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Unless you become like little children and spend time with your Father, you will never get to the place of the fullness of his promise in your life. He wants to be a father to you. Let's be honest, some of you do not know the blessing of having an affirming, loving, attentive father.
Some of you may not have even had a father in your home, you grew up without one, or you grew up with a bad one, or you grew up with a good one, as in my case, but one who in some areas of his life—perhaps because of his own past and relationship with his father—was not able to express emotions and affirmation. These painful realities create problems in our lives, deep in our souls.
God wants to restore you and that restoration comes when he is a father to you.
I was in Jerusalem having a lively, interesting discussion with an Orthodox Jew in the Old City of Jerusalem. He often speaks to Christian groups and I said to him that one of the things I am convinced God is wanting to do in this Hebraic Renewal Movement is to restore the intimacy that comes with understanding him as Father.
Do you know how this devout Jewish man reacted? He absolutely rejoiced. You see he knows, from a biblical point-of-view, how important fathers are, and how God is seen in Judaism fundamentally as a father and a teacher, not as a judge and law-giver.
The Hebraic perspective draws our attention, once again, to the centrality of God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is a father to his children. In fact, that was part of the core message that Yeshua, God's son, brought to us. He revealed the Father to us in a depth, in a dimension that we had not seen before, nor had his fellow Jewish brethren.
It is not that they did not know God as a father, absolutely they did, it is just that nobody knows a father like a son. When the Son came, he uniquely revealed the Father. Not only did he reveal the Father, but by his sacrificial death, burial and resurrection, he made it possible for us to be brought into an intimate relationship with him as a father.
We who were far off have been brought near. God himself says, in the Hebrew Scriptures cited by Paul, that he wants to come and make his dwelling among us. "I want to walk with you. I want to be a father to you and you to be sons and daughters to me."
To come into more intimacy with the Father one has to be in a loving relationship, walking by the Spirit.
One of the most important texts we are going to look at when we talk about Hebraic Renewal and the Holy Spirit is found in I Corinthians, "Pursue love and earnestly desire the things of the Spirit." They go together. God is spirit and to come into intimacy with him is to be changed and that change is effected in his presence, by his Spirit, according to His Word.
So in view of that, beloved, what is our responsibility? "Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the reverence of God." You and I are set apart by God's Spirit and it is his desire, the heart of your Father, to bring holiness to its maturity, to its completion, to its perfection in our lives.
Now Christian people have very diverse backgrounds in regards to understanding the work of the Spirit. Some of you may know a great deal about the healing presence of the Holy Spirit in your lives, but perhaps you don't know that much about the Hebraic backgrounds of the Old Testament or about the Jewishness of Yeshua. On the other hand, there are some of you who know a whole lot about the language and culture of Jesus but know very little about the healing presence of the Spirit in your own life.
Add to that the amount of different teaching and behaviors we have been exposed to and you can see the challenge we face. I would say to you that the challenge is our opportunity. Jesus died to give us the Father's Spirit, it is our birthright! Is it any wonder that the evil one will do anything to keep us from attending to this vital truth?
So what do we say to these things? I have three suggestions.
(1) Take a deep breath, hold it in, now breath ... out ... slowly. Relax. [laughter] Everything is going to be okay; this is God's business and his kingdom is going to advance. We are under the authority of the name of Jesus of Nazareth and he is a good shepherd.
(2) Know that the supreme virtue, above all other virtues, is humility. Messiah was sent, as prophesied by Isaiah, to bring the good news to the humble, to the poor in spirit. Authentic humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking about yourself less. How do you do that? By thinking more about God. As we explore the biblical revelation of Spirit outpouring, listen patiently, seeking to receive, and be slow to react defensively.
I am encouraging you to be patient and understand that at the end of the day it is not all about you, as wonderful as you are. It is not about you, it is about your Father. Humility is typically used in Scripture reflexively as a verb, meaning we are to humble ourselves. Humility is not one of the fruits of the Spirit, it is a choice.
As we walk through this study together please remember, I do not have everything figured out; in my role as a teacher I am first a learner. May we all have the humility of a child so that we can enter into the fullness of his kingdom.
(3) Finally, let's go back to our formative text in I Corinthians 14:1, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." I like the ESV translation "pursue love" because it captures the idea of exertion and intention. Paul says, "Pursue love" (love is action-oriented as he so eloquently expounded in chapter 13) "energetically and with intention."
And, Paul continues, "earnestly desire spiritual gifts." The terminology he uses can be literally translated as "the spirituals" or "the things of the Spirit." It is not spiritual gifts, per se, that Paul has in view here, it is the things of the Spirit. The Spirit manifests in an inexhaustible diversity of ways, we will talk about that later. For now, it is important not to limit Paul's discussion to spiritual gifts. He is imploring us to eagerly desire the things of the Spirit.
Paul is telling us to redirect our desire; that is where we start.
Instead of being focused on self and things that pertain to self, focus on God and things that pertain to the Spirit; that in itself is a work of his Spirit. It is a good desire. It is good to have a holy passion for the things of God. It is good to pray, "Father, give me greater desire for you and for the things of the Spirit to the glory of our Lord Jesus."
This teaching comes from an amazing 8-part audio seminar, recorded at a Haverim School of Discipleship conducted by Dwight Pryor. For your edification, these live recordings are on sale in our store.