A time for groaning?

The coming of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has the power to change your life. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce Christ-like character in you. This process of changing us to be more like Jesus is called sanctification. You can’t reproduce the character of Jesus on your own or by your own strength. That is why we need the Holy Spirit.

Time for groaning

We all have times we feel weak and don’t know what to do. In these days of coronavirus and shutdown, we have a lot to groan about. The Christian response is not to say, shut up and be positive, the Christian response is to listen to the Holy Spirit on a case by case basis, there are no one size files all theologies, it is about a relationship with God and each other.

We all have times we feel weak and don’t know what to do. The Holy Spirit helps us line up with God’s will during those times by interceding for us. As the apostle Paul said:

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 through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.Romans 12:12-18 New International Version (NIV)

This has two aspects. The words, from two different parts of the letter to the Romans, illustrate both of them. Chapter 8 is about the Holy Spirit’s actions in us and chapter 12 with the Holy Spirit empowering to help others.

The inward dimension

The Holy Spirit works within the Christian to create in them to the attributes of God, a process known as sanctification. We are holy because God makes us holy. And the Holy Spirit hunts down the things that are ungodly in our lives, I have a tendency to let injustice go, which the Spirit is having a go at me about at the moment. But it is through the good times and the uncomfortable ones that we are shaped into what God wants us to me, the best version of ourselves that we can be.

The outward dimension

We all have times we feel weak and don’t know what to do. The Holy Spirit helps us line up with God’s will during those times by interceding for us and moulding us for a purpose. That of spreading God’s love through the world by spreading the word and living lives that honour and empower other people, even those that society around would not empower. We groan inwardly and outwardly as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us.

The Holy Spirit’s function is not primarily in inward spirituality. We are weak, and through that weakness the Holy Spirit is able to work through us to help others in their weakness.

How we can prepare

It was at the ascension of Jesus that the disciples changed from being timid, hiding behind locked doors to openly and boldly praising God in the temple. But they were told to wait in Jerusalem, wait until the power of God, the Holy Spirit came upon them. They spent time in prayer together. In two days time, it will be Pentecost, the time the church remembers the Spirit coming. Please join me in taking time to pray on each of these days that the Holy Spirit will fall again on the Church in power. This is not because the Holy Spirit has gone from the church, she has not, this is to prepare ourselves to be people through whom the Holy Spirit can flow into the world that needs her so badly.

If you are reading this at another time of year, the Holy Spirit is not bound by things so trivial as a church calendar. I urge you to take put some time aside for prayer to prepare yourself for the Holy Spirit to fill you.

Holy Spirit come. Amen.


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