The milk and wine experiences of the Holy Spirit

grapes-9215_640Isaiah 55:1: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

There are three liquids mentioned in the focus verse: water, wine and milk. These are means of quenching thirst. Water is the basic way thirst is quenched, while the luxurious ways of quenching it is through the intake of wine and milk, coming from the plant and animal respectively. Their constituent is mainly water.

Both are mostly water, but taken in different forms.

Milk

The milk is important as a source of protein, which elementary science teaches is the building block of body. It is the sole requirement for human newborns. That is why the bible says that as new born babes we should desire the sincere milk of God’s word that we may grow through it (1Peter 2:2).

As far as Peter was concerned, we should embrace the milk of the word passionately, as necessary for the process for growth, without which spiritual nourishment and growth will be a mirage. Any other preoccupation that rivals the preoccupation with the word of God is a satanic agenda. Anything that does not support our growing into the full statue of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:9-16) should be vigorously resisted with all the ounce of energy that we have. If it is not adding to us, then it is not worth our time.

The milk of the word is descriptive of a special interaction of the Holy Spirit and the word. The Spirit is what the water describes (John 7:37-39), but the milk is descriptive of the word. That brings to mind the word of Christ. He said: the words (milk) that I speak to you are spirit (water) and life (John 6:63).

So it is not just any word that results in growth, it is the Spirit-backed word, otherwise it is mere letters, dry; and the bible says that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life (2Corinthians 3:6) (the Spirit is the life in the word). Milk that the child drinks is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end in the life of the child; the end is more than just keeping the child alive but it is about developing the child to his full genetic potential.

We need the milk of the word. At whatever stage of life that we are in we are meant to be a child still absolutely dependent on the milk of the word. There is no outgrowing the milk. Sure you grow spiritually, but we should still retain that childlike hunger for milk, that sense of neediness for the word of God, still retain the sense that we need repeated to us what we thought we have learned; we need to hear again what we have heard before. Paul said this is safe (Philippians 3:1), a re-visiting of the basics. It is also about the repetitious life-long reading of the bible from page to page, again and again.

Another characteristic of milk is that as “new born babes,” we need it to be supplied from someone else, from the mother, for example. In that case as Christians we should maintain a sense of dependence on one another, the rest of the body of Christ have something to offer you in the ministration of the word, and you should receive it with humility (James 1:21).

Wine

The experience of the Holy Spirit as water in milk is difference from experiencing him as water in wine. Jesus said that he is the vine, and the fruit of the vine is where wine is derived (John 15:1-6). That means it is from Jesus that we derive the wine experience of the Holy Spirit. We can get the milk experience from others. Even in your private reading of the bible, one of the 66 books of it, the writer of that book is teaching you in a sense.

But the experience of the wine dimensions of the Holy Spirit is without mediation (though people can lay hands on you to receive the Holy Spirit, it is not compulsory). Jesus himself in called the baptizer with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16). Peter said that Jesus was the one who poured the Holy Spirit on the people (120 of them) in the upper room (Acts 2:32-33).

While the milk experience of the Holy Spirit is about long term development, the wine comes with a sense of immediacy; it stands for the leading of the Holy Spirit, for the personal interaction with the Holy Spirit, personal walk with God, the manifestation of gifts, the speaking in tongues as a result of being baptised in the Holy Spirit.

This is related to what Paul said that we should not be fools but understand what the will of God is, on a personal level (Ephesians 5:17-18). It has to do with the spirit of knowledge and understanding that Paul prayed that the church in Ephesians should have (Ephesians 1:15-21). It has to do with not being drunk with natural wine in excess but being filled with the Holy Spirit, as Paul said.

Some are content with the milk level of the experience of the Holy Spirit in the word. That is more predictable, but the wine of the Holy Spirit, makes you sometimes act out of your normal senses, as you are move by the holy wine.

You get to make a “fool of yourself”- is that not what wine makes you do? You get to operate by the gifts which the Holy Spirit distributes freely as he wills (1Corinthians 12:11), without consulting you or anyone. That can be messy sometimes, not amenable to outside control, because it controls in an extraordinary way from the inside, the wine experience of the Holy Spirit I mean.

The prayer life of those who are milk focused in their experience of the Holy Spirit, is focused on using their natural understanding, they have their prayer points neatly listed, the sequence of prayer nicely prepared.

But the wine people just follow the flow as they speak in tongues. But Paul said that he will pray in tongues and pray in understanding also (1Corinthians 14:14-15).

The wine experience of the Holy Spirit bubble out is speaking with syllables we do not understand in our natural consciousness, just as the one speaking under the deep influence of intoxicating drink will not know what he is saying. In seeking in tongues we speak words that are beyond the understanding of natural minds, we build up ourselves on our most faith, praying by the “Holy Wine” (Jude 1:20).

The wine experience is therefore related to praying while the milk experience of the Holy Spirit is directly related to the bible reading/study time. The wine experience gives us the leverage to move with the Holy Spirit, to experience him in his full life in us. It is the divine wine experience.

When Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit, he said that the disciples will be baptized with the Holy Spirit which will make them witnesses (wine) with power (Acts 1:8), but he had earlier said that they should go and making disciples in the world through the preaching of his word to believers (milk) (Mark 16:15-18).

The wine has control over your movement (motion) putting it in God’s control while the issue of the milk is about gaining stability and strength. Motion without stability and you fall, stability without motion and you are stuck, in a rot.

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Restoration

bird-328544_640Isaiah 52:8: The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.

When sin redefined the relationship of God with the earth after the mishap of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, if the issue of sin is was resolved then there can be no restoration of a lost relationship with the Lord. Jesus in his sacrifice for sin was the way (John 14:6) to that restoration. Restoration is in the mind of God. It is bringing people into full realisation of the will of God.

In the parable of the pearl in which Jesus said that a man found a pearl of great price and sold all he had to get it (Matthew 13:45-46). That pearl of great price is relationship with God, which is life (John 17:23). And Jesus is life. The problem came when the devil told lies to Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-2), but Jesus is truth, to restore what we lost to the lie of the devil.

In that parable of the pearl, Jesus gave a description of the kingdom of God. That is a picture of the value we should place on the kingdom, what it takes to lay hold of Christ, the king in that kingdom- the one who is the pearl of great price. He is the definition of relationship with God.

Jesus said that if you are not willing to leave all, give up everything, hate everything that competes with him in our hearts, and follow him, you are not worthy to be his disciple, not ready to experience the kingdom (Luke 9:23-26). He later said that if we obey him then he and the father will come and make their dwelling in our hearts (John 14:23).

Paul was committed to relationship with God, to knowing God. He said that for the priceless value of knowing Christ, he will forget what is behind and press on to more and more of that knowledge. That is his goal (Philippians 3:7-12).

That needs a high level of focus and correct sense of valuation. He refused to be disobedient to the heavenly calling to be the best for God, to realise the fullness of his grace in his life, to be one with Christ in the resurrection experience even though still alive in this world. That was the reality that Adam walked in, the fullness of the experience of God in his true knowledge, and now in Jesus we get to experience that level of life, we get to experience spiritual life, through his restorative work in our lives (utter).

Rather than seek things that do not satisfy, things with mere ephemeral value, we should seek things of spiritual value. We should seek what is above not what is beneath, we should seek to run after an higher calling and not distracted by the lower pursuits.

Paul said that we should set our hearts on things in heaven and not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-4), because up there is where Jesus is seated and he is our life. He is the meaning of restoration, after the death-experience derived from the sin of Adam (Romans 5:12-21).

He said at the tomb of Lazarus that he is the resurrection and life (John 11:25). He gives meaning to who we are because we are the bone of his bones and the flesh of his flesh (Ephesians 5:30); we are members of his body. We are part of him, we are expressions of who he is; he outflows through us.

He is our life. Because of him we are changed, we have new life; we become new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17), partakers of heavenly opportunities, partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4). He represents our higher calling, the means and the end of our transformation process.

In the time of Samuel it was said that the word of God was scarce and there was no open vision (1Samuel 1, 3). There was no overt expression of the presence of God. At that time, God raised him up Samuel, a prophet in Israel and the bible says his word does not fall to the ground. His word, spoken as a prophet was sure. That was why King Saul was desperate to have him say something when he was going to his final battle against the Philistines so much that he sought him in the place of the death (he had died at this time) through a medium, a spiritist (1Samuel 28:5-16). Without the true prophetic, you will have the satanists.

His birth was mediated by the spoken word, just as the one of Jesus was. His mother cried in prayer to God but the high priest, someone regarded to be of spiritual standing in those days, thought she was drunk. After she explained her situation to him, he said God would grant her request. A year later she came with Samuel after she had been barren for many years; and endured being mocked by her rival Peninnah.

Samuel was the harbinger of restoration of the word of God to Israel; it was in his time that we have the company of prophets developing in Israel (1Samuel 10:5), the prophetic flow flourished in his time.

And the bible says that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). Any prophecy that does not have the glorification of Jesus at the centre is not true. The restoration work of God always has to do with the spirit of prophecy. Amos says that God does nothing except he tells his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). And restoration is the work of God. The bible says: the Lord gave the word, great was the company of those who proclaim it (Psalm 68:11).

At a valley filled with dry, very dry bones, God asked Ezekiel: can these bones live (Ezekiel 37:1-14)? He said only God knows, and at the end of it, the bones stood up a mighty army. God asked Ezekiel to prophecy to the bones, and the force of restoration was released by those words. (If he did not say the right words, the right things will not have happened.) This was much like it happened in the first chapter in the bible where over the darkness in the world, God said let there be light, and he declared some other things and they were established.

That is the call of the prophets, to be the mouthpiece of God through which his creativity will be released. Paul said that everyone should desire to prophesy (1Corinthians 14:1), with that we would unleash the force of restoration on the earth. Though not all can be prophets all can prophesy.

The spirit of prophecy manifests the tangible presence of Christ. It witnessed to the power of Christ, through that the secrets of men’s heart were revealed, causing them to fall face down in repentance before God (1Corinthians 14:23-25).

God sent Ananias to Saul (before he was called Paul) with a prophetic word. When he prayed for him, the scales on his eyes fell and he experienced spiritual restoration (Acts 8). He received the Holy Spirit and became a force of restoration in the world. He was given the mission to open the eyes of the gentiles to experience restoration to truth. He moved into regions and places where the name of Christ has not been mentioned and brought the force of restoration to bear in their lives. We have the baton now.

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The desert

joshua-tree-national-park-74399_640Isaiah 48:21: They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.

Going through the desert on your own is like a death sentence. Apart for the severely harsh weather; there are the evil people seeking to prey on the innocent, the unsuspecting.

The desert (the extreme of it) is miles upon miles of nothing, no life, no one to meet along the way to offer you help or fellowship. It is unpredictable in its vastness. It has the surplus of sand, something that does not help your movement, if you want to get somewhere fast. It tries your patience.

The sand can irritate you, get into your hair, your nose, it can affect your breathing. Multiply that with the millions of people that Moses led through the wilderness and you will conclude that it could only have been the height of miracle by God to take them through the wilderness, not for a day or a month but for forty long years.

He took them through to fulfill his will over their life. The same way he will take you through whatever desert experience to you are in now to your Promised Land. Your Promised Land is on the other side of your desert experience.

Jesus also was in the wilderness for a period of forty days (Luke 4:1-2). It was a place of deprivation, and “stagnation.” But he came out on the other side in power, in a new level of his divine expression.

The earth is going through its “wilderness” experience. But there is the promise of a new heaven and a new earth after this age is over. Though God seems to be hiding in the wilderness, and the devil seems to be having a field’s day, yet the final note will be of victory for you.

In the wilderness where the children of Israel passed through, God said that he allowed them to face hunger so that they may learn that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Sustenance is found in the words of God from which emanates everything we need. It is clear in the wilderness that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of what he can get by the sweat of his brow (Luke 12:15) (the desert will yield nothing to you in return for your self-effort, only faith-effort). In the wilderness nothing works except what God is working, nothing moves except at the behest of God, nothing last except by the miracle of God.

Elijah also experienced a time of “wilderness” while there came the judgment of drought on the children of Israel. God was his sustainer while the rest of Israel was in the throes of agony and starvation, not from siege from foreign armies but by the heaven closing up as a judgment of God because they flirted with foreign gods (1Kings 17).

But Elijah was supernaturally provided for by God. At that time, he did not live but by the word of God in a literal sense. It was the time of drought but he had food coming to him twice a day, on the beak of flying birds.

Because of his needing God for provision which was promised to come to him at a specified place, he was limited in his options of places to be. He had to be there besides the stream mentioned by God where the birds commanded by God brought the food. He had to put his sense of adventure under wraps, put his personal plan on hold, stop gallivanting all over the place and stay put. If he is not there then he cannot be sustained; but is assured of starvation.

When the river dried up, the word of God came to him that he should go to the house of a widow whom God had commanded to sustain him. In reality he was sustained because he heard and acted on the word of God, as the rest of the nation, were overwhelmed by the drought for over three years (1Kings 18:1).

The desert/wilderness contracts starkly with the garden that God set up for man in Eden (Genesis 2-3). The garden had four streams, it had trees in all manner of shapes and sizes, scintillating fruits, dense aromas that make your nose come alive, there is lightness in the heart and friendliness in the air.

There was the harmony between man and other creatures. Man was a cultivator and not a predator, the weather was pristine. It was heaven on earth; it was pleasure unlimited. That is the best of God for him at that time, but man chose something else, he chose to stand apart from God in independence, rejecting his way. That was the beginning of struggle, the beginning of dryness, of hard existence.

But, the desert offers an opportunity. It offered the opportunity to hunger and thirst for God, and the bible says those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). David says: as the deer pants for the water brooks so my soul longs after you, when will I come to appear before God (Psalm 42:1-2)?

The desert offered an opportunity to learn dependence on God. What option do you think the children of Israel had except to follow God? Otherwise they would have died off in the wilderness, the whole bunch of them. That journey in the wilderness would have been impossible without the workings of God. There was the supernatural rock in the wilderness which followed them from which the whole of the camp got water (1Corinthians 10:4).

The importance of having a source of water to meet our needs is mostly appreciated by those who live in the arid regions of the earth. They have to dig deep to get water. In this world sometimes that is what we need. We need to go deep; away from the surface level existence. In the desert, if you are not deep, then you are empty.

That is the journey of faith, the journey to the deep. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were arid dwellers. They needed to dig wells to sustain their animals. It was a big deal for them, getting wells up and running, because they were shepherds responsible for the sheep.

So the spiritual leaders in our time have the responsibility amidst the confusion of the desert of the world to dig deep in their relationship with God to bring to the sheep under their care the refreshing waters. They need to feed the sheep and not feed on the sheep; they need to lead them besides still waters, restore their soul (Psalm 23), meet their need for knowledge and understanding.

As it is written: God will give to the sheep, shepherds after his own heart, who will feed them with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15); and in the wilderness of this world their experience will be of Eden.

 

Turn to God and be saved

leopard-226136_640Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

At the end of the age, some will go to eternal damnation while others will go to eternal life, some will be saved and others will not be saved. Once we cross over to eternity it is the choice we made while on earth, either to follow Jesus or not, that will determine things. The time to make the right choice is now, to turn to God and be saved.

If you do not make that decision now and your time on earth lapses, there is no option of fine (that some people call purgatory), there is no option for the case against you to be reviewed, the case of rejecting God’s grace. There will be no parole. It is either you embrace the reality of the blood of Jesus (Revelation 5:9) or you are lost forever.

The eternal love of God was revealed on the cross, the path to life was revealed there, but people still have the choice to make, God will not force you to accept him. But there will a time when such an opportunity will be lost and lost forever and it won’t be too long. People still die even with advances in science.

Because there will be no review of your case again once you die (once the die is cast, once you take your last breath) it is as you have laid your bed that you will sleep on it, then your decision for Jesus (or lack of it) by the Holy Spirit on the earth is all that matters.

And Jesus, through the ministry of the church to the unsaved, is calling all men to himself, calling us to repentance (Mark 16:15-18), to faith in Jesus, and a faith that will determine our fate for eternity. When we turn to him we are saved, when we turn away we turn to darkness. Paul wrote: whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13).

The open cheque is available now, and the book of Hebrews says that today when we hear his voice do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:15). That means you have a choice to make, you have a turning to do, you have need of repentance, you need only to respond to his call and leave the rest to God.

It is common foolishness for humans to say: “I need to clean up my acts before I can come to Jesus,” when it is the blood of Jesus applied to your heart that made the change. If you could do something about changing yourself, then there was no need for Jesus; that his death was not important. And to suggest such is blasphemous.

When we go to the cross we get to lay down our burden there, we get to become different, to be a new person, a person who is now a member of the body of Christ. There is no better guarantee of blissful eternity than that as we turn to God and are saved.

That is when we embrace light and reject darkness; we change from being in the kingdom of darkness to being in the kingdom of light, from being below to being above; from being weak to being empowered. We are changed to bring change. We are saved and we help others find the path of salvation.

Paul said that we have received the ministry of reconciliation, having been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 5:17-21).

To turn means to reject your own way, to abandon your own agenda, to recognise that you are blind and you need the light that Christ brings, that you are broken down and need to be repaired by the great carpenter (Matthew 13:55). It is coming to his workshop, recognizing that he has the blueprint to fix you correctly.

In the focus verse the Lord introduced himself as God, which means he can do anything; he can untwist you no matter how twisted you are. But the work of God in his restoration work does not only affect human beings but also other earthly things.

The bible says that the whole of creation will be delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. But the manifestation of the sons of God comes first. Everything, the chain reaction starts when we turn (Romans 8:16-23).

But when we run to him, not coming with any promise for him, not with a to-do list, not a New Year resolution, not tears of regret, without any pretence, any ambition, then we are on the right track; but if we do not turn, then all is truly lost.

That was the error of Cain (Genesis 4:1-13). When he did not do the right thing by offering the right offering, he developed anger against his brother Abel whose offering was accepted by God. But God told him of the need to repent of his anger, or else it will lead him to something worse. When he did not repent, he allowed the root of bitterness in him to spring up and cause defilement (Hebrews 12:15).

By not returning, he walked away from God to his own damnation. And when the flood of God came to the earth, his offspring were swept off the face of the earth in it. There is no offspring of Cain on earth right now, but the principle which he stands for, the principle of arrogance, the principle of self protection and insolence is still on earth.

It is manifested in what the bible says is the spirit that is at work in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). It was Cain who presumed to do something God does not know. After he killed Abel and God asked him: where is your brother? He said am I my brother’s keeper. He sinned and did not own up to it. He presumed he could hide from God. He refused to take the path of change, not yielding to God’s caution.

He did not allow God to help him get over what he was hung up on, in his relationship with him and with his brother. Not willing to be mended, not turning to God to be mended he become irrevocably broken. That is what James meant when he said God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). It takes a dose of humility for you to realize that you are wrong or are on the wrong path to seek help from the divine presence.

 

Holy Spirit

abstract-165957_640Isaiah 42:1: Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

This verse finds ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. And the Spirit of God came upon him after he was baptized by John in river Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17). God was not going to send him to work, let him go into the work of ministry without the Spirit upon him. At river Jordan, the Spirit descended like a dove upon him. He was marked by a new level of power, the power to meet the felt-needs of people.

It was not the power to make a good argument, marshal the right points. He was able to do those when he was in his preteen years (Luke 2:2-52). But this time around (after the Jordan experience of the Holy Spirit) things were different. He will raise the dead, heal the sick, cleanse lepers, multiply food, turn water into wine, cause fishermen to get a bumper catch, opened blind eyes, grow out non-existent limbs etc.

He is the personification of the answer to all men’s needs. He said: if you thirst come to me and out of you will flow out rivers of living water (John 7:37-39), which is a reference to the ability within God, made to manifest within man. The same ability in which he (Jesus) walked is now the reality in which we walk, so it is true that as he is so we are in this world (1John 4:17).

The empowerment is to be servants. Jesus with all his power said that he has not come to be served but to serve and to offer his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). It was to pour himself out for the benefit of humanity. It was not to set up a monument for himself like Absalom did (2Samuel 18:18), but to set up a place in people’s hearts for himself so that they live by him, living effectively, expressing the love of God through various gifts, in loving service.

It is to change people’s fortune, to change their lot. It is to turn things around for them. He refused to turn stone into bread because he was not called to serve himself but to serve others, God meets his own needs, while he meets the needs of others. He was empowered to be effective in service, as the full representative of God, who is about meeting other people’s needs.

The Holy Spirit made it possible for us to serve others in love. Without him we would be inwardly convoluted in selfishness. It is the nature of God to be selfless and that nature gets implanted in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5).

All functions not motivated by love for God and for others are empty, meaning nothing. If your act of ‘service’ does not communicate love it is not communicating God and there is no point to it. It is actually self-serving.

The Spirit upon empowers us to communicate God in all ramifications, and be all that we can be. It is to move us beyond the mundane to the supernatural. We are no longer helpless (we have help and are able to give help) but we offer hope in the hopelessness facing people around us.

You stand strong because of the power of God that is with you. We are strengthened with power by the Spirit in our inner man (Ephesians 3:16). That makes us stand out.

It made Jesus stood out in everything he did. Nicodemus told Jesus that he knew he was a man sent from God, because no one can do the wonders he does without God being with him (John 3).

But Jesus told him it is not about him, but about the Spirit, making us shine with spiritual essence, with the same spiritual essence that he (Jesus) walked in on earth. And John spoke about him that he received the Spirit of God without measure.

After spending forty days in the wilderness without eating, the bible said that he returned in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1-14) and his fame was spread abroad (Mark 1:28). Now he had something to offer people and he became a centre of attraction. He operated by the Holy Spirit, lived by an higher life.

The Holy Spirit is the mark of the presence of God. Without the Spirit there is no life, there may be existence, but there is no life, just as the stone exists but does not have life. Without the life of God there is no functioning like God (man was made to function like God).

It is with the life of God that we connect with him and are able to fully represent him on the earth, as the extension of God.

Without connection with God there can be no real connection with one another. God made both Adam and Eve and he had connection with them on an individual basis. There could be no effective relationship between them except they are in full connection with God.

That is why the problem of sin immediately manifested in the firstborn of Adam and Eve who killed the second born. There was crisis in the first family because without the life of God things do not work very well. Without proper connection with God there is no connection with one another.

In God there is no selfishness and Paul said that we should focus on what is best for others and not just on ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-8) and that is in the context of service; with that we get to live out the life of love, live out the life of God.

The love expressed by the Spirit of God is the love expressed in power. Jesus was a man of love, and his expression of God was the expression of power (Acts 10:38). The bible says that faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). Paul wrote that if we have faith that can move mountain we are nothing, if not moved by love. The right motivation, the right colouration for our action is the love of God, anything else and we are not representing God but ourselves.

 

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