Monthly Archives: November 2021

Sons of the Gentle Breeze

I recently received a photo of a Bible text from a friend in a men’s group with some verses circled in red. Below that, he asked the question, “Do you think this is possible today?”

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47 ESV).

I gave it some thought then replied with what came to my mind. “Yes, I don’t see why not. God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. It’s possible. It’s happening in places around the earth, I believe.” He was asking if what was happening in the early church should be happening in our churches today.

I awoke this morning with that question on my mind, and a couple of verses came quickly to me, followed by other thoughts as I got up and journaled. First, I’ll share the verses, then the thoughts.

The Verses

“Those who cling to vain idols leave behind the gracious love that could have been theirs” (Jonah 2:8 ISV).

“The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. That’s the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

The Thoughts

The Spirit moves where He wants to move. Those born of the Spirit and those born by the Spirit sense where He’s moving and are carried along by His power in that direction. These people include sailors, pilots, army scouts, accountants, teachers, business people, laborers — spiritual adventurers. They are those who exercise faith in God and risk following his Spirit, those who become adept and practice doing so, who make it their very lifestyle and passion.

These are people like David, the shepherd boy, and king who the Bible says “… served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36a NASB). Is it possible to live a life like his? Or like Amos, the fig grower? Or like Elijah the prophet? Or Esther the orphan? Or Ruth the Moabitess? Or Abigail, caught up in a bad marriage? Or rather perhaps a good marriage to a bad person? Where is the wind of the Spirit blowing in each of these person’s lives and in their times? Ask yourself that.

Someone has said that wisdom begins with asking the right question. We may not be asking the right question in this case. Do we look at the church in Acts and try to mimic it? Is that a reasonable approach or course of action in our day? 

I say, “yes and no.” “Yes,” in that it’s a valid expression of what a church or people flowing in the Spirit of God can look like, just like the lives of the Bible characters listed above are examples. I say “no,” in that our job is not to take one of these demonstrations of life in the Spirit and try to replicate it precisely in the flesh or in our power. 

We see the Spirit wind blowing in the lives of individuals and a group of people. We get insights into the actions of the Spirit and the lives of people who experience the Spirit’s life and power. We see the Spirit’s peace and power flow in their lives and in their times.

Men love to emulate a model to take credit for accomplishing success in the process or feat. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV), writes Paul. Or, as explained by an Old Testament prophet, real spiritual progress is accomplished in humans, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6b).

It’s good to look at the examples in Scripture to learn about the Spirit of God moving and working among people. We also learn about the people God chooses, blesses with his presence, and entrusts with his power. Yet, it’s best to ask what the Spirit is doing in our day and how we can function as a son or daughter of the gentle breeze — the Holy Spirit.

In Acts, we see the Spirit of God moving in power to birth the church and establish the kingdom of God in some measure with the first advent of the King. In the times of the prophets of Judah and Israel, we see the Spirit moving in judgment and redemption to save people from idols and themselves and turn their hearts back to their Creator Redeemer. In Esther and Daniel, we see the Spirit, boldly but in his hidden, understated way, moving in the lives of chosen people to effect righteousness and peace in two gentile, world-ruling kingdoms. In Ruth, it’s about two people, or a few people, in a backward time and place, knowing their God, walking in faith, being empowered by the Spirit to give birth to a king, and eventual, godly direction and leadership for a chosen but impoverished nation.

What is the Spirit doing in your day and life is the best question to ask. The next best question might be: “How do I hear him? How do I know him? How do I learn to flow in His power, presence, and leading?”

It’s possible because he’s always on the move to save, redeem, and call needy people and lost sheep out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Seek him. Ask him to show you how to become and stay a son or daughter of the gentle breeze — the Holy Spirit.

I get that phrase from the life of Elijah, one of the most powerful prophets in the Bible sent to the idol-ridden, northern kingdom of Israel. They were in a deceived and spiritually dark time like ours. The Bible tells us that “Elijah was a person just like us” (James 5:17a ISV), not some made-up superhero. He was spiritually sensitive, as we can come to be. Yet, he had his ups and downs on his spiritual journey, which should give us insight and encouragement.

One time on Mount Carmel, he heard the Spirit and moved in power, calling down fire on a sacrifice to God in the presence of the people and the king. Then he prayed for rain ending a three-year drought. Immediately after that, he experienced a very low point. In fear for his life due to the death threat from an evil queen, he ran to Horeb, the mountain of God. There he hid in a cave, praying for God to take his life because he was “no better than his fathers,” apparently at hearing God’s voice and moving in the Spirit, exercising courage and faith.

A mighty wind came upon the mountain, and an earthquake, followed by fire, but none of these moved Elijah. “Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally, there was a gentle breeze” (I Kings 19:12 CEV), which Elijah recognized to be the Spirit of God. At the coming of the “gentle breeze,” Elijah came out of hiding to hear God provide revelation, restore vision, and instruct him to continue his journey.

That’s my prayer for you and myself — that we simply, humbly become and remain sons and daughters of the gentle breeze — the voice and leading of God’s Spirit. May we be moved by that gentle breeze whether we live in a time of correcting judgment, or the birth of something new, or both—godspeed as you journey.

The Holy Spirit (continued)

How to Know the Spirit

Don’t be overly amazed about this. Just experience it. Be willingly led by the Spirit wind as you come to apprehend or hear His leading and come to see what He is doing. Jesus told Nicodemus that he could. And he’s telling you that you can.

It’s not hard! You don’t have to understand it completely. In fact, you won’t! John 3:8 and Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us not to lean on our understanding, rather expect to be moved by the wind of the Spirit. You have to sense it and follow those leadings and impressions. By training your senses through obedience to what you hear, you will improve. It’s a sixth sense, one the world does not experience, but one the believer uses to see into the spiritual realm and bring heaven’s goodness to bear on earth.

You will learn to recognize synchronicities. You will know to pay attention to some dreams and reject others. You will expect visions. You’ll not be surprised when awakened at 3:33 AM anymore. You will get up and journal or meditate in silence and listen to what thoughts come to you. You will listen for what the Spirit might say. Through practice, you can learn to distinguish between your ideas and His thoughts. Through familiarity, you will learn to discern His voice from others, like you recognize the voice of a family member or close friend.

Hindrances to Knowing the Spirit

Does this spiritual exchange of information get to be foolproof? I’d say no, it does not. The Scripture would indicate that dark spirits can operate on these same frequencies or spiritual impressions. The Scriptures record that even “Satan can appear as an angel of light.” So that scares many away from desiring social intercourse with the Holy Spirit. But it shouldn’t. Trust God, He’s more powerful, and He is good. We know this spiritual communication is a fact of life, whether we want to bury our heads in the sand and ignore it or not? You have undoubtedly had bad dreams that disturbed sleep, had no rhyme or reason, and scared you. They seemed disjointed with no discernible message. Do you think those came from God? Yet, we know that dreams can be valid from the Scripture and shared human experience. They may warn us about something or someone. They may give us a glimpse into our destiny or what God intends for our future. We may need the help of interpretation or more dreams, but they don’t scare us, and we don’t forget them when we sense their validity.

Another thing that drives many with a western mindset away from this spiritual communication is the fear of making mistakes. What if I hear incorrectly? What if I hear from a dark spirit or my imagination? Fear of failure and fear of making a mistake robs us of life that might have been ours. Trust God. Get to know Him through His record of interacting with people in the Bible. Then you will know if what you hear sounds like something He would say. But don’t wait until you are a Bible scholar. Remember He also sent a guide, the Holy Spirit. He will help you. He will train you. He will show you the way you are to go. Sometimes it will involve courage. Obedience to what you hear will always require faith and trust. Each obedient action leads to better hearing, more confidence, more trust, more spiritual insight. Initially, the Spirit probably won’t speak to you the same way He spoke to Moses, Elijah, the prophets, the apostles, or Jesus Himself. But He desires to speak and commune with you. It’s both a gift and a learned skill to hear. It’s to your great advantage to listen, obey, and enjoy that relationship of intimacy, seeing, and adventure—godspeed on your journey.

The Joy of Knowing the Spirit

You will come to hear of someone having a word of knowledge and see it for what it is. You won’t be surprised, seeing it as the Holy Spirit wanting to illuminate something or help someone. I know of many examples personally, but not as many as I would like to see and experience.

It only stands to reason that if you know it happens and that it’s a valid expression or communication of the Holy Spirit, you’re going to participate in it by faith. All of the gifts work by faith and leading, by leading and faith, by hearing and obeying. Afterward, the spiritual power flows, and you see it, sense it, and are in awe of it.

There are times you are not aware of it. Only the person receiving your word of encouragement, word of knowledge, or prayer, is affected deeply by it. They may not even show you this outwardly. But inwardly, between them and the Lord, they know and are moved or stunned by what is said, prayed, or laid bare. It will affect their life, if not immediately, in the days to come, as they surrender or come to know the Spirit themselves. God is very understated like that. Expect it often to work this way. Have faith that you delivered the message and trust God with the results. When people sense a message is supernatural or from God, they’re seldom inclined to shoot the messenger. Relax, be humble, be caring, be loving, be gracious, be courageous. “… wisdom is proved right by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19b).

Again, it stands to reason that if you don’t understand how the Holy Spirit works, even a little bit, or haven’t seen Him in action, you’re going to stand by and gawk. You’ll be more in shock and doubt than a willing participant in God’s grace as it’s pouring out.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high.” Luke 1:78

I have eight examples listed in the journal I’m referencing right now. And I’d love to share them as demonstrations of what I’m talking about because they’re convincing and fun to recount. But I feel the Spirit impressing me not to do so, instead to let my words be few and leave the convincing between Him and you, the reader. He’s reminding me of the Scripture, “Your ears will hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21a).

The Holy Spirit in The Church

Seasons Change Fall 2021

In a men’s group recently, the discussion about the Holy Spirit was excellent! Most of the guys were open to new truth and revelation as long as it was in the Bible, but having a Baptist background like me, I wondered how it would go? The same could apply to many denominations, as you will note.

“Why,” it was asked, “does the church in the west, or we have trouble with the Holy Spirit?”

Honest answers proffered and discussed included:

  1. Our educational system is Greek modeled, materialistic, and further influenced by the French Enlightenment, stressing the intellect and neglecting or rejecting the Spirit.
  2. Our churches are affected and infected and have not understood nor taught what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit.
  3. The Spirit is mystical and mysterious, so He’s not easy to know if you have the mindset mentioned in 1. and 2. above.
  4. Because of excesses seen or reported, we’ve been skeptical of those sects or denominations who claim to have experienced the Holy Spirit. Some have acted like they have some corner on Him, or have Him in their box, so we’ve rejected them and their teaching, likely throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Why are our eyes and minds closed? Don’t we love the truth? Are we that afraid of error? Why wouldn’t we trust God our Father to lead us into all truth? One of the most important truths is that we can have and should have a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual blindness is more rampant, embedded, and systemic in our lives and churches than we have thought! This omitted teaching and missing experiential relationship with the Holy Spirit is one area that demonstrates that fact. One member of our group just finished reading “The Heavenly Man.” It’s about Brother Yun, a leader of the underground church in China, who the Spirit constantly led. My friend brings it up often, and I can tell the book has changed his thinking about the place of the Holy Spirit in the church and his personal life.

In Isaiah chapter six, we find another clue why we in the community of believers haven’t known the truth about the Holy Spirit and are consequentially spiritually dull. The Lord is understated and doesn’t appear to those disinterested, but usually to those who are humble or desperate and hungry to know Him. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. Grace is costly, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer told the modern church in “The Cost of Discipleship.” He found the German church in his day asleep and deceived, like the Jewish nation of Isaiah’s day. The Lord told Isaiah to speak to the people whatever he heard from the Lord, but also told him the people would not hear, by and large. They had grown dull of hearing because of idolatry and the lack of intimacy.

Jesus on The Holy Spirit

What did Jesus have to say about the Holy Spirit? “Much!” is the answer. I’ll point out a few things for brevity. Let it serve as a springboard to do your research and study. It’s easy to see that the Holy Spirit was a significant focus for Jesus and an essential part of his plan for us.

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7 ESV).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV).

Paul on the Holy Spirit

The Apostle Paul had much to say and demonstrate about the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19, Paul going to Ephesus met a group of believers outside of town and asked them a meaningful, telling question.

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2 ESV). Doesn’t that describe or define the church in the West? In America? In our city? We have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit, it seems.

At least we act like it. While we do experience the Holy Spirit from time to time, it seems we do so without being aware. It appears we are wired by God for 220 volts and are living on AA batteries.

There isn’t awareness. There isn’t the practice. There isn’t the experience. There isn’t the hunger. Biblical teaching on the Holy Spirit as an abiding part of our lives doesn’t exist in many churches. The Bible teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name to dwell with us and in us, to be our Helper. Is He a part of your reality?

The Acts 19 account goes on to say there were about twelve men involved. That’s not a significant number. God is not into big numbers, apparently. I wonder what kind of wonders these twelve accomplished after that experience and for the rest of their lives? Later in the same chapter, we read, “God was performing extra ordinary miracles by the hand of Paul” (Acts 19:9 ESV). Paul continually said it was the Holy Spirit working through him.

We Should Know the Spirit

Back to our reality, the Holy Spirit goes about his work of refining us, convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He is molding us into the image of Christ, to be his friends and his bride, the church, the “ecclesia?” the called-out ones. But it seems there is so much more available from Him for us and through us if we understand the working of the Spirit.

John chapter 3 is telling and instructive about the role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus talks to Nicodemus, “The Teacher of Israel,” a man schooled and skilled in the Bible, and tells Nicodemus there is more. Someone has said, “God did not leave us just a map. He left us a guide.” The map is the Bible, and the guide is the Holy Spirit. Scripture completely supports this convergence.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 ESV). “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 ESV).

How to Know the Spirit

To be continued…