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Wind beneath my Wings

The sanctifying life in the Spirit

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

Dr Alex Tang

 

 

Text

  1TH 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jes

    1TH 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

    1TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

 

 

Sermon statement

The sanctifying work of the Spirit finds its expression in rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving. We must not quench the Spirit.

 

Introduction

"Wind Beneath My Wings" (sometimes titled "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Hero") is the title of a song written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley. The first singer to release the song commercially is Roger Whitaker in 1982. It was made famous by Bette Midler for the 1988 soundtrack to the movie Beaches.

 

"Wind Beneath My Wings"

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you're my hero?
You're everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

 

We usually think of someone who is helpful and is an inspiration to us. Silbar & Henley, the songwriters  recognized that they had written a truly special song. "When we were writing it, we thought it would be a love song, with a man singing to a woman or vice versa," said Silbar. "It took us a few days to realize that the song had more depth and meaning. It had a lyrical theme which could apply to many people and situations. It could be for a teacher, a father or a mother. It was a ‘Thank You’ song. It was a way to thank someone who was important in their lives." I like this version by Israel "IZ" Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole (Hawaiian pronunciation: [ka’maka’ʋiwo’ʔole]; May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997) a Hawaiian musician.

 

I suggest that we think of the ‘wind’ as the Holy Spirit. How will we then perceive this song?

 

Epistle of 1 Thessalonians

Ø      Paul approach is to start teaching the Jews at a synagogue until he was kicked out and then he starts preaching to the Gentiles. In Thessalonica, he lasted only 3 weeks.

Ø      After the Jews incite the crowds against Paul, he left the city to Berea. The Thessalonican Jews followed to Berea and forced Paul to leave to Athens, leaving behind Silas and Timothy to take care of the 6 months old church (Acts 17:1-15).

Ø      Paul went from Athens to Corinth. There Timothy and Silas joined him.

Ø      Paul was happy to learnt that Thessalonian church remained true to the Lord in spite of persecution

Ø      He write to the church (about early summer AD 51, second missionary journey) to encourage them and urge them to press on in light of the Lord’s return. The main theme of 1 Thessalonians is the rapture.

 

Preparation for the Rapture

Innocence of greed

Principles for growth

Chapter 1-3

Chapters 4-5

Personal

Practical

Silence slanders

Strengthen stand

Looking back

Looking forward

Commendation

1:1-10

Conduct

2:1-16

Concern

2:17-3:13

Love

4:1-12

Eschatology

4:13-5:11

Church life

5:12-28

“you’re great’

“I’m innocent”

“I care for you”

“Please God”

“Be comforted but watchful”

“live holy”

Adapted Rick Griffith, New Testament Survey Vol 2, Singapore Bible College, 203

 

How do we live our life while waiting for Jesus’ coming? is the theme of 1 Thessalonians.

 

Today’s passage gives us some indications:

1.      God’s will in Christ Jesus

1TH 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

a.      Be joyful always

C. S. Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy”

“an unsatisfied desire which in itself more desirable than any other satisfaction” (p.17-18)

“And at once I knew (with fatal knowledge) that to ‘have it again’ was the supreme and only important object of desire” (p.73)

“I had hoped that the heart of reality might be of such a kind that we can best symbolize it as a place; instead, I found it to be a Person” (p. 230)

 

b.      Pray continually

We are used to informal petitionary prayers. One of the reasons why praying is such a problem is not that we do not know of its importance. We do. It is only after we have finished our list of petitions to God, we do not know what to do.

                                                  i.      Use prayer books

In our church we are not used to prayer formal prayers or prayers written by others. I find it very useful especially in my own personal prayer time. One which I am using now is The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

                               

            www.facebook.com/pages/The-Valley-Of-Vision/

                                                 ii.      Praying in tongues

                                                iii.      The Jesus prayer

                                               iv.      Contemplative prayer

c.       Give thanks in all circumstances

It is important for us to learn to be thankful in all circumstances.

 

2.      The work of the Holy Spirit

1TH 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt.21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

 

a.      Do not quench the Spirit

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (NIV)

“Do not quench the Spirit” (NASB, KJV)

“Quench not the Spirit” (21st Century KJB)

“Do not stifle the Spirit” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

“Do not suppress the Spirit” (The Message)

It is important not to obstruct or interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit includes

  1. illuminates the Word of God (1 Cor. 2:10; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21: 1 John 2:27)
  2. brings believers into intimacy with God: as children of God (Rom.8:15-16), into deeper knowledge of God (1 Cor.2:2)
  3. glorifies Christ to believers and make them like him (2 Cor. 3:18; John 16;14-15; Gal. 4:19)
  4. helps believers to know God’s will (Eph.5:17; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15)
  5. grants believers inner strength for their progressive sanctification (Eph.3;16; Zech.4:6; 2 Cor.12:9)

We quench the Spirit by

  1. not accepting God’s purpose in life’s difficulties (Rom.5:3; James 1:2-3,12)
  2. not being prayerful and worshipful (Joh 4:24; Col.4:2; 1 thess.5;17)
  3. not casting our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7)
  4. not trusting God’s supply (2 Cor. 9:8; Phil.4:19)
  5. not trusting God’s love (Eph. 2:4-5; 1 John 3:1; 4:19)
  6. operating by the flesh than trusting God’s strength (Prov. 3:5-6)

We cannot grow if we quench the Spirit. We will be meeting resistance all the way. Two illustrations:

(1)   Eagle flying and soaring

It's important to understand gliding flight before we begin to talk about flapping wings. Recall that the wings are angled slightly, which allows them to deflect the air downward and produce lift. The slight angle of the wings is called the angle of attack. If the angle of attack is too great, the wing will produce a lot of drag. If the angle is too small, the wing won't produce enough lift. The best angle depends on the shape of the wing, but it's usually just a few degrees! Notice that what matters is the angle relative to the direction of travel, not relative to the horizon.

(2)   The movie Tai Chi Master

Tai Chi Master (Chinese: 太極張三豐, aka "Twin Warriors") is a 1993 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Yuen Woo-ping and produced by and starring Jet Li. Jet Li acts as Zhang Junbao / Shang Jun Biao / (Zhang Sanfeng). There is a scene in the movie when Junbao was developing his kung fu by punching a large basin of water. He cannot make headway until he learns to flow with the water. This forms the basis of the martial art Tai Chi Chuan.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind beneath the wings of an eagle.

b.      Respond to God’s word

Paul is asking the Thessalonians not to reject prophecies because of a few false prophets. The only true prophecies are found in the word of God.

Karl Barth’s perspective of God’s word:

Word/Logos = word=Bible

Karl Barth was one of the greatest Reform theologian in the Twentieth Century. His massive magnus corpus, the 14 volumes Church Dogmatics is challenging to read but very beneficial when we understand them.

 

c.       Be discerning

One of the Holy Spirit’s work is to help us discern God’s purpose for our life. There are many demands and many needs. What is important here is to discern what God wants us to do. That is not as easy as it sounds. What God wants us to do is different from what we want to do and what we think God wants us to do. Telling which is which is the difficulty part.

The use of God’s gift of reason is a corrective to unrestrained enthusiasm. There is a saying widely ascribed to Jesus by writers in the early Christian centuries: “Become approved moneychangers.” This was sometimes explained in terms of 1 Thess 5:21, 22. For example, Clement of Alexandria quotes it in the form: “Become approved moneychangers, who reject much, but retain the good.” The distinguishing of genuine from counterfeit coinage is a good figure of speech for the distinguishing of true from false prophecy—or any other kind of religious teaching.[1]

 

3.      The promise of sanctification

    1TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

 

So that the Thessalonians may understand that this sanctification embraces their whole being, Paul specifies its scope by including the anthropological terms spirit, soul and body. This is the only place in the Pauline letters where the apostle uses these three terms to describe the totality of human nature. During that era, there was an ongoing debate concerning whether the human person consisted of two or three parts, a discussion that continues down to our day. We should not, however, simply conclude that Paul was falling out on the side of those who embraced the tripartite view. In 1 Corinthians 7.34 Paul summarizes the totality of human nature with the bipartite description “body and spirit.” Jesus, on the other hand, spoke of humans as “soul and body” (Matt. 10.28), while on another occasion he summarizes human nature as “heart, soul, mind and strength” (Mark 12.30; cf. Deut. 6.4–5; Matt. 22.37; Luke 10.27).

[2]While these terms may describe different aspects of a human’s nature, in the present context the apostle’s appeal to God is simply that his sanctification may extend to the entirety of their being. Paul’s prayer is that God would sanctify the Thessalonians so that their whole being, everything that they were as humans, would be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, a prayer they previously offered in almost identical terms in 3.13[3]

 

How do we live our life while waiting for Jesus’ coming?

We live a joyful life, full of prayers and thankfulness which is made possible by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us (and not quenching her) thus fulfilling God’s will for us in Christ Jesus which is to sanctify us at the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Conclusion

The sanctifying work of the Spirit finds its expression in rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving. We must not quench the Spirit.

 


 

[1] Bruce, F. F. (2002). Vol. 45: Word Biblical Commentary : 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary (127). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[2] Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (268–269). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.

[3] Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (269). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.

 

|posted 12 Dec 2011|

 

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