true in your life (that you are Christ’s), then the following are necessarily true about you: “you are Abraham’s seed [descendant] and you are heir “according to the promise.” The implication is, if you are not Christ’s, then you are not Abraham’s seed. And if you are not Abraham’s seed, then you have no claim (as heir) to the blessings promised to Abraham. At this point the question we must ask is:  How does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? Thankfully, the Bible has the answer, and it comes from the pen of the same Paul who wrote Galatians.

In Romans 8:9, Paul wrote, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This latter part of Paul’s statement completes what he said in Galatians 3:29. Earlier, we saw that to qualify to be Abraham’s seed, one must be Christ’s. Now Paul adds another condition. He says, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ [the Holy Spirit], he is not His.” In other words, that you have the Holy Spirit is the unmistakable sign that you belong to Christ. Put another way, if you have the Holy Spirit, then you are a Christian. Conversely, if do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not a Christian. Knowing this about the Holy Spirit, let us ‘reconstruct’ what Paul said in Galatians 3:29. It will look like this:

If you have the Spirit of Christ, then you are Christ’s; and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This is the complete picture of how we become children of Abraham and heirs of divine blessings. It all has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. To qualify as heirs of God or joint-heirs with Christ, it is necessary that we possess the same Spirit they both possess: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit binds us to the Father and enables us to become His children. Therefore, the “Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs . . .” (Romans 8:16-17). If someone puts his spirit in you, you and that person have become one (John 17:21; 1 Corinthians 6:17). And when you become one, then you share things in common.

God promised to share divine blessings with Abraham and his seed. But for this to be fulfilled, He had to share His Spirit with us. A common Spirit is what leads to a common inheritance. This is why Paul talks about the “fellowship [communion] of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:13). It is the Holy Spirit who initiates and sustains our fellowship with the Father and the Son. And our fellowship with them (made possible by the Holy Spirit in us) is the legal basis for our inheritance. Fellowship guarantees access. Therefore, no Holy Spirit means no fellowship. And no fellowship means no inheritance. If God had not given the Holy Spirit, His promises to Abraham (and his seed) would have been void. Now we understand why Jesus went great lengths to prepare His disciples to receive the Spirit.

Let us sum up:

To be a child of Abraham means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some interesting add-on to our Christian life. He is the Christian life, for the Christian life is essentially a life in the Spirit. Outside the Spirit, there is no Christianity. If you have the Spirit, then you have the promise. If you have the promise, then you have the power.

May the Lord enable you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that you can enjoy the full range of your blessings in Abraham. Amen.

For further studyRomans 8:1-17 and Ephesians 1:11-23

Your Blessings in Abraham: Spirit, Promise and Power (Pt 1)

Daily Devotional | Day 311

“Behold I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Acts 24:49, NKJV).

Understanding Abraham is key to understanding your blessings in Christ. It is your privilege as a Christian to trace your spiritual ancestry to Abraham. And it is this connection to Abraham which ensures that you inherit the blessings which God has ordained for His people. From eternity God planned to bless a multitude of people who would believe in Him. To execute this plan, God chose Abraham to be the progenitor from whom all His blessings of grace will flow to the nations: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Today, we begin a two-part series on this subject. In the first part, we will look at how the Scriptures show that the giving of the Holy Spirit is the Father’s chief promise made to Abraham and his descendants. Tomorrow, God willing, we will finish by looking at why receiving the Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in fulfilling the promises made to Abraham and us.

God made several promises to Abraham, including the birth of Isaac and possession of the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:1-22). Of all the promises made to Abraham, there is one which does not get sufficient attention. Yet, it is what holds the other promises together. That promise is the Holy Spirit. Jesus called the Holy Spirit, “the Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). He makes the same reference in today’s opening Scripture. He told His disciples He was sending upon them the Promise of His Father. Reception of this Promise was so crucial that He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for it. As a result of receiving the Promise the disciples would be clothed with power from on high. This tells us that there are promises and there is the Promise. The Holy Spirit is the Blessing of all blessings and the Promise of all promises. Therefore, if you receive the Holy Spirit, you have received the essence of the Father’s blessings promised to Abraham.

Examining God’s interactions with Abraham in the Old Testament, you will not find an explicit reference to the Holy Spirit being the chief promise made to Abraham. However, the New Testament sheds light on this subject and reveals the deepest meaning of God’s promises to Abraham. For example, Paul wrote, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law . . . that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesusthat we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14). Notice what Paul is saying here. Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law to make it possible for the blessing of Abraham to come upon us. But what is that “blessing of Abraham” which must come upon us in Christ? Paul says, it is “the promise of the Spirit.” And we receive this Spirit through faith in Christ and obedience to Him (Acts 5:32).

Jesus was the promised seed (descendant) of Abraham through whom God would accomplish His promises (Galatians 3:16). As Messiah, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:16-19) and had to die for our sins. But Jesus had another critical mission: to send the Holy Spirit upon all who obey Him, in fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. This explains why He told the Apostles that it was in their interest that He depart so that He could send them the Spirit (John 16:7). Without the giving of the Holy Spirit, the covenant with Abraham would have been meaningless.

Once risen from the dead and exalted in glory, Jesus could now send the long-awaited blessing upon Abraham’s children. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter reminded the people about this: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [Jesus] poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33; see also v. 38-39). 

You are a child of Abraham. Yours is the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, welcome the Spirit with open arms and an open heart. He wants to do marvelous things with you. Let Him. Amen.

For further studyJohn 7:37-39 and Galatians 3:1-14