Wind

Scientifically speaking, wind is defined as air moving from an area of high pressure to an area of lower pressure. It’s a natural force that surrounds us every day, and although invisible, affects us every day. Sometimes, while biking, I’ll notice that it’s tough to keep moving because I’m riding into the wind, moving the against the way the wind is blowing. Runners experience similar effects. We also sit up and take notice when tornadoes and hurricanes are involved. These rotating storms can destroy strongly constructed buildings as if they were made out of cardboard and can level whole forests. We cannot see the wind, but as these examples demonstrate, we can see its effects.

We observed Pentecost this past Sunday. The disciples and others were gathered in the upper room awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). This sign demonstrates a truth that exists yet today, namely that we can’t see the Holy Spirit but we can see His effects. This was immediately evident in the life of the apostle Peter. He was an apostle who was known for his bold and sometimes rash behavior and even denied his Lord three times on the night of His crucifixion.  He also didn’t understand what Jesus meant when he told him and the other disciples why He had to die and rise again and ascend into Heaven. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, however, Peter and the other disciples began to understand more fully what Jesus promised in John 14 when He promised to send the Comforter. It was in this newfound boldness that Peter preached the sermon that is recorded in Acts 2. He quoted passages from the book of Joel as well as part of Psalm 16 and used them as proof of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even today the Holy Spirit continues to work boldness by guiding God’s people into all truth. He never steers us wrong and always contributes to our understanding of spiritual things. What we know in this life is vague and blurry but someday when we are heaven we will have a fuller understanding of why our lives happened the way they did and what God’s purpose in it all was. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (I Cor. 13:12). May we be ever thankful for the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives!

Kevin Rau

The Breath of Life

Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

 

Are you breathing?

Of course you are; if not, you wouldn’t be conscious for long or even alive, much less reading this article. But how often do you think about the slow, regular breaths that keep you alive every minute of every day? To become more aware, let’s try something: Take a deep breath and hold it.

 

 

keep holding…

 

 

keep holding…

 

 

Are you starting to feel like something’s missing?

Your chest is probably feeling heavy. You might feel a sense of panic twirling in your stomach, and pretty soon your brain will be screaming for air. If you don’t relent, dark edges may start to creep into the edges of your vision. Before you pass out, breathe!

It’s amazing how we can be reduced to an oxygen-starved, distracted, dying creature in minutes without breath. In the same way, without the sustaining “breath” of God, we would be dead—physically and spiritually.

Breath is the life-giving gift of God. In Genesis 2:7 we read “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God created every mountain, river, bird, and blade of grass by speaking, but for mankind, He used breath. Throughout the Bible, the fact that something breathes is the characteristic used to indicate life, and even today, respiratory rate is one of the four vital signs checked by any medical professional to determine whether someone is alive.

The average adult breathes 12-16 times per minute. That’s at least 17,000 breaths a day. With each breath, a large muscle in your abdomen, your diaphragm, contracts, letting air rush through your trachea and into your lungs where it pools up in millions of sacs, designed by God to maximize the surface area over which blood can flow. Blood cells passing over the lungs can then drop off carbon dioxide, pick up oxygen, and carry this life-giving element to cells throughout the body. This happens over and over and over again as long as you are alive. Breathing is incredible!

Not only does God orchestrate the laws of physics and the complex processes of our bodies to give us life through breath, he sustains us spiritually every day through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Scripture makes a close connection between the Holy Spirit and breath. In Job 27:3-4, Job confesses, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.” He later says in Job 33:4: “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

In the New Testament, when Christ appears to his disciples after the resurrection, we read, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

God breathed into man’s nostrils to give him life. In the same way, the Holy Spirit has breathed into us new spiritual life through the work of regeneration. And just as we must breathe regularly to survive, we must constantly rely on the Holy Spirit to turn from our old man of sin towards new obedience to God.

It is a blessing that we don’t have to consciously think about breathing every couple of seconds of every day. Can you imagine if we did? We couldn’t focus on anything without fear of forgetting to breath. We couldn’t sleep!

Yet it is worth considering that every breath we take is a reminder of God’s all-powerful creation, His sustaining grace, and His spirit by which we have the power to turn from sin and love Him.

Breathing is incredible. The fact that God breathes life into us dead sinners is beyond words.

Elizabeth Ensink

A Look at the Spirit in a Month of ‘spirits’ (2): Walking After the Spirit

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12-14, 18-22).

            We are as a human race apart from God wholly corrupt (Ps 51:5, Romans 3:9-18,20-24; Hebrews 11:6). We “are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). We appear ugly and gross in sin.

The events of Pentecost then, which signified the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the New Testament church both Jew and Gentile alike, are a wondrous thing! First, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit gave assurance and validity. It showed that Christ indeed had died and risen again and fulfilled the prophecies (Acts 2:32-36), and it showed that the man that had been crucified was indeed the very Son of God. Second, it showed the great mercy and love of our God, who chose to save such a depraved and unworthy people. God sent His Son to bear on the cross the burden of an entirely rebellious and undeserving people, saving us by His grace!

Though we are members of the blessed body of Christ, we still so often stumble and sin. We bumble around our lives, turning to our own cares, desires, and opinions on how things should be done. We so often look to find wisdom and direction in ourselves or use our feelings to guide our decisions. We fall into temptation and find our focus on this earth and our own selves. We want a say in how we are going to live our lives. We want to use our own reasoning, and we want to create our own morals. We want to have our own priorities and control. Over and over again we find ourselves in sin. We are still at war with the Devil and his hosts, who fight so fiercely to wreak havoc in the Church. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:9-19), and we are “dead indeed unto sin” (Romans 6:11a). Depravity still works to devour us.

 

 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18-24).

             Knowing our depravity and shortcomings is important. It teaches us just how much we need our Lord. It reminds just how much we can’t trust our own selves, and how vital it is that we look to God first in ALL things, for He alone is the source of infallible truth and wisdom, knowledge and justice. If we try to deduct things for ourselves, or only use Scripture to justify our own set of wants and opinions, we place our fallible and sin-filled opinions above the constant truth and goodness found in our Lord.

If we were left on our own we would be overcome. We would have no hope. We would be drowned in the angry torrents of sin and depravity, capable of doing only evil. God, however, has not left us defenseless. In Christ’s name and righteousness we have been made pleasing to God. When His Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, we were also given, with the great knowledge that sin and death had been overcome, a means to fight against the onslaught of Satan and his hosts, to fight fiercely against sin. We were given the Holy Spirit.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit working spiritual life within us we are able to live a life of faith in God, loving Him and looking to Him for direction and wisdom. We are given strength and comfort. We are able to fight against sin and live a life pleasing to God. On the cross death has been overcome, and in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit life has been given, that we may fight with all our might till Christ returns in final judgment. To us unworthy sinners “He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Through the Spirit, we are able to mortify the deeds of the body, and live a life of love and hope in our Almighty God (Romans 8:13). What grace!

 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

ADV