I am a firm believer in participating in small group study at my church. NCC organizes some classes in the spring and fall, and you can pick the one that suits you. Today is a day of confession for me. First I confess the classes are all so good it is hard to pick one. Second, Pat and I thought we chose the class we did based on the teacher Lee because we had not studied with him before, but the Holy Spirit helped us understand the real reason, especially last night in my case.
The class is a twelve-week video and handbook study of the Apostles Creed. I grew up with this creed in the Lutheran Church, but for the most part, they were just memorized Words. But, Matt Chandler, the author of the course and videos, took each phrase of this creed and tied them to the scriptures, and that has had an impact that I did not anticipate. I guess the best way to describe it is that I have been surprised every week by the significance of each line of the creed.
I guess I should start with including the Apostles Creed and note that I am only going to talk about one line dealing with the Holy Spirit and the conviction that I was left with last night as we studied.
The Apostles Creed
The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
I know that there are parts of this creed that cause people to pause. Parts like Jesus descending into hell and the holy catholic church, and I promise you Matt Chandler discusses all of these topics in depth with scripture to back it. But I want to focus today’s Blog post on “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
Limits We Place on the Holy Spirit
Chandler speaks of the limits that we place on the Holy Spirit. He speaks of the gifts of healing and tongues, and prophecy and healing and how so many want that and that is great, but there is so much more that He gives us.
The Holy Spirit is an illuminator of the scriptures, opener of hearts, a bringer of the heat of love for Jesus and a sealer that holds us fast over eternity. He also helps us realize that we alone can never be good enough and OUR best will always fall short of being good enough.
Confession Part 1
When I was lost, I was certain that I was ten feet tall and bulletproof. I knew that to be the best all I had to do was push harder and seek out help from the pros in my field. I was certain that there was not any answer that I could not find. Work was my primary source of encouragement and satisfaction. But I pushed hard at everything.
My off time I worked hard at having fun and partying like a rock star. When I had my kids for the weekend, I thought I was showing them a good time by teaching them the things that I liked. But all those things took a toll on me.
I rode motorcycles and loved being in a club. I did everything as if nothing could happen to me, but it did. In 2008 I had mini strokes that slowed me down some. But I was still able to ride and work just as hard.
Confession Part 2
I came to the Lord the day after Ponytail Bob’s funeral. He was a brother in another club, the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club. We buried him on Saturday, and I found Christ on Sunday and started my walk. It was slow and steady, and I surrendered my life to God in many ways, but last night I realized that I had not surrendered completely. I still hung on to the lie that my best could be good enough. I realized that I never really let go of that while I was working and it cost me my health and mobility
I worked for a guy that knew only how to manage by pushing and applying pressure, and the only way I knew to respond was to work harder and push others, and that was what I did until my body gave up. I realized last night as Matt Chandler read out of John 14 and some out of Romans 8 that the Holy Spirit was there and warning me that I could not do this on my own and that my best was not going to be good enough, but I would not listen.
See I had allowed my work to get in front of God, and I told myself that I had to fix this program I was in charge of and jobs depended on it. To remind me I was not good enough my boss’ boss every week told me my best was not good enough. So I tried to fix it ON MY OWN.
I came to realize my body had a limit and I stroked. It was not as bad as it might have been. I was so blessed. It was just bad enough that I ran into the arms of my Heavenly Father. I had two verses that struck me after the stroke.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Both help me realize that I was not alone. I could go to the Father for help in anything, and he would carry me through any trial or any struggle, and He gave me tasks to do that gave me the joy to do in obedience. But there was one more realization that I needed to get my head around, and that was in
It starts in verses 15-17
John 14:15-17 (ESV)
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
The helper is the Spirit of truth that dwells with you and will be in you! What an amazing promise. But Jesus does not stop there. He continues in verses 18-24
John 14:18-24 (ESV)
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
Make Our Home with Him
In verse 23 Jesus promises:
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
He does not say He will stop by for a visit or spend the weekend; He says He will make his home with those that love him. Now for me, I started thinking about our old farmhouse and how it is a fixer upper and that farmhouse is a lot like my spirit has been. God does not expect it to be perfect, and like my old farmhouse I cannot fix it myself, but he can do what I cannot. Nothing can stop Him. My best is not good enough, but His least is more than enough. As I write this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this passage.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You see, until last night I was an unconscious competent. I recognized a lot of things like without the Holy Spirit I could not make my way through God’s Word and understand it. I knew that He interceded for me and I knew that after the last stroke He drew me nearer to God, but I did not fully grasp everything.
I had been born again back in 2009, and that began my journey, but that was just the beginning, and I was more reluctant than I thought. I grew in my faith, but I still allowed fear of worldly things, like losing my job push me into forgetting that my best was not ever going to be good enough that fear and anxiety blinded me to the freedom and joy that God desired for me. That fear and anxiety lead to me pushing harder than my body could take and resulted in a stroke that took me out of the workforce.
After the disability was initially granted, I still had several trials where the Holy Spirit showed me Pat, and I would be ok, but it took about two years for me to realize that and surrender and last night, a good year and a half later to show me what I had put myself through.
God had it all the time, but I was like a horse that got the bit in his teeth fighting to do things my way. I give thanks for God’s grace and mercy.
There is this passage in Romans that sealed it for me. I had been blind to it during the last couple years of my work life and the first couple years after the stroke. God provides for us all the things that we need. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Chandler explained last night that Abba was a term of endearment for our Heavenly Father but also was a term of strength and power. Like my dad can whoop your dad kind of thing. That is pretty powerful.
I wish sometimes that I could learn things without having to break stuff like my brain and such. But then I remember Peter and Paul and David and a bunch of others in the Bible and seems they often learned things the hard way as well. But they learned. I am thankful to still be learning.
Father, thank you for the wisdom you share with me through your Holy Spirit. Thank you for opening my eyes when you know I am ready. Lord, I pray that we all might draw closer to Your Word every day and rely on the Holy Spirit recognizing our best will never be good enough. God, I love you and praise you for all that you are, in the name of your blessed Son Jesus Christ, Amen!