Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Devotional: Have We Forgotten the Holy Spirit?

I want to try to discuss something that people don’t regularly like to talk about in depth, I think mostly because it is so often misunderstood and misinterpreted—the ever-nebulous Holy Spirit. What is it? What can it do for and to you? The Bible explains that the Holy Spirit advocates for and teaches you, gives you comfort, victory, and power, convicts you, brings remembrance (of Jesus), and provides truth.

First of all, in order to understand the Holy Spirit at all, we have to fully believe that there is a spiritual world out there. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV). This verse establishes that there is a spirit world out there and that “good spirits” (the Holy Spirit, angels) fight against “bad spirits” (the devil, demons) for dominion over our families, our relationships, our heats, and ultimately our souls. I’m sure when you were younger you heard your grandmother or someone else talk about “messing with spirits” and you immediately thought they were a bit crazy. The reality is that if you say you believe in the Bible you have to believe that there is a whole spiritual world out there that we cannot see, and there are spirits fighting both FOR and AGAINST us.

Now that we know that the spiritual world is in fact real, let’s explore real applications of what the Holy Spirit is/does.

Our Comforter/Advocate
In John 14:16-19 Jesus basically gives his departure speech to his disciples. He knows that he is going to be taken up to Heaven soon, so he explains that he may be leaving, BUT he’s not leaving them alone. He is leaving a piece of himself on earth. What is he referring to you ask?…you guessed it—The Holy Spirit! He says, “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.” The Holy Spirit is our advocate (the King James Version uses Comforter in this verse) providing relief and safety from the evil of this world, and advocating (supporting, encouraging, backing, favoring) us. The Spirit not only comforts us, but shows us what is true and right.

When I was in college, I always felt like I was going at things alone, like I had to watch my own back. I didn’t have my family and friends I had known for years in extremely close proximity in times when I needed their support, comfort, and advocacy. Of course they were only a phonw call away, but it wasn’t the same. I had friends I’d met in school, but I naturally wondered how much I could place my trust in them. Sadly at that time, I pretty much never attempted to access the Holy Spirit, either. And because I did not seek the Holy Spirit, I was not lead towards the truth— that God cared and His Spirit could comfort me in any moment.  

Our Conviction
 Truth and conviction go hand in hand. Conviction, similar to the verb convict, convinces us of the truth, error of our ways. Not to condemn us, but to show us that through Jesus we can be saved. “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come” (John 16:7-11).

I know this to be true. I used to enjoy telling people off and making them feel bad, feeding of the negative energy. But once I became closer to God and started to access His Spirit I began to see that I no longer needed to do that because I have positive energy living inside of me! Now I sometimes have thoughts of how I can demolish people’s feelings with my mouth, but I believe that the Holy Spirit has convicted me to the point where that is no longer my first reaction or my only resort. Galatians 5:16 says  “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”

Our Victory and Strength
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer,Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge[b] and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died”. --Judges 3:7-11

Even though this was in a time when people did not have a direct connection to God as we do now, before the birth of Jesus and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts, the Spirit of God was still there, When the Spirit came upon Othniel, he was empowered to defeat the King of Aram and brought 40 years of peace.  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8), and “if the Holy Spirit is living in you, God “will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:10-11).

I fully believe that this power is not limited to physical defeat opponents, but it can also help us to overcome things in our mind that seek to destroy us. Is there something that you wrestle with mentally…Maybe depression, fornication, lust, jealousy? Through the Holy Spirit you can have victory over it! Romans 8:5 says, “those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” STOP RIGHT NOW. Pray to God and ask that he send the Holy Spirit to help you defeat whatever is plaguing you. Ask that your mind be transformed through the influence of the Holy Spirit, and be set on the things of God. The Bible says that he has given us POWER, LOVE and a SOUND MIND (2 Timothy 1:7).
Our Intercessor
Romans 8: 26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” An intercessor is someone who mediates between two or more parties to try to help settle an argument or disagreement between them; one who speaks to someone in order to defend or help another person (Merriam Webster). Essentially, the Holy Spirit is on your side, going to God on your behalf to make things happen for you. He’s handling the work for you by pleading with God on your behalf.

Our Connection to God
John 14:26-27 says “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

The Holy Spirit helps connects us spiritual things in ways that they can be applied to our lives. Have you ever prayed then read the Bible, and got a completely new outlook on something? That’s the work of the Spirit. This can also be done through a preacher. Have you ever went to church and gotten an understanding of a certain scripture in a way that you never had before? Immediately after the Holy Spirit fell in Acts 2, Peter began to preach. He reminded them of the prophecy from the Old testament (in the book of Joel) and connected it to what had just happened. I’m sure that was eye-opening for a lot of the people there. As a response the Bible says, “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?...41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. The Holy Spirit opened up their hearts, helped them to remember the word of God and allowed Peter to teach them something. In the end the Spirit brought them such peace, that they were convinced to give their lives to God, and were “added to the church”


Making Your Own Connection
A lot of times we go to people and ask them to pray for us. We know that where two or three are gathered God is in the midst (Matthew 18:20) and that is great because we should pray with others, but we often forsake (abandon or give up) our own time with God alone at the drop of a hat because we are too tired, woke up too late, not feeling it, can’t focus, etc.

Bottom line: We need to stop being lazy and take time to pour our hearts out to God one-on-one. When you are low (and when you’re not) seek after the Holy Spirit and asking Him to make intercession for you. What does that mean? TO PRAY FOR YOU. When you are feeling weak and when you don't even have words to say God’s Spirit can take over for you like auto pilot.

I think sometimes we don’t want to give in to God. We would rather sit in anger or depression to prove a point or to justify our own desires. But that is not what God wants for us. He wants to comfort us!!! He wants us to give in the Him so that he can make it all better. Like a child who has a boo boo, he wants to kiss it and make it feel better.

I’ve definitely felt like not wanting to pray because in order to prove a point by staying mad or wallowing in my self-pity. But I’ve found that at the end of the day that’s not helping anyone, it’s just hurting me. The real battle for me is mental, and I am sure it is for you guys too. So I had to start praying whenever I had like an impure thought. One day I was like working myself up getting jealous over something and I was like YO this is not real because I’m not even a jealous person. So I had to PRAY, and ask the Spirit to deal with me. I can honestly say that it helped, immediately, The Holy Spirit can do the same for you, if you just take the time to truly confess your faults, fears, an worries, and place them all in His hands.

The way the Holy Spirit works is truly unexplainable! In John 3 Jesus says, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit…The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” PRAY THIS PRAYER:


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