Week Four: Jesus and the Holy Spirit

If you’re like me, you have thought about how cool it would be to walk with Jesus. Or maybe how much easier it would be to follow Him if you were literally following Him, like the apostles did. Maybe it would be easier, maybe it wouldn’t. I can’t say for sure.

Something I hadn’t really thought about until recently was how intensely hard and frightening it must have been for them when He left.

When I had my first baby, my husband and I lived in Louisiana. My parents lived in California and his were in Oklahoma. My parents came out before the birth, and my mom stayed for two weeks after. She kept the house and laundry clean; she cooked dinner; she helped me give my baby girl her first bath, and she rocked her back to sleep in the middle of the night after eating so we could rest. I vividly remember standing at the front door holding my baby, waving goodbye to my mom as she left for the airport. My eyes filled with tears. “How will I do this without her?” I thought. “I don’t know anything about raising a tiny human; she’s the expert.”

Even though my mom physically left, I wasn’t alone. I could recall what she had taught me. I could rely on my husband and what he had learned from his parents. And I could always call my mom.

I imagine the apostles had similar feelings. They had been told Jesus would send the Holy Spirit, but what did that mean? How would they do this without Jesus right there with them? But then the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, and their fears subsided. The Spirit reminded them of what Jesus had taught them, gave them gifts to do the work of the Kingdom, guided them in living in Christian community, and gave them peace and courage that they could continue in His work.

As we remember Pentecost we are reminded that we too have the Holy Spirit in us. He reminds us of Jesus’ teaching, gives us gifts for Kingdom work, guides us in living in Christian community, and gives us peace and comfort to continue in Jesus’ work. We are not alone. Praise God!

Shonda Ayers

 

Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.

 


Day One: 

DAILY — PRAYING SCRIPTURE:

Like the disciples, we long for God’s presence in our lives, but either we don’t recognize His presence or we explain it away as something else like coincidence or luck. But God is faithful to keep His promises. He promised to send the Holy Spirit when Jesus ascended. The disciples witnessed His ascension and went on to be His witnesses on earth. The disciples’ testimony and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives enable us to now be Your witnesses. 

Luke 24:36-53 – Lord, while the disciples were still talking about You appearing to them, You suddenly stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost.  You said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When You had said this, You showed them your hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it, because of joy and amazement, You asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” After You ate, You said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then You opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. You reminded them of the prophecy, “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Later, You lifted up Your hands and blessed them. While You were blessing them, You left them and were taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped You and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me peace in the waiting. Give me a heart of joyful worship until Your return. Amen.

Ask yourself — Do you recognize God’s presence? Or do you explain away God’s presence, like the disciples thinking He was a ghost? How do you explain away God’s presence? How do you respond to the knowledge of God’s presence? Lord, help me to be aware of your presence.

Prayer:  Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Two:

Sometimes even with great preparation, we aren’t fully ready to wrap our minds around what we experience. Prophets spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit; Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit. But when the Spirit descended, many couldn’t make sense of it and attempted to put an earthly explanation on a heavenly moment. We do the same thing too many times in our lives. But God continues to pursue us and make his Spirit clear to us. How incredible is it that we have the Holy Spirit with us, ready to guide, protect, and comfort us at all times?

Acts 2:1-28 – Lord, your wonders amaze!  As I pray recounting the wonders on the Day of Pentecost, renew my spirit and align it with Yours. When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples were all together in one place. When they each began speaking in a different tongue, the crowd around them were amazed and perplexed, asking one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!” Peter went on to say that, no, this is what was foretold by the prophet Joel — that God would pour out his Spirit in these days, and God’s people would prophesy. Lord, I know that Peter was made courageous and eloquent as he spoke these truths because of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Just as You did with Peter, Lord, fill me with Your Spirit. Transform my life to declare Your glory, that others will wonder and be drawn to You. Amen.

Ask yourself -- Are you amazed by God’s wonders and miracles? Do you explain them away? What explanations do you give for what God does? Lord, open my eyes to what You are doing. Open the eyes of my heart to fully see You.

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Three:

Hindsight is 20/20…right? We often read Scripture and are surprised when the disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ teaching or are shocked that the Jewish people would shout, “Crucify Him,” after all they’d seen Him do. It’s hard to admit that most likely we’d do the same thing. In maybe more subtle ways, we still do. God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting to the heart. The testimony of the apostles hopefully causes us to ask, “What shall we do?”

Acts 2:29-47 – Dear Heavenly Father, the testimony of Peter to the Jews on the day of Pentecost is powerful. As I pray his words, open my eyes to my response to your grace, your sacrifice, your call. Peter spoke, “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, He spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.” Peter went on to say that God has raised Jesus to life, and that they were all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, Jesus received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He poured out on the believers. “For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. ...And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” I devote myself to You, Lord — to Your teaching and to the fellowship of Your followers. May my life with You and with Your followers be a witness of Your love to all. Amen.

Ask yourself – Would you respond to Jesus with more faith than the Jews did? How do you respond to Him now? Do you ask, “What shall I do?” How do you feel about the answer?

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Four: 

In our society, equality is paramount; sometimes we have a hard time accepting, let alone communicating, that we are special to God. Guess what, in God’s society equality is paramount too. The darkness we were once in was illuminated, and we came into the light — not because we’re special compared to others but because of God’s grace to pursue us. We are part of the way God is pursuing others. Let’s rejoice in His grace toward us and extend His grace.

1 Peter 2:9 – Father God, You pursued me, and I accepted your priceless offer of grace and life, and You say that “I am a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Your special possession, so that I may declare Your praises. You called me out of darkness into Your wonderful light.” I pray that I will know how You see me, how You see others, and that I will share Your light with others so they too can come out of darkness. Amen.

Ask yourself – Do you see yourself as royalty? Do you declare His praises? How can you share God’s light to help others come out of darkness?

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Five: 

In families, everyone has tasks to accomplish at home. One may do the cooking, another the yard work, another the cleaning, and so on. Typically, a parent (or parents together) sets the expectations of what and how things in a family need to go. We are part of the family of God. Jesus sets the expectation of what and how things will go. As we build on His plan together, we rise to be a strong family, full of His Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22 – Father God, family is so important to me. I am no longer a foreigner and stranger, but a fellow citizen with Your people and a member of Your household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him I, too, am being built with others to become a dwelling in which You live by your Spirit.  I pray that I will love and care for others as family and that I will continue to build on the foundation of Jesus and the apostles. Amen.

Ask yourself -- Are you living with your fellow followers of Christ as family? Do you do your part to unite with them to build up from the foundation Jesus and the apostles laid? Are you, with fellow followers, building a dwelling place for God?

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Six: 

Glamorous. For whatever reason, we tend to (and mankind always has) elevate certain gifts. The gifts the Spirit gives may not be glamorous; they may be just plain work, but the gifts aren’t given for our glamour or recognition. They’re given for the common good. And God is in every gift…glamorous or not.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – Father God, Your Spirit is incredible, giving me guidance, comfort, and gifts to use in Your kingdom. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is You God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  I pray that I will find my gift and use it for the good of your Kingdom. Amen.

Ask yourself – Are you blind to the gifts the Spirit has given you because you’re looking for something more “glamorous?” Do you find yourself comparing your gifts to another’s? What good might happen if you really put your gifts to work? How would the Kingdom benefit from the use of your gifts?

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.


Day Seven: 

Prayer: Dear God, please grow in me a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me. Amen.

Look over your notes/prayers from the past week. What seems meaningful to you? Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge? Does something require more prayer of discernment? We don’t decide when God will “show up;” instead, we want to be ready and aware when He does. Whatever your experience this week, stay committed. God is!