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Spiritual Family The Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Family

 

Part 1

The Holy Spirit and the spiritual family

Readings

‘When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2: 1).

‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers’ (Acts 1: 14).

‘So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart’ (Acts 2: 46).

‘Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common’ (Acts 4: 32).

‘Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2: 19 – 22).

The above verses highlight that all who believed and joined the Church were of one heart, one soul, and one accord. They were together and had all things in common.

They continued in this manner, expanded, and then small churches were established in various places. Therefore, Apostle Paul revealed what he called ‘the mystery of the Church’; he was the one granted this ministry as the teacher of the Church[1].

Apostle Paul spoke about the Church in a very clear way in the epistle to the Ephesians; and so, the scholars usually call this epistle: the epistle of the Church. In the first chapters of the epistle, the apostle speaks about establishing the Church according to God’s plan. In the second half of the epistle, he turns to the practical part –having explained the theological part –and he speaks about the life of the church being a testimony on earth while her place is in the heavenly places; he also refers to the church’s mission as well as her battles.

The central verses that speak about establishing the Church highlight that we are ‘members of the household of God’ and ‘a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’.

When God visits a person, He works in him true change and transformation by the Holy Spirit. This is the grace of Christ which we experience when we live the true life of daily repentance and obedience to Him. Yet, in numerous references, the bible mentions that a true Christian who lives in Christ is a living stone[2]. Previously, he was seen in spirit as a piece of dead stone in the unseen  mountains of the world; then, the Holy Spirit took him off, revived him and brought him to be part of  the temple of the Lord[3].

Now, let us find out how the story usually begins!

The Holy Spirit takes the role of a matchmaker, as we read in the book of Song of Songs, and He talks to the human soul about her Bridegroom, the Bridegroom who desires to make this soul His bride: ‘I awakened you under the apple tree’ (Song of songs 8: 5). The Holy Spirit draws near each person and speaks to him/her about Christ, the Bridegroom.

The hardened stones of the world would probably not pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit; they are happy the way they are.

The Holy Spirit does a lot of introductions and preparation for every person. Those of us who have tasted the life in Christ would remember that there was a lot of preparation done by the Holy Spirit in their lives, possibly over several months or even more, which they may have not noticed at the time. They would now realise that God was visiting them and calling them in various ways. This was actually the Holy Spirit who was preparing the hearts so that the eyes may be opened and we know Christ as the true Bridegroom of the soul, the true Deliverer, the true Giver of Life, the Giver of the true vision that fulfils and satisfies the heart, and the One who has prepared true goals and aims for each person since eternity.

As soon as the person knows who Jesus is, that person is transformed from being a dead stone into being a living stone. The Holy Spirit cuts this person off the world and transfers him to the Church. As a result, this person would feel that a big change has happened in his life; he became a stranger to some people and closer to others; also, many concepts in his life started to change.

It is a true change that the Holy Spirit does in one’s life. He makes the person a stranger to the world, as Jesus said: ‘they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world’ (John 17: 16); planting him in the true Church which is established in the Spirit[4].

Therefore, this living stone, this person who has experienced the true life in Christ, gets placed in a sort of building, that is, the Church.

What is expected of this living stone?

God wants to bring these stones together to build a house with these living stones, a house where He would dwell.

The Holy Spirit dwells in all of us[5]. When we start to live in Christ and live a true life of repentance, we start to experience the accompaniment of the Spirit. We feel that He is our companion. However, the Holy Spirit desires more than that; He desires to dwell in our midst as the Lord the giver of life and the Lord, the comforter, the Paraclete (John 14: 16, 26).

If we are living stones that are joined together and built together, we form a building. This building is not seen by the physical eyes, but it is a spiritual house, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

This means that the Lord, the Holy Spirit, desires an actual dwelling. However, the conditions are that this house or building should be made of living stones and these stones should come together, become joined and form a building. In this case, the Holy Spirit would actually draw near them in a way different from what each one experiences on the personal or individual level.

On the personal or individual level, each one receives a special spiritual taste and experience in their fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Companion who walks with them step by step in their days of sojourning. This experience has its sweet and special flavour where one experiences divine overflow from heaven to one’s heart. Also, the divine Companion, the Holy Spirit, satisfies my needs in various ways; and as He walks with me, He also teaches me new mysteries.

The Kingdom of God is full of mysteries. We remember that the disciples said that Jesus taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom[6]. After Christ’s Ascension into heavens, the Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us all things (John 14: 26), exactly as Jesus taught His disciples.

Therefore, the people of God in every generation are given the Holy Spirit to teach them exactly as Jesus used to teach His disciples during His life on earth.

What will the Holy Spirit teach us?

He will teach us what Jesus had taught.

What did Jesus teach His disciples?

He taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

When we are together, we form the Kingdom of God where He is the King and we are the citizens of this Kingdom. Therefore, the people of the Kingdom need to learn to live according to the standards and the principles of this Kingdom.

The Lord, the Holy Spirit, teaches us day by day how to live as the people/citizens of the Kingdom of God. He teaches us the ways and the principles of the Kingdom. As a result, we live victorious and not in frustration or despair. We learn to live the life in Christ, strength, victory, steadfastness, and moving forward. We also learn to live as a testimony and message which we carry to others and we reap its fruits that are full of life from its source, the Lord the giver of life.

Every time we come together, we need to have this longing and desire for the presence of the Lord, the giver of life and the Comforter in our midst. This should be a point or a station which we wait for and look forward to it with great joy because we know what this entails. It simply means that the Holy Spirit will be with us, in our midst. This in turn means that He will surely touch every heart because no one leaves the presence of God empty. Anyone who enters His presence shall definitely receive filling, in accordance to his measure, needs and circumstances: the confused will find an answer; the despairing will receive hope, the frustrated will receive a new push forward; and so on, each according to one’s real need.

After that, we gradually learn to receive more than the mere satisfactions of the needs. We will learn to come before the Lord with specific questions in our hearts and have faith that we will receive immediate answers to them because the presence of the Lord in our midst is different from the individual experience of everyone. This is because together we have made a dwelling place for Him. Gradually, everything in our lives would change to clear richness which bestows beauty and glory on the whole Church.

Therefore, we need to come together as units that are being built and established together, giving the Holy Spirit the chance to connect us together.

Before talking about how this can be achieved practically, I want to share with you some points about this matter because the purposes come before the steps. It is therefore important to highlight the purposes clearly first.

There are 2 important purposes:

  1. The glory of Christ
  2. The work of the Kingdom

1. The Glory of Christ

Each Person of the Trinity glorifies the other; the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and Christ glorifies the Father. Jesus prayed to the Father saying: ‘I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17: 4). It is clear here that Jesus glorified the Father. Similarly the Spirit glorifies the Son.

If we desire to taste and experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life and the Comforter who is in our midst, we need to have one purpose in our hearts and that is to glorify Jesus, the King, alone. We should neither glorify ourselves, nor glorify any person nor anything else, but Jesus alone.

It is a very serious matter if we find in our hearts a desire to glorify anything or anyone apart from Jesus. For example, we may think of ourselves as a select group of ministers in the church; and so, without noticing or intending to, we start to glorify ourselves. We may also have hidden pride or a sense of superiority. Sectarianism may also enter unnoticed in our midst. These things may happen unintentional; however, we need to search ourselves and be watchful because if any of this enters in our midst, this would mean that our purposes became different from the purpose of the Holy Spirit which is to glorify Christ.

The Holy Spirit would thus say: ‘I would have loved to be close to you and fill your camp with glory. I desired to make you witness great things. Yet, if you will glorify yourselves, this would mean that I am giving you something that you would misuse. You want to take my gifts and glorify yourselves with them. I am obliged to withdraw. Enough what you received; you will have to remain limited.  You have taken a true step in the spirit which is full of life; yet, this is sufficient because you will not bear more than that; if I give you more than that, you will misuse it.’

This is like a child whose father gives him something precious; yet, the child does not value it and so he misuses it. The father would say: ‘I will have to keep it for you for later, for when you grow up; otherwise you will lose this precious thing’.

The Holy Spirit does a similar thing. There were many gifts and blessings that He wanted to give us, the good gifts of the Father: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights’ (James 1: 17)[7]. However, the Holy Spirit would find that He is not able to give us these great gifts because we would misuse them. He would have to wait until we grow up more in order to give us more gifts.

Yet, if we do not want to be delayed and hindered; if we do not want to stop along the path; if we have given our back to the world and turned to Jesus not desiring to do what the old Israel did when sometimes they turned their back to God: ‘And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face’ (Jeremiah 32: 33); if we will not do so because we have made our decision to follow Jesus and have given our back to the world, it will be the delight of the Holy Spirit to grant us grace upon grace, glory upon glory, power upon power, day after the other.

If we desire this, we need to put the correct purpose before us no matter what the cost is, even if this requires from us to cut off our desires, change our mind and way of thinking, and humble ourselves to the dust, seeking the glory of Christ not our own glory.

As much as we learn to humble ourselves, putting ourselves at the feet and service of others, the Holy Spirit would be pleased because His purpose as we said is the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.

Not only should we not seek our own glory but we also should not seek to glorify other ministers in our midst. If we start to look at ministers judging that one is good and another is not, we would again be taking the glory of Christ and giving glory to people. The Holy Spirit would therefore look and see that we are acting in a very childish way and so He would be obliged to wait until we grow up a bit.

Instead, we need to see the ministers of God in the Church as being granted gifts and talents from God and so each ministers according to the gift granted to him/her, as God had appointed; and so, all the glory would be God’s: ‘that God may be all in all’ (1Corinthians 15: 28). If this is the case, the Holy Spirit would find rest in our midst and would move us forward further.

Our heart has to be tuned to one thing only and that is the Glory of Christ alone where each one disappears in Him, whether ministers or those ministered to, teachers or speakers; everyone should disappear and hide in Him[8]. In Colossians, Apostle Paul wrote: ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory’ (Colossians 3: 3, 4). This means that no one will be able to glorify anyone, but there is a day when Jesus will appear and will make each one appear in the glory granted to him/her by God[9]. Jesus Himself prayed saying: ‘And the glory which You gave Me I have given them’ (John 17: 22). Jesus knows how to give us glory in His way and in His time, when we get rid of our weak fallen humanity and we are granted the glorified humanity. Jesus will then give glory to each one. None of us has any credit or merit for the gifts and talents that were bestowed upon him; yet, the question is whether one is faithful to what he is given or not. Each one will be glorified according to his faithfulness on this great day.  At this point, we will look at one another and we will see that there is a different beauty and honour in each one[10]; yet the source of it is the same; Jesus is the source of glory and honour and beauty.

However, if we try to do this now, before its appointed time, we can become self-centred and self-absorbed. This grieves the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not give us the gifts to glorify ourselves nor glorify any person in our midst but to glorify Christ alone. To Jesus alone is all the glory. All glory goes to the only One who took the form of our humanity to free us from the corrupted humanity and make us enter into the glorified humanity. We need to remind our hearts and our minds to continually give the glory to Christ. Even if the conversation is about a certain person, we need to learn to say: ‘yes, it is true; this person has a grace, but all glory is the Lord’s’. We need to also gently teach those around us, the people we deal with, that whenever the focus is on any person, we redirect the focus in the correct direction and understanding. As a result, the Holy Spirit would find comfort in our midst and would overflow more in our midst, as individuals and collaboratively. Consequently we would be more filled by the Spirit and would move forward in the direction of the divine purposes and towards the glory of Christ.

2.The work of the Kingdom

The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare the Bride, the Church, for her Bridegroom, Christ. He seeks and longs to prepare the bride inasmuch as the bride is united with Him in His purposes.  His purposes are the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.

What is the work of the Kingdom?

Inasmuch grace we are given, we are entrusted with a responsibility.

Inasmuch grace we are granted, we need to humble ourselves putting ourselves at the feet and service of others[11].

Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit flows in us and we experience the flow of life in our midst and in our meetings, we should not be enclosed in ourselves, or reserved or haughty because this simply means that death will approach us and is so close to us.

However, if the flowing of the Holy Spirit in our midst makes us more humble, more open to others, more giving and sacrificial, the Holy Spirit will flow in our midst in an unlimited way. It is written: ‘for God does not give the Spirit by measure’ (John 3: 34). This means that in God, there are measures that have no limits; and it is a shame if we feel self-sufficient and not hunger for more. Yet, if our attitude is correct, God will never stop giving us in an unlimited way. We will receive things that we never thought of or imagined due to their sweetness, greatness, glory and unceasing flow which puts an end to every deadly routine in our lives and even heals its past memories.

We would thus taste the overflow of life which is ever new and renewed in Christ.

We would then learn to be servants for others. Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of the Corinthians: ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake’ (2Corinthians 4: 5).

Jesus should be the Lord and all glory should go to Him; while we need to be servants for others for the sake of Jesus. We need to be bearers of the message of life to those around us; yet, we need to be bondservants[12].

[1] Ephesians.3:2 – 4

[2] 1Pet.er 2:5

[3] 1Kings 5:15-17; 2Chronicles 2:18

[4] 1Corinthians 12:13

[5] 1Corinthians .3:16

[6] Matthew 13:11

[7] If we see but a glimpse of the heart of the Father, we will see the great desire in His heart to grant His children good gifts every day, gifts that probably we do not know, perceive or even seek because we often lack the true fellowship with the Father.

[8] John 3:30

[9] Romans 8:18,23

[10] 1Corinthians 15:41b

[11] 2Corinthians 4:5

[12] There were different levels of servants/salves in Paul’s time. Paul used a Greek word that refers to the lowest level which is a bondservant and he chose to put himself at this level.

Part 2

Edifying one another

Readings

‘Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing’ (1Thessalonians 5: 11).

‘Therefore comfort one another with these words’ (1Thessalonians 4: 18).

‘Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10: 24).

The bible tells us that this is our responsibility towards one another: to edify one another; to comfort one another; to consider one another; and to exhort one another.

When we carry out our responsibility towards one another, we will find that we are receiving more of the gifts of God through the various channels. For example, in one’s home, one will find that the Holy Spirit is closer and more present while praying on his own; in Church, we will find that every time we receive Holy Communion, we receive spiritual nourishment and are revived more than before; in the spiritual meetings and small retreats, we will find that more of the divine power and grace are being released. This is due to the fact that we are being prepared and are carrying out our responsibility; and so, we are given more grace: ‘The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Proverbs 11: 25).

Some practical comments that can help us carry out this role of edifying one another:

In spiritual circles/families in general, when people are at a certain stage in the spiritual growth, what often happens is that people sometimes edify one another while at other times they hinder one another; at times encourage but at other times discourage or frustrate. This often happens in an unintentional or unplanned way; things happen by chance.

For example, one meets his brother who is in a state of despair or frustration and on that day the other brother is encouraged and lifted up; and so, he helps and edifies his brother. Yet, on another day, they meet together and they are both frustrated and they exchange their frustration and despair, saying things like: ’yes, you are right; I do not know why things are so distressing; why the leaders of the meetings are not paying attention or helping us; yes, you are right; I feel so discouraged and distressed.’ As a result, they both discourage one another.

When people are close to each other, they can continue like this: at times lifting up one another while at other times discouraging one another, like a wave that goes up and down.

Therefore, we need to be awake and watchful in this matter: ‘that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him’ (1Thessalonians 5: 10).

How can we carry out this role towards one another? How can we edify one another?

It is important not only to know the principles, but also to be handed down the practical steps to live in accordance to the principles. We know that we should edify one another and so we try to apply this principle, but if we are not handed down the practical steps of walking in accordance to this principle, we may go back to our old ways.

What are the practical steps that we need to know and be vigilant on so that we can carry out this role and do it steadily –not do it at times and revert to its contrary at other times?

There are 3 important practical points in this respect:

We need to know that we are human vessels that are different from each other.

A. We are different in our entrances, that is, the door or key to our inner being.

B. We are different in how we are affected by things and in our receptions and responses.

C. We are different in how we are used by God.

One should be aware of this when he talks to his brothers/sisters, listens to them, and looks at them.

As a spiritual family, like any physical family, it is healthy to consider one another. In any family, it is natural to know if a member of the family is ill, healthy, tired, or upset. However, considering one another or observing the state of one another can sometimes edify and at other times can be negative or non-constructive –if we do not do this in the right way.

Sometimes, I look at the one sitting next to me in the meeting and I find that he is so touched by what he is hearing and praying fervently while I feel cold and indifferent; so I wonder what is wrong and why I am indifferent, not feeling anything. I may wonder if the problem is in me or in the one next to me. As a result, my soul may shut off to the message. If I look around me in such a way, I may actually close the gate/door of my soul.

As we know, the soul has certain gates that can open and shut. These gates and entrances of the soul should be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

St Gregory of Nazianzus, once said: ‘Yesterday I resorted to silence as I was immersed in my contemplations; yet, today I am unable to be silent because the Spirit of God is playing tunes on my violin and I desire to proclaim them.’ He then continues to say: ‘whether in silence or in words, the Spirit of God controls my lips; He opens or closes them according to His will.’

The lips are the natural door of the mouth. When the Holy Spirit controls the opening and closing of this door, things will be different. One may feel that he does not want to speak or see people; he wants to be on his own; he even does not want to pray with his lips; he wants to pray silently in his heart.

As there are doors for the mouth, there are also doors for the heart as it is written: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’ (Revelation 3: 20).

It is also written: ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one’ (Song of Songs 5: 2). This clearly shows that the soul has gates or doors. It also means that the soul can shut its doors.

We should also learn that one should not mould himself in accordance to the form of his brothers and sisters. The most difficult lesson, yet the most important one in a spiritual family like ours, is that when we consider one another in order to encourage and edify one another, we should not compare ourselves with each other nor judge each another. Do not look at your brother or sister and say why I am not like them because God edifies us in different ways. God may be edifying one person, starting from the head to the feet; while with another person, God can start from the feet to the head. So while God may be working on the area of the mind in one person, He may be working on the area of the feet of another, and on a different area in a third; and so on –building up and sanctifying these different areas.

The soul is like a house that is being built or a field that is being ploughed and cultivated (1 Corinthians 3:9). This refers to the inner spiritual building.

Because the Holy Spirit works in each person in an area different from the other at a given time, each one will react differently to people and situations and to the spiritual messages we hear. So, for example, we can have a talk about helping the poor and sick people; one can be touched and moved immensely and the other may feel nothing at all. This latter person may then think that he suffers from lack of love towards others; but in fact this is not true. We are different and the Holy Spirit works in each person in an area different from the other; and so we react and respond differently.

The point is that we are human vessels with different patterns and forms. The true work of the Holy Spirit also has different ways and stages.

Therefore, when Peter and John were looking at each other and Peter said: ‘what about this man’, Jesus replied: ‘what is that to you? You follow Me’ (John 21: 22). This means that if you will look at your brother to be encouraged, then, this is good. But if you will look at him and get confused, then turn your eyes to Me, to Jesus whom you follow. Are your eyes on God whom you follow or on your fellow brother?!

Again I want to highlight that we are different in the entrance to our being; in the way we are affected and influenced; and in the way we are being used by God.

Practically this manifests as follows:

We may be in a spiritual meeting and a certain message is delivered. At that time, the Holy Spirit would be working on the mind of some; they may not necessarily be intelligent people but maybe they have a problem in the area of the mind, maybe God will use them through their mind, or maybe they have certain circumstances that adversely affected their minds.

For some people, their entrance is through the mind; they are influenced and they react and respond by their minds. They can easily get confused, perplexed and may have many questions. Yet when this area is sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit, their mind gets illuminated and when these people speak, others around them receive light and things become clear.

At the same time, there are others whose entrance is the emotions and the Holy Spirit starts to work on the area of their emotions. When you speak to these people, they spiritually stir your heart.

Those of the mind do not stir your emotions, but when they speak, the listeners find light and things become clear. So, there are words that illuminate and words that stir; words that are like a lamp and words that are like music or like a heater that brings warmth.

Because everyone has a different door or entrance to his/her being, after hearing the message in the meeting, each one responds differently.

One will hear the message and it will make their feet move in the will of God.  Another will feel that he needs to repent deeply and have compassion towards others. Another will receive light and start to understand, things become clear and are put in place after having been mixed and confused. We will all be hearing each other praying and each one will be responding differently: one is repenting, one is weeping, and one is thanking and praising the Lord; and so on.

If we are not aware of this matter that we are different in how we are influenced and how we respond, we can be confused or we can even judge the prayers of our brothers and sisters. Also because we are different in how we are influenced and in our reception and perception of things, each one will hear the prayer and perceive or respond to it differently. Therefore, we need to understand this important matter and not judge one another.

However, it is still important to learn to discern the spiritual atmosphere of the meeting and the prayers, but without being judgmental. One may be praying fervently because at this particular point he is being edified and built in his viscera and emotions and this is suitable for him and is edifying him and helping him to grow.

Judging can hinder me and hinder those around me.

The Holy Spirit is the perfect builder and the perfect architect. He is the One who knows my talents and He is the One who knows the areas that are messed up in my inner being and which need restoration.

Therefore, the second important point is to know that we are different in our perception and responses.

Thirdly, we are different in how we are being used by God. Some of us can speak in the meetings while others may not speak much nor even pray out loud in the meeting. Those who are quiet or who do not speak may be judged negatively by others or they themselves may think negatively of themselves. This quiet person may think that he was not responsive to the message, for example, and so he could not pray; or that he was unable to share in the discussion. This is the negative thinking and judging[1].

However, the reality is that God is using one to speak; another to summarise the ideas; a third to connect things; and so on. Each has a role and is being used differently by God. So, there is no problem in the one who is quiet; the Holy Spirit is not working in the area of speaking at that particular time. This person has something else, another gift that the Holy Spirit is working on and is using and which is parallel and not inferior to what his brothers and sisters have[2].

The Holy Spirit shows no favouritism or partiality (Romans 2: 11); He distributes gifts to all. So, you have a gift, which may not be to speak in the meeting; may be you have another gift which is ‘learning’ and you may have a watchful observing eye; an eye that looks not to criticise, but looks with the approach that ‘this is my family’: the shame of one is the shame of all and the blessing of one is the blessing of all[3]. Based on this approach and understanding, this person will look with love and care, observing those who speak and those who listen. He then writes down notes and prays; and then, he can go and share these observations with his brothers and sisters.

So, one can be speaking and praying; yet the blessing of his speech and prayers comes from the prayers of his other brother who is silent while praying from within.

However, if this person looks and criticises, saying why not do this or do that; or, I do not like this or that, this will have negative results. By this, the person will have come out of the family and is judging and complaining. This actually hinders one’s fellowship with his brothers and sisters and with the Holy Spirit. It also hinders his edification and the edification of his brothers and sisters because we are all being built together as one unit.

The building and edification of the individual adds to the rest of the family and the edification and building of the family reflects on the individual person. This is because we are all members in one body and are connected together[4].

To sum up, we are different in: our entrances; the way we respond and are affected by things, and the way we are being used by God. Therefore, it is not correct to look at each other and criticise or judge one another. But we should encourage one another and rejoice in the variety among us[5].

Each one is unique; yet, we are united together. We are one unit with variety and uniqueness. This is the mystery of God: three Persons who are united; and we are created on this image, the image of God.

Practically, if we are in a meeting or in a ministry together, we should know that one can be edified in an unseen way and that one can be praying out loud while the other is also responding but praying in his heart because he feels that if he speaks out loud he can be distracted by the people listening. We should also know that the Holy Spirit is working in different areas in each person. So, today one can be observing with his eyes and not saying anything; yet, tomorrow he is the one who will be speaking and the one who used to speak will be the one who prays silently in his heart for the ministry.

We will continue like this until we grow and are built together and our image is completed into the image of Christ: ‘My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you’(Galatians 4: 19).

Here, the apostle is labouring in birth for the sake of a Christian Church. He is not in labour pain for the sake of unbelievers to be born in Christ. This is another kind of labour.

There are different kinds of labour. ‘For as soon as Zion was in labour, she gave birth to her children’ (Isaiah 66: 8). Here, Zion is in labour to bring unbelievers to the real faith as people of God.

So, there are 2 kinds of labour: for the unbelievers to be born in the Church and the faith in Christ; and for the believers so that Christ may be formed in them.

When we grow more in the spirit, we will understand each other more and will be balanced in our reactions, understanding that each one responds differently because the Holy Spirit works in different areas in each person at a given time.

To conclude this talk, I want to highlight that our responsibility and role is to edify one another. Yet we need to understand this role in the right way and understand that we are different human vessels and not allow the enemy to enter through making each one compare himself with others or making one feel that he is bad or there is something wrong in him.

We are different and this is our glory; we have manifold gifts and variety. We have great uniqueness; yet we are united and in harmony in one Spirit and one Kingdom work.

Some final remarks:

Because we are different vessels/patterns in our form, entrances and responses as we have just explained, when we start the Kingdom work together, one can feel more comfortable with some people more than others because their form and pattern are closer to his. Also, the Holy Spirit will be working on different areas; so with some the work will be on the mind, others on the viscera and emotions or compassions, others on the feet or the area of moving. As a result, one will also feel more comfortable with some people than others; for example, an active person versus a quite person.

If there is an inner spiritual work and continuous spiritual growth and one spiritual vision, this means that all sectarianism dissolves.

It is better to be close and in oneness with 2 or 3 people than to be on my own. If one is on his own, he can easily be lost or broken and no one will even be aware. So, it is not wrong for 2 or 3 to be standing together and be linked together spiritually[6]. Yet, they need to have a correct vision of this matter and that this is only a transitory stage or an interim which should lead to an all-inclusive unity with the whole family which has the manifold variety. They should not settle into being comfortable with each other and leave it at this stage.

Certain things may be easy for one person but difficult for others; so if it is easy for one, he should not look and criticise others for not moving with the same pace. One’s comfort should not be at the expense of his brothers and sisters.  Also we should move in these steps gradually and slowly but steadily.

[1] Romans 14:4

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:4,18

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:26

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:12

[5] 1 Thessalonians 5:11

[6] Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Part 3

‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation’(Psalm 111: 1)

We need to learn certain matters that will help us in our spiritual growth and in having the mind of Christ. We need to learn the divine matters through the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the spiritual treasures and riches.

In Psalm 111: 1, we read: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’

Of course, each one of us can praise the Lord on his own. Yet, according to the divine purpose, worshipping within a special spiritual group, by the Holy Spirit, results in spiritual growth in a multiplied way compared to what can happen as a result of the worship on the personal level.  In other words, the spiritual work that takes place in us when we are gathered together is multiplied compared to what one can do alone. For example, if we have two groups in the church and both groups are at the same spiritual level. One group listens to the preaching, the meeting ends, and they go home. The other group listens to the talk and then they pray together for a sufficient time.  After some months, the latter group will have grown more in the spirit.  Why is that? The talks were the same and their spiritual level was the same. What is the difference? The difference is that one group worshipped together regularly while the other did not.

‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’

Why is that?

It is because in this assembly and congregation, the Lord does great things: ‘The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them’ (Psalm 111: 2).

In the midst of this assembly and congregation, the Lord shines with His glory and honour at times; at other times, His work of redemption overflows in their midst; and at times, He offers them special spiritual food. Notice what is mentioned in the verses that follow in the same Psalm:

‘His work is honourable and glorious…He has given food to those who fear Him…He has declared to His people the power of His works…He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever…A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.’

We can thus see that in the assembly of the righteous and in the congregation, the Holy Spirit does and releases a certain work which is according to the need. We pray and then we listen to the talk; and though it is the same talk and there are different needs in our midst, each one would hear the words personally to him/her –as though it is only him who is present and the Lord is speaking to him personally. After the meeting, each one would say that this talk was specifically for him and the others would say the same thing. On the general level, the words of the talk are for everyone; yet, each one heard a personal message from the Holy Spirit. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

We now understand that the Holy Spirit looks upon us as the assembly of the righteous. We therefore need to give Him more chance to work in our midst.

We need to wait and long for this time of gathering because it is a time of edification and building up, receiving a new energy that carries us through the days that follow, and each one hears a personal message.

Not only do we long for such gatherings because of the reasons we have just highlighted, but also the Holy Spirit Himself waits for this meeting because He is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare us as ministers for the Lord.

The whole group may have one general work and ministry in the Kingdom of God; yet, at the same time, each one has his own personal work and calling within the general calling.

To illustrate, this is similar to having a group of people who want to serve a certain district by having a hospital that would provide medical services to this district. This is the common general vision and purpose of these people. However, within this general vision, each person will have his specific work, role and subspecialty.

Similarly, on the spiritual level, each person has certain gifts and talents granted to him in order to carry out a special calling and work in the Kingdom of God within the general calling and purpose.  The Holy Spirit gives one general purpose to this group of people who have come together; yet, within this general purpose, He specifies a special aim and calling for each one.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of the glory of Christ in this region and the establishment and growth of the true Church of God: ‘the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1Timothy 3: 15).

This verse signifies that the truth of God should be lifted up on a pole/pillar, proclaimed to the whole region and heard by everyone, the Christians and the non-Christians because God’s words can never be fruitless[1]. This is also like what happened in the days of the Prophet Samuel. It is written: So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground’ (1Samuel 3: 19). Then it is written: ‘And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord’ (1Samuel 4: 20).

The Church of Christ is the pillar and ground of truth where the truth is deeply rooted and at the same time it is lifted up and proclaimed.

God’s name should be known ‘for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12). This name, Jesus Christ, is the hope of every living creature on earth.

Whose responsibility is it to make this name known?

It is our responsibility!

Many people suffer great humiliation and destruction because they have not been visited; yet, ‘the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save’ (Isaiah 59: 1). His arm is mighty and His grace is rich and He is able to do above all the needs of everyone.

Yet, who would release His arm to save and who would speak about his saving grace and communicate this to others who are in great need for it?!

God wants to work with us and through us much more than what we have experienced so far; all what we have experienced are but the beginnings.

We were learning, understanding and receiving foundational matters so that we may be spiritually built up and edified. When we have a true spiritual building, we can then discover the will of God and carry it out in a generation which is in great need for the grace of Christ and for transformation.

Apostle Paul wrote some of his highest theological teachings in his letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians.

He wrote to the Colossians saying:

‘As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 2: 6, 7).

How many stages or levels do we have here?

  • Receiving Christ

This is the very beginning, the first step when they received the saving work of Christ

  • Walking in Him

The second step is to learn to walk in Christ, to walk in the spirit. The sphere of the spirit is in Christ while the sphere of the flesh is in Adam[2]. We need to get rid of our habits and conduct that is fleshly and of Adam and enter into the sphere of the spirit.  If we are in Adam, we will walk according to the flesh, but, if we are in Christ, we have to walk in the spirit.

  • Being rooted, built up and established

This is a stage of spiritual foundations and building; this is a very special stage and it comprises within it several levels and stages. When one is built in the spirit, his building will be rooted and established.

  • Established in the faith

After one is filled with faith and continues to be filled again and again, he becomes established in faith. When one is rooted and built up, he becomes established in faith.

‘And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people’ (Acts 6: 8).

If one is filled with faith and established in faith, he can do great wonders among the people of God and fulfil the needs; he would ‘know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary’(Isaiah 50: 4). A person may be confused and perplexed and then this minister of God would come and help in bringing light; and so things become clear for that person.

  • Abounding in it

This refers to something that is filled and then it overflows and is poured out outwardly. The human vessels that are truly filled with life should continually overflow with life to others around them, according to a specific plan of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit sends those individuals, whom He had filled with life and faith, to different places and uses them as new seeds that establish new churches in various places[3]. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He sends people to spiritually dry lands where they would sow and plant the seeds of life and establish churches.

Do you know how the Church of Colosse began and was established?

Let us read the following references:

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow labourer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house’ (Philemon 1: 1, 2).

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea’ (Colossians 4: 16).

‘…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit’ (Colossians 1: 7).

In Asia, there was an area called Colosse and an area called Laodicea. Philemon was in these areas. Apphia is probably the wife of Philemon. Archippus (probably their son) served the Lord with them.

The word of God extended from Colosse to Laodicea and there were ministers of the Lord serving this area including Philemon, Apphia and Archippus.

Epaphras is one of the spiritual children/disciples of Apostle Paul. He heard the word of God from Paul and he spread it to other places.

When Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians, he had not yet been to Colosse. In Colossians 1: 4, we read: ‘since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.’ This signifies that Apostle Paul has not gone to them yet, but has heard of their faith.

Paul was ministering in Asia and Epaphras heard the word of God from Paul and his heart became full with zeal for the Lord; he went to Colosse and ministered to them. In Colossians 4, we read that Epaphras ‘has a great zeal’ and he ‘always labours fervently for them in prayers’. Who gave him this commissioning and enabled him to do this? The Holy Spirit gave him this commissioning and used him in this way.

Then, Paul found out that there are many people in Colosse who are receiving Christ. Who has preached them? It was Epaphras who had earlier heard Paul preaching and had received Christ. Epaphras then went out and preached to them.

Epaphras received Christ first, then his household also believed; this then extended to their neighbours and they started to gather together. Paul then sent them Timothy; someone who is spiritually more advanced to help them.

Colosse grew and became a Church. So, Paul sent them a letter and told them that they need to be built up and established. He told them about things they need to pay attention to, some wrong teaching that they had. He drew their attention to some important matters and he adopted them into his pastoral care. Also, from the day he heard about them, he started to pray for them.

The one who established this Church was one of the spiritual children of Paul and so Paul took responsibility of this work and he prayed for this church. He followed them up through his letter until he got the chance to go and visit them.

Do we think in such a way? Do we think of extending the word of Christ to others?

We are often absorbed in ourselves, seeking blessings for ourselves. We need to change our way of thinking. We need to acquire the mind of the New Testament, the mind of God. By this, our Church will be the ground of truth and the truth will spread out of this church to others.

This truth will be a source of true life, light and blessing for a generation which is so confused and perplexed because of the darkness that surrounds it.

Some of God’s people may be given a fair amount of a distinct light which is not available for others. Wouldn’t it be their responsibility to take this light and extend it to others? Indeed this is in itself a responsibility and at the same time, it is a biblical principle required from each one. The biblical principle is that one should grow spiritually and extend.

When a person is granted more gifts and abilities, a greater responsibility will be required from him. He needs to grow and extend; and this is required from everyone. But if this person is also entrusted with a distinct light which is lacking in other places and not available for others, it is the responsibility of this person to carry this light to others. Inasmuch as he carries it and transmits it to others, this light increases in him. Inasmuch as he keeps it for himself, it becomes weaker and dimmer. In the Christian life, everything increases and multiplies when it is given not kept to oneself: ‘he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Proverbs 11: 25).

Let us learn to have images of faith, even if in reality we are still not able to see them happening. They will not be imaginary things because they will be based on God’s mind revealed in the many references we discussed and it will also be based on God’s will which is apparent in our generation.

There are great needs in our generation that are crying out around us. At the same time, the word of God reveals to us that the spiritual growth should move in a certain direction.  Based on the foundations in the word of God regarding our spiritual growth in addition to the need in the generation, we can form the images of faith. The Holy Spirit then turns these images of faith into an actual reality.

In other words, there are the biblical foundations of how a Christian should live and grow spiritually and at the same time there is a cry and a need in our generation. From these two aspects, each one should form the spiritual picture he should live by. In the Church and with the brethren, one would grow spiritually. Then, the images of faith which cannot be seen and which may seem impossible or even an imagination are turned by faith by the power of the Holy Spirit into an actual reality. By this we become a blessing to others and glorify God.

When the Holy Spirit is in our midst, He does the true work in the Kingdom of God which glorifies God.

The people who are destroyed, hurt, bound or have gone astray will be visited, restored and truly freed.

We can sum up the main points as follows:

We need to know that our time together is an important time that we need to long for and wait for because we need to grow and establish our faith.  We need to be built up.

We have already received Christ, but we need to learn to conduct ourselves and walk in the correct way within the spiritual building.

Therefore, we need to understand and perceive the value of our time together. If we perceive the value of this gathering, we will all come in time and never miss it.

There are two parts in our gathering. Part of it is to receive the message that should enlighten our minds and give us correct understanding of the spiritual life. The other part is to learn to worship together, as the Psalm says: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation’ (Psalm 111: 1).

We need to have an extended time of prayer and understand that it is a special time to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our inner spiritual building. In such an atmosphere where our hearts are seeking Him and our minds and purposes are united, the Holy Spirit can work in our spiritual building matters more than what can happen if one is worshipping on his own. This is because this is ‘the assembly of the upright and the congregation’.

In such an atmosphere, God can do His great works. One may need power, freedom, spiritual release, etc. Praying in such an atmosphere can change the circumstances of a person –who has been praying on his own for a while, and nothing was happening. God wants to hear this person and work with him, but sometimes God’s hands can seem as though tied up. Prophet Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 14: 9): ‘Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save?’ This is actually due to certain reasons that hinder God’s hand from being stretched out to save. However, this atmosphere of worship together gives a chance for God’s hand to reach the person.

One can be praying a lot about a certain matter and would say: ‘Lord, I have prayed a lot; why did you not answer me?’

God will answer saying: ‘my child, from the very first time you prayed, I was near and I heard you; I desired to stretch out My hand to you; but, there was a barrier between Me and you; and you were not able to do anything about it. But when you went in the midst of your brothers and sisters and cried out the very same cry and prayer, the reproach was lifted up because this prayer was united with the prayers of your brothers and sisters; and so My hands reached you and performed My will in your life and granted you what you desired. You were suffering; but I was also suffering more than you.’ It is written: ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them’(Isaiah 63: 9).

Therefore, in such an atmosphere of worship together, the Holy Spirit works in our spiritual building, in our prayers and requests, and in our ministry much more than what one can receive when he is on his own.

If we want to enter a further deeper stage together where we learn how to grow spiritually, be built up and be established in the life of the spirit, we need to give great importance to our gathering together and our prayers together.

We need to listen to the spiritual messages and pray with them together so that the Holy Spirit can tailor them to each person in the form that suits him. For one, it will be gold and for another it will be silver because one is in need for the work of redemption and the other is in need for the fellowship of the divine nature[4].  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

After a year or so we look back and see that we have changed.

What has happened?

The Holy Spirit had bound our hearts together. We have been learning together, receiving the spiritual messages together and our minds were being renewed. As a result, the Holy Spirit worked within us and transformed us into a different form.

After binding us together, He dwells in our midst. When we come together, a spiritual house is being built[5].

If one is on his own, things around him may form a barrier that hinders the Holy Spirit from drawing near. However, the Holy Spirit keeps His eyes on us, desiring to reach out to us. He waits for us to come together so that He would come in our midst, healing the wounds, restoring every soul, fulfilling His will, and shining with His brightness.

Amen

[1] Isaiah 55:11

[2] Romans 5:12-19; 1Corinthians 15:21

[3] Acts 5:19, 20

[4] In Biblical studies, ‘gold’ usually refers to the ‘divine nature’; while ‘silver’ refers to the‘redemptive work of Christ’.

[5] Ephesians 2:20 – 22

Part 4

How to spiritually grow together as members of one body

We need to learn how the Church lives together the divine calendar, the seasons of salvation, one year after the other, receiving renewed spiritual experiences that add to the life of each person.

Readings

‘For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ…If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be’ (1Corinthians 12: 12, 15 – 19).

‘For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another’ (Romans 12: 4 – 6

‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread’ (1Corinthians 10: 16, 17).

In the above references, we read the biblical basis related to the body of Christ and its members. We experience the same thing in our physical life; each one of us has different members: hands, feet, eyes, etc., where each member has a function and a role. Is it possible that the members of the body decide to stop functioning and leave the head to do everything? If this was the case, the head will be saying things but nothing will be happening. Imagine the head telling the feet that today we need to do so and so, while the feet are just listening but refraining from doing anything. Will anything be achieved? The end result will be that the whole body will be in a stand still mode.

Similarly, on the spiritual level, we can be saying things that need to be done while the members of the body are not functioning or carrying out their roles. The result will be that there will be no actual movement; the body will be in the stand still mode.

What about the state and health of the hands and the feet? What about the nervous system? Is the nervous system transmitting correctly to the organs? What about the connections and the joints between one member and the other? The foot may be healthy; the muscles of the foot may be strong; yet, the connecting nerve may be damaged. If the connecting organ is not linking the feet to the head, the feet cannot move. The person may understand what it needs to do; but the feet remain incapable of carrying it out.

Let us apply this to ourselves on the spiritual level. We are a small unit that has members that are joined together. If each member knew his/her role and carries it out, there will be actual and effective movement.

Yet, let us put the movement aside for now because we first need to grow more in the spirit before reaching the step of moving together in the ministry and work of the Kingdom. When a child is little, he is not given tasks to do; but, he should be growing. If this child stops to grow, he may eventually die.

Similarly, at the moment, we need to make our membership in the one body function at the level of growing in the spirit until we come to the point where we can make it function for the purpose of moving in ministry.

What does this mean practically? How can we work together as members of one body for the purpose of our spiritual growth? And how is this linked to the resurrection and the 50 holy days after the resurrection –which we are living together these days?

If one wants to truly benefit from this season, he would ask the Holy Spirit: ‘I desire to receive the blessing and grace of this season; teach me how to benefit from the holy fifties.’ This person would then read the biblical verses related to the resurrection, contemplate on them, and would receive some understanding. In most cases what the person receives will be limited and not very effective. That is why we do not grow much from one year to the other nor receive noticeable spiritual strength; we only witness a limited effect.

What else can be done so that the person would benefit from this season?

Each one should bring what he/she received to our meeting, where we share about the resurrection. Each one would share what he had received. What each one says is only a fragment or a piece of a puzzle which, on its own, cannot be nourishing food that leads to growth except to a very limited extent. However, each one who shares adds something. Then, among the members of the body, there will be some who are specialised in or called to connecting and joining things together. On the level of the physical body, we all know that there are organs that join the members together. Similarly, when each one starts to share what he received about the resurrection, there will be members who will connect this sharing together. We will be functioning together as a body so that we can grow.

Having finished the stage of being formed into a spiritual family, we are now at the stage of making this spiritual family function and operate as members of a body. We cannot stop at the stage of becoming a spiritual family. It will be a mere title if we do not function as such. The true spiritual family according to God’s mind is totally different from just that and has many other dimensions.

We will start applying that by sharing and collating our sharing and we will come out with few principles. These principles will be true things that are given to us by the Holy Spirit according to our exact needs and they will make us grow. When all what we received is put together, it becomes a spiritual food/meal that can make us grow.

Before this food was put together, it was only one element of nutrition but it was not nourishing food for growth. This is similar to giving someone a powder of carbohydrates and telling him: ‘eat it and it will make you full’. It will actually have no taste nor is it satisfying and it can make him feel sick. But if each one brings the element of nutrition he has and we add them together, put them in the oven, they will come out as a nourishing, filling, and tasty meal.

Isn’t this what happens on the material level to nourish our physical body which is dust and to dust it shall return? How much more on the spiritual level do we need to nourish the inner spiritual man who is called for the fellowship of glory and establishing the Kingdom of God?!

We are hindered in our spiritual walk because we are not working or functioning together as members of a body. We often operate and live by our mind and thoughts not by our hearts. We search for some verses about resurrection and then pray with these verses asking God to help us live the resurrected life. Then, we find that this is not working enough; it gives us a very limited result.

Why is that?

It is because one does not know his particular need each year or in a given year; only the Holy Spirit who dwells in the person knows. It is written that the Holy Spirit ‘intercedes on behalf of the saints according to the will of God’ (Romans 8: 27).  He is the One who knows your need at this particular time, this year. This is similar to a mother bringing up her child; she knows the particular food that he needs at each stage. She cannot feed him meat as soon as he is born; otherwise, he would die straight away. She starts by feeding him milk; then, she weans him, giving him certain solid foods made in a certain way that suits his age from one stage to the other as he grows up.

That is exactly what we need on the spiritual level.

If we read and listen to sermons about the resurrection, this will make the understanding in our mind increase. Yet, where is the food of the resurrection that will nourish our spirit? We need to prepare it together. We will not prepare it out of the blue; we will have to prepare it from what we have read and heard. Yet, these will only be the ingredients which we will then need to add together and cook to make a meal.

Practically, each one receives something about the resurrection. Then, we share them together. Then, the members, who are called to be joints, will join them and connect them together. This will make up our special food for this year. We then take it/eat it and start to live by it; and so, it makes us grow.

Not only does this food make us grow spiritually, but it also binds us together more and more.

Thus, we understand that even our spiritual growth is based on our fellowship together.

Then, the following year, we receive a different food which we may wonder where it came from. It is actually the food that we have prepared together. The Holy Spirit will not give us the same food which He had given us the previous year. He will give us something new that suits each individual person and also suits the other brothers and sisters.

Each year we are given something new, a new meal, and we start to experience that we are truly growing spiritually from one year to the other; we are actually changing. This will be experienced on the individual level and on the corporate level.

Q: What is the level and extent of sharing which we should bring to the group or the spiritual family?

A: What I am explaining here will not happen as such all at once.

If one has learned to have a fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will make him grow in this family. God requests of this family a certain task. Just to illustrate, let us say that this task requires some members to be doctors, some lawyers, some engineers, some computer experts, and some trade experts because they are called to do a project that requires all these skills. So, as the Holy Spirit is teaching and leading this family, He will teach them these skills. However, if I were in a different family called to go to battle, for example, I will be learning other skills like carrying and using spiritual weapons. I will be learning in a spiritual military school that has no doctors or engineers or any of the skills needed for the other project.

In the body of Christ, there is this diversity and variety so that the body may be able to carry out a complete inclusive work and tasks in the world. The Church of Christ should be the light of the world.

When we start to apply this, we will start by doing so on a limited level. Yet, we will grow in it year after the other until we become experts in preparing our spiritual food together. We will start to discern what the Holy Spirit is teaching us and when we come together we will sense exactly how to connect together. However, this will need time and training like all true spiritual matters which require training.

Our spiritual life and growth are often hindered because we are cut off from being a spiritual family and being members of one body.

I need to see my inner spiritual growth as one connected chain not as sporadic separate events or experiences.

If I am growing spiritually and then I come to a season like the resurrection, I may wonder how to continue my growth within this season. In fact, the Holy Spirit desires for the human soul to grow in connection with the divine seasons of salvation which were set by the Church through a divine mystery. They were not just set as an economy suitable for the life of the church, but indeed by experience it was found that the Holy Spirit does this link between the seasons and the spiritual growth of the person. So, I will find that when the season of resurrection comes, it brings me something related to what I am already preoccupied with spiritually. This is what makes our sharing together effective; otherwise, it will be mere ideas and contemplation about resurrection.

In other words, each one should be growing spiritually throughout the year. Each one can be growing in an area different from the other; one can be growing in the area of emotions and another in the area of the mind. Therefore, when the power of resurrection comes to the mind it will be different from when it comes to the emotions. It will come to the mind with light, discerning the human wisdom and its tactics, exposing the calculations of the fallen human wisdom, separating confused matters, and so on. On the other hand, the power of resurrection will come to the emotions with freedom, love, broadness, getting rid of the inner constriction, getting rid of the desire to possess things or people, and so on. Can you see the difference? Yet, both are the result of the work of the power of the resurrection of Christ. There can be other things in the person’s life that require something different from the power of resurrection; some things for example may require repentance.

If we are growing spiritually throughout the year, the resurrection will come to me with an inner change and growth different from my brother; yet, putting all together makes our meal complete. However, if there is no inner change or growth, we will receive ideas about resurrection in our mind; we will be sharing words and they will all be very similar providing us with one element of food: potatoes for example; some may be mashed, some boiled, some fried, some baked; yet after all they are all only potatoes!

However, if one brings chicken, the other salad, the other potatoes, and so on, it will be a totally different meal. They will complete each other; each is essential; and there will be a great variety. These together make the feast of resurrection.

This happens when each one is growing in the area that the Holy Spirit is working on in that person’s life; and then the resurrection comes to each person in the area he is growing in.

It can be a power that touches ones heart, his circumstances, his ties and bonds, or the darkness of his mind. This will be one’s experience of resurrection that year.

This highlights the true variety and the power of resurrection which actually comes in various ways.

Part 5

Ministry and learning the Fellowship with the Trinity 

The Holy Spirit is the “Grace, the uncreated energy,” proceeding eternally from the Father and sent to us by the Son[1]. This Grace, the Holy Spirit, brings to us all the other graces.

The Holy Spirit is the One who transfers to us these graces because He is the Person of the Trinity who makes us enter into the fellowship of the Father and the Son.

We have a very limited understanding of the Trinity. Theology is not topics that can be understood by the mind; the mind cannot comprehend these matters. But they are comprehended by the spiritual mind because God is its source. This spiritual mind is formed through fellowship with God. Therefore, Apostle John writes: ‘that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full’ (1John 1: 3, 4).

In this short message, I want to draw your attention to few things that are important highlights in the spiritual path. As ministers, you need to understand these things and live them out so that in your ministry you can help others.

Some people may hear the spiritual messages in the meetings and they may not understand everything. As ministers of God, you have an important role in the meetings and after the meetings. In the meeting, a message is delivered and it touches the needs of the people attending. After the meeting, the ministers can have an edifying conversation with the attendees related to things that touched them in the message or things they could not grasp enough. You can help them fill in the gaps that they did not understand.

The speaker presents a message that touches every heart. His message is like cloth material that requires the tailors to make into clothes that fit each person. So the listener may come out of the meeting having heard something that he could not fully understand or is not able to apply. The ministers who should have a deeper experience in the spiritual life and deep understanding of the messages would help make this piece of cloth become a garment that fits each person. This is the role of the ministers. The ministry can be hindered if it relies only on the speaker or the leader of the meeting. We should all be doing the work of the Kingdom together.

The Holy Spirit is the One who does the whole spiritual work in people, working through the human vessels that surrender to Him and obey Him[2].

Each one of us has a different form and a different pattern. The bible calls us ‘precious stones’. In Revelation 21, it is clearly highlighted that there are different kinds of precious stones:

‘The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst (Revelation 21: 19, 20).

We are these precious stones because we have been ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Ephesians 2: 20); and these are their different patterns.

Though we may not be experts in knowing these kinds of stones, we can understand that they are all different from each other. Therefore, we are also different from each other; different patterns having different in spiritual gifts.

Therefore, when we go out to ministry, we need to be aware of this and aware that God uses each one with others who can fit with his pattern/vessel. We first need to tune our hearts with God and repent. Then one should pray: ‘Holy Spirit, You are the One responsible for our ministry. I surrender myself to You and put myself in Your Hands. Use me as You wish and help me not to hinder Your work.’  After that, we will find that He will allow me to meet certain people; and allow my brother to come across other people and my sister to encounter yet other individuals. We will find that the Holy Spirit is the One who is distributing us according to the needs and our different patterns and the shape of our vessels[3]. Then, when I speak with the people that the Holy Spirit had brought in my way, I will find that they understand and grasp what I say; the words reach their hearts easily and people will be helped in setting their feet on the correct path.

The important point here is that we can only carry out our role in ministry through our fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

I started my talk by referring to our fellowship with the Father and the Son which Apostle John spoke about[4].

What about my fellowship with the Holy Spirit?

Actually my fellowship with the Holy Spirit allows me to have fellowship with the Father and the Son. In other words, the Holy Spirit Himself makes me enter into fellowship with the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit then transfers to me the gifts of the Father. It is written: ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him’ (Luke 11: 13). The Holy Spirit is the first and supreme gift that the Father gives. The gifts that the Father bestows upon us are good gifts. It is also written: ‘For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him’ (Matthew 6: 8). It is also written: ‘For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things’ (Matthew 6: 32).

Therefore, it is the heart desire and pleasure of the Heavenly Father to give us gifts, like any father who likes to give gifts to his children. The Father gives us fatherly gifts that express His love for us. He gives us gifts of love.

The Son gives us graces[5], the grace of Redemption that can be expressed in various ways like healing our illnesses.

In the prayers of the church we see how the Church addresses all the Persons of the Trinity, for example:  ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2Corinthians 13:14).

Also, in the prayers of the third hour, the litany refers to the grace of the Holy Spirit. According to the fathers of the Church, the Holy Spirit is the main ‘Grace’ through whom the other graces to come to us.

To sum up, the Holy Spirit is the main Grace. When I enter into a fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He makes me enter into fellowship with the Father and hence receive the gifts of the Father that are full of love. He also makes me enter into fellowship with the Son and hence I receive the grace of the Son that grants freedom to the soul and body and that transforms one’s image[6].

If we are honest with ourselves, we may feel that our fellowship with the Father is weak and we do not sense His fatherly love. We probably experience God’s tenderness and the good things He does for us in a general way, but do we truly experience the Fatherhood of God?

The Holy Spirit can help us and make us enter into fellowship with the Father: sense His fatherhood and experience His face reviving us: ‘As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness’ (Psalm 17: 15).

If I have a true fellowship with the Son, His grace penetrates me freeing me from sin[7], cutting off my bonds, and healing my soul[8]. It enters deep within me, truly freeing me from sins.  Sometimes one can have chronic or repetitive sins in his life resulting from a hurt or wound in his soul that gives the chance for the enemy to attack, taking advantage of this vulnerable area in his soul. This weak or vulnerable area can be deep emotional hunger resulting from not having received true or sufficient love. In this case, the evil spirits can attack this person in the area of affections and passions and one can be easily taken by it because of this area of vulnerability.

The Grace of the Only begotten Son heals! I can receive this grace through my payers in my chamber. I can receive it through the Word of God which I eat[9], repeat, and chew on until it heals me: ‘He sent His word and healed them’ (Psalm 107: 20). I can also receive it through Communion and receiving the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; I eat it and hence eat freedom, healing, strength, victory, and eternal life: ‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him’ (John 6: 54 – 56). We eat and drink freedom, strength and victory. It is not fitting or appropriate for the Redeemed to be cast down, weak and paralysed.

This is a great mystery granted to humanity. Ah, if our eyes are opened and we perceive it! During the liturgy, many of the fathers of the Church who had open spiritual insight, used to see the glory of God coming upon the holy mysteries/sacraments and see the angels surrounding.

Ministries of the Kingdom of God:

Going back to the ministers of God, Apostle Paul used this term in his epistles. Let us see what he says about the ministers of God:

‘We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings;  by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,  by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;  as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things’ (2Corinthians 6: 3, 4).

Also in 1Timothy 6: 11, Apostle Paul uses the term: ‘man of God’: ‘But you, O man of God…’

This is what the ministers and servants of God should be. When anyone sees them, he can tell that they are full of grace and the honour of God; when anyone talks with them, he is healed by the grace of God in them.

To conclude, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit makes us enter into the fellowship of the Father to be filled with His love and into the fellowship of the Son to be filled with the freedom He grants us.

A prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus because though we are sometimes slow in heart and at times stubborn in heart, You are longsuffering; You teach us gently and with tenderness; You make us rise up; You coach us.

Lord, You sent these words to us and You had taught us few highlights about the fellowship of the Trinity. Now, Lord You desire that through this fellowship we may lean to have fellowship with You as the Father and the Only-begotten Son who has redeemed us so that our joy may be complete, as Apostle John wrote.

Lord, we often pray and ask for this joy. Though we understand the difference between the joy of the world and the joy of the Spirit, we still receive very little of this true joy. Because of our poverty, we take the comfort of the Spirit to be the joy; yet Your joy is eternal and it is written that this joy is ‘inexpressible and full of glory’ (1Peter 1: 8).

The only way to this joy, as the bible tells us, is through the fellowship of the Father and the Son. Lord, we are so estranged from this fellowship and we so much need to be brought into it.

Help us, O Lord, to know You as the true Father who is near to us –as You desire to be. You long that we give You the chance so that we may enjoy Your Fatherhood and Your gifts. We are in great need of this so that our joy may be complete; glorious and inexpressible.

And if our faces shine with the true joy, as the Church fathers wrote, the world will know You, even if we do not say a word. They will surely search for the source of our joy[10]; they will seek it because they need it and cannot find it. This will be their entrance to know You.

Amen, Lord Jesus. All glory be to Your name.

[1] Acts 2:33

[2] Acts 5:32

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:18

[4] 1John 1:3

[5] 1Peter 4:10; 1Peter 5:10

[6] 2Corinthians 3:17, 18

[7] John 8:32

[8] Luke 4:18

[9] Jeremiah 15:16

[10] John 16:22; 17:13

 

Part 1

The Holy Spirit and the spiritual family

Readings

‘When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2: 1).

‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers’ (Acts 1: 14).

‘So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart’ (Acts 2: 46).

‘Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common’ (Acts 4: 32).

‘Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2: 19 – 22).

The above verses highlight that all who believed and joined the Church were of one heart, one soul, and one accord. They were together and had all things in common.

They continued in this manner, expanded, and then small churches were established in various places. Therefore, Apostle Paul revealed what he called ‘the mystery of the Church’; he was the one granted this ministry as the teacher of the Church[1].

Apostle Paul spoke about the Church in a very clear way in the epistle to the Ephesians; and so, the scholars usually call this epistle: the epistle of the Church. In the first chapters of the epistle, the apostle speaks about establishing the Church according to God’s plan. In the second half of the epistle, he turns to the practical part –having explained the theological part –and he speaks about the life of the church being a testimony on earth while her place is in the heavenly places; he also refers to the church’s mission as well as her battles.

The central verses that speak about establishing the Church highlight that we are ‘members of the household of God’ and ‘a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’.

When God visits a person, He works in him true change and transformation by the Holy Spirit. This is the grace of Christ which we experience when we live the true life of daily repentance and obedience to Him. Yet, in numerous references, the bible mentions that a true Christian who lives in Christ is a living stone[2]. Previously, he was seen in spirit as a piece of dead stone in the unseen  mountains of the world; then, the Holy Spirit took him off, revived him and brought him to be part of  the temple of the Lord[3].

Now, let us find out how the story usually begins!

The Holy Spirit takes the role of a matchmaker, as we read in the book of Song of Songs, and He talks to the human soul about her Bridegroom, the Bridegroom who desires to make this soul His bride: ‘I awakened you under the apple tree’ (Song of songs 8: 5). The Holy Spirit draws near each person and speaks to him/her about Christ, the Bridegroom.

The hardened stones of the world would probably not pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit; they are happy the way they are.

The Holy Spirit does a lot of introductions and preparation for every person. Those of us who have tasted the life in Christ would remember that there was a lot of preparation done by the Holy Spirit in their lives, possibly over several months or even more, which they may have not noticed at the time. They would now realise that God was visiting them and calling them in various ways. This was actually the Holy Spirit who was preparing the hearts so that the eyes may be opened and we know Christ as the true Bridegroom of the soul, the true Deliverer, the true Giver of Life, the Giver of the true vision that fulfils and satisfies the heart, and the One who has prepared true goals and aims for each person since eternity.

As soon as the person knows who Jesus is, that person is transformed from being a dead stone into being a living stone. The Holy Spirit cuts this person off the world and transfers him to the Church. As a result, this person would feel that a big change has happened in his life; he became a stranger to some people and closer to others; also, many concepts in his life started to change.

It is a true change that the Holy Spirit does in one’s life. He makes the person a stranger to the world, as Jesus said: ‘they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world’ (John 17: 16); planting him in the true Church which is established in the Spirit[4].

Therefore, this living stone, this person who has experienced the true life in Christ, gets placed in a sort of building, that is, the Church.

What is expected of this living stone?

God wants to bring these stones together to build a house with these living stones, a house where He would dwell.

The Holy Spirit dwells in all of us[5]. When we start to live in Christ and live a true life of repentance, we start to experience the accompaniment of the Spirit. We feel that He is our companion. However, the Holy Spirit desires more than that; He desires to dwell in our midst as the Lord the giver of life and the Lord, the comforter, the Paraclete (John 14: 16, 26).

If we are living stones that are joined together and built together, we form a building. This building is not seen by the physical eyes, but it is a spiritual house, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

This means that the Lord, the Holy Spirit, desires an actual dwelling. However, the conditions are that this house or building should be made of living stones and these stones should come together, become joined and form a building. In this case, the Holy Spirit would actually draw near them in a way different from what each one experiences on the personal or individual level.

On the personal or individual level, each one receives a special spiritual taste and experience in their fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Companion who walks with them step by step in their days of sojourning. This experience has its sweet and special flavour where one experiences divine overflow from heaven to one’s heart. Also, the divine Companion, the Holy Spirit, satisfies my needs in various ways; and as He walks with me, He also teaches me new mysteries.

The Kingdom of God is full of mysteries. We remember that the disciples said that Jesus taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom[6]. After Christ’s Ascension into heavens, the Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us all things (John 14: 26), exactly as Jesus taught His disciples.

Therefore, the people of God in every generation are given the Holy Spirit to teach them exactly as Jesus used to teach His disciples during His life on earth.

What will the Holy Spirit teach us?

He will teach us what Jesus had taught.

What did Jesus teach His disciples?

He taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

When we are together, we form the Kingdom of God where He is the King and we are the citizens of this Kingdom. Therefore, the people of the Kingdom need to learn to live according to the standards and the principles of this Kingdom.

The Lord, the Holy Spirit, teaches us day by day how to live as the people/citizens of the Kingdom of God. He teaches us the ways and the principles of the Kingdom. As a result, we live victorious and not in frustration or despair. We learn to live the life in Christ, strength, victory, steadfastness, and moving forward. We also learn to live as a testimony and message which we carry to others and we reap its fruits that are full of life from its source, the Lord the giver of life.

Every time we come together, we need to have this longing and desire for the presence of the Lord, the giver of life and the Comforter in our midst. This should be a point or a station which we wait for and look forward to it with great joy because we know what this entails. It simply means that the Holy Spirit will be with us, in our midst. This in turn means that He will surely touch every heart because no one leaves the presence of God empty. Anyone who enters His presence shall definitely receive filling, in accordance to his measure, needs and circumstances: the confused will find an answer; the despairing will receive hope, the frustrated will receive a new push forward; and so on, each according to one’s real need.

After that, we gradually learn to receive more than the mere satisfactions of the needs. We will learn to come before the Lord with specific questions in our hearts and have faith that we will receive immediate answers to them because the presence of the Lord in our midst is different from the individual experience of everyone. This is because together we have made a dwelling place for Him. Gradually, everything in our lives would change to clear richness which bestows beauty and glory on the whole Church.

Therefore, we need to come together as units that are being built and established together, giving the Holy Spirit the chance to connect us together.

Before talking about how this can be achieved practically, I want to share with you some points about this matter because the purposes come before the steps. It is therefore important to highlight the purposes clearly first.

There are 2 important purposes:

  1. The glory of Christ
  2. The work of the Kingdom

1. The Glory of Christ

Each Person of the Trinity glorifies the other; the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and Christ glorifies the Father. Jesus prayed to the Father saying: ‘I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17: 4). It is clear here that Jesus glorified the Father. Similarly the Spirit glorifies the Son.

If we desire to taste and experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life and the Comforter who is in our midst, we need to have one purpose in our hearts and that is to glorify Jesus, the King, alone. We should neither glorify ourselves, nor glorify any person nor anything else, but Jesus alone.

It is a very serious matter if we find in our hearts a desire to glorify anything or anyone apart from Jesus. For example, we may think of ourselves as a select group of ministers in the church; and so, without noticing or intending to, we start to glorify ourselves. We may also have hidden pride or a sense of superiority. Sectarianism may also enter unnoticed in our midst. These things may happen unintentional; however, we need to search ourselves and be watchful because if any of this enters in our midst, this would mean that our purposes became different from the purpose of the Holy Spirit which is to glorify Christ.

The Holy Spirit would thus say: ‘I would have loved to be close to you and fill your camp with glory. I desired to make you witness great things. Yet, if you will glorify yourselves, this would mean that I am giving you something that you would misuse. You want to take my gifts and glorify yourselves with them. I am obliged to withdraw. Enough what you received; you will have to remain limited.  You have taken a true step in the spirit which is full of life; yet, this is sufficient because you will not bear more than that; if I give you more than that, you will misuse it.’

This is like a child whose father gives him something precious; yet, the child does not value it and so he misuses it. The father would say: ‘I will have to keep it for you for later, for when you grow up; otherwise you will lose this precious thing’.

The Holy Spirit does a similar thing. There were many gifts and blessings that He wanted to give us, the good gifts of the Father: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights’ (James 1: 17)[7]. However, the Holy Spirit would find that He is not able to give us these great gifts because we would misuse them. He would have to wait until we grow up more in order to give us more gifts.

Yet, if we do not want to be delayed and hindered; if we do not want to stop along the path; if we have given our back to the world and turned to Jesus not desiring to do what the old Israel did when sometimes they turned their back to God: ‘And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face’ (Jeremiah 32: 33); if we will not do so because we have made our decision to follow Jesus and have given our back to the world, it will be the delight of the Holy Spirit to grant us grace upon grace, glory upon glory, power upon power, day after the other.

If we desire this, we need to put the correct purpose before us no matter what the cost is, even if this requires from us to cut off our desires, change our mind and way of thinking, and humble ourselves to the dust, seeking the glory of Christ not our own glory.

As much as we learn to humble ourselves, putting ourselves at the feet and service of others, the Holy Spirit would be pleased because His purpose as we said is the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.

Not only should we not seek our own glory but we also should not seek to glorify other ministers in our midst. If we start to look at ministers judging that one is good and another is not, we would again be taking the glory of Christ and giving glory to people. The Holy Spirit would therefore look and see that we are acting in a very childish way and so He would be obliged to wait until we grow up a bit.

Instead, we need to see the ministers of God in the Church as being granted gifts and talents from God and so each ministers according to the gift granted to him/her, as God had appointed; and so, all the glory would be God’s: ‘that God may be all in all’ (1Corinthians 15: 28). If this is the case, the Holy Spirit would find rest in our midst and would move us forward further.

Our heart has to be tuned to one thing only and that is the Glory of Christ alone where each one disappears in Him, whether ministers or those ministered to, teachers or speakers; everyone should disappear and hide in Him[8]. In Colossians, Apostle Paul wrote: ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory’ (Colossians 3: 3, 4). This means that no one will be able to glorify anyone, but there is a day when Jesus will appear and will make each one appear in the glory granted to him/her by God[9]. Jesus Himself prayed saying: ‘And the glory which You gave Me I have given them’ (John 17: 22). Jesus knows how to give us glory in His way and in His time, when we get rid of our weak fallen humanity and we are granted the glorified humanity. Jesus will then give glory to each one. None of us has any credit or merit for the gifts and talents that were bestowed upon him; yet, the question is whether one is faithful to what he is given or not. Each one will be glorified according to his faithfulness on this great day.  At this point, we will look at one another and we will see that there is a different beauty and honour in each one[10]; yet the source of it is the same; Jesus is the source of glory and honour and beauty.

However, if we try to do this now, before its appointed time, we can become self-centred and self-absorbed. This grieves the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not give us the gifts to glorify ourselves nor glorify any person in our midst but to glorify Christ alone. To Jesus alone is all the glory. All glory goes to the only One who took the form of our humanity to free us from the corrupted humanity and make us enter into the glorified humanity. We need to remind our hearts and our minds to continually give the glory to Christ. Even if the conversation is about a certain person, we need to learn to say: ‘yes, it is true; this person has a grace, but all glory is the Lord’s’. We need to also gently teach those around us, the people we deal with, that whenever the focus is on any person, we redirect the focus in the correct direction and understanding. As a result, the Holy Spirit would find comfort in our midst and would overflow more in our midst, as individuals and collaboratively. Consequently we would be more filled by the Spirit and would move forward in the direction of the divine purposes and towards the glory of Christ.

2.The work of the Kingdom

The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare the Bride, the Church, for her Bridegroom, Christ. He seeks and longs to prepare the bride inasmuch as the bride is united with Him in His purposes.  His purposes are the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.

What is the work of the Kingdom?

Inasmuch grace we are given, we are entrusted with a responsibility.

Inasmuch grace we are granted, we need to humble ourselves putting ourselves at the feet and service of others[11].

Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit flows in us and we experience the flow of life in our midst and in our meetings, we should not be enclosed in ourselves, or reserved or haughty because this simply means that death will approach us and is so close to us.

However, if the flowing of the Holy Spirit in our midst makes us more humble, more open to others, more giving and sacrificial, the Holy Spirit will flow in our midst in an unlimited way. It is written: ‘for God does not give the Spirit by measure’ (John 3: 34). This means that in God, there are measures that have no limits; and it is a shame if we feel self-sufficient and not hunger for more. Yet, if our attitude is correct, God will never stop giving us in an unlimited way. We will receive things that we never thought of or imagined due to their sweetness, greatness, glory and unceasing flow which puts an end to every deadly routine in our lives and even heals its past memories.

We would thus taste the overflow of life which is ever new and renewed in Christ.

We would then learn to be servants for others. Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of the Corinthians: ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake’ (2Corinthians 4: 5).

Jesus should be the Lord and all glory should go to Him; while we need to be servants for others for the sake of Jesus. We need to be bearers of the message of life to those around us; yet, we need to be bondservants[12].

[1] Ephesians.3:2 – 4

[2] 1Pet.er 2:5

[3] 1Kings 5:15-17; 2Chronicles 2:18

[4] 1Corinthians 12:13

[5] 1Corinthians .3:16

[6] Matthew 13:11

[7] If we see but a glimpse of the heart of the Father, we will see the great desire in His heart to grant His children good gifts every day, gifts that probably we do not know, perceive or even seek because we often lack the true fellowship with the Father.

[8] John 3:30

[9] Romans 8:18,23

[10] 1Corinthians 15:41b

[11] 2Corinthians 4:5

[12] There were different levels of servants/salves in Paul’s time. Paul used a Greek word that refers to the lowest level which is a bondservant and he chose to put himself at this level.

Part 2

Edifying one another

Readings

‘Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing’ (1Thessalonians 5: 11).

‘Therefore comfort one another with these words’ (1Thessalonians 4: 18).

‘Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10: 24).

The bible tells us that this is our responsibility towards one another: to edify one another; to comfort one another; to consider one another; and to exhort one another.

When we carry out our responsibility towards one another, we will find that we are receiving more of the gifts of God through the various channels. For example, in one’s home, one will find that the Holy Spirit is closer and more present while praying on his own; in Church, we will find that every time we receive Holy Communion, we receive spiritual nourishment and are revived more than before; in the spiritual meetings and small retreats, we will find that more of the divine power and grace are being released. This is due to the fact that we are being prepared and are carrying out our responsibility; and so, we are given more grace: ‘The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Proverbs 11: 25).

Some practical comments that can help us carry out this role of edifying one another:

In spiritual circles/families in general, when people are at a certain stage in the spiritual growth, what often happens is that people sometimes edify one another while at other times they hinder one another; at times encourage but at other times discourage or frustrate. This often happens in an unintentional or unplanned way; things happen by chance.

For example, one meets his brother who is in a state of despair or frustration and on that day the other brother is encouraged and lifted up; and so, he helps and edifies his brother. Yet, on another day, they meet together and they are both frustrated and they exchange their frustration and despair, saying things like: ’yes, you are right; I do not know why things are so distressing; why the leaders of the meetings are not paying attention or helping us; yes, you are right; I feel so discouraged and distressed.’ As a result, they both discourage one another.

When people are close to each other, they can continue like this: at times lifting up one another while at other times discouraging one another, like a wave that goes up and down.

Therefore, we need to be awake and watchful in this matter: ‘that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him’ (1Thessalonians 5: 10).

How can we carry out this role towards one another? How can we edify one another?

It is important not only to know the principles, but also to be handed down the practical steps to live in accordance to the principles. We know that we should edify one another and so we try to apply this principle, but if we are not handed down the practical steps of walking in accordance to this principle, we may go back to our old ways.

What are the practical steps that we need to know and be vigilant on so that we can carry out this role and do it steadily –not do it at times and revert to its contrary at other times?

There are 3 important practical points in this respect:

We need to know that we are human vessels that are different from each other.

A. We are different in our entrances, that is, the door or key to our inner being.

B. We are different in how we are affected by things and in our receptions and responses.

C. We are different in how we are used by God.

One should be aware of this when he talks to his brothers/sisters, listens to them, and looks at them.

As a spiritual family, like any physical family, it is healthy to consider one another. In any family, it is natural to know if a member of the family is ill, healthy, tired, or upset. However, considering one another or observing the state of one another can sometimes edify and at other times can be negative or non-constructive –if we do not do this in the right way.

Sometimes, I look at the one sitting next to me in the meeting and I find that he is so touched by what he is hearing and praying fervently while I feel cold and indifferent; so I wonder what is wrong and why I am indifferent, not feeling anything. I may wonder if the problem is in me or in the one next to me. As a result, my soul may shut off to the message. If I look around me in such a way, I may actually close the gate/door of my soul.

As we know, the soul has certain gates that can open and shut. These gates and entrances of the soul should be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

St Gregory of Nazianzus, once said: ‘Yesterday I resorted to silence as I was immersed in my contemplations; yet, today I am unable to be silent because the Spirit of God is playing tunes on my violin and I desire to proclaim them.’ He then continues to say: ‘whether in silence or in words, the Spirit of God controls my lips; He opens or closes them according to His will.’

The lips are the natural door of the mouth. When the Holy Spirit controls the opening and closing of this door, things will be different. One may feel that he does not want to speak or see people; he wants to be on his own; he even does not want to pray with his lips; he wants to pray silently in his heart.

As there are doors for the mouth, there are also doors for the heart as it is written: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’ (Revelation 3: 20).

It is also written: ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one’ (Song of Songs 5: 2). This clearly shows that the soul has gates or doors. It also means that the soul can shut its doors.

We should also learn that one should not mould himself in accordance to the form of his brothers and sisters. The most difficult lesson, yet the most important one in a spiritual family like ours, is that when we consider one another in order to encourage and edify one another, we should not compare ourselves with each other nor judge each another. Do not look at your brother or sister and say why I am not like them because God edifies us in different ways. God may be edifying one person, starting from the head to the feet; while with another person, God can start from the feet to the head. So while God may be working on the area of the mind in one person, He may be working on the area of the feet of another, and on a different area in a third; and so on –building up and sanctifying these different areas.

The soul is like a house that is being built or a field that is being ploughed and cultivated (1 Corinthians 3:9). This refers to the inner spiritual building.

Because the Holy Spirit works in each person in an area different from the other at a given time, each one will react differently to people and situations and to the spiritual messages we hear. So, for example, we can have a talk about helping the poor and sick people; one can be touched and moved immensely and the other may feel nothing at all. This latter person may then think that he suffers from lack of love towards others; but in fact this is not true. We are different and the Holy Spirit works in each person in an area different from the other; and so we react and respond differently.

The point is that we are human vessels with different patterns and forms. The true work of the Holy Spirit also has different ways and stages.

Therefore, when Peter and John were looking at each other and Peter said: ‘what about this man’, Jesus replied: ‘what is that to you? You follow Me’ (John 21: 22). This means that if you will look at your brother to be encouraged, then, this is good. But if you will look at him and get confused, then turn your eyes to Me, to Jesus whom you follow. Are your eyes on God whom you follow or on your fellow brother?!

Again I want to highlight that we are different in the entrance to our being; in the way we are affected and influenced; and in the way we are being used by God.

Practically this manifests as follows:

We may be in a spiritual meeting and a certain message is delivered. At that time, the Holy Spirit would be working on the mind of some; they may not necessarily be intelligent people but maybe they have a problem in the area of the mind, maybe God will use them through their mind, or maybe they have certain circumstances that adversely affected their minds.

For some people, their entrance is through the mind; they are influenced and they react and respond by their minds. They can easily get confused, perplexed and may have many questions. Yet when this area is sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit, their mind gets illuminated and when these people speak, others around them receive light and things become clear.

At the same time, there are others whose entrance is the emotions and the Holy Spirit starts to work on the area of their emotions. When you speak to these people, they spiritually stir your heart.

Those of the mind do not stir your emotions, but when they speak, the listeners find light and things become clear. So, there are words that illuminate and words that stir; words that are like a lamp and words that are like music or like a heater that brings warmth.

Because everyone has a different door or entrance to his/her being, after hearing the message in the meeting, each one responds differently.

One will hear the message and it will make their feet move in the will of God.  Another will feel that he needs to repent deeply and have compassion towards others. Another will receive light and start to understand, things become clear and are put in place after having been mixed and confused. We will all be hearing each other praying and each one will be responding differently: one is repenting, one is weeping, and one is thanking and praising the Lord; and so on.

If we are not aware of this matter that we are different in how we are influenced and how we respond, we can be confused or we can even judge the prayers of our brothers and sisters. Also because we are different in how we are influenced and in our reception and perception of things, each one will hear the prayer and perceive or respond to it differently. Therefore, we need to understand this important matter and not judge one another.

However, it is still important to learn to discern the spiritual atmosphere of the meeting and the prayers, but without being judgmental. One may be praying fervently because at this particular point he is being edified and built in his viscera and emotions and this is suitable for him and is edifying him and helping him to grow.

Judging can hinder me and hinder those around me.

The Holy Spirit is the perfect builder and the perfect architect. He is the One who knows my talents and He is the One who knows the areas that are messed up in my inner being and which need restoration.

Therefore, the second important point is to know that we are different in our perception and responses.

Thirdly, we are different in how we are being used by God. Some of us can speak in the meetings while others may not speak much nor even pray out loud in the meeting. Those who are quiet or who do not speak may be judged negatively by others or they themselves may think negatively of themselves. This quiet person may think that he was not responsive to the message, for example, and so he could not pray; or that he was unable to share in the discussion. This is the negative thinking and judging[1].

However, the reality is that God is using one to speak; another to summarise the ideas; a third to connect things; and so on. Each has a role and is being used differently by God. So, there is no problem in the one who is quiet; the Holy Spirit is not working in the area of speaking at that particular time. This person has something else, another gift that the Holy Spirit is working on and is using and which is parallel and not inferior to what his brothers and sisters have[2].

The Holy Spirit shows no favouritism or partiality (Romans 2: 11); He distributes gifts to all. So, you have a gift, which may not be to speak in the meeting; may be you have another gift which is ‘learning’ and you may have a watchful observing eye; an eye that looks not to criticise, but looks with the approach that ‘this is my family’: the shame of one is the shame of all and the blessing of one is the blessing of all[3]. Based on this approach and understanding, this person will look with love and care, observing those who speak and those who listen. He then writes down notes and prays; and then, he can go and share these observations with his brothers and sisters.

So, one can be speaking and praying; yet the blessing of his speech and prayers comes from the prayers of his other brother who is silent while praying from within.

However, if this person looks and criticises, saying why not do this or do that; or, I do not like this or that, this will have negative results. By this, the person will have come out of the family and is judging and complaining. This actually hinders one’s fellowship with his brothers and sisters and with the Holy Spirit. It also hinders his edification and the edification of his brothers and sisters because we are all being built together as one unit.

The building and edification of the individual adds to the rest of the family and the edification and building of the family reflects on the individual person. This is because we are all members in one body and are connected together[4].

To sum up, we are different in: our entrances; the way we respond and are affected by things, and the way we are being used by God. Therefore, it is not correct to look at each other and criticise or judge one another. But we should encourage one another and rejoice in the variety among us[5].

Each one is unique; yet, we are united together. We are one unit with variety and uniqueness. This is the mystery of God: three Persons who are united; and we are created on this image, the image of God.

Practically, if we are in a meeting or in a ministry together, we should know that one can be edified in an unseen way and that one can be praying out loud while the other is also responding but praying in his heart because he feels that if he speaks out loud he can be distracted by the people listening. We should also know that the Holy Spirit is working in different areas in each person. So, today one can be observing with his eyes and not saying anything; yet, tomorrow he is the one who will be speaking and the one who used to speak will be the one who prays silently in his heart for the ministry.

We will continue like this until we grow and are built together and our image is completed into the image of Christ: ‘My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you’(Galatians 4: 19).

Here, the apostle is labouring in birth for the sake of a Christian Church. He is not in labour pain for the sake of unbelievers to be born in Christ. This is another kind of labour.

There are different kinds of labour. ‘For as soon as Zion was in labour, she gave birth to her children’ (Isaiah 66: 8). Here, Zion is in labour to bring unbelievers to the real faith as people of God.

So, there are 2 kinds of labour: for the unbelievers to be born in the Church and the faith in Christ; and for the believers so that Christ may be formed in them.

When we grow more in the spirit, we will understand each other more and will be balanced in our reactions, understanding that each one responds differently because the Holy Spirit works in different areas in each person at a given time.

To conclude this talk, I want to highlight that our responsibility and role is to edify one another. Yet we need to understand this role in the right way and understand that we are different human vessels and not allow the enemy to enter through making each one compare himself with others or making one feel that he is bad or there is something wrong in him.

We are different and this is our glory; we have manifold gifts and variety. We have great uniqueness; yet we are united and in harmony in one Spirit and one Kingdom work.

Some final remarks:

Because we are different vessels/patterns in our form, entrances and responses as we have just explained, when we start the Kingdom work together, one can feel more comfortable with some people more than others because their form and pattern are closer to his. Also, the Holy Spirit will be working on different areas; so with some the work will be on the mind, others on the viscera and emotions or compassions, others on the feet or the area of moving. As a result, one will also feel more comfortable with some people than others; for example, an active person versus a quite person.

If there is an inner spiritual work and continuous spiritual growth and one spiritual vision, this means that all sectarianism dissolves.

It is better to be close and in oneness with 2 or 3 people than to be on my own. If one is on his own, he can easily be lost or broken and no one will even be aware. So, it is not wrong for 2 or 3 to be standing together and be linked together spiritually[6]. Yet, they need to have a correct vision of this matter and that this is only a transitory stage or an interim which should lead to an all-inclusive unity with the whole family which has the manifold variety. They should not settle into being comfortable with each other and leave it at this stage.

Certain things may be easy for one person but difficult for others; so if it is easy for one, he should not look and criticise others for not moving with the same pace. One’s comfort should not be at the expense of his brothers and sisters.  Also we should move in these steps gradually and slowly but steadily.

[1] Romans 14:4

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:4,18

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:26

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:12

[5] 1 Thessalonians 5:11

[6] Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Part 3

‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation’(Psalm 111: 1)

We need to learn certain matters that will help us in our spiritual growth and in having the mind of Christ. We need to learn the divine matters through the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the spiritual treasures and riches.

In Psalm 111: 1, we read: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’

Of course, each one of us can praise the Lord on his own. Yet, according to the divine purpose, worshipping within a special spiritual group, by the Holy Spirit, results in spiritual growth in a multiplied way compared to what can happen as a result of the worship on the personal level.  In other words, the spiritual work that takes place in us when we are gathered together is multiplied compared to what one can do alone. For example, if we have two groups in the church and both groups are at the same spiritual level. One group listens to the preaching, the meeting ends, and they go home. The other group listens to the talk and then they pray together for a sufficient time.  After some months, the latter group will have grown more in the spirit.  Why is that? The talks were the same and their spiritual level was the same. What is the difference? The difference is that one group worshipped together regularly while the other did not.

‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’

Why is that?

It is because in this assembly and congregation, the Lord does great things: ‘The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them’ (Psalm 111: 2).

In the midst of this assembly and congregation, the Lord shines with His glory and honour at times; at other times, His work of redemption overflows in their midst; and at times, He offers them special spiritual food. Notice what is mentioned in the verses that follow in the same Psalm:

‘His work is honourable and glorious…He has given food to those who fear Him…He has declared to His people the power of His works…He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever…A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.’

We can thus see that in the assembly of the righteous and in the congregation, the Holy Spirit does and releases a certain work which is according to the need. We pray and then we listen to the talk; and though it is the same talk and there are different needs in our midst, each one would hear the words personally to him/her –as though it is only him who is present and the Lord is speaking to him personally. After the meeting, each one would say that this talk was specifically for him and the others would say the same thing. On the general level, the words of the talk are for everyone; yet, each one heard a personal message from the Holy Spirit. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

We now understand that the Holy Spirit looks upon us as the assembly of the righteous. We therefore need to give Him more chance to work in our midst.

We need to wait and long for this time of gathering because it is a time of edification and building up, receiving a new energy that carries us through the days that follow, and each one hears a personal message.

Not only do we long for such gatherings because of the reasons we have just highlighted, but also the Holy Spirit Himself waits for this meeting because He is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare us as ministers for the Lord.

The whole group may have one general work and ministry in the Kingdom of God; yet, at the same time, each one has his own personal work and calling within the general calling.

To illustrate, this is similar to having a group of people who want to serve a certain district by having a hospital that would provide medical services to this district. This is the common general vision and purpose of these people. However, within this general vision, each person will have his specific work, role and subspecialty.

Similarly, on the spiritual level, each person has certain gifts and talents granted to him in order to carry out a special calling and work in the Kingdom of God within the general calling and purpose.  The Holy Spirit gives one general purpose to this group of people who have come together; yet, within this general purpose, He specifies a special aim and calling for each one.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of the glory of Christ in this region and the establishment and growth of the true Church of God: ‘the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1Timothy 3: 15).

This verse signifies that the truth of God should be lifted up on a pole/pillar, proclaimed to the whole region and heard by everyone, the Christians and the non-Christians because God’s words can never be fruitless[1]. This is also like what happened in the days of the Prophet Samuel. It is written: So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground’ (1Samuel 3: 19). Then it is written: ‘And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord’ (1Samuel 4: 20).

The Church of Christ is the pillar and ground of truth where the truth is deeply rooted and at the same time it is lifted up and proclaimed.

God’s name should be known ‘for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12). This name, Jesus Christ, is the hope of every living creature on earth.

Whose responsibility is it to make this name known?

It is our responsibility!

Many people suffer great humiliation and destruction because they have not been visited; yet, ‘the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save’ (Isaiah 59: 1). His arm is mighty and His grace is rich and He is able to do above all the needs of everyone.

Yet, who would release His arm to save and who would speak about his saving grace and communicate this to others who are in great need for it?!

God wants to work with us and through us much more than what we have experienced so far; all what we have experienced are but the beginnings.

We were learning, understanding and receiving foundational matters so that we may be spiritually built up and edified. When we have a true spiritual building, we can then discover the will of God and carry it out in a generation which is in great need for the grace of Christ and for transformation.

Apostle Paul wrote some of his highest theological teachings in his letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians.

He wrote to the Colossians saying:

‘As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 2: 6, 7).

How many stages or levels do we have here?

  • Receiving Christ

This is the very beginning, the first step when they received the saving work of Christ

  • Walking in Him

The second step is to learn to walk in Christ, to walk in the spirit. The sphere of the spirit is in Christ while the sphere of the flesh is in Adam[2]. We need to get rid of our habits and conduct that is fleshly and of Adam and enter into the sphere of the spirit.  If we are in Adam, we will walk according to the flesh, but, if we are in Christ, we have to walk in the spirit.

  • Being rooted, built up and established

This is a stage of spiritual foundations and building; this is a very special stage and it comprises within it several levels and stages. When one is built in the spirit, his building will be rooted and established.

  • Established in the faith

After one is filled with faith and continues to be filled again and again, he becomes established in faith. When one is rooted and built up, he becomes established in faith.

‘And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people’ (Acts 6: 8).

If one is filled with faith and established in faith, he can do great wonders among the people of God and fulfil the needs; he would ‘know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary’(Isaiah 50: 4). A person may be confused and perplexed and then this minister of God would come and help in bringing light; and so things become clear for that person.

  • Abounding in it

This refers to something that is filled and then it overflows and is poured out outwardly. The human vessels that are truly filled with life should continually overflow with life to others around them, according to a specific plan of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit sends those individuals, whom He had filled with life and faith, to different places and uses them as new seeds that establish new churches in various places[3]. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He sends people to spiritually dry lands where they would sow and plant the seeds of life and establish churches.

Do you know how the Church of Colosse began and was established?

Let us read the following references:

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow labourer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house’ (Philemon 1: 1, 2).

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea’ (Colossians 4: 16).

‘…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit’ (Colossians 1: 7).

In Asia, there was an area called Colosse and an area called Laodicea. Philemon was in these areas. Apphia is probably the wife of Philemon. Archippus (probably their son) served the Lord with them.

The word of God extended from Colosse to Laodicea and there were ministers of the Lord serving this area including Philemon, Apphia and Archippus.

Epaphras is one of the spiritual children/disciples of Apostle Paul. He heard the word of God from Paul and he spread it to other places.

When Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians, he had not yet been to Colosse. In Colossians 1: 4, we read: ‘since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.’ This signifies that Apostle Paul has not gone to them yet, but has heard of their faith.

Paul was ministering in Asia and Epaphras heard the word of God from Paul and his heart became full with zeal for the Lord; he went to Colosse and ministered to them. In Colossians 4, we read that Epaphras ‘has a great zeal’ and he ‘always labours fervently for them in prayers’. Who gave him this commissioning and enabled him to do this? The Holy Spirit gave him this commissioning and used him in this way.

Then, Paul found out that there are many people in Colosse who are receiving Christ. Who has preached them? It was Epaphras who had earlier heard Paul preaching and had received Christ. Epaphras then went out and preached to them.

Epaphras received Christ first, then his household also believed; this then extended to their neighbours and they started to gather together. Paul then sent them Timothy; someone who is spiritually more advanced to help them.

Colosse grew and became a Church. So, Paul sent them a letter and told them that they need to be built up and established. He told them about things they need to pay attention to, some wrong teaching that they had. He drew their attention to some important matters and he adopted them into his pastoral care. Also, from the day he heard about them, he started to pray for them.

The one who established this Church was one of the spiritual children of Paul and so Paul took responsibility of this work and he prayed for this church. He followed them up through his letter until he got the chance to go and visit them.

Do we think in such a way? Do we think of extending the word of Christ to others?

We are often absorbed in ourselves, seeking blessings for ourselves. We need to change our way of thinking. We need to acquire the mind of the New Testament, the mind of God. By this, our Church will be the ground of truth and the truth will spread out of this church to others.

This truth will be a source of true life, light and blessing for a generation which is so confused and perplexed because of the darkness that surrounds it.

Some of God’s people may be given a fair amount of a distinct light which is not available for others. Wouldn’t it be their responsibility to take this light and extend it to others? Indeed this is in itself a responsibility and at the same time, it is a biblical principle required from each one. The biblical principle is that one should grow spiritually and extend.

When a person is granted more gifts and abilities, a greater responsibility will be required from him. He needs to grow and extend; and this is required from everyone. But if this person is also entrusted with a distinct light which is lacking in other places and not available for others, it is the responsibility of this person to carry this light to others. Inasmuch as he carries it and transmits it to others, this light increases in him. Inasmuch as he keeps it for himself, it becomes weaker and dimmer. In the Christian life, everything increases and multiplies when it is given not kept to oneself: ‘he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Proverbs 11: 25).

Let us learn to have images of faith, even if in reality we are still not able to see them happening. They will not be imaginary things because they will be based on God’s mind revealed in the many references we discussed and it will also be based on God’s will which is apparent in our generation.

There are great needs in our generation that are crying out around us. At the same time, the word of God reveals to us that the spiritual growth should move in a certain direction.  Based on the foundations in the word of God regarding our spiritual growth in addition to the need in the generation, we can form the images of faith. The Holy Spirit then turns these images of faith into an actual reality.

In other words, there are the biblical foundations of how a Christian should live and grow spiritually and at the same time there is a cry and a need in our generation. From these two aspects, each one should form the spiritual picture he should live by. In the Church and with the brethren, one would grow spiritually. Then, the images of faith which cannot be seen and which may seem impossible or even an imagination are turned by faith by the power of the Holy Spirit into an actual reality. By this we become a blessing to others and glorify God.

When the Holy Spirit is in our midst, He does the true work in the Kingdom of God which glorifies God.

The people who are destroyed, hurt, bound or have gone astray will be visited, restored and truly freed.

We can sum up the main points as follows:

We need to know that our time together is an important time that we need to long for and wait for because we need to grow and establish our faith.  We need to be built up.

We have already received Christ, but we need to learn to conduct ourselves and walk in the correct way within the spiritual building.

Therefore, we need to understand and perceive the value of our time together. If we perceive the value of this gathering, we will all come in time and never miss it.

There are two parts in our gathering. Part of it is to receive the message that should enlighten our minds and give us correct understanding of the spiritual life. The other part is to learn to worship together, as the Psalm says: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation’ (Psalm 111: 1).

We need to have an extended time of prayer and understand that it is a special time to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our inner spiritual building. In such an atmosphere where our hearts are seeking Him and our minds and purposes are united, the Holy Spirit can work in our spiritual building matters more than what can happen if one is worshipping on his own. This is because this is ‘the assembly of the upright and the congregation’.

In such an atmosphere, God can do His great works. One may need power, freedom, spiritual release, etc. Praying in such an atmosphere can change the circumstances of a person –who has been praying on his own for a while, and nothing was happening. God wants to hear this person and work with him, but sometimes God’s hands can seem as though tied up. Prophet Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 14: 9): ‘Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save?’ This is actually due to certain reasons that hinder God’s hand from being stretched out to save. However, this atmosphere of worship together gives a chance for God’s hand to reach the person.

One can be praying a lot about a certain matter and would say: ‘Lord, I have prayed a lot; why did you not answer me?’

God will answer saying: ‘my child, from the very first time you prayed, I was near and I heard you; I desired to stretch out My hand to you; but, there was a barrier between Me and you; and you were not able to do anything about it. But when you went in the midst of your brothers and sisters and cried out the very same cry and prayer, the reproach was lifted up because this prayer was united with the prayers of your brothers and sisters; and so My hands reached you and performed My will in your life and granted you what you desired. You were suffering; but I was also suffering more than you.’ It is written: ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them’(Isaiah 63: 9).

Therefore, in such an atmosphere of worship together, the Holy Spirit works in our spiritual building, in our prayers and requests, and in our ministry much more than what one can receive when he is on his own.

If we want to enter a further deeper stage together where we learn how to grow spiritually, be built up and be established in the life of the spirit, we need to give great importance to our gathering together and our prayers together.

We need to listen to the spiritual messages and pray with them together so that the Holy Spirit can tailor them to each person in the form that suits him. For one, it will be gold and for another it will be silver because one is in need for the work of redemption and the other is in need for the fellowship of the divine nature[4].  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

After a year or so we look back and see that we have changed.

What has happened?

The Holy Spirit had bound our hearts together. We have been learning together, receiving the spiritual messages together and our minds were being renewed. As a result, the Holy Spirit worked within us and transformed us into a different form.

After binding us together, He dwells in our midst. When we come together, a spiritual house is being built[5].

If one is on his own, things around him may form a barrier that hinders the Holy Spirit from drawing near. However, the Holy Spirit keeps His eyes on us, desiring to reach out to us. He waits for us to come together so that He would come in our midst, healing the wounds, restoring every soul, fulfilling His will, and shining with His brightness.

Amen

[1] Isaiah 55:11

[2] Romans 5:12-19; 1Corinthians 15:21

[3] Acts 5:19, 20

[4] In Biblical studies, ‘gold’ usually refers to the ‘divine nature’; while ‘silver’ refers to the‘redemptive work of Christ’.

[5] Ephesians 2:20 – 22

Part 4

How to spiritually grow together as members of one body

We need to learn how the Church lives together the divine calendar, the seasons of salvation, one year after the other, receiving renewed spiritual experiences that add to the life of each person.

Readings

‘For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ…If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be’ (1Corinthians 12: 12, 15 – 19).

‘For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another’ (Romans 12: 4 – 6

‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread’ (1Corinthians 10: 16, 17).

In the above references, we read the biblical basis related to the body of Christ and its members. We experience the same thing in our physical life; each one of us has different members: hands, feet, eyes, etc., where each member has a function and a role. Is it possible that the members of the body decide to stop functioning and leave the head to do everything? If this was the case, the head will be saying things but nothing will be happening. Imagine the head telling the feet that today we need to do so and so, while the feet are just listening but refraining from doing anything. Will anything be achieved? The end result will be that the whole body will be in a stand still mode.

Similarly, on the spiritual level, we can be saying things that need to be done while the members of the body are not functioning or carrying out their roles. The result will be that there will be no actual movement; the body will be in the stand still mode.

What about the state and health of the hands and the feet? What about the nervous system? Is the nervous system transmitting correctly to the organs? What about the connections and the joints between one member and the other? The foot may be healthy; the muscles of the foot may be strong; yet, the connecting nerve may be damaged. If the connecting organ is not linking the feet to the head, the feet cannot move. The person may understand what it needs to do; but the feet remain incapable of carrying it out.

Let us apply this to ourselves on the spiritual level. We are a small unit that has members that are joined together. If each member knew his/her role and carries it out, there will be actual and effective movement.

Yet, let us put the movement aside for now because we first need to grow more in the spirit before reaching the step of moving together in the ministry and work of the Kingdom. When a child is little, he is not given tasks to do; but, he should be growing. If this child stops to grow, he may eventually die.

Similarly, at the moment, we need to make our membership in the one body function at the level of growing in the spirit until we come to the point where we can make it function for the purpose of moving in ministry.

What does this mean practically? How can we work together as members of one body for the purpose of our spiritual growth? And how is this linked to the resurrection and the 50 holy days after the resurrection –which we are living together these days?

If one wants to truly benefit from this season, he would ask the Holy Spirit: ‘I desire to receive the blessing and grace of this season; teach me how to benefit from the holy fifties.’ This person would then read the biblical verses related to the resurrection, contemplate on them, and would receive some understanding. In most cases what the person receives will be limited and not very effective. That is why we do not grow much from one year to the other nor receive noticeable spiritual strength; we only witness a limited effect.

What else can be done so that the person would benefit from this season?

Each one should bring what he/she received to our meeting, where we share about the resurrection. Each one would share what he had received. What each one says is only a fragment or a piece of a puzzle which, on its own, cannot be nourishing food that leads to growth except to a very limited extent. However, each one who shares adds something. Then, among the members of the body, there will be some who are specialised in or called to connecting and joining things together. On the level of the physical body, we all know that there are organs that join the members together. Similarly, when each one starts to share what he received about the resurrection, there will be members who will connect this sharing together. We will be functioning together as a body so that we can grow.

Having finished the stage of being formed into a spiritual family, we are now at the stage of making this spiritual family function and operate as members of a body. We cannot stop at the stage of becoming a spiritual family. It will be a mere title if we do not function as such. The true spiritual family according to God’s mind is totally different from just that and has many other dimensions.

We will start applying that by sharing and collating our sharing and we will come out with few principles. These principles will be true things that are given to us by the Holy Spirit according to our exact needs and they will make us grow. When all what we received is put together, it becomes a spiritual food/meal that can make us grow.

Before this food was put together, it was only one element of nutrition but it was not nourishing food for growth. This is similar to giving someone a powder of carbohydrates and telling him: ‘eat it and it will make you full’. It will actually have no taste nor is it satisfying and it can make him feel sick. But if each one brings the element of nutrition he has and we add them together, put them in the oven, they will come out as a nourishing, filling, and tasty meal.

Isn’t this what happens on the material level to nourish our physical body which is dust and to dust it shall return? How much more on the spiritual level do we need to nourish the inner spiritual man who is called for the fellowship of glory and establishing the Kingdom of God?!

We are hindered in our spiritual walk because we are not working or functioning together as members of a body. We often operate and live by our mind and thoughts not by our hearts. We search for some verses about resurrection and then pray with these verses asking God to help us live the resurrected life. Then, we find that this is not working enough; it gives us a very limited result.

Why is that?

It is because one does not know his particular need each year or in a given year; only the Holy Spirit who dwells in the person knows. It is written that the Holy Spirit ‘intercedes on behalf of the saints according to the will of God’ (Romans 8: 27).  He is the One who knows your need at this particular time, this year. This is similar to a mother bringing up her child; she knows the particular food that he needs at each stage. She cannot feed him meat as soon as he is born; otherwise, he would die straight away. She starts by feeding him milk; then, she weans him, giving him certain solid foods made in a certain way that suits his age from one stage to the other as he grows up.

That is exactly what we need on the spiritual level.

If we read and listen to sermons about the resurrection, this will make the understanding in our mind increase. Yet, where is the food of the resurrection that will nourish our spirit? We need to prepare it together. We will not prepare it out of the blue; we will have to prepare it from what we have read and heard. Yet, these will only be the ingredients which we will then need to add together and cook to make a meal.

Practically, each one receives something about the resurrection. Then, we share them together. Then, the members, who are called to be joints, will join them and connect them together. This will make up our special food for this year. We then take it/eat it and start to live by it; and so, it makes us grow.

Not only does this food make us grow spiritually, but it also binds us together more and more.

Thus, we understand that even our spiritual growth is based on our fellowship together.

Then, the following year, we receive a different food which we may wonder where it came from. It is actually the food that we have prepared together. The Holy Spirit will not give us the same food which He had given us the previous year. He will give us something new that suits each individual person and also suits the other brothers and sisters.

Each year we are given something new, a new meal, and we start to experience that we are truly growing spiritually from one year to the other; we are actually changing. This will be experienced on the individual level and on the corporate level.

Q: What is the level and extent of sharing which we should bring to the group or the spiritual family?

A: What I am explaining here will not happen as such all at once.

If one has learned to have a fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will make him grow in this family. God requests of this family a certain task. Just to illustrate, let us say that this task requires some members to be doctors, some lawyers, some engineers, some computer experts, and some trade experts because they are called to do a project that requires all these skills. So, as the Holy Spirit is teaching and leading this family, He will teach them these skills. However, if I were in a different family called to go to battle, for example, I will be learning other skills like carrying and using spiritual weapons. I will be learning in a spiritual military school that has no doctors or engineers or any of the skills needed for the other project.

In the body of Christ, there is this diversity and variety so that the body may be able to carry out a complete inclusive work and tasks in the world. The Church of Christ should be the light of the world.

When we start to apply this, we will start by doing so on a limited level. Yet, we will grow in it year after the other until we become experts in preparing our spiritual food together. We will start to discern what the Holy Spirit is teaching us and when we come together we will sense exactly how to connect together. However, this will need time and training like all true spiritual matters which require training.

Our spiritual life and growth are often hindered because we are cut off from being a spiritual family and being members of one body.

I need to see my inner spiritual growth as one connected chain not as sporadic separate events or experiences.

If I am growing spiritually and then I come to a season like the resurrection, I may wonder how to continue my growth within this season. In fact, the Holy Spirit desires for the human soul to grow in connection with the divine seasons of salvation which were set by the Church through a divine mystery. They were not just set as an economy suitable for the life of the church, but indeed by experience it was found that the Holy Spirit does this link between the seasons and the spiritual growth of the person. So, I will find that when the season of resurrection comes, it brings me something related to what I am already preoccupied with spiritually. This is what makes our sharing together effective; otherwise, it will be mere ideas and contemplation about resurrection.

In other words, each one should be growing spiritually throughout the year. Each one can be growing in an area different from the other; one can be growing in the area of emotions and another in the area of the mind. Therefore, when the power of resurrection comes to the mind it will be different from when it comes to the emotions. It will come to the mind with light, discerning the human wisdom and its tactics, exposing the calculations of the fallen human wisdom, separating confused matters, and so on. On the other hand, the power of resurrection will come to the emotions with freedom, love, broadness, getting rid of the inner constriction, getting rid of the desire to possess things or people, and so on. Can you see the difference? Yet, both are the result of the work of the power of the resurrection of Christ. There can be other things in the person’s life that require something different from the power of resurrection; some things for example may require repentance.

If we are growing spiritually throughout the year, the resurrection will come to me with an inner change and growth different from my brother; yet, putting all together makes our meal complete. However, if there is no inner change or growth, we will receive ideas about resurrection in our mind; we will be sharing words and they will all be very similar providing us with one element of food: potatoes for example; some may be mashed, some boiled, some fried, some baked; yet after all they are all only potatoes!

However, if one brings chicken, the other salad, the other potatoes, and so on, it will be a totally different meal. They will complete each other; each is essential; and there will be a great variety. These together make the feast of resurrection.

This happens when each one is growing in the area that the Holy Spirit is working on in that person’s life; and then the resurrection comes to each person in the area he is growing in.

It can be a power that touches ones heart, his circumstances, his ties and bonds, or the darkness of his mind. This will be one’s experience of resurrection that year.

This highlights the true variety and the power of resurrection which actually comes in various ways.

Part 5

Ministry and learning the Fellowship with the Trinity 

The Holy Spirit is the “Grace, the uncreated energy,” proceeding eternally from the Father and sent to us by the Son[1]. This Grace, the Holy Spirit, brings to us all the other graces.

The Holy Spirit is the One who transfers to us these graces because He is the Person of the Trinity who makes us enter into the fellowship of the Father and the Son.

We have a very limited understanding of the Trinity. Theology is not topics that can be understood by the mind; the mind cannot comprehend these matters. But they are comprehended by the spiritual mind because God is its source. This spiritual mind is formed through fellowship with God. Therefore, Apostle John writes: ‘that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full’ (1John 1: 3, 4).

In this short message, I want to draw your attention to few things that are important highlights in the spiritual path. As ministers, you need to understand these things and live them out so that in your ministry you can help others.

Some people may hear the spiritual messages in the meetings and they may not understand everything. As ministers of God, you have an important role in the meetings and after the meetings. In the meeting, a message is delivered and it touches the needs of the people attending. After the meeting, the ministers can have an edifying conversation with the attendees related to things that touched them in the message or things they could not grasp enough. You can help them fill in the gaps that they did not understand.

The speaker presents a message that touches every heart. His message is like cloth material that requires the tailors to make into clothes that fit each person. So the listener may come out of the meeting having heard something that he could not fully understand or is not able to apply. The ministers who should have a deeper experience in the spiritual life and deep understanding of the messages would help make this piece of cloth become a garment that fits each person. This is the role of the ministers. The ministry can be hindered if it relies only on the speaker or the leader of the meeting. We should all be doing the work of the Kingdom together.

The Holy Spirit is the One who does the whole spiritual work in people, working through the human vessels that surrender to Him and obey Him[2].

Each one of us has a different form and a different pattern. The bible calls us ‘precious stones’. In Revelation 21, it is clearly highlighted that there are different kinds of precious stones:

‘The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst (Revelation 21: 19, 20).

We are these precious stones because we have been ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Ephesians 2: 20); and these are their different patterns.

Though we may not be experts in knowing these kinds of stones, we can understand that they are all different from each other. Therefore, we are also different from each other; different patterns having different in spiritual gifts.

Therefore, when we go out to ministry, we need to be aware of this and aware that God uses each one with others who can fit with his pattern/vessel. We first need to tune our hearts with God and repent. Then one should pray: ‘Holy Spirit, You are the One responsible for our ministry. I surrender myself to You and put myself in Your Hands. Use me as You wish and help me not to hinder Your work.’  After that, we will find that He will allow me to meet certain people; and allow my brother to come across other people and my sister to encounter yet other individuals. We will find that the Holy Spirit is the One who is distributing us according to the needs and our different patterns and the shape of our vessels[3]. Then, when I speak with the people that the Holy Spirit had brought in my way, I will find that they understand and grasp what I say; the words reach their hearts easily and people will be helped in setting their feet on the correct path.

The important point here is that we can only carry out our role in ministry through our fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

I started my talk by referring to our fellowship with the Father and the Son which Apostle John spoke about[4].

What about my fellowship with the Holy Spirit?

Actually my fellowship with the Holy Spirit allows me to have fellowship with the Father and the Son. In other words, the Holy Spirit Himself makes me enter into fellowship with the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit then transfers to me the gifts of the Father. It is written: ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him’ (Luke 11: 13). The Holy Spirit is the first and supreme gift that the Father gives. The gifts that the Father bestows upon us are good gifts. It is also written: ‘For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him’ (Matthew 6: 8). It is also written: ‘For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things’ (Matthew 6: 32).

Therefore, it is the heart desire and pleasure of the Heavenly Father to give us gifts, like any father who likes to give gifts to his children. The Father gives us fatherly gifts that express His love for us. He gives us gifts of love.

The Son gives us graces[5], the grace of Redemption that can be expressed in various ways like healing our illnesses.

In the prayers of the church we see how the Church addresses all the Persons of the Trinity, for example:  ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2Corinthians 13:14).

Also, in the prayers of the third hour, the litany refers to the grace of the Holy Spirit. According to the fathers of the Church, the Holy Spirit is the main ‘Grace’ through whom the other graces to come to us.

To sum up, the Holy Spirit is the main Grace. When I enter into a fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He makes me enter into fellowship with the Father and hence receive the gifts of the Father that are full of love. He also makes me enter into fellowship with the Son and hence I receive the grace of the Son that grants freedom to the soul and body and that transforms one’s image[6].

If we are honest with ourselves, we may feel that our fellowship with the Father is weak and we do not sense His fatherly love. We probably experience God’s tenderness and the good things He does for us in a general way, but do we truly experience the Fatherhood of God?

The Holy Spirit can help us and make us enter into fellowship with the Father: sense His fatherhood and experience His face reviving us: ‘As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness’ (Psalm 17: 15).

If I have a true fellowship with the Son, His grace penetrates me freeing me from sin[7], cutting off my bonds, and healing my soul[8]. It enters deep within me, truly freeing me from sins.  Sometimes one can have chronic or repetitive sins in his life resulting from a hurt or wound in his soul that gives the chance for the enemy to attack, taking advantage of this vulnerable area in his soul. This weak or vulnerable area can be deep emotional hunger resulting from not having received true or sufficient love. In this case, the evil spirits can attack this person in the area of affections and passions and one can be easily taken by it because of this area of vulnerability.

The Grace of the Only begotten Son heals! I can receive this grace through my payers in my chamber. I can receive it through the Word of God which I eat[9], repeat, and chew on until it heals me: ‘He sent His word and healed them’ (Psalm 107: 20). I can also receive it through Communion and receiving the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; I eat it and hence eat freedom, healing, strength, victory, and eternal life: ‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him’ (John 6: 54 – 56). We eat and drink freedom, strength and victory. It is not fitting or appropriate for the Redeemed to be cast down, weak and paralysed.

This is a great mystery granted to humanity. Ah, if our eyes are opened and we perceive it! During the liturgy, many of the fathers of the Church who had open spiritual insight, used to see the glory of God coming upon the holy mysteries/sacraments and see the angels surrounding.

Ministries of the Kingdom of God:

Going back to the ministers of God, Apostle Paul used this term in his epistles. Let us see what he says about the ministers of God:

‘We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings;  by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,  by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;  as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things’ (2Corinthians 6: 3, 4).

Also in 1Timothy 6: 11, Apostle Paul uses the term: ‘man of God’: ‘But you, O man of God…’

This is what the ministers and servants of God should be. When anyone sees them, he can tell that they are full of grace and the honour of God; when anyone talks with them, he is healed by the grace of God in them.

To conclude, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit makes us enter into the fellowship of the Father to be filled with His love and into the fellowship of the Son to be filled with the freedom He grants us.

A prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus because though we are sometimes slow in heart and at times stubborn in heart, You are longsuffering; You teach us gently and with tenderness; You make us rise up; You coach us.

Lord, You sent these words to us and You had taught us few highlights about the fellowship of the Trinity. Now, Lord You desire that through this fellowship we may lean to have fellowship with You as the Father and the Only-begotten Son who has redeemed us so that our joy may be complete, as Apostle John wrote.

Lord, we often pray and ask for this joy. Though we understand the difference between the joy of the world and the joy of the Spirit, we still receive very little of this true joy. Because of our poverty, we take the comfort of the Spirit to be the joy; yet Your joy is eternal and it is written that this joy is ‘inexpressible and full of glory’ (1Peter 1: 8).

The only way to this joy, as the bible tells us, is through the fellowship of the Father and the Son. Lord, we are so estranged from this fellowship and we so much need to be brought into it.

Help us, O Lord, to know You as the true Father who is near to us –as You desire to be. You long that we give You the chance so that we may enjoy Your Fatherhood and Your gifts. We are in great need of this so that our joy may be complete; glorious and inexpressible.

And if our faces shine with the true joy, as the Church fathers wrote, the world will know You, even if we do not say a word. They will surely search for the source of our joy[10]; they will seek it because they need it and cannot find it. This will be their entrance to know You.

Amen, Lord Jesus. All glory be to Your name.

[1] Acts 2:33

[2] Acts 5:32

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:18

[4] 1John 1:3

[5] 1Peter 4:10; 1Peter 5:10

[6] 2Corinthians 3:17, 18

[7] John 8:32

[8] Luke 4:18

[9] Jeremiah 15:16

[10] John 16:22; 17:13