Monday, March 14, 2011

What Is the Holy Spirit?

"We're doing this series called 'The Name'", opens Louie Giglio.  We have all been charged to carry the name of Jesus and it is a big deal.  We often get caught up in the daily grinds of life and forget why we're here in the first place!  How do we carry on His name on a day-to-day basis?   "I think it is in starting the day with Jesus."  Every day we should come to God in His Word.  Even for Louie, who is regularly on tour, he frequently gets caught up in the logistics of his ministry rather than focusing personally on the name of Jesus! 

In the book of Acts (chapters 1 & 2), after Jesus has been raised from the dead, He appears to the Apostles, giving them great confidence that He was who He said He was, but then Jesus ascends into Heaven and leaves them.  However, remember that when Jesus left the Apostles, He promised to leave with them the Holy Spirit.   Luke recounts these events in his New Testament book.  Before Jesus had died, he had many questions for Jesus.  Having asked Him when the kingdom of Heaven would descend,  Jesus had responded that no one would know the time.  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth."  So, our responsibility, as laid out by Jesus Himself, is chrystal clear.  That whole "power" thing serves for one purpose; to carry out the name of Jesus.  This is the assignment! 

Louie says we are not to engage in our purposes and our agendas, but rather to reorder our lives to carry the name of Jesus and His resurrection.  Louie pauses and points out that it is so easy to hear this charge and to be mindful of a message like this, but to then return to our every day habits without purposeful intent.  Does this mean that the Holy Spirit hasn't really come into our lives?  What is the evidence that we rely on the Holy Spirit?  As we read in Acts, we see that anyone the Holy Spirit touches cannot help but scream out the name of Jesus. 

Look in Acts 2:1.  It describes an event where the Apostles have gathered and a wind blows in and "the whole house was filled up".  It seemed like fire came down and touched each person causing them to speak in tongues.  It was like God Himself had descended upon the house! 

Most of us know that there is something that has to happen that is more than what is happening.  When the Spirit came, what is the first thing the Apostles did?  What do you think was their first reaction??   Read the text.  They started speaking.  Now, they were speaking in other tongues, but not "speaking in tongues".  They were speaking in other languages!  How do we know this?  Because a crowd gathered in amazement and witnessed it.  People were in the city from all over the world and they heard these men speaking about the name of Jesus in all of their own languages.  Knowing these men were from Galilee, they could see this was a miracle.  In the midst of this, Peter stands up and speaks to the crowd.  "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel."  When the Spirit comes, people speak about Jesus...

Peter speaks to the crowd, “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. 24 But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."

That day, our church was born. But God knew that, even though the birth of the church was powerful, its people would become overwhelmed with life in time.  They would begin, over time, to lose fervor, so God knew He had to give them something more. 

Read in Chapter 3 the incident of a crippled man;  "Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called "Beautiful", where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.  When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Look at this story.  This lame man had gone to this temple every single day.  The apostles told him that they didn't have anything for this man at all.  ALL THEY HAD WAS THE NAME OF JESUS.  They didn't give him money, a sandwich or clothes, just Jesus' name.  We have that same power over us as Christians, as "Christ in us".  We might want to do something that would appear to help these people at their point of need.  We can certainly do that, but how often do we want to stop, help the person, but then say, "Look at me", and "Don't think of this help as what you've experienced from thousands of others who have just passed by and thrown out leftover change"?!  Look at me and hear the name of Jesus! 

There is power in that name.  In Luke 4, a demon possessed man is approached by Jesus, and the demon immediately screams out to Him because he knows who Jesus was!  Jesus then casts out the demon and, at the same time, silences the demon saying that the people are not yet ready to know who He is. 

Years ago, Louie and Chris Tomlin were touring in Washington, D.C. and someone asked if they would be interested in seeing the White House.  His crowd of musicians gathered where they were told and they were picked up by this same guy in a maroon van.  "This guy was full 10 and 2, you know?"  The driver seemed to have all the confidence in the world.  As they watched intently from the back of the van, it pulled past pilons, passed armed guards and up to the security gate.  They're driver rolled his window down and said, "I've got Chris Tomlin and his band in the back here and we're here for a 10:00 appointment with the President."  Louie was shell-shocked.  "We were just going to tour the White House, but this guy thought that meant they were going to see the President!"  He thought that if he went to the White House and simply mentioned the name of Chris Tomlin, that everyone would step aside and let them in!  The security guard at the gate was on the defensive, put his hand on his holster and instructed the man to slowly put the van in reverse and to exit the premises.  

You have to be careful that you don't take away the name of Jesus and then speak on any purpose thinking God will do whatever you ask.  As an example, look later in Acts where these seven Jewish men attempt to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus (and with the authority of Paul).  The demon responds by saying, basically, "I know who Paul is and who Jesus is, but who are you?"  Then the demon severely beats all seven of the men to a pulp, strips them of all their clothes and chases them back into a city. 

We have to be careful to use the name of the Holy Spirit, not for our purposes, but for His.  Certainly, we have power in His name, but only power for what He wants to do.

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