Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity said, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” I am presently in the midst of a church conference with about twelve congregations of the eastern region of our church body. I planned the schedule and invited the speakers, but I didn’t choose an overall theme. Yet God, in His grace, brought a unity to the presentations from the brief morning devotion through the main speakers giving us a message that we all needed to hear. Don’t ever discount the Holy Spirit. When you look at your life, those seeming coincidences, those small opportunities, the sudden even that comes, even those difficult trials you face at times – God is working. You are a child of God. He loves you. He is working in your life in small and not so small ways. He desires to draw you more deeply into His love. Don’t ever discount the work of His Spirit. His wind is blowing in your life.
The traditional version of the third article of the Apostle’s Creed begins, “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Christians church…..” In many churches the word “Ghost” has been changed to “Spirit”. After all, few people believe in ghosts, and those that do know them as apparitions wandering around in old houses. For the Creed, “Spirit” is obviously the better word, but even so, it is a confusing concept for many. Yet, He should not be confusing for Christians. The Holy Spirit is God. He is the third person of the Holy Trinity. He is the Comforter Jesus promised to send to all believers. You, dear Christian, have the presence of God dwelling in your life, God’s gracious gift received at your baptism. He is called the Comforter, the Guide, the Advocate, the Helper. No wispy spirit He, but the very presence of Almighty God given to dwell in your life. This is the depth of love God has for you, that He has come into your life Himself, to lead you more fully and completely into His good life.
Yesterday I remarked how much of God’s work in us, and in others, is a mystery. There is so much of the working of God’s Spirit that we don’t see. Yet, God understands that we are physical beings and need to see things with our eyes, and apprehend them with all our senses. He does show us all the wonders of nature. He does let us share in the miracle of birth. He does guide us by His written word, and by circumstances of life. He does come to us in the visible elements of our sacraments. God works in many unseen ways, but He has not left us without visible evidence. All that we see from His gracious hand strengthens our faith, and helps us rely upon Him even in all of the mysteries of life.
We have all heard the expression, “let your conscience be your guide.” I sounds like this is a good moral compass for our daily actions, but there is a problem. Conscience needs a guide itself. It is often tainted by the generally accepted norms of the society. We know that these change drastically over the years. What was once thought improper, even disgusting, is hardly given a second thought today. A far more solid and reliable guide is the truth that we have been given God, the Holy Spirit, to dwell within us from our baptism, and that we maintain a daily habit of reading God’s holy Word. Our desire is not to be guided by the acceptable norms of today, but to know what is pleasing to our gracious Lord, and seek to honor Him with all that we do.
Our front walk is made up of decorative cobblestones. They are fitted together in a fairly tight pattern, but, don’t you know!, the cracks in between are the very places that weeds find their way of growing. The walkway had gotten to look pretty bad, so yesterday was the day to do something about it. It took a good bit of time, and a lot of hands and knee work, but we now have a clean walkway. As I was doing it, I was reminded that this is a very similar process to what we have to do in our own lives. Paul tells us about the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But I realize that, in many ways, and in many situations, these are characteristics which are not in me, but that God desires. The opposites are the weeds I’ve let grow in my life. God, the Holy Spirit, will work in me (and you) to change them, but I have to recognize the weeds, and allow Him to pull them up. Pulling weeds is not easy work, and it is not fast, but God is faithful and will accomplish His work in us.