Grieving the Spirit

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
— Ephesians 4:30

Serving is a blessing for the kingdom of God. I believe God smiles greatly for those who are willing to humbly serve His ministry. As we serve at church or anywhere else, one VERY important person, to be aware of is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and should be treated as a person, and not a power or thing.

Ephesians 4:30 says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." What does this mean? How can we cause grief to the Holy Spirit?  In this passage, we see that grieving the Holy Spirit is related to how we as Christians relate and talk to one another. Ephesians 4:29 says,

 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
 

As Christians, we are to be encouraging one another with our words and treating each other in love and forgiveness. When Christians hurt one another with their words, this grieves the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit longs for Christians to live in unity. We are to live in dependence on the Spirit to be able to love one another and treat each other with respect. Because the Spirit lives in us, He is the one who can teach us how to love one another as He loves us at the core of our being. 

Living by the Spirit isn't something that comes easily. It's hard to be dependent on someone else, especially when we typically live our lives according to our own power. When I have a headache, I automatically, and most of time instantaneously, reach for the Tylenol or Advil bottle. Yeah, we can say that God has so graciously blessed our country with medicine to rid these unfortunate pains, but God desires for us to come to Him first and to consult the Holy Spirit for healing. We see multiple accounts in the Gospels where Jesus rebukes diseases. How glorious would it be to make this habitual in my life. The Holy Spirit works whenever He wants, but may I be able to acknowledge, be aware, and live a life that is dependent on the Spirit, as I learn to follow Him and love others. May I not grieve the Holy Spirit and be able to come into repentance with love and obedience when it occurs. May I be open to His leading and be grateful for His grace.

The Self and Public Proclamation of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
— Philippians 1:12-18 [ESV]

Still in prison, Paul is still able to glorify God. Despite his current state, what Paul has been doing is continuing to advance the Gospel (v. 12). At the moment, I believe it is safe to say that most of us reading this are in a better position than Paul. Regardless of our status, we should always be pursuing the progression of the Gospel. Paul took the extra step to even tell his guards that what he is doing is all for Christ (v. 13). Even those who are in prison with him are now proclaiming the name of Christ without fear (v. 14).

In this era, preaching the Gospel is one of the toughest things to do, especially in a upper-middle class community. It's encouraging to see that people are continually preaching the Gospel to fellow friends and neighbors, but sometimes, there are times where the Gospel message is not preached out of love (v. 15-17). Despite whatever motives are being used, we should still be appreciative of the Gospel message that is being shared. If God does accomplish good using the means of the wicked, continue to rejoice. One group of people who come to mind is those who hold up those picket signs on college campuses condemning people to hell and what not. As "obnoxious" as they sound, some people do come to know Christ because of the type and style of the Gospel that is being preached. Regardless of the tone and attitude of these people, Paul would still rejoice; however, Paul would most likely not have ordained those who cannot share the Gospel out of love as ministers. Paul knew that the Gospel message would not be preached with love 100% of the time, but regardless of the reason for preaching the Gospel, rejoice in the advancement of the Gospel.

I also wonder how much of our own intentions are also mixed when we preach the gospel. Even if we think we are doing it out of love, there may be other motives as well. So it's good to also be able to search our own hearts too. Despite this, it's good to know that God does what He wants and saves people and uses us, as imperfect people, to bring the gospel to others. It is humbling.

A Devotion of the Designed Universe

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One thing that I find very intriguing is the phenomenon of astrology and cosmology. The vastness of the universe extends beyond the imaginations of man. But according to Scripture, the universe is as simple as, “Let there be…”

I recently was listening to a podcast of Ravi Zacharias talking about his experience talking with a scientist and such about creation and evolution. Although his debate didn't end with a renewed soul in Christ, Zacharias did leave the scientist with lingering thoughts of possibility for a Creator. When we look at the creation account in Genesis, I find that the purpose of the introduction is not to date the age of the earth or whether or not the Big Bang occurred, but to reveal to us as the reader how marvelous and powerful our God is.

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) says:

"…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..."

Although we may not have the full and complete answers to every question, we are given enough to be able to share the Gospel message to others without fear or trembling. Many times when I talk to my friends about Christian faith, like Zacharias, I do not get a salvific response, but rather, plant the seed and allow them “chew on the thoughts.” In the midst of this, for us to also represent the loving compassion that Christ has shown us upon the Cross.