By Chris WittsSaturday 4 May 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Believers ask questions about the work of the Holy Spirit. How is he manifested? Does he make himself felt and known? Do we expect him to be manifested in seen and felt ways? Is the Holy Spirit “the almost anonymous Person of the Trinity” who seems never to draw attention to himself and constantly points to Jesus?
Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the wind: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound,but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes to. So it is with everyone born of the spirit.” (John 3:8),NIV
I love sailing,and when I sail,one of the most obvious things about the wind is that it is invisible. I have never seen the wind,yet the wind is the one essential ingredient,apart from the boat,for sailing. I have often seen and felt its effect: When I jib unintentionally,the boom swings over and wallops me on the back of the head. The tiller,the rudder,the centre-board and the sail pull and counter pull at the wind’s touch. I can see a squall approaching like a swiftly moving ruffle over the water. But I have never seen the wind.
If we believe only what we can see,then there is no reason to believe that the wind exists!
What the Holy Spirit does is evident and recognisable and manifested,though he himself is invisible. In the Epistle of the Galatians we read vivid,challenging descriptions of some works of the Holy Spirit – evidence of his presence.
“Live by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16) Make the will of the divine Spirit – that gentle,powerful,gracious,holy,divine Person – your principle of life,your motivating power. Every virtue,every victory,every thought of holiness,is his.
“Live by the Spirit,and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16) But what will we gratify? The desires of his holy nature: “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit,and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other,so that you do not know what you want.” (Galatians 5:17) We need to gratify the Spirit’s desires,give in to his wishes,bow to his will,surrender to his influence.
But we don’t just float along on a wave of ecstasy when we live in the Spirit. Someone said to me,”Since I became a Christian,I feel temptation much more than I used to. What is the matter with me?”
I replied,”Of course you do. Previously you hardly felt it because you hardly fought it. The spirit of God wasn’t in you to give you the motive to fight it.”
Jesus fought temptation. He is the only one who has never succumbed to it: holy,harmless,undefiled,”tempted in all points as we are,yet without sin.” (Cf Hebrews 4:15) We need to make the Spirit of God a divine Guest,honoured and respected and consciously welcomed,whose every wish is eagerly followed.
“Led by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:18) Certainly,leading in the sense of specific guidance is included. It includes the Spirit leading us in matters of career,marriage,personal problems,difficult decisions,a calling to some work for God,an opportunity to witness to Christ,a prompting to pray.
It may include striking “coincidences” – a wise or prophetic word from a fellow Christian,a sermon that is astonishingly relevant,a Bible text that leaps out and grabs us,a breathless stillness as we feel the presence of God in our personal prayer time.
But the specific meaning of the Greek word translated “led” is a word of wider meaning. It means a general course of life,a direction taken,a development of new instincts and leanings,a willingness – indeed,an eagerness – to ask of any proposed step,”Can I unashamedly ask Jesus to join me in this?”
“Grow in the Spirit.” Paul wrote,”The fruit of the Spirit is love,joy,peace,patience,kindness,goodness,faithfulness,gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23) I call this growing in the Spirit,because in using the vivid metaphor of “Fruit” or “Harvest”,Paul implied patience and cultivation.
First,patience; Fruit does not suddenly appear. Paul took fruit,produced by the Spirit of God,as the metaphor of this work of the Spirit. A decision to trust Christ and to follow him may be sudden. The discovery of a spiritual gift too can be swift,though often it needs careful training. But fruit takes longer. There is no such thing as “fast fruit.”
Second,cultivation: We don’t just wait for fruit; we cultivate it too. God alone can make it grow,but we give a hand in its cultivation. Do you long for a heart harvest? Do you long to be a person marked by love,joy,patience,kindness,goodness,faithfulness,gentleness,self-control?
The fact that you long to be like that is evidence of the beginning of a work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Make him welcome; hand over to him and get on with your cultivating.
“Keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25) The flavour of the Greek word is not merely “being moved along” almost passively,as in “led by the Spirit”. It is a word that would best be used in a military context. We are invited to get in line with the Holy Spirit; to make decisions. Take steps and initiate actions in accord with what the Holy Spirit wants to do.
It is not only surrendering to him,but going with him. It takes some doing; it takes some keeping up with; we will get out of breath at times. At times the Holy Spirit will say to us,as Jesus said to the apostle Peter,”Drop your nets there.” (Cf Luke 5:4) and we will be tempted to reply,as Peter nearly did,”We’ve already been trying.” Instead,Peter said,”Nevertheless,if You say so,I’ll do it your way.” (Cf Luke 5:5)
The Holy Spirit will sometimes say,as he said to Peter on the rooftop,”Go with those folk who are knocking on the door now.” (Cf Acts 10:20) When the Holy Spirit says that to us,we will have to stop saying,”No,Lord.” (Cf Acts 10:11)
It is an on-and-on experience: Keep on being filled with the Spirit. Keep walking in the Spirit. Keep on keeping in step with the Spirit. Keep up with him by his grace.
If you imagine your life as a hotel,is the Holy Spirit the occupant of only one room? He is planning to be the Manager Director! He is planning a takeover,and he will accept nothing else. But it is not a forcible takeover. He invites us to say,”Yes,Lord,take over. I will join the takeover bid willingly. I will use my vote as a shareholder and say,”I want to be under new management. I want to be under dynamic management. I want to be under all-knowing management. I want to be under holy management.”
“Spirit of God,I invite You and make You welcome. I would rather be the guest,I would rather You be the host. Will You come out of the attic where my neglect and my disobedience and my doubts have often kept You? I will hand over the keys to You.”
“I want to walk with You. I want to know You better. I want to follow in Your steps. I want to be led by You. I want to be challenged by You. I want to keep in step with You. Spirit of God,fill me.”