“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” – John 14:25, 26
Did you notice? Some things are just easier than others!
I like straight lines, everything in its place, predictable outcomes, and I don’t like arbitrary stuff, having to ‘wing it,’ or needing to be sensitive and intuitive. But when I got the call (like many of you) to follow Jesus, it forced me to figure out some difficult stuff. Perhaps the most strenuous? Valuing and yielding to the Holy Spirit’s quiet power working in and around me daily.
At the very outset of the Christian experience, one is confronted with the Spirit’s presence and participation with us. “Unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God,” Jesus told the enquiring Pharisee Nicodemus. When we confess Jesus as our Savior, the Spirit immediately revives our inner being (i.e., our spirit) and introduces us into a truly personal relationship with the Eternal God.
Jesus went on, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Every believer’s spirit is truly joined to God’s Spirit. Praise God! However, here Jesus reveals the activity of the Spirit in one’s life may often be unpredictable, and never regimented. We will perceive His movements in and through us, but those will be at His discretion; sometimes frequent, other times rare, sometimes powerful, other times the barest nudge or whisper. And sometimes, nothing at all.
His presence with us is constant but our capacity to perceive that is limited. Hence, ‘the just shall live by faith.’ That is, not only faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior but faith that His Spirit is always accompanying and directing our way. That confidence will be a significant boost to our sense of spiritual wholeness.
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . .” were Jesus’ last recorded words before His ascension. This would result, He promised, in the saints being a ‘witness’ to Him throughout the world. Following the remarkable events of Pentecost (Acts 2) that power was clearly demonstrated in word and deed through the Apostles and the rapidly growing church.
The scriptures use various phrases to describe our journey with the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit,” Galatians 5:16. “Live according to the Spirit,” Romans 8:5 “Led by the Spirit,” Romans 8:14. “Be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18. “Pray in the Spirit,” Ephesians 6:18. All these suggest a most intimate interaction with Him.
History suggests through the centuries following Jesus a widely varying recognition of the Holy Spirit’s ministry among the faithful, sometimes quite evident and other times un-discernable. So then, how are we to become ‘people of the Spirit’ here in the boisterous 21st century? Can we discover our own ‘spiritual flow’ in the context of a church largely focused on organization, doctrine, and service?
Thankfully, we have the words of Jesus, and the Apostles and Prophets to inform us, and many truths and traditions passed to us through the experiences of our parents and other saints. As we seek the Lord together here are some thoughts for your consideration.
- The Bible and the Spirit share a common tone. “Holy men . . . spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) They ‘sound’ alike, they echo Jesus’ voice. ”My words are Spirit and life,” He told us. So, we should consistently tune our spirits to the rhythms of the Word. They will always resonate with the Spirit.
- Determine to act as though God told us the truth. Jesus told the disciples, “I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away the Helper will not come to you, but . . . I will send Him to you.” Pentecost was the confirmation Jesus meant what he said. So, we must daily recognize and affirm the Holy Spirit’s presence in and around us, no matter our mood, feeling, or situation.
- We will not always ‘hear the Spirit’ apart from our own thoughts and judgements. As we continue to serve the Lord, we joyfully discover God values our viewpoint. Our steady commitment to honesty, forthrightness, integrity, and truthfulness becomes a reflection of ‘the mind of the Spirit.’ “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17)
- ‘Holy Spirit’ is not a title that should intimidate us less-than-perfect souls. The Spirit is the working arm of the Trinity. He is the roll-up- your-sleeves, get down and dirty Deity that “helps in our weaknesses.” (Romans 8:26) He is not put off by our lapses, our stupidity, or our struggle with some sin. He is the potent fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to ‘never leave us or forsake us.’ He is the insistent reminder of Jesus’ presence during those tough times. He is to each of us Jesus-power to persevere!
- The direction of Spirit is often most clear when we encounter hurting people. We must sometimes remind ourselves that we’re here for others. When folks are suffering, scared, or confused we will often ‘hear’ their inner cry or ‘feel’ their pain. This important sensitivity isn’t always convenient or pleasant, but it is a vital link between our Creator and His broken creatures. “I sought for a man among them to stand in the gap for me . . .” (Ez. 22:30) This is the place where we can be the face and hands of Jesus and the Spirit loves to highlight those needs!
- Be ‘intentional’ in your relationship with the Spirit. The words of Jesus and the Apostles speak of the gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, the joy of the Spirit, the fellowship and witness of the Spirit . . . all things we may desire, pray for, and experience for ourselves. If you want greater insight or sensitivity, ask for it. Want to speak more clearly and boldly for Jesus? Pray for that. Want to serve? It is the leading of the Holy Spirit that helps position you to be a blessing. But when those opportunities come (and they will), seize them, practice them, and employ them with holy vigor! As my pastor told me, “God doesn’t value your timidity!” Folks do what they have made up their minds to do, don’t they? So, deliberately and resolutely get involved with the Spirit of God! No way to miss Him, He’s always in your space!