Basic Ministry of the Spirit

“The truth of the matter is this. The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers – that is, to give them such knowledge of his presence with them as their Savior, Lord, and God – that three things keep happening…

First, personal fellowship with Jesus… Second, personal transformation of character into Jesus’ likeness… Third, the Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed, and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family.”

– J.I. Packer in Keep In Step With The Spirit

Where I Want to Be And How Far It Is

“The gospel is enough.”

Really. Enough. Not deficient in extras or trappings of success, privilege or anything else my fickle hearts thinks I “need” at any given moment. The freedom, forgiveness, and purpose won at the cross by Christ for me.

Hang me out to dry as long as I have this, the gospel of grace, and I am good.  I don’t need a big church, laser lights, a youth group, a handsome pastor, the perfect Instagram page, obedient children, a starter home, two months of vacation, a slim waistline, friends that match my preferences, a winning lottery ticket, or the reclaimed vitality of my youth. The gospel is enough, more than enough, more than I could ever deserve or even keep. And it is all free in Jesus. Full stop. Enough.

That is where I want to be. The gospel being enough.

But I wake up every morning with more on my mind. How I will finally be fulfilled if X happens. How my children will flourish in environment X versus Y. How my marriage would be better if X. Fill in your own blanks, your own situation. And maybe these are a little true, except the being fulfilled part. Because there is only one filling that works, that lasts, that is enough.

It is so far. The gospel as enough.

But the Holy Spirit doesn’t trifle. The blood of Christ is not ill-equipped. The providence of God does not take a break. Each day there is the matching invitation back to the gospel as enough. The reminder of God’s love lived through Christ and experienced with him as our substitute in death that we might live. The empowerment of the Spirit to be filled with the gospel and have it flow out of our lives.

The gospel is enough. No matter how funny I get, how forgetful. And the word declares nothing else. May the wind of the Spirit blow powerfully in us today, to taste the enoughness of the gospel that we would believe and live.

 

The Parched Ground of Our Souls

“Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” (Psalm 107:4-6 ESV)

Do you ever feel like you are wandering? Kind of going through life listless and without purpose. Passion has wained and you can’t quite see any hope over the horizon. This was reality for Israel in the wilderness. Wandering, nearing forgetting the promise of a land for them to dwell in. All they could construct for themselves were small shacks hardly capable of keeping the cold out and easy to disassemble for the next day’s journey. It was a physical reality that broke them inside. Their soul fainted.

For us, maybe the reality is not physical in the same way but oh man do we understand the sense of our souls fainting. I don’t even have to describe it to you. The unknown. Lack of security. A numbing of our world. We feel disconnected. Anxious. Helpless. Lonely. Our soul becomes the desert waste. It is the feeling like we don’t quite know ourselves, and don’t believe anything of what God says about us.

We go through seasons of dryness. We don’t expect them, nor do we hope for them. But they come. And when they arrive, our hope is the same as Israel’s, to cry out for deliverance. What’s more, we also have water readily available to quench the parched ground of our souls.

For that we visit the city that was promised the wandering people, Jerusalem. It is the first century and there is a feast, the feast of booths. It is a pilgrimage feast so Jews from all over are in the city to commemorate the wilderness wandering of God’s people and their learning to trust in his will. There is much symbolism to this feast, they sleep in little handmade shacks, and pour out water as provision on the altar. And Jesus is there, under accusation of the religious leaders, purposed to declare good news.

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39 ESV)

On the last day of the feast, when the priests would pour water to symbolize God’s provision of water from the rock in the wilderness, Jesus makes a bold declaration. If anyone is thirsty, if anyone feels dry, like they are hopeless, come to him and drink. Drink deeply. Believe in him and the Spirit will turn on the well of your heart to overflow with living water, to overflow with Jesus. Jesus says he is the water.

Elsewhere, Paul with describe the wilderness and those wandering in it, “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4 ESV) Jesus is the provision, he is the thirst-quencher, he is the spiritual irrigation. And he still stands shouting, “If anyone thirsts, let him or her come to me and drink!” It is in the drinking where relief is had. Water without price, freely given, able to reinvigorate.

Today, whether you are feeling the heat of a parched soul, or are confidently drenched in Jesus, drink some more.

Jesus, quench our thirst. Water our souls by your Spirit. Give us hope and purpose. Irrigate our hearts that we will see fruit. You are our rock and our water. Amen.

In Christ… you are Spirit-empowered

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

By no work of your own, and by His mercy, God has saved you through Christ. When you believe in Him you are giving evidence that the Holy Spirit has regenerated, washed and made new, your heart. This same Spirit that changed you in that moment empowers you today. In fact, this Spirit has been “poured out on us richly through Jesus.” This is no mere sprinkling of magic spiritual flavor. This is a full on drenching of God Himself, filling you, continuing to change you, and empowering you to love and good deeds.

Most days we wake up feeling less than empowered. Some of us have a hard time even getting out of bed because of what we will surely have to face in our day. But when we understand fully the power that has been deposited in us, we could be dancing from the moment our eyes open! The world can bring its trouble and work can bring the hard situations that it guarantees, but we have a greater hope and support than any scheme of the enemy. Yes, things will be hard. We won’t always be happy. But we can have joy as the Spirit empowers and works in us. We can face giants because Jesus has slain them all.

As if this empowerment and gift of grace was not enough, we are heirs according to the hope of eternal life. In Christ, we are expectant. Expectant that He will work in our lives now and expectant that we will dwell with Him for eternity. And this promise is as secure as Jesus is in God. It is a done deal.

We face our days Spirit-empowered and secure in our eternal status. That is refreshing. Live that out today.