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Divine Presence

#storychanging

Divine Presence

MONDAY— But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … Acts 1:8

Most people are comfortable with the idea of God as a Father and many are okay talking about Jesus, the Son. But some start to sweat when they think about the Holy Spirit. Even Christians may view Him like a weird uncle who shows up for Thanksgiving and no one is sure what he might do. One reason we think that way is because of the outlandish things people have done in the name of the Holy Spirit. People have hijacked His name to justify all sorts of weirdness, but nowhere in the Bible is He ever associated with barking like dogs or throwing up. That is NOT the work of the Holy Spirit. He is holy, so anything He inspires is also holy. This week we will look at some of the things He does and why we all need the Holy Spirit.

Jesus would not let His disciples spread the news about Him until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Acts 2 gives details about that dramatic moment when the Holy Spirit descended on Christ-followers for the first time. There is no mention of barking, writhing on the floor, or handling snakes. Instead, they were praying. Suddenly, what looked like flames landed on each of them and the building shook. They each began to speak in languages they had not learned. One moment they were huddled in terror, praying for God’s intervention. The next, they were preaching boldly in the streets in languages the people could understand. Thousands were saved that day because when the Holy Spirit shows up, holy things happen.

Final Thought: Have you been a little afraid of the Holy Spirit? You don’t need to be. He is God who lives in His children.

Prayer: Father, I’ve seen extreme examples of people claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit and it made me uncomfortable. But their claims don’t equal your truth. I want to know the Holy Spirit so He can help me become holy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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TUESDAY— When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: John 16:8

Jesus taught a lot about the Holy Spirit and He defined three specific areas in which the Holy Spirit works: sin, righteousness, and judgment. Before we are even aware of it, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts convicting us of sin. No has to tell us that lying is sin. We instinctively know it and unless our conscience is as hard as flint, we feel guilty. We also know that taking something that isn’t ours, having an affair, or betraying a friend is not righteous. The Holy Sprit’s voice whispers to our hearts and stirs in us a longing for God, for purity, beauty, and righteousness. Despite our choices to the contrary, buried deep within us is the hunger for a life that is better than we can attain on our own. That knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit.

Judgment creeps upon us in the middle of the night when our conscience screams, “I can’t believe I did that!” We’re caught and we know it. Whether anyone else finds out or not, we know. And we’re guilty. Fear nibbles at our minds and we shoot hopeful prayers at the ceiling: “God, I’m sorry. Hope you don’t hold this against me.” But the awful dread of judgment stays with us and there is a reason. It forces us to humble ourselves. Only when we’re convinced of our own unrighteousness can we repent and be saved. Self-righteous people don’t think they need a savior. But many feeling the weight of judgment will eagerly receive His grace. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment, none of us would change.

Final Thought: If you’ve received the saving grace of God, it was because the Holy Spirit brought you to that point.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your precious Holy Spirit’s work in my life. Keep my heart tender and my conscience sensitive so I will continue to be convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Holy Spirit, help me obey you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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WEDNESDAY— The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. John 16:9

If you had to list the Top Three sins, what would they be? A quick scan of social media might make us think they were abortion, homosexuality, and voting for Trump. A typical college discussion might convince us that judgmentalism, intolerance, and homophobia were the worst. A betrayed spouse might list adultery, a scam victim might list fraud, and a grieving parent might list murder, but none of those made Jesus’ Top Three list. He said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would convict the world of its Number One sin: refusal to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. It’s Number One because it leads to all other sins.
So if believing in Jesus is that important, we need to understand what it means. Believing is easy when it costs us nothing. You might believe you could win the lottery, so you buy a ticket and hope. You might believe aliens are real, so you search the skies for evidence. But in both cases, you haven’t lost much by believing. That’s not the way we believe in Jesus. The kind of believing the Holy Spirit produces is the kind that requires us to relinquish everything we’ve got. It’s the sky-diving-without-a-parachute kind of believing. John 3:36 equates believing with obeying. So the kind of believing that saves us is the kind that says to Jesus, “You’re my Boss from now on.” That’s scary. It’s costly. And it can only be done with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Final Thought: Are you certain that your “believing in Jesus” is enough to save you? Ask yourself: “Who’s boss of me?”

Prayer: Lord, I want to be sure that I truly believe in you, the kind of belief where there is no turning back to my old ways. Please, Holy Spirit, convict me if I’m fooling myself and encourage me if I’m truly yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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THURSDAY— Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

“Will you marry me?” Nervous Ned asked and opened a tiny box to reveal a beautiful diamond. His beloved beamed at him and held out her finger. “I will!” she cried. As the gold band slid onto her finger, the promise was sealed. They were not married yet. The fullness of their relationship was still pending. But the ring signified their commitment to a future together. The ring did not make them engaged; it was a symbol of the promises they’d made and the hope of things to come.

“Will you trust in me?” God asks and when we say “yes,” He gives us the Holy Spirit as the symbol of a future together. We’re not perfected yet; forever has not begun. But the gift of the Holy Spirit helps us get ready for an eternity together. A bride-to-be must not romance other men with her fiancé’s ring on her finger. That is cheating. And Christians don’t dance in Satan’s ballroom with the Holy Spirit in our hearts. That’s even worse. When we’ve entered into a sacred covenant with God, we take the Holy Spirit with us everywhere we go. Would He enjoy that drunken party? Does He like the way we’re talking? Is He pleased when we romance a married co-worker? God offers His most valuable asset—His Holy Spirit—like an engagement ring to those He saves. When we accept His proposal, we must live as people who are betrothed to a holy God.

Final Thought: If you belong to Christ, you take the Holy Spirit everywhere you go. Are you grieving Him by your choices?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit. Search my actions, my words, and my attitudes. Am I grieving you in the way I live? Am I forcing your Holy Spirit to be a part of the evil you hate? Please forgive me. I want to change. Amen.
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FRIDAY— Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18

The little girls had fun all morning, playing in the mud. They made mud pies, mud pudding, and mud frosting. Ashlyn filled a cup with mud, packed it firmly, and then tried to pour water into the cup, but it only splashed down the sides. “Why can’t I pour water in this?” she asked her mother as the cleanup began. “Your cup’s already full of mud,” Mom answered. Ashlyn pouted, not ready to give up. “But I want water in it. I’m thirsty.” Mom smiled and wiped dirty hands. “You can’t fill a cup with two things at once. You have to decide. Do you want mud or water? You can’t have both at the same time.”

That’s what Paul is telling us in this verse. You can’t have both. You cannot be controlled by another spirit if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Alcohol, drugs, pot, porn and lifestyle sin are all substitutes for the Holy Spirit. Each fills the place where the Holy Spirit belongs. We cannot be controlled by two spirits at once. God does not share. We may claim that we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but He has nowhere to go when our cups are full of mud. When we drink to excess, we are saying to God, “I want to be filled by something besides you.” When we run to an addiction or a sin pattern for comfort or validation, we are telling the Holy Spirit that He needs to scoot over. Another god is in town. Alcohol is called “spirits” because it prompts us to do and say things we might not do on our own. Anything we allow to control us takes the Holy Spirit’s place.

Final Thought: You cannot be controlled by two spirits at the same time. Which spirit/Spirit fills you?

Prayer: Father, I’m thinking of some things that control many of my choices and that is wrong. Please forgive me. Cleanse my life of any competing spirits so that your Spirit alone fills my heart. I will have no other gods but you. In Jesus’ name, amen