27 June 2012
Hymn: Oh God Our Help in Ages Past
Theme: Be filled with the Holy Spirit
Topic: The Hand of the Lord
Reading: Luke 1:57-80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ 61They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a mighty saviour* for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon* us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ 80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
Today as part of our series on the Holy Spirit we will consider a phrase that is commonly encountered in the Scriptures, ‘the Hand of the Lord’. This phrase is found in our text for today’s study and I believe it is synonymous with yet another phrase in the Scriptures, ‘the Spirit of the Lord’. God has used numerous people in the past for His work here on earth and continues to do the same. One unique attribute of whoever God chooses to use is His Presence (i.e His Hand/Spirit) with the individual. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, living for God is impossible. Also, when we lack His Spirit we find it extremely difficult to perform whatever tasks He requires from us; we become powerless and prone to attacks from the enemy. Presence of the Holy Spirit makes all the difference in the lives of believers.
1. What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase ‘the Hand or Spirit of the Lord’?
1 Samuel 10:5-6, 10-12
After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim,* at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. 6Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. 10When they were going from there* to Gibeah,* a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. 11When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, ‘What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ 12A man of the place answered, ‘And who is their father?’ Therefore it became a proverb, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ 61They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple* of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
2. Are there criteria or conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit?
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah* is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses* of these things.
Acts 1:6-9, 9:1-6, 13-19
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
9Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’
13But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ 15But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul* and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Galatians 5:1-6, 13-14
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working* through love.
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;* only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,* but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
2 Timothy 2:15-21
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. 16Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’, and, ‘Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.’ 20 In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. 21All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned* will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work.
3. a) How do we live continually according to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
b) What are the benefits?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit* of life in Christ Jesus has set you* free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin,* he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.* 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit* set their minds on the things of the Spirit.* 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit* is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit,* since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit* is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ* from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through* his Spirit that dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters,* we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba!* Father!’ 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness* with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
2 Corinthians 3:4-18
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. 5Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, chiselled in letters on stone tablets,* came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, 8how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; 11for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! 12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that* was being set aside. 14But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
God is for us and neither man nor the enemy can harm us. Let us continue to put our trust in God who called, chose and filled us with His Holy Spirit.
Lord, it is only through the guidance of Your Holy Spirit that we can live the life of Christ. Give us the grace to yield to His leading all the days of our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.