Wednesday, August 22, 2012

walking through the gospel: the Holy Spirit, our gift

As a believer, have you ever felt a nudging that you couldn't quite explain but you just knew it was God? Something like a whisper in your heart that said, "do this..."? And you knew it wasn't your thought because not only was it the right thing to do, it was also something you didn't want to do? ;)

That's the Holy Spirit at work in your heart!

The Holy Spirit is kind of like the moving agent of the Lord at work in the world today. He is a person who is a Spirit, equal with the Father {God} and the Son {Jesus}. He is known as the comforter, the counselor, and the helper. He convicts us of our sin, He brings love, joy, and all the good things {the light we talked about last week} to our hearts.

The Holy Spirit is probably the most overlooked of the three today, but He actually has a very prominent place in the Bible. Jesus spoke of Him often and gave us a look into what the Spirit would do after He was gone:

Before Jesus died on the cross, He gave us good news- he promised that a helper would come after He left:

John 16:7
Nevertheless, 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 if I go, I will send him to you.

And Jesus told us exactly what the Holy Spirit would do:

John 14:26
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 that I have said to you.

So the Holy Spirit is our teacher- He brings wisdom to our hearts straight from the source- from God's Word. He only teaches truth that is straight from God:

John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

The Spirit testifies to us the truth, that Jesus is God:

John 15:26
"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

But Jesus is very clear that the Holy Spirit is for believers alone. The world can't receive His Spirit of truth:

John 14:16-17
 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,f to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

But what was the purpose- why did God give us this Spirit? He gave us the Spirit because we are now His children, and He wants us to remember that we are His, and He is our Father:

Galatians 4:4-6
 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 

Like a child cries out to his father, we cry out to our Father in Heaven. We know who our Father is, because He reminds us with the Spirit. When our hearts are heavy, when we feel lonely, and when we hurt or disobey- we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and comforts us with His Holy Spirit here on earth.

So we know that believers have the Holy Spirit inside of them- that God Himself resides in the hearts of those who believe. Remember how we talked about animal sacrifices as payment for sins

Before Jesus came, God's presence would only reside in the holy temple, and the law and the cleansing of sin by animal sacrifices that were required to come before God were just a shadow of the things to come.

After Jesus died on the cross, there was no longer a reason for holding animal sacrifices in the temple, because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind. And after He died and rose again there was no longer any need for a physical temple either.

Because Jesus came, the Holy Spirit can reside in the heart of the believer- because we are made pure through the blood of Christ. We are clean- and the very Spirit of God can dwell in us!! We have become the "temple" of God! Isn't that incredible?

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16Do you not know that youb are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

So because we have been made clean and the Holy Spirit resides in us, we now can offer spiritual sacrifices to God- which means we can give up ourselves- our will, and do good for the glory and purpose of God.  

Romans 12:1-2
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers,a by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.b 2Do not be conformed to this world,c but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.d

But how can we do it on our own? We can't without the help of our Father and His gift to us, the Holy Spirit:

Romans 8:12-17
12So then, brothers,d we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sonse of God. 
15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Because we are the children of God, we are to live like the Son of God did on this earth- to put to death sin and the desires of our flesh. Jesus did it perfectly so that we can receive His Spirit and now do the same. 

Because the Spirit lives in us and tells us what to do, we can't stay the same as we were before. It's like the light and the darkness we talked about before. The Spirit can't be in the darkness, because He is light.

So what does the Spirit at work actually look like in your life as a believer? 

When you forgive someone, and your heart leaves that burden of hurt and sadness behind- that's the Holy Spirit working in your heart.

When you feel tempted to do something you know is wrong, and your heart tells you not to do it- to run the other way- that is the Holy Spirit at work in you. And not only does He tell you to run away- He gives you the strength to do it!

1 Corinthinas 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

When you feel a whisper in your heart to give something to someone, to help this person, or to pray for this person right now- that's the Holy Spirit doing His work!

When you walk through a really difficult trial, and you feel joy at the end of it- that's the Holy Spirit refining and changing you!

Did you realize that God was talking to you every day? :)

I have so many stories of the amazing Holy Spirit working- He blows me away every.single.time. 

Strange things start to happen when you listen to the Holy Spirit. He will tell you to randomly email or call people, and then you find out that at that very moment the person was crying or needed encouragement!  And that's when you get chill bumps... because God is cool like that! :)

I wish I could sit and share with you all the crazy awesome things that He has orchestrated in the past two years alone. Someday in Heaven I think we will all get to sit together and talk about all the ways He worked in our lives back here on earth!

The Holy Spirit is truly the most amazing gift to us as believers- we get to be transformed by Him on a daily basis.

He is always revealing our sin, teaching us to do what is right, showing us what the Bible means, giving us wisdom to make decisions, orchestrating the events of our day, helping us forgive and be gracious to others, and changing us to be more and more like Jesus. 

That's the beautiful thing about salvation- God rescues us from the person that we used to be, and transforms us into a new creation! It sounds too good to be true- but it's not.

The life of a believer is definitely not easy- because you have to put to death what you want. But at the same time, it's easier to do than you ever thought it would be, because you have the Holy Spirit to help you do it. 

That's what we will talk about next week {Lord-willing!}- how by the grace of the God we can live in this fallen flesh. It's only through His power, isn't it? Thank you Jesus, for giving us the Helper!

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