Friday, April 5, 2013

How Can We Connect With the Holy Spirit?

Beginning his new series, "Spirit", Erwin McManus opens by explaining that he is going to spend the next 5 weeks talking about the Spirit.  Some might ask, "Are you talking about the human spirit or Holy Spirit?  The answer is yes.  "We are going to talk about the relationship between the human spirit and the Holy Spirit.  In order to help you understand, I am going to have to change your perception of the spiritual realm."  Light is a good parallel to the spiritual world because you know there is a source of light and then there is the object itself.  But the relationship is complicating because there are millions of particles being illuminated by the source and thus, light can be hard to describe.    

Today we need to change our minds about reality as we know it and how the Holy Spirit impacts this reality.  If you have been in Los Angeles for any period of time, you know that it is easier to talk about God than it is to talk about Jesus.  It's easier still to talk about spirituality than it is to talk about God.  Spirituality is an incredibly popular topic because it soon takes the intellectual to theologically challenging conversation.

Long before his relationship with Jesus, Erwin's brother took to atheism, But Erwin took to mysticism.  His brother didn't choose to believe in anything, but Erwin had this acute sense of himself being a spiritual being.  He sensed a reality around him that no language could describe.  It was real and it was drawing him to it.

To further the conversation, let's talk about our worldly senses.  What would we be missing if we didn't have our hearing?  Music is extraordinary whether it is the Josh Groban, Taylor Swift or Depeche Mode.  There is something that stirs us when we hear music.  It draws on our emotions.  Our sense of smell is really connected to our sense of taste and both give us an experience that is almost indescribable   When you can cut into a great fillet, ore smell the aroma of a cappuccino, it is almost a spiritual experience right?  It brings us to a place of exhilaration   But without these senses, we might well never know what we are missing. We might find we can't identify with what people are trying to describe and we might even consider hearing and smelling as almost mythology.  So, is there a sense in the soul that is not currently resonating within us?  Have we stunted our ability to perceive the Holy Spirit?  When we would only connect to the Spirit, it can change how we interact in this world and how we perceive life itself!

Already, most people have a sense of spirit and we even tend to attribute this sense to the Divine.  We might loosely connect it with God, though.  For some people, this divine essence translates to "an energy" or "a force".   The more you live with an awareness of your spiritual world; you are likely, then, to experience a visceral life force that awakens you a little bit.  What we find is that God is not a force or an energy.  Rather, He is actually a being.  The spirit of God is not an "It".  The Holy Spirit is a He; the image of God translated to us.  "It bothers me when (followers of Christ) identify the Holy Spirit as an 'It'".  He is a person!  He has intelligence and thought and emotions!  He has ESSENCE.  Can you imagine talking about someone in your life who is an "it"?  Imagine if your wife saying, "It is always late"!  If, ladies, you are going out with a guy and he talks about you as an "it", cut him off!!  It's not going to work!

If God were an "it", there could be no relationship.

But the God in Spirit seeks a relationship and He energizes us!  We call our touchy-feelly physical God "Father Abba" and "Jesus walking among us", but the Holy Spirit seems to be a nonessential.  We baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and it feels like He is in the third position, right?  He's third string.  We dismiss Him by this point   Even the people who focus on the Holy Spirit often seem to be weird, bizarre and isolated.  But when we investigate the Spirit, we find He is powerful and at the core of Creation.

Let's go all the way back to Genesis 1.  We find, in this book, that there is a unique relationship between God's Spirit and the creation of the Earth.  The Hebrew mind understood that when God creates, the Spirit of God is always present.  The Spirit is essential.  It's critical.  Without Him, we inevitably become materialistic and embrace everything in this secular world.  You see, for those who don't believe that God created the earth, they have to believe that everything comes out of nothing or Creation without God.  But yet popular science, by definition, believes that everything comes out of something else or everything.  Science defines and explains.

Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." 

So, if everything came from that which is not visible, where did it come from?  According to the Bible, it came from the invisible.  All of creation, then, is an expression of its creator.  Because God is a spirit, everything that is material came out of that which is spiritual.  

John 1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made."  There is this intimate relationship with everything that has been created and the Creator.  

Colossians 1:15-17  "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things,and in him all things hold together.
The scriptures say that all things are being held together by Him.  The proper relationship or definition says there is a creation and it is a reflection of the Creator.  But we tend to think of creation, this "reflection" as more of an object (like a mirror).  We see it as spiritually separate; as secular.  The spiritual realm, to us, is when we are doing something like going to church.  We go to a spiritual place that is sacred.  Sacred is what we are doing when we are not doing everything else, before we go back into the secular.  We then hope that the sacred will get us "pumped up" for the rest of the week.  It is like the "Red Bull" for the secular.  We say, I need some God word or some God passion to make it through.  How spiritual we are then becomes how long we can carry the sacred into the secular, right?  We have our sacred life and we have our real life.  But what the scriptures tell us is that this way of thinking is false.  There is no division between the sacred and the secular.  God would be more like a gas station in a desert if this were so.  All around us we have distractions like food, sports, work and friends.  All are in the secular space.  

We forget there is an invisible dimension.  Its like a blind man saying, "nothing exists that I cannot see" or like a deaf man denying the existence of music. Here is a part of our dilemma:  If God is this unique person, a being of intelligence, intention and He is creator, we tend to create this huge chasm between the creation in which we ourselves live and our creator.  To our credit, we want to make it clear that the Creator created creation but where we often draw the line is by then saying that creation is not of Him.  We tend to say, "Okay, God is here and all the 'stuff' is over here".  We don't include God in the stuff.  See, the moment we start thinking of creation itself as being God, we become a pantheist, which is an incorrect way of thinking. But, when observing the line of thought, it is understandable why some people fall into the trap of pantheism.  Yes, god is not the stuff and the stuff is not God, but we tend to act like there is no connection at all.  

What's interesting is that, you never see the phrase "the Spirit of God" without something always happening.  There is never the Spirit of God just sort of sitting around.  Are you ever in the moment when you are truly getting something done; when you are really on your game?  That's the way the Spirit always is.  When the Spirit of God is present, He is about to create and stir something up.  Let's look at a few places where this is demonstrated.  

Matthew 1:18   This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Mathew 3:11   I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Scriptures tell us that the Spirit is always moving.  So, when we choose to live in a relationship with the Spirit of God, it stands to reason that our lives will begin to move.  There will be powerful activity.  

Romans 8  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  

You are designed to live in the Spirit of God!  It is a design where God comes in and gives you peace.  

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

The moment the spirit of God lives in you, you no longer identify a separation. You act, then, in response to everything that is spiritual.  If we don't have the spirit, then how do we get it?  If Jesus' Spirit is living in us, He promises to give us life.  

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.

Paul is telling us that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can come in and live in us.  It is more than enough; more than we could ever ask for.  Yet, it is strange that we can believe in Jesus and still live a powerless life because of a misperception of God's Holy Spirit!  The intimacy and power of the Spirit brings about life here on earth.  

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

Your human spirit longs to be with the creator!  You are NOT a material being. You are a spiritual being.  

Have you ever seen a great movie and you realize that the score is driving much of the emotions in the movie?  Drums or violins tell us that something is about to happen.  Someone is about to die or something is about to be found.  For Christians, the Holy Spirit is the score of our lives.  He is not an appetizer; He is the meal!   He empowers us.  So how do we know if our spiritual experiences are from God?

1 Corinthians 12  tells us that God approaches us through His spirit long before we react.  He guides us and moves us.  He gives us the sense that there is more to this world than we see.  He lives there and He draws us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts/questions/comments/links encouraged and welcome!