The Ideal Life
Like the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, whose short writings are powerful, certain minor characters of the New Testament, although met only briefly, give powerful illustrations for us. Philip and Ananias are such characters whose daily walks with the Holy Spirit accomplished His purposes. You may not be a pastor, Bible teacher, or missionary, but the Holy Spirit has assignments for you and is crossing your paths regularly with others who are special to Him, and for whom He also has assignments. Consider Isaiah 55.5. You should pay special attention to how they listened to the Holy Spirit to be kept from trouble and to learn what He wanted them to do next, in the activities of each day.
- Acts 8.1-8, 26-40 tells his story.
- Who was Philip? Not the Apostle Philip; see Matthew 10.3 and Acts 8.1. He was one of the Seven Deacons chosen to distribute food to the widows, in Acts 6.5 as identified by Easton’s Bible Dictionary, by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and in John MacArthur’s Study Bible. This Philip is called ‘the evangelist’ for obvious reasons.
- He fled from Jerusalem after Stephen was persecuted and stoned to death for his witness to Jesus; chapter 7 of Acts. Philip went to a city in Samaria and proclaimed salvation through faith in Jesus; John 14.6. Acts 8.6-8 states that he followed Jesus’ instruction from Matthew 10.7-8 and Apostle Paul’s later practice which he discussed in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5. Philip preached salvation through the name Jesus, and people were healed of diseases and delivered from the oppressions of demons. Remember what Apostle Peter had said, recorded in Acts 4.12, in the context of healing the paralytic in Acts 3.1-16. “So there was much joy in that city” of Samaria.
- “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” (Acts 8.26) On that road, Philip was instructed, again, to “’Go over and join this chariot’” (verse 29) of the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the Prophet Isaiah about Jesus’s vicarious death. Philip explained Jesus, and the court official of Queen Candace of Ethiopia believed and was baptized.
- “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8.39) Philip found himself in Azotas and preached there as he had in the Samaritan town and would in other cities of his travels with the Holy Spirit until he reached the town of Caesarea. (Acts 21.8-9 mention him again, as a father of four unmarried daughters who prophesied.)
- Ever wonder why you may be led to take a different route to a familiar destination? Could it be that the Holy Spirit is crossing your path with someone who will be influenced by your witness? (Isaiah 55.5) Be attentive to His instructions.
- Acts 9.10-19 tell the story of one of the most important men in the life of Paul. He is introduced with a simple but profound statement: “The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’” He was listening for the Lord’s voice while doing his daily chores. How might this have been a fulfillment of John 14.26?
- The Master gave His servant a task that challenged his mind and understanding: go and minister to one you perceive, from all the news about him, to be your enemy. God knew what Ananias didn’t, that Saul was now a follower of Jesus. The Holy Spirit always knows the future, so you can walk confidently now. Consider Isaiah 44.8; why fear others or the future when you know the only God and He is Jehovah-rohi to guide you through the future and with others?
- Do you think Ananias was as eager to go to Saul as was Samuel when he, also, learned about God’s purpose for David? Read the similarities in 1 Samuel 16.1-13. Samuel, too, was scared to go, even after God told him His plan, until God solved that problem also. Note other similarities, including God looking at the heart and not the outward appearance (or previous behavior). Note, too, how the training of David and Saul prepared them for God’s new assignments. Reflect on your ‘preparation’ for the plan to which the Holy Spirit is leading you.
- How does Ananias address Saul when he meets him; Acts 9.17? Who do you think baptized Saul; verse 18? The only thing that had changed for Ananias was the assurance from God that Saul was now ‘different’. God knows; you don’t; so, trust and obey, even when your flesh wants to do otherwise!
C. The Ideal Life
- God described this in Jeremiah 7.23: “But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’”
- Do you see this instruction fulfilled for Philip and Ananias? How was it fulfilled?
- All will be well with us, too, when we obey the Holy Spirit’s voice daily and when we walk according to God’s commandments! The ideal life!
Praise God!!! Matthew 23.39! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com
The Apostle Peter presents a reflection of us following the Holy Spirit, before Pentecost and afterward. Jesus’ warning to him is well-heeded by us; in Matthew 26.41 (ESV): ‘”Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” How true these words were for Peter and are for us! Apostle Paul counsels us about this dilemma in Romans 8.5-8. Like Peter, we sometimes vacillate between the emotions of our flesh and the obedience to God of our spirits. Paul’s conclusion: Romans 7.15-20. So, how do we change this? Like Peter did.
A. Sounds like us, doesn’t he?
- Matthew 26.33 & 35, Peter boastfully declares his allegiance to Jesus, even to the death! Easy words to say in a ‘safe’ environment. But, Jesus knew Peter would fold, like a house of cards in the wind, as the saying goes, and said so in verse 34.
- Verses 69-75 describe the events. Lest we criticize Peter too quickly, remember a similar condemnation caused by your allegiance to Jesus. Jesus had warned Peter, and does us, in Matthew 10.16-39 and 13.18-22. Expect to be disrespected! A ‘celebration’, as in Acts 5.41.
- This is the same Peter who heard Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10.7-8 and must have been among those who returned with the proclamation of Luke 10.17 of subjugating demons.
- Yet, when he was without a compatriot around the fire and accused of a relationship about which he had bragged, Peter became frightened by the scene of what had been and was being done to Jesus and envisioned the same plight for himself. And, so, he joined rather than fight.
- The strength of the tea is revealed by the heat of the water, as someone has illustrated.
- Thus, Jesus’ understanding, in Matthew 26.41, became Peter’s diligent perspective: watch for satan’s entrapment of the flesh to temptations, because it is weak; and pray for spiritual discernment from the Holy Spirit. Understand Paul’s contemporary application in 2 Corinthians 2.10-11.
B. Lesson learned!
- How, then, did Peter become the bold proclaimer in Acts 3.1-16? Pentecost; Acts 2.1-4! And, the better news is that the Holy Spirit, even now, indwells you who accept John 14.6, as Paul stated in Ephesians 1.13-14 (Romans 8.9; 2 Corinthians 1.22), repeating what Jesus had said in John 14.17. See, also, 1 John 2.27.
- The Holy Spirit IS in you to teach you (John 14.26) and to do the work of the Son of God through you (Ephesians 3.10 & 2.10; Philippians 2.13; Matthew 10.20; 1 Corinthians 12.7-11). As John declared in 1 John 4.4, the greater One is within you!
- How should you learn the lesson that Peter learned? Matthew 26.41. How do Jesus’ words to Peter compare with God’s words to Cain, in Genesis 4.7? How are both instructions illustrated in Hebrews 5.14? How is Paul’s admonition further illustrated in 1 Corinthians 9.26-27?
- Practice the lesson Peter wrote about in 1 Peter 5.8-11. Notice from 1 Peter 1.7, 13; 2.1, 11; 3.9, 15; 4.2, 14; 5.5 and 2 Peter 1.5-10, 19; 2.1-2, 20-21; 3.14 how he had overcome the weakness of deciding from the flesh to a continuous walk with the Holy Spirit.
C. Paul summarized this teaching in one verse: Romans 8.14: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Praise God!!! Matthew 23.39! Copyright © by Maurice Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com
Where is your hypotenuse?
No, it is not part of your brain or body. Remember geometry. The longest side of a right triangle and opposite the right angle. Remember? Here’s another one: two right triangles sharing the same hypotenuse form a rectangle. This geometry lesson is a good way of describing the work of the Holy Spirit of Jesus. As a former salesman, let me help you to draw the picture from the words and explanation below.
A. The Rectangle
- On a piece of paper, draw a rectangle of any size large enough to write some words within.
- Now, bisect it from lower left to upper right sides. This line is the common hypotenuse between two right triangles.
- Along the outer line of the left side, write ‘lovingkindness’. Write ‘justice’ along the outer line on the right side. Write ‘righteousness’ along the outer line on the bottom. Write ‘sin’ along the outer line on the top. In the upper triangle, write ‘SATAN’ in letters that begin big and end small; a big S along the inner line of the left side, and a small N in the upper right corner. In the lower triangle, write ‘JESUS’ in letters that begin small and end big; a small J in the lower left corner, and a big S along the inner line of the right side.
- Write ‘Life’ at the intersection of the left side and bottom lines. Write ‘Light’ at the intersection of the right side and top lines.
- Do you see what I see?
B. The Hypotenuse is Your Christian Growth.
- When you accepted Jesus, the Son of God, you began your walk up the hypotenuse from a life dominated by sin to one dominated by light, as John 1.1-5 describes.
- How close to the intersection of the lines on the right side and top will you get? In Hebrews 5.11-6.12, Apostle Paul complains about a lack of thriving in knowledge and faith (Ephesians 4.13-14) and warns about turning your back on the Savior, Jesus. Are you satisfied with the ‘milk’ you feed on? Or, do you want a deeper understanding of Jesus? Your striving expresses your choice.
- Some Christians may not make it near the intersection called ‘light’ because they become victims of persecution and allurements promoted by satan, as Jesus described in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-22. Regrettably, some Christians may, even, fall back, so their lives become the intersection of the absence of ‘light’ – the lower right line and the bottom line, where sin rules. Paul warned about this in Hebrews 6.4-6, and Jesus in Matthew 6.23. The potential outcome is Judges 2.10.
C. The Holy Spirit leads to Light!
- Paul expressed his desired end for his readers in Hebrews 5.14 and 6.12: maturity…like Ephesians 4.13!
- The work of the Holy Spirit is how you get there. Thus, Paul wrote Romans 8.14.
- In John 16.8-11, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would love on the sinner to turn from the activities of Galatians 5.19-21, then verses 16-17 (Romans 8.5-8).
- The Holy Spirit, then, leads the convert to increasing righteousness by convicting of lapses back into sinful behaviors. Think of the hypotenuse not as a solid line but as many, connected sine waves that are closer together nearer the bottom left corner and stretching out up the hypotenuse as the believer increasingly adopts righteousness to the top right corner of the rectangle…full light! Thus, the preference for Galatians 5.22-23 becomes expressed behavior (Deuteronomy 6.4-9).
- How does ‘judgment’ fit into the hypotenuse journey? While riding the waves from sin to righteousness, Proverbs 8.13a begins to express believers’ frustrations and transforms their regard for sin and satan. This should lead to agreement with Jesus’ words in John 12.31 (fulfilling Isaiah 14.12-15) and Paul’s in Colossians 2.15, Hebrews 2.14, and Ephesians 6.10-18. Believers are to increasingly overcome satan’s demons by enforcing the the ‘judgment’ that has already been judged! Thus, 2 Corinthians 10.3-6!
- When we are exercising judgment against satan’s demons, the Holy Spirit is living through us, and His ‘light’ is bright! What can you learn from Jesus’ example in Matthew 23.1-39? Judgment, not PC!
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com