Thursday, February 23, 2017

This week's lesson (February 18-24): the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit

Even Moses couldn't do it all.

You remember the story: Moses is the sole leader of Israel: President, Chief Justice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and County Dog-Catcher, all rolled into one.

Needless to say, he's run ragged trying to do everything that needs to be done -- and what's more, nothing's getting done when it needs to be done.

That's why the LORD tells Moses to bring 70 elders to the Tent of Meeting; there He will put the Spirit on them and they "will help [Moses] carry the burden of the people so that [he] will not have to carry it alone" (Numbers 11:16f, NIV).

To be sure, none of those leaders were as gifted as Moses -- which is another way of saying that Moses had to delegate work that he could have done better himself.

And there you have the most difficult thing to believe about spiritual gifts.

It's not believing that God has gifted you.

It's believing that God has gifted someone else.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This week's lesson (February 11-17): the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit

To be honest, I think you should skip this week's lesson -- just go straight to next week's.

You see, next week's lesson is about spiritual gifts.

This week's is about "the fruits of the Spirit."

I mean, next week you get to talk about exciting stuff:
  • Signs!
  • Wonders!
  • Miracles!
But this week, you need to talk about love . . . and patience . . . and gentleness . . . and kindness . . . and all the other "touchy-feely" stuff that you already know you should do.

What's more, you already know how God develops these "fruits" in your life: yes, you know He's going to put you in situations where you need them!

(That's why you should never pray for patience, by the way. No, you do that, and He's going to give you people with whom you need to be patient!)

In short, this week's lesson deals with all the ways God helps you deal with difficult people in a difficult world . . .

And who needs that?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

This week's lesson (February 4-10): the Holy Spirit and living a holy life

You meet someone.

You fall in love.

You decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with them.

So you get baptized.

Or if they're human -- and feel the same way -- then you get married.

Either way, that means no more dating around.

Either way, that means "you have forsaken all others," and "shall cleave only unto that person for as long as you both shall live."

And either way, this doesn't mean you're perfect.

Doesn't mean you don't make mistakes.

Doesn't mean you don't need forgiveness.

But there's something going on between the two of you that's not going on with anyone else -- something that you don't want to break.

In short, salvation means you've fallen in love.

And holiness means you want to stay in love.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

This week's lesson (January 28 - February 3): the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit

Going through my wallet this week, I found a gift-card -- one that:
  • I'd been given last Christmas,
  • Tucked-away for safe-keeping, 
  • And promptly forgotten.
But now that I've found it -- or rather, now that I've discovered I had it all along -- I get to use it. Enjoy it. Find out what it can do.
In much the same way, God gives us His Spirit -- and the key word, remember, is "give." It's not something we earn, in other words; we don't get it because we've been extraordinarily nice.
No, God's Spirit is free.
It's a gift.
And if you're a Christian, then you've already got it -- the same as I already had that that gift-card last I got last Christmas.
So now that you've got it . . . 
Why not use it?
Enjoy it?
Find out what He can do?
You don't need to "get" the Spirit, in other words.
No, you need to remember what you've already got.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This week's lesson (January 21-27): the Personality of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force; instead, He is a person -- like God the Father, or God the Son.

Pity.

If the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force, after all, then we could use Him to get what we want -- the same as we do with electricity. Yes, we could channel Him. Manipulate Him. Maybe even hold seminars and write books on "How to be Filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit."

But we can't.

No, He's a person. That means we can work with Him. Talk with Him. Maybe even hold seminars and write books on how to have a relationship with Him.

But reduce this relations to a set of techniques -- to a series of steps that will get us what we want?

It doesn't work when we try this with people.

And that means it doesn't work when we try it with the Holy Spirit.

Pity.

Friday, January 20, 2017

This week's lesson (January 14-20): the Divinity of the Holy Spirit Spirit

Something will go wrong.

And someone will be there to help.

That's the advice on travel I got from Rick Steves' radio program . . .

And that's pretty much what Jesus says in John 14-17.

Anytime I'm on the road, after all, there's always a glitch -- yes, wallets go missing, flights get delayed, reservations are made for the wrong week. This used to frustrate me; I used to believe that proper planning would ensure a perfect trip . . . but now, I just take it in stride. (Mostly.) "Something's gone wrong," I tell myself, "and that means . . . "

Sure enough, somebody's always there to help. Could be my wife. Could be a clerk. Could be the stranger who stops what they're doing to ask if I need help (and it's amazing how often that happens).

But when things go wrong (as they always do), both Rick Steves and John 14-17 have always been right: I've never had to deal with it on my own.

That's why the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is important.

That's why the divinity of the Holy Spirit is important.

You see, we know that things go wrong.

But as believers, we also know that Somone's always there to help.




Sunday, January 08, 2017

This week's lesson (January 7-13): the Holy Spirit - working behind the scenes.

The Holy Spirit works behind the scenes.

Except when He doesn't.

Read the Book of Acts, for instance, and it's clear that Things Happen when the Holy Spirit shows up.
  • Yes, the sick are healed.
  • The dead are raised to life.
  • And sometimes, the healthy are smitten with sickness -- or even killed!
Yet in each case, the Holy Spirit does not perform a miracle in order to draw attention to Himself; instead, its purpose is to glorify Christ.

Like Jesus Himself, in other words, the Spirit exists to make somebody else look good . . .

Even if this means He needs to make a scene.

Go, and do likewise.