David, the Holy Spirt, and me? (4)

David again
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6 ESV

 

There is more in Psalm 23 than comfort for our personal pain, however desperate that is. David’s song points to the source of power to go beyond ourselves, to live and walk ‘in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake’, just as Jesus went beyond himself, to live a life and to die a death that were, in every respect, for his Father’s glory but for our sake. 

There is something that helps us towards a better fulfillment of those two commandments (Mark 12:28-31) that Jesus said were the greatest and in which reside the best purpose of our lives, at least in this present world.

David knew that the LORD, his shepherd, was not his exclusively.

He knew that, as God’s anointed shepherd/king for Judah he could find no better template for his own role than the goodness and mercy of God who followed him through all his days. In the same way, we may think of what it means for others that we have such a shepherd; one who cares for us all the days of our life and in whom we have the power to live out those two commandments, bringing glory to God and blessing to others.

Remember Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost? The Holy Spirit had come, wonderfully, to Jesus’ disciples as he promised and Peter said,This is that….the promise of God is fulfilled.”

Pentecost
But the promise fulfilled that day was more than a promise of personal blessing, more than a personal mystic experience. Luke makes it clear that the coming in power of the Spirit of God upon his people is primarily for the equipping and enabling of the church to be witnesses to Jesus in the world; to glorify God in the world.

 


And while staying with them (Jesus) ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:4-8 ESV

Jesus had indicated the same thing even before this; when he spoke to his disciples about the gift of the Spirit, he made his comments in the context of this same commission.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22 ESV

So where does this take us as Jesus’ disciples today?

Good SamaritanWell, the Spirit whom we have received is that same Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, glorifying Jesus in us and through us in one another and in the world, and whether the Spirit is ministering to us or through us that is Jesus’ ministry, our good shepherd’s ministry continuing to and through us, and so to his other sheep as well.

In Christ, in Jesus the anointed One, in the power of his spirit, we are sent into the world as he came into the world, to love as he loved and to serve as he served because, by his spirit, Jesus loves and serves, Jesus still goes daily into the world in his body, in his church.

Jesus ministers through us and his ministry, even through us, still takes, amongst its infinite variety of expressions, the form of his ministry to David in Psalm 23.

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David, the Holy Spirit, and me? (3)

Good Samaritan

 

And one of the scribes … asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ …” Mark 12:28-31 ESV

 

 

To me it’s not only understandable that many of us (not just me?) forget to think of Jesus while puzzling over the Holy Spirit’s work in us; it seems, at times, inevitable.

It also seems incredible when I am reminded that the Spirit’s great work is to glorify Jesus in us, in his Church (John 16:14).

Eternity
It seems inevitable because as the writer of Ecclesiastes (3:11) said, ‘(God) has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end’.

 

 

Maybe this defines the limitations we are subject to, but that’s no reason not to try; it is probably the clearest explanation of why we do try. God has put eternity into our hearts… but even still, just the attempt to hold the two together rightly in my simple mind means a struggle when, more likely, a simple dependence on himself would be more helpful.
In answering the scribe (above, in Mark 12) Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one…’, and in that moment, which maybe passed unnoticed, Jesus as well as affirming the greatest commandment was also affirming his own identity; his oneness with the Father and so with the Spirit too. In John’s gospel, after taking another of Israel’s images of God and applying it to himself, I am the good shepherd, Jesus claimed openly (John 10:30) ‘I and the Father are one’.

SermonJesus, the Father, the Spirit, and us; and two commandments, one the greatest, and another, the second greatest, according to Jesus… ‘Love God; love your neighbor’.

David, God’s choice to be his shepherd/king for Judah, faced the dilemma that we all face in receiving our anointing; to live effectively in our role with the realization growing day by day that we have received him not for our sake alone but for the sake of ‘Judah’; for our neighbors’ sake; and for the glory of God.
(John 15:8).

 

When the Spirit rushed upon David there were consequences for him personally.
Certainly this was a great blessing and sure, there was the promise of a crown, soon fulfilled; but along with the kingdom, he received an Enemy, Saul, and other enemies too, and along with them a whole mess of troubles; and he received a people to lead.

Jerusalem
Jesus, raised from death and soon to ascend to his Father’s side, met with his disciples and told them, ‘… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)


The Father, Jesus, the Spirit, two commandments and us … our blessing!

Is it any wonder that David’s psalm speaks to us in our blessing as it did to him in his?
‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…’
Psalm 23:1