Monday, January 23, 2012

The Harbinger of Change

     Growing up in Ohio, one of the first signs of spring was the arrival of the robin.  Seeing this red breasted beauty told us that better weather was certainly on its way.   They were always a welcomed sight after many months of cold, snowy weather.
     Here in Florida, we get a visit around this time every year from the migrating birds.  In fact, when we stepped out of our home yesterday, hundreds filled our yard, sat on our roof and made a mess of our cars leaving behind their not so welcome calling cards.  They are attracted to fruit and the berries of the pesky Brazilian pepper tree which grows abundantly around here.  Of course, they are also a harbinger of spring here in the sunshine state.  They are beginning to make their slow migration northward but many will still be around until April.  Its just that we seem to see them every year in January on Serenity Acres.  Their presence is a sign that soon our trees will be budding once again.  In the same way that the Robin announces that a change of seasons is about to come, the Holy Spirit enters our life as believers to bring about God's change in our lives.
Brazilian Pepper Tree
       In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he describes what happens when the veil of unbelief is lifted so that our hearts can be changed (to get the context I encourage you to read all of Chapter 3):  "But their minds were hardened.  For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.  But when one turns to the Lord the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:14-18).  When our hearts were regenerated by God and we responded to His call in Christ, the veil was lifted in our lives, but many of us did not know what change would sweep through our lives.  The robin comes to foretell the change in seasons, but the Spirit comes to bring about that change.  It is a radical change which transforms us into the image of Christ.
     When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He assists us in many different areas for without Him we could not have the renewed mind and heart of Christ.  He acts as our guide and teaches to us all that we need to know and remember.  Jesus said:  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26).  Isn't it good to know that when we forget or lose our way, the Holy Spirit is there to help us remember God's directives for our life?  He helps us recall the Word, and guides us as we go.  This is one big change for us in terms of our communication with God.  The Holy Spirit is our hot line to heaven.
     Secondly, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.  If ever we needed help in this area, we need it today.  There is so much false teaching in our culture that it is hard to hear the truth, but the Spirit of God tunes our ears to hear it.  Jesus said:  "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you (John16:13-15).  How wonderful to know that God's Spirit will reveal to us the truth about our Lord!  He will bring glory and cause us to glorify the Lord in our lives as we follow Him.  This is a change from our lives from the confusion, uncertainty and bondage of the old life we lived.  Truth does, indeed, set us free.
     Another change which the Holy Spirit brings is the conviction of sin in our lives.  Before we were believers, we sinned and never thought much about it.  Now, however, if we transgress against the Lord, our hearts are pricked by the Spirit to repent and turn again to God.  In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he warns us to avoid sins and adds:  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).  When we sin, we grieve the Spirit and our once stony hearts are aware of it because God has given us a new heart.  It is like disappointing a parent whom we love.  We know when we have let them down and we want to make amends.  This is the picture of our new relationship with God and a change in our lives from the unconcerned, selfish person we once were to the heart tender believer we are today as the Spirit works this into our lives.
     Finally, the Spirit produces fruit in our lives in contrast to the works of our flesh as outlined in Galatians 5:19-23.  This fruit is sweet, nourishing to our soul and to the souls of others around us.  It is not bitter, harmful or destructive as the works of our flesh.  Paul concludes this passage in his letter to the Church at Galatia by writing:  "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:24-25).  Indeed, we must walk by the Spirit if we want the fruit to mature in our hearts.  We cannot live the Christian life on our own steam.  This is why God sealed us with the Holy Spirit.  Not only does this prove that we belong to Him, but the Spirit enables us to change.
      These changes brought about by the Holy Spirit truly make us a new person from the inside out.  Our lives are now being transformed.  As we read the Word, the Spirit is there to teach us.  As we pray, the Spirit is there to intercede for us when we do not know what to say.  As we interact with others, the Spirit is there to guard us, teach us what to say, and help us to glorify God.  Unlike the beautiful red-breasted robins that come to visit us each year but move on, the Holy Spirit comes to stay when we give our lives to Christ.  He is the harbinger of change, and the One who completes it in us.  How great is our Lord to send us this Helper, Counselor, and Comforter.  May we never forget to thank God for this precious gift of the Spirit who comes to make us more like Jesus.  Selah!

Please leave your thoughts here.  I welcome them and I know they encourage others as well.  Blessings and thank you for stopping by.


Christina said...

Amen! While studying for "Irresistible Grace" I came to appreciate the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. He leads us and keeps us! Bless God for the faithful Holy Spirit!

Barbara Thayer said...

Amen Christina. I need a guide in my life every day. Without His blessed presence, I could never walk the walk. God is good isn't He? He knew what we would need. Blessings!