Day 132

The Wonderful Holy Spirit

Wisdom Proverbs 11:29-12:7
New Testament John 7:14-44
Old Testament Judges 14:1-15:20

Introduction

Robbie Williams once went on a shopping spree in Los Angeles. He bought five cars, including a brand new Ferrari, a brand new Porsche and a brand new Mercedes. Within a week he wished he had not bought any of them (as he didn’t even have a driving license!).

I admire Robbie Williams’ openness about himself. He is ruthlessly honest about his self-obsession and addictions. In his song, Feel, he sings:

|| I just want to feel real love…
|| There’s a hole in my soul
|| You can see it in my face
|| It’s a real big place.

God implants this desire ‘to feel real love’ in humanity. This ‘hole in my soul’ is common to all human beings. It cannot be filled by cars, wealth, success or drugs. It is a God-shaped hole. It is a spiritual hunger and thirst for God which Jesus told us could only be filled by his wonderful Holy Spirit (John 7:37).

Wisdom

Proverbs 11:29-12:7

29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
  and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
  and the one who is wise saves lives.

31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
  how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

12Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
  but whoever hates correction is stupid.

2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
  but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

3 No one can be established through wickedness,
  but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
  but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

5 The plans of the righteous are just,
  but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
  but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
  but the house of the righteous stands firm.

Commentary

Fruitfulness

Do you want your life to make a difference? Do you realise that your life can be a source of blessing to other people every day?

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’ (11:30). As we look back at Proverbs 11, we can see all the fruit of the Spirit that the apostle Paul describes in Galatians 5:22:

  • Love (Proverbs 11:23)
  • Joy (v.10)
  • Peace (v.8)
  • Patience (v.16)
  • Kindness (v.17)
  • Goodness (v.17)
  • Faithfulness (v.6)
  • Gentleness (v.2b)
  • Self-control (v.12)

The image of a ‘tree of life’ (v.30) is a beautiful depiction of God’s favour. It recurs again and again in Scripture, and is also closely linked to the work of the Spirit in your life (see Ezekiel 47:1–12; Revelation 22:1–2). It is the Spirit who enables and helps you to live the kind of righteous life that is described and to enjoy ‘favour from the Lord’ (Proverbs 12:2).

Prayer

Lord, I pray for more of the fruit of the Spirit in my life today: more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

New Testament

John 7:14-44

Jesus Teaches at the Festival

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Division Over Who Jesus Is

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.”

Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

Commentary

Fullness

You know what it is like to be physically thirsty. Your mouth goes dry, your throat is parched, your strength fades and you crave water. How satisfying it is to drink when you are thirsty.

To be spiritually thirsty is to be dried up inside, to feel totally empty and in anguish. In this golden passage, Jesus describes how your spiritual thirst can be quenched (the hole in your soul filled) and the effect that this can have on your life.

Jesus anticipates what will happen on the day of Pentecost. He speaks about the transformation by the streams of living water that the Holy Spirit brings to your life: ‘By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified’ (v.39).

It was ‘the last and greatest day of the Feast’ (v.37). This was the day when the people anticipated that the great river prophesied in Ezekiel 47 would flow out from Jerusalem. ‘Jesus stood’ (John 7:37). The usual custom was to sit when teaching, but the words Jesus had to say were so significant that he wanted to be seen and heard by all the people. He cried out ‘in a loud voice’ (v.37). His message is only twenty-four words in the Greek language, but it is a life-changing promise that you can still experience today.

1. Who makes this promise?

The people were amazed by Jesus’ teaching. He had never even been to Bible school or theological college! (v.15). He received his teaching from God (v.16). And he says anyone who ‘chooses to do the will of God’ (v.17) will recognise this.

Jesus calls for a response. Some thought: ‘Surely this man is the Prophet’ (v.40). However, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, Jesus did not leave that option open. There are really only three options: that someone who said the sort of things Jesus said would either be insane or ‘the Devil of Hell’. The only other possibility is that ‘this man was, and is, the Son of God’. We see these three options demonstrated in today’s reading:

  • Some thought him ‘the Devil of Hell’: ‘You are demon-possessed’ ||(v.20)
  • Some thought him insane: ‘He is... raving mad’ (10:19)
  • But others recognised, ‘He is the Christ’ (7:41)

2. To whom is the promise made?

Jesus said, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’ (v.37). It is made to every person. It applies to all who have never experienced the Holy Spirit. But it also applies to those who feel dissatisfied spiritually. Do you feel like a failure in your prayer life? Do you feel frustrated at your level of holiness? Do you long for a closer relationship with God? If you do, you are spiritually ‘thirsty’ and the promise applies to you, today.

3. What is the promise?

Jesus says, ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within’ (v.38). The Feast of Tabernacles was anticipating the river that would flow out of the temple in Jerusalem as prophesied in Ezekiel 47 (which was read and enacted at the feast). Jesus tells them that this has been fulfilled, not in a place but in a Person.

The river flows out of the heart of Jesus (out of his ‘koilia’ – the pit of his stomach or his innermost being) and out of every Christian (John 7:38) through our personal, heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.

The river flows into you and out of you. The river will flow into the little ‘Dead Seas’ of our hearts and out from our ‘innermost being’. Superficially, life may not be easy, but deep down the Holy Spirit constantly flows like a ‘river of living water’.

This river does not flow once in a while. It flows continuously. It is not supposed to be blocked up. It should be constantly bubbling up and flowing out of us.

As Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa put it, ‘A Christian in whom the Holy Spirit dwells is not exempt from having to experience struggle, temptations, disorderly desires, rebellious feelings… [the difference is that all these things come] upon him against his will.’ They are on the surface. Yet there is a ‘peace in the depth of their hearts. That is like a deep-ocean current always flowing steadily regardless of the wind and the waves on the surface’.

4. How do you receive the promise?

Jesus says let them ‘come to me and drink’ (v.37). It is a promise for ‘whoever believes in me’ (vv.38–39). It is as simple as that. It can flow from you as you come to him and drink today.

You become like Jesus. Through your love, your words, your presence, you will transmit the Spirit you have received from Jesus. You will quench the thirst of the poor, the lonely, the needy, those in pain and anguish and will give them life, love and peace of heart.

Prayer

Lord, I come to you today. Fill me again with your Spirit, with streams of living water to bring life to everyone I encounter.

Old Testament

Judges 14:1-15:20

Samson’s Marriage

14Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”

3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife? ”

But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)

5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.

8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.

10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. 11 When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions.

12 “Let me tell you a riddle, ” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.”

“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”

14 He replied,

 “Out of the eater, something to eat;
  out of the strong, something sweet.”

For three days they could not give the answer.

15 On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?”

16 Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”

“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.

18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him,

 “What is sweeter than honey?
  What is stronger than a lion?”

Samson said to them,

 “If you had not plowed with my heifer,
  you would not have solved my riddle.”

19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.

Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines

15Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.

2 “I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”

3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.

6 When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion. ”

So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” 8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”

“We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”

11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”

He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.”

12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”

Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”

13 “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

16 Then Samson said,

 “With a donkey’s jawbone
  I have made donkeys of them.
 With a donkey’s jawbone
  I have killed a thousand men.”

17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.

18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.

20 Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Commentary

Freedom

Are there habits in your life from which you long to break free? Are there thought patterns you need to change? Are there spiritual bondages from which you need to be released?

If anyone was ‘wild at heart’ it was Samson. He had extraordinary strength, might and ability. But his life was hardly a model. The story of Samson’s life is bizarre, extraordinary and perhaps a bit embarrassing.

However, Samson is highlighted in the New Testament as one of the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32). God uses all types of people. He uses us in spite of our sins and weaknesses.

Samson’s strength and successes are the result of his being filled with the Holy Spirit. On three occasions in today’s passage, we read that, ‘The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power’ (Judges 14:6,19; 15:14).

It is amazing what can happen when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon people ‘in power’. As so often, what God did in the Old Testament in a physical way he did in the New Testament in a spiritual way. The wonderful Holy Spirit sets us free from spiritual bondages.

On the third occasion that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power, the ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands’ (15:14). This can be seen as a picture of release from our bad habits, obsessions and addictions. The power of the Holy Spirit can release you and me from the things that bound us.

Prayer

Lord, fill me with streams of living water, satisfy my thirst, break every bondage and help me like Jesus, to demonstrate not only the power of the Spirit, but also the fruit of the wonderful Holy Spirit in my daily life.

Pippa adds

Judges 14:1 – 15:20

Samson seemed an odd hero, born with so much promise. How did he turn out to be such a wild, unpredictable man? He had so many faults and disastrous relationships, yet God raised him up to lead Israel for twenty years. He might have done better if he had followed God more wholeheartedly and not indulged his own passions; but God can use even the most unlikely people.

Verse of the Day

John 7:37–38

‘Jesus said… “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me… rivers of living water will flow from within them’’’.
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

MERE CHRISTIANITY by CS Lewis © copyright CS Lewis Pte Ltd 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952.

Halina Watts, ‘Robbie Williams admits spending £1m on cars in one day even though he couldn't drive,’ Mirror, 13 June 2020. https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/robbie-williams-admits-spending-1m-22187702

Robbie Williams, ‘Feel’, from Escapology, (EMI, 2002), Songwriters: Williams, Robert Peter / Chambers, Guy Antony. Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, FARRELL MUSIC LIMITED.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

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