Keep in step with the spirit
Sunday, June 9th is Pentecost. "Penta" means fifty. It was fifty days after Christ rose from the dead that the promised gift of the Holy Spirit came. "I will not leave you as orphans," said Jesus to his disciples the night before his execution, "I will come to you" (John 14:18). Who, or what, is "the Holy Spirit"?
The Holy Spirit would bring many things, Jesus said. "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 14:26). "When [the Spirit] comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment..." (John 16:8). "But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth...the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you" (John 16:13-15). So, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus imparted to us. The Spirit is the mysterious presence of God given to comfort, guide, convict, teach, and empower those who would follow Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is also known as the "Advocate" in John's writings. An advocate is one who argues on your behalf, who fights for your position. The Holy Spirit is an advocate during those times when your conscience accuses you and compels you to bring it to God or to the one you've wronged. The Spirit reminds us that Christ died and rose for that sin and we can approach God without fear of rebuke or punishment. But there are also false voices that accuse us; voices that say we are incompetent, unlovable, and unworthy. The Spirit says to our spirit, "No, you are loved with an inestimable love. You are an accepted, forgiven, gifted person from Me to the world. Yes, you fail and fall short, but that never affects my love and support for you. I have a dream, a vision of wholeness for you. Live in my love and power."
I try to practice what I call, "spiritual breathing." It's based on the idea of exhaling the bad air and inhaling the good air. Whenever I am aware of an area of my life that is displeasing to God (and to me), where I feel weak and unsure, when I need a word of encouragement and insight, I will breath out the bad air by confessing it to God. "God, I know you don't want me to harbor that resentful attitude toward so and so..." "God, I'm having a hard time trusting you with my money right now..." "God, I'm feeling really crummy about myself right now and I need some divine perspective..."
In place of the bad air, I breathe in the refreshing breath of the Spirit of God. "Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit. In place of unbelief, give me faith. Instead of resentment and bitterness, change my heart to love that person. Grant me peace instead of worry because I can trust your power and grace in my life."
I doubt if you will hear bells ringing or choirs of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. But, by faith, you can know that God the Spirit has filled your life, for this is God's will. "Do not be filled with wine, which is debauchery," wrote Paul, "but instead be filled with the Spirit." And elsewhere John said, "If you pray according to my will, I will hear you and grant you the requests you have made." It is surely God's will to fill us with the Spirit. The promise of Jesus is not only favor toward you, but also power through you by the Holy Spirit.
“Keep in step with the Spirit," one translation of John's writing puts it. Happy walking!