TO CHEW ON: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" Acts 13:2
I have been reading on in the little book by Calvin Miller - That Elusive Thing Called Joy - which I quoted earlier this week. One of the things he emphasizes is how letting God control our lives through the Holy Spirit is a key component of the joy we all so desire. Last night I read this:
"Spiritually speaking, the Christian is in exile. We are one world out of phase with our home. When we first received Christ we were set on a high-frequency humanity. Our communication, like our interest, shifted plateaus: "Our conversation is in heaven" (Philppians 3:20). Indeed, except for the special communion provided by the Father, our exile would be oppressive.
This special communication is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Without Him your happiness is impossible, for He is your one life with Christ and the Father. Blot Him out and not only is the Trinity a distant duality, but God and you are no longer on speaking terms. He is your sole communication on your journey through the long night into day, the only companion for the pilgrimage that must otherwise be passed in silence." pp. 74-75
An example of the Holy Spirit's communication and companionship is the story in our reading today. It's a continuation of events in Antioch from yesterday. Then Barnabas fetched Paul to work alongside him. Now the Antioch Christians are absorbed with "ministering" to the Lord when the Holy Spirit speaks. It's so clear the exact words are in quotes in my Bible: "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
They obey. And the Holy Spirit's activity continues as they go to the island of Cyprus to tell the good news about Jesus. In the city of Paphos, the pro-consul Sergius Paulus asks to hear their message. But his spiritual adviser, a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus opposes them and their message. Then Paul "filled with the Holy Spirited" confronts him. Notice his boldness, evident in both is body language and what he says: he "looked at him intently' and said: "'Oh full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness.'" (Yikes! No political correctness here!) Paul pronounces blindness on him and it happens. That sign brings the pro-consul to faith - and probably a lot faster than if there had been no opposition.
As amazing as this story sounds to us, in the history of the early church it's just another day orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Which makes me ask myself - have I offered Him such carte blanche to myself? Do I expect to hear His instructions, get his moment-by-moment leading, witness the startling results in my life?
PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for being my liaison with God. Help me to understand this better and to become a better listener. Amen.
MORE: a little more from Calvin Miller:
"To 'quench the Spirit' is to constrict our communion with God" p. 76
"So the key to our happiness is not simply togetherness with God through His Holy Spirit. Really it is more than the emotional integration of our two wills: It is the displacement of our will by God's. And phoniness - so distasteful in this tell-it-like-it-is age - always exists when we permit both wills to inhabit the same life. When they are allowed to co-exist the "infilling"* of the Holy Spirit cannot occur. This happens only when our living is being directed by one will, and that must be His." p. 78
*Indwelling versus infilling: Miller makes a distinction between being "indwelt" by the Spirit and the "infilling" of the Spirit. "Anyone who is saved does have the Spirit," he says (p. 76). "But," he continues, "we are not happy merely because we are "indwelt" by the Spirit, in and of itself. Rather, it is the "infilling" of the Holy Spirit from which our happiness springs. The indwelling of the Spirit begins at our conversation and extends into eternity (John 14:16). The infilling of the Holy Spirit occurs only when we are living in "complete openness" before God. Briefly put, the indwelling is God's eternal togetherness with us and is not subject to interruption. The infilling is God and us in conversation. The communion can be destroyed any time our self-will gets in the way." p. 77
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.