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a monthly devotional journal
by David Lampel
Issue No. 50
January 1995


In this issue:

Joseph, Mary, and the young Jesus were in the temple to make the required sacrifices--for the purification of Mary[1] and the presentation and redemption of Jesus as a first son.[2] The child had already been given the name Jesus, and had been circumcised on the eighth day, according to Jewish law.

Somewhere in the cavernous confines of the great stone house of God a stranger approached.

What brought Simeon to this place and time? What powerful intention moved him to be in attendance this day in the temple?

For all his life Simeon had been waiting--not without hope, but with keen anticipation--for the promised Messiah. He didn't know what to expect, but he continued to wait in faith.

And what made this man so special? Scripture doesn't refer to him as a priest or rabbi; he may not have held any office. Was he a scholar, a teacher, a particularly learned man? The Bible only says that Simeon was "righteous and devout." Here was a man who not only believed in God, but who lived his life according to God's precepts. Simeon obeyed God. And he obeyed to such an extent that he trusted in every promise God had made to His people. He believed God when He had said through Isaiah

Simeon had invested his hope in the Lord. But there was something even more powerful that brought him to the temple that day. Simeon had a companion.

He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Luke 2:25b-27 (emphasis added)

Here was a man who conducted His life by the power of the Spirit. How else could he have been "righteous and devout"?

It's been made so much easier for us today. When we open our heart to Jesus, we automatically get the Holy Spirit at no extra charge. He is simply part of the bargain of God's grace. He comes in, makes Himself at home in our being; He reveals the deep wisdom of God's word to our feeble, temporal minds; He takes our whimperings and groanings and forms them into the pristine language of God.[3] He counsels, He comforts, and He admonishes better than any conscience.

Yet in our Spiritual wealth we invest poorly. We move through our days wasting time wondering, questioning, trying to guess God's will--when living within is every answer in the person of the Spirit.

If most of us had found ourselves in the temple that day, we would have glanced about, possibly have seen the young couple and their small child. Maybe we would have studied the child and muttered a silent prayer: "Is this the one? Could this one be the promised Messiah?" We would have waited a few seconds for an answer, then, with a shrug, moved on--still searching.

Perspective 1
F R I E N D S   F O R   L I F E

Simeon didn't need to ask. The Spirit--his close and comfortable companion--informed him, without his asking, of Christ's identity.

In the days before the ascension of Christ,[4] the Holy Spirit came upon the people of God individually, for a specific purpose. Whereas in the New Testament era the indwelling of the Spirit is corporate in scope, and permanent...

... before Christ's death and ascension it was specific and temporary. So we cannot dismiss casually the fact that "the Holy Spirit was upon" Simeon. God had control of his life. God had specifically empowered Simeon by the outpouring of the Spirit.

... the Holy Spirit was upon Him.

It's snowing today. It began snowing last night, continued through the early morning, and is still coming down. The world, which was only yesterday a dull, ugly brown, is now a beautiful winter wonderland. The north side of every oak and hickory tree is pasted with white frosting, the grass has been covered over, and the birds must now scratch through small drifts for their seed.

One might say that the snow is upon the ground.

It's not with a light touch; the snow is not hovering gently a few inches above the ground, dipping down only occasionally to brush the blades of brown grass. Nor is the covering of snow a rigid plane, knocking against only the taller weeds and bushes.

The snow is a blanket, folded and forming itself over and around every contour of the ground. In most areas it has completely eliminated everything else from sight. The world is white; it's all one can see.

When we accept Christ, the Spirit rushes into us like the north wind([5] that makes the snow blow parallel to the ground. He invades us, seeking out and filling every nook and cranny, molding Himself--without conforming--to fit our essential being.

He comes upon us, blanketing us with His comforting touch. We have no say in the matter, no vote. He comes with Christ, and there's no turning Him back.

We welcome His entrance. We count ourselves as privileged. But what then?

Many think of the Holy Spirit as radiant energy, and thereby find it impossible to establish a relationship. We do not have a relationship with the electricity coursing through the walls of our house; we have relationships with the people who live in the house.

The Spirit is a person living within the four walls of our corporeal house. As He fits Himself into that house, making Himself comfortable, we are to make ourselves comfortable with His ways. We are to mold our lives to His shape and dimensions. We are to accept His presence as something familiar.

Into the Word

Isaiah 63:10-11       _______________________________
Luke 1:15             _______________________________
Luke 1:35             _______________________________
Luke 1:41             _______________________________
Luke 1:67             _______________________________
Luke 3:21-22          _______________________________
Acts 1:8              _______________________________
Acts 2:37-39          _______________________________
Acts 5:32             _______________________________
Acts 7:55             _______________________________
Acts 8:15-17          _______________________________
Acts 10:44-48         _______________________________
Acts 11:22-24         _______________________________
1 Cor. 6:19-20        _______________________________
2 Cor. 13:14          _______________________________
Ephes. 1:13-14        _______________________________
2 Tim. 1:14           _______________________________


Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, vouchsafe[7] within our souls to rest; Come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid, and fill the hearts which Thou has made.

To Thee, the Comforter, we cry; to Thee, the Gift of God most high; The Fount of life, the Fire of love, the soul's Anointing from above.

The sev'nfold gifts of grace are Thine, O Finger of the Hand Divine; True Promise of the Father Thou, who dost the tongue with speech endow.

Thy light to every sense impart, and shed Thy love in every heart; Thy own unfailing might supply to strengthen our infirmity.[8]

Making it Personal

Is the Holy Spirit in you?

Do you feel--or sense--the Spirit in you? If yes, what is it you feel? How do you know this to be of the Spirit?If no, why do you think you can't feel the Spirit?

To what extent does the Spirit control your thoughts and activity during each day? What determines the amount of control exerted by the Spirit in your life?

Into the Word

Notice once again the role played by the Holy Spirit in this scene where the baby Jesus is taken to the temple. Then consider the Spirit's role in the birth of Jesus earlier in the gospel of Luke.

Consider: The Spirit was upon Simeon, coming with him into the temple, as it were, to visit the Child He (the Spirit) begat with Mary. The Child's true Father was in attendance for the dedication of Jesus to the Lord.

Perspective 2
W I S D O M   F R O M   O N   H I G H

In speaking of the gospels, the late and respected historian Will Durant wrote:

Later he discounts the miracles of Jesus by writing that they were

Finally, regarding the work and theology of the apostle Paul, Durant writes:

Durant's tone is balanced and not antagonistic. He does not ridicule, but treats with respect the persons and writings of the New Testament. The historian's analysis, however, is glaringly devoid of the Spirit--not the spirit of man, but the Spirit of God. Here is someone who has read Scripture, but for whom the word of God has not been revealed, or translated, by the Holy Spirit.

Simeon knew that He would see the Christ before He died. It wasn't a hunch, it wasn't a guess or even a wish. He knew. How? He had heard it from the One having power over death and life--revealed by His Spirit.

The Holy Spirit reveals myriad things to us. To begin, He reveals the word of God and is our connection to the mind of God.

But the Spirit also interprets for us our everyday events. He is the one who translates tragedy into wisdom; He is the one who reveals the power and tenderness of God in the fresh carpet of wildflowers on a spring day, in the trees bowed under the North wind, in the energy of rolling thunderheads; He is the one who opens the mysteries of God's heart in our surroundings to instruct, counsel, and console.

Into the Word

Luke 10:21            _______________________________
Luke 12:11-12         _______________________________
John 1:33             _______________________________
John 14:26            _______________________________
Acts 1:1-2            _______________________________
Acts 1:8              _______________________________
Acts 13:2             _______________________________
Acts 15:28-29         _______________________________
Acts 20:28            _______________________________
Acts 21:11            _______________________________
Acts 28:25-27         _______________________________
1 Cor. 12:3           _______________________________
1 Thes. 1:4-6         _______________________________
Hebrews 2:4           _______________________________
Hebrews 9:8           _______________________________
Hebrews 10:15-17      _______________________________


Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

Come, gracious Spirit, heav'nly Dove, with light and comfort from above; Be Thou our Guardian, Thou our Guide; O'er every tho't and step preside.

The light of truth to us display, and make us know and choose Thy way; Plant holy fear in every heart, that we from God may ne'er depart.

Lead us to holiness, the road which we must take to dwell with God; Lead us to Christ, the living Way, nor let us from His presence stray.

Lead us to God, our final rest, to be with Him forever blest; Lead us to heav'n, that we may share fullness of joy forever there.[14]

Heavenly Spirit, gentle Spirit, O descend on us, we pray; Come, console us, and control us, Christ, most fair, to us portray.

Hear us pleading, interceding, Thou interpreter of love; With Thy fire, us inspire,Holy flame from God above.[16]

Making it Personal

The Holy Spirit is not the only spirit who counsels us. Can you identify competing spirits in your life?

How can you tell them apart? How can you know which spirit is giving you counsel at any time?

What happens in your life when you take counsel with the wrong spirit?

Into the Word

Read the story of Samson, found in the Book of Judges, Chapters 13 through 16. Note especially:

Judges 13:25
Judges 14:6
Judges 14:19
Judges 15:14

From where did Samson get his powers?

Perspective 3
T H E   T R U E   L I F E

Just what does it mean to live "by the Spirit", or to do something "in the Spirit"?

Examples do not come easily, for we have devalued Spiritual living to the point that any illustration sounds like a vignette out of the Sixties, told to the accompaniment of finger cymbals and the wafting of incense. Spiritual living has become in our day synonymous with empty-headedness. To live by the Spirit denotes laziness, a lack of common sense and gumption--or it denotes Eastern mysticism lived under a crystal pyramid somewhere in the arid vastness of Arizona.

Quite to the contrary, the true Spirit-quickened life is one packed with vitality, intelligence, and supernatural wisdom.

The world in which we live is uncomfortable with things of the Spirit, because it is uncomfortable with the knowledge brought by the Spirit.

Jesus said to His disciples that

In our world, the truth is multiple choice. Anything that declares any one truth--to the exclusion of all the rest--is either dismissed, at best, or ridiculed. We live in a society in which all the sharp edges have been rounded off. The Spirit has sharp edges, and that is why He is so unpopular. That is why a life lived in Him is so inconvenient.

So the main mark of a life conducted "in the Spirit" is that it will be conducted according to the truth of God's word. The Spirit wrote the words, and it is the Spirit who dispenses their truth to the one in whom He dwells.

The Holy Spirit is a remarkable agent. He has no agenda of His own; He speaks only the truth from the Father and Jesus Christ. Seeking no glory for Himself, He always points us toward the Father and the Son. So a life filled and motivated by the Spirit will always be a life that points to God. This is how we are able to "test the spirits."[18] Any spirit that does not point us to God the Father and His Christ will not be the one, Holy Spirit.

Living a life that is moved by the Spirit of God is, essentially, a deep and powerful joining of our spirit to His. Tozer writes that

Living "by the Spirit" is not church activities; it is not showing up for mid-week prayer meeting because you've nothing else to do; it is not programs.

Spirit living is not doing--it is being. It is being who God wants you to be--whether you want to be or not. It is seeking the counsel of God over man.

Spirit living is obedience.

Into the Word

Mark 13:11            _______________________________
Luke 4:1              _______________________________
Acts 2:4              _______________________________
Acts 4:8              _______________________________
Acts 9:31             _______________________________
Acts 10:37-38         _______________________________
Acts 13:4             _______________________________
Acts 16:6             _______________________________
Acts 20:22-23         _______________________________
Romans 15:13-16       _______________________________
2 Peter 1:21          _______________________________
Jude 1:20             _______________________________


Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us,
Revive Thy church with life and pow'r;
O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us,
And fit Thy church to meet this hour.

O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,
Till humbly we confess our need;
Then in Thy tenderness remake us,
Revive, restore, for this we plead.

O Breath of Love, come breathe within us,
Renewing thought and will and heart;
Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
Revive Thy church in every part.

O Heart of Christ, once broken for us,'
Tis there we find our strength and rest;
Our broken contrite hearts now solace,
And let Thy waiting church be blest.

Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
While harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting,
Equip Thy church to spread the light. Amen.

Making it Personal

Spirit living is very personal; there is arrogance in one person defining it for another. So how can we know? Where do we begin?One place where we can begin is with an examination of our motives? Why do we do what we do? Where do you seek and acquire the wisdom for your life decisions?

Another place to check is our senses. Feelings can be tricky; we must be cautious when categorizing the emotions flowing through us. Nevertheless, when the Spirit of God is in control of a life, He will be felt.As you move through your days, do you sense the presence of God? Is there a relationship between your spirit and His? Do you feel Him working?

Into the Word

Use Scripture to describe how one depends on and is motivated by the Spirit. What are the inward and outward signs of a life controlled by the Holy Spirit?


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Issue No. 50
January 1995


[1.] Leviticus 12:1-8. (return to footnote 1)

[2.] Numbers 18:15. (return to footnote 2)

[3.] Romans 8:26-27. (return to footnote 3)

[4.] John 16:7. (return to footnote 4)

[5.] Spirit = pneuma, pnyoo'-mah, Greek Stg 4151; from Greek 4154 (pneo); a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figurative a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implicaiton) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, d'mon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit :- ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare Greek 5590 (psuche). (return to footnote 5)

[6.] A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest (Christian Publications, 1978), p126f. (return to footnote 6)

[7.] "Vouchsafe": to be gracious enough or condescend to give or grant. (return to footnote 7)

[8.] Latin, 9th Century. (return to footnote 8)

[9.] Michael Downey in America (April 2, 1994), as cited in Christianity Today (July 18, 1994, p45). (return to footnote 9)

[10.] Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest (Discovery House, 1992). (return to footnote 10)

[11.] Will Durant, Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325 (Simon and Schuster, 1972), p557. (return to footnote 11)

[12.] Ibid, p562f. (return to footnote 12)

[13.] Ibid, p588. (return to footnote 13)

[14.] Simon Browne (1680-1732). (return to footnote 14)

[15.] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon (Shaw, 1990), p.22. (return to footnote 15)

[16.] Joel Blomquist; translated by Gerhard W. Palmgren. (return to footnote 16)

[17.] Thomas Brooks. (return to footnote 17)

[18.] 1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (return to footnote 18)

[19.] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, 1982), p40 (return to footnote 19)

[20.] Ibid, p52. (return to footnote 20)

[21.] Bessie P. Head (1850-1936). (return to footnote 21)

[22.] Alexander Maclaren, in his Expositions of Holy Scripture (Baker, 1984), Vol 11, p.119f. (return to footnote 22)


All original material in Aspects is Copyright © 1995 David S. Lampel. This data file is the sole property of David S. Lampel. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (C) 1995 David S. Lampel."). This data file may not be used without the permission of David S. Lampel for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content. Brief quotations not to exceed more than 500 words may be used, with the appropriate copyright notice, to enhance or supplement personal or church devotions, newsletters, journals, or spoken messages.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture is from the New International Version. NIV quotations are from the Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission. NASB quotations are from the New American Standard Bible © 1960, 1962,1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation.


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