This week we are going to look at the person of the Holy Spirit – who is He and what does He do? We are going to talk about being baptised with the Holy Spirit and how He helps us, bears fruit in us and gives us incredible gifts. Let’s start back at the beginning.
Joel 2:28-29 “And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
I don’t know if you can remember all the way back to week 2 but if you can you will recall that we talked about God being Trinity (One God but 3 persons). We saw that all of God was involved when He made the world – God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not someone we can see with our eyes but He is a person and He is God. In the Old Testament (the first part of the bible from Genesis to the book of Malachi) we see the Holy Spirit interacting with individual people giving them; power to win battles, help to lead God’s people, creativity and skill to build God’s house, the ability to hear God’s voice, speak God’s words or do amazing miracles. We see Him anointing specific individuals for specific jobs. Anointing would have been a word people used to describe rubbing or smearing oil on someone to make them smell nice, protect from disease or symbolise showing them respect. The Holy Spirit would anoint or cover a person like oil and so they would know God’s help with their special mission or job. One of these special people we read about in the Old testament was a prophet (someone who hears God speak and tells His people what He has said) named Joel. Joel told God’s people that a day was coming when The Holy Spirit would not just be for special people with special jobs but that God wanted to pour out His Spirit on everyone – old and young, men and women, rich and poor. Joel was talking about us! God wants us all to know His power to win, His help to lead other people to God, to create for Him, hear His voice, speak His words and see amazing miracles! It’s sooo exciting.
Who do you think the Holy Spirit is? What do you know about Him already?
Today’s readings are from Luke 3:16 & John 7:37-38;
“John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’”
Remember how we talked about Baptism – we said that it is being plunged under the water to symbolise our old lives dying and our new lives being resurrected with Jesus? Well the bible also talks about another baptism. Jesus’ cousin John was famous for baptising people in water but he told people that Jesus was coming to baptise them with God’s Spirit. God was going to drench us with Himself! Jesus used this picture of water to help us understand what the Holy Spirit is like – it can be hard to imagine Him because we can’t usually see Him with our eyes. Jesus taught the people that needing God was like feeling really thirsty for a drink but that God didn’t just want to give us a little drink to quench our thirst, He wants to put a river inside us so that we would never be thirsty again. He doesn’t want to give us a little taste of His Spirit He wants to drench us in Holy power, fill us to overflowing. His Holy Spirit comes to live inside us.
We’ll look at this some more tomorrow but in the meantime what do you think it mean to be thirsty for God?
In John 14:25-26 & Acts 1:8 we read Jesus saying;
“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.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After Jesus had died and risen again but before He went back to heaven, he talked to His friends and told them that it was good for them that He was going away but that He wouldn’t leave them on their own. He said that Father God was going to send them Holy Spirit God to come and help them. The word Advocate is a word we use in law to mean someone who is sent to defend you, he is on your side to help you to know what to say and to win your case. The Holy Spirit is sent to help us – He is on our side to defend us, to teach us and help us to win. He makes Jesus real to us, helps us to understand God’s word and hear God’s voice. Jesus also promised that The Holy Spirit would give us power – not like electricity, but supernatural or spiritual power. This power is so we can live God’s way and makes us brave so we can show and tell other people the good news about Jesus.
Do you ever feel alone? Do you think that having God’s power and help sounds like a good thing?
Acts 2:1-18 says this; “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’”
Acts 2:38-39 goes on “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’”
When Jesus left the disciples, He told them to wait in Jerusalem for God to send the Holy Spirit, so they did. Pentecost was a special Jewish holiday where people came to Jerusalem from all over the world. Jesus’ friends were still waiting together in a house when the Holy Spirit came, just as Jesus said He would. They heard what sounded like a strong wind blowing and they saw what looked like fire on them. God’s Holy Spirit came and filled them to overflowing and they started praising God using words that they couldn’t keep inside them. Some of these words weren’t even their own language!! Outside were all these people gathered for the festival and they heard them praising God in all sorts of languages – everyone could understand them even though they were foreigners. God’s Spirit filled Peter with the courage to stand up and explain to the crowd what was happening – He told them that these people weren’t crazy or drunk but they were full of God. He told them all about what Joel had said in the old testament when God promised to give His Spirit to everyone, He told them all about Jesus coming, about His death and resurrection and He told them that everyone could know God’s forgiveness and receive God’s Spirit if they turned to God and let Him fill them. This promise is not just for special people but for everyone who believes in Jesus and has chosen to follow Him.
Would you like to be baptised in the Holy Spirit? If you would then all you need to do is to ask Him to come and fill you.
Romans 8:14-17 tells us another thing the Holy Spirit does; “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.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
When we say yes to Jesus, when we turn to follow Him, we become part of God’s family. God doesn’t want us to sign up to His club or become slaves who can work for Him – He wants us to be His children. He wants to be our Dad. The Holy Spirit makes this happen – He is the one who shows us who Jesus is and makes us understand that we need God’s forgiveness. He is the one who makes it possible for us to choose God and adopts us into God’s amazing family. And He then lives inside us helping us to know that we now belong to God. Abba is a word that Hebrew children would have used to speak to their fathers, a bit like we’d say Dad. God isn’t a scary mean father, or an absent busy one, He is a good and loving Dad who wants us to come to Him. Holy Spirit gives us assurance, that is He helps us to know that we are saved and we belong to God’s family.
When we have doubts about what we believe or are not sure where we belong we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us. You could even do that now. And you can ask Him to help you talk to your Heavenly Father.
Galatians 5:22-23 tell us this; “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.”
How can you tell what sort of tree you are looking at? Is it and orange tree, an apple tree or a plum tree? The easiest way to tell is to look at the fruit. An orange tree is the one that grows oranges. The apple tree will produce apples and….. you get the idea. One of the ways that people know that we belong to Jesus is by the fruit that we bear. Now don’t worry – you are not going to wake up tomorrow morning with a pear growing out of your armpit! This bible passage tells us that the Holy Spirit in us will cause us to produce fruit; things like love and kindness and patience. God is all these things and when He lives in us then we begin to grow in these things too. Does this mean that we are instantly perfect? Sadly not – fruit takes time to grow but God is committed to helping us look more and more like Jesus. He can help us to bear more and more of this good fruit.
Which of these things do you think would be the most impossible fruit for you to bear? Ask Him to bear that fruit in you – remember this isn’t about trying harder, it’s about allowing Him to change you.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 teaches us “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
One more thing to mention this week while we are talking about the Holy Spirit – He is really generous and He loves to give us gifts. We have already talked about how at Pentecost the disciples were given words to speak in languages they had never learned so that people there could hear about God. This is just one gift that the Holy Spirit gives (we sometimes call it the gift of tongues or languages) but that is not the only present that He can give us – there are loads. This bible passage tells us about just some of them. Here’s the thing though, The Holy Spirit is for everyone who loves Jesus but the gifts that He gives us are different from person to person. You are unlike anyone else on this planet and your friendship with God will be unique. God knows what gifts you need to do all the amazing things that He has planned for you. Some people might see incredible miracles when they pray while others are able to hear God speak to them really clearly. Someone else might have amazing wisdom or just know something that they never learned. The important thing is that Holy Spirit is incredibly generous and He wants us to use the gifts He gives us to love each other and build up Jesus’ church. Gifts are exactly that gifts – you can’t buy them or earn them, you just receive them.
What sort of gift would you like God to give you?