Musings on Beginnings

Today is a beginning. It is a day marked off as the start of a New Year. The year 2010 in the Roman calendar has begun. Since it is a beginning, it is a good time to reflect on beginnings. Beginnings are actually constant. We move from one day to next, one minute to next, constantly encountering new beginnings.

In terms of the ultimate beginning, there are only really two options of belief. Either you believe that the ultimate beginning was initiated by a Creator, or your believe that the ultimate beginning just happened by random chance. What you believe about the ultimate beginning shapes your beliefs about the world and the nature of beginnings. Personally, the world of beginning having an initiated beginning makes more sense to this writer. A start point with intent and purpose is entirely different from a starting point based from meaninglessness. Now the view of their being an initiated beginning leads to thoughts about other beginnings.

The first beginning is that of the first sin. The beginning of man moving away from depending on God for instruction and direction is the story of Eve eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The eating of such fruit allowed for a turning from God to self-determination. Adam took and ate, both then hid from God and when confronted shifted blame. God spoke and started the consequences of the move away from God. We all know at the beginning of life, start separated from God and depending on self. This led to God implementing several other beginnings in order to implement His plan of reconciliation.

Another beginning that is important and played a role is God’s plan is God beginning the nation of Israel through Abraham. This nation, these people God chose to reflect directly His ways to the world and be the starting point of God’s reconciliation with humanity. God made a promise based on His relationship with Abraham. It was through that beginning that God brought another beginning, the Torah: a revelation of His ways and His self for not only all of Israel but for all of humanity. The Torah is the beginning even of God’s written revelation. The revelation serves to give a measurement of how we fail to live up to God’s holy standards and point ahead and illustrate God’s plan for reconciliation.

Now God’s plan of reconciliation is the beginning point of all of humanity being able to be at peace with God. The reconciliation came by Jesus who is God in the flesh, in order to fulfill the requirements needed to reconcile man and God died in an extreme form of capital punishment as an atoning sacrifice. The innocent standing in place of the guilty as a scapegoat giving each person a point at which reconciliation with God begins. It begins with an intentional act of self, to accept the gift of reconciliation and turn from self. Such a decision is but a beginning of an ongoing relationship with the Creator, the one who initiated all beginnings. So, please take time and begin reconciliation with God by turning in surrender of self and accepting the gift of having the consequences of your own self-dependence redeemed. He initiated it but it takes intentional receiving of the gift in order to establish.

Now one thing about beginnings is that beginnings lead to an end. There is a conclusion and purpose. There is order. God has provided revelation of what the ultimate ending is. We have the final chapter of the story of humanity on earth. The essence of day to day live is getting from the beginning to the end. Each beginning is part of the ongoing process of growing and resolving the story. Ultimately, the beginning and end all reside in Jesus who is both. Take time to begin that relationship. If you already have, find out what is the next step and next beginning in the unfolding story of your life as you push forward toward that which God began. Know that always “He that BEGAN a good work in YOU will be faithful to complete it.” In other words, that which God has initiated and put in motion in His workings in your life will continue until it reaches God’s conclusion. God will always ensure that what He seeks to be complete will occur for those that follow Him. God will always bring His initiated beginnings to His conclusion. So take time and reflect on God’s initiation in your life and your responses. Examine your own beginnings and the ongoing process of moving forward in growth. One last thought, remember that always in comparison with eternity we really are still just beginning.

Fellowship of Maceio English service 9-26-2009: Worship in spirit.

On September 26th, 2009 I spoke at Fellowship of Maceió Church, in Portuguese, Igreja Batista da Comunhão, after my brother-in-law, Pastor Lon Davidson asked me to speak at there English service.  I will post here the thoughts I shared while speaking. It probably is not a perfect replication of all I said but the essential points are included. 

Good evening, I was surprised when Pastor Lon asked me to speak at the service but am glad to be doing so. After being asked to speak, I prayed and asked God what to speak about and the direction he pointed me was to speak about what it means to worship in spirit and truth.  Tonight we focus on worship in spirit. 

 The main text for this topic is John 4:20-24 and it is where Jesus talks about worshiping in spirit and truth.  

John 4:20-24   Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 Now in order to understand what it is to worship in spirit and truth we first need to have an understanding of worship. There are two passages that point to the essential meaning of worship.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 

John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease”

For the purpose of this study worship is defined as putting God at the forefront and involves elevating God and surrendering self.  Now there can be whole sermons written on the nature of worship but this simple definition is central to what we are examining.

It is also good to be aware of what the issue was that Jesus was responding to.  Samaritans and Jews had significant issue of who held the proper place of temple and followed God truly. Samaritans believed that the temple belonged at Mount Gerizim, Jews in Jerusalem. They really were at strong conflict; they did not like each other at all.   So, yes Jesus response was contrary to both views.  True worshipers worship in spirit and truth.  Today we are examining worship in spirit. 

In order to understand what it means to worship in spirit first we  need to understand what is spirit?  The bible has multiple references to spirit. 348 references in the  Old testament, 350 references in the new testament. Now not all those references are referring to the human spirit, some reference the Holy Spirit, some reference evil spirits. But the bible does speak specifically about the human spirit. Here are some verses to give an example:

Psalm 51:11 “Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”

Matthew 5:3 “blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Mark 14:38 “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

 Rom 8:16  “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”

The spirit is the inner most part of man.  The bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  If you think about it, the Holy of Holies is symbolic of the human spirit.  The spirit is the deepest part of humanity. The spirit is the place that Holy Spirit indwells:

1Co 6:19  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own


Worship in spirit is all about God with us. It is about being indwelt with the Holy God in our spirit. It takes things away from rightness of place and into being indwelt and surrendering to the Holy Spirit.

It is all about a covenant relationship with the almighty God, where God is within us, leading us daily.
Now to understand the nature of this relationship it is important to understand the past covenants, in particular with Israel.

Do you what we refer to as the law was not the first covenant.  Rather it was the second option.

God first simply wanted Israel to hear his voice and obey. The biblical reference for this is Exodus 19:5.  However, the voice of God scared them and they wanted to renegotiate the terms.  This is found in Exodus 20:18-19.

 God agreed to renegotiate and this resulted in God using a mediator or intercessor: Moses, priests, and prophets.  It resulted in the Torah, what we call the law: mediated instructions. This can be found in Deuteronomy 18:15-19

 But now because of Jesus Christ we no longer need a mediator. We have a relationship with access to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not just hearing God’s voice. It is not just following God’s mediated instructions.  It is being indwelt by the Holy and living God through the Holy Spirit. There are three passages that really explain how this works:

Colossians  1:27  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

This indicates that it is Christ in us that everything points to, it is the essential point. Yet, we know Jesus is in heaven as indicated in the next verse;

 Hebrews 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

So Jesus is described as in us, yet He is in Heaven with the father.  How can both be true? This is answered in the next verse;

Eph 3:16, 17a  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-

Jesus is in us, through the Holy Spirit residing in our spirit. 

So here is how it works.  Jesus is in heaven with the father, interceding on our behalf. Our faith enables us to be redeemed through his sacrifice for our sins.  This enables us to be filled with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in our spirit. This is the dynamic of worship in the spirit. We have the Holy Spirit who communicates to Jesus who goes before the father. It is really an amazing thing to have all aspects of God interacting when we worship in spirit. 

God is truly with us. His presence abides in us.  So since the Holy Spirit resides in us we can begin to understand worship in spirit.  It really is about an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit and as such with God. 

Let’s look at understanding relating with the Holy Spirit a little bit more, how do relate with the Holy Spirit?

 Four passages help explain this better:

Ephesians 5:19  Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but be being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We all know what it is like to be drunk with wine. It is a loss of self control.  The imagery stands in contrast to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves a release of self, and letting the Holy Spirit fill.  It is an ongoing process. Actually most English translations describe the passage as be filled with the Holy Spirit but if you look at what the actually translation is, it is be being filled. As I stated it is an ongoing process.  Now lets look at the next verse that helps understand relating with the Holy Spirit.

Mat 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yokupon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Now you may be thinking what that verse has to do with the Holy Spirit. Well, if you examine the meaning of yoke it is clear it points to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to the right way of living.  There are actually two ways the word yoke was used that help us to understand this. A Rabbi’s (teacher) instruction for students is called a yoke. It is how a Rabbi expects his disciples to live. Now we have a more common understanding of a yoke in relations to animals. A yoke guides them in the right path or direction and keeps them from heading their own way or direction.  In the same way the Holy Spirit is our guide and leads in the right path.

The next passage is really two separate verses but they really emphasize the point.

Galatians 5:16 & 25 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” & “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

We always have a choice, walk in self or live by Spirit.  Go our own way, or follow the Holy Spirit. It is up to us, choose to submit to the Holy Spirit, God within, or we follow the way of self. Let’s look at this in another verse:

 John 15:4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

How do we abide in Christ, what was Jesus talking about here. Well, it is worship in the Spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Worship in spirit is daily following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is daily surrendering self to His presence. It is abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When we engage in such daily surrender God gives us many benefits. It is not about some external manifestation. It is not about some internal mystical experience. It is about God with us and daily abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits.

First the Holy Spirit gives testimony to our New Identity.  Romans 8:16-17 states:

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The Holy Spirit also teaches us as seen in John 14:26:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

It is also seen in John 16:13:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Both those passages actually show the Holy Spirits function here on earth and in our relationship. Leading us and teaching us truth is one of those roles. Not only does He lead us into truth, when we ask for wisdom the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into Wisdom.

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Holy Spirit  leads us to repentance and helps us overcome our flesh. I already referenced

 Galatians 5:16  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

and it clearly shows the Holy Spirit has a role in our overcoming sin.

 When we worship in spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit we receive fruit. This is seen in Galatians 5:22-23 which should be familiar to you.   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

When we worship in spirit and surrender we receive these things in the midst of our circumstances. They come from  surrender to the Holy Spirit.

 Also the Holy Spirit gives us gifts, things to use to make disciples as seen in:

 1 Corinthians 12:7-11  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. So you can see surrender to the Holy Spirit and walking in worship in spirit has many benefits.  Now I want to bring this to a close and give you some questions as an application point.

 In summary, worship in spirit is surrendering to God on a daily basis and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is ongoing relating with God.  It is God dwelling in us and leading us on His path. Now it can involve righteous behavior. It can involve internal, mystical experience. It can involve outpouring and external manifestations. It can involve supernatural activity. There are places where we sense the Holy Spirit active, such as in this church. But none of these are worship in spirit. Worship in spirit is daily, ongoing surrender of self to the Holy Spirit. So for application thing about these questions:

 What is more evident in your life?

Are you walking in flesh or walking in the Spirit?

Are you depending on self or things of this world for what is described as fruit of Spirit?

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today that you need to change to walk in the Spirit and live out worshiping in Spirit?

Now I will close in prayer, take a few minutes to think about those questions and I will then pray.



Dear heavenly father, thank you for sending the gift of your Son. Thanks for sending us your Holy Spirit and truly being with us.  Lord, make us aware of when we are walking in flesh and not the Holy Spirit.  Draw us into deeper worship in spirit while we release self and fill us with your Holy presence through the Holy Spirit. Thank you father, for making this way for us, help us to surrender. In your name, Amen.

Shavout/Pentecost Musings

Today is an important day in the Church. Today is the day upon which the Holy Spirit came and indwelt man. Today is the day that we received the Comforter who was promised. Today is the day of celebration of the first fruits of the harvest, those that initially recognized Yeshua/Jesus as messiah. It is a day where Joel 2:28-29 was fulfilled as delineated by Peter in Acts 2:1-41:

 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

 13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”  14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
 17” ‘In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams.
 18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
      and they will prophesy.
 19I will show wonders in the heaven above
      and signs on the earth below,
      blood and fire and billows of smoke.
 20The sun will be turned to darkness
      and the moon to blood
      before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
 21And everyone who calls
      on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 22“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him:
   ” ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
      Because he is at my right hand,
      I will not be shaken.
 26Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
      my body also will live in hope,
 27because you will not abandon me to the grave,
      nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
 28You have made known to me the paths of life;
      you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

 29“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
   ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
      “Sit at my right hand
 35until I make your enemies
      a footstool for your feet.” ‘

 36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

 40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.


Now doing a bit of research the Celebration of Pentecost was known for two things, the giving of Torah and the two loaves of bread. Now, with the coming of the Holy Spirit we have the law written on our hearts in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33:

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.



Here is a chart comparing the First Pentecost and Pentecost after Jesus found here:

First Pentecost

Pentecost After Christ

The Commandments Given The Holy Spirit Given
Fifty days from the crossing of the Red Sea Fifty days from the resurrection of Christ
Law of Yahweh written in Stone Law of Yahweh written on our hearts
Three thousand slain Three thousand receive salvation
The letter of the Law The Spirit of the Law


The second symbol associated with Pentecost is the two leaven loaves of bread. These two loaves related to both Jews and Gentiles who are now one through Jesus the Messiah. The above site illustrates another chart regarding the symbolism:



Grain of wheat Messiah (John 12:23-24)
Two Loaves with leaven (Lev. 23:15-17) Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah
As the wheat is beaten and
refined as fine flour (Lev. 23:17)
Messiah beaten, sifted, and crushed (Isa. 28:28, 52:14; 53:1-6)
Harvest Salvation Rain Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

So, with those thoughts, today is a day of celebration. The question is for each and every believer is really a time to both reflect on what God has done and celebrate his presence in your life. It would also be a good day to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, which to me comes down to praying that Jews recognize Yeshua as Messiah Son of David and to place their faith in Yeshua. For only in Yeshua is there true peace!