May 8, 2022
Main idea: Dependence is freedom.
What has been the neediest season of your life? Why?
Read Acts 1:1-11.
Skim the book of Acts and find three examples of the power of the Holy Spirit in the early church.
Do you think God could do something like that today? Could He do that in central Indiana? Why or why not?
Do you want God to do something like that in central Indiana?
Read the following aloud and then share one thing you learned about the Holy Spirit:
"Rarely does a Christian struggle to think of God as Father. And to envision God as Son is not a problem for many. These personal names come easily to us because our lives and relationships are inescapably intertwined with fathers and sons here on earth. But God as Holy Spirit is often a different matter. Gordon Fee tells of one of his students who remarked, “God the Father makes perfectly good sense to me, and God the Son I can quite understand; but the Holy Spirit is a gray, oblong blur.”
How different this is from what we actually read in Scripture. There we see that the Spirit is not third in rank in the Godhead but is coequal and coeternal with the Father and Son, sharing with them all the glory and honor due unto our triune God. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal power or an ethereal, abstract energy. The Spirit is personal in every sense of the term. He has a mind and thinks (Isa. 11:2; Rom. 8:27). He is capable of experiencing deep affections and feelings (Rom. 8:26; 15:30). The Spirit has a will and makes choices regarding what is best for God’s people and what will most glorify the Son (Acts 16:7; 1 Cor. 2:11).
We see even more of the Spirit’s personality when he is described as being grieved when we sin (Eph. 4:30). The Spirit, no less so than the Father and the Son, enters into a vibrant and intimate relationship with all whom he indwells (2 Cor. 13:14). The Spirit talks (Mark 13:11; Rev. 2:7), testifies (John 15:26; 16:13) encourages (Acts 9:31), strengthens (Eph. 3:16), and teaches us, especially in times of spiritual emergency (Luke 12:12). That the Spirit is personal is seen in that he can be lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted (Heb. 10:29), and even blasphemed (Matt. 12:31–32).
Above all else, though, the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). His primary role in us, the temple of God in whom he dwells (Eph. 2:21–22), is other-directed or other-oriented as he ministers to direct our attention to the person of Christ and to awaken in us heartfelt affection for and devotion to the Savior (John 14:26; 16:12–15). The Holy Spirit delights above all else in serving as a spotlight, standing behind us (although certainly dwelling within us) to focus our thoughts and meditation on the beauty of Christ and all that God is for us in and through him.
As we prayerfully meditate on the person and work of the Spirit and give thanks for his powerful presence in our lives, we would do well to consider the words of Thomas Torrance, who reminds us that “the Spirit is not just something divine or something akin to God emanating from him, not some sort of action at a distance or some kind of gift detachable from himself, for in the Holy Spirit God acts directly upon us himself, and in giving us his Holy Spirit God gives us nothing less than himself.” (source)
"Prayer is the way you walk by the Spirit. Prayer is the way you walk by faith. In other words, it’s the breath of the Christian life all day long. Just breathe in, breathe out. It’s the way you live.
Let me illustrate for you with four elements ... : confession, petition, praise, and thanks. I’m commending to you that any time you face any situation when you feel I need help here, you do it by prayer using these four elements.
Suppose I have to speak in front of a group, and I am nervous (you can pick your particular challenge). As the moment approaches, I wonder, “Am I going to be able to do this? Will I remember what I have to say? Will I make a fool of myself?” And at that moment I confess my need to God. I say, “Lord, I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve your help, but I need your help. I can’t do anything without you.” That’s the confession step of prayer.
And then I turn my confession to petition. “Lord, please help me. I need memory. I need articulation. I need the right spirit. I need humility. I need to look the people in the eye. I need all these things. I want to be helpful to my listeners. But I don’t have it in me to be all that they need. Help me.” That’s the petition step of prayer. A cry for help.
And then I need to reach out and take hold of something about God that will be worthy of my praise and worthy of my trust. Like God says, “I’ll strengthen you. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you up with my victorious right hand” (see Isa. 41:10). I take hold of that promise, that power, that love, that mercy, and I hold onto it. And I trust him and praise him. “You, oh Lord, can help me. I trust you to help me. I praise you for being the kind of God who is willing and able to help me!” That’s the trust and praise step of prayer.
Then I give my talk, trusting him. And when I am done, no matter what, I thank him. Since I trusted him for his help, I believe that he is going to use my effort, no matter how well I think I did. “Thank you, Lord!” That is the thanks step of prayer.
There they are—four key words from the catechism.
First, continually confess your need to the Lord. “I need you.”
Second, cry out in petition. “Help me.”
Third, lay hold of God’s promises with trust and praise for his ability to fulfill them.
And then when he helps you, go on your face and say, “Thank you.”
That’s the rhythm and the breath of the Christian life."
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