Key Verse: John 14:26 "But the
Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you
all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
i. Welcome Guest
Something beautiful happens once you accept Jesus into your life: God's Spirit comes to live in your heart.
Eph 1:13-14 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory."
Once you experience God's Holy Spirit in your life, you will never feel alone any longer. Why not? Because God's Holy Spirit is living in you!
1 Cor 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?"
Some people believe that God's Holy Spirit is just a force and often think of him as a dove. However, God's Spirit is never referred to as a dove in the Bible nor to an it. After Jesus' baptism, God's Holy Spirit was manifested not as a dove, but as one descending like a dove.
Matt 3:16 "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him."
When someone says that you are walking like a turtle, that person is not comparing you to a turtle, but compares your speed to the speed of a turtle. The same is true with God's Spirit "descending like a dove."
God's Spirit is far from a dove. He is a real person!
He has emotions: Rom 15:30 "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."
He speaks: Heb 3:7 "So, as the Holy Spirit says…" ; 1 Tim 4:1 "The Spirit clearly says…"
He has a mind: Rom 8:27 "And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit…"
He has also a will: 1 Cor 12:11 "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."
He teaches: 1 Cor 2:13 "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit…"
He can be hurt: Eph 4:30 "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…"
And insulted: Heb 10:29 "…who has insulted the Spirit of grace…"
We have been created in His image: Gen 1:26 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…"
This person of the Godhead lives in you once you accept Jesus. Wow! Awesome!
Question 1: Who comes to live in someone who accepts Jesus?
Question 2: Who is God's Holy Spirit? Is it a force, a dove or a person? Why?
ii. The Effects to God's Spirit in your life
Once God's Spirit lives in you, you will have some outstanding experiences. The more you depend on Him, the more those experiences will become evident.
i. First God's Word will become clear to you. To some this happens gradually, to others it happens immediately. Everybody experiences the effects of the indwelling of God's Spirit differently and at their own rate.
This makes sense. When we approach the Bible with a critical eye or with a bias, we cannot really understand what it tells us. We would be blinded by our own limitations. However, God's Spirit is the author of the whole Bible.
2 Tim 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…"
Once the author of God's Word lives in you, He will reveal to you what it truly means. No doctorate in theology is needed. The author Himself will make it clear to you! He will use His Word to teach you, rebuke you and guide you. He will personalize His Word so that you will be able to apply it in your life.
John 16:13 "When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."
More will be said about this in our next chapter.
ii. Secondly you will start to eventually experience complete inner peace, even in the midst of trials. The more you trust God's Spirit instead of your own endeavors, the more you will experience His peace!
Rom 8:6 "The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace."
Rom 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
iii. Thirdly you will be filled with an unbelievable joy. Others will notice the difference in your life. Imagine, you are never alone any longer! God is constantly present in you and you can feel His presence, converse with Him and share your troubles with Him. No one has reason to worry in such conditions. Please remember though that some of these blessings are gradual.
Rom 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Heb 1:9 "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
1 Peter 1:8 "You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy."
iv. Another blessing is that you will be able to truly forgive those who hurt you. You will be gradually filled with an unbelievable love towards others. You will see everyone you meet the way Jesus sees them: people worthy of God's love, people for whom Jesus was willing to die. God's love will live in you.
Col 3:13-14 "Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
v. A special fruit will be developed in you, the fruit of God's Spirit.
Gal 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
vi. You will eventually stop worrying and start relying solely on your Forever friend. He will guide you in everything, even in the words to say when sharing your faith.
Luke 12:11-12 "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
There are many other blessings from God's Spirit. Just keep your eyes open and enjoy your adventures with you new-found Friend. He will never abandon you and will always be there for you.
Question 3: What are some blessings you will start to experience once God's Spirit lives in you? Which ones have you started to enjoy?
iii. Passion for fellowship
Once God's Holy Spirit lives in you, you will experience His passion to have a personal relationship with you. You will still have the choice to lead your life your own way, but why would you? Once you discover His faithfulness, you will be able to exclaim with Moses:
Ex 34:14 "He is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you." NLT
When his passion fills you and you start to know Him, you will long to have that fellowship with Him, just as David did.
Ps 27:8 "My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming." NLT
He will become your closest friend. Nothing will compare to that kind of relationship, not even your spouse. Who else cares for you even when you are asleep or grumpy? Who else was willing to die for you when you were not in speaking terms with God? You will discover how much God loves you and you will be amazed to discover how important you are in God's eyes.
You will discover that God's Holy Spirit is now your partner and things unheard of will be revealed to you.
Acts 20:22-23 "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."
He will guide you, when you rely on Him:
Acts 8:29 "The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
Acts 10:19-20 "While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
Acts 16:7 "After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them." NKJV
He will confirm that what you say is true and will stand by your side to back you up.
Rom 9:1 "In the presence of Christ, I speak with utter truthfulness - I do not lie - and my conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm that what I am saying is true." NLT
Acts 15:28 "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us…" NKJV
Zophar once asked Job:
Job 11:7 "Can you search out the deep things of God?" NKJV
And the answer would be: no one can! However with the coming of the New Covenant, the arrival of God's Spirit changed all of this. Now we can boldly say:
1 Cor 2:10 "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." NKJV
We now can know even "the deep things of God". The more you develop your relationship with your Forever friend, the more revelations you will be made aware of!
The world cannot understand what you will be experiencing and often people will make fun of you. This is completely normal. One cannot understand something he/she has never experienced. If you went into the jungles of Brazil and shared with the natives the wonders of our modern technology, they would think you were completely crazy. Why? Because they have never experienced what you went through, nor have they ever seen what you have seen.
However, no one will be able to persuade you otherwise. "You know Him" and nobody can take that relationship away from you. How do you know Him? "He dwells with you and will be in you."
Notice the following text which describes these truths so eloquently. Notice how it refers to God's Holy Spirit as your "Helper". He is there to help you out, to be your guide, to be your closest friend. He will never lie to you. He just cannot. He is "the Spirit of truth".
John 14:15-18 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." NKJV
The One who lives in you was a witness that Jesus did indeed die on the cross and rose on the third day, bringing victory to all who believe. You will know beyond a doubt the veracity of the gospel, something the world is unable to grasp.
Acts 5:30-32 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." NKJV
It is true that God's Spirit cannot live in someone who deliberately disobeys God and lives a life of iniquity. However you will still stumble from time to time. Just come to Jesus, who is your Advocate.
1 John 2:1 "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." NKJV
The Greek word here for "advocate" is parakletos and also means "comforter". This same word is referring to God's Spirit in John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…" KJV
Now you can understand why the text says "another" comforter. Jesus had been with his disciples for 3 ½ years and was soon going to die, be resurrected and go back to heaven. They would miss Jesus. He had always been their comforter. However another Comforter, God's Holy Spirit would fill their heart.
John 16:7 "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 depart, I will send Him to you." NKJV
One of the biggest advantages of God's Holy Spirit is that everyone who has accepted Jesus can experience Him at the same time. God's Spirit is not limited by time and space like Jesus did while he was on our planet. You had to travel quite a distance to experience Jesus and talk to Him in person. Not so with the Holy Spirit. He lives in us all of the time and you can tap into His power any time to as well as enjoy His fellowship.
John 16:12-15 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." NKJV
You will be able to discern lies from truth as the Holy Spirit will guide you "into all truth". You will know He is God's Spirit as "He will (always) glorify" Jesus.
1 Cor 2:11-12 "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."
Your fellowship with God's Spirit will help you understand God's thoughts. You will experience His love to the fullest.
Rom 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
God's Spirit being our Advocate and Comforter will even intercede on our behalf. He will always be there for us. You will be His friend and He will be your friend.
Zech 4:6 "So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."
Nothing will be impossible to you any longer, as long as you depend on Him.
Question 4: Can the world understand your relationship with God's Holy Spirit? Why or why not?
Question 5: Who can search the "Deep things of God" and share these with you?
Question 6: Will you ever be able to experience a relationship as close as with the Holy Spirit with anyone else? Why or why not?
Enjoy the following true stories about how people have experienced God's Spirit in their life.
A. Hearing the Father Speak (Revelations unknown to men)
"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27
An Englishman tells a true story of his encounter with a Muslim man while walking in the country. The Englishman wanted to share the gospel with this man but knew little of Muslim beliefs. The two men talked as they walked and agreed they would each share their beliefs with one another. The Muslim went first and dominated the time of sharing. The Englishman asked the Holy Spirit how to share his faith with the Muslim man. "Do you consider your god your father who speaks?" Asked the Englishman.
"Certainly not," replied the Muslim man. "That is one of the big differences between your god and my God. I consider my God as my Father who speaks to me personally." "You cannot prove that," stated the Muslim man.
The Englishman again prayed to himself, "Lord, how do I prove this to this man?" A few moments later the two men began walking toward two young ladies on the other side of the road coming toward them. As they approached, the Englishman spoke to the ladies and made small conversation. He then said to one woman, "I believe you are a nurse, is that correct?"
The woman was startled that a man whom she had never met had just informed her of her occupation. "How would you know that? I have never met you before," she questioned. He replied, "I asked my Father and He told me." The Muslim had his proof.
Many of us do not hear God's voice because we do not believe He speaks or desires to speak to us. In order to hear, we must listen. In order to listen, we must believe that He speaks. Ask the Lord today for a listening ear so that others might know that you have a heavenly Father who speaks.
Excerpted with permission from the book TGIF Today God Is First, by Os Hillman, copyright 2000, Destiny Image Publishers, Reprinted by permission. For free daily email subscription to TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations, visit www.marketplaceleaders.org
b. Classic Italian, Dutch
and Witches (Speaking in tongues leading to someone's conversion)
No two people's experience with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is exactly the same for God leads us in individual paths in ways that His name will be glorified. I know of a man who received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit at a FGBMI convention. Prior to his baptism, he was annoyed with a woman seated right in front of him who constantly talked to a man next to her during the time when the guest speaker gave his testimony.
Then the thought came to him, "He doesn't understand English and she is translating for him." From then on he gave his full attention to the speaker. When the praise and worship was in progress he suddenly burst forth in an unknown language, in tongues. After the meeting the man and the woman came up to him. The woman asked him, "Where did you learn to speak fluent classic Italian, because in concise words you gave the same message as the guest speaker?" The Italian man was an unbeliever, but when he discovered that the Holy Spirit was speaking through this brother, he gave his life to Christ and was born again into the Kingdom of God.
The praise and prayer meetings, held prior to the general meetings, were exclusively for members of FGBMI. At those meetings I would ask for prayer to receive the Baptism. Other men would receive, but not me! Yet I longed for this gift which the Lord Jesus promised to all who profess faith in Christ and have been born again. Sometimes I was a bit frustrated through it all, but I kept on knocking. One time I fell under the power of the Holy Spirit during prayer time. Although "slain in the spirit," with my 6'2" glued to the floor, unable to move, yet I was conscious of people around me and was able to hear. I heard Lovell McGuire, who was kneeling beside me praying for me to receive, say, "Albert, I don't want you to fool us by praying in Dutch so that we will think you received the Baptism with tongues!"
There was openness, honesty and an unusual camaraderie among us and there was no kingdom building. We all prayed, worshipped and labored together for one purpose: that God the Father and Jesus Christ would be glorified in all we were doing and that God's Holy Spirit would be poured out in the general meetings in order that people who came would be saved, healed and set free from the bondage of Satan.
De Jong, Albert. Two Soldiers in God's Victorious Army. 2002, p. 24,25.
c. Broken Ankle (Healing provided by God’s Spirit)
I have witnessed miracles of healing as God met with people. In 1980 I was on another of my many journeys into Guatemala. On one occasion my wife, another couple and I were ministering to an elderly lady who had recently been saved. We had gone to her home to share some teaching with her.
Approximately six months earlier this lady had fallen from a stool and severely broken her ankle. As is often the case with the elderly, the fracture was not healing well. Her ankle was still badly swollen and she was in much pain. While we visited with her, the other gentleman and I both sensed that God wanted to heal her ankle-right then.
After sharing this with her and obtaining her agreement, we asked her to prop her leg on a stool. I began to pray, sort of. Has God ever interrupted you? He did me on this occasion. (Oh, that He would always be so "unmannerly!") When I stepped between her and God to effect a meeting, the presence of God came so powerfully into the room that I stopped in mid-stride and midsentence. I had taken one step toward her and uttered one word, "Father."
That's all He needed!
It's as though He was so eager to touch this dear lady that He couldn't wait any longer. I realize that what I'm about to say may sound overly dramatic, but it's exactly what took place.
The presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room so strongly that I froze in my tracks, stopped speaking and began to weep. My wife and the other couple also began to weep. The lady we were ministering to began to weep. Her foot began to bounce up and down on the stool, shaking uncontrollably for several minutes as she had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit-a meeting! The Lord healed her and filled her with His Spirit.
Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, p.52-53. 1996, Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by Permission
d. From Bed to Bed (Healing and witnessign, tools from God’s Holy Spirit)
On the same visit to Guatemala, my wife and I, along with the couple previously mentioned, were asked to pray for a woman hospitalized with tuberculosis. We found her in a ward with approximately 40 other women, the beds being only about three feet apart. It was simply an area in the hospital where the doctors and nurses could attend the very poor. Not even partitions separated the women. And yes, this woman was coughing her tuberculosis all over those around her.
As we talked and prayed with her, we noticed the lady in the next bed observing us closely. When we finished she asked if we would be willing to pray for her. Of course we were glad to and inquired about her need. She pulled her arms out from under the covers and showed us her two hands, curled back toward her body, somewhat frozen in that position. They were totally unusable. Her feet were also the same way.
While in the hospital for back surgery, the doctor had accidentally cut a nerve in her spinal cord, leaving her in this condition. There was nothing they could do to correct the problem.
Compassion filled our hearts as we asked the Lord to meet her need. Nothing noticeable happened, but we encouraged her to trust the Lord and drifted across the room to see if we could share Jesus with anyone else. No hospital employees were present, so we had relative freedom to do as we pleased.
Just as we began to visit with another lady across the room, we heard a sudden commotion and someone screaming, "Milagro! Milagro! Milagro!" We turned to look and saw the lady moving her hands wildly, opening and closing them, wiggling her fingers, kicking her feet under the covers and shouting the Spanish word for miracle. A meeting had taken place!
I don't know who was more surprised-the lady who was healed, the other ladies in the room or me. I hoped for a miracle but I don't think I believed for one. I remember thinking, This sort of thing only happened during Bible days.
The next thing we knew, every woman in the room was begging us to minister to them. We went from bed to bed just like we knew what we were doing-leading women to Christ and praying for their recoveries. I remember thinking, This is wild. Is it real or am I dreaming? We're having revival in a hospital ward! Several were saved, the lady with tuberculosis was also healed and another lady who had been scheduled for exploratory surgery the following morning was instead sent home healed. In general, we just had a good time! We even sang a song or two. Probably shouldn't have because a hospital employee heard us, came to the room and asked us to leave. She left but we didn't. Too many women were begging for prayer. A few minutes later she returned and "graciously" escorted us out of the hospital.
What on earth can turn a sad, hopeless, disease-filled ward into a church service? God! God meeting with people. And prayer meetings create God meetings!
Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, p.53-54. 1996, Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by Permission
e. Do Not Go to Detroit
(Warnings and protection from God's Spirit)
John 16:13 "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come."
March 14, 1995 will be a date my family will never forget.
I didn't know the Lord very well in those days, though I thought I did, but when I went to bed on the night of the 13th, I was overcome with a deep conviction that the trip we had planned for the morrow, to Detroit, Michigan, was completely wrong!
I tried to ignore it, but I heard a voice in my inner being: "Don't go to Detroit. You will have a terrible accident, but no one will be hurt."
Was I becoming insane? What was that voice that I heard? Was I starting to talk to myself? It bothered me the entire night, and in the morning, I told my wife about it. Her response? "Oh! You're just trying to get out of the trip! You NEVER want to go anywhere!" Well, it was partially true that I don't like driving long distances, and her reaction helped me to convince myself that my imagination had been working overtime.
It was about mid-afternoon when it happened. We had already covered over half of the route and were currently just a few kilometers outside of London, Ontario, when the words came vividly back to mind: "You will have a terrible accident, but no one will be hurt."
"How stupid!" I mused. "It's a beautiful, sunny day. There is no way we can be in an accident!"
But no sooner had those words been spoken that three deer emerged from the woods to my right. I was passing a car, but having had previous experience with deer on the road, I tried to slow down. It was too late, however, for one of them had already darted onto the roadway. Before I knew it, it was right in front of me. With a car to my right and a ditch to my left, changing lanes was not an option, and I hit the deer head on. It rolled up onto the hood and banged against the windshield, just in front of the passenger seat, where my wife had just woken up from a nap. Then it bounced up onto the roof off the car and was gone. The windshield was shattered, the front end of the car was completely smashed, and the engine stopped, but our vehicle was still rolling. It was all I could do to pull the car safely onto the left shoulder.
Having been in the driver seat, away from the full impact of the deer's body, I was free of glass. My 2 year-old, was had been strapped into his car seat behind the me, was screaming out of fear, and frantically rubbing his hands all over his face. But miraculously, there wasn't any glass on him, so all of his rubbing and screaming didn't result in any scratches. My wife and 1 month-old baby didn't make out so well, however. My wife was covered with glass shards, which she tried to pick off carefully so as to not be cut. The baby was covered from head to toe with glass shards; but most notably, his little eyelids were literally caked with them. He had been asleep when the calamity struck, and somehow, despite all the noise and commotion, he slept on. This was a real blessing, for had he awoken, he would surely have rubbed his little eyes and could have seriously cut himself.
A truck stopped on the side of the road and called for help, then the driver invited my children and my wife into his cab, where he tried to amuse my 2 year-old with pudding and treats. But what should we do about our baby? We had taken him out of the car and although he was sleeping, he was still covered with glass. If he woke up, he would scratch himself to death, and if we tried to remove the glass, we would probably hurt him, and would also succeed in waking him up, which we didn't want to do! We finally decided to follow the advice of our "Good Samaritan" truck driver, and wait for the ambulance!
It was about half an hour before the police and ambulance arrived. The paramedics seemed to know exactly what to do with glass shards on baby faces, and within minutes, he was clean. Only when all the debris had been removed did he wake up and started to cry.
In the end, neither of my boys or myself had even as much as a scratch. My wife was the only casualty. In trying to get the glass off her face, she had managed to scratch the surface of her skin. We had been spared from this terrible accident. But how?
It's then that I remembered that inner voice that had spoken to me so clearly "Don't go to Detroit. You will have a terrible accident, but no one will be hurt." Was it possible that God had spoken to me though His Holy Spirit? My church didn't believe in this kind of manifestations, but how else could I explain this inner voice? We had been warned and miraculously spared.
When the police officer finished his assessment he came back to me and said "It's a miracle anyone of you are alive!"
I stared at him innocently: "Why?"
"These kinds of accidents frequently happen on this stretch of the highway, but they usually result in disaster," he said. "Just last week a minivan hit a deer like you just did. Its windshield caved in under the impact of the animal, and the deer ended up in the passenger's seat. I don't know why your windshield didn't cave in by the force of the impact. You should have been all dead!"
Shivers ran in the back of my neck. There is no other explanation. God had warned us through His Holy Spirit, and had come through by protecting us from disaster that could have cost all of our lives. Why had He spared us? Did He have special plans for us?
He sure did and He has plans for you as well. His love is unfathomable and His guidance through His Holy Spirit is unbelievable, but true. This accident opened my heart to the promptings of God's Holy Spirit. I had just found out that I have a friend in Jesus.
God does speak though His Spirit. He will never contradict what is written in His Word the Bible. He speaks to you because He loves you and hungers to have a relationship with you. Will you let Him? The choice is yours.
Do you have a trip to make?
f. The Lord has been so good to me! (The Holy Spirit, our Comforter)
Lynette Mohammed has learned to find joy in the midst of life's trials. If you had asked Lynette two years ago who her best friend was, she wouldn't have skipped a beat. It was Boyie, her husband of twenty-four years. The two had met as youngsters in Trinidad, West Indies, and Boyie had been her first and only boyfriend. After they married, the two did everything together. They were the epitome of a couple in love with Jesus and each other.
Boyie and Lynette lived in Brooklyn with their two children, who were in their early twenties. Every day, Boyie went off to work in downtown Manhattan. The view of the city was breathtaking from the ninety-third floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center, where he worked. He was there on September 11, 2001, when both towers collapsed from a terrorist attack.
Both Boyie and Lynette were dedicated followers of Christ and members of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I spoke to Lynette two days after the attack, searching for the right words with which to comfort her. Although Mayor Rudolf Giuliani still held out hope for possible survivors, things looked pretty grim. Lynette had already accepted the fact that her husband would never come home again. She had lost her best friend.
One Sunday Lynette and her daughter stood on the platform together as the entire Brooklyn Tabernacle called on "the God of all comfort" to help our sister and give her consolation. I can still see her with hands lifted and tears running down her cheeks.
Lynette struggled most at night when she was alone in her bedroom. Without Boyie, the house seemed strange, and it was filled with painful reminders. I spoke almost daily with Lynette, and one day I called to find out how she was doing.
"Pastor, thanks for calling," she replied. "The Lord has been so good to me." Her voice and spirit seemed strong and vibrant.
"The other night the most wonderful thing happened. I couldn't sleep, so I went into the living room to spend time with the Lord. I sat in his presence and told him how hard it was to carry on without my husband. Oh Pastor, his Spirit came to me as I was sitting there, and he flooded me with not only peace, but his joy also. I began singing and worshiping God there in my living room as if I was in a sanctuary filled with other Christians. Oh Pastor, God has been so good to me!"
I was stunned. I was the one who had called to encourage Lynette, and here she was, lifting my spirits. The fullness of her joy flooded over into my life, and I praised God for his faithfulness and tender care. Lynette needed all that comfort and more in the months that followed.
Just as she was healing from the tragic loss of 9/11, Lynette was contacted by the city with news that her husband's "body" had been found. This news took Lynette back to a painful time, but she carried on with stamina and a cheerful heart.
To make matters worse, Lynette's grown son had been troubled by deep emotional problems for several years. Though I knew the family was gravely concerned for him, no one anticipated that y he would commit suicide only months after his father's tragic death. Once again Lynette's heart was shattered. But the same God who comforted her after the loss of her husband consoled her again at the loss of her son.
If you visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle, you will find Lynette serving in the hospitality ministry. She is one of the folks who makes the long Sunday schedule easier on the pastoral staff, the musicians, and any special guests present. Though she has an attractive, youthful appearance, her smile is what stands out. Whether serving food or greeting guests, she fulfills, through supernatural grace, the wise word spoken by Moses long ago: "You are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to" (Deuteronomy 12:18).
We need to follow Lynette's example so that we, too, follow the counsel of Scripture. It is not enough to rejoice once a week in church or when our circumstances seem rosy. Like Lynette, we must rejoice in the Lord in everything we put our hands to.
Cymbala, Jim. Break Through Prayer. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003, p. 222-225.
g. Airline Policy (Inner peace provided by God’s Spirit)
The voice on the other end of the line was firm: "I'm sorry, ma'am!" "I am not authorized to release that information to you!"
I slammed my fist into the phone booth in desperation as a lump the size of a grapefruit rose in my throat. This was my last chance, my last hope! I had to know! But all the pent-up emotion of the last 12 hours enveloped me so completely that the only words I could force around the lump were, "But-But . . ."
My quandary had begun at 4 o'clock that morning. A voice on my answering machine filtered through my fogged brain and incorporated itself into my dreams. Even when I finally awoke, my sleepy body refused to respond fast enough to pick up the phone while the caller was still on the line. I pressed the "play" button instead, and it was my brother-in-law's voice that spoke through the recording: "He's gone!"
All traces of sleep instantly vanished. It could only mean one thing!
My father-in-law had been struggling with brain cancer for the past two years. When we had flown to Belgium to see him two months earlier, we had known that he didn't have much time left. But in the early hours of that dark morning, reality was hard to swallow. Why now? Why so soon? Why hadn't we been given the chance to say good-bye? Suddenly there was only one thing that mattered: Flying to Belgium as quickly as possible!
Things are never as simple as they seem, however. Our 12 month-old son was sick. He had never quite recovered from the six-hour time change of our last overseas trip, and he still wasn't sleeping through the night. I couldn't see taking him out of the country again. I couldn't see taking him on an airplane with his ears already so congested. And mostly, I couldn't see further disrupting the poor child's sleep pattern. Besides, a funeral was no place for our fussy son! But what else could we do?
I tried to put it out of my mind as I called my parents in California. They had known and loved my father-in-law. They needed to know he was gone. But my mother's first question dredged the problem back up: "What will you do with the baby?"
"I don't know," I sighed, trying to hide my frustration.
Her reply was calm: "I'll fly out this afternoon to take care of him!"
If my mother had been any closer than three time zones, I would have run all the way to California just to give her a hug!
But now we faced a new dilemma. Our plane for Brussels would leave in the early evening. The earliest flight my mother could get at such short notice wouldn't arrive until three hours later. Who would care for my son until she arrived? I phoned a lady who had done some babysitting for me, and her reassuring voice temporarily lifted my anxiety: "Of course I'll take him until your mother arrives!"
There were still other details. How would we get to the airport, two hours away? How would my mother get to our house? And when she did, how would she find the babysitter's home in order to pick up our son? But these details quickly resolved themselves, too. A member of our youth group volunteered to drive us to the airport, while another friend agreed to take care of my mother's transportation.
It was at this point that I finally realized God was providing for every need, and I set about packing our bags with a lighter heart.
Anxiety didn't set in again until we were on our way to the airport. By this time, my parents had already left for the airport and there was no way to contact them. What if mom missed her flight? What if she got bumped? What if the lady at the desk didn't want to accept her last minute reservation? What if? What if? Though I knew these thoughts were ridiculous, I became obsessed with knowing whether or not my mother had caught her flight.
I couldn't do anything but stew about it for the next two hours, however. The line to check-in seemed to be a mile long, and then we had to pass through the radar checkpoint and find our gate. Surely after all that time dad would be back from the airport! But it was only the answering machine that responded to my call.
In desperation I dialed the number of the airline. I gave the telephone attendant my mother's name and flight number, but all the voice on the other end could say was: "I'm sorry, ma'am! I'm not authorized to release that information to you!"
"But-but . . ." I stammered.
"It's airline policy, ma'am. I'm very sorry!"
"You don't understand!" I nearly screamed, my words stumbling over each other in my rush to get them out. "My father-in-law just passed away! I'm boarding an emergency flight for Brussels in a few minutes! I just left my baby with a stranger until my mother arrives aboard your flight from California. I have to know if she is on that flight!!!!"
Though the lengthy silence on the other end initially fed my panic, it turned out to be sent by God. Without it, I would never have heard the still, small voice: "My God will meet all your needs!" (Phil 4:19) A wave of peace immediately washed over me. "You will, won't You?" I whispered, looking up in the direction of the airport ceiling. Suddenly it no longer mattered whether or not I received my confirmation. God would provide!
That was when the telephone attendant finally broke the silence: "Ma'am," she said, with enough emotion to make me understand that she, too, was a mother. "You can feel comfortable boarding your flight for Brussels!"
Assignment: Take the time to getting to know God’s Holy Spirit. Talk to Him daily and try to listen to His voice. At first you may not even hear Him speak. As you get to know Him personally, you will be able to eventually distinguish His voice. Don’t rush into that relationship. Take the time daily to get to know Him and discover how much you mean to Him. You will discover His unbelievable love for you. No one will ever be able to separate you from His love, unless you let them to. He will be with you forever, as long as you let Him.
Meditate over the following words that were pronounced by Jesus Himself: John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Question 7: How much can we do without Jesus?
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