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The Holy Spirit and You
June 4, 2023

First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

JOHN 14:15-17

Jesus told the disciples the night before he died that God would send a counselor, a helper, an advocate who is called the Holy Spirit.  Today is Trinity Sunday. We know God as Father or Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. What does the Holy Spirit do? 

1) The Holy Spirit is the feminine side of God. We commonly refer to God as masculine but it might surprise you to learn that God is also feminine. In Luke 13:34, God says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” The Holy Spirit is the mothering side of God, the feminine side. The Holy Spirit mothers you, comforts, reassures, encourages you. Think of a mother holding you, hugging you to her bosom, protecting you, forgiving you, encouraging you, whispering, "It's okay. You can make it now. You can do it. I'll be with you." 

2) The Holy Spirit heals, puts lives back together, puts marriages back together, puts the body and mind back together. The Holy Spirit meets your deepest needs. 

At the very tender, vulnerable age of 13, James overheard his mother, in a moment of exuberance, say to his father, "I'm so proud of Clay. He's the finest son we have." James was crushed, convinced that his mother loved his brother, Clay, more than she loved him. A door slammed shut between his mother and him. 25 years later James was still struggling with the closed door. So firmly had the door been slammed and padlocked, so deep was the alienation from his mother and the feeling of inferiority towards himself, James had difficulty relating not only with his mother but with all women. 

Then, the Holy Spirit broken through and according to Catherine Marshal in her book, The Helper, God said to James: “Let me show you something about those kinds of doors...None of them are real. Once a door like that is bathed in the blood of Jesus, it disintegrates. True, it may look as if it is still there, but it's only in your imagination. I have set you free.” 

James was healed. He rebuilt the relationship with his mother, as well as his feelings about himself.

The Holy Spirit heals, and often heals through intercessory prayer. Some wonder how to intercede and pray for others. One method is to visualize the person for whom you are praying surrounded by the healing light of Christ. When you don't personally know the person, visualize their name surrounded by the healing light. You don't have to use words; just hold them in God's presence.

When we pray together as a congregation, the Holy Spirit combines our spirits, our energy, with the Holy Spirit and focuses all the combined power on the need. There is also power when we pray in groups. I am issuing a Call to Prayer, a call for each of you to pray for our church in a group with others. Every Thursday at 1:00pm, beginning this coming Thursday, in the Wesley Room, please come as you are able. You will not need to pray out loud. There is power when believers pray together. Let’s undergird our church’s future with prayer.

3) In fact, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray. Romans 8:26, "The Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Can’t an omnipotent, all-powerful God heal, meet our needs, without our praying? After all, doesn't God know what we need  before we ask? Yes, but God has given us free will. God rarely enters where not invited. Sometimes God crashes through, but God rarely acts when not asked. 

But, God doesn't leave us entirely to our own resources. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray, and even does our praying for us when we can't. When you find it difficult to pray, ask the Holy Spirit, lean on the Spirit, wait on the Lord, and you will be shown what is blocking your prayer. Sometimes you want to be in control. Sometimes you don’t trust the Holy Spirit. Sometimes there is resentment, bitterness, or anger blocking the Spirit, or there is unconfessed sin, something you need to admit, confess, and receive forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit teach you. Wait on the Lord. Ask for insight. Ask for direction. Take everything to God in prayer. Lay your concerns on the Lord, give them to God, let the Holy Spirit take over.

4) The Holy Spirit gives gifts and fruits. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists some of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives, but not all to any one person. We each have different gifts that we are called to use in God's work as part of the body of Christ. Which is your gift? Wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, faith, hope and love which is the greatest gift of all, according to Paul. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit. When you receive the Spirit, you will see evidence of growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

5) The Holy Spirit sets you apart, consecrates you, makes it possible for you to belong to God wholly, without reservation, without restraint. The Holy Spirit makes you a spirited Christian, full of life and vitality. The Holy Spirit makes you an inspired Christian, undaunted, unafraid, able to handle whatever happens to you. 

The Holy Spirit powers you by mothering, healing, helping you pray, giving you gifts and fruits powering you to be a disciple and do God’s work.

Have you asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit? Have you asked God to make you, wholly and completely, a child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ? Come to God’s table and ask.

© 2023 Douglas I. Norris