The Holy Spirit – He is a Person

First, a little pre-prayer meditation.  (This is actually a good practice to do every day before morning prayers.)

  “Be still and know that I am God. 

I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

AND

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to You.”  James 4:8

Father, thank You are more evident to me, when I turn my full attention to You.  I acknowledge I come only on the basis of Jesus’ perfect blood sacrifice and nothing I  do could ever earn my redemption.  I am nothing without Jesus’ mercy and grace extended to me.  Strip away my self-sufficiency. I have only filthy rags and sawdust to lay before You Lord, but I offer You my life and will.  Fill me, this moment, Father, with Your blessed Holy Spirit.  Guide me, teach me, give me a spirit of adjustment to Your truth as You reveal it to me. In Jesus’ name I pray these things to His glory, Amen.

 
The pursuit of the Spirit-filled life begins by accepting that yes, there is such a life.  We can and were meant to experience it as believers in Christ; and yes, the Spirit Who indwells has the power and desire to bring about great change in a person’s character and perspective on life.

Getting to this point of acceptance requires a change in our old understanding.  In Romans 12:2, we are told “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is. . . .”  Only when we can accept what God says is true, can we then act upon it.  Faith follows truth and does not try to create truth.   An understanding of what God puts forth in His Word as truth is the first step in getting to the place of the Spirit-filled life.  Only then can it be put into practice.

  1. The Spirit is a Person

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Son.  The concept of the Trinity is mind-boggling even for the best of theologians.  Three-yet-One.  Three separate Personalities and overall roles to fulfill, but still One God.

I have a friend who came up with an analogy for the Trinity that a modern-day believer can easily grasp.  She states that the Trinity is rather like those shampoo/conditioner/body wash products that are on the market.  A three-in-one.  It supposedly will accomplish each of the functions it says it will, when applied in the right places.  Each Person of the Trinity accomplishes His very definite roles and functions within the universe and beyond, yet Each is of the same Essence. A simplistic way for us to remember the functionality of the Persons of God perhaps, but memorable.

Is it hard for you to think of the Holy Spirit as a real Person, instead of an impersonal “it”?  In my own upbringing, I heard preaching and teaching that described the Holy Spirit in this way.  I think this probably because the KJV often translates verses that relate to the Holy Spirit as “it.”  The New Age supporters have picked up on this reference and talk about the Holy Spirit in a similar way, as if He is some sort of divine energy source that indwells all of humankind. This distorted view leads them to believe that each person’s greatest responsibility is to develop the spirit within and move to a greater understanding of personal deity and oneness with all people.  Hogwash.

The Holy Spirit as “it” is in opposition to what God’s Word says, however.  An examination of cursory New Testament verses in a newer translation will debunk the untruth of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal entity.  One example of a verse is John 16:13 where it says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”  The “He” cannot be translated as “it”—going back to the original Greek word makes it impossible to do so.

Moreover, the Spirit is also correctly referred to with a masculine pronoun “He,” and never “She.”  God is always, always referred to as “He” in the original languages of Aramaic and Greek. This is not a chauvinistic contrivance.  This was God’s choice to describe Himself this way, as He always chooses His own names for Himself and has His own reasons for doing so.  We are reminded in Is. 55:9 that “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  We have to accept that God’s names for Himself are perfect and altogether right, just as He is perfect in all things.

Charles Stanley, the well-known pastor and Bible teacher, says that the Bible not only refers to the Holy Spirit as “He” but has all the distinctives of personality.  He says “The Holy Spirit is described as having 1) knowledge; 2) will; and 3) emotion.”  In the case of the Holy Spirit possessing knowledge, he quotes the apostle Paul:

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not one spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.

–I Cor. 2:11-12

Paraphrased, the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God and He imparts this knowledge to believers.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit’s will is described in another of Paul’s writings in I Corinthians:

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

–I Cor. 12:11

Stanley says, “The Holy Spirit makes decisions.  He is not a power to be harnessed and manipulated.  He has a mind and will of His own.  To tap into the Holy Spirit is not to enhance one’s ability to carry out one’s will. . . On the contrary, the power of the Holy Spirit is available only to those whose intention is to carry out His Will.”

Lastly, the Holy Spirit embodies emotions.  “He has feelings,” says Stanley.  Paul wrote the believers in Ephesus not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).  In Romans 15:30 Paul also referred to the “love of the Spirit.”  Grief and love are certainly terms associated with emotion.  With all these three aspects of personality in mind, it makes sense to think of the Holy Spirit as a Person.

Next time, we will examine the Holy Spirit in His Eternality and His Omnipotence.  Before leaving today’s truths, let’s thank God for His Word and confess our wrong ideas regarding the Holy Spirit.

Father, thank You for Your blessed Holy Spirit, Who is a Person and in equal standing with You and with Jesus.  Forgive me for the times where I’ve only thought or spoken about Him as an impersonal “it,” Lord.  I know He is a Person Who deserves my highest respect and acknowledgement for His authority in my life.  Thank You again for the continued scriptural truths which You will make evident to me and permeate my thinking with, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name only I come to You, Amen.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Acts 2:28

Eve

“It is good to praise the LORD and make music to Your name, O Most High. . . . The righteous will. . . still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” Ps. 92: 1,12, 13-15

Lindy Mitchell took a break from her work.  She reached for her canned drink and took a sip, letting the cold liquid slide down her throat.

Cross-legged in the middle of Beal Street Church’s music library, she eyed stacks and stacks of wrinkled sheet music. Stacks on the shelves.  Stacks on the floor.  And none of it labeled or categorized!  How the church had managed this long without organizing its music library was beyond her.  Must be thirty-years’ worth of stuff here, as old as the church itself.  Her one-day project was turning out to be a bigger job than she could have ever imagined.  Mace owed her for this, big-time.

She smiled and imagined some creative ways in which her husband could repay her, later.  Starting with dinner tonight.

The smell of new pine shelving, gratis from Mace’s friend Charlie Cannon, emanated from the wall opposite her.  She’d spent most of the morning in the floor folding sturdy boxes in which the music would be stored.  She’d readied her labels and Sharpie markers.  Now came the decision of what to keep and what to toss.

Mace’s instruction was to purge everything with no value and to set questionable items aside for him to decide later.  She knew from her own experience what music the choir enjoyed and what Mace usually liked.  Shouldn’t be too hard to figure this out.

The stack next to her had a yellow and white cover, the title “Until Then” scrolled across.

She opened it up.  Never heard of it.  When was it written?  Her eyes jumped to the bottom of the page.  The arrangement came from nineteen-eighty, four years before she was born.  And judging from the layer of dust on top, it hadn’t been used since.  Just like the rest of these golden oldies.

The piece fluttered from her fingers into the trash and then its corresponding pile. One down.  She scanned the room.  A hundred more to go.

“Lindy?”

Julia Peter, Brother Bill Peter’s wife, entered, dressed in a charcoal-colored  suit with an artsy scarf arranged about her neck.  A petite woman with snow white hair and intense black eyes followed her in.  Lindy didn’t recall the woman’s name but thought she recognized her as a church member.

Lindy jumped up.  She grabbed the edges of her shorts,  gave them a good tug downward.  She smoothed the wrinkles in her faded t-shirt.

“Lindy, Gladys said you were here.  She promised she’d have our flyers finished this afternoon.”  Julia’s eyes crinkled in a smile and surveyed the scene.  “My goodness.  I haven’t been in here in a while.  You’ve certainly got your work cut out for you.”

The other woman, dressed in a pink sweater and choker of pearls, pulled her pocketbook close.  “Hhmmmpph.  Looks like someone left this place in a humdinger of a mess, if you ask me.”

Julia patted her arm.  “Eve, you know we’ve only had lay people and part-time seminary music students to do the music before Mace came.  In their defense, they did the best they could.  They never really had the time to get in here and straighten it out.”

“Doesn’t look that way to me.  Sure looks like they could’ve done something about it.”

Julia gestured toward Lindy.  “I don’t know if you’ve met Lindy yet.  Eve, this is Lindy Mitchell, Mason Mitchell’s wife.  And Lindy, this is Eve Symonds, one of my dearest friends here at Beal Street.  Eve attends the early service.  She’s been a member here since Bill and I first came to the church.”

Lindy took her cold, thin hand in her own.  “Nice to meet you, Ms. . .Mrs. . . .” Lindy looked to Julia.

“It’s Mrs. Symonds,” the woman said.  “I’ve been married three times and outlived all three of my husbands.  The last, my Edward, died nine years ago, God rest his soul.  But please don’t call me Mrs. Symonds, dear.  Just call me Eve.   ‘Mrs. Symonds’ makes me feel old.”

“All right, Eve.”

Julia’s phone buzzed in her purse.  “Hello?” she answered.  A wrinkle crossed her forehead.  “Okay, Gladys, I’ll be right there.  Thanks.”  She hung up.  “Eve, If you’ll stay here with Lindy, I’ve got to dash back to the church office and proof the Bible study flyer one more time before Gladys prints them.  Excuse me, ladies.”

Silence followed.  Lindy cleared her throat.  “Mrs. Symonds–Eve–would you like to sit down?  I’d be glad to get you a chair.”  She moved toward the choir room.

“Don’t bother.  Julia said she wouldn’t be long.  We were on our way to the Tea Room when we stopped in.”  The black eyes darted to the stacks of music.  She picked up the nearest one and held it close.  “What have you got here?  Oh, my, ‘Ivory Towers’—I’ve always liked that tune.”

She motioned to the other piles.  “What’re you going to do with all these?”

“Some of it we’ll keep, if it’s worth keeping.”

Eve walked to the garbage can and peered inside.  “And what do we have in here?”  The woman pulled a copy of the trashed “Until Then” from the bin. The bird-like eyes turned to Lindy.  “This is a great song.  Don’t you know how it goes?”

“No, ma’am, I don’t.”

“Used to be one of my favorites; it’s been ages since we’ve sung it in church.   Maybe your husband ought to bring it out, dust it off.”  She held it out to Lindy.

Lindy took it and shifted in her flipflops.  “Maybe, but I’m not sure we need to hang onto it anymore. Mace has ordered lots of new music for the church.”

“You play the piano, don’t you?”  She took Lindy’s arm.  “Here, you play it, and I’ll show you what some really good music sounds like.”

Lindy bit her tongue.  As opposed to what, the music they had now?

And why did people always wrongly presume–just because she was married to Mace–that she could play anything on the piano she wanted to?

They were at the wooden piano bench.  “Mrs. Symonds, I mean Eve, I really don’t play the piano.”

“I bet you took piano lessons as a child, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did, but I am not proficient enough to play. . . this.  I can barely pick out the melody line.”

“Good enough.  All we need is the melody, anyway.”  Eve firmly sat down.  Resigned, Lindy took a seat on her other side.  The woman pulled out a pair of reading glasses and perched them on her nose.  “Well, go ahead.  Let’s hear it.”

She’s actually going to make me go through with this. Lindy sent a prayer heavenward. Lord, help!

Lindy located the key signature at the top. A small blessing. The song was written in the key of F, which meant there was only one flatted note, B flat, for her to keep up with.

Lindy picked her way through the introduction with both hands, managing to play most of the notes in the treble cleft.  She started hesitantly into the verse before the older woman brought them to a screeching halt.

“Wait, wait!”  She waved her hands.  “You’re not singing the words.”

Lindy removed her hands from the keys.  “With all due respect, Eve, and I do mean that, I can’t play and sight-sing at the same time.  Playing it is hard enough.  If you want it sung, you’re going to have to do it.”

Eve Symonds slapped her thigh sharply.  “Then let’s get to it.  Julia’ll be back soon.”  She shooed Lindy.  “Go on, now. Start over.”

Lindy made it through the halting introduction again.  Eve dove in at the right time, warbling through two verses and a chorus.  The music built to its peak, as Eve’s voice gathered intensity and began the final big chorus:

But until then my heart will go on singing

Until then with joy I’ll carry on

Until the day my eyes behold my Savior

Until the day God calls me home, God calls me home.***

They heard clapping behind them.  “How lovely!” said Julia.  ” I haven’t heard that song in ages.”

Eve straightened.  “What did I tell you?  Just because a song has some age on it doesn’t mean it can’t be used by God any more.”  She poked Lindy in the ribs.  “Us older folks just happen to like this stuff, you know.”

“Come on, Eve, the Tea Room awaits.”  Julia held out her hand. “Lindy, we’ll leave you to your work.

Eve rose.  “Goodbye, Lindy.  And remember what I said.”

“I will.  Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too.”  Eve winked at her before walking out.

Lindy strode to the garbage can.  Eve’s words rung in her head: Just because it’s got some age on it doesn’t mean it can’t be used by God anymore.  She pulled the music out she’d tossed in.  She shuffled the pages into a neat pile and situated it in a box with its title, “Until Then,”  penned on the label. 

She went to the next few stacks in the floor, removed a copy from each, and sat back down in front of the piano.

***”Until Then,” lyrics by Stuart Hamblen, 1958.

The Hummies are Back

http://bob-ayers.smugmug.com

Because I was inspired by a Facebook friend’s passion for all things bird and hummingbird, I decided last week to dig out my old hummingbird feeder.

I found it on a garage shelf, stored with packets of dried hummingbird nectar.  I mixed up a quart of what looks like red Kool-Aid in a pitcher.  Then I stuck it in my refrigerator and labeled it as such, so the guys in my life won’t try to pour it into a glass.

After the feeder’s various parts were washed and dried thoroughly, I took it to my go-to man: my husband Al.  We decided on a perfect location for the feeder—through my office window at the front of the house where it receives shade most of the day.  I recalled a mistake from my previous hummingbird experience where the feeder sat in the sun and fermented the nectar more quickly.  The present location, above some thick shrubbery, also gives the hummies some nearby shelter in which to rest and hide between feedings.

Al hung it from a bracket so it’s the perfect height for me to enjoy from where I work.  He also remembered to put a protective coating of Vaseline on the plastic bell strung just above the feeder, to deter any marauding ants.

Thrill of thrills—I saw my first hummingbird this morning, a male ruby-throated.  Illusive but determined, he takes a few sips, flits away, comes back.  It only took a day for him to discover the feeder.  I’m hoping he’ll invite the rest of his family and friends to the new watering hole as well.

I’ll keep you posted on what specific species I see.  Maybe I’ll even snap a few pictures of my own. (Thanks to Bob Ayers for the one above.)

Father, what a wonder Your creation is.  You tell us You know every bird, and that everything that moves in the field is Yours.  Each creature, each in its own way, proclaims You as God.  Thank You for the beauty and enjoyment You give through even the tiniest of them, like the energetic little hummingbird.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn