What a Strange Gift

What a Strange Gift

I gave Sally a gift for Valentine’s day for the first time in 27 years

 

 

 

 

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
John 14:15–16

Have you ever received a present that you’re not quite sure how to use?

You smile politely and say, “thank you very much,” but really you’re thinking, “what the hell am I supposed to do with this?”

With any luck, the giver will give us some idea about what the thing is and what we’re supposed to do about it! But, just as likely, we are left to figure it out for ourselves.  And then six months later they see that you never really understood what to do with it.

What about the holy spirit, do you ever ask — “What on earth am I supposed to do with this?”  (I didn’t think Hell was the right word on this one…)

That’s the question we should think about today. What am I to do with this gift that the Lord has given me? It sounds like Jesus thought it was a big deal…

First of all, the Holy Spirit is not just a gift like a new DVD, the Holy Spirit is one that lives within us:

You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
John 14:17

Once we accept Jesus, the Spirit comes and sets up shop in our hearts and minds.  In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he addresses this in two ways:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16–17

The word you there is like you’all or youse guys.  So as a Church we are God’s temple and we must be unified (if anyone destroys…).

In this context there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit, preaching, teaching, prophesying, service etc but that’s not what I want to talk about to day.

The other sense is the Holy Spirit and the individual

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:18–20

There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit for the individual, a spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of knowledge, of counsel, of fortitude, of piety and of fear of the Lord.

Well I don’t know about you but I could certainly use more wisdom, more understanding, more knowledge!

And don’t we all need to have more fortitude, more piety, and fear of the Lord? These are gifts that God gives us in and for the Christian life.

The Spirit of God works within us in improving this new creature that we are to become.

Remember at the start I said, you look at a gift and don’t have a clue what to use it for? and you hope the giver will give us some idea about what the thing is and what we’re supposed to do about it!

Well Jesus does, firstly, he says:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is our helper, our comforter, and also our advocate. Now advocate is another name for lawyer, when you are in court and you face an accusation then your lawyer, your advocate stands beside you and speaks for you.  Who’s the accuser? — Satan!

the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been thrown down.
Revelation 12:10

Have you ever doubted your salvation?  What about our ability to do anything for the Church?

That’s Satan, and Jesus warned us about him:

He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44

The Holy Spirit stands beside us, lives within us always. Secondly…

the Holy Spirit … will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
John 14:26

The Holy Spirit helps us in knowing about Jesus,

do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time;
Matthew 10:19

This is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which literally means filled with the spirit.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to read the Bible, Paul says we need to

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

If we do our part, God’s spirit will be present to aid us, to inspire our memories.  But not every Christian has to witness with words, or by occupying an office in the Church. A person who shows kindness and charity is often a better witness than the person who teaches.

Thirdly, Jesus gives us peace:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This Holy Spirit that is given to us by The Father and The Son, is to bring peace. If you find any undertaking takes away the peace of Christ, then that’s a clue that it’s a bad idea…

One purpose of the Gift of the Holy Spirit to us is to enable us to “maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace.”

If we have lost peace at home, at work, at church, or within ourselves, that is a sure sign we need to repent. We need to stop dead in our tracks…

Fourthly and saving the best for last…

This doesn’t come from Jesus but rather from Paul — Love.  Paul says it is the greatest gift and Jesus spoke about it in chapter 13:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34–35

This is the mark of the Christian Church, the love, the sharing of burdens, the forgiving one another and the mutual help and encouragement.

All good things come from God. Our ability to think is a gift, our memory is a gift, our daily work and daily bread is a gift, our friends and relatives are gifts. Any talent, any good that is in us is a gift from God.

God gave us this gift of the Holy Spirit so that we will have the ability to reflect his redeeming love in this world. That’s how you and the rest of the world knows that we are God’s children, if we’ve been gifted with love.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1–2

At our baptism we are “Christened.” We’re named, we’re brought into Christ. The bishop or priest lays hands on our head and prays for us that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Church’s fuel, what keeps it running is the love of God.

Jesus says, if we do not have his spirit, we are not his.  We may come into Church doubting that we have the love of God in our hearts, we may come here with resentment still in our hearts.  And if you do, you’ve come to the right place, very soon we’re going to say sorry to God open up your heart to him.

At that time ask the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s gift to you, to teach you, to advocate for you, to give you peace and allow you to love…

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