This is a season where we all are thinking of gifts. People ask us what we want to receive? We ponder on what to buy, where to shop, how much to spend? The pressure is on! There are, after all, only 24 more shopping days until Christmas!
This is not, as you might think, a blog post on the commercialization of Christmas or an essay on how Jesus really was the best gift we will ever receive. John 3:16 ( That’s true, by the way!)
This is a post about a dream that I had the other night. I have been flailing around a bit to figure out how best to tackle my most common brick wall that I run into with people regarding teaching on the filling of the Holy Spirit. (Mostly in my own family) How do we best respond when folks swear up and down that they received all the Holy Spirit that they will ever need when they received Jesus?
Folks often like to point to the fruit of the Spirit and say that they are in full possession of all that fruit, and pretty much double-dog-daring me to prove their longsuffering attributes by prolonging this conversation!
If given the opportunity, they parrot the standard church teaching that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as outlined in the New Testament are no longer needed….other than Teaching, Pastoring and, of course, Giving….oh and maybe Faith.
None of that funny business is required. All else fell by the wayside with the completion of the Bible’s New Testament and/or with the death of the original disciples. I know I write about this a lot, but stick with me…I’m heading for new territory today!
Let us review just in case it has been a while since you breezed thru Galatians. It first lists a very nasty list of “the works of the flesh” then moves on in verse 22 with the flip side the Fruit of the Spirit filled person: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance/self-control. I’m reading from the King James so forgive the antiquated fruitiness! But, these are not exactly rare, hot-house character traits we are talking here. I know a number or agnostics and atheists. They are really nice people. They do not kick dogs and they love their families. They are mostly sweet, honest and generous folks possessing many of the items on this laundry list.
There must be something else involved here! I also know some professing Believers who are very angry, impatient and decidedly unfaithful in a variety of ways. This is very confusing. What is the missing ingredient for all these everyday attributes?
Without going into a full-blown study of Galatians 5 let me just say that our churches are full of sweet, saved, Christians who possess, in some measurement, many if not most of the items on this list. Therefore, they believe that this is it. That they have tapped the full complement of Holy Spirit Fruitiness described. That’s it and there ain’t no more!
Now, therein lies my problem. It is common for professing Christians to have been taught all their lives that all they need is belief on Jesus to be saved ( and, that is TRUE!). They were further taught that Signs, Miracles and Wonders of the Book of Acts- those evidences and expressions of the Holy Spirit are no longer necessary to be all that we can be in Christian life.
This, then, becomes a self-fulfilling explanation of why there are no evidences of any kind of First Church power in our congregations. How are Christian people to realize that anything is missing or to know what they are missing if they have never seen anything different?
It’s a conundrum that I have been working and praying on for awhile now. I went to bed the other night and I had this dream:
In this dream there are lots of packages in beautiful wrappings. I can see lovely lights reflecting in the shiny papers. Each one is different from the next in size and weight and shape. All the wrappings and bows are different and incredibly desirable.
As I unwrap each one there is a different gift of the Holy Spirit inside. Some boxes look as though they hold something huge but, as I open them they are buried in descending-sized gift boxes.
At some point in my dream, as I unwrap a box I look down and see that was hidden on the opposite side of the gorgeous, designer paper of my gift. On the inside of each paper was printed over and over and over again: Love. Just LOVE. But the word was infused by pulsating, Supernatural, Holy Spirit Activated, super-duper, enhanced, inky LOVE.
I can’t take my eyes off of the “Love” words to even look with any interest at what the gift really was in the box I was unwrapping. Those gifts had grown and been nurtured, saturated in the LOVE. If I focus on LOVE, then each unique gift come into focus, understanding and fruition on their own.
I opened the gifts. Some of the gifts I knew were for use all the time, every day. They fit me like the perfect pair of running shoes or a custom-crafted weapon. Other gifts, I might only be called on to use once or twice in a lifetime! Some gifts would grow in power as I grew, honored and exercised them. There were some gifts that I knew how to use and others, were so specialized and powerful that I needed to get some training before I could become proficient. Each one was an invaluable treasure and each gift came wrapped in this wonderful paper with the precious words on the inside! I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the words on the paper.
Because of the incredible Love of God ( who is Love) He sent his son, Jesus, to shed his blood and save me! Yea! I’m saved. He sent me the Holy Spirit which I am instructed to pray for receiving ( in obedience). This is the wonderful, personal, always-take-it-with-you, power pack to be able to actually achieve what Jesus asked me to do. The Holy Spirit was/is his own special Gift.
Through the person of the Holy Spirit come other Gifts of the Spirit found in I Corinthians 12, 1 Peter4:10, Romans 12: 6-8, 1 Timothy 4:4-16, I Corinthians 14, Ephesians 4:11-12.
These are gifts, wrapped, cheek by jowl, in Miraculous Love that serve a NOW prophetic purpose, or a way to restore, nurture and build up the body of Christ. You may not think you need these gifts or understand their use or power. You may never in your experience, to date, have seen them in operation but, they are scriptural and vital to your growth and to your dependence on the Lord, as well as fully functioning in your purpose.
Jesus used amazing signs wonders and miracles to show people a side of God that they had never seen! These actions proved to people that He was the Son of the Living God that had been watched for since Adam sinned in the Garden.
Jesus used those signs in tandem with the written word of God to change lives and reveal the heavenly power that was available to us. Jesus told us that he was sending the Holy Spirit to comfort and teach us stuff; To remind us of all the words of Jesus. Jesus never did anything without the power, indwelling and leading of the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly hope to function in the Great Commission: To Preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead if we don’t think we need what Jesus said we did and follow his personal example?
Could I love or be joyful or patient in my life before I received the Filling of the Holy Spirit? Sure. Do I have a totally different understanding of Joy today? Yes! Do I love differently now? Yes, I absolutely do. Are there silly folks running around that fake or abuse these gifts? Sure, why do your think there are so many warnings about false doctrine, false teachers and deception in the New Testament?
That’s satan’s full-time job! He’s a liar and a counterfeiter. You need to be able to recognize the real from the fake- not shelve the entire parts of the Bible that might be a sticky wicket and leave you emasculated, uninformed and powerless! Come on, people! Don’t fall into this diabolical trap!
Could I write well and teach intelligently before I was filled with the Holy Spirit? Sure I could; but, now…oh, now it is totally, completely different deal. Those individualized, Holy Spirit- infused wrappings of LOVE are what draw us to the un-loveable, gives you patience to deal with the stupid ” life stuff” that has no Kingdom purpose. It is Holy Spirit’s beating heart of love and understanding that pulls us to the poor, to the brokenhearted or to a new mission field. It is His message that whispers a word of knowledge about a problem that He wants to solve for the person in line ahead of you at the grocery store. It could change their life or just bless their heart, it isn’t my call: I am just his delivery girl. It’s the timely message He calls urgently into your spirit and tells you to turn one way or the other and it makes no sense but, saves your life. It is obedience to that Voice, to that LOVE that grows and glows as it transforms and overcomes this dark and broken world.
Love is fancy, gift-wrapping that covers and overshadows every other gift God offers! It is unbelievable, spirit-fertilizer that produces massive amounts of fruit in your life. If you are hungering for more of God. If you know in your heart that there must be more than just the same old sermon on Sunday! If you have never received the empowering step of the Holy Spirit-then this is the Perfect time!