(All Scriptures are from The Amplified Bible, except when otherwise noted.)
Who doesn’t like to receive gifts? Some actually may not like to receive gifts because they don’t know what to say or do when they are given a gift. Some feel awkward because they do not have a gift to reciprocate this gesture of friendship and caring. Sadly, some even feel unworthy and cannot possibly accept a gift. Sadder still, some think they are better off than the giver and the gift is far too beneath their standards. As for me, I love to receive gifts. On the first of December, I give copies of my “Christmas Wish List”, printed in red and green ink, to my family members. The gifts range from costing a few dollars to about $20.00 or a little more, so there’s something affordable for everyone to buy me gifts (When in doubt, a fine French red or white Burgundy or a California or Washington Brut Sparkling wine will do).
When I hit the BIG 40, I started celebrating my “Birth-Month” and did something special everyday, during the month of August, from treating myself to a medium Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with cream and a Turbo Shot, to taking a road trip to the Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with “the Four Sisters”, to dining at a rustically elegant restaurant at a Connecticut Vineyard, with my “Winers and Diners Bible Study Group”. Because I celebrate for the whole month, it gives my family and friends plenty of time to send me birthday cards and buy birthday gifts. It takes the pressure off trying to remember the exact date of my actual birthday. When I am asked, “When is your birthday?” I say, “August.” When I am asked, “August what?” I reply, “August.” Although, lately, my birthday celebrations are starting in July and spilling over into September and sometimes October (if the RED SOX are still playing). As I get older, I need more time to celebrate and do all the things on my “pre-bucket” list.
The best gift I have ever received was the Free Gift of Salvation from God’s Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and His Gift of the Holy Spirit. It was a “package deal”. At the age of eighteen, I realized that I needed God’s help in living life with a disability (cerebral palsy) and life was not getting easier. It is very easy to fall into the “trap” of self-pity and self-centeredness and self-doubt. If we are truthful with ourselves, every one of us struggles with sin and doubt. Sin is “missing the mark” of where God wants us to be. I often fall short in practicing the “Golden Rule”: “So then whatever you desire others would do to and for you, even so do you also to and for them [others]…” (Matthew 7:12 ; Also see Luke 6:31). Instead of practicing the “Golden Rule”, I want to use the “Get-Even Rule” Every one of us finds the “Get-Even Rule” easier to follow: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and lash for lash” (Exodus 21:24-25). Because of our human tendency to “lash” out none of us are where God wants us to be. God wants us to enjoy a close relationship with Him. But, we want what we want. We are selfish by nature. Even the good things we do may be done for selfish motives. Yet, God loves every one of us and wants to shower us with every good gift. God gave us His Only Begotten Son to die in our place and to free us from the power of sin (our natural tendencies) and (spiritual) death. God also gave us His Holy Sprit. The Greek word Parakletos is used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit as “Counselor” (RSV, NIV), “Comforter” (KJV, ASV) or “HELPER” (NASB, NKJV).
“And He – that same Jesus Himself – is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also [the sins of] the whole world” (I John 2:2).
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only-begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish – come to destruction, be lost – but have eternal (everlasting) life” (John 2:16).
“He Who did not withhold or spare [even] His Own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?” (Romans 8:32).
“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]” (James 1:17).
“See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!” (I John 3:1a).
We have learned from the “A Person of Mystery” series, that after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, He promised to send His disciples (including us), “A Person of Ministry ” – the Gift of His Holy Spirit.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, HELPER, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever, The Spirit of Truth…The Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall – will remind you of, bring to your remembrance – everything I told you…I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say, it is profitable – good, expedient, advantageous – for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (…HELPER…) will not come to you – into close fellowship with you. But if I go away, I will send Him to you – to be in close fellowship with you” ((John 14:16-17a, 26b; 16:7).
In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, we read about the birth of the Christian Church and how the disciples were filled with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in different languages to the crowd that had gathered. And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of the prophecy in Joel that was being fulfilled right before their eyes: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels – your young men shall see visions (that is, divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God’s kingdom (vv. 17-18; also see Joel 2:28-32).
At the first Pentecost, we see that the Holy Spirit is not “gender biased” “For God [The Holy Trinity] shows no partiality” (Roman 2:11). After Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, “There is [now no distinction], neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). To truly understand what this means, we need to understand what the word “HELPER” means in the Bible and not rely on the definition found in our modern culture. In today’s culture, “HELPER” means someone who is in a subservient role. In the Bible, the word “HELPER” means “HELPER/MEET”. In Genesis 2: 18 “…God said, It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone; I will make him a HELPER MEET (suitable, adapted, completing) for him.” In the Hebrew, the word for the HELPER/HELPMEET” is “ezer”, which is used in the Old Testament as “one who comes to the aid, to rescue, or deliver those in NEED of HELP (See I Samuel 7:12, II Kings 14:26, Job 29:12, Psalms 121:1-2). In the Book of Psalms, whenever the word “HELPER” is used, it refers to God Himself.
In the beginning, God created woman from man as a “suitable” (kenegdo), which denotes “equal” and “adequate” partner, and the two were created by God to demonstrate the unity and the equality of all human beings (See Genesis 2:18-20). As God the Holy Spirit is equally God as God the Father and God the Son, Adam and Eve were to share in that same kind of unity and equality as the Holy Trinity and enjoy close fellowship with the Triune God. Both man and woman were created in God’s image and were created to have a close relationship with God. They also shared the responsibilities of raising children and caring for God’s creation (See Genesis 1:26-28). It was only after the Fall, when sin entered the hearts of Adam and Eve, that caused the relationship between man and woman to be distorted with each other and with God (See Genesis 3:16). BUT GOD had a plan to redeem the human race from sin [wanting to be God and to lord over others]. That Plan was to give us Jesus, “His Gift, [precious] beyond telling – His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15), to die for the our sins and for the sins of the world. God’s “INDESCRIBABLE” Gift includes the Gift of His [indwelling] Holy Spirit (See I Corinthians 6:19) – the HELPER – Who aids us in our walk with God, rescues us when we walk away from God and delivers us from the lies of the world by revealing God’s Truth to us. What a Gift! How can anyone refuse this AWESOME Gift of God?
What a wonderful message Peter shared on the first Pentecost! But Peter was not done. What else did Peter say on that first Pentecost when God’s Spirit was poured out on His first disciples? Tune in next time to find out.
I know I wrote “Be back at July-Thirty”, but the RED SOX were on the West Coast and the World Cup makes me crazy. How can a 90+-minute sporting event end in a 0-0 tie? I don’t get it!
(For more information Google: “Biblical Ishshah (Woman): The True Role of Helper/Help Meet” and “Men, Women and Biblical Equality [CBE International].)
This is my prayer for all of us:
“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from Whom His family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through FAITH. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in LOVE, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the LOVE of Christ, and to know this LOVE that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]).