2 Chronicles 29,30,31; James 4
I've added an extra section after my daily devotions. I call it "Personally Speaking" (or "PS" for short) where I share my personal thoughts on what's happening in the world and the Church.
“… Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” (James 4:5)
There are some verses that when I read them, they are what I call, “head-scratchers.” This is one of them. I realize that language has changed over the years, but still, I have to pause and think this one through.
God has placed a part of Himself in us and then gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to “guide us into all truth” (John 8:32). This tells me that “truth needs a Guide!” and the Holy Spirit is that One whose assignment from the Father is to mentor and guide me. Without Him, I am lost. None of us can become what He’s designed us to be on our own.
However, (and here’s the lesson) …. I wonder how often do I neatly set the Holy Spirit’s counsel aside in favor of my own pleasures? I don’t know about you, but I do! I ask Him to step back while I do my thing, then I ask Him to step back in and lead me into God’s best (despite my taking the reins from time to time!). I am learning that this is a disrespect of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father, who put Him into my life, longs for the Paraclete to do His bidding. I am realizing that I must steward this Gift and never set Him aside. God the Father wants to see His Spirit controlling and guiding my life, and He wants to see me faithful to the Spirit He put in me.
The phrase “jealously longs for” can trip us up. It is the old way of defining the longing a husband (or wife) has for his spouse to be committed and faithful. In this case, James uses the same word to describe that there can be an approach to life that can become normal. And what is that? It is an approach to life that normalizes us cheating on God (going after the world or fleshly pleasures as Christians) by setting aside the faithful Holy Spirit, much in the same way an unfaithful wife could cheat on her husband (or vice versa). God is “jealous” means that He is concerned and involved. He longs for our faithfulness to the Holy Spirit even as the Holy Spirit is faithful to us.
I am realizing that He takes it quite personally when we choose to distrust His Spirit. He doesn’t want us to lead lives of self-service and self-reliance when He has placed His Spirit within us to guide us and mentor us.
Dear Father, please forgive me for being so careless with Your Spirit’s counsel. I do not want to set Him aside for my own wishes and thus be an unfaithful disciple. There’s so much more to learn! Thank you for keeping me enrolled in the University of the Holy Spirit. I can graduate from college, but I can never graduate from the University of the Holy Spirit! Thank You!
How are you doing in the midst of the COVID crisis?
May I encourage you to not let a “mask” or “social distance” deter you from following God? As they say in the South, sometimes our “innards get riled up” at these inconsistent regulations, but the Scripture reminds us to “give them no cause for offense in order that the ministry be not discredited” (2 Cor. 6:3). Of course, if the government tells me that I cannot worship God, I draw a very bold line. But let’s not die on anthills. Press through. Serve Jesus. This may be a test, and if we falter with a flu, what will we do in the apostasy!? Stay wise. Stay healthy. Stay faithful regardless of what is happening in the world.
Remember: You are NOT OF THIS WORLD. Live as “citizens of heaven” whom God has placed in a foreign land, for a time such as this.
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The choice is ours. Many will spend the rest of their lives on a ship to Tarshish — We look for the most economical fares and the most comfortable cabins. We can even become involved in the most lucrative businesses aboard the ship.
Often advanced faith will not fail under advanced conditions. It will fail under remedial conditions! I can help systematize and arrange large organizations but will fail when I have to stop what I am doing to help my wife Anna restart her computer.