Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spirit of God

1John 4:13 - By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

How amazing! I really didn’t give this any thought until I realized today was not the 17th but the 18th of April. It was thirteen years ago today that I received Christ and received the infilling of His Holy Spirit, who lives inside me right now. Only 13 years. 

So...a sermon of sermons on Sunday with Pastor Rory Grooters exhibiting a side we can only hope to see from this day forward. I'm so thankful to have been there to see this emerge!

His exuberant message is one I've heard before and known, but sometimes we need a good dose of remembrance and perhaps hear it in a new way. It is my desire that anyone who might read these blogs, would know these things too. There is a song that's going through my mind. I awoke singing it in my spirit this morning. It wasn’t until I gave it some thought that it was one we sang on Sunday. It is written based on the words of Psalm 84:1-2:

My heart and flesh cry out
To You the living God.
Your Spirit's water to my soul.
I've tasted and I've seen,
Come once again to me...

I know church is not about feelings. But this Sunday was special. It was like someone made Pastor’s coffee too strong, like something special occurred, like God had overseen a mini-revival in the pulpit! It was like water to our souls because you could hear God trying so desperately to remind some and open the eyes of understanding to others and instill in all of us what He longs for us to know deep within the recesses of our hearts and spirits. A message that is for all people. A message that should be the desire of all who truly want to or continue to seek after Him. A message of a promise.

As with all promises of God, there are conditions, however. You don’t always get what we want, the song goes. The same is true with God. He gives after we give of ourselves, as we choose to know and be in relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the condition. And it’s just not knowing who He is, but having a deep, spiritual understanding of Him, receiving of Him into our lives. That’s the condition. And sorry if that condition doesn’t set well. It’s the truth.

We are going to be hearing messages over the next several weeks about the Holy Spirit. Anything and everything about Him. And yes, He is a Him! God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit...three in One. I’m so glad that doesn’t give me stomach aches to try to understand. I just understand by faith. And so can everyone.

We can talk about God; that’s a pretty generally accepted name. We can talk about Jesus, although that name brings about a more uncomfortable atmosphere for some. Then there’s the Holy Spirit. Because of certain reasons discussion about Him barely exists. Most people just don’t really understand who He is, what He can do and where He exists spiritually.

Pastor told us that the Holy Spirit interacts with ALL people whether they know it or not and whether a person is saved or not. He is the connection between us and others and with God. It is He who draws us into a relationship with Jesus so that we know Him rather than just about Him. He’s at work right now trying to reach unbelievers. The Holy Spirit is power. In the Old Testament He was known as the Spirit of God, or as Pastor Rory very emphatically stated: the Spirit OF God, or the Spirit OF Jehovah, "of" being a very important word. Jehovah at work in creation and in our lives, bringing life to the earth and bringing life to us...both physically and spiritually.

It was the Spirit of Jehovah/God who spoke and the world was created...and it was good. It was the same Spirit of Jehovah that breathed life into Adam. It was the same Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, that Jesus breathed upon His disciples to fill them with the power they would need in their lives. It is the same breath breathed into us when we say yes to the Lord and allow Him into our lives. When we do that, His Spirit is supernaturally breathed into us. I know this happens; it happened thirteen years ago. I felt it even though I didn't understand at the time what the sensation was I'd felt. A change began to take place in my life...the Spirit of God, Spirit of Jehovah, Holy Spirit began a work. It became the very born again experience I had balked at for years. 

Pastor brought up the story of Nicodemus, a religious leader, who questioned Jesus about the issue of being born again. Jesus told him it had to be and he should not be surprised about this. But Nicodemus, only understanding religious laws, couldn’t understand the spiritual aspect of this. A second birth concept wasn’t clicking. Jesus explained that we are first born physically. But there is a spiritual birth that must take place; the second birth, the most important birth. The one that happened to me.

With that decision I made, God put His Holy Spirit within me. It’s a radical concept, Pastor Rory explained. How can the Holy Spirit live in us? He does. But the condition is: we must make a serious decision for Christ. We must choose to be born again and allow His Spirit access. We must allow Jesus to breathe life into us through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

I’ve said this before: the Old Testament was about religious practices, laws, knowing only about God, who was seen as some distant being. But then came the New Testament and Jesus who, through our receiving Him gave us direct access to God, not just access through a religious leader, who brought us into relationship with God the Father, a knowing of Him, not just about Him, and an infilling of His Holy Spirit which gave us a new birth.

As Pastor Rory emphatically proclaimed: this new spiritual birth doesn’t make us better than anyone else; it just makes us better off. We are not perfect, but are being perfected. We CAN receive Christ and be in a close relationship with God the Father. But it’s our choice.

And why the Holy Spirit? Why do we need to be filled with His Spirit? It’s the thing that brings about the change. God is not next to us, not somewhere out in space, but IN us. The actual Spirit of God is in us which makes us His children. He lives in us. IN us. He helps us to understand scripture so it comes alive.

Like physical babies are born with the DNA of mother and father, no matter where they are they will always be their children, through blood. A spiritual birth is similar: when we receive Jesus, are filled with His Holy Spirit, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are called His adopted children; we are in Christ...and He in us. A radical concept. We are related through the power of the Holy Spirit now IN us.

We do not possess this power, however (condition), without first receiving Christ and allowing that Spirit to enter in. That happens at the time we have truly given our hearts to the Lord. It’s not about our working for God’s acceptance; it’s about Jesus’ work for us on the cross and our receiving Him. It’s not about the outward things but the inward things, inward changes, inward attitudes, inward thoughts. It’s about having direct access to God through the power of the Holy Spirit through our receiving Christ. 

Pastor described how his office door at church is usually closed. When any of his family comes to say hi or talk with him, they have direct access. They do not need to knock because they are his children. If anyone else wants to see him they must knock. It’s the same with God. Once we are His children we have direct access, any time of day or night, no knocking necessary, just to say hi or need to talk...He’s available. Condition: we must have gone through the process of receiving Christ and His Holy Spirit to become His family. 

We need to understand this, appreciate it, know it deeply, take in in. Nothing can separate us. Born again of the Spirit, the Spirit of Jehovah, who eternally connects us daily to God. He is at work in us, wherever we are, at any time for strength, wisdom. But it comes only with a relationship with Christ. 

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 things that I said to you. 

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