#2 Being at the beach was just icing on the cake.
I wanted to share just a snippet of what I taught...It seems fairly applicable to the present troubles. Though really I wish I could somehow pass to you the joy, love, peace, and fun we all shared.
The Holy SpiritA few months ago, when Wendy asked me to speak, I immediately started to search for a topic or Scripture.
At my Wednesday night Bible Study, the Lord gave me the idea to study up on the Holy Spirit...
Specifically, how we, as Christians, often ignore the God who lives inside us.
That's where the adventure began!
At first, I thought, "The reason we ignore the Spirit is because we dilute it with outside distractions."
I was thinking the bombardment of social media, media in general, TV, music, etc. was just drowning it out.
About this time, I had planned to go with another group of college kids on a backpacking trip in north Georgia. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test my theory...There would be no cell phone service and minimal human contact. I thought I would find real peace there.
I did have a good time, but really it was the most bland wilderness experience I've ever had. This had nothing to do with the scenery or the company...both were fantastic. I just wasn't "moved" as I have been before when immersed in God's creation.
I was confused.
So, I picked my kids up from my parents and headed back home through Atlanta...
I was on 75/85, fighting through traffic with a car full of kids, and wondering again about what I was missing when a song came on the radio.
I love this song...we sing it a lot at church:
I was listening to the words and the lines, "your love will surely come find us," and "I've surrendered to your design" really jumped out of me...
And there it was...
In that moment of Atlanta-traffic-and-kid-crazed chaos I felt the peace of God that assured me I was right where He wanted me to be and that He was right there with me.
When I got home I read this devotional by Francis Chan:
First, the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not an indistinct “power” or “thing.” I often hear people refer to the Spirit as an “it,” as if the Spirit is a thing or force that we can control or use. This distinction may seem subtle or trivial, but it is actually a very serious misunderstanding of the Spirit and His role in our lives. In John 14:17, we read that the Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you.” This calls us to relationship with the Spirit, instead of allowing us to think we can treat the Spirit as a power to be harnessed in order to accomplish our own purposes. The Holy Spirit is a Person who has personal relationships with not only believers, as we have seen, but also with the Father and the Son. We see the Spirit working in conjunction with the Father and the Son multiple times throughout the Scriptures.I had to answer yes...I had fallen in that trap and tried to harness the Spirit. That's what I was doing on the backpacking trip, and probably why I didn't get the results I thought I would.
* Do you ever fall into the trap of seeing the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force instead of a person? How have you tried to “harness” Him instead of having a relationship with Him?
I took the girls at the retreat to John 14 and we read verses 16-27, ending with these verses:
26But 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. 27Peace 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.There's the peace that I felt that day. He left it with us when He left us with the Spirit.
This is a little something from Oswald Chambers on that...I had to read it slow to be able to digest it all:
The idea of peace in connection with personality is that every power is in perfect working order to the limit of activity. That is what Jesus means when He says “My peace.” Never have in mind the idea of jadedness or stagnation in connection with peace. Health is physical peace, but health is not stagnation; health is the perfection of physical activity. Virtue is moral peace, but virtue is not innocence; virtue is the perfection of moral activity. Holiness is spiritual peace, but holiness is not quietness; holiness is the intensest spiritual activity.That last line summed it all up for me...We feel the true peace of God when we're so focused on Him that we lose interest in ourselves for a moment.
The profound realization of God makes you too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self-interest.
I then took the girls to look at Joseph for a minute...though his story comes long before Jesus left us with His peace.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned, and then eventually made second in command to Pharaoh. When his brothers came to buy food during the famine Joseph really exemplified this "profound realization of God" that made him "too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self-interest."
He saw the big picture of what God was doing:
5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-8)
20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)He didn't have to show his brothers mercy, but he was so full of God's peace.
This peace is readily accessible to anyone who believes in Jesus as their Savior...back to John 14:
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.He is in us.
After this we looked at Romans 12 and I talked about what I learned youth camp...giving our all to Jesus so as not to hinder our relationship with the Spirit...verses 1 and 2 started us off:
12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.Then we finished that section at 13:10, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
There was a lot in between there, but the basic idea is that sin grieves the Spirit, and there are a lot of works and things we can do to keep out of sin, but they're all summed up in LOVE.
Love for God, love for others.
1 John 4:13-5:12 brings it all together:
- 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
- 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
- 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
- Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
- 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
Love is not hard when we have no self-interest.
No self-interest is easy when we're consumed with thoughts of God.
When we're consumed with thoughts of God we will have peace...no room for fear.
Love and peace.
There is a war against those two things, because there's a war against God.
WE HAVE TO FIGHT THIS WAR!
Thankful for this war cry that my kids reminded me of after their week of camp:
7“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The Lord will be with us wherever we go.