The Holy Spirit

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And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you,~Romans 8:11.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams,~Acts 2:17.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,~Gal 5:22-23.

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is a person,~Matt Slick.

The Holy Spirit is not a strange force. He is fully God. He can speak (Acts 13:2); He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11).

He is the Spirit who empowered Jesus, led Him, raised Him from the dead, affirmed Him, bears witness to Him, and overshadowed Mary to conceive Jesus (Matt 1:18-20). He works to convict the world of sin. He lives in believers; continually revealing truth, God’s love, and proving wisdom, insight, and comfort. He works in believers to mold their character into the likeness of Jesus. And there is so much more. He is glorious!

The Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. To some He’s not necessary. To others He’s everything. Some equate Spirit filled living with wild, crazy, and looney manifestations. So, instead of seeking to live empowered by Him there is caution and sometimes quenching of the Spirit. I will say God can do anything He’d like and for some their walk with the Holy Spirit seems unconventional. I pray we are not quick to judge or compare. The only thing we can say is the Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. I’ve seen people laugh, cry, dance, shake, tremble, behave like they’re drunk, speak in tongues and have interpretation, all due to an overwhelming encounter with God’s Spirit. How can we assess the encounters? Well, all the things I’ve mentioned above are recorded in the Bible. And if they weren’t, we still must operate in grace and not accuse others of make believe, being prideful, or attention seeking. Discernment, love, compassion, and grace are needed.

I’ve found the encounter led to the person being changed in some way; deeper understanding of God’s love, healing (emotional or physical), freedom from some stronghold ( addictions, etc…). When God is working, who are we to judge, criticize, or put limits on God? He’s always up to something good.

The Roles of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit serves a great purpose in the Trinity. Without Him we do not have a revelation of Jesus, we have limited to no understanding of Scripture, we have no comforter or depositor of gifts, we have no seal promising we belong to God, and we cannot live empowered lives without Him. He’s significant. He’s so important. He’s vital to living like Jesus.

The Works of the Holy Spirit (credit to Mike Slick for the outline).

Access to God – Eph. 2:18
Inspires prayer – Eph. 6:18; Jude 20
Anoints for Service – Luke 4:18 Intercedes -Rom. 8:26
Assures – Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6 Interprets Scripture – 1 Cor. 2:1,14;
Eph. 1:17
Authors Scripture – 2 Pet. 1:20-21 Leads – Rom. 8:14
Baptizes – John 1:23-34; 1 Cor. 12:13-14
Liberates – Rom. 8:2
Believers Born of – John 3:3-6
Molds Character – Gal. 5:22-23
Calls and Commissions – Acts 13:24; 20:28
Produces fruit – Gal. 5:22-23
Cleanses – 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 Empowers Believers – Luke 24:49
Convicts of sin – John 16:9,14
Raises from the dead – Rom. 8:11
Creates – Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4 Regenerates – Titus 3:5
Empowers – 1 Thess. 1:5
Sanctifies – Rom. 15:16
Fills – Acts 2:4; 4:29-31; 5:18-20
Seals – Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30
Gives gifts – 1 Cor. 12:8-11
Strengthens – Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8; 2:4;
1 Cor. 2:4
Glorifies Christ – John 16:14
Teaches – John 14:26
Guides in truth – John 16:13
Testifies of Jesus – John 15:26
Helps our weakness – Rom. 8:26 Victory over flesh – Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6
Indwells believers – Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 4:6

As we enter this series on the Holy Spirit, I pray our hearts are enlightened to His work in our lives. May we submit to Him, listen to Him, follow Him, and thank Him. He, like Jesus and the Father, is an important part of our lives as believers. May we live Holy Spirit empowered lives! God bless you!

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Hearing God

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John 10:22-30

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

There are people who believe God no longer speaks to His children. There are those who believe God only speaks to certain people. There are those who believe God is always speaking.

I used to fall into the category of believing God only spoke to certain people. I’d hear people say, “I had this dream, vision, thought, or heard this voice and I just knew it was God.” It puzzled and intrigued me. I wanted to talk to God and be able to hear a reply.

My journey started in my late teens when I picked up a Tommy Tenney book. He quoted so many scriptures on how God longs for ALL His children to hear from Him. I was excited and determined.

Then I started praying, “God I would love to hear Your voice.

What happened next? To me it seemed like a whole lot of nothing at first. There was silence…so I thought.

Then I’d notice someone would say something that hit right home with what I needed to hear. I learned God speaks through people. Of course we take what’s said and weigh it against truth…yet sometimes we are waiting for a loud voice from the sky and God is speaking through the people placed in our lives.

There were circumstances that seemed to point towards or away from things I was pursuing. I learned God speaks and works through circumstances! Sometimes people are waiting to hear an audible voice from God when He’s showing them through situations the thing they are pursuing is not wise. It takes prayer and discernment for some situations.

Here’s a good example: a person keeps overspending yet they’re praying for God to speak a word about finances. The obvious answer is don’t spend what you don’t have and to ask God for willpower.

Here’s another example: a person wonders if they should date or be friends with someone. The person’s behavior is consistently questionable. There’s not really a need to ask God for a yes or no. He allows you to see the behavior and choose for yourself.

God’s Word/Intersecting Thoughts:

I noticed Bible verses would pop into my mind, thoughts of God’s love, or people would cross my mind to pray for to contact. I learned God speaks to our hearts and minds through intersecting thoughts. He speaks in ways we often dismiss. He’s not yelling; He’s speaking and prompting.

I started dating and documenting dreams, words, intersecting thoughts, impressions, visions, and any time I felt God was speaking. There are journals in my house going back 15 years. Over time and with prayer, there’s an increased awareness of God’s voice. There are things that were spoken over my life that did not happen for years. Some I forgot about and when journals were revisited, there was the initial word.

God Longs For You To Hear Him:

God speaks! And He longs to speak to you. I’m not a special person with a super hotline to God. Hearing from Him is a privilege of EVERY believer. Every healthy relationship is rooted in communication. God longs to talk to every one of His children.

That being said…there are people who fear they are making things up or if they tell people God speaks it opens the floodgates for chaos.

Here are some tips:

1. God will not tell you to sin. Examples: God will not tell you to lie, steal, cheat, gossip, complain, maliciously hurt people or yourself, commit adultery or fornication, etc.. I had someone tell me once God told them it was okay to sin. That’s not God’s character or nature.

2. Filter what’s being said through love. Not our human love. God’s love. Is it truthful? Exalting God? Redemptive? Hopeful? A warning to lead to repentance? Filled with grace? Does it match God’s character? Would it be something you’d imagine Jesus would say?

3. Study the Bible and how God spoke to and through people. Especially look at the words of Jesus.

4. If sharing with someone else what you believe God’s placed on your heart, it’s a good practice to say…”I feel or believe this is what God has placed on my heart.” Especially if you have no history with that person. It also gives the person the opportunity to reject what you’ve said if it isn’t quite accurate. The Bible says all prophesy is to be tested.

5. Measure by the table below:

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Jesus in You!

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The purpose of being a follower of Jesus isn’t to become filled with head knowledge and have no application. Jesus intended for us to step into our identity and live it out. It’s a tricky road when you start talking about living like Jesus. The WWJD bracelets and mantra “what would Jesus do?” can be a catalyst for legalism. It’s not a bad thing to think about what Jesus would do, however, if I begin to rely on my efforts to be like Jesus there lies the problem. We are saved by faith and it’s dangerous to rely on ourselves. It fuels a belief that if I keep the rules, then I will be like Jesus. The truth is the Holy Spirit in us enables us to live like Jesus. You take Him out of the equation and you have modern day Pharisees; keeping the law without abiding in a Savior.

Let’s read what Jesus had to say in John 14:9-21. We pick up where Thomas asked Jesus where He is going and Phillip asked to see the Father. Jesus told the disciples He was going away (speaking of His death and resurrection). I recommend reading and studying the entire chapter.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

There are people who try to be like Jesus without the Holy Spirit, by human will. It’s like trying to drive a car without the engine. You can have the manual and a map (God’s Word), but without the engine (the Holy Spirit) you won’t get very far. If we could do what God said without Him, we would have no need for a Savior. We need His Spirit to live a holy life and to fully understand His Word (the Bible). There are people using the Bible as a tool to destroy others because the revelation is not filtered through the Holy Spirit. The Bible can help or hurt depending on who is using it. The devil used scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4).

Identity before activity:

God comes to change our identity. He doesn’t enter our lives to make us better people who can keep the rules. He comes to crucify the old man and resurrect us into a new creation (Romans 6:6). We cannot live like Jesus without accepting Him as Savior. Yes, we may have some good traits, but only God in us can fully imitate Jesus. It’s His power in us transforming us from the inside out. Being (Identity in Christ) leads to doing (Living like Jesus). If you get them out of order, it leads to self reliance instead of God reliance.

Doing what God says:

Obedience is never optional for the believer. God doesn’t give us a pass that says, “Pick what you want to do, and l give you permission to ditch what you don’t like.” God gives us His Spirit so our desires change, our nature is transformed (sanctification), and we are empowered to do His will. Yes, even with the Holy Spirit living in us we will find there are things God tells us to do that we don’t want to do. In those moments, we are able to cry out to Jesus for help. God responds to our cries for help. He forgives us when we repent. He cleanses us from our sins. He empowers us to turn from sin.

Help, I’m not acting or living like Jesus:

God doesn’t love us based on our behavior. He is love, and God’s love is unconditional. No one expects a toddler to drive a car. God knows our hearts, our maturity level, our weaknesses, and how to grow us up in Him. Life with Him isn’t supposed to performance based. The Bible is filled with people who have failed. I’ve failed at many things, and I’m sure you have to. We are humans relying on an amazing God. God longs to help us live like Him, not demand we imitate Him without His help. He wants to live through us! He asks us to seek Him first; receive His love, wisdom, insight, peace and power! He gave us His Spirit! The most powerful Being in the Universe resides in born again believers. Our role is to let God live through us.

Next time we will take about the ways the Holy Spirit operates through us…

Prayer:

Father, help us to rely on You and not ourselves. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and through us. Help us to cease performing, relying on our efforts or human intellect, and help us to abide in You! May we seek first Your face. May those who encounter us, encounter Jesus! Thank you for our new life in You. Amen.