â€œWhen the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Fatherâ€”the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Fatherâ€”He will testify about Me. You also will testify,because you have been with Me from the beginning.
I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling. They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. They will do these things because they havenâ€™t known the Father or Me. But I have told you these things so that when their time comes you may remember I told them to you. I didnâ€™t tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.â€ Â Â Â Â Â John 15:26-16:4 (HCSB)
Lectionary texts: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-35, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-16:15
It has been interesting to me as I have been reading the Lectionary texts that it appears to me that the ‘selectors’ of the texts leave out â€“ troubling â€“ texts, so that the ones designated are ‘chopped up’. The gospel text this week (John) cut out the first three verses of John 16. That leaves out an important ‘bridge’ between this great gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus tells us, His disciples, is given because â€“ frankly, things are going to get bad. Why would anyone want to leave that warning â€“ that wisdom â€“ out of the equation? Haven’t people (including Christians) killed in the name of their faith in God?
The Holy Spirit is, to me, the vital component in really understanding and growing in a relationship with God. Paul spoke truly when he described how my spirit can speak and understand God because of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:8-16). It is God’s Spirit that speaks in ways without words when I have questions that come from deep inside me. The Spirit sifts through my emotions and refines them so that I am left with the truth of what I am asking of the One who can answer.
I often tell people who are grieving the loss of a child or an unexpected loss of a parent or spouse that God is the only One who truly does understand and has answers to our questions. The answer may evolve as we are able to understand; as we are open to the possible answers. That is where the â€œpeace that passes understandingâ€ lives.
The Holy Spirit is known in Scripture as the Comforter but He is also the same Spirit that swept through that room on Pentecost and forever changed the lives of the disciples then and still. The Spirit who brought wisdom and knowledge and understanding also brought discipline and revelation that can disrupt and destroy the â€œold Jodyâ€ in order that the â€œnew creationâ€ can become all that God has planned. This discipline is like any discipline I received as a child, not always pleasant. It is disruptive and even painful as I learn to change course and submit in obedience to my Father’s instructions. Sometimes the Spirit gives understanding through His gracious knowledge. Other times, the Spirit helps me to grow in faith as I submit to obedience without knowing the â€œwhyâ€. The Spirit reminds me of God’s faithfulness and my faith grows as I respond.
As you read the passage in Acts 2 about the events of Pentecost, try to slide into the sandals of someone who is in that room, frightened by the unknown and the known persecution from both Rome and the local church. Both wielded swift and vicious swords to those they felt threatened them.
Then in Psalm 104 and Romans 8, receive the affirmation of God that He has provided and met all our needs by His power and love, even in the midst of great trials.
Send the Fire, Original text from William Booth, Sung by Lindell Cooley
[Jody note: I am traveling this week. I pray that you will join me in reading the texts several times during the week. See you next Monday.]