The Holy Spirit in the Shorter Epistles
2008-05-23 – “Carts and Horses”
2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
(Galatians3:2-5)The Church in Galatia was being threatened by legalism. False teachers were promoting a “faith by works” – that people had to “earn” their way into God’s “good books.”
They tried to blend the liberating truths of the New Testament Gospel message of Grace with a legalistic emphasis on law and external traditions. They argued that the Holy Spirit came to those who observed the law.
They had the cart before the horse. If you think about all that we have learned about the Holy Spirit, it stands to reason that the only way we will be able to get our selfish sinful natures to obey not just the letter but the essence of the law is to have the help of the Holy Spirit!
Paul reminds them that they had started in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we put our trust in God (and even faith is something the Holy Spirit has a hand in), He begins to work in us. The Galatians had begun simply: They heard the gospel and, convicted by the Holy Spirit, they believed.
Then along come the Teachers of the Law who emphasized human effort. Pretty soon it became a matter of how many laws they could memorise, how pious they could appear and who could tick the most checkboxes!
It still happens today. We begin in simple faith and then we over-complicate it. People make us believe that we haven’t “arrived” until we’ve done “this” course or received “that” spiritual gift or had the latest “spiritual experience.” Or we get bogged down in the rituals, routines and traditions of life and religiosity instead of living simply attentive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit who works in and through the complexities of study, tradition and ritual as long as we follow His lead.
2008-05-27 – “Daddy”
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians4:6)“Abba” is the Aramaic word for Daddy. It is a term of affection, intimacy, and longing.
Paul has been using the analogy of an heir to explain Christ and the Spirit’s work to the Galatians. Christ’s death bought us out of slavery and gave us the status of sons and daughters in God’s Kingdom.
But He didn’t stop there. It is one thing to change a slave’s status. It is another to allow the slave the _experience_ and _inclination_ of being a child.
There are many things that could keep me from experiencing the wonderful comfort of being God’s beloved child:
– A sense of guilt over my sin: “I don’t deserve being His child”
– A feeling that God is too busy for my little problems
– Having terrible earthly parents and unable to relate to God as Father
– Being such a control-freak that I find it hard to trust Him
But even when one or more of the above is true, the Holy Spirit works in us, overcoming our objections, fears and even our past so that we instinctively cry out to God our Father and trust in Him as our “Daddy”.
Thank You Holy Spirit!
2008-05-29 – “Inner War”
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians5:16-17)There is an inner war going on in us and its a good war!
Our basic human nature is ultimately self-serving and self-centered (The middle letter of “sin” is “I”!) Even our good behaviours are stained by our pride or selfish motives.
Eastern Philosophy uses the “Yin and Yang” argument that there is a little bit of bad in “good” people and a bit of good in “bad” people and that these forces are always balancing out.
Scripture views it differently: If we are left to our own devices, then a spiritual entropy takes place – we gradually devolve into increasing levels of disorder and disarray. This force of spiritual entropy is very powerful – we can try to resist it but we can’t overcome it. We have lost the war…
Enter the Holy Spirit – Agent of Creation and Life-Giving Breath of God. He works in us to transform us by bringing us in line with God’s will and purpose for our lives.
Without the Spirit’s help there is no war. Sin will dominate. Entropy will rule.
With the Spirit’s presence – there is war – not peace. The presence of the Spirit does not end the battle – He does not execute a “hostile takeover” – we still have a part to play. We can win the battles and ultimately the war if we get our troops (mind, will, strength) to submit to His command.
Kind of explains John Monsell’s great hymn…
Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.
Cast care aside, upon thy Guide,
Lean, and His mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life, and Christ its Love.
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.
2008-05-30 – “Lawless?”
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians5:18)Patrick Lencioni suggests that littering is the first stage of crime.
When people don‘t keep their neighborhoods clean, they lose a sense of pride and personal responsibility. As the appearance of their environment continues to erode, a subtle but undeniable spiral occurs. People lose hope, their behavior becomes more irresponsible, the neighborhood gets worse, and eventually a town—or even a society—begins to crumble.
This is why society must have laws and why they must be enforced. The laws of the Old Testament served three purposes:
1. To reveal God’s holy nature and the best way for us to live (as Jesus summarised it: Love God, Love your neighbour.).
2. To arrest the “downward spiral” (The “entropy” we discussed yesterday.)
3. To show us that we can’t manage without help – we can’t keep the law by ourselves.
The problem with laws is that they are external and no matter how many policemen we appoint, they cannot be there all the time and sin (spiritual entropy) is always at work INternally. Besides… all the policemen are battling with their own entropy!
So God, from the very beginning, had something better in mind: To send the Holy Spirit to live in us – writing the greatest law of all – LOVE – on our hearts.
This incredible act of love – planting His gracious presence in the junkyard of my heart – can leave me amazingly transformed. Now, no longer needing to be threatened and frightened by the law, I am moved and prompted INternally and can organise a voluntary clean up of the neighbourhood!
2008-06-03 – “Bearing Fruit”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians5:22-23)We know these verses so well! Some can even recite the list of the nine qualities that make up the fruit of the Spirit and some can even sing it! But there are two important misunderstandings about the fruit of the Spirit that we must clarify.
1. Many people try to have the fruit, but neglect the source.
You can’t grow apples without an apple tree. You can’t harvest oranges if you don’t have orange-trees. And, to get good plump apples, the farmer does not run around the orchard injecting nutrients into the apples – he fertilizes the tree!
Sometimes we focus on the qualities too much: We can read up about patience and do self-control exercises, we can visualise gentleness and we can attend seminars on “practical goodness.” Especially when we teach our kids this verse, we tend to focus on trying to achieve the qualities in our own strength.
2. It is fruit not fruits.
The nine qualities are best likened as segments of the one fruit of the Spirit. While one can identify segments that are underdeveloped, its always important to consider the whole. Lack of self-control is often linked to lack of patience. Lack of gentleness is often the symptom of a lack of peace…
So, having addressed the misconceptions, what is the balanced view on the fruit of the Spirit?
1. The fruit is the evidence of the Spirit’s presence.
2. The abundance and health of the fruit reflects the quality of the relationship (or lack thereof) we have with the Spirit.
3. We can describe and study the segments (I did this in an eDev series a few years ago), but it becomes academic if we neglect the “tree” – our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
4. Have you ever seen a tree struggling to bear fruit? If a tree is in good soil, is well-watered and enjoying good weather, then the fruit is produced effortlessly with blossoms, green leaves, and healthy branches. It almost looks as though the tree is having fun!
“Against such things there is no law.”
2008-06-04 – “Keeping in step #1″
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians5:25)I wasn’t called up for National Service, but I do remember doing Cadets at school. As a gawky st.6, I was a real frustration to our squad sergeant who had to get us to march, because I was always getting out of step when we marched. This was particularly bad when we did right and left turns because it took us all some practice to learn to shorten or lengthen our steps depending on whether we were on the inside or outside.
This idea of staying in step with the Spirit is a very apt and helpful analogy. Staying in step means that:
1. I don’t walk at MY pace and do MY thing – I submit to my Commander.
2. I must be attentive to the pace and direction of the Spirit.
3. I need to make adjustments when I get out of step.
4. I will need to shorten and lengthen my steps through the twists and turns of life to stay close to the Spirit.
When we marched in Cadets we had lots of cues to keep us in step – someone would chant the pace (“left left left right left”) or a drummer would give us a beat. We also could be guided by the sound of more than a hundred footfalls and the peripheral vision of the rows and ranks alongside us all moving in unison.
The cues are both similar and different when we walk with the Spirit.
One of the big differences is that we only spend some of our time marching as a big group. Most of the time it’s just me, my family and the Spirit. We need to listen carefully to His guidance in Scripture and the gentle promptings in our heart. If we’re the head of the family, we have a big responsibility to set the example and help our loved ones stay in step with us as we stay in step with the Spirit. If we’re not the spiritual head of the family, its vital that we support the one who is.
In the church context, we have more cues:
– Our worship: Music, prayers, lessons and overall mission/vision.
– The preaching: Listen for the pace-setting of the Spirit through the preacher.
– The example of others: Look at what God is doing in the life of others.
(We’ll continue this thought tomorrow…)
2008-06-05 – “Keeping in step #2″
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians5:25)(Continued from yesterday…)
I have a vivid memory from a wedding I officiated at. A dad was walking his daughter down the aisle: he was fighting back the tears but smiling broadly – he was proud of his daughter and happy for her. The music was playing, the groom was beaming and the congregation was admiring the bride’s dress…
About halfway down the aisle it happened – the dad adjusted his step with the little shuffle I remember learning on the cadet parade ground.
There were a number of things about the action that impressed me:
1. I suspect that if we were to ask him if he remembers doing it, the dad would probably not recall doing it. It was an automatic response.
2. It revealed a sensitivity and attention to detail on the part of the father. Among all the other stimuli, the father noticed this little thing: He was out of step.
3. Now no-one expects people to walk in step down the aisle, but the dad had a military background and from that background the assumption is that “in-step” is better than “out of step”. The dad was giving his best to the moment.
4. It was a very humble thing to do. One could argue that he was the “higher rank” on the day. He was the dad and the daughter should be expected to stay in step with him, but he didn’t squeeze her arm and hiss “Get in step!”, he just made the adjustments. (Now I’m not implying that we are superior to the Holy Spirit, but sometimes were are in circumstances where the Holy Spirit calls us to fall in-step with people or events that we might consider “below us.)
As we walk through life the Holy Spirit will nudge us and prompt us with little course corrections. If we respond quickly, one little shuffle will do it. If we let it drift too far, it will often take a couple of shuffles.
Like the dad in my story, let’s work _so_ hard at staying in step that it begins to be an automatic response. Let’s pay attention to the smaller details because the Spirit is often at work in the little things. Let’s have an attitude of excellence (NOT slavish perfectionism!!!) that permeates our behaviour. Finally, let’s make sure that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
2008-06-06 – “Oxygen”
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2Timothy1:6)(An excursus in preparation for Gal6:8…)
A fire burns more brightly if one gives it more oxygen. We’ve all seen the movies that involve a fire smouldering in some dark room until some unsuspecting person opens the door and then, as the oxygen rushes in, the fire will flare up into a roaring blaze.
There are two fires burning in us. The fire of God’s Spirit and the flames of our sinful nature. The fire of the Spirit is bright, warm and powerful – I like to think of it as the fire in the steam engine or the fire in a power station. The fire of our sinful nature is destructive and devastating. It consumes and destroys.
In Galatians 6 Paul uses the analogy of sowing seeds to please either the Spirit or the Sinful Nature. In his letter to Timothy, Paul urges him to “fan into flame” the gift of God. Although I think Paul means a specific gift of the Spirit here, I believe the principle still applies.
The principle that I want to highlight is that we can nurture or neglect our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The time and energy we put into this all-important relationship will have a major effect on our lives.
If I have two racehorses in my stable and on Monday I decide that I want “Horse A” to win at the race on Saturday and not “Horse B”, it’s a very simple matter: I feed “Horse A” the very best and give him regular exercise and make sure his shoes are all 100% and I neglect “Horse B” feeding him garbage or nothing and keep him stabled and unexercised…
The danger with the analogy is that the Spirit is not a possession like a racehorse, but the analogy reveals powerful principles.
What is the “oxygen”, “seed”, “feed” or “commitment” you are “fanning”, “sowing” and investing into your relationship with the Spirit?
2008-06-11 – “Sowing”
8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians6:8)(Please refer to Friday’s dev – “Oxygen” as an intro)
Paul juxtaposes two thoughts here:
Sowing seeds to please the Spirit and tirelessly doing good. Both actions will result in a harvest.
If we remember that Paul is a Hebrew, nurtured and schooled on the Old Testament – particularly the psalms – then this kind of parallelism should not surprise us. The Psalmists loved explaining concepts by putting thoughts in parallel.
If “sowing seeds to please the Spirit” sounds a bit abstract to you, then you will probably be able to sink your teeth into “not become weary in doing good.”
Could it be that simple?
No and Yes… Living by the Spirit is more than good deeds. But tirelessly doing good – (or more accurately – not becoming weary of doing good) is something that the Holy Spirit does in us.
* Sometimes we have to do the good and the Spirit ensures that we do not grow weary of it.
* Sometimes the Spirit prompts us to do good and we have to knuckle down and do it.
* Sometimes we have gather our courage and motivation to get started on something and then the Spirit helps us to enjoy ourselves!
When we are active, doing good because we are excited about it and not out of slavish legalism, we are in all likelihood “sowing seeds to please the Spirit”
2008-06-12 – “Sealed”
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians1:13-14)In this opening section of Ephesians (1:3-14) Paul is offering praise to God for the blessings He has showered on us. In the Greek these 11 verses are one sentence(!) and Paul iterates seven wonderful blessings that we as believers are privileged with. (I’ll do an eDev series on these soon.)
Here they are for your info:
#1 God chose us before the creation of the world
#2 He predestined us to be adopted through Christ
#3 He has redeemed us (bought us out of slavery) by Jesus’ blood
#4 He has made His will (bringing everything under the headship of Christ) known to us.
#5 We are chosen in Christ to be for the praise of His glory
#6 We are included in Christ through salvation
#7 We are sealed for eternity through the Holy Spirit.
It is the seventh blessing I am zooming in on today…
I often have asked people who are in hospital whether they’re sure they will be with Christ if they don’t get through the op or the illness. The answers I get are sometimes worrying: “I’ve lived a pretty good life…. I hope St Pete will let me in…”
This kind of uncertainty is not part of God’s plan. We can be confident of our future with Him. One of the many things that the Holy Spirit does and wants to do in our lives is to give us a deep-down, in-the-gut, at-the-bottom-line confidence that God is real, that His promises are true and that we are eternal beings with an eternal destiny.
The certainty of eternity is not so much about the comfort of an escape-plan: “Pie in the sky one day when we die.” Rather, the certainty of eternity calls and challenges us to live well in the here and now so that we take well-formed character with us into eternity.
2008-06-13 – “The bottom line”
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians1:17)Not only is this verse a lovely depiction of the Trinity, but it also states one of the most basic and fundamental works of the Spirit: – that we can know God better.
We learn a few important truths in this verse:
– The Spirit comes as a gift from God the _Father_.
– We can _keep asking_ for His presence in our lives – it’s not a once-off.
– He gives us the _Wisdom_ to be able to think about and assimilate truths about God.
– He _Reveals_ God at work in creation, history and Scripture.
And all of this so that we may know God better – that we would (to quote an old hymn) see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly…
What an incredible God! He does not just leave us to find Him and fathom His glory out in our own strength. He reveals Himself to us and explains Himself to us. He equips us and enables us to know Him.
Thank You Holy Spirit!
2008-06-17 – “Speaking to the Church”
4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. (Ephesians3:4-5)In the early church there was an incredible mystery that has needed to be revealed. The Mystery (described in vs.6 – see below) is that Jews and Gentiles alike can share in the gift of the wonderful love of God.
The Old Testament believers (the Israelites) missed the wonderful truth of God’s love. They thought that they were chosen to be the sole recipients of God’s grace. The truth is that they were chosen to be the messengers and that all nations were supposed to come and worship.
By the time Jesus began His public ministry, the Jewish Religious Establishment proclaimed a very “exclusive” brand of faith. They considered themselves better, superior and blessed compared to the Gentiles.
When the church was born, the Holy Spirit revealed Himself powerfully among the believers – but particularly among the leaders.
– Peter was moved to go to the home of Roman Officer Cornelius
– Philip was moved to witness to the Ethiopian Eunuch
– Paul was called as an apostle to the Gentiles
– The Church Council in Jerusalem acknowledged God’s work among the Gentiles.
The Spirit often chooses to move significantly among those who are leading the church. In particular Paul highlights two “offices”:
—apostles (pioneers of church planting and missions)
—prophets (those who are able to discern God’s Comment on Current Affairs)
Sometimes we can get so stuck-in-a-rut that it will take powerful nudging to wake us up. Sometimes we are so caught-in-routine and so immersed in business-as-usual that basic truths become mysteries because we are so out of touch. The Holy Spirit will nudge and prompt us and in particular those leaders who are at the coal face of what God is doing in the world.
We would do well to listen to them…
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
2008-06-20 – “Inner Strength”
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians3:16-19)This is an awesome prayer to pray for folk. Take out the “you’s” and insert their names and it is really special!
If we analyse the prayer we get the following:
We pray for:
1. inner strength through the Spirit
so that, we will experience
2. the faith-based presence of Christ in our hearts
3. we will be find our foundation and continuation (being rooted and established) in His Love and grasp the magnitude of His Love (height, length, width, depth)
4. we may be filled with the fullness of God.
The crux of the prayer is that the best thing that can happen for our spiritual growth and development is that we are ever-increasing in our knowledge, understanding and experience of the love of God.
The Holy Spirit is the start and the end of this awesome process. He is the one who enables us to understand _more_ of God’s love:
He _ignites_ the spark of FAITH in our lives.
He _breathes_ onto the flickering flame of HOPE in our lives.
He _strengthens_ us so that we can see just how much LOVE God has for us.
It’s an incredible thought:
We need the Spirit’s help to understand God’s love.
But there’s also a cycle:
1. The Spirit helps us grasp God’s love.
2. The more we understand God’s love, the more we are filled with His fullness (the Holy Spirit)
3. Go back to step 1.
A sure sign of the Spirit’s work in your life is a core awareness that you are loved and valuable to God. If that’s missing, why not pray these verses with your name in the right places?
2008-06-24 – “The Bond of Peace”
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians4:3)Many years ago, Brenda’s folks took us on an overseas trip. While in London we went to visit Holy Trinity Brompton – the Anglican Church where the Alpha Course originated from.
We had been looking forward to visiting the church as we had heard a lot about it. We had raised expectations to say the least!!
The wonderful thing was that we were not disappointed. But this was not because the congregation was so wonderful – none of the “famous” preachers preached – and none of the well-known “personalities” of the church were in attendance on the day.
So why were we _not_ disappointed? Because although we were on the other side of the world, we felt welcome and at home in the service of worship. From the smiles at the door to the warmth of the service and the joy of the music there was just an amazing sense of affinity that we felt with God’s people.
When we go on holiday we find the nearest church whether it is Baptist, Methodist, Charismatic or Presby doesn’t matter too much, as long as its nearby. Again and again we have been wonderfully blessed by the sense of being among God’s people. Sometimes one can even sense the pain of a congregation that has been through a tough time or pick up the excitement of new growth taking place, but there is always a sense of familiar unfamiliarity.
One could argue that it is the tradition and the ritual that causes this sense of belonging, but we have even felt it in school halls with church traditions not the same as ours.
This sense of affinity is the work of the Spirit. If we concentrate on doctrine, tradition and rules we will divide. If we allow the Spirit to remind us that we all need Jesus, we will find unity.
2008-06-25 – “The Bond of Peace (again)”
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians4:3)Yesterday we looked at the unity of the Spirit being “wonderful sense of affinity” that we experience when we meet other Christians.
The word that Paul uses here for “bond” is translated as bond, chain or even ligament. (See Colossians 2:19*).
Our ligaments in our body are powerful agents of connection and movement. Ligaments around my knee make it flexible enough to kneel yet strong enough to wheel a rugby scrum when I straighten it.
The Holy Spirit wishes to work in us, binding us together in powerfully flexible relationships that allow for freedom and strength.
Ligaments can be powerful-but-fragile things. Think about the weightlifter who can pull a jumbo jet but then later twist his ankle on a small stone.
When we function well (with integrity and respect) in the relationships God gives us, we can do amazing things with that unity. If we function badly through disrespect and a lack of integrity, we can destroy unity.
* Col2:19 (talking about the unspiritual man…) He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. (See second para above.)
2008-06-27 – “Grieve….”
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians4:30)We can grieve the Holy Spirit.
(My Greek Dictionary defines the word for “grieve” as pain, grieve, injure, hurt.)
The Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) experiences a relationship of love that is impossible to imagine in its intimacy and intensity.
Furthermore, this same God has chosen to send His Spirit into a relationship with us that is so intimate that He makes Himself vulnerable so that we can actually hurt (or grieve) Him.
I believe there are many ways that we can “grieve” the Holy Spirit. Most people would probably list the following as the primary ways in which we grieve the Holy Spirit:
1. Outright disobedience to His prompting.
What is very interesting that in the context that Paul writes, this verse is among a number of verses that deal with our human relationships:
* Put off falsehood
* Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
* Stop stealing
* We must work, doing something useful with our own hands and share with the needy
* We must be kind, compassionate and forgiving in our dealings with each other.
The warning about grieving the Holy Spirit is nestled among these verses, clearly implying that when we hurt or neglect others we grieve Him…
2008-07-15 – “Imbibe!”
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians5:18)(A little longer today…)
This is probably one of the most helpful analogies Paul uses for understanding the working of the Holy Spirit.
Many people are offended at the idea of using intoxication as an analogy for being filled with the Spirit, but there are distinct similarities _and_ differences that are very well worth noticing:
Let’s start with the similarities:
1. How do you know someone has had lots of wine? They shpeak differently, they act differently (stumble,etc), they perceive differently (see double etc), and they lose inhibitions (and wisdom.)
You can also see someone who is full of the Spirit: They are gentle, perceptive, loving, patient, kind and filled with the fruit of the Spirit.
2. How do you stay intoxicated? You have to keep drinking! How do you stay filled with the Spirit? You have to keep giving Him control – you have to keep imbibing! It is completely the wrong idea to think that we are filled with the Spirit once and for all. Paul uses a present continuous tense when he says “be filled” – he really means “keep on being filled.”
3. The level of alcohol in the bloodstream – the exposure of the body to alcohol – indicates the level of control that has been given over to the drug. i.e. The more you have, the more it controls you. The same is true of the Spirit, the more we allow Him into the various areas of our lives, the more influence He will have.
Now, before any of these similarities become disturbing, let’s look at the significant differences:
1. Alcohol tends to bring out the worst in people – there are the initial stages of intoxication that people refer to a “social lubricant” or “dutch courage”, but these are false states. Alcohol creates chemical and mental dependency, lowers responsibility, dulls perception and ultimately destroys. The Holy Spirit brings the best out of us – nothing false – when the Spirit helps us to love or endure, it is the real deal – it is _us_ loving and _us_ enduring. We are not sense-dulled but fully human and fully ourselves.
2. Alcohol is a controller – it overrides us. It TAKES control. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, we GIVE Him control. It is our choice and we can resist the process at any point.
3. Our bodies process alcohol. To be “intoxicated” is to be full of something that is ultimately toxic to us. The influence of alcohol is diminished as we work it out of our bloodstreams. We don’t diminish the power of the Holy Spirit. But when we show fewer signs of being full of the Spirit, it is not because the Spirit is weak, but because we have excluded Him from various areas of our lives. Our “levels of the Spirit’s presence in our life-streams” are voluntary.
So, to sum up, being filled with the Spirit is about allowing Him to influence us in the various areas of our lives. It is about giving Him all the control. He doesn’t body-snatch or intoxicate us, but as we hand Him the reins, we become the best that we can be.
2008-07-16 – “Dry readings and disconnected prayers”
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians6:17-18)Paul is talking about the armour of God. He has concludes his list with Scripture and Prayer. Interestingly he connects both to the Spirit of God.
I believe it is possible to read Scripture and to pray in a deeper and more meaningful way than in our own strength alone.
It is the Holy Spirit who helps us read God’s Word:
– Jesus opened the Scriptures to the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk24:32)
– David prayed “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Ps119:18)
– The two on the road to Emmaus road had their hearts burning as Jesus preached the Old Testament to them.
Bible reading can be a dry chore or be enhanced by the powerful working of the Spirit who will enlighten our reading, convict us, and help us understand and apply what we read.
So too our prayers can be “vain repetition” or something that is intimate, transforming and meaningful. I believe that the key to “Praying in the Spirit” is learning to _listen_ more in our praying. Some people say that praying in the Spirit is to pray in tongues, but I am not at all convinced about this. I think praying in the Spirit _could_ involve praying in tongues, but much more importantly, praying in the Spirit is about being sensitive the promptings of the Spirit.
Praying in the Spirit is to put my prayer-shopping-list to one side and to repent when the Spirit prompts me of sin in my life, or to pray for a need that He places on my heart. Praying in the Spirit is about learning to be in dialogue with the “Still Small Voice.” The more we work at it, the better we get.
Bible Reading and Prayer are two fundamental Christian disciplines. We _can_ plug away in our own strength or receive the help of the Spirit. Both levels of assistance require a listening attitude.
2008-07-17 – “Coping”
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. (Philippians1:19)Paul was in a tough spot. He was writing to the Philippians from prison. While he was in prison, some of his enemies were preaching the Gospel in the hope that it would stir up trouble for Paul. (The consensus is that they were doing it in an insensitive and provocative way to stir up trouble for Paul and to put the Gospel in a bad light.)
Paul is convinced that he can weather the storm. He relies on the help of the Holy Spirit and their prayers (which are, as we see from other parts of Scripture, prompted by and prayed in and through the Spirit.)
It is an incredibly hopeful thing to know that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength, support, help and power to overcome difficult circumstances in our lives.
We do not have to face struggles and trials alone. We can receive the divine assistance to keep going!
Paul wasn’t released from Prison, these people didn’t stop preaching, but Paul continued as a Pen-Pastor writing to congregations and giving us a significant chunk of the New Testament.
Do you know someone who is struggling at the moment? You can help with your prayers. You can ask the Holy Spirit to help them endure and overcome.
At the end of the day deliverance will come!
2008-07-18 – “Friendship”
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete…… (Philippians2:1-2)These verses form the prelude to Paul’s appeal that the Philippians should have a Christ-like attitude. In a sense, these verses are saying: “If you ARE truly Christians, then work hard at becoming _even_more_ like Jesus.”
What interests me is the idea that Paul indicates the following “symptoms” for a Christian:
– United with Christ (We receive Him as our Saviour.)
– Comfort from His love (Grace not Law)
– Fellowship with the Spirit
– Tenderness and Compassion (Heart of Stone replaced with Heart of Flesh)
So, what is “fellowship with the Spirit”?
This is a thought that permeates many of the passages in the New Testament and the Old – that day by day and moment by moment there can and should be a series of interactions between us and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will nudge, prompt, convict, comfort and guide and we can ignore, respond, obey, pray, ask, praise and trust.
This relationship is so intimate that we make it hard for ourselves. We expect it to be something big and fancy – I alway jokingly say that the Spirit doesn’t speak with a booming Tele-evangelist-like voice “Theo, this is the Lorrrrrd!” – but He speaks in a still, small, voice. It is super-natural rather than supernatural.
And, we have have to practice listening to hear Him better.
Disobeying or Ignoring His voice “fills our ears with wax” whereas every obedient or co-operative response improves our hearing.
Some of the most Spirit-led-and-filled people I know have learned the secret of quietness and listening. We can enjoy a friendship with the Holy Spirit, but we will need to learn to be still and know that He is God!
2008-07-29 – “Authentic Worship”
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians3:3)The Philippians were being influenced by a Jewish contingent who claimed that they needed the visible rituals of circumcision and Jewish rituals around food and cleanliness to be “real” believers.
Jesus encountered something similar with the woman at the well in Samaria: The Jews bragged that they had the temple in Jerusalem while the Samaritans had to worship in Samaria. There was an age-old feud about whether it was better to worship at Jerusalem or Samaria.
Jesus cut right through the argument: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (John 4:23)”
Paul applies the same principle here: It’s not about temples, circumcision or rituals. Worship is something that the Holy Spirit helps us to do. The more we open ourselves to Him, the deeper and more sincere our worship will be.
People become very entrenched in their worship “styles”. Some can only worship with a traditional pipe-organ and Wesleyan hymns. Others find that they cannot worship if the drummer doesn’t arrive or if there are too many “slow songs.”
Glen Craig (my mentor in ministry) always said that true spiritual maturity is when we can attend a traditional service in the morning and rock with the charismatics in the evening and emerge from both services and say “Now THAT was worship!”
It is the Holy Spirit who helps us see that Jesus is the main-event. Rituals, traditions and worship styles are just the supporting acts. Next time you attend a worship service (whether in your “style” or another,) take a moment to bow your head an pray “Open my eyes Holy Spirit that I may see Jesus.”
2008-07-30 – “At the root of real change”
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. (1Thessalonians1:4-7)Paul is talking about the conversion of the Thessalonians. As he works through the evidence of this incredible change in their lives, it is obvious that he sees the Holy Spirit as an integral part of their new life!
Let’s look at the characteristics of their life-change:
* Not just words but power: One of the best examples of this is Billy Graham who speaks a simple message and avoids emotional manipulation and yet thousands come forward to give their lives to Christ. There is power in the words and that power is the power of the Holy Spirit.
* With the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. It’s easy to come forward and to pray a prayer. Real life-change is harder. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us bring about major change within.
* Persevering and Joyful Imitation of Godly role-models. Real change means that people seek to become more like Christ and His faithful followers. The Holy Spirit brings a sense of pleasure and privilege to this process, even when it gets costly.
* They became role-models. They set a great example and became a living testimony of Christ’s power to transform lives.
There are two things that we must take from this passage:
1. Are these four aspects of Spiritual Life-Change still true of me?
-Does God’s Word still have power in my life?
-Am I still deeply convicted by the Spirit’s prompting or is my heart hard?
-Can I push through in hard times or does trouble dilute my faithfulness?
– Am I a good role-model for other Christians?
2. We can’t manage the challenges in 1 without help. We need the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Can we say “yes” to His promptings?
2008-07-31 – “What is to come”
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith… (1Timothy4:1)Paul is mentoring young Timothy. One of the things he wants to bring to Timothy’s attention is that the Holy Spirit does, from time to time, nudge leaders about what is to come.
There are spiritual seasons in nations and cultures. Times when people are open and receptive to the things of God and times when cultures become hedonistic and hard-hearted.
Timothy served in Ephesus and Paul’s warning was that people were going to abandon warm-hearted faith. It is interesting that the book of Revelation, written about 30 years later, contains a letter from Jesus to the church in Ephesus where He laments that they have “lost their first love.”
This is a very difficult facet of the work of the Spirit. At the moment there are many who claim to be “prophets” and “listening to God” courses abound. We have to be very careful. The Holy Spirit _does_ guide us and at times will “nudge” us about trends and opportunities in our cultures and communities, BUT we need to be very wise about this…
If it’s the work of the Holy Spirit:
– it will not contradict basic Biblical truths and principles
– it will be confirmed by other spiritually mature Christians
– similar “nudges” will be experienced by other Christians independently.
The key to this aspect of the Spirit’s work is to understand that it is something that He does. We cannot push it, prime it, or produce it. We should not be obsessed with prophecy and go looking for it everywhere. It will happen when the Spirit sees fit.
2008-08-01 – “No longer timid!”
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
(2Timothy1:6-7)This is one of my favourite passages about the Holy Spirit!
Paul is talking about laying hands on Timothy (probably in some form of ordination). As he did that, Timothy was filled and renewed with the equipping of the Holy Spirit.
There are two important things to say about this:
1. Paul likens the equipping power of the Holy Spirit as a fire: it must be fanned into flame. As a physical fire needs a steady flow of oxygen to burn brightly, so the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives needs (different) oxygen to thrive. That “oxygen” is spelled a-v-a-i-l-a-b-i-l-i-t-y. At the end of the day we can be talented and resourced but still useless if we are not _available_. The Spirit is ready to work powerfully in those who without conditions and without “if’s or buts” say: “Here am I Lord, send me.”
2. The Spirit’s presence in our lives helps us to overcome fear. We can overcome nagging doubts, fear of failure and even outright terror through the equipping and transforming power of the Spirit. His equipping takes three forms:
– Power: (Greek=dunamis from where we get dynamite and dynamo – I prefer the latter as a picture of the Spirit’s work.) He gives us the power to transform, the power to become better people and the power to overcome fear and sin.
– Love: Love is the key strategic weapon in our mission to reach and change the world. Our own capacity to love is fairly limited. Continued closeness to God increases our capacity to love.
– Self-Discipline: I have likened our sinful nature to the law of entropy:- we are subject to ongoing personal decay. It is the Spirit who helps us to improve and transform our lives.
As we make ourselves available to God’s service, we, like Timothy, can be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Are you willing to put aside the rush of your own agenda and say “OK Lord, here I am! Use me”?
2008-08-05 – “Toothpaste?”
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2Timothy1:13-14)Some bumper sticker wisdom: “Read your Bible everyday to prevent Truth-Decay.”
This is not too far off the mark! There are a number of things Paul suggests to Timothy to prevent Truth Decay:
1. Use the good teaching he received as a pattern. Timothy didn’t have a completed set of the Scriptures yet, the New Testament didn’t exist yet and the Old Testament was still reaching its final compiled form. We are fortunate to have the complete Scriptures and we should use the Scriptures as a pattern or template for our lives.
2. But Bible knowledge is not enough. It is easy to deal with the Scriptures intellectually, but Paul calls Timothy to interact with it on a life-level. If we engage with the Scriptures honestly and if we truly “get” its message, then faith and love in and for Christ is the obvious response.
3. The Gospel is something that God “entrusts” to us. It is not “my salvation” it is His – not something that has its end in me, but something that is entrusted to me. (Interestingly the more we share it with others, the more it means to us!)
We will have to account for what we did with salvation. We will have to preserve the vitality and power of that message in our lives. Do you remember the Churches in Revelation? Ephesus “forgot their first love” and Laodicea were “neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.”
The Holy Spirit works in us to guard the “good deposit”. He will “keep it real” in us if we will open our hearts to His promptings. He is the one who helps us live in faith and love. He is the one makes our “hearts burn” when we read the Scriptures.
2008-08-06 – “From the start”
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus3:4-6)There are many who argue that a Christian _must_ have a separate, dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit. They often use the argument that coming to know Jesus is like getting into a new car, but that an experience of the Holy Spirit is like adding fuel to the car. (They picture many Christians sitting in stationary cars…)
The amazing thing is that the most powerful work of the Holy Spirit in our lives takes place at our conversion – at the point where we put our trust in Him and ask Him to forgive our sins and be Lord of our lives.
Paul writes to Titus of rebirth and renewal when we trust Christ. He talks of the Holy Spirit poured out generously on us through Christ our Saviour. This work of rebirth and renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is His glorious work in us.
The truth is: One single “tank-filling” whether at conversion or later isn’t going to do it. The truth is what we learned a few weeks ago: we have to keep drinking of the Holy Spirit.
The point Paul is making here, is that we don’t have to “wait for a Pentecost” like the disciples had to. For those who give their lives to Christ there is complete and immediate access to the riches of the Spirit. We can start “imbibing” (to quote an earlier eDev) straight away.
While it _is_ true that _some_ people have dramatic experiences subsequent to trusting Christ, this is not the norm that Scripture teaches us.
Conversion: When our rebel-against-God nature is overthrown by a desire for God and our sins are forgiven and our names are written into the book of life and we start living for Him – all this is caused by the Spirit in us – it’s powerful powerful stuff and its there from the start!
2008-08-07 – “Gifts in context”
This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
(Hebrews2:3-4)It has happened to all of us… we talk about “our” gifts. People will say, “My spiritual gift is teaching and evangelism.” Most of the time it is just shorthand for saying: “The Gifts that the Holy Spirit has placed in me are teaching and evangelism.” But there are times when we are guilty of seeing the Spiritual Gifts incorrectly.
It is very easy to think that Spiritual Gifts are “ours” that we deserve them and that we need to be honoured or respected for them. The author of the letter to the Hebrews is very helpful to us in that he puts the gifts into context.
The important thing is not us or our gifts. The important thing is salvation. Miracles, signs, wonders and spiritual gifts are all in service of one great and glorious purpose: That people would turn to Christ and be saved.
Can Jesus save?
There are signs in Scripture and in our lives that say that He can!
Can God turn lives around?
There are wonders and miracles that say “Absolutely!”
Can God transform our lives?
There are Spirit-unleashed gifts in you and me that say “Oh Yes!”
The Holy Spirit gives gifts as He sees fit. It is not about us, but about getting the work of spreading the gospel done.
There is something very inspiring about watching someone who is really gifted use their gifts unpretentiously in God’s service. It is amazing to watch someone sing, preach, lead, serve, give, or administer in a powerful way and realise that for them it is all about God and it doesn’t matter what others may think.
It testifies to the gospel!
2008-08-08 – “Sanctified Identity”
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood. (1Peter1:1-2)In his “Building the Local Church Course,” Malan Nel, a Godly Prof at TUKS Theology Faculty, talks about “Identity Preaching” as preaching that reminds God’s people who they are in Christ.
We live in a world system that turns us into numbers. We are reduced to being rats in the rat race. We are pressured to find our identity in our toys and trinkets rather than in what God has made us to be. We need constant reminding to become more aligned to what God designed us for.
Peter begins his letter to the scattered churches with some solid “identity preaching.”
Here are some of aspects of our God-given identity revealed in these verses:
1. We’re God’s elect – He started the work in us. It’s not that we decided one day to wake up and do God a big favour by giving our hearts to Him – He has been working in us – we did not choose Him, He chose us!
2. Although the Christians were scattered all over the world, their coming to faith was not an accident – God foreknew them, He had a plan for them. Do you remember Nathanael? When he was introduced to Jesus, his objections about Jesus were blown away when Jesus said “I saw you when you were still under the fig tree.” (Basically what it means that Nathanael had been praying and that Jesus knew his prayers and his heart.) God is at work in us long before we acknowledge Him.
3. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. To sanctify is to make holy or to set apart for Holy use. We need help to overcome sin and we need help to become more like Jesus. Fortunately we don’t struggle on our own. We have powerful help.
4. Sanctification isn’t just about not sinning (i.e. avoiding the negatives) it is about obeying Jesus. The work of the Spirit also helps us to confess our ongoing sins and receive the “sprinkling” of His blood-bought forgiveness.
This is who we are: elected, foreknown, worked-in-and-through so that we can follow Jesus better.
It’s much much better than being a rat!
2008-08-12 – “Inspiration”
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
(2Peter1:21)When it comes to authorship of the Bible and Christian Literature and the reading of both, I like to use two words: Inspiration and Illumination.
_Inspiration_ is what Peter is talking about here: The Holy Spirit breathed Scripture (see 2Tim3:16) into the hearts of the Biblical authors. They were divinely equipped to bring a reliable message from God to us. They weren’t just stenographers, writing as God dictated – Paul sounds different to John and Luke has a different perspective to Matthew, but their message is completely reliable. They retained their full humanity while the scripture message they recorded remained God-inspired.
Christian Literature, from Augustine to Calvin to Lucado, Graham, Stott and Peterson are in a different category. Their reflections on the truths of Scripture have been _Illuminated_ by the Holy Spirit. Their thoughts and meditations on Scriptural Truths are guided and informed by the Holy Spirit – He helps them understand what they have read and He helps them to express it, but their contribution can be tainted by their baggage, agendas and the axes they might have to grind.
We read Inspired Scripture praying for Illumination. We read Illuminated Christian Literature with discretion, praying that the Holy Spirit will help us look past human frailties to grasp the truth.
A modern trend I see is that many Christians read lots of Literature, but neglect the reading of Scripture. When we understand the difference between Inspiration and Illumination, then the value of Scripture (“first hand” rather than “second hand” truth) is obvious.
What is striking is the ongoing working of the Holy Spirit in the writing, reading, understanding and applying of what we read in Scripture and Literature.
Holy Spirit – please be at work in my reading!
2008-08-13 – “Indwelt Agenda”
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
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. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God… (1John3:24-4:2)We have a friend whose phone number is 084 4634663. When you ask him what his number is, he says “084 GodInMe.” (If you look at the keys on your cell-phone and you press each key that has the appropriate letter on it, you get the number!)
At first I thought it was a bit flippant, but the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated what he had done. It isn’t just an aid to remembering – it takes more thinking to dial because you have to look for the letters. What it does do, is make one think about an incredible truth.
God is not distant and unknowable as the Agnostics say. He is personal and intimate. He lives in us! The Holy Spirit resides in our lives and He is at work! He helps us obey God’s commands, He counsels, He convicts and He comforts.
But there are many religions that talk about being indwelt. From being possessed by (evil) spirits to the new age teachings that argue that we are all part of some “cosmic consciousness” there many versions of being indwelt.
So how is Christianity different? John says that there are many false prophets and “spirits.” But the presence of God’s Holy Spirit is very easily discernible because He has a very clear agenda: He wants Jesus Christ acknowledged.
This is the agenda of the One who indwells us – that Jesus Christ be glorified as the Risen Son of God and our only Saviour. We are often guilty of making our comfort and guidance the “main agenda” for the Holy Spirit. But Scripture is very clear: God’s glory is the ultimate end and this is the best possible outcome for the world! And so the Holy Spirit will move us toward worshipping and glorifying Christ.
John the Baptist was a good example of this agenda at work: He said “He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease.”
This is a mark of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
(Those who know John’s writings well, know that there is more to the “come in the flesh” than I have had space to explain. In a nutshell, the gnostics (false teachers of the day) said that Jesus couldn’t possibly be divine if He came into our (flesh) world. John’s argument is that the glory of God is inextricably linked to His act of stepping into our broken world and redeeming it.)
2008-08-15 – “Divisive”
19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude1:19)The letter of Jude is one of those very short letters right at the end of the New Testament. It’s written by Jude, a brother of James, to the church in general warning them about false teachers that were doing the rounds.
Jude talks about them as those who infiltrate and divide. They brought false teaching and pointed the people away from simple trust in Christ as their Saviour.
What is interesting to me is what our text verse says: People who do not have the Spirit are divisive and slaves of natural desires.
It’s the divisive part that captures my attention because I have had the misfortune of witnessing plenty of divisiveness in the wider church!
Many of the divisions I have witnessed have been turf-wars, pride-wars, tradition-wars and control-wars. People involved in these spats have strong feelings and noble arguments. If they don’t make the outright claim that they are spiritually superior to those who disagree with them, they certainly imply a “holier than thou” attitude!
The sobering reality that Jude gives us is this: those who divide the church are not operating under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“What about Martin Luther?” you might say, “didn’t he divide the church?” There is a difference between openly and honestly confronting evil in the church and divisiveness, but the route to take to the former is open, honest and courageous confrontation. Not faction-making, gossip-slander, innuendo, hidden agendas and political manipulation.
Take careful heed of this principle: If you are part of anything that is divisive and your cause is anything but holy – then it is clear evidence that you are bereft of the Spirit.
2008-08-19 – “An urgent appeal.”
29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation2:7)In Revelation there are seven letters written to seven churches in Asia Minor. The most reliable interpretation is that these churches represent the whole church. It is very striking indeed that in all seven letters this phrase about listening to the Spirit is repeated.
The repetition should become our mantra. May we hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear the Spirit! Across the spectrum of Christian expression from Charismatic to Traditional, from Mainline to Independent, from Modern to Liturgical, from Liberal to Conservative, from Mega to Mini, from Strong to Struggling we have an urgent responsibility:
WE MUST LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT.
What does this mean in the life of a congregation?
1. Prayerfulness and an attitude of worship
2. Godly leaders who are quiet and humble in their dependence on God.
3. People who are willing to surrender their own agenda’s for God’s plan.
4. Leaders who are willing to listen to what the Spirit may say through others on the team.
5. A resolve to move from talk to action.
6. Attentiveness to listen for course corrections lest we drift off on our own passions and interests.
7. A willingness to repent from wrongdoing and stubbornness.
But this urgent appeal is not just true for congregations – it is true for us as individuals. If we were to sum up our response to the wonderful comfort of the Spirit’s presence in our lives, it must be this one significant word: Listen!
We have come to the end of a survey of some of the passages that talk about the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testament. It’s taken more than a year (with breaks and diversions) and it has by no means been exhaustive. I hope that it has been informative and inspirational. In the next few days I will publish the collated set on our website.
Please take a moment to give me some anonymous feedback on the edevs in general. Go to http://www.emmanuel.org.za/edevsurvey.php and fill in the survey there. It will help me deliver a better product.
Maybe you can also email me with any feedback on aspects of the Holy Spirit series that have been meaningful to you.
I will skip the next two days and start a new theme on Friday!