I can’t believe the prayerful time I experienced earlier this year that led to our recent season focusing on the Holy Spirit has come to a conclusion already. As we are getting ready into start a new season on Discipleship, much like the changing we are experiencing from summer to autumn, take a moment with me to reflect. Let me share a reading from Dan Wilt, who was one of the musicians and authors that inspired our recent series, How to Start a Fire.
Dan was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, where first learned to follow Jesus, speak, tell stories, and write. As an author, speaker, worship leader, an encourager of Christians in all streams of the Beautiful Church, Dan has impacted thousands over his three decades in ministry, teaching the US, UK, Canada, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Australias and Brazil. As an author and Bible teacher associated with Asbury Theological Seminary, I first learned of Dan and have seen such beauty in his writing that inspired me to encourage us to have a season focusing on the Holy Spirit.
So, as we come to the conclusion of our journey through scripture exploring the person and work of the Holy Spirit, I invite you to take a few moments to spend time with this reading as if we were looking at a photo album together of a wonderful trip. Worshipfully, view all of the places that we have been that Dan summarizes so beautifully.
“Today, an awareness of the activity of the Holy Spirit is vital to the church as it has ever been. The spirit invites us to an infilling, a deep drink, of the living water Jesus offers.
Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit of the bride say, ‘Come! And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Jesus said to his disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit” in John 20:21-22. As we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit today, there be parties of salvation and joy (Acts 2:1), a few things will get moved around (Acts 2:2), we’ll be filled with the fire of love for others (Acts 2:3), and we’ll be empowered with gifts for the mission of loving the world to life in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:4-8, 11b). We learn from the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible), that the Holy Spirit is the Breath of God (ruakh) and the Original Artist (Gen. 1:1), bringing beauty from chaos (Gen. 1:2), animating human life (Gen. 2:7), and sustaining all things seen and unseen (Gen. 2:1). The Holy Spirit speaks to people (Gen. 15:12a), helps us to obey (Gen. 22:1-2), rushes to a humble heart (1 Sam. 16:13a), and renews us in worship (Ps. 51:10-12).
The Holy Spirit is with us everywhere (Ps. 139:7-10), leading us to the good life (ps. 143:10), stirring praise in our spirit (Ex. 15:19-21), and welcoming us to awakening moments (Ex. 3:2-4). The Spirit gives us prophetic discernment (Gen. 41:38), works through our skills (Ex. 31:1-6), orchestrates such-a-time-as-this moments (Esther 4:12-14), and uses God-hearing leaders (Judges 4:14). The Spirit gives us a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26-27), calls a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:4-6a), pours out God’s presence (Joel 2:28-29; 32a), and rests on the Messiah (Isa. 11:1-3). The Holy Spirit empowers the good news that sets captives free (Isa. 61:1-2a), and gives us life (Job 33:4).
We learn from the New Testament that Jesus was with the wind (pneuma) of the Holy Spirit at creation (John 1:1-5), and the Spirit gives us the strength to obey (Luke 1:35) – working powerfully through a person aware of the Father’s love (Matt. 3:16-17). The Spirit makes us born again (John 3:5-8), is our Helper (John 14:16-17), reveals Jesus (John 15:26), and guides us into all truth (John 16:13). The Spirit glorifies Jesus (John 16:14-15; 17:23) and reveals to us the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:9-10). The Spirit always builds up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14), empowers us with the Father’s love (Rom. 8:14-15), and teaches us what to say when we need to declare our faith (Luke 12:11-12). By the Spirit we learn how to talk on the path of life (Gal. 5:16-18), experience freedom (2 Cor. 3:17), gain the fruitful character of Christ (Gal. 5:22-23), quench our spiritual thirst (John 7:37-39), and come out of deserts with power (Luke 4:1-2, 14-15).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus’ resurrection within us (Rom. 8:11), lavishly given by the Father (Luke 11:13), showing us the way of love (1 Cor. 13:1-7), and equipping us for ministry with profound spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-2). The great symphony of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:7) is expressed through the church, and gifts are distributed to all (1 Cor. 12:4-6), many and abundant (1 Cor. 12:8-11), for the building up of the local church (Rom. 12:4-8).
The Holy Spirit strengthens the body through gifted leaders (Eph. 4:11-13), speaks to us through the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-17), through impressions and intuitions (Acts 20:22-24). Through gifts of wisdom (James 3:13, 17; Col) Through gifts of wisdom (James 3:13, 17; Col. 1:9-12), and through the Body of Christ (Acts 13:2-3; Rom. 12:5). The Spirit is a deposit and guarantee of resurrection and the new creation to come (2 Cor. 5:5), helping us wait in hope (Gal. 5:5), giving us divine perspective (Ps. 73:16-17), and opening us to the Father’s love (Gal. 4:6).
We are strengthened inwardly by the Spirit (Eph. 3:16-19), and invited to partner in the healing of the world (John 16:7). The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17) and worship is to flow from us in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). The Holy Spirit gives us righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17-18), fills the temple of the church (! Cor. 3:16), and helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26-27). And the Holy Spirit does much, much more.
While experiences with the Holy Spirit can’t be manufactured, they can be nurtured. Breathe deeply of the Holy Spirit and drink deeply of the living waters Jesus promised. The church of Jesus Christ is given the gift of the Holy Spirit – for the sake of the world.
Receive the Holy Spirit!
Prayer – Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit! My heart is full just reading about your work in history and your work in us as your church. Come, Holy Spirit, I receive you with my whole heart; fill me with your presence. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Reflection – Are you ready to be part of the history of the Holy Spirit in our day and time? What is the next step you could take to do this?
Sunday, we begin a new series called Disciple where we discover five questions Jesus asked his early disciples and that I believe Jesus asks of us today. And, if we were gathering over a cup of coffee, eating dinner together, or meeting up somewhere and Jesus were along with us, we would experience being asked these questions.
· Who do you say that I am?
· Do you understand what I have done?
· Are you listening to me?
· Do you truly love me more than these?
· Do you believe me?
Join us in person or online the next few weeks allowing Jesus to speak to us and respond to His questions to us.