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THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS: HOW SHALL WE RESPOND? PART III in the series "THE POWER OF PENTECOST"

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PART III IN THE SERIES,

“THE POWER OF PENTECOST”

THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS:

HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?


We began with Part I: PENTECOST: ROOTS, PRICE, 

PROMISE AND WHAT HAPPENED. 

Part II continued with WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES PENTECOST MAKE?

We examined Holy Spirit power manifested, effects, repercussions, gifts and fruit. We examined being called, sent, and going beyond human limits.

Now comes Part III: THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS: HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?

We explore our connection to the Holy Spirit in receiving Him, how to respond, letting Him speak, God’s glory, the Holy Spirit now, the days ahead, and a Pentecost way of life.

Part IV is PENTECOST POSTSCRIPT: COMING TO THE LIVING WORD OF GOD…

This article presents us with some life-giving perspectives…

The Holy Spirit brings scripture to life.


WE COME TO GROW

Many Christians are in liturgical churches whose members are accustomed to partaking in the sacraments—receiving sacraments at various times in life. Some sacraments are more frequently received, such as Holy Communion. Others are more rare, as with Baptism, Confirmation, and the Anointing of the Sick.

We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, the sacrament of initiation. (For babies who receive this sacrament, it is the parents who request this sacrament for their child, and who make the initial promises to the Lord in the child’s behalf.)

In natural life and living, we human beings grow and mature. We take more and more steps to do what our parents used to do for us—from feeding us, to carrying us, to making choices for us when we couldn’t talk or have the wisdom or power to decide for ourselves. The same is true in our spiritual life—hopefully, we develop and progress and mature as Christians, rather than lapse and decline.” 1

As we progress beyond baptism, we can exercise our personal spiritual freedom to make a new and personal connection with our Almighty power Source—the Holy Spirit. We can establish an enriched rapport with God, Himself. What a concept! What a privilege! 2

Like anything else in life, we can receive things on different levels. We can be superficial, going through the motions of choosing and relating… or we can more fully engage with life, with others, and with God Himself. In this series, we have been endeavoring to understand what it means to engage with the Holy Spirit—and to appreciate the vitality of that choice.


RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SCRIPTURE

Peter, in his Pentecost address, gave a simple directive to the people regarding both baptism and the Holy Spirit:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”4[Acts 2:37-39, NASB, Bible Gateway]

The apostles received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them on Resurrection Day and said,

“Receive the Holy Spirit” [Jn. 20:22]. Jesus had more of the Holy Spirit to give to them.

“While meeting with them” [during the 40 days after the Resurrection] “he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the ‘promise of the Father’ about which you have heard me speak, for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 1: 3-5]


GOING DEEPER

Whenever we go deeper into something—particularly when we engage our hearts—it costs us something. But we have a God who cares deeply and Whose Being is Love Itself (Himself). Throughout the Old Testament, and in New Testament writings, God makes it clear that (although He sees everything) He looks at (focuses on) our hearts. He cannot be fooled. He sees them deeply and clearly. He cannot be deceived or manipulated, yet… We can freely come to Him honestly, weakly, and acknowledging our need for His help—whatever condition our heart is in.

We live in a superficial culture where we learn the ins and outs of social behavior. Some of us do not move beyond the surface… or find and give what’s real, from deep within… from the heart. Even in the spiritual or religious realm, there are many who remain disengaged with their hearts, while learning—very well—the superficial and expected words and behaviors. Our God—Being Love Himself—is a relationship God. The Trinity, Itself, is the Supreme Love Relationship!! That is inscrutable to our finite minds, but a joy to imagine. Our God is straightforward, trustworthy and honest. He asks for our love—toward Him and towards one another.

This giving of our love costs us something. When it comes to a vibrant, effective relationship with God, it costs us a surrender to another power and control in our lives. It starts with yielding to the Almighty, Loving and Merciful God… trusting that this Omnipotent, Omniscient God knows far more than we do, and has the power to exercise mercy with inconceivable degrees of love and perfect wisdom.

Yes, that’s a strong statement… that happens to be no exaggeration. In fact, this expressed truth only scratches the surface of God’s unlimited goodness and trustworthiness, because our own insight is so limited that we too easily fail to see, understand, accept, grasp or receive this staggering amount of loving kindness. We too often measure God by the (imperfect) people or experiences we have had, or by what (or whom) we have known (in regard to love, trustworthiness, etc.).


TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD

Jesus said: “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?’ [Luke 11:13] The Father desires to give the Holy Spirit (with His gifts, blessings, empowerments, and fruit-in-formation) as we continue to seek Him. 3

In the gospel of John and the gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus say:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive so that your joy may be complete… 26 On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. 27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” [Jn. 16:23-28]

Jesus also said, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; Seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you, then… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” [Mt 7:7-11]


NEW POWER

The Holy Spirit, then, comes with His power—as we ask, receive and believe. It’s more like receiving an “in-house” power-source, only He is the real Person of God, Himself—third Person of the Holy Trinity. We can become more aware of His presence and His availability—particularly as we hear and read about Him in the scriptures and put into prayer and practice what we read and believe.

“Knocking, asking, seeking” can result in a new experience of God’s wisdom, strength, inspiration, guidance, encouragement, understanding of scripture… healing, joy, enabling, miracles …like being immersed in the stream of the Holy Spirit’s power.

The last thing that Jesus said to his apostles (after the resurrection) before he was ascended into heaven was in regard to the Holy Spirit. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth…” (Acts 1:8) 4


THE SPIRIT SPEAKS

The Bible, of course, is a revelation by the Holy Spirit. We need God's help to have His words come to life in applying them to our own lives, (even after we have had the Holy Spirit's help in absorbing what we have read/heard and determined to believe and follow His word). So we need His presence with us (with His faith, hope and love) as we read, discern and apply the written word of God. Additionally, there are books written on the accumulated and traditional wisdom and references through which the Holy Spirit has spoken. To follow the Lord in all aspects of living and making our choices in life, we need God’s help. He enables us to come in tune with the many ways that the Holy Spirit can direct and speak to us as we go about these vital choices of our daily lives. His power is available.

God can speak mightily—in thunder and lightning—as on Mt. Sinai when He gave the Ten Commandments to His people Israel… and as Revelation mentions several times. In everyday life, the Spirit of God often speaks in a still small voice. That means that we need to be determined to seek His guidance and quiet enough to hear His voice. Thus it was with Elijah, on the mountain, listening for the Lord.

“ 12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing..." [1 Kings 19:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)] "a still, small voice... [RSV]


SLOW DOWN… BE STILL

What does it take for most of us to get off the faster-and-faster spinning carousel that we call “life” (as we know it)? What does it take for us to slow down enoughto just ‘be’ for a few moments… to quiet down enough… to hear… to surrender enough… to respond… to the glorious Creator of the universe who continues to humbly serve His creatures with loving provision, direction, help and mercy?

It was the Lord Who said, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” [Ps. 46:10]

We have heard this message before. The need for this “slow down/ quiet down” time grows greater with every passing year. The distractions, the busy demands, the noise, the media talk (even pop-ups on computers, smart phones and i-pads)… and continuously “urgent” issues (sometimes all but ‘screaming’ at us) grow louder, from increased numbers of sources with every passing day. If we only ‘ride the wave' or ‘go with the flow’ of our culture, or of technology, we will miss the “still, small voice” that makes all the difference. With even the best of intentions to seek what is right, the hurry-scurry of life can rob us of opportunities to actually do so… and keep those deeper, higher ways behind a door kept closed and shut tight.

It was Robert Frost, the poet, who said, “I took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference.” The difference it may make for us—in regard to God the Holy Spirit—has eternal ramifications. We may need to pause and ponder that a bit.


SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS CULTURE

… and underlying questions

As we write about the Holy Spirit we run up against some obstacles in both our secular society and our religious culture.

Since the Holy Spirit—who is called the Spirit of truth—is the topic of this series, we need to describe the meaning of “truth” in the context of our modern culture. “Truth” has become a rather faint, fuzzy and noncommittal concept in current life and contemporary media. Some have described this concept as ‘relativism’.

Although many readers have embraced their Christian faith with its assumptions, presumptions and biblical beliefs, others may be quite aware of less agreeable climates, perspectives, outlooks and beliefs that prevail in the culture that surrounds us.

It would be quite comforting to believe that we could kick back and simply coast in our modern culture and just… easily absorb the “truth”, or bump into the truth at every turn. When we experience the realities, we find… that just isn’t so. It’s not that easy.

We exist in a Western (and American) culture where personal opinion and personal freedom is valued, and that is good in many ways. But, again—we walk out the realities and face some dilemmas. This is particularly true as the question is raised, “Do we find our culture simply respecting personal opinion, or have we gone past that? Have we elevated personal opinion and preference to a higher level of absolutism—much higher than the seeking of—or believing in—objective truth? In general, in the media, in overall social expectations—where is the priority? What is more highly valued? (And when is “objective” or “absolute” truth overthrown in favor of personal preference?)

For instance, how do we define “truth”, and where do we find it? Do ‘we’—meaning, most of us— even believe in or value… “truth”? It’s easy to say, “Of course I believe in truth!” How, then, do we walk that out in the nitty-gritty of life? And how much are we affected by those with the loudest and most prevailing and powerful voices who do not have these values and beliefs? 

Let's give some definition, and go back to the earlier question. By ‘objective truth’ we will refer to (at the very least) a basic standard of moral law and/or ethics. Or, according to Mirriam-Webster: “Fidelity to an original or a standard… The body of real things, events and facts…”

The ‘norms’ for “truth” in ethics, ‘spirituality’ and religion are much more vague, less agreed on and less defined than ever before. How many in our culture even believe that there still is “objective truth”… much less, “absolute truth”? What is our assumed “faith” stand? Is it: “Sure, I believe____!” But… is our behavior and conversation and everyday commitment more… ‘pick and choose’ regarding what is “truth”?

Generally, when we look around at what is happening, something else may be more evidently observed. It seems that: what is felt, thought, or personally ‘imagined’ and preferred easily become more approved, believed and defensively asserted than objective (much less biblical or Jesus-spoken) “truth”.

Modern life is complex, and situations we face and statements we hear and read are so mixed… things are not as simple to discern or untangle. Falsehoods are always easier to believe when they contain a portion—even a large portion—of the truth… or real facts wrapped in twisted truth. (The term “wicked” comes from the concept of “twisted”.) It is in these times that the foundation on which we stand can make all the difference—is it rock or sand?

Various denominations are debating (for a couple decades, and newly approving in recent times) decisions against moral and biblical issues that were clearly considered true and solidly believed up until very recent times, in a culture that was called "Christian". It reminds me of the question Pilate asked Jesus on the night of His Passion.

It was Pilate who asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus had just answered him, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” [Jn 18:37, 38 NAB]

How many in our culture—even in our churches—would agree more with Pilate than with Jesus? There used to be a saying that went something like, “Well, that’s the gospel truth!” The question is: Do we still even equate the gospel with absolute truth? Or is our human opinion and intellectual analysis considered more trustworthy?

Let us then go back, one last time, to the question, “What is objective truth?” More pointedly, let’s look at what God says about truth in the Bible. To begin with, from our Christian awareness, we have the truth that God has revealed through His inspired word in the Bible… including, the words coming from the mouth of Jesus, Himself. In His own words, Jesus showed us that He not only spoke the truth, but He declared… “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” [Jn. 14:6] (Capitalized emphasis of “AM” is by the blog author.)

Remember, it was Jesus Who said that the Holy Spirit would “lead us into all truth”. We need that “truth” regarding many issues, both personal and public, in every area of life and on every level. God’s truth, way and life were not just meant to pertain to what we sometimes want to isolate as “spiritual”. Jesus came (He said) that we “might have life, and have it to the full”. 

One cannot ignore the fact that God's first concept and plan for "life" for mankind was... the Garden of Eden--a full, rich, complete and beautiful life. Then, we human beings foolishly believed the enemy's deceptive lies, and... God's plan brought Jesus, His Son, Who paid every price for deliverance and redemption and healing and restoration from the enemy's rule... and from the enemy's kingdom as the god of this world. 

A full life includes many, many aspects. “Life” in its biblical concept—in God’s eyes and mind—was never meant to be limited to a mere “religious” corner of our path, our week, or our existence. God the Father makes that clear in the Old Testament, where we find that numerous overall aspects of the nitty-gritty’s of life are covered by His law written in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). Other books of the Bible—including much in the New Testament—cover “life” and what blesses us, what brings cursed, and makes life abundant and fruitful.


MAN’S INTELLIGENCE NEEDS GODLY WISDOM

In the midst of our times when technology is “king”, and people have a sense that anything is possible with the right amount of applied knowledge and hard work and mental (or computer) processes, it may be out of our line of thinking to recognize our human limits… and to recognize that there is a Lord God Almighty Who wants to help, bless, direct and re-direct us… continually. He has the desire to lead us in some alternate ways and at a life-giving pace… with wisdom far beyond our own.

I was thinking about this one day while driving and I came up behind a license plate that said “CUZ I CAN”. That might be a great motto for a 2-year old feeling his own assertive powers while exploring his toddler world, but, hopefully, greater wisdom is sought and gained through the years… Asserting power, ability or knowledge simply because we hold them in our possession and have an opportunity to do so can be a premature, unwise, arrogant and potentially destructive exertion of strength. Consideration of [1] other pertinent factors and [2] other people and [3] higher priorities and [4] good timing are at least four major issues to be considered—all of which our omniscient God sees, knows and understands.

Even our own power, intelligence and wisdom need a “higher” management, control and direction than we may exercise on our own. This can apply to all kinds of decisions, directions, assumptions and choices that we continually need to make as we live life.


HUMAN LIMITS… GOD SHOWS HIS GLORY

There are times and days upon this earth when the limits of mankind (our knowledge, our power, our strength, our wisdom, our “ways” [vs. God’s ways, our thoughts vs. God’s thoughts], our actions, our answers, and our systems, etc.) are revealed to be much more faulty and lame and insufficient than we had previously thought them to be.

God can use these times to show His “glory”. Now that term and concept can be complicated. Simply put, His glory is His goodness, His love, His power, His majesty… It is His ability and desire to manifest these attributes to those who turn to Him humbly and call upon His name, as we seek Him “in spirit and in truth”… and desire His way, His truth, and His life. As people do this, we find that God desires to lead us precisely toward what we have been seeking… and to the One Who became manifested as Jesus Christ, His only Son and our Savior—The Way, The Truth and The Life.

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK?

If we did justice to God (which we could never ‘justly’ accomplish!), this section of the article would be endless. Our Creative God also is creative in how He can choose to speak to us. If the Lord could speak through a donkey—to a vacillating prophet (Balaam) on a wayward mission—he can speak through anyone or anything. In fact, as it is fairly evident that having the animal ‘mouthpiece’ be a donkey is a message in and of itself.

We religious and ‘spiritual’ people may put many things and many people in the ‘donkey’ category… but God may amaze us with what and whom He chooses to convey important guidance and/ or truths to us. It only points to the fact that we need to be (continually) humbly open to hear and to receive (as we keep seeking Him) whatever God has to say to us or show us.

Balaam’s donkey story [Numbers 22:22-35] also shows that God gives us more than one chance to get the message. The poor donkey was beaten three different times as it was seeing an angel with a sword and attempting to protect itself and Balaam—although God later told Balaam that the sword was meant for Balaam and the donkey would have been spared. Finally, God moved the donkey to speak, and then that enabled Balaam’s eyes to see the angel… and then to hear and respond to God’s message.

Numerous books have been written and talks given on how (and through what) God speaks. We won’t even start here with a list. The simplest statement to make is this: Our loving Omnipotent God will find a way to get through to us if we are in any way willing and open to hearing. God loves to see an intense desire to hear Him and follow Him. One man I know prays that God will hit him in the head with a 2x4 if that is necessary. He is passionately interested in God’s guidance.

The limits of our many assumptions and short-sighted presumptions can block and limit our hearing and seeing. But we can pray and open ourselves up to God while seeking His ways to speak and show us things… or His ways to just communicate with us, His children, whom He enjoys and loves.


PENTECOST WAY OF LIFE

For the apostles, Pentecost was not just a day. It was a way of life. The apostles carried Pentecost with them. The Holy Spirit went with them. His work surrounded them as a perennial season of life-giving words and deeds. They needed the Holy Spirit to fulfill the words of Jesus found in Mark chapter 16: “These signs shall follow those who believe…”. (We covered that in Part II of this series.)

The followers of Jesus sought God’s help and trusted the Holy Spirit’s power to work in them as the Father and Jesus had promised and desired.

The Holy Spirit continually helped them to love Christ, and face hardships. The Spirit enabled them to keep on serving and choosing Him… even extremely… to a martyr’s death. The Holy Spirit gave them the wisdom and strength to love one another, and to pray and intercede for one another. He helped them to seek God’s will and His word, and the Spirit helped call those words to mind as needed (as Peter experienced and demonstrated at Pentecost).

The fruit of the Spirit enabled them to seek and have a shepherd’s heart—to care about and care for God’s people as Jesus taught them.


FROM THE SAINTS… TO NOW

Some have made statements like: “Holy Spirit manifestations were meant for the apostles’ times only”.

Two explanations come to mind. One is that it is easy to assume or presume that certain works of the Holy Spirit were limited because we do not see Holy Spirit manifestations as much now. Does that mean that the biblical truths regarding the Holy Spirit must not apply as much now? That explanation works if our primary perspective is to justify ourselves or defend what is going on in these days. That is one way to make things easier for our current religious self-image and our religious self-righteousness to tolerate. How would we see things through the eyes of a hungry, humble, seeking believer?

To put limits on the Holy Spirit raises the question: Is there is a “P.S.” on certain Bible verses that imply “Sorry!! You just have to stumble through on your own human power after _____ (Fill in the date)”. 

On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine that the God of all the ages—who has no beginning and has no end—could have put an “expiration date” on His “living” word… or His One “that would lead us into all truth.” Are we to believe that this mighty God—Eternal and All-Powerful… this Omnipresent God who can see the vastness of eternity in a flash—does not have the power or the vision to make pro[active]vision (provision) for all His followers throughout the ages to hear and know the truth of His word… along with the power to receive, obey and accomplish it? 5


THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HISTORY

The history of God’s people actually tells a continually revealing story. Evidence of Jesus’ disciples’ lives throughout time show that God did not proclaim a set time limit on how long His word would be “true” or “workable” in His followers’ lives. The saints—and many “unknowns” in present time and through the ages—have tapped into the multiplied help and power of God manifested through the enabling work of the Holy Spirit. The One Who “always was” and “always will be” has never ceased to love, to care, to see, to know, and to reach out 24/7 to each one of us on earth who cries out to Him… or, sometimes, even just looks His merciful direction.

There have been moves of the Holy Spirit—and believers and followers who take the Father and Jesus at their word and receive the Holy Spirit’s help and power—throughout Christian history. Some saints have evidenced great power in the Holy Spirit and done mighty deeds because of it… as they simply sought to follow God and see this world touched by His love and power and truth and life. 6

Some specific saints that come to mind are St. Patrick [7], St. Pio [8], St. John Vianney (patron of priests) [9], St. Benedict [10], St. Valentine [11], and St. Andre Bessette [12]

These saints mentioned are just a very, very few of those throughout the ages that have known God manifested through the presence of the Holy Spirit… In the light of the truth and fullness of God’s word in scripture… Someday, we may find ourselves considering these saintly behaviors “normal” and our own… questionable. 13


RESPONDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT:

Two Warnings and… Balance

Scripture exhorts us not to stifle the Holy Spirit. “Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit…” [1 Thessalonians 5:19] Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) 19 Do not quench the Spirit”. [New American Standard Bible]

30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [a]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [Ephesians 4:30, New American Standard Bible (NASB) Bible Gateway]

And from the Amplified Bible:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).

31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).

32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:30-32 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) [Bible Gateway]


What about “balance”? How do we not go “overboard”?

Frankly, it is a difficult thing to know where to draw the line on control, limits, etc. when it comes to allowing the Holy Spirit full freedom in any group. Boxes—tight and well-sealed—are always easier and safer… but not necessarily Godly or wise. Some issues are wisely mentioned in the New Testament. Otherwise, we can be assured that our very-able God will lead us step-by-step. He has promised to lead us into the truth.

As mentioned above, we do not want to grieve or stifle the Holy Spirit. We do, however, want to “test the spirits”—not by our own ignorance, fear, or religious preference, but—by whether “they belong to God”, and “acknowledge(s) Jesus Christ, come in the flesh” [I Jn 4:1] This includes the recognition of the power of His blood, His righteousness (alone), and the price He Himself paid for our blessings and benefits (salvation, forgiveness, deliverance, healing, grace, gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit, etc.). "...Because many false prophets have gone out into the world... You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the [One] that is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."[I Jn. 4:1-4] The scripture speaks clearly of unholy spirits, (vs. 3 tells us these spirits are already in the world) so God warns us to "test the spirits".

The “wind” blows differently in different places. The rain can come down unexpectedly, and in varying amounts and intensity in different places. We can, by grace, trust that God will lead us. We can continue to pray and pray and pray that we are not lead beyond His will, purposes and plans. If so, He leads us in new ways… again.

There is an analogy I came across—very unexpectedly—as this was being written. I believe it may shed some light. It concerns sailboats…

DANGERS…STAYING UPRIGHT

I will quote exactly from a website describing dangers for sailboats and staying upright.

Any sailboat needs a vertical appendage on the lower part of its hull to avoid being blown sideways whenever the wind comes from the side. Except when the boat is sailing directly downwind, the wind always hits one side of the boat or the other and would keep the boat from sailing as nearly straight forward as possible. (Writer's comment: Some side winds can be likened to the unholy spirits that are set against every God-led purpose and plan, and they are determined to throw us off-course... Other side winds are of the Holy Spirit helping us to change our direction to line up with His plan... )

… In its lowered position, the centerboard usually extends straight down into the water below the boat.

… Again, the primary function of the centerboard is to prevent the boat from being blown sideways by the wind from either side. The trimmed sails (Writer's comment: trimmed sails are sails that are placed in the best position to catch the wind, from whatever direction the wind is blowing) and rudder direct the boat to move in the direction the bow points [in other words, straight ahead].” 14

The fruit of a Holy Spirit-led-and-formed character (‘Spirit-controlled' temperament) act, in part, as the trimmed sails, knowing when and how to catch the wind of the Spirit. Emotions alone… changing feelings… fears and religious prejudices… do not make good sails. The “trimming” of the sails needs best be done by the pruning of the Lord, Himself [Jn. 15:1-3] to produce more good fruit in us… not by our own foolish prejudices and vacillating feelings that would blow us off-course.

James chapter 3 speaks of the human “tongue as a small member” but it can be likened to a very small rudder on a large ship. The words we speak—and using the authority of the name of Jesus, as He commanded His disciples—speak life or death/ destruction. [Deut. 30; Prov. 13:3] We usually take our talk and speaking much too lightly. How often does the (Old and) New Testament—and, especially, Jesus Christ, the living “Word made flesh” [Jn. 1:14]—speak firmly about our words!

“…On the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak.” [Mt 12:36] (Try looking up “word” and “words” in a concordance, and find the scriptures mentioned and be impressed.)

Many years ago there was a popular saying, “God is my co-pilot.” Later, a more accurate saying came about in reference to the former one. “If God is your co-pilot, you are in the wrong seat.” In truth, we need Him to be the One Who has His hand on the rudder of our sailboat. We fail, in our own abilities alone, to steer steadily forward. He, however, can make our “crooked ways straight.”

To bring these thoughts together, our “tongues” and words and choices need to be put more and more—humbly, deliberately, with seeking hearts—in the hands of the King of kings. The “winds” of our feelings… of our desires and those of others… of culture and some “sacred cows”… etc., need to be continually sifted to discern if the “side wind” is of the Holy Spirit or not.

There does need to be a “centerboard”. We need to be centered in seeking God’s will, His way, His plan… His “kingdom come, will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [from Jesus’ prayer ‘Our Father’] The centerboard is also like the taproot on a tree that goes deep… as in the tree planted by living waters, in the bible, that we are meant to be like. The Lord is our center—strong, steady and reliable.

We move continually in Him (though sometimes rest in Him, not moving)—looking to Him and at Him as we choose and we ‘do’, we rest and we just ‘be’… “running the race” (... sometimes just crawling)… heading toward the goals and purposes He has revealed and shown, both corporately and individually.


CHALLENGING DAYS AHEAD

There are those who believe that harder times lie ahead. God has a history of showing Himself mighty and good to those who draw near to Him—despite the fact that Jesus said we would experience tribulation. We can remind ourselves that, even when we experience tribulation, God can be—and wants to be!—truly good to us. He never changes. And He is able to evaluate “good” in so many long-term, broad-scale and future-oriented ways that spell out good for us in ways that we short-sighted humans may have no inkling of.

We can get better and better at learning to appreciate His goodness that may or may not coincide with some of our “vending machine” expectations and desires. Although the “vending machine” concept of God is a demeaning and inaccurate concept, God says in His word that He does want to give us “the desires of our hearts”*… as we surrender our lives to Him and put things into His hands long enough for Him to craft answers and blessings that fit into the myriad ways that He is working in, around, and through us. (*”Find your delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” [Ps. 37:4])

Some still wonder if—or how much—they need the Holy Spirit in their lives. We can feel free to ask ourselves, “Is there something missing in my life?” “Do I see anything (that God might be stirring in my heart) as I read the scriptures… that the Holy Spirit might want to do in my life or through me? …Am I willing to receive His help?” Jesus’ answer, at that point, is to “knock”, “seek”, “ask” … then “receive”… (as we said earlier) for the Father would be glad to give “good gifts to His children”…[Luke 11:13]


NEED FOR COMMUNITY

In the days ahead, the need for true and real communities of Christian believers—genuinely seeking God and His ways and truth—may be discovered again… in families, in neighborhoods, in church groups, in businesses seeking God’s ways, in any “two or more gathered in His name”. This can only happen successfully as we value and seek the Holy Spirit’s fruit as much as His gifts!

Society is becoming more and more disjointed and alienated from God… and farther and farther away from patterning things (ideals, businesses, family practices and relationships, social interactions, values, morals, etc., etc.) on His ways, truth or life. We have been accustomed to calling things “Christian” and “community” and other such words that are used lightly and sometimes inaccurately.

Modern man has gotten very, very good at “right” terminology… carefully crafted “politically correct” words and statements, etc. They may or may not be merely external and superficial. They may or may not truly describe the core belief or commitment of the person/ group/ company/ corporation/ entity that expresses the word or statement.

The need we speak of here is a real need for the real thing… the “real deal”--true and Biblical love. That does not in any way translate as “perfection” or “fully baked” or without issues and problems. It all gets back to having to do with people’s hearts. When people seek to live—from a truly committed heart choice—really for and in the Lord, they are choosing a path that follows Jesus in what He told his disciples: Above all, love God. And, secondly, love your neighbor. [paraphrase.] Real (and even all the various kinds of real) “love”—by the best [I Cor. 13] definition and Jesus Christ’s definitions—being the important operative word and concept…

God covers and graces… a lot! Love can cover a multitude of… sins, mistakes, misjudgments, faux pas, etc. The early Christians learned to love one another in very shared, practical ways. May we discover the new ways the Holy Spirit wants to lead us as we face any coming challenges.


WELCOMING THE HOLY SPIRIT

There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is calling each of us to come closer—to His help, to His mercy and to His loving power. For the days of God’s glory also lie ahead. There are times when God demonstrates His goodness and power, His love and His provision as He calls His people to holiness and trust. He doesn’t change, but He does reveal Himself in clearer ways--and in different ways to fit the needs of His people in various places... and at different times.

May we receive “every good and perfect gift” from the “father of lights”. [James 1:17] And may the Holy Spirit lead us all the way as He comforts and guides; “gifts” us and develops our “fruit”; empowers us in large and small ways to help us thrive and bring others to the saving love of Jesus Christ.

The days ahead may be challenging on many levels. There never has been a better time to take courage and go beyond our everyday presumptions and assumptions… Every day presents an opportunity to receive new power from the Holy Spirit.

We can continue (humbly and expectantly as a child before the Father) to ask, and seek, and receive all the help our generous God desires to give. Our lives and the lives of those around us can only be the richer for it. 15

Let’s truly seek this third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Let us be willing to let the Divine “wind” blow—the very breath of God— and receive what He has to offer that we need in so many ways.


There's more to come in this four-part series...

Part IV is: PENTECOST POSTSCRIPT: COMING TO THE LIVING WORD OF GOD

It presents us with some life-giving perspectives… The Holy Spirit brings scripture to life.


FOOTNOTES:

(Please note that any part of a scripture quote in this article that is in bold type has been put in bold print by this author.)

1 CONFIRMATION AND BEYOND: LIFE IN AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, posted by Kathy Boh on March 2, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 It is also difficult to believe that God would abandon His people to their own (very insufficient) devices at a time like this. We daily see the “signs of the times”—from the “signs in the heavens” (unusual sun and moon occurrences recently: four recent “blood moons”, particular eclipses…) to the “wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes,” etc. We see Matthew 24 signs increasing… statistically… with a strong upsurge from about the early 1990’s.

The Fatima secret is out… and other Marian warnings corresponding to biblical predictions are current news. St. Malachy’s papal prophesies have run their course. Jesus told us in Matthew 24 to watch for the signs of the times.

6 THE POWER OF PENTECOST: A three-part series, Part II: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES PENTECOST MAKE?, by Kathy Boh, June 15, 2017.

7 ST. PATRICK, PARTS I and II, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. March 15, 2017

8 ST. PIO of PIETRELCINA, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. September 23, 2016.

9 ST. JOHN VIANNEY, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. August 3, 2016

10 ST. BENEDICT, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. July 8, 2016

11 ST. VALENTINE, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. February 11, 2016

12 ST. ANDRE BESSETTE, PARTS I and II, by Kathy Boh, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog, pub. January 6 and January 14, 2016

13THE POWER OF PENTECOST: A three-part series, Part II: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES PENTECOST MAKE?, by Kathy Boh, June 15, 2017.

14 https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-the-centerboard-2915476

15 CONFIRMATION AND BEYOND: LIFE IN AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, posted by Kathy Boh on March 2, 2017.

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