‘And how!’

I think the words of John 14: 15-17, are really interesting; (Jesus is speaking to his disciples) “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to 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.”

Earlier in the Chapter, Jesus had said those famous words (verse 6): “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me … ”

Just as Jesus is the truth, so too the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. In the same way, those who reject Jesus also reject the Holy Spirit – they cannot accept Him – they cannot know God.

I like the way Selwyn expressed the relationship between us and the Holy Spirit: “The word ‘know’, from the verse above, ‘but you know him’, signifies a true and close relationship between the person knowing and the person known. Hence it is more than knowing about – it is knowing in a deep and intimate way. When the Holy Spirit is received He is also perceived. To know Him is to be swayed by His truth, inspired by His love, kept by His grace, led by His hand, sustained by His presence, cheered by His promise and used in His service.”

To know the Holy Spirit is to feel God close at hand. It is a great comfort to know that we are able to know God and depend on Him as we walk this difficult journey.

Power! Power! Power!

Selwyn now considers the emblem of ‘wind’ as an attribute of the Holy Spirit.

As Selwyn mentions, in Acts 2:2, we read; ‘Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven …’ .

On Pentecost there was a lot of activity, which Selwyn summarises very well: “There was the power of utterance: ‘they began to speak in other tongues.’ There was the power of vision: ‘your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ There was the power of conviction: ‘the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.’ There was the power of continuance: ‘they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine.’ There was the power of love: they ‘had everything in common.’ There was the power of unity: ‘they were all together.’ There was the power of contentment: they ‘ate together with glad and sincere hearts.’ And, finally there was the power of addition: ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ All these events are recorded in Acts, Chaper 2 – and, well worth another read if you have not glanced at this chapter for awhile.

One point that came to mind when I was reading about the different abilities given to us on Pentecost was that we were given the ability to speak with one voice to others about Jesus; and, even if our audience is not from our culture they will still understand the message, if they have an accepting heart. In a sense, it’s a reversal of the confusion God bought on us when we attempted to build the Tower of Babel and reach the heavens without God’s help. That is, to live independently outside of a realtionship with God.

Genesis 11: 6-9; “The Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan (outside of what God has planned for us) will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world …”. The exact opposite is the case when we all work together as directed by the Holy Spirit, as evident at the first Pentecost – we then all share the same plan which God has in mind for us – and, our hearts and spirits speak the same language – how great is that?

As Selwyn mentions in his conclusion – Pentecost came after ten days of prayer – the apostles were obedient to Jesus’ direction: “wait in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from heaven.” While they were waiting – they were praying – it’s the same for us – while we are waiting for God to act in a particular situation, we should spend most of our time in prayer. Do you agree?

 

 

 

The power of breath

Today, Selwyn ends his meditation on ‘breath’ as an emblem of the Spirit.

He summarises this section by saying: “Whatever our need – to be lively representatives of God’s grace, to speak His word with power, to be free of spiritual ill-health – we must take deep, regular breaths of the Spirit. …

When Jesus breathed upon His disciples (John 20:22), we can be sure that as our Lord breathed out, the disciples breathed in. And we must do the same.”

I think the main point for me is that God provides the means – we don’t have to depend on our own endeavors to find the source of God’s power. He is breathing out to provide the energy for our spiritual life – we just need to believe and breath-in, deeply.  Perhaps, this is why many don’t breath-in the eternal life, God is offering, could be that they are not entirely sure of the outcome? What are your views on this?

I’m thinking back to last Thursday, when Selwyn looked at Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  I really like this one, a good verse to commit to memory!

 

 

Regular respiration

The comment, I like in today’s study, is: “One of the reasons why there are so many weak and sick Christians among us is because they fail to breathe in the pure air of the Spirit – deeply and on a regular basis. All around us at this moment the breath of God is blowing, yet many of us breathe so shallowly that the air never really fills our spiritual lungs.”

At the moment I’ve a head cold; consequently, I’m finding it hard to operate efiiiciently. Like, most things we tend to not notice the natural aspects of life; like breathing, and the regular beating of our heart, until something goes wrong. For example if our breathing becomes difficult, it has a flow on effect to the amount of energy we have at our disposal. We just don’t feel 100%. 

In the same way, as Selwyn mentions today – we can become unwell and lack energy if we start to take the Holy Spirit for granted and not exercise the communication required to deepen our relationship with Him. The people, we care about the most, are the people we talk to the most – when was the last time you talked to God, outside of an emergency situation?

Who blows your trumpet?

Selwyn introduces today’s study with these words: “Breath, we have been saying, both vitalises and energises us. Another effect of breath is this; it vocalises.”

He goes on to say: “Today, on Pentecost Sunday, it is interesting to note that on the first Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God fell upon the waiting disciples, one of the first things they did was to speak. ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ (Acts 2:4)

He then refers to Paul’s teaching: ” … it takes the Holy Spirit working in us, for us to be able to pray powerfully and effectively (Romans 8:26). And he points out in his first letter to the Corinthians that it is possible for us to exercise spiritual gifts effectively only when we are moved by the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Today, we ask ourselves: How much of our own energy goes into what we do for God? And how much the breath of the Holy Spirit?”

This question is answered from Scripture. When we believe in Jesus, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The strength of our belief will determine the extent that we use this gift given to us. In other words, we are given the means – it’s all up to us – just how much of God’s power we use to glorify Him – if we have only a small amount of faith, it’s enough to move a mountain. It’s more than enough, for us to play our part, in making Jesus known to the world. So that others can believe and be saved. Do you agree?

God’s energising breath

Selwyn continues to look at ‘breath’, as being an emblem of the Holy Spirit.

I think that a good summary is; that while we live, we breath!

As Selwyn says: “All of us from time to time stand in need of inner revitalising and an in-rush of spiritual energy. … If we are able to maintain spiritual freshness then we must regularly expose our spiritual lungs to the invigorating, revitalising freshness of the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

Do we really want to place our dependence on eternal life, on the Holy Spirit or on our own strengths and abilities?

The answer is covered by the big-picture view of the verses set for reading and meditation, especially: “And if the Holy Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he … will also give life to your mortal bodies … ” (Romans 8:11).

Therefore, the important question is this: ‘Does the Holy Spirit live in you?’

***

At my local church, I delivered a teaching on ‘Faith and Good works’; and, our empowerment to do the work of God, through the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). Through the power of Holy Spirit, my talk was well received – and, had nothing to do with my public speaking ability.  The nicest comment was from a twelve year old girl; who came up after the service, and said: ‘You did good.’  I though later to myself – Jesus did good – I’m just the messenger.

Spiritual poliomyelitis

Today, Selwyn asks us to think about “some of the properties of breath which remind us of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. First, breath vitalises. We can’t live without breathing.”

He goes on to say: “All around God’s breath is blowing, but as I said yesterday, we act as if our spiritual lungs are paralysed. Can it be that many in the Church suffer from spiritual sickness – from spiritual poliomyelitis? We need to learn to breathe spiritually as easily as we breathe naturally. Then, and only then, will we be given the ability to do powerful things for God.”

As I implied recently, I don’t think that we breathe spritually, in our day to day lives, because we don’t call on God – we don’t talk to God and we don’t ask for His power in our lives because of the emphasis on self-sufficiency in the western world. We depend on family, government and social support structures first; and, then when all else fails, we turn to God. It’s not a natural part of every day life, to walk through the day, holding God’s hand. Therefore our spiritual breathing is rarely exercised and as a consequence we often fall short of our spiritual goals – because we are ‘out-of-breath’! Do you agree? 

How should we correct this situation?