Monday, May 8, 2017
Creed: The Holy Spirit
Read: “The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Look, I have chosen Bezalel, Uri’s son and Hur’s grandson from the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the divine Spirit, with skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of work. He will be able to create designs; do metalwork in gold, silver, and copper; cut stones for setting; carve wood; and do every kind of work.’” Exodus 31:1-5 (CEB)
Think About: The Apostles’ Creed contains the phrase, “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” When I was very young, the church used the King James Version, and that was the Bible I had. It used the term “Holy Ghost.” For me, a ghost was more like a dead person coming back in a scary form, so I could never quite understand it. Was the Holy Ghost really Jesus who came back to life? My mother was never really able to convince me with my young mind that the Holy Ghost was a distinctly different person than Jesus or God. In my own mind I couldn’t understand it or grasp it.
During my youth we had Bible drills in Sunday school and had contests to be the first to find Bible verses. We memorized scripture and the books of the Bible. At an early age I memorized John 4:24: “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” (As a note, this is the verse I highlighted in the Bible to be placed in the new Contemporary Worship Center.) If God is a Spirit, then who is the Holy Spirit I asked. Are there two Spirits, God and the Holy Spirit? Modern translations of the Bible use the term “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost.” This is a better term as it has come to mean life or living essence.
The Spirit is mentioned throughout the Bible: starting with Genesis and the creation, in the above Exodus scripture, and throughout the New Testament. Adam Hamilton, in his book Creed points out the Isaiah 61:1 verse used by Jesus in his first sermon in his hometown of Nazareth. In Ezekiel 36:27 (NIV) God says, “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Hamilton points out we see the work of the Spirit in guiding God’s people and influencing them to do His will.
The Holy Spirit may be the voice you hear in your head to help someone in need, or to help with a need at church. The Spirit may be speaking to you about getting more involved with spreading God’s love to a lost world. The Lord told Moses that Bezalel had talent to do certain things bestowed by the divine Spirit. What gifts and talents do you have? Are you listening for that small voice? More importantly, what will you do in response?
Pray this Prayer: Father God, thank you that you sent the Holy Spirit to be a force in this world. May your Spirit form me and shape me to better serve your purpose for my life. Nudge me and speak to me so that I clearly see what I should do in your kingdom here. I ask this I the name of Jesus. Amen
Wednesday May 10, 2017
Read:“When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” Acts 2:1-4 (CEB)
Think About: Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he told his followers “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” (Acts 1:8) A few weeks later it came to pass. The Holy Spirit came and they were all filled and began to speak in other languages. They were changed and were able to do things they were not able to do previously, like speak in a different language.
The Holy Spirit indwells His people, and shapes us. It changes us from the inside out. The work of the Spirit in our lives long before we become Christ followers is called God’s prevenient grace. When we decide to trust in Christ, the Spirit shapes us and works in us to reconcile us to God. This is God’s justifying grace. The Holy Spirit works in us to transform us, or sanctify us, into the person God intends us to be.
As I look back over my life I can see how the Holy Spirit has allowed me to do things I never thought possible and had never planned to do. For example, I was involved in a small non-profit organization and was assigned with the task of fundraising. This was a task on the top of my “I will never do” list — raising money. God opened some doors and it turned out okay. The organization was able to raise sufficient funds to operate comfortably. My abilities and “talents” have allowed me to work on projects and activities helping the less fortunate, with Habitat for Humanity as an example, and with other endeavors. Most importantly, the Holy Spirit has given me the attitude to want to do this type of activity. This is different from what I did years ago when my attention was more on “me” and “mine.”
Bible study, church attendance, small group interaction with other Christians and prayer are necessary for Spiritual growth. It is the Holy Spirit that equips us with the gifts, strength and attitude to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.
Pray this Prayer: Father God, thank you that you are an active God. Thank you for caring about me and sending your Spirit to live in me. Help me to clearly recognize and be responsive to the Spirit’s nudgings. I ask this in Christ’s name. Amen
Friday, May 12, 2017
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.” Galatians 5:22-23 (CEB)
Think About: How does the Holy Spirit affect our lives? Paul tells us in his letter to Christians in Galatia “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The fruit is singular, yet contains nine qualities or attributes. The Spirit in those who walk in dependence on Him produces these attributes.
In verses 16-18 of Galatians 5 (NRSV) we read: “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.” Everyone receives a sinful nature at birth. It is never eradicated. However, the Spirit can control it. That’s what Paul was telling the Galatians and us. A tree with attractive fruit is much more pleasing to the eye than a tree with no leaves or fruit. We will be much more effective in our daily lives, whether at work or at play, if we exude the fruit of the Spirit.
Adam Hamilton, in his book Creed, sums up the section on the Holy Spirit as follows:
“To recap, in our daily Christian life, it is the Spirit that nudges and beckons us this way or that. It is the Spirit that helps us pray. It is the Spirit that equips us with gifts to serve others. It is the Spirit that grants us the strength and grace to become increasingly like Christ. When we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, we find power to be transformed and to be useful in fulfilling God’s purposes.”
I believe in the Holy Spirit, do you?
Pray this Prayer: Father, I thank you for scripture and for your unfailing grace. Thank you for loving me and leading me out of the wilderness. Thank you Holy Spirit for living in me and directing my path. Help me to be more attuned to you. Show me where I can serve you and spread your love in a hurting world. In Jesus’ name I pray this, Amen.