Over the next 6-weeks, to support our mid-week 'Together' meetings on The Holy Spirit, we will be looking at the person of the Holy Spirit in our devotionals. I hope you find these helpful in deepening your relationship with God.
In Genesis 2-3 we read of God walking with mankind in the Garden. They were made for a close relationship with God but this was broken as they chose to rebel. God doesn’t give up on them. The whole story of the Bible is about God’s work to redeem and restore mankind and all of creation to its harmonious relationship with Him.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS NOT WHAT IT WILL BE
All of history is working toward God restoring His presence among His people and in the earth; through Jesus, God is restoring a state of perfection. Christians experience a taste of this future now, but it will be fully realised at the end of history. In these days we are invited to walk with God by the Spirit; our relationship is not what it will be, but it is a foretaste of the glory that is coming. Paul says of the era that we live in,
‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)
THE FIRST DISCIPLES’ RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST WAS LIMITED
The disciples had Jesus with them but even that glorious relationship was limited. On one occasion Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus up a mountain where,
‘He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.’ (Matt.17).
Like these disciples, we are called to a true and living relationship with the Spirit but there is a greater and more glorious era coming!
OUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BE DAMAGED OR PROMOTED
Can we behave so as to diminish and damage our relationship with the Holy Spirit, or, alternatively, can we promote His work among us? The answer is clearly yes! We can limit His work through a lack of faith, ignorance, fear, sin, broken relationships, apathy...
Wayne Grudem has written,
‘We must recognise that these activities of the Holy Spirit are not to be taken for granted, and they do not just happen automatically among God's people. Rather, the Holy Spirit reflects the pleasure or displeasure of God with the faith and obedience-or unbelief and disobedience-of God's people.’
Here are three texts that speak of the need to take care to promote a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit.
‘Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.’ (Isaiah 63:10)
‘And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’ (Ephesians 4:30)
‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt, test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.’ (1 Thess. 5:19-22)
WE CAN EXPERIENCE MORE OF HIS ACTIVITY
An individual or a church can experience more or less of the Spirit. Jim Cymbala in his book Fresh wind fresh fire wrote,
‘If we do not yearn and pray and expect God to stretch out his hand and do the supernatural, it will not happen. That is the simple truth of the matter. We must give him room to operate. If we go on, week after week, filling the time with lectures and nothing more, God has little opportunity in which to move...God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him. The principle he laid down long ago is still true. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart"'
Do you see and are you excited by the fact that God is desirous and is working to restore your and others' relationship with Him? Do you see that you and I can promote or diminish our relationship and His work among us through our sin and neglect? Our response should be the pursuit of love; what I mean is that the Holy Spirit wants us to love and pursue Him. Let’s use the wonderful words of Psalm 84 to pray for a more loving relationship with God’s presence.
‘How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.’ (Psalm 84:1-4)