Sound Check—1,2,3!

SoundCheck_Title.jpg“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” – Psalm 42:5 ESV

Nine or so months ago I decided I wanted my guitar to sound as good as my son-in-law, Ben’s. So, I purchased the same fancy rig he uses, matching identically the name brands of gear. I was so happy! When I first got it, I spent a few hours dialing the sound in. Playing, turning knobs and getting the guitar’s resonance and tone balanced. I use the same rig every Sunday. I can practically set it up in my sleep.

Over the months, somehow with the activity of plunking it down, plugging it in and putting it away, the settings and dials that were once so carefully adjusted, moved. I’ve never noticed it. I’ve just been putting it together and playing music without detecting any differences. However, my son-in-law distinguished a change. At our last rehearsal I think he’d had enough of listening to my flatly “E-Qued” guitar. He looks at me very meekly, and asked, “hey, do you mind if I mess with your box a bit?”

I really hadn’t been thinking about how the guitar sounded, I’d dialed it in once before and and just expected everything to sound great. I was just doing my thing—how bad can ‘cowboy cords’ sound anyways, right?

So, he has me play the instrument, all the while he’s down on the ground, bent over, adjusting knobs. Honestly, I’m thinking, “why?” All of a sudden he finishes, I play a sound check and notice that this instrument is sounding really cool again—Ben fixed it! I’d just grown accustom to it sounding like it was in turmoil, not realizing the guitar was performing poorly. Ben messes with the dials, turns up the presence of the guitar, and voilà—a new improved sound emerges that I’d forgotten this ‘axe’ was capable of producing.

Sometimes that’s how we can get with the spiritual life. We’re just doing our thing day-in and day-out, not really realizing something is slightly off. We’re grumpy not knowing why. We ask the same question as the Psalmist: “Why are you cast down, o my soul, why all the turmoil going on inside?” It may just be we need a simple adjustment; one that we’d not noticed was necessary. Other see it—we don’t. We’re just playing the same old ‘cowboy chords’ thinking all’s right with God and the world. Yet, at someplace we’ve stopped experiencing a full life—an abundant life.

Songs of praise can make a simple adjustment in our lives. How many times have I gone through the day, sort of blah—not realizing what that blah was—until I started praising God! Psalm 147, verse 1 says:

“Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

I can ‘T.G.I.F.’ all I want, but it’s not until I start with praises in His presence that the fullness of joy and at pleasures at His right hand kick in. The abundant life starts when true praises before God begin. Just take a few moments to adjust the knobs and then ‘sound check 1, 2, 3.’ When praises begin, the turmoil of soul ends!

J. Robert Hanson


Happy New Year!

New_Years_Title“… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”  Philippians 3:13-15, ESV

Welcome to the New Year of 2016! Lots of folks start the New Year by making resolutions. Shortcomings are evaluated in an attempted at candid and truthful reflections. You stand on the scale to see your real weight. You don’t lie about the scale not being on level ground or off by 10 pounds. And it’s from these types of self-examinations that new goals are made to improve life.

Statistics say 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those who do, 25% never make it past the first week. Another 40% dropout by the end of January. After 6 months less than half are committed to their original pledge. By year’s end over 88% of resolutions are cast aside or forgotten. What’s the most popular resolution Americans make: to lose weight. The second is becoming more organized and the third highest resolution is to get out of debt. Maybe it’s figured organization helps to get out of debt.

After reading those statistics, intelligence says there’s a great possibility most New Year’s resolutions will be in the dust by June. That type of failure can devastate a person who senses need for help. Every year confessions are made that lead to the same old failures and disappointments. It’s that easy end up one of the failing eighty-eight ‘percenters.’ For this, Paul gives a few pointers for the New Year: forgetting, pressing and focusing. The first pointer is:


“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:13

All ‘self-evaluations’ must be done with a proper perspective. Reflecting on past failures can devastate. People become haunted by ‘what-could-have-been!’ For that matter, successes can be paralyzing, too. Some folks never seem to move beyond their high school/college days. Paul writes in Philippians 3, verse 7:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

Paul is saying there’s a need for living in the present. Past failure or success does not secure a future. But, learning to live in the present means finding God’s grace sufficient moment-by-moment.

Secondly, consider the next pointer of:


Starting a little way into verse 13:

“…straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul indicates goals are good! New Year’s resolutions have goals that teach living for the future. If self-examining questions are to be asked, let it be “am I just living in my past or for tomorrow? Make a reasonable goal and press for it. Paul’s goal was for the prize of the upward calling!

Finally, Paul is making the point of:


Verse 15 in The Message Bible reads:

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!”

Failure happens when eyes are taken off the goal of the prize. There was a sad story in the news of a man who got out of a cab, was so distracted with reading his cell phone, that he lost focus of where he was and walked straight off a cliff to his death.

Focusing on God’s Word for reasonable goals is the way of living in new life. For example: if a New Year’s resolution has the goal of becoming more organized, look in God’s Word for ways others were organized. Surely, Joseph was organized when planning for seven barren years. Assuredly, David helped organize Solomon in view of building the Temple. Focusing on the goal of ‘everything God has for you’ is found in His Word! Every answer we need is for life is in the Bible!

So, in light of forgetting, pressing and focusing, a good prayer for 2016 would be—God, clear my blurred vision to see goals from You! Happy New Year!

J. Robert Hanson


“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:4

Once upon a time, in what now seems like long ages past, I had gym membership. For some reason my kids became interested in “working-out” and I chose to signup with them—what was I thinking? I went to the gym early in the mornings, prior to my work day, before the herd of endless bodybuilders showed up; these are the folks who actually know what they’re doing. And while roaming through the midst of all these glorious machines, it became obvious I had no idea what I was doing. I must have looked somewhat pathetic. After a week of wandering, one of the trainers, watching my exploits, ventured my way offering help. It was an immediate love/hate relationship. Not long after his volunteering, I discovered this whole ‘working-out’ thing was much more difficult than originally anticipated.

My ‘personal trainer’ was great—I’m sure of it. He showed me how each machine worked, taught me the motions and movements of limbs and torso while instructing what muscles were effected by exertion. Most of all, and this is possibly where the hate developed, he shouted encouragements in cadences while pressing me to go beyond what I thought was humanly possible. It seemed he was attempting to get me to embrace this enduring, steadfastness of purpose, even when limbs and torso seemed to painfully disagree.

This is the meaning of ‘steadfastness’ in James 1, verse 4: “And let steadfastness have its full effect….” Many translations use ‘endurance’ for the meaning of the Greek¹ word. Thayer’s Lexicon adds the thought of ‘consistency’ while yet another Bible Commentary² suggests using the Greek root word as a foundation. That root word is the idea of someone remaining under discipline though the naturally tendency is to rebel—sort of like what I wanted to do against my ‘personal trainer.’ All-in-all, the idea of ‘steadfastness’ describes the quality of character that’s developed in an individual by not succumbing to trial of discipline.

To increase the value of that thought, James points out that ‘steadfastness’ is a choice as the author chooses to lead off with the word, ‘let’—“let steadfastness have its full effect.” That word is a present imperative command implying submission to endurance. It’s similar to the choice an athlete makes in complying with a trainer’s strengthening program. In other words, the person chooses to be uncomfortable for the sake of development and growth. There is no compulsion, only voluntary compliance.

Together the phrase, ‘let steadfastness’ denotes a duration of time for development. Vine’s Expository Dictionary adds that the phrase is translated ‘patient enduring.’ The idea is a surrender that’s done for the long-haul over a great period of time.

So the question now becomes, just how long does the time element of ‘steadfastness’ need to take place? When is it I no longer need to patiently endure the trial or disciplines of life? James even has an answer for that:

“…let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Hmm, ‘perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’! That could take awhile to accomplished. In fact, it takes a lifetime of ‘working-out.’ Exactly how much trial am I willing to endure? Before throwing up arms in surrender and exhaustion, it’s important to realize God has the training program that’s in perfect balance. Paul understood this to be true when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13 (reading from The Message Bible):

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

He is the perfect trainer understanding just how far to press and He knows when to stop. God alone has all the insights for speaking encouraging words or demanding cadences—which ever is needed. He’ll never let down or fail. God is committed to the training program for the duration of our stay on earth. He’s not discourage by failure or inadequacy. He’s a ‘personal trainer’ that never quits, nor pushes past limits. God’s one goal for us is Training for Endurance that “…steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

J. Robert Hanson

¹ Strong’s Concordance, G5281; hupomoné: a remaining behind, a patient enduring.

² http://preceptaustin.org/james_13-4.htm


What_title“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:4 

Somewhere in the universe, there’s an angelic onlooker seeking to comprehend God’s fascination with man and asks the question, “What?” It almost sounds like a petulant teenager upset at a parent for an imagined inequality. The amount of attention the Almighty sets upon humanity seems out of balance when compared to man’s contemptible nature. Again, the verse reads:

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Curiously, the Hebrew language uses two different words for ‘man’ in this verse; here’s their meanings:

  1. Man 1.0

The first place is in the first clause, “What is man that you are mindful of him.” The Hebrew word used is ‘enoshe’’¹ and it means ‘mankind’ with images of weak, frail, and sickly mortals. The thought is of humanity’s condition. Man universally is fragile and corrupt. He’s bereft of any possibility for self-correction. Sin has left man destitute in a permanent state of hopeless mortality.

To this condition the angelic being utters in disbelief something like, “What?! If you knew man like I do, you’d have nothing to do with him.” Why does the Almighty bother with weak, frail and sick mortals? The question asked in verse 4, “Why [Oh, God] are you mindful of him?” looks for answers.

Ever had a cheap watch quit working? Attempting to repair something broken and of little value makes no sense. It doesn’t take long until the effort and time outweighs the cost of a new watch. So, unless one is inclined to tinker with such devices as a hobby, it’s a short time until we ask, “Why am I doing this?”

Fortunately, God is not like men—nor angels for that matter. Somehow the Almighty sees value in weak, frail and sickly mortals. In fact, when reading verse 4’s question to God, “What is man that you are mindful of him,” ‘mindful’ is the idea is of being possessed of a thought! In other words, God can’t stop thinking about you—He’s got to fix it! Even in your weak, frail and sickly condition, God has His attention focused on you and can only think of ways to repair your problems.

  1. Man 2.0

The second use of the word ‘man’ is located in the second clause with the expression ‘son of man,’ or, ben-‘adam.²’ It literal means ‘human being,’ but identifies with the physical, natural condition of humanity—though still limited by mortality. To put Psalm 8, verse 4’s question in perspective, the writer asks: “What is…the son of man that you care for him?” Even in man’s natural estate, he is physically overwhelmed and outmatched in comparison to God, or even angels. In fact, the mystified questioner continues the disparaging pace in verse 5 by suggesting incongruously:

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” 

Since man, on his best day, is temporary and fleeting, why would the Eternal One care for humanity at all?

There’s a little verse in 1 Corinthians 9, verse 26³ where Paul uses the analogy of a boxer. If such an athlete where in the ring of a boxing match and finding himself on the losing side of a fight, a friend’s simple reminder, “I’m in your corner” conveys an inspirational thought that someone is “on your side.” That friend would be wiping sweat from your brow then sending you back into the ring with renewed support! Sometimes all it takes to be encouraged is just knowing that one person is in your corner caring for you.

That second clause of Psalm 8, verse 4: “What is…the son of man that you care for him?” spiritually means God is in your corner! He’s not giving up on any ‘son of man’—no matter how helpless, week, frail, or physically exhausted you’ve become. In fact, in The Message Bible, Hebrews 2, verse 17 reads of Jesus Christ:

“That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life.”

Metaphorically speaking, the thought is Jesus came, got into the ring, and took our place in the fight when we were physically drained and broken. When the angelic beings of heaven ask “What?” The answer is to point to the ‘Son of Man,’ Jesus Christ! He is the demonstration that God is mindful and caring toward man.

J. Robert Hanson

¹ Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, H0582, enoshe’: mortal and frail, hence, a man in general.

² Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Ben-‘Adam; Compound phrase from H120, ‘adam: ruddy i.e. A human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.), and H1121, banah: a son (as a builder of the family name).

³ “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.”

Faith—ExperienceIt_Title“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”– Romans 4:2-3 ESV

Let me first offer a biblical definition of faith from Hebrews 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Now I ask—how does faith operate? In a real world, in real time, what are the mechanics to experiencing an operational faith? Here are three systematic elements: Hearing God’s Word, Believing God’s Word and Acting On What We Believe. The first element:

Hearing God’s Word

In Romans 10, verse 17 we read: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Faith starts with hearing God’s Word! It would be slick to say faith starts by looking at creation, or working good deeds; this way faith could be tangible. But the simple fact is, Abraham discovered faith by first hearing God speak to him; Genesis 15, verse 7 reads:

And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”

Those words were presented to Abraham in Genesis 12, verse 1 where it reads: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” Abraham heard God’s Words way back in the land of Ur of the Chaldeans!

God has words for the 21st century man or woman. There’s a book God uses to bring His Word to humankind, it’s called the Bible. Within the living pages are words of God’s active thoughts and plans for us. If not ignored they’ll produce instruction and consolation in life. In Romans 15, verse 4 we read:

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Does life present difficult challenges for you? God’s Word gives answers and direction! Hearing His Word is the first systematic step we can take for experiencing faith—by choosing to read the Bible; the more often the better. The second element is:

Believing God’s Word

At times we’re a little slow to believe. Don’t feel alone, apparently Abraham had his issues, too. In Genesis 11 we find the man known as ‘the father of faith’ didn’t actually leave for Canaan until much after God’s call to move. In verses 31 and 32 we read that Abraham’s father:

“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.”

A pit-stop in Haran was not on God’s agenda. Not until after Abraham’s father dies does the great patriarch choose to move on to Canaan! You see, though God’s Word came earlier to Abraham, it took him awhile before actually choosing to believe what God was saying. To be affective, believing must accompany hearing. In Acts 7, verses 2 through 4 we learn through a man named Stephen:

“… The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.”

God’s Word came to Abraham early. But it’s not until his father was removed that the patriarch believes what God was asking. Stuck in Haran, the father of faith had lessons to learn.

I understand that situation. There are times when moving forward happens from concepts, ideas, grit and miscalculations—anything but faith. Abraham was stuck in Haran until he believed God’s Word was trustworthy and then we discover, as Stephen notes in Acts 7, verse 4, that:

“…God removed him [Abraham] from there into this land in which you are now living.”

Paralysis occurred until Abraham believed, and then we read God operates to get him into the land of Canaan. Once we hear God’s word, the second systematic step is to believe what God says is true! This leads to the third element:

Acting On What We Believe

To summarize so far, we hear God’s Word, we learn to believe that His Word is dependable, and finally, we take action upon what we believe. James puts it this way in James 2, verses 21 and 20:

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;”

These are actions born out of hearing and then believing in God’s Word, and not the other way around! The order is not, hear; and then act—that’s how Israel failed with the Law of Moses! The systematic steps are hearing, believing and then acting upon what you believe. This, and this alone is how we experience faith! Faith is completed by works that are based only upon what one believes about God’s Word—Hear, Believe, then, Act in Faith! Then they are not our works, but God’s works that He’s prepared for us to walk in.[1] Now we discover it’s God’s faith at work for us and in—as Stephen says: God removed him [Abraham] from there into this land.”

Finalizing the experience: God’s Word creates the ability to believe what He says is true, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” And once we have learned to believe what we hear from God’s Word, then we’re prepared to act on what He has promised. How does faith operate? Faith is experienced as we believe God’s promise and then it’s credited as righteousness.

J Robert Hanson

[1] Ephesians 2:10, ESV; For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Mouse“And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day’…. And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’” Acts 23:1, 10-11 ESV

Sometimes our greatest plans go terribly wrong! One moment the apostle Paul enjoys the breathtaking opportunity of testifying before the great Jewish council, the next he’s ripped away and escorted to a lonely jail cell. And thus goes the best-laid plans of mice and men. How disappointing the whole experience must have been. That’s not the way Paul planned it! In his mind’s eye there was great opportunity to witness for Christ before the powerful Jewish leadership! But the ability to testify was gone in an instant. The entire drum-rolling enormity of prospect vanished and now Paul sits idly alone in a dank Jerusalem prison feeling as if time had been magnificently squandered.

Do you know what that’s like? How many times have great plans for God departed in a moment’s notice? Visions and ministries seemingly come to nothing all because of a few crazy chaotic choices. After such great expectations it’s understandable why Paul would be dejected. Read verse 11 again:

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’”

At some point in Luke’s account of the Book of Acts’ history, Paul thought it important enough to mentioned to the author what happened on this specific night—it would be recorded for all posterity. When discouraged and dejected, there are two essentials to learn from Paul. The first is to look for:

The Lord’s Company

Again, verse 11: “The following night the Lord stood by him and said.” That English word ‘stood’ in the Greek language is the idea of the Lord coming ‘with suddenness.’ Not necessarily immediacy, but abruptness. In fact, the thought is the concept of an assault upon you. The Lord assaulted Paul with His presence! Whether by vision or physical appearance is not entirely clear. What is apparent is that at the point of Paul’s deepest despair the Lord thankfully thrusts and assaults Himself into Paul’s prison cell and situation. It reads, “The following night the Lord stood by him!”

Is that experience even possible for us today? The idea of the verse is that when you’re at your lowest point ever—when you’re at the place of utter dejection—expect the Lord’s company. That’s the time when He’ll show up. Maybe it’s not the most opportune moment and you’d like just a few minutes alone to ‘collect your thoughts.’ Or, perhaps this hour will be the time when you don’t really feel like entertaining anyone. Here’s when the Lord will assault you with His presence and stand by saying, ‘Take courage!’ And then—expect Him to bring the second essential:

The Lord’s Cheer

Once again, verse 11 reads:

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’”

You ask, how do we know Paul was experiencing the miserable emotion of dejection? In this verse the word ‘courage’ in the Greek more accurately means ‘to be of good courage, and of good cheer!’ The HELPS Word-Studies reference notes that ‘courage’ literally is a radiate warm confidence because of a warm-hearted soul. It’s as if the Lord Himself came to Paul and said, ‘warm your soul and bolster your heart because you have been a good witness to me here in Jerusalem.’

The Message Bible nails down the thought further and brings it home by paraphrasing it as:

“That night the Master appeared to Paul: ‘It’s going to be all right. Everything is going to turn out for the best. You’ve been a good witness for me here in Jerusalem. Now you’re going to be my witness in Rome!’”

How often are we dejected thinking that we’ve blown it by rash, harsh or thoughtless words and behaviors? As the mouse in Robert Burn’s poem, “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with The Plough,” we may think we’ve understood God’s plan, worked out our details perfectly, and then it’s all ploughed under in a moment shattering our expectations. We become discouraged or dejected—it’s our ‘Of Mice and Men Moment.’ Now’s the time to remember Paul’s two essentials—the Lord’s company and cheer—to lift our spirits with new reassurance!

J. Robert Hanson

Living_Letters_titleYou yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (ESV)

When someone seeks employment, generally there are letters written communicating why a business should hire an applicant. If you need a letter of recommendation, you don’t go to an antagonist and ask for one. You want someone you know of stature and experience, ideally in your field of industry, to write something positive.

For Paul, the whole church at Corinth was a living letter of recommendation for his ministry. The two verses above point out that his labor was a story of living transformation, enough weight to show the success of his work.

Again, Paul writes in verse 3: “…you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.” Essentially he’s saying you’re the living letter of our ministry written by the ink of the Holy Spirit.

The Ink of the Holy Spirit

Later in his writings, Paul points out that the experience of transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3, verse 6 reads that it’s God:

“…who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

The competence to minister occurs at the efforts of God; it’s the Spirit that gives life! There are gifted ways to say things, there are great methods to apply things, there are even glorious purposes for attracting commitment, but ultimately the only process that accomplishes an enduring transformation of soul is the work of the Holy Spirit!

Transformation isn’t something left up to men—this task is so important that God, the Holy Spirit, takes personal responsibility to get the job completed. He begins the project when He takes up residence within the very life of the believer in Jesus Christ. Paul pointed this out to the Corinthians in an earlier letter; 1 Corinthians 6, verse 19 reads from the English Standard Version:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

The ‘specifics’ of how the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside the body is a mystery. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit lives inside the believer and the opportunity for lasting change is made available to everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. When it comes to transformation, no one is beyond hope. The thought that someone can’t be changed is not in God’s vocabulary. He is the God of change making every soul He touches a living letter through the ink of the Holy Spirit. Practically, there is only one thing capable of hindering that work.

The Restricting of the Holy Spirit

As rain delays can hinder homebuilders, the process of God’s true transformation can be held up and restricted. Paul warns the Thessalonians that this problem exists when he writes to them in 1 Thessalonians 5, verse 19 the simple words:

“Do not quench the Spirit.”

The thought behind the word “quench” is that of extinguishing a fire. The metaphor is meant to illustrate the stifling and suppression of the divine influence—the Holy Spirit! The fastest way to break the process of transformation is to behave in ways that quench the fire burning in you—so to speak, throwing cold water on the Holy Spirit. Sure, God’s promise to us is that He’ll never leave nor forsake us! But, we can surely hinder, restrict and rain-delay His work in our lives through careless behavior.

What does that restricting behavior look like from a practical sense? Paul gives a hint of example when he writes in Ephesians 4, verses 30 and 31:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Paul lists six-destroying emotions that can grieve the Holy Spirit and bring a work-delay to the transformation effort. But, the whole renewal processes can immediately start again through the simple act of putting away the six-destroying emotions. How can we do that? By acknowledging and confessing that we’ve slipped into any of these six-destroying detriments! Immediately following the work of the Holy Spirit is rekindled, the fire is relit and the ink of the Holy Spirit begins writing a living letter on our tablets of human heart again. We are The Living Letters written by God’s hand.

J. Robert Hanson

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