We are going to take a dramatic pivot this week. Instead of focusing on the ‘why’, we are going to spend a couple weeks talking about the ‘how’s’. I don’t know about you, but I would love to know how to have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I would love to know how to consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4). I would love to know how to truly cast all my worries on the lord because he loves me (1 Peter 5:7). I would love to know how to have hope in the Lord (Psalm 71:14).
Those are nice ideas, but how do we do those things?
The Holy Spirit.
Before we get into the specific verses, we must recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in all of our ‘hows’.
I have become a bit obsessed with the role of the Holy Spirit these past couple years. I have followed Jesus my whole life. I have learned about, taught about and even prayed to the Holy Spirit for as long as I can remember. But only in the last couple years have I begun to understand the Holy Spirit’s purpose and power in my life today.
I came across John 16.
Jesus, as he is speaking to his disciples in John 16:7, says “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
Okay, I have read this section of scripture tons of times in my life, how have I missed its significance? Jesus said it was better if he goes?!? Can you imagine what the disciples were feeling at this point? Why would Jesus say that?
Jesus uses several names when he references the Holy Spirit. In this context he is referring to the Holy Spirit as the Advocate. I looked up the word Advocate and the simple way to describe what it means is “One that walks alongside.”
I started to see.
Jesus came to earth in human form. He submitted to the boundaries of a body. Jesus can only be in one place at a time. But the Holy Spirit is different. It is boundless. The Holy Spirit can be anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Jesus is saying to his disciples, it is better for me to go, because I am only one man – I can only be in one place. But if I go, I will send one who will walk alongside each one of you. I will send my spirit who has no bounds and who will live in you and alongside you, guiding you the whole way.
That is a powerful concept, one that demands our attention. Jesus said it was better for him to go. He has sent someone to walk alongside you. To live among you. He’s given you the Spirit of God, the one who came to make dry bones dance…sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me explain.
There is a powerful story in Ezekiel about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. In Ezekiel 37 God gives Ezekiel a vision. In it, God sent Ezekiel to a valley that was full of dry bones and asked Ezekiel if the bones were alive. Being the smart man Ezekiel is, he replied with reverence, acknowledging that only God knows. God continued to talk to Ezekiel and told Ezekiel to tell the bones to come to life. God tells Ezekiel he would attach tendons and muscles. He will give the dry bones flesh and breath. Reluctantly I’m sure, Ezekiel repeated to the bones (Yup, I said it, Ezekiel was talking to the bones) what God had spoken to him. And to Ezekiel’s surprise, It happened. Tendons, muscles and flesh appeared. Skin covered the bones and they had breath. They stood up. They could dance.
God gave Ezekiel this vision to share it to God’s people as a promise of restoration.
A promise of what the Spirit of God can do.
He can make dry bones dance.
Ephesians 1:13 says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”
What that passage is saying is, once we choose to believe in Jesus, we are given the Holy Spirit. If you are following Jesus, the Holy Spirit is already walking alongside you. The Spirit of God that makes dry bones dance is with you.
It’s only through the kind of power that makes dry bones dance that we are able to have peace that passess all understanding. Only the Holy Spirit enables us to have joy no matter how hard things become. Not until we tap into the Holy Spirit’s power are we able to bring all our worries to Jesus. It’s through the Holy Spirit that we have hope no matter how hopeless things may seem.
The confusing piece is that while I have chosen to follow Jesus, I sure don’t possess all those qualities – how about you? I don’t feel peaceful most of the time. I have a hard time finding joy. I still worry a lot and especially right now I’m struggling to find hope.
So how do we go from having access to those things, to possessing them?
It’s time to unleash the Holy Spirit.
This week I am going to be posting daily thoughts and journal prompts based on this post. Make sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss anything!