I was talking with my son several weeks back, who challenged me to slightly more frequent blog postings. I had to agree, I tend to post randomly, and in “waves.” This isn’t unlike my postings on “twitter” our “IT and communications guys” at work pushed me into these endeavors of social media for “connectivity’s sake.”
I enjoy this modern communication (mostly) but I’m still working at it. It’s like a tweet I sent out to anyone following me, it was a bit of an apology that went something like this: “To those of you who chose to follow me, sorry about that…I post so seldom, it’s less like ‘following’ and more like you’re just standing there!”
I hope they have a sense of humor!
Anyway, I am going to try to meet my son’s challenge, by posting a blog at the conclusion of every sermon series I preach. Hopefully these will be helpful reminders for those who heard them (or watched them at clcdayton.com), and also helpful thoughts for those just reading the blog. I”ll resist the temptation to being lengthy, or re-preaching the whole sermon in written form. I just plan to highlight a few residual thoughts that may help others.
The series we just completed was titled “Power for Living: the Holy Spirit and You.” This three week message was about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the third person in the never-to-be-totally-figured-out-on-earth mystery of the Trinity. Instead of focusing on what we don’t know, I prefer to take comfort and strength from what is taught in scripture.
On this note, have you ever wondered why the Bible isn’t more complete in answering some of the questions we have? I have! My conclusion is that ‘thinker-types’ like me like to figure everything out. But that isn’t faith! Faith is following, and believing, even when we don’t have all the answers. After all, 2 Corinthians 5:7 celebrates the fact that “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
I’ve said many times in sermons, “God is more interested in us trusting Him, than in us figuring Him out!” So true…and so contrary to our human desire to understand, and THEN follow. So, in this regard, I TRUST all the great things taught about the Holy Spirit in scripture, and the rest, I’ll just take in faith.
OK, on to the Holy spirit. I’d like to summarize three thoughts about the Holy Spirit:
FIRST, LET ME REFLECT ON WHAT HE DOES: The Holy Spirit does SO many things in our daily lives; He teaches us, guides us, and comforts us. I’m thankful for each of these. I’m also so very grateful that He convicts us! Now, most people see conviction in a negative light, like, “You’re guilty, or in trouble.” But when we read John 16:8, we realize the Holy Spirit convicts us of both righteousness as well as of sin. I say GREAT! When it comes to sin, if I didn’t feel convicted when I do it, I’d keep doing it! (Is that too honest?)
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit helps me either avoid sin, or minimize how much I yield to it, by simply convicting me of it. This isn’t some big guilt/shame trip. When He convicts me and I repent, I’m instantly forgiven…and the BENEFIT is that sin’s damage in me and in my life is minimized!
Not only does He convict me of sin to spare me the damage. He convicts me of righteousness! He gives you that soul-felt “atta-boy/girl” when you do that act of kindness; when you put others first…the list goes on. ALSO, He “convicts” you of the right decisions to make. If indeed our lives are a quest for righteousness, we strive to make the right decisions. Again, when you have those soul-felt confirmations when you know “this is the right call.”
If He didn’t do this, think how different life would be. We would NEVER have any internal motivation to do good. Random acts of kindness would be seen as ventures into irrationality! Likewise, we’d never really know if we made the right decisions…we’d live in crippling ambiguity on all decisions of any significance! I’m SO thankful He convicts us.
SECOND, LET’S REFLECT ON THE FRUIT HE BEARS IN US: Galatians 5:22,23 lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit. These can be seen as the character qualities of Jesus. As we follow Christ, we are to become imitators of Him, from the inside out.
Some of them in particular are tested by the difficult people in our lives: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience…to name a few. Indeed, some people test our patience, steal our joy, make it hard to feel peaceful within, and are a challenge to love. One of the spontaneous things I mentioned in this message I really took to heart (OK, The Holy Spirit convicted me that I needed to more often)…”When you are anticipating an encounter with these challenging people, ASK the Holy Spirit ahead of time, to be your relational helper. ASK Him to help guard your peace, joy, and so on.
I’ve been so encouraged since then. When I remember to ASK Him for this relational help, He gives it! I have a LONG way to go, and I’m sure I’ll have many human opportunities to be tested in such ways, but I’m glad what I preach is true, He is our helper from within, and with others.
THIRD, REMEMBER, HE GIVES US GIFTS…TO USE: We spent a week talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As one of our staff said after the Saturday evening service, “So many people go off the deep end in one direction or another, they ruin it for the rest of us!” He was referring to both extremes of either denying that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are even in action today, or the other extreme that make them so mystical, hyped and “over-the-top” that people avoid the subject altogether.
We went through a list of about 24 spiritual gifts that day. There are some pretty spectacular gifts, like miracles, healing and prophecy. these gifts are somewhat “other-worldly” and often defy complete explanation. At the same time, there are many very down-to-earth, practical gifts that MUST be exercised for any meaningful ministry to occur. These include gifts like administration (tending to details), the gift of helps (behind the scenes work), the gift of leadership, and teaching.
As human beings, the Bible tells us we are created in the image of God. The glory of that image was lost long ago when sin became part of human nature. Thankfully, that sin is removed through forgiveness from Christ. The image of God is restored through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, and the Gifts enable us to once again do great things. Learn the joy of serving others, as God intended. Start with the
gifts and abilities that seem to come natural to you, in your everyday opportunities. You”ll be glad you did!