Thursday, January 26, 2012

Living and Active

Ok, I totally love that the Bible is "living and active." I never really understood what that meant until recently. I think it's absolutely amazing that I can read a verse I've heard and studied my whole life, and it will suddenly take on new meaning or I will understand something I haven't before. It's awesome.

I've been experiencing this while reading, studying, and preparing to teach/lead discussion on Francis Chan's Forgotten God recently. Reading through several verses about the Holy Spirit, there were a few that struck me in new ways. Jonny strongly suggested I write those thoughts down, so here they are for your consideration as well:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. -Romans 8:26-27
In the past, I've usually heard this verse used as kind of an assurance - "don't worry, the Holy Spirit is praying for you." What struck me this week, though, was the circular relationship here. The Spirit, who is inside believers, sees that we are at a loss as to what to pray for. He goes before God on our behalf, because he is privy to the Father's heart and words and he prays for God's will. But when God searches our hearts in return, he sees the mind of the Spirit within us praying his will.

It's absolutely amazing to me that the ability and knowledge to pray in God's will is so near at hand. It's also empowering to know that when I pray in agreement with the Holy Spirit, God sees that clearly in return. So often, praying feels like a shot in the dark - but it's quite the opposite if we let the Spirit lead our prayers.
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. - 1 Corinthians 2:12-14
I've usually heard this one applied to why the Bible seems so silly to non-believers - because the Holy Spirit isn't helping them understand it. While I think that's also a valid point here, I think there's so much more to it. Our God is outside time and space, so there are greater things out there - spiritually, physically, mentally, relationally - that we can't even begin to fathom because we don't even have a framework for them. We have no language for them, so we can't even understand that we don't understand. But the Spirit teaches us the language and helps us build the framework for them. We don't just begin to understand the Bible better - although that certainly happens - we begin to understand things totally above, beyond, and outside ourselves.  Jonny said it reminded him of this story about how language (or lack of it) affects our understanding of things. Amazing. 
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. - 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
I've spent a lot of time with spiritual gifts. I can tell you what mine are and their definitions, strengths, and weaknesses forward, backward, and inside out. I teach them to middle school students. I've taken more surveys than I can even tell you. And I've always thought about spiritual gifts as personal strengths that the Spirit just happens to fortify or strengthen. But I realized as I read through this again that these are things the Spirit does in and of himself. He just happens to choose to use us to manifest them - they have nothing to do with us! The Spirit prophesies through us, the Spirit heals, the Spirit does miracles. We don't have any gifts but what the Spirit does. 

All these things together made me meditate anew on the sheer supernatural nature of the Spirit. There is nothing explainable or predictable about Him. We so often overlook or discount the supernatural. We don't expect it. We try to explain it away. We claim that there is no supernatural to life in the Spirit in the modern world. But I have to think, when I sit back and read all these things, that there is an incredible, vast supernatural power that we have left largely untapped in most of our lives. Having stuck my toes into that supernatural and experienced just a little bit, I have to wonder what else is out there. What does my life look like when in line with the Word and totally surrendered to the supernatural?

That's all I have for you today. Sorry, no cute Monkey pictures. No action point. No discussion questions. Just thoughts and ideas - being faithful to reveal God's words to others as He reveals them to me.


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