Joy No Matter What

Pastor Bob shares a fabulous message of encouragement and practical help for us believers. Listen here. As we learn about our Supernatural God and how to walk in Him, Pastor Bob shows us what to watch for and what to believe. For the first three parts of “Joy No Matter What” check out https://www.trinitysandiego.org/podcast

Joy No Matter What Part 4
Philippians Chapter 4
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Joy Stealers vs Joy Givers

Joy Stealer #1 – ____________ – Philippians 4:1-5

Nothing steals joy quicker than __________– 1 Samuel 20:34

Nothing steals joy quicker than what has produced fighting – ________ – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

_____ and Abel  – I John 3:12

Nothing steals joy quicker than allowing a fight to go on because it ________ to others Hebrews 12:15

 

Joy Giver #1Working for ______  Philippians 4:3 – Ephesians 4:1-3.

Ways of bringing unity

Help reduce stress by being a ________ – Matthew 5:9 – Proverbs 12:20

Reach out in love and _____________ someone

 

Joy Stealer #2 _________ – Philippians 4:6a

 

We ___ face anxiety

Life’s problems can be _______

Anxiety can steal our joy

King David once faced huge anxiety – 1 Samuel 30: 3-6

Anxiety like King David’s can go deep into our ________  – Proverbs 17:22

 

Joy Giver #2_______ – seek God when difficulties cause you anxiety  Philippians 4:6-7

 David sought the Lord – and he _______ his anxiety  – 1 Samuel 30:7-8 Psalm 42:3-5

Psalm 94:19

 

Joy Stealer #3  – ___________ – Philippians 4:10

 

Sources of discontent

 

_____________ – Proverbs 27:7 – 1 Timothy 6:5 b-8

 

_____________ – 2 Corinthians 10:12

 

Doubting God’s ____________  – Exodus 15:22-23

 

Joy Giver #3Contentedness through __________ strength Philippians 4:11-13

 

What is Our Identity?

God’s supernatural power flows through our connection and closeness with Him. This sermon was recorded in Guadalajara, Mexico where we saw many lives touched by God’s love and power.

Man started out as children of God in the Garden of Eden [the garden of pleasure]. Through stepping away from God as Lord and Father man became a slave to his own independence – we became slaves to our own self focus. The rest of the bible is really little more than the story of how God acts to return to us our true identity as His sons and daughters. God’s intent is that we go directly from slaves [to self focus and sin] to sons and daughter. Unfortunately, for most of us this return is a three step process. We start as slaves to our self focus and sin which becomes our second nature, so much so that we have no power, in ourselves, to get back to our true identity.

 

Read the transcript for Mark’s message here.

The Test of Time

Between the promise and the fulfillment comes the desert. This is the way it always has been and the way it is today. Why?
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;  and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2

Painful as it is there is a connection between the production of Jesus’ Character in us and enduring suffering during a period of waiting for the fulfillment of the promise. The Greek word here translates as “perseverance”, “steadfastness”, “patient endurance”, and it means “the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances”.

The simple fact is that in order to receive the fulfillment of the promises God has made to us we need to persevere in believing those promises and continue in doing those things which he has called us to do “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal.6:9

Paul has to tell us this because it is in our nature to give up. The problem is we are stuck in time. God gives us a promise and our present circumstances, our present moment, denies the promise because it hasn’t happened yet. We then experience the “test of time”. We start to believe, “It hasn’t happened yet, so it’s not going to happen”. This is the lie of the enemy which he uses to dismantle our faith. It is his principle weapon – delay. Now, here is God’s truth that we must take hold of; it hasn’t happened yet because God has something for us that is more important than the fulfillment of the promise. And that something is the production of Jesus’ character in us. Why does that matter so much? Because every gift of God to us is opposed by our enemy and we must fight the good fight of faith to receive it. We are in a war of faith vs. unbelief. We need the perseverance of Jesus to endure the delay. I think most of us know this by virtue of our experience with doubt. The question is; what can we do about it? How can we survive the delay? How can we wait well?

Delay always brings difficult questions and a terrible temptation. The questions it brings are;

“where is God in this delay and why doesn’t He do something about it?”

The temptation it brings is to cease believing one of these two truths:

1] that God is all loving &

2] that God is all powerful.

Any time we experience real delay and the suffering it brings, we are tempted by the enemy to believe either God is all loving but not very powerful, or He is all powerful but not very loving. We reason; if He were both, this unfulfilled promise would not be happening, so I should quit believing. This is a lie. The Bible tells us that God is both all loving and all powerful.

What is the answer to this dilemma? We see the answer most clearly in the story of Job. Satan comes to God and says, “the only reason people worship you is because you bless them.” What Satan is really saying is, “God you are not worth loving just for who you are. The only reason anyone would marry you is for your money.”

All of the angels hear this allegation and 1/3rd of them have already rebelled against God. Much is at stake. So, God allows what is completely unjust – the torture of an innocent and righteous man. Job suffers unimaginably and he is tempted by his own wife and friends to either believe that God is not just or that he has sinned – and he knows neither of these is true. The problem is he has no answer to the question, “why is this happening to me?”

The only answer Job has is to find the presence of God. He knows that if he can just come into God’s presence his questions will be answered and he will be vindicated.

“If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me and consider what he would say.” Job 23:3-5

Asaph comes to the same conclusion in Psalm 73 where he is overcome by the success of the evil all around him.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.” Vs 2-5

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.” Vs 16-18

Finally, he comes to one of the most profound truths in the Bible and the place of true peace:

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth” Vs.25

Job and Asaph are saying the same thing: the answer to our deepest questions and doubts is not a propositional truth but a presence. In the presence of God, the question is no longer of concern; the doubt is no longer relevant. And this has been my experience. When I seek His presence, not for an answered prayer but just to find Him and be with Him, I find that I can survive the waiting. I find the peace I desperately need.

We all married Him for His money – for what He could do to change our circumstances. This is a good reason to come to Him, but our peace and joy depend on going far beyond “what have you done for me lately?”

Our greatest peace and joy will come when we begin to value Him for who He is and not just for what He gives. Unanswered prayers and promises prompt us to examine our relationship with Him and to change our hearts motive for pursuing Him.

Knowing Him really is the reward.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Wait Well

Is there a biblical pattern to promises and their fulfillment in the life of a Christian? Abraham is given a promise of fathering a great nation. More than 50 years pass before he has a child. He is 100 before the promise is fulfilled. As a young man Joseph has a dream from God of ruling his family.

The next thing that happens is he is sold into slavery and ends up in prison alone and forgotten. Years go by before the promise is fulfilled.

Moses is the promised deliverer of Israel. He spends 40 years in the desert alone before his ministry starts. He is 80 when it starts.

Israel is promised a homeland. They start out to cross the desert to the promised land. It is a trip of maybe a week or two max. They spend 40 years wandering in the desert before they receive the promised land.

Jesus waits until he is 30 years old before he starts his ministry. He receives a supernatural affirmation of His father’s love at His baptism and then immediately is led into the desert for a 40 day fast ending with warfare with Satan. After Jesus is resurrected, he is with his disciples 40 days before he ascends to heaven. They have to wait 7 days for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 40 is the number in the Bible for testing and preparation and 7 is the number of perfection. They had to wait until God’s perfect fullness of time had passed before receiving the promised H.S. There is a pattern here- what is it?

How Can I Hear God – Part 2

  1. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit “speaking” directly to your mind. [Again, we call this revelation] Again, this is a little different. In this type of speaking the Holy Spirit does not use scripture, He speaks His thoughts directly from His mind to ours. He causes a thought from Him to appear in your mind. What makes this kind of communication so helpful is that it can happen anywhere at any time. For me it usually happens during my daily quiet time with God, but it does not come through the Bible. But what He says is always consistent with what He says in His word. This is the test to apply to determine whether or not to believe what you are hearing.

When He speaks this way, it has the same power to create faith as when He speaks through scripture. For me it is more effective than going through the bible hunting for a scripture to claim. I am ashamed to say I am quite the cynic. Often when I try to claim a promise from the Old Testament for myself, I end up thinking, “That promise was made more than 3000 years ago to King David. He was a very important guy, I am not. What gives me the right to take his promise and call it my own?” This is my struggle to believe, so it is really wonderful when God speaks to me directly with a promise – mind to mind so to speak. No pun intended!

For the last 6 months I have been going through a very hard time, lots of fear and uncertainty about the future. About a month ago God told me during my daily quiet time to go back over my prayer journal from the last 18 months and write down everything He said to me. I thought I would end up with 10-12 things. I ended up with 58 and as of today there are many more. I have discovered that I am having an ongoing conversation with God! My faith for what He has promised for me is huge now! It is big enough to drive the fear and worry away [as long as I read His promises regularly]. For me this is a huge breakthrough! I have been a very fear based Christian. This is changing fast!

Here are a few of the things He has said to me that created faith in me:

  1. “You are only looking at the negative. Look at the future possibilities with the eyes of faith. Trust me with your future, I’ve got it in my hands. You are not going to make a mistake! I am guiding you, you just haven’t seen it yet”.
  2. “You have been using your imagination to analyze all the things that could go wrong in your future. Stop doing that. Use your imagination to see all the things that I have promised you”.
  3. “Persevere in faith! Not just in obedience, but in continuing to choose to believe my promises to you. Don’t lose your eternal perspective. This time of uncertainty will end soon. You are entering a new season of fruitfulness – just trust me!”
  4. “I am teaching you Trust, Patience, Faithfulness, and Perseverance. Make these your goals and continue to listen for my voice. I don’t intend for you to ever live without hearing my voice. I will continue to speak.”
  5. “Turn your fear into praise. Use your praise as a weapon!” And on and on…

Sounds like the Bible doesn’t it? That’s why I believe it is coming from Him. Because I believe it is coming from Him, my faith is growing. Because my faith is growing my trust is growing and because my trust is growing, my experience of His peace is growing… and that’s all I need!

Here is my point. To grow in faith, we need to be hearing Him. To hear Him we need to be listening. We need to make listening to Him a habit. To do this we need to create a protected time of stillness and listening. The more we practice listening for His voice the better we get at it.

Too many people start trying to hear His voice when they are in trouble. It is hard to do when you are up to your waste in alligators. If we learn to hear his voice habitually, when the alligators come, we will be ready. So, start now with a  quiet place, your bible, a pen and journal. Pour out your heart to Him and then ask Him what He wants to say to you. Wait and write down whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about whether its Him or not. Wait a few weeks and go back and read what you think He might have said. You will be surprised!

How Can I Hear God?

24464_artwork_12bddbb2d50a965d946bfdaaf4a1d785Hello. This is Mark’s wife Shell with an introduction to this teaching.

I have often told Mark he needs to tell people the reason he hears from God so quickly. He takes an hour each day sitting in stillness and silence with God. Sometimes he won’t hear or sense anything for days, but he still shows up.

In his message on Faith Comes From Hearing, Mark shares some of experiences. You can also watch this sermon on his Youtube channel – https://youtu.be/Ssczr8cOiIg

FAITH COMES FROM HEARING

“…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”. Romans 10:17

Let’s break this verse down:

“Hearing the message” means literally to perceive sound. It refers to the sense of hearing. Faith comes when we “hear” something, just like hearing a voice. This means that faith does not come from us trying to create it. Faith is the result of an experience of hearing. What we “hear” comes to us somewhat like sound. It is either in words or some other sound that means something specific to us, e.g. like the sound of an ambulance siren. And what we hear is through the word of Christ.

This tells us two things. The first is that Faith has a personal source – it comes from Christ/God/The Holy Spirit. Real faith cannot be produced from any source but God. The second thing this phrase tells us is that faith comes from the “word” of God. The Greek word used here which is translated as word, is “rhema”. It comes from a root work that means “to say” or “to speak”. It translates as follows; “that which is or has been uttered by the living voice – “an utterance”. It also means “any sound produced by the voice”, and “having a definite meaning”. This tells us that we should expect this word from God to come in words most of the time. It is like any spoken message. It is discernable.

How should we expect these faith producing messages to come?

  1. Through the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible. [we call this revelation] God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit as we read His written word. Most of us have had this experience one time or another, hopefully often. You are reading the Bible and suddenly a verse or phrase “jumps out at you”. It is like the bible is speaking directly to you in your present circumstances. It is like you are hearing that verse or phrase for the first time. It has great impact upon you. You believe it! It is producing faith to believe what it is saying to you. How many of us have had this experience? Was it helpful? Would you like it to happen more often? How do we increase these experiences? We make a habit of reading the bible every day.
  2. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit as He uses the Bible to bring the message. [again, we call this revelation] This experience is a little different. It doesn’t start with reading the bible, it starts with listening to the Holy Spirit. It works this way; you are pouring your heart out to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit because you need to hear from Him. You could go to your Bible search program and type in a word that describes your condition, e.g. fear, sickness, depression, uncertainty, hopefulness, etc. but you have not done that yet. You are just pouring out your heart to God. Suddenly, a scripture address comes to you. You look it up and it “jumps out at you”. You experience what we just described – it speaks from God to you, and it produces faith.

Some years ago, my father was suffering from dementia. He was experiencing bouts of paranoia and delusions. He believed people were out to take his money. He called me daily to phone his lawyers and have them start law suites against people that had done him no harm. Ten minutes after hanging up the phone he would call again, and we would go through it all over again.  It was a terrible number of years for all of us but especially for me because I had to manage his affairs while his dementia was undermining them.

After doing this for several years I acquired a genuine fear of putting Shelley through the same kind of experience when I get older. I was telling God how much I did not want to do this to her, and I was asking for a sudden death that did not involve some sort of slow, withering, exhausting death that would make Shell’s life miserable. He interrupted my request with a scripture address. It was not a scripture that I was familiar with. It was Psalm 16:10. I turned to it and this is what it said, “…nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Ever since He said that, I have had faith that my death will not be a burden to Shell.

Check out Part 2 for the final point and an encouraging example

Getting Real Part 2

Continuing from last post

Graph #1 represents our normal human life experience. Above the line are experiences which are pleasant, fulfilling and satisfying. What we like to call “blessings”. There are several high points we love to think about. Thinking about them brings a sense of happiness and self-acceptance. Below the line are experiences that are the opposite. Thinking about them brings a sense of pain, loss, frustration and shame. We hate to think about these and tend to avoid these memories whenever we can. There are usually one or two that are so painful we will do anything to forget about them. This would be L-1. We spend energy trying to dismiss them. In our circles we tend to attribute the stuff above the line to God and the stuff below the line to the Devil. That categorization makes it easier to dismiss the negative experiences from our consideration.

See Graphs on video https://youtu.be/PMl8CNiLAHM

Graph #2 represents how we craft our self-image. I call it the “photoshopped me”. We compose our self-image by collecting all our best memories and most successful moments and putting them on display. We tell ourselves that this is who I am. We also project this image to all those around us, after all, we want to be loved and valued so we project the best image we can – competent, lovable, likeable, smart, funny, attractive, etc. – whatever sells. What we are doing is taking a photo of ourselves and then “photoshopping” all of the scars and flaws out of the photo. We then cut out the new-improved photo of me, glue it to a popsicle stick and hold it in front of our faces. This is the person I wish I were and so this is the person I project to everyone around me. We then describe our photoshopped images relating to one another as “fellowship”.

Graph # 3 represents the missing parts from our self-image. We never include the lows because they represent failure, pain, loss, and shame. As well, they are the work of the Devil and so should never be included in our Christian image. To include these things would only be giving credit to the Devil. And why talk about unpleasant experiences anyway, just ignore those memories and dwell on being a “new creature”. After all, I should never be defined by my failures and losses – that would be a lack of faith.

 

Right away we can see the flaw in our photoshopped me – there are no flaws. Because there are no flaws, the image we are projecting is not true. If it is not true, the relationships we have as a result of that image are also not true. They must, logically, be shallow. Because they are shallow they are not satisfying. Because they are not satisfying we experience our faith as incomplete and not satisfying. Church seems to be missing something. There must be more, but what is it that is missing? How do I get this deep experience that the Bible talks about? What is wrong with this picture – literally?

 

Insert Graph #4 in POWERPOINT HERE

 

Graph #4 represents what is wrong with my picture of myself and what is wrong with my understanding of myself. Usually we all have a few very low lows that we will do almost anything to avoid thinking about. The really bad ones are intentionally buried very deep. The problem though is that they are not neutral or inactive. The worst ones wait for another low experience to connect themselves to. The result is that this present low experience now seems much worse than it really is. It feels much like L-1. And this goes on and on with every low experience until we have an undercurrent of depression, doubt, sadness, numbness and sinking self-worth. Also, relationships become harder and harder to maintain because our false, entirely positive self-image, is becoming harder and harder to maintain because it is becoming harder and harder to believe in. We have now woken up to living a lie. Or maybe we never wake up, we just keep on trying to believe that we are better than we are. We are “thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought”.

 

The solution is obvious; God knows all about our dark times. No matter how bad they were He always had a plan to “redeem” them – to bring good out of the Devils work. The amazing truth is that if we will face our dark times honestly, we will experience God’s hand of blessing through them. If we will be honest with Him about facing them, we will find His love at work through them. We can then incorporate them into our self-image and begin to experience relationships based on truth. We will experience the joy of having nothing to hide. Nothing to hide means having nothing to lose. This is genuine freedom in our friendship with God and others. It was for freedom that you were set free, so start enjoying getting real.

 

Getting Real

Today we would use the words “transparency”, “vulnerability” and “honesty” to describe deep friendship. Transparency, vulnerability, and honesty are the foundations of any true Christian friendship. Loving relationships require honesty.

Here’s a thought:  you cannot love someone you do not know!  We have a word for the feeling that happens after you think you have gotten to know someone only to find out they were faking their thoughts and feelings and reactions to you. The word is “disillusioned!”   It is both a feeling and a fact. The fact is that you were deceived, you were given an illusion of who that person was, and you found out it was false. The feeling is one of being abused, tricked and violated.

Nothing destroys a relationship faster than dishonesty. You can put up with a lot but when you no longer believe the person, the relationship is over. Even when you are hearing what you want to hear, “I am sorry” or “I love you”, if you don’t believe their words it is worse than not hearing them at all.  Think about it; in the world of relationships a pleasant lie is more destructive than an unpleasant truth.

Dishonestly is not merely dangerous to a relationship, it is its opposite.

A good application question to ask ourselves at this point is; what stands in the way of deep honest friendships? Here is one answer from the book of Romans which we just finished studying:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3

Most of the time when we read this verse we take it as a warning against pride, and it is. To think of ourselves more highly than we should is usually an indication of pride. BUT NOT ALWAYS. Sometimes we engage in self-deception when we think of ourselves. We often do this out of a desire to be loved and lovable. Paul counsels us to think of ourselves with “sober judgment”. What this term means is that we should use reason to arrive at a very realistic understanding of ourselves – a true and balanced understanding. Is this the way we usually see ourselves? I think not. Let me illustrate how we usually arrive at our self-understanding.

Check back in a few days for the rest of the sermon

Mark’s shares his experience

Rocky-Mountains“I was an evangelical intellectual. My Christian formation after making Jesus my Lord at the age of 28 was through the influence of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, an intellectual lot in the best sense of the word. I had no interest in, or understanding of, the Holy Spirit, beyond that He was the spooky part of the Trinity.

The local IV leadership had recognized a nascent teaching gift in me and had taken a chance on a very rough diamond – very rough. Today I doubt I would take a chance on me as I was then. They had already used me to teach kids at summer camps and now they were ready to loose me upon college students. They must have been very hard up for a speaker.

The retreat took place at a very beautiful place in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The weekend went well, without surprises, until Sunday morning. After breakfast, I returned to my room to prepare myself to teach. I was quietly giving thanks to the Lord and asking Him to speak through me when I was overcome by His goodness. That is the only way I can describe it. I felt His love so powerfully that I just had to weep. This was at 9:00 am.

It felt so good I just went with it. I cried for 30 minutes then I thought, “Church starts in 30 minutes, I need to stop this now and pull myself together.” I began to “control myself”, but then I had this thought, “Wait a minute. This is God doing this to me. Do I have the right to stop this?” In tears, I wrestled with this question for a few minutes and then decided, “Lord, I don’t know what you are doing but I am certain it is You so go ahead as long as You want.” So, on I wept.

At 9:45 am I checked my watch and went through the same issue; do I “control myself” and shut this down or do I let it go? I again chose to let it go and on it went. At 9:55 am my friend opened my door to tell me it was time for church. He saw the mess I was in and I saw genuine shock on his face. He said, “What’s going on, church starts in 5 minutes and you have to speak, what’s wrong? Are you going to be able to speak?”

To be completely honest, I was not sure I could get up and teach. I pulled myself together and said to God, “I don’t know what You want from me. I know I am supposed to teach, but I also know this is real and this is You. I am going to go down and try to teach, but whatever You want to do, I will do. If You want me to get up in front of those kids and cry I will do that.”

I survived the worship without breaking down. I was barely holding it together when I got up to speak. The message began without incident. About a third of the way through the message, I hit the part about how much God loves us, and I began to speak about His all-powerful, overwhelming love. I started to cry, but I kept teaching as best I could through the tears. Soon several of the kids started to cry. Soon the whole room was crying. It was not what I had any intention of causing. It just happened. We cried for about half an hour and then it stopped. No one moved. We just sat in silence. I had never experienced anything like that. I had no words to describe it, but I knew it was God.

That afternoon I returned to the city and my band was scheduled to play a concert for a Christian charity. After the show, a girl I did not recognize came up to me and said, “I was there when it happened!” I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you are talking about.” She said, “This morning at the retreat, when you spoke, I was there when it happened, and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced! What was it?” I said, “I don’t know, but it was God.” She said, “I know.”

I have never forgotten the way she described that experience as “it.” Neither of us had the words to describe what we experienced, but we both knew it was God. It was not until years later that I understood that it was the Holy Spirit that we were “in.”

God is emotional, and God is powerful. God expects us to be emotional in our response to His emotions and He expects us to move in His power.

That experience was the beginning of what many call the “anointing” of the spiritual gift of teaching. Tears are now a part of my life. Although it doesn’t happen every time I speak, it happens more often than Mark the ex-lawyer and intellectual would like. Fortunately, Mark the Christian lets it happen and never tries to stop it. I think that is because he fears that if he had “gotten control of himself” that Sunday morning at the retreat, that experience would likely not have happened, and he and they would have missed what for him was a life-changing encounter with God.”

God is emotional, and God is powerful. God expects us to be emotional in our response to His emotions and He expects us to move in His power. It is fine for us to be “out of control” as long as we allow Him to be the one who is in control. Do you really want to get to Heaven to find out that you missed so much of God’s power in your life because you were so worried about how you would appear if you got “carried away?”

What does it mean to be “in the Holy Spirit?”

Some time ago Mark got stuck on the harmless little phrase “in the Spirit” as it appears in the lives of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. They seemed to throw the term around without ever defining it. To them it seemed self-explanatory. So, he decided to look up all the places where the term is found and do a word-study on the word “in.” We know, it sounds pointless, studying the word “in”, but what he found surprised him and gave us an understanding of the Holy Spirit that brought clarity both to our own experiences and to our understanding of scripture. Let’s take a closer look.

The phrase, “in the Holy Spirit” appears several times in the New Testament. Here are most of those verses that refer to someone being or doing something in the Holy Spirit:

1] Luke 10:21: Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.”

2] Jude 1:20: “… pray in the Holy Spirit.”

3] Rev. 1:10: “On the Lord’s day I was in the Spirit and I heard behind me a loud voice …” 

4] Rom. 14:17: “… the Kingdom of God is about peace righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

5] John 4:23: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In each of these passages something is happening; rejoicing, prayer, a vision, the experience of peace, the experience of knowing our righteousness and finally worship. Something is happening through people and to people and it is somehow “in” the Holy Spirit.

The key to what “in the Holy Spirit” means lies in the word “in.”  In each verse we’ve listed, the same Greek word for “in “is used. Here is how this word may be translated; “in, on, at, near, by, before, among, with, within, and into.”

Here are the three definitions that best describe an activity or experience happening “in” the Holy Spirit;

  1. a marker of a state or condition e.g. “in torment”,
  2. a marker of close personal association, e.g. “one with”, “in union with” “joined closely to”
  3. a marker of the means by which one event makes another event possible, e.g. “by means of” or “through.”

If we put all these definitions together we get this definition of the phrase “in the Holy Spirit”: “a state or condition of close personal association or union or joining with the Holy Spirit by which another state or condition, event or activity, is made possible.”

By way of example, what is made possible in John 4:23-24 is worship. What this means is that worship “in the Holy Spirit” is a condition or state which happens to us through the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can make happen. It comes about by union with or joining closely to the Holy Spirit. It is a different state or condition from that which we were in before we entered into “worship in the Holy Spirit.”

The same thing is happening to Jesus when He was filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. It means that something happened to him through the Holy Spirit which was different from what He was experiencing before the Holy Spirit brought the joy. Similarly, praying in the Holy Spirit is a different state from what may be prayed apart from the Holy Spirit.

When we are “in the Spirit” we are moved from one state of being to another which result in a union with Him which is not theoretical but experiential.

In all these events, there is an increase in the “personal closeness or association” with the Holy Spirit. There is an increase in intimacy and an increase in communication between us and Him. And finally, He [by His power] makes something happen which could not happen without His intervention [with spiritual power].

We really are carried away in the godly sense of the word. We are moved from one state of being to another which result in a union with Him, which is not theoretical, but experiential. And finally, some activity or experience is made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit which could not have been possible without His power. In every case such an experience leaves us with a greater understanding of the nature of God, not because we read it or heard it in a sermon, but because we experienced it/Him.

Check back for the next blog post for Mark’s first such experience of his spiritual gift of teaching.