Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Who is the Holy Spirit?


Perhaps you know you’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit. If so you know the power and freedom that comes from resting from your own works and letting the Spirit guide you. You know the peace that replaces your anxiety and worry. Instead of exhaustion and frustration you’ve found fulfillment and contentment. Instead of dealing with pain and disappointment by yourself, the Spirit comforts you and reminds you, “You are not alone.”


We’ve mentioned before that the Spirit is a real and divine being who is part of the three-part God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All who confess their sins and ask Jesus into their lives are given the Holy Spirit. The question is what do we do with Him? Like Jesus, he will not force himself on us. Oh, but if we seek to develop our relationship with him, he will penetrate every aspect of our lives, including our personality!


Maybe  you’ve thought the Holy Spirit was the same as emotional worship. But no, he is much more. He has a will and intelligence, feelings, and desires, same as you and me. He is the key player in you becoming “a new creation.” When we invite him to search the depths of our heart, he is able to reveal to us things we do not see in ourselves. Not only that, but he gives us perfect guidance for every situation. The Holy Spirit provides real power for victorious living, succeeding to win battles we’ve never won on our own. Acts 1:8 says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Ask yourself, “Am I living a life of victorious power or a life of one defeat after another?” Because he is deity he gives us access to the wisdom from above. He interprets our prayers when all we can utter is groans. Because he is just like  Jesus, we can get to know the Spirit by knowing Jesus, as revealed in scripture.


Knowing who the Spirit is gives us understanding, but it isn’t the same as experiencing his power and grace. It is one thing to have a promise and quite another when that promise is fulfilled.


Jesus said, “I am sending you something better.” Better? What could be better than Jesus with us? Jesus IN us. How else could Jesus dwell in each of us but by sending his perfect Spirit who is our only hope? (Colossians 1:27) We don’t need to prove Jesus with debates. All we need to do is let his Spirit speak to us, respond, and his light of truth will shine in and through you.


This  is indeed something quite better. Beyond having thoughts of Jesus as our guide and life model, Jesus realized we needed to experience his resurrection power and truth first hand. And he accomplished this by sending us his Holy Spirit to live in us; so we could be filled to the fullest of all Jesus is – his love and joy, his suffering and grief, and the wisdom and power to live victoriously as God intended us to live.


Meditate on this and how being filled with the Spirit would revolutionize your life. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.


Are you a new creation?


It seems a common plight that many ask Jesus to save them but don’t surrender their lives totally to his authority. It’s like asking to be under the protection of the army but not wanting to submit to its requirements. Or signing up to join your country’s army but actually fighting for the enemy. We want to be saved from hell and yet keep living as we did before. Asking Jesus into our lives means asking him to be our Savior AND our Lord. We tend to resist his lordship because we think we can handle our own life pretty well.


The Navigator’s Topical Memory System, starts with a category called “Christ the Center.” If we want Jesus to protect and provide for us, he can’t merely reside on the fringes of our life. To experience the fullness of his power, we need him to be in the center of our life, over all our activities, ambitions and desires. The first verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, is central to the Christian life:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.”


It’s a basic verse for new believers that continues to challenge mature believers. “A new creation” bears the image of the total transformation we see in a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. If you look at a caterpillar next to a butterfly, you’d have to admit they look and act completely differently. So should our lives as Christians look and act different from our life before Christ.


Or think of it in the context of marriage. Before marriage, there was “you” and “me,” two separate beings. But once you’ve committed to a lifetime marriage there is a new creation called “us.” And at the top of our priority list is preserving and nurturing “us” according to God’s plan. “We” is different than “you and me.”


Let’s look at the second verse, Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”


Can you imagine yourself on the cross next to Jesus, enduring the same pain as you were crucified with him? And yet this seems to required of the “new creation.” It’s not just matter of becoming a better Christian by our own effort. It’s dying to self in order for Christ to live in us. Returning to the illustration of the caterpillar, the creature that crawls into the cocoon is totally transformed as one part becomes an antennae, another wings, All the parts of the old creation are crucified or utterly put to death in order for the new creation to take life and fly to new heights.


I thought of this illustration as I  suffered through a harsh chemotherapy treatment that “crucified” my old immune system, the core element of my life, in order to receive a stem cell transplant that would change my DNA from B+ blood to O+ and allow me the chance for new life. The old was gone the new had come. My donor’s blood, the essence of his being, had come to reside in my body for as long as I live. And so Jesus comes to live in our body for as long as we live, in the form of his Holy Spirit.


He lives in the body and heart of every Christian. It’s his authority and over us that transforms us into a new creation. Try as we like we simply cannot achieve it in our own wisdom and power. The question is whether we submit to his authority or not. Living without the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit is very much like a child trying to join a fierce battle without the guiding influence of the commanding officer.


Are you a new creation depending daily on the power of the Spirit in all aspects of your life? Or are you desperately throwing punches at the air, trying to go it alone?  Simply ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and help you to listen to his voice. Find the peace and victory of being a new creation in Christ.




What you believe is important


It seems everyone has an opinion on everything. From things that seem silly like does Bigfoot really exist to serious matters like how to be good stewards of this planet and how to be good stewards also of this life we’ve been granted. The truth is, believing in Bigfoot doesn’t make him exist and merely disbelieving the legend doesn’t make him a myth. The truth of whether he is or isn’t isn’t influenced by our beliefs. Similarly, something much more serious like climate change is not made true or false by what we believe. But what we believe can change US and how our lives impact our world.

This isn’t a commentary on Bigfoot or climate change. But perhaps it’s a stepping stone for us to think about what we do believe and the impact it has on our life. For example, I might believe someone said something with the motive of offending me. After all, I feel offended. But my opinion of their motive does not make it their motive, right? What we believe doesn’t make something real but what we deeply believe changes us.


Someone said the most profound question in life is this: “Do you believe Jesus is who he said he was?” Your opinion doesn’t change reality but it can change you. I have good friends who say “yes, he is,” and it appears to me they generally model their life according to that belief. I have other friends who say no or aren’t sure and they model their lives accordingly. And some of those who don’t believe seem to me to be very genuine, kind, and loving people that I respect and love. Some don’t want to think about the matter at all and that believe also impacts their lives. The truth is, our opinions about things don’t change reality but they change us.


Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth about such a matter (1 Corinthians 15). It seems some of them believed that Jesus lived, maybe even was the Son of God, but evidently did not believe that he was resurrected from the dead. Paul responded, “If Christ has not been raised (from the dead) our preaching is useless and so is your faith. Your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” (V14 and 17) The consistent message of the New Testament is that we are indeed sinners and need a Savior, that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, was resurrected, and that we too will be resurrected even after death. If God’s claims are true, whether we believe or don’t believe, our eternal lives will be impacted by that truth. Of course, the opposite is also true, as Paul states. If God’s claims are false, then our faith is in vain.


Our beliefs don’t influence only our eternal state. They influence our life now. Everyone believes in something. If we don’t believe in the power of the resurrected Jesus, we believe in the power of something else – ourselves, our family, our country, our passionate causes. If I set myself on the decision-making throne of my life then I have to rely on my “wisdom” and my natural skills and abilities and passions to guide my life. I’ve tried that and it never worked well for me. Everything falls short, especially me.


But what happens when we believe – really believe – in the resurrected Jesus? We come to believe that God’s Word is really true in all aspects of our lives; that when Jesus talks about giving us his Spirit to teach, convict, comfort and strengthen us, it’s a reality, not just some religious doctrine. It means the reality of the resurrected Jesus lives in the heart of the believer. His authority, his power, his ability to love those you really don’t like, his compassion for people you might look down on, his grace, his forgiveness, his patience, his self-control, his strength and his hope are yours despite the circumstances you face or even the emotions you feel. “He has put everything under his feet.” (V27)


God’s encouragement to those who believe in his Son is this:
“Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” (V58)


How is what you really believe impacting your life?


The advocate we all need


Where do you go when you need an answer? Google is the favorite of many. Or maybe you prefer the self-help aisle of the bookstore. Maybe your bookshelves are lined with books by great Christian authors. (Read or unread?) According to surveys, young parents more and more are turning to social media for help with parenting skills. Online support groups of every kind abound to offer advocates to those who are struggling with every kind of trouble. But there is another Advocate not only available to us, but one we most desperately need.


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me,” Jesus said to His followers. (John 14:1) “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.” V 15-17


But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” V 26-27


Our Advocate, the very Spirit of God speaks truth so we can have God’s perspective on the things that concern and perplex us, including our grief over lost dreams. The Advocate allows us each to see things differently and to carry on.


And the Advocate Spirit of God is not only our guide but is also our rest. Good shepherds provide rest for their flock but even shepherds need rest because they too are sheep. We rest by accepting the finished work of Christ on the cross. We don’t have to learn to be better. We need to behave like the people we already are in the redeeming eyes of God. We rest by accepting God’s love and compassion and faith. We express that faith by loving others in His name. Our day’s agenda is not that complicated. We have only two great commands by which to carry out all other tasks: love God and love others in His name.


Go ahead, use Google. But the Holy Spirit is the one Advocate we desperately need. Let Him be both your truthful guide and your rest.



The Christmas gift of guidance



Wonderful Counselor

“For unto us a child is born. To us a son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  – Isaiah 9:6


It’s what we all need throughout life: guidance. We may think we have everything planned out and under control. But life has a way of revealing unexpected turns in our path and circumstances that confound us. Where do you turn when you find yourself in a circumstance you’ve never been before? How do you find your way out of problems that confound you?


Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6. And He promises, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” John 14:16 other versions say helper, advocate, comforter. This is not only someone you can trust but someone you need to guide your life in the path it was intended.


The wise men followed a star to find Jesus. We follow the one who created the stars and everything else. God’s gift to us is this child Jesus who grew up and became a man, and who gave us His very Spirit to be our wonderful counselor. Whatever you face this Christmas, you are not alone. You have a wonderful counselor who cares for you and who will speak to you all about God’s most wonderful gift. Receive the gift of the Christmas Counselor, the Spirit of Jesus.




Hope overflows





“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13



This a great verse of personal comfort, isn’t it? It freely offers what we all want: joy, peace, hope. But it is not just about you or me. It is set in the context of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, showing us how to experience a transformed life through faith in the Son of God, how to live victoriously in a troubled world, and how to live in peace and understanding with others.


Joy, peace, hope, power – all things we strongly desire. But none of these priceless gifts come from our own efforts. They freely come FROM God and the Holy Spirit WHEN we trust in Him. When we worry and fret they escape us. But when we put our daily trust in God, we are filled with God’s joy and peace, and the Holy Spirit is able to grow our hope so much that it OVERFLOWS.  God doesn’t bring us to trust in Him only so we can take refuge in His shelter. He doesn’t draw us to Him solely for our personal comfort. God’s greater intent is that our hope will overflow.


Where does hope go when it overflows in our life? It overflows into the circumstances of our life, and washes our pain and suffering. It spills onto our cancer and our despair over our children. It flows through our work. Hope floods our financial worries, drowns our doubts, and quenches our fiery thirsts. It flushes our disappointments into the deepest sea. Hope is a light that cannot be contained in a lamp but overflows into darkness. It illuminates our path filling us with understanding. The power of the Holy Spirit makes our hope to splash onto those around us and flow around the world in ways we never imagined because real hope is not just for us; real hope expands our world vision and impact.


How full is your cup of hope? If it is filled more with despair and fear than the joy, peace, and hope you desire, empty it at the feet of Jesus. Ask His Holy Spirit to fill it up again today with power to trust in The God of Hope.


As your trust grows, His hope overflows.


You can live an abundant life today and every day, by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring you overflowing hope.



Quench not the Spirit



Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19


Today we often think of the word ‘quench’ as meaning to satisfy a thirst. Throughout the bible it means to extinguish a flame or fire, to put out a lamp or light, or to suppress the truth.


Jesus promised the gift of His Spirit to be our comforter, helper and guide. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), to live a life that testifies to the whole world that Jesus is indeed Lord and Savior. This same power equips us to live victorious lives (Romans 8:37). To remain in Christ is to remain in His Spirit. And yet, in the context of how we should remain focused and alert in troubled times comes this warning: Quench not the Spirit.


Ephesians 4:30 warns: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Quenching and grieving the Spirit are inexplicably intertwined. We quench the Spirit and the Spirit grieves. We quench and grieve the Holy Spirit both when we are fixated only on what the Spirit does for us personally and also when we ignore the Spirit. John MacArthur points out that when we sensationalize the Spirit’s power in us we “reduce the Holy Spirit to some sort of divine genie, who does only things that are seen, felt or heard.” Ignoring the spiritual power within us, we quench the true sanctifying work of the Spirit.


We also quench the Spirit by ignoring Him. Turning away from the Spirit’s power to transform and sanctify our lives, we substitute other false helps for the authentic power that God alone offers. MacArthur continues: “They substitute human wisdom…as the path to solving spiritual problems. They reject the only true power, the only genuine problem solver, the Holy Spirit, who alone can heal the sins of our lives, and make us holy.”


Perhaps the trap we face is not so much that we seek out the help of others, but that we do so to the abandonment of God’s all-sufficient Spirit in us. If all our woes can be solved by therapists, educators, and scientists, do we really need the Spirit of the Living God?


We quench the Spirit of God when we listen to everyone except Him. We douse the flame of God that burns within us and extinguish His power. Paul asks in Galatians 3:3 if we are so foolish as to having begun in the Spirit, to finish with our own efforts to become ‘better’! Do we think that the powerful Spirit of God who convicted us of sin and led us to repentance cannot also be trusted with the rest of our lives?


When we abandon our only source of real hope, we incapacitate our ability to live well, free despite our circumstances. We invite devastation upon our lives and quench the Holy Spirit’s power in us. Instead, let’s ask to be filled daily with the Spirit’s power to live a life of testimony to the world that the our hope is in Jesus alone.



Life purpose

I’ve always thought that kids ask some of the best life questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life? You probably asked these questions too. Unfortunately, important questions tend to get buried in the process of going to school, getting a job, getting married, buying a house and car, having children, pursuing hobbies. We lose sight of the great questions in pursuit of other lesser things.


If you paid big bucks for a life coach to tell you how to live well, they would undoubtedly ask you about your life purpose. And they would counsel you to begin each morning with a reaffirmation of that purpose and the intentional pursuit of goals to achieve it. They would say to not waste the most precious resource you have, your life. Christian Missionary and Alliance president John Stumbo puts it this way:   “Together we have one chance at this thing called making use of our life to serve the Lord who called us . . . this has given me a sense, a greater sense of purpose, of destiny, of urgency. Not in a panicky, fearful, dread kind of way. No, no, no. But with this sense of calling that the God who spoke that mountain into the universe and can speak my life into heaven’s gates at any moment has left me here and left you here for this moment in human history for us to live out this call of God upon our lives, and to do so not empowered by our own strength but to be a people who are dependent upon the Spirit.   We don’t want to go through life making our own decisions, following our own whims, slaves to our old nature, throwing religious masks of pseudo-holiness over lustful, greedy, impatient hearts. No. We don’t want to just play church or be religious; we want to be Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed people.”   The bible says we will spend a short time in this life – maybe 70, 80, 90 years – and then an everlasting eternity somewhere else, based on how we responded to the invitation of Jesus here and now. Doesn’t it make sense to ‘wake up’ to this reality every day and live intentionally toward that goal instead of wasting away our life? What will matter most – on earth and for eternity – when your life is at its end? Spend some time to think about your life purpose and what in your life you want to change to reflect this. If you have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, ask him to guide you.

Keys to enduring the journey

Sometimes, life is tough. Real struggles make our journey difficult and painful. Imaginary ones confound our life experience. The old hymn, “Trust and Obey,” sums up our hope but how do we bear up in practical ways day by day, moment by moment? One way is to remind ourselves that we have ONE life to live, and it is a life that goes on forever. Living a forever Kingdom Life instead of one just focused on circumstances elevates us beyond our fears and anxieties. 1 Peter 5:6-10 offers practical guidance.

V. 6-7. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

There is a fight under way to remove the phrase “under God” from the pledge of allegiance. But key to enduring our journey amidst pain and sorrow, fear and anxiety, is to humble ourselves under God. Submission to His will frees us from the imprisonment of our own efforts and our own fears. Our faith promises He cares for us and will lift us up, so shouldn’t we live today as if we believe it?

V. 8-9. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Wake up. There is a real enemy. We cannot fight him in our own strength, but only through humbling ourselves before God and standing in our faith, protected with spiritual armor of faith, truth, peace, the Holy Spirit, and the assurance of salvation. You are not alone in your suffering. God sees you where you are and gives you other believers to share your load.

V. 10.  “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Steadfast means to remain resolute, committed,loyal, true to the faith God has given you, fully persuaded, trusting Him.

Life is tough. But this life on earth isn’t forever. As Francis Chan illustrates: Imagine a long rope that goes on forever. Now imagine the end of the rope that you hold, that last couple inches, representing your entire life on earth, 70,80, maybe 90 years. Most of our worries and fears and efforts are focused on this tiny piece of the rope’s beginning. But how much of our thought and ambition is focused on the part of the rope (our life) that goes on forever? Chan says, “I can endure anything for a mere 90 years!”

90 years of MY pain and suffering? Humble yourself before your God, receive His sufficient grace and power, and experience His persevering Spirit alive in you. Even as you take each sip of cool water to refresh your body, invite God’s Spirit to refresh your soul and experience the power to endure the difficult journey.

Easter changes everything!

He has risen! He is not here. – Mark 16:6

What does Easter mean to you? I mean, beyond cute bunnies, colored eggs, and chocolate. What difference does it make that the Son of God died on a cross for your sin and mine and was raised from the dead?

Does it change your life?

Imagine following the example of a dead prophet, trying your best to do your best. . . in your own power. Actually, that is how some believers try to live their lives. Say their prayers in the morning, go out and fight the battle, and then report in before bed.

But a RISEN Savior who has conquered the grave – THAT is quite another matter! A risen Savior who calls us ‘friend’ gives us His very own Spirit to live in us, to guide, comfort, and teach us wherever we go. A risen Savior speaks with authority when He promises us eternal life, a life by the way that starts right now (John 3:36).

Does it make a difference to you that whatever trials, sorrows, and disappointments you encounter now will one day be GONE? Forever! And even now as you face them, that you will NEVER be alone?

Does Easter change anything in your life? Easter changes EVERYTHING! It is a whole new playing field when death is conquered. The rules are all changed. You are no longer on your own to figure things out, to powerlessly endure the battles. Life has meaning in the revelation of Easter. Unless of course it is just a yearly ritual where we go to church and come home the same as we were when we went, filled with only a vision of ourself in this dark world.

THIS Easter can be different. Make it a personal choice to embrace Easter, not as a yearly holiday, but as a lifestyle of celebrating the victory that it brings to your everyday life. Let Easter change everything about your outlook, your attitude, your ambitions, and your joy . . . EVERY day!