What is the Holy Spirit doing now?

I want to talk today about being confident in the Holy Spirit

Jesus told his followers they would ‘receive the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him or knows him.  You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you’.

We have received this Spirit.  Having received this Spirit should give us the confidence to face any situation.

But we are not always confident are we?

If I say, I am confident in some things but not in other things, can you relate to that? 

What about if I say I am useless at most things, can you relate to that?

Some people have spent so much time telling themselves they are useless or have had that reinforced by others that they still think they are useless no matter what they do.

I remember when I was a teacher I had to help this particular student with his maths and he told me he was useless at maths, and specifically he had never learned his multiplication tables.  For the problem we were working on he needed to know his eight times table.  What’s five times eight I asked him.  He didn’t know.

I was amazed.  Because this boy would often skip school to go working on a market stall.  That was part of the reason he had been sent to me.  So I asked him if anything on his market stall cost £7.99.  He said yes, loads of things. I said, if I buy five things from you and each one costs £7.99 how much do I owe you?  £39.95 he said, as quick as a flash.  So we set to work.  Not so much on learning the eight times table.  We focused on the more important lesson of how to not believe yourself when you tell yourself that you are useless.

I do it myself, of course.  I am useless at attaching things to walls.  Also, I have successfully attached things to walls for decades.  So why, when Marian says, can you put these hooks on these walls do I get so alarmed?   Why do I always imagine that my drill bit will hit something metal that somebody has for some reason embedded in the wall and I won’t know what to do?

I am also useless at telling people why they should become followers of Christ. I think about Jesus every day.  I read the Bible every day.  I pray all the time.  Being a follower of Jesus has changed my life; made it so much better than it was.  And yet I still find I can’t think of the words to say to somebody else that will make them become a follower of Jesus as well.  Also, I have baptised people, prepared people for confirmation, seen people become regular church attenders at churches where I have been part of the leadership team.

So why do I lack confidence?  Why do we all lack confidence?

We lack confidence because the world we live in is broken.  And because of the brokenness we tell each other that we are useless because the world is all wrong and it must be somebody’s fault.  And being told you are useless destroys your confidence and so we all lack confidence in many aspects of our lives.

The disciples lacked confidence.  Which is incredible; because they met Jesus.  They heard his teaching first hand.  They witnessed the healing miracles.  They left their homes and their lives and everything to follow him.  And yet they lacked confidence.  And Jesus knew they lacked confidence.  Because they too, like us, lived in a broken world.  Like us, they yearned for the Kingdom of God, but they could only believe it was at hand if Jesus was there with them.

Which is why they and we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we can be ambassadors for the Kingdom of God in a broken world.

I worked as an export salesman for a few years.  A few months into my job I organised a sales trip to Turkey and our Managing Director and Technical Director came with me.  I set up meetings with groups of engineers in Turkey and it was my job to give a presentation about the product we wanted to sell and then they would help me to answer questions. Just before we went into the second of these meetings, the Managing Director pulled me to one side and said, ‘Remember, Robin, the people in there are no better than you.’

I reflected afterwards on why he said that.  There was nothing wrong with what I was saying as such; the presentation was fine.  It’s just that when the engineers saw me enter the room, he wanted them to see somebody who was confident; confident about himself, about his company, about the product, about what he had come to Turkey to do. 

And that is what the Holy Spirit does for us, if we will only listen for it.  It gives us the actions, the words, the tone, the body language to be ambassadors for the Kingdom of God in a broken world.

We read how Paul went to Athens and spoke to the crowd.  He stood in front of an intimidating crowd of people and began to speak the words that the Spirit gave him.  And they were audacious words.

‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.  For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you’.

In other words, he said, ‘that which you seek and have not found, I have found and bring to you.’  Those are audacious words.  You need to be full of the Spirit to speak with confidence words like that. 

And having confidence in the Spirit means understanding something very important; and that is; that the Spirit is not only active in your life.  It is not only active in the life of the church. The Spirit is active also in the world; in the broken world. 

So, yes, the Athenians had acknowledged that there things about the divine that they did not know.  The Spirit had left a God shaped gap in their understanding of the world and given them a thirst to know how this gap could be filled.  And now the Spirit was bringing Paul to them with the words to fill that gap.

Having confidence in the Spirit means having confidence that the Spirit is active in the world in ways which we ourselves have not directly experienced so that we are confident that when we play our role, a lot of the heavy lifting has actually been done already.

We reckon that 25% of the population of the United Kingdom has watched part of an on-line church service at some point since the lock down due to the Covid 19 virus.  As we have sought to reach out to each other and stay connected during the pandemic, we have also, often without realising it, been connecting with new people.

People around you have been drawn to Christ, by the Spirit, without you having had to do anything about it.  So feel free to tell them about what we are doing as a church.  Don’t just like our posts on social media; share them.

As we see the start of the easing of lockdown restrictions, our thoughts turn to what it will be like to return to normal in church. 

We are starting to realise, I think, that there isn’t going to be a return to normal.

Too much has changed.

The phrase we are using more and more is ‘the new normal’.  What will the new normal be when the lock down is over?

What has the Holy Spirit been doing in the world? 

How can we discern God’s plan and how can we get involved in it?

What words will be given to us to us to speak to people in a broken world and lead them to the Kingdom of God?

How can we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that we grow in confidence to be the ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, that the Spirit calls us to be?

With confidence in the Spirit, let us declare our faith together.



Printer Printable Version
Page last updated: 17th May 2020 8:02 AM