Posted by: robertartemenko | May 1, 2012

God the Holy Spirit … Don’t Leave Home Without Him

THE PROBLEM

One malady of the AARP generation is how waves of fashion and technology just pass you by. You become the constant object of your offspring’s rollings eyes. No “newest” iPad, no Nespresso, no ZAPPOS footwear, no OLED TV … Who cares man, Fuggeddaboudit! That said, there is a silver lining when you finally jump to the new stuff. It’s better, cheaper and de-kinked. (To which your kids say,” Yeah dad, why not wait a few more years?”) My incumbent cell phone was from 2006. Vain enough to shuck the holster, it still looked like I had stuffed a 12 volt car battery in my pants. Like, it stretched the material so much that it was hard to use the other pockets. And, I bought a GPS for my wife, but had postponed getting myself one. Not exactly a hardship, but I could have had one for the cost of a trip to the grocery store. Enter my new iPhone 4S (uh oh, not so new anymore :  ), certain to be relegated to the buggy whip in short order, but now for me no less revolutionary than Spock’s tricorder! Facetime-, HD Video-, Location services-, Siri-, all my ’60’s Young Rascals and Buckinghams music-, the aura of pointed ears-oops, not really, but my stock did bounce somewhat. So the question is this, now that you are iCloud connected + know exactly where you are at all times + have directions to anywhere + can ask Siri if you get confused, do you want to go back to Squaresville? Would it be logical for the Vulcan Spock to beam down to some Romulan hotspot without his tri-corder?

QUESTION: Who would knowingly handicap oneself in the face of unknown galactic challenges?

ANSWER: I think most of us do everyday. Many of us who know HugeGOD and all of us who don’t, leave a vital facet of Him behind as we journey through life (aka “boldly go where no <person> has gone before”). My sense is that if we knew we had a gap in our understanding of the Deity, we’d investigate it. More than leaving gadgets untried or a lack of technological initiative, this is ignorance of substantive elements of who God says He is, how His Kingdom works and critical promises He’s made to us.

CUTTING TO THE CHASE

We underestimate God because of an incomplete understanding of His capacity, and therefore lose out on what He offers His beloved.

My exhortation today is to acknowledge the Holy Spirit and not live life, “not leave home,” without Him. The Holy Spirit is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Trinity. The Trinity is hard enough to work our way through, let alone comprehend the “person” in it who does not quite jive with our sense of the God Family. Yes, Father, know that, had one, … OK, Son, am one or know one … Spirit, or Holy Ghost, oooh, not sure I even want to know this One. It’s a shame that our normal curiosity of things that could be wonderful, could give us an edge, might move us beyond the pack seems to fail us here. The likelihood of me overhauling your thinking in a blog is doubtful, but maybe I can challenge some to deeper queries of this treasury. For God fearers and seekers, a further encouragement, and dare I say incentive, is seen in second Peter chapter one:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Please consider this starter set of descriptors which profile the Holy Spirit. While the infinite is hard to bind in scope, these finite dimensions will provide justification of His relevance and an entry point for further investigation. I have become convicted over the years that one prayer that God will always answer, if we are sincere, is our request to know Him better. How could He “who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all,” hold back on a request so inline with His predisposition toward us? (Romans 8:32)

HOLY SPIRIT DESCRIPTORS

1) “HELPER” … Before Jesus left the earth, He indicated that in conjunction with the Father, He would send another divine Helper to each believer. Alternative Greek words for “another,” are heteros and allos. Heteros would be another of a different kind, allos, another of the same kind. The word used in John 14:6 with respect to The Holy Spirit is “another same” (allos) comforter or advocate like Christ, who Himself is “another like” the Father. God is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each play roles in our life, naturally and spiritually. If we underestimate the features, functions and promises of God, available to us NOW, we lose out. The help, love, kindness and counsel of the long ago God-man Jesus, now joins us in our daily life. There is mystery here, but it is a clear promise we need to mine. God wants us more than we want Him, … if we want more of Him, He will come to us.

(John 14:15-18 ESV) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

2) “OBLIGATION” … The Holy Spirit is the agent for our adoption into the the family of God, the advocate through whom we become so familiar with the Father that we relate to Him – and He to us – as Abba (Daddy). This is an opportunity and an obligation, but it is an obligation similar to collecting on a winning lottery ticket. Our winnings include being heirs of Father God, co-heirs with Christ, vanquishers of fear, victors over death and recipients of eternal fellowship with the God Community (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). I was drafted by the New York Yankees out of college. I had obligations in joining the organization, but the yoke of responsibilities paled in the light of the opportunity to join a community with a heritage I so admired. The “lig” part of obligation means to “tie,” the same root as for lig-ament. Being tied to that which is precious, powerful and protective brings profound peace, and is a promise to treasure.

(Romans 8:12 – 15 NIV) “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

3) “LAW OF THE SPIRIT” … John Calvin calls out the absolute consistency with which God requires utter, absolute and complete adherence to his Law to be with Him in Heaven … no exceptions, no favoritism, no partial credit. (See “The Institutes,” Book III, Chapter 14, Section 13, page 780). Thankfully Father God sent His son in the likeness of our sinful flesh to justly meet His “no exceptions” standard, and through that justification the Holy Spirit sets us free from sin and death. The law of the Spirit gives us life, and actively participates in redeeming us from the condemnation that comes from an imperfect record before the perfect God. Each year that passes, the guilt eradicating promise of no condemnation is a bigger and bigger deal for me. How much of all the anxiety and apprehension that saps our spirit and generates dread come from the fear of looming consequences tied to what we have done or left undone? The Spirit who gives life is the means by which our faith disconnects us from the sin-condemnation cycle that’s been devouring us since humankind’s innate pride and lust displayed itself in Adam.

(Romans 8:1-3a NIV) “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”

4) YIELD TO THE SPIRIT … The Spirit acts to transform us from the inside out. Only change at the heart (the root) of things seems to follow through to the actions and behavior that are different. It’s what’s “in you” that leaks out under pressure. I do not know how this works. I wish I did, then I’d activate it more directly. That said, I have experienced it. Before my kids were born there was a type of affection toward another human that I had not experienced. When the boys came, there was something new inside Sherry and I as parents. It came out in tenderness, service like late night bottles and back rubs, longer job commutes to keep them with friends and in schools. This was not there before. Was this magic? No, it’s just the way things work in God’s world. The Spirit moves in us similarly as our “family” reboots to being sons and daughters of God and sisters and brothers of Christ, and those around us become more dear because we have been reborn into the family of God. (See also 7 Below)

(Galatians 5:22-26 NIV)   “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

5) “SEAL” … God uses the Spirit to seal our inheritance as His truth seeking sons and daughters while we are earthbound. The Spirit’s power in us is a fortaste of the state to which we will be changed when we join God in Heaven. He’s is our portion of Heaven while on earth. God does this out of His love and to the praise of His glory. As we were created to bring glory to Him, to engage the Spirit in a way to give Him free reign is part of our honring God. Again, an obligation to fulfill that benefits us more than we can imagine, while still being our duty.

(Ephesians 1: 11-14 NIV) “In him (Father) we were also chosen (“adopted” into God’s family), having been predestined according to the plan of him (Father) who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

6) “POWER” … “dunamis” in Greek is root to our “dynamite.” Spirit power is the same force that created the universe, that raised Jesus from the dead, that sustains all life, that is behind “e=mc².” All God’s goodness, all His care, all His love have this inexpressible power behind them. Note also that this power not only does the heavy lifting of creating galaxies, but is also formative with the inanimate, like the knowledge, love and faith of our inner being. I used this verse in our Christmas mailing this year. There is SO much in it, such rich encouragement and such a celebration of the goodness of God and His good plans for us. The Holy Spirit is ALL a part of this and is our localized divine substation to personally deliver on these promises.

(Ephesians 3: 14-19 NIV)  “For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

7) “I AM THE VINE/I WILL SEND”…  The Spirit as person, power and provider coming from both Jesus and His Father, is the network by which we plug into the divine knowledge, wisdom, will and energy of the Godhead. The vine of Christ, from which we branch, flows with the invigorating Spirit’s dunamis, while the Father as vine dresser overseas our productivity bearing the Spirit’s fruit. Being actively aware of the organisms of divine growth and development help us to cooperate to grow personally and glorify God. (See also 4 Above)

(John 15:5-8, 26-27 NIV)  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (26-27) “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

8) “REALM”… What Kingdom are you in? To whom do you really owe allegiance? Are we children of this world, or of another? Ultimately, we are eternal spiritual beings. As C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” We are not controlled anymore by the realm of the flesh, but the realm of the Spirit, and that Spirit is what sustains through and beyond physical death. The Spirit that raised Jesus form the dead is living in us. You want to know that! You want to live accordingly. You want to appropriate that privilege. You want to live each day growing in understanding of what that means and living each day BIG with the confidence in the team of which we are a part. The Kingdom of God, the Realm of God is available to us now (Mark 1:15), and that is the context in which the Spirit acts.

(Romans 8: 9-11 NIV) You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you

9) “INTERCEDES”… Just in case, the “catch all,” … the Spirit helps us when we don’t even know WHERE we are or WHAT we need or HOW to do WHATEVER. Does God know us or what? Yes, for all that stuff we have no knowledge of, the Holy Spirit is our omniscient Advocate. Thank you. Thank you Holy Spirit, Son and Father for caring for me so  anticipatorily and comprehensively. I need a lot of help with stuff I don’t even know about. Amen.

(Romans 8: 26-27 NIV) “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he (God the Father) who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

10) “TEACH”… Infinitely more than your iPad with Wikipedia or 20 versions of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is your resident truth library and sensei. He will “teach you all things,” …whoa, that I can use! I am dull, I am lazy, I lack adequate disciplines to search out and comprehend… those things I do discover I misunderstand or misapply. Then I forget and start over. I need to know to “be.” I need to know to “do.” I am not living all the life I can live without the companionship of an all-loving all-wise knowledge repository and instructor. The ultimate life Coach!

(John 14: 25-27 NIV) “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But 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.  Peace 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.

In sum, the Holy Spirit is God, advocates for us with Christ, frees us from bondage to sin and death, is the agent of our adoption into the Family of God, equips us with unique gifts to fulfill divine missions, cues us with God’s Word and truth, “has our back” regarding both known and unknown harm, empowers our action, seals us until our full redemption, resurrects our mortal bodies to immortal.

Any room for Him in your life?

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT HIM

The Holy Spirit can’t be treated like some tangential concept or personage in the Bible. It is mainstream, in your face and critical to thriving. Such is its positioning in Scripture per Jesus, Paul, Peter and John. The tragedy is not so much poor visibility these days as it is a dramatic lack of followthrough on our part to (I) see Him for who He is, GOD, and (II) take Him at His promises. That said, engaging the Spirit in us, that Spirit which testifies with our spirit (Romans 8:16), is subtle, supernatural stuff. It requires us to tune our hearts and minds to Kingdom frequencies, steeped in the Word as Jesus’ apprentices. I wish I had specific tactics or means to describe how to engage the Spirit, but it is a complex, big, BIG personal discovery project. The best things I can tell you relate to chewing on the references provided at the very botton of this entry, in particular, Dallas Willard’s book, Hearing God.

a) We know of people in the Bible, heroes of the faith and God’s beloved among us today, who have been profoundly affected, remarkably transformed and dramatically empowered by the Spirit.

b) The Bible clearly states that the Spirit is available to us today.

c) HEART REQUIREMENT ♥ …we must move forward in faith, love, knowledge and humility. Weakness in any of these individually is a potential derailment factor in our pursuit of the Spirit working in us.

d) God loves us dearly and wants our love, “abiding in Him” is part of closing the circuit to realize the Spirit’s power/promise flow.

e) We live in a creation that is continuously emitting God’s reality toward us. We need to be attentive, and also realize that His Kingdom runs on words, and particularly The Word. By watching and listening we can(‘t help but) sense the Spirit.

f) The likely call from the Spirit, from God, is a still small voice. The cacophony of the world voices can drown it out. We need to both (I) work at separating ourselves from the world’s noise and (II) improving our perceptual acuity.

g) The Word is power and truth … that can’t be emphasized too strongly.

h) We have to go deep…into the Word, into the truth, into love.

i) HEART REQUIREMENT ♥♥ …God may be waiting for us to become the kind of person that He really wants to talk to.

j) HEART REQUIREMENT ♥♥♥ …Our hearts must burn to be close to God, our hearts need to break for those things which break God’s heart. Our hearts need to break for those who are distant for God, for this is what breaks God’s heart.

REFERENCESRomans 81 Peter 12 Peter 1; Ephesians 1, 3, 6Hearing God by Dallas Willard; The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley

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