Day 268

Spirit-Powered Living

Wisdom Proverbs 23:19-28
New Testament Ephesians 4:1-16
Old Testament Isaiah 60:1-62:12

Introduction

‘I felt ablaze with a desire to go through the length and breadth of Wales to tell of the Saviour: and had it been possible, I was willing to pay God for doing so,’ wrote Evan Roberts, the man at the centre of the Welsh revival of 1904–1905. He spoke about how the Spirit of God gave him an overwhelming experience of God’s love. He was filled with compassion and a desire to tell others about Jesus.

We live in the age of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came on particular people at particular times for particular purposes. We see an example of this in today’s reading, when the Holy Spirit came on Isaiah (Isaiah 61). This event was a foretaste of the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus (Luke 4:14–18), as well as of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Christians, from the day of Pentecost onwards.

The book of Proverbs anticipates what Spirit-powered living should look like. Then, in the New Testament, we see the fulfilment of Spirit-powered living.

Wisdom

Proverbs 23:19-28

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
   and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
   or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
   and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Saying 17

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
   and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
   wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
   a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
   may she who gave you birth be joyful!

Saying 18

26 My son, give me your heart
   and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
   and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
   and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Commentary

A wise life

What does a wise lifestyle look like? How do you ‘become wise’ and point your life ‘in the right direction’ (v.19, MSG)? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom (Isaiah 11:2, Ephesians 1:17). Living according to the Spirit of wisdom and understanding means taking care over:

  1. What you eat and drink

    ‘Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food’ (Proverbs 23:20, MSG). We are to be neither ‘drunks’ nor ‘gluttons’ (v.21, MSG).

  2. Whom you listen to

    Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her’ (v.22, MSG). Respect for parents is the mark of wisdom. Wise children should make their parents proud of them (vv.24–25, MSG).

  3. How you learn

    An inquisitive mind is the mark of the Spirit of wisdom: ‘Buy truth... buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight’ (vv.23, MSG). The Spirit of wisdom gives you a hunger for truth and knowledge.

  4. What you think about

    What you think in your heart you become. ‘My child, give me your heart’ (v.26a) – this is where everything starts. Guard your heart and your mind.

  5. What you look at

    ‘Let your eyes keep to my ways’ (v.26b). Being careful about what you look at is one of the ways to guard against promiscuity and immorality (vv.27–28).

Prayer

Lord, fill me today with the Spirit of wisdom. May my life be honouring to Jesus.

New Testament

Ephesians 4:1-16

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called ; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
   he took many captives
   and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Commentary

A ‘healthy’ life

What are the characteristics of a healthy church? Paul tells us how the church can grow up ‘healthy in God’ (v.16, MSG).

  1. Unity

    Unity is not simply the work of the Holy Spirit but the very instrument through which the Holy Spirit works.

    The Holy Spirit unites the church (v.16). The church is one: ‘There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’ (vv.4–6).

    Unity is relational. All Christians are sons and daughters of the ‘one God and Father of all’. Therefore, we are brothers and sisters. We all love ‘one Lord’ Jesus. We all have the Holy Spirit living within us. Ultimately, it is our relationship to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit that unites us.

    And yet, unity is so hard in practice. It is easy to argue. It’s easy to split. It’s easy to start our own group with people who agree with us. Unity requires great effort. Paul urges us to ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (v.3). We need to spare no effort to make the invisible unity of the one church visible at every level, within local churches, between churches and among all denominations.

    Before he went to the cross, Jesus prayed that the church would be one in order that the world might believe (John 17:21–23). This unity is founded in God’s unity, so it can never be at the expense of truth (vv.17,23). We must continue to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). As John Stott writes, ‘Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth.’

    The visible unity of the church should always be our aim. Paul describes characteristics that help this unity: ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’ (v.2).

  2. Diversity

    Unity does not mean uniformity. The Holy Spirit brings both unity and diversity. Paul goes on to say, ‘But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it’ (v.7).

    Jesus has ‘ascended higher than all the heavens’ (v.10). But he has also returned to the earth in the person of the Holy Spirit, through whom different gifts are now given to each of us in the church (vv.10–12).

    Every single person in the church is a minister (vv.11–12). You are a minister. The word for service means ‘ministry’. We are all given different gifts.

  3. Maturity

    The purpose of these gifts is that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming mature as we attain the complete measure of the fullness of Christ.

    It is not enough to get older; we need to grow in spiritual maturity.

  4. Growth

    Healthy children grow. Healthy churches grow in depth and in number. Church growth should be natural. This is a beautiful picture of how we play our own part in the growth of the body of Christ: ‘Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work’ (vv.15–16). You have to play your ‘part’, and we grow as we all work at it ‘together’.

Prayer

Lord, fill me with your Spirit and help me to grow into a mature knowledge of Jesus in a healthy, united and growing church.

Old Testament

Isaiah 60:1-62:12

The Glory of Zion

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
   and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
   and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
   All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
   and your daughters are carried on the hip.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
   your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
   to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
   young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
   bearing gold and incense
   and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
7 All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you,
   the rams of Nebaioth will serve you;
they will be accepted as offerings on my altar,
   and I will adorn my glorious temple.

8 “Who are these that fly along like clouds,
   like doves to their nests?
9 Surely the islands look to me;
   in the lead are the ships of Tarshish,
bringing your children from afar,
   with their silver and gold,
to the honour of the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has endowed you with splendour.

10 “Foreigners will rebuild your walls,
   and their kings will serve you.
Though in anger I struck you,
   in favour I will show you compassion.
11 Your gates will always stand open,
   they will never be shut, day or night,
so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations —
   their kings led in triumphal procession.
12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish;
   it will be utterly ruined.

13 “The glory of Lebanon will come to you,
   the juniper, the fir and the cypress together,
to adorn my sanctuary;
   and I will glorify the place for my feet.
14 The children of your oppressors will come bowing before you;
   all who despise you will bow down at your feet
and will call you the City of the Lord,
   Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 “Although you have been forsaken and hated,
   with no one traveling through,
I will make you the everlasting pride
   and the joy of all generations.
16 You will drink the milk of nations
   and be nursed at royal breasts.
Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Saviour,
   your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring you gold,
   and silver in place of iron.
Instead of wood I will bring you bronze,
   and iron in place of stones.
I will make peace your governor
   and well-being your ruler.
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
   nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
   and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
   nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
   and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again,
   and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
   and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then all your people will be righteous
   and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
   the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendour.
22 The least of you will become a thousand,
   the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the Lord;
   in its time I will do this swiftly.”

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
   because the Lord has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the Lord
   for the display of his splendour.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
   and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
   that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
   foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
   you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
   and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of your shame
   you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
   you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
   and everlasting joy will be yours.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
   I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
   and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
   and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
   that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
   my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
   and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the young plant come up
   and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
   and praise spring up before all nations.

Zion’s New Name

62 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
   for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
   her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
   and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
   that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand,
   a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
   or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
   and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
   and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
   so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
   so will your God rejoice over you.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
   they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
   give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
   and makes her the praise of the earth.

8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand
   and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
   as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
   for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
   and praise the Lord,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
   in the courts of my sanctuary.”

10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
   Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
   Remove the stones.
   Raise a banner for the nations.

11 The Lord has made proclamation
   to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
   ‘See, your Saviour comes!
See, his reward is with him,
   and his recompense accompanies him.’”
12 They will be called the Holy People,
   the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
   the City No Longer Deserted.

Commentary

An anointed life

Jesus announced his manifesto for his ministry and kingdom by reading from Isaiah 61. It is an audacious and revolutionary manifesto – and you have a part to play in bringing it about.

Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling it, he found the place in today’s passage where it is written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Isaiah 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–19).

He said to those there, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’ (v.21). What does Jesus’ manifesto involve?

  1. Transforming lives
    When you encounter Jesus, a great exchange takes place in your life. He takes your sin and gives you his righteousness. He gives freedom to the prisoners, sight to the blind and release for the oppressed (Isaiah 61:1–3). He bestows on you ‘a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’ (v.3).

  2. Transforming relationships
    Jesus uses the analogy of marriage: ‘As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you’ (62:5b). Marriage is meant to point people to the close, intimate and loving relationship God desires to have with us. A strong society is built on strong families. Strong families are built on strong marriages.

  3. Transforming culture
    Cities tend to be the source of culture. Isaiah declares, ‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations’ (61:4). The manifesto of Jesus involves the transformation of the mountains of influence: the market-place, government, education, media, arts and entertainment.

  4. Transforming society
    A transformed society will involve dealing with issues of poverty. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor (v.1b). It will also involve issues of justice. So much of the world’s suffering is caused by injustice. ‘For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity’ (v.8a).

  5. Transforming leadership
    Leadership is key in any society: ‘You’ll have the title “Priests of God,” honoured as ministers of our God’ (v.6, MSG).

Prayer

Lord, anoint me today with your Holy Spirit to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, comfort those who mourn and to see lives transformed from ashes to beauty, from mourning to gladness and from despair to praise.

Pippa adds

Proverbs 23:22

‘... do not despise your mother when she is old’

I definitely need to remind my children of this verse!

Verse of the Day

Isaiah 62:5

‘As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you’
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References

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

J. Edwin Orr, The Flaming Tongue (Chicago: Moody, 1973) p.5. Also, Nicky Gumbel, Heart of Revival (Alpha International, 1997) p.151.

John Stott, God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians (IVP, 1980) p.156–7

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.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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