Largely, after that initial experience of coming to a saving faith in Jesus how you understand or engage with the Holy Spirit is largely down to the cultural expression of the church you were involved in. Whether it was a charismatic or conservative, free worship or structured, each have formed a way in which you feel helps you to express yourself in worshipping God or engaging with the Holy Spirit.
So, if we ask ourselves the question, If the way in which I worship or engage with the Holy Spirit is cultural or largely what I have grown up in, is there room for different expressions? If so, then is there room for you to experience or engage with the Holy Spirit outside of what you have potentially experienced?
I would say there is. No matter your experience, or denominational history.
John Wesley’s founder of Methodist movement talks about an encounter in his journal with the Holy Spirit. Attending a meeting he was not overly fussed about (haven’t we all been there), the reading was the letter to the Romans. The speaker spoke about the change God works in heart through faith in Christ in the believer. At a quarter to nine that evening John felt his heart ‘strangely warmed’ and that he did believe in what Jesus had done for him, his sins were forgiven and that he had been saved.
The Holy Spirit, the one who strangely warms our hearts is in the business of bring those into a saving knowledge of Jesus and glorifying Him. Right from the start of the creation the third person of the Trinity is portrayed as like a mother hen brooding over the new planet as it was formed.
In Hebrew, the name for the Holy Spirit is ‘Ruakh’ meaning breath, or wind. This breath of God, the warm breath of God that warms our hearts is also the one who broods over our lives. The one who gives us what we need to live the life of Jesus in our everyday context. The same Holy Spirit who looks to re-create in our hearts the image of Jesus with the power of the almighty creator.
It is a special thing to have the breath of God inhabit our physical bodies. We probably do not give this too much thought, but the creative power and resurrection power of the creator God lives inside each of us giving us the power to undertake and achieve all that God has set for us to do. He guides us, sustains us, encourages us, invigorates us, counsels us, comforts us all in the seasons of life and when we need it. How wise of God to not leave Jesus on earth and send His Spirit so that we may all be indwelt and not miss out on time with the heavenly Father.
Join us as we embark on a journey through looking at the Holy Spirit in our lives and where God is calling us too individually.
These things and many more can lead us into a place that robs us of our joy and fulfilment.
Social media has inadvertently heightened this human vulnerability by creating a highlights reel for people’s lives where we see our friends and families’ lives posted as a ‘best portrayal of themselves’. When posting we tend to want to show the best bits of our lives not the stuff we might be embarrassed to share publicly.
There is a tendency in all of us to compare ourselves. There is something in each of us that asks the question, ‘How am I doing? Where do I fit in here?’
My lovely wife Laura on Sunday told us the simple truth:
‘There is no win in comparison’.
There is no win. You cannot win this game. There is no end. All it serves is to rob you of joy, peace and contentment with the things God has given you.
So how do we uncouple ourselves from this wagon? How do we avoid the trap that comes when we find ourselves tempted to compare how we are doing with how someone else is doing?
We all want to know we are on the right track; we do not want to come across as behind or as backward, or not doing as well. So how can we avoid the spiral that can lead us into financial debt, pushing ourselves or family and brings unhappiness and discontentment with what we have?
King Solomon, a man lauded and world renown in his time for his incredible wisdom wrote a book called Ecclesiastes, a reflection on what he noticed about life wrote and especially about the comparison trap he said this.
4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV
I love how King Solomon, a man so widely revered for his wisdom that he had kings and queens visit him just to learn from him, said that there is no win here. It is like chasing after the wind, you will never win the comparison game.
So, here is how we can protect ourselves from stepping on this landmine to our faith.
Renewal of the mind. Replacing the lies with the truth of God. Looking at what God has blessed us with rather than what others have. There’s truth in the saying that we are happiest when we want what we have.
Celebrate the things that God has given you. Jesus said that God gives good gifts to His children. Sometimes we need to just stop and focus on God’s best for us. Not someone else’s best, but what your heavenly Father, who knows everything about you has said is best for you.
Pray for those people that you find yourself comparing with. You do not know the struggles they have faced or are facing. Yes, they may have what you want, but the reality is if we pursue that line of thinking we can build resentment that damages the relationship and once again, no one wins. Instead, try and celebrate with your friends. Turn that opportunity to compare into one of celebrating with your friends. That will build unity between you and it cuts off the caustic results you do not need of comparison.
So today, and the days ahead, are you going to let comparison rob you of your joy, peace, and happiness? Or are you going to step up and not let those lies undermine all that God has blessed you with. When we focus more on what others have than what God has given, we can say goodbye to our joy. When we relish and cherish those things that God has given, believing that at this moment it is His best for us, we will find our joy and happiness will be there in abundance.
Most people in the world would know more about what the church is against than what it is for.
Nowhere does Christianity and the world contrast more than on the message of sex and sexuality. The sexual revolution of the sixties and onwards opened the door the Victorian era had long worked to keep hushed up and out of the spotlight. Now the genie was out of the bottle and it wasn’t going back in.
God is the creator of sex. It’s one of His best ideas in a long list of great achievements. Along with sex, God also put some guardrails around it to protect it’s specialness. In God’s eyes, there is something more to sex than just two pieces of matter coming together, it’s deeper and even more mysterious than that. In Genesis 2:24 God said: