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DAY ONE ‣ New Life in the Spirit
Romans 8:1–17, Galatians 4:7
This week our series shifts to the Apostle Paul. For the remainder of the series, we will learn from his many explanations of the Spirit’s work in us.
Romans 8 is one of the longest and most richly dense passages by the Apostle Paul on the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
The missional work of the Spirit to send us out into the world requires the transformative work of the Spirit in us, so that when we go into the world we go as renewed, revived, changed people.
In Romans 8:1–17, Paul contrasts our old life in the flesh with the new life of the Spirit. There are a dozen phrases/ideas Paul uses to make this contrast. In the space below, jot down all the descriptions of life in the Spirit. Pay special attention to verses 14–16 (and Galatians 4:7).
This is your new identity in Christ by the Spirit. You want to let go of the old worldly identities and begin to live according to who you now are.
Pray: Take the language of this passage and use it to shape prayers of longing as well as thanksgiving. It is by the power of the Spirit that you are a new creation in Christ. Enjoy the creative, renewing work of the Spirit today. Expect it to continue.
DAY TWO ‣ Praying with the Spirit
Romans 8:22–27, Ephesians 6:18
Prayer. It is a delight for some of us. It is a challenge for others. But for all of us, it is core to the Christian life. Prayer is the way to intimacy with God. Prayer is the way to partner with God for the transformation of the world.
In this part of Romans 8, Paul affirms the difficulty of prayer, but then gives a powerful word of hope. The Spirit of God helps us pray. The Spirit of God actually prays for us when we are too weak to pray. What an awesome and gracious God we have! In our weakness he is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). In our prayer weakness, the Spirit of God is strong.
Pray: After you read and reflect on the passages, spend the rest of the time in prayer. Pray in the Spirit. Pray with the Spirit. Allow the Spirit to pray through you and for you. I don’t know what you will experience. That is up to the Spirit.
So, quiet your heart and mind. Pay attention to the in and out breaths, the RUACH of God in you. With each breath listen, wait, invite, receive. As you are led, pray - or remain silent - either way, expect, encounter, and enjoy the Spirit with you.
DAY THREE ‣ Full of the Spirit
I was privileged to study with one of the greatest New Testament scholars of our time, Gordon Fee. He was a Pentecostal and has written some of the most significant studies on the Holy Spirit in modern times. In his most massive contribution, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, he says Paul’s teaching “Be filled with the Spirit” is the single most important teaching in all of Paul’s writing.
Be filled is a striking verb in the Greek.
It is an imperative. That means it’s a command. We are told to be filled and we are responsible to be filled. It is also plural. It is addressed to the community, not to individuals. We are all together, to be filled.
It is a passive form of the verb. We allow ourselves to be filled and we avoid things that prevent filling (see the next two days of reflections). It is also a present tense verb. It is not a once-and-done filling. It is a daily filling. We are to go on being filled.
We received the Spirit at the time of our conversion. We were baptized in the Spirit at the time of our conversion. We were sealed in the Spirit at the time of our conversion.
But Spirit fullness comes and goes. Our longing, desire, and attentiveness can weaken. There are wrong things that drain and deplete fullness. That means that every day we, the people of God, ask for and receive daily fullness for mission, for transformation, for life.
Be filled with the Spirit. The rest of the passage gives insights as to what prevents fullness and what fullness looks like in the Christian community.
Confess: What depletes you? Why do you allow those things to deplete you? Ask God to forgive you and to help you on everything that works against Spirit fullness.
Pray: Fill me right now, Holy Spirit. Fill me with your presence. Fill me with love and grace. Fill me with joy and hope. Fill me with power. Fill me with obedience. Fill me with _______ . (Listen to what the Spirit wants to fill you with.)
DAY FOUR ‣ Don’t Grieve the Spirit
We are to be full of the Spirit. It is a daily, ongoing, communal, and receptive obedience on our part. We desire, we expect, we seek, we ask, and we receive fullness of the Spirit.
But we also “lose the fullness.” Understand that you never lose the Spirit, but you do lose the fullness of the Spirit. You lose the Spirit’s dynamic presence to transform, heal, bless, guide, and use you. You lose the anointing power of the Spirit that empowers you to make a difference in the world God loves.
You lose the fullness of the Spirit when you grieve the Spirit. Right in the middle of a long section on sinful and harmful behaviors, Paul says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (vs. 30). What grieves the Spirit? Sin grieves the Spirit. Sin seriously grieves the Spirit. It hurts the Spirit. It offends the Spirit. Sin causes the Spirit to mourn and be sad about what you are doing. Skim through the passage and make a note of the sins that grieve the Spirit.
Reflect: Which sins (these or others) are your personal struggles? When you fall into them, you grieve the Spirit and lose the fullness of the Spirit. What is the remedy? Confess. Repent. Seek forgiveness. Then ask for fullness once again. Remember, fresh starts, second chances, new beginnings. The Spirit gives them all the time.
DAY FIVE ‣ Don’t Quench the Spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:19
To grieve the Spirit is to do something sinful that hurts the Spirit and diminishes the controlling influence of the Spirit in your life.
To quench the Spirit is to put a lid on the Spirit. It is to resist what the Spirit wants for you. It is to say no to the Spirit. An extreme case would be Jonah in the Old Testament, who ran from his missional assignment.
We may quench the Spirit out of fear, or due to ignorance and misunderstanding. We may be turned off by inappropriate and wrong things others do in the name of the Spirit.
By the way, there are many distortions, imbalances, and unspiritual things done in the name of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul had to deal with distortions and fakes in his day. We need to be rightfully on guard against excesses and deviations. But we cannot allow those things to put us in a resistance mindset.
Instead, along with a radical openness to the work of the Spirit, we need discernment and carefulness. Because of the distortions, evangelicals have generally been at least a little too cautious about the Holy Spirit. Be open to the powerful presence of the Spirit.
Pray: Jesus, give me a spirit of wisdom and a spirit of power. Give me whatever you want to give me. Use me however you want to use me. Guide me and send me wherever you want to send me.
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