Advent: The Gift of the Spirit

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Luke 11:11-13
M’Cheyne Text: Micah 2; Luke 11

Christmas: Last Christmas, Sally from Ohio wrote to the New York Times for advice: “My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I gave him a list of practical items: a sports watch, a spa day. But later, he mentioned that he and my son had done a lot of research about a special gift for me. Curious, I checked our shared e-mail and discovered that he’d bought a $2,500 telescope. This is lovely, but I’m not interested in astronomy. I’d rather use the money for a scheduled home improvement. How do I tell him that his gift is generous but unwanted?” [1]

Goodness: Some of us go to God in prayer like we go to our loved ones at Christmas. We have a list of things that we want, and we expect to receive gifts from that list. When Jesus was telling his disciples to be persistent in prayer, he spoke to them about the Father and His ability to give good gifts: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [2].

Spirit: This Christmas, is the Holy Spirit on our wish lists? Most of us ask for less existential things – books, clothes, etc. But we need the Spirit more than we need anything else. Yes, there is a reality of receiving the Spirit when we become believers. But there is also the experiential reality of receiving him. The Spirit is an experience, not merely a doctrine. He gives us power, boldness and confidence [3]. He works within our hearts so that our lives are changed through obedience and praise [4]. Our faith is not merely the performance of rituals or sacraments. It is a life-changing experience of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, At first glance, we may come to you with thoughts about what we want, but we confess that you know what we want better than we do. Therefore, we come to you asking, seeking and knocking. Give us the gift of your Spirit and an increased experience of him so that our lives are changed in obedience and praise. Amen. [5]

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Audio: Bible Listening (9:14 minutes total)

Micah 2 (2:13 minutes) – here

Luke 11 (7:01 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] Philip Galanes. “Save the Packaging.” The New York Times. 15 December 2011.  |  [2] Luke 11:11-13 ESV  |  [3] See Acts 1:5, Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:12-13.  |  [4] See Acts 10:46; Acts 5:29.  |  [5] For additional reflection on receiving the Spirit, see John Piper. “What Does It Mean to Receive the Holy Spirit?” 19 May 1991. and “How to Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” 29 April 1984.

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2 Comments to “Advent: The Gift of the Spirit”

  1. I would just love to be able to hear your message about the Incarnation.
    Will you be able to share the transcript somehow? I hope so.
    I have also been wondering if there is symbolism in your package artwork and in the “logo” in the Holy Land tour.
    May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
    Rejoicing in Him,
    linda
    Isaiah 64:4-5

  2. Oswald Chambers in one of his January devotional bulrbs asks this question, paraphrased: What’s the greatest obstacle to knowing Jesus? His answer: Serving Him, an answer that so reminds me of this passage of scripture. We tend to be Martha Christians focused on serving, when we must take time to be Mary Christians as well. Serving is not bad, and if fact is an evidence of grace, but like anything good, it can be a bad god.

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