The Holy Spirit
Okay, we are born of God by the Holy Spirit, but who is the Holy Spirit, what does He do, what is He like? I believe this is the hardest part of God to understand in words because of the words used to describe Him. Words like spirit or even more so, “Holy Ghost” conjures up images in my mind that affect my ability to understand what these words are trying to convey. Ghost has a whole host of things we have thrown onto it as a society, and we associated spirit with schools or sports teams (we’ve got spirit, yes we do!).
But try and think about God’s Spirit as your own. We each as individuals inherently know that we are made up of body, mind, and spirit. I believe that each of us knows that there is something more than the physical body we can touch and the brain waves that we can measure. That’s how I think we should consider the Spirit of God. One of the major differences between our spirits and the Spirit of God is that God’s Spirit works in perfect union with His Body and Mind. Never is there an occurrence of His Spirit being at odds or unsettled with the Body and the Mind; I definitely don’t have that peace.
So, again, what does the Spirit do? I believe the Spirit of God leads us to God and enables us to lead others to Him.
"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” Nehemiah 9:19-21. Way back in the day when the Israelites had just made their exit from Egypt the Spirit of God lead them. He was a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. How cool is that? Talk about GPS! I’m pretty sure the Israelites never had to call for directions or wonder if they were wandering the right direction. Let’s see…. pillar of fire, ok we’re good. Look at the ending of this scripture, their clothes didn’t wear out! This always reminds me of Gilligan’s Island. Remember how they always wore the same clothes (except for the Howell’s, Ginger and Mary Anne)? Why didn’t they wear out? And, while we’re on the subject, how come the Professor was so smart that he could make medicine and cars and radios and batteries but he couldn’t get them off the island? And why did the Howell’s pack a trunk full of cash for a three hour tour? A three hour tour.
But look at what God did for them; He provided a guide, an instructor, food, water, clothes and feet that didn’t swell. Was the God that guided the Israelites different than the One we call God today? No. Ok, our clothes may wear out and our feet may occasionally swell, but He still guides us and provides for us and teaches us every day. You may ask where’s my pillar of smoke to follow and where’s my manna breakfast? I don’t know I’m not God but we have this promise from God, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5.
Jesus speaks extensively on the Holy Spirit in the book of John: "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, 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.” John 14:25-26, and, "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” John 16:12-14.
It seems to me that the work of the Holy Spirit now is the same it was back with the Israelites in the desert; He teaches us and guides us. The major difference is now that He lives inside of us and the guidance comes from inside as opposed to the outside. We have a blazing pillar of fire inside of us that will guide us in all truth if we let it.
God had this plan of an internal guidance system long ago, " 'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:24-28. It sometimes seems like it might be easier to have a pillar of fire (I must admit I do like the pillar of fire idea better than the pillar of smoke. Fire is cooler than smoke and doesn’t make you cough.), guiding us every step of our journey, but think about it, would we really behave any better? Think about the difference between a boss who is watching you all the time verses one who gives you some guidance and you figure out how to get there. I think most of us prefer the second kind of boss and the second method as it makes us grow as individuals and make the choices we should not because we are being watched, but because we believe it’s the right thing to do.
The Holy Spirit also gives us power, “So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1:6-9. Power to do what? When the disciples first received the Holy Spirit they spoke in foreign tongues, they preached and lead people to Christ, they healed and performed miracles, they did all kinds of stuff. To me, one of the most amazing things the early Christians were able to do with the power of the Holy Spirit was to get along with each other.
Acts chapter 4 gives us this, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.” (verses 32-37).
Can you imagine this scenario today? It sounds like a cult! But look, all the believers were one in heart and mind – this can only be by the power of God. People don’t get along that well on their own!
And finally the Spirit gives life, “Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:61-63.
The Spirit of God gives life to the only part of our being’s that are eternal, our spirits. In this touching of spirits, between God and us, we become connected, we become related, we become children of God.
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