Teaching at the Tree is communicated in a practical, easy to understand way that is relevant to your everyday life. It’s not religious jargon, just the truth of God’s word presented in a loving and challenging way.
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Recently, I went to a conference and heard a quote from Charles Stanley, “Obey God and leave the consequences to Him.” That really is the way we should follow the Holy Spirit, but so many times we input our human understanding into what He is asking us to do. For instance, God asks you to pray for someone, but you argue in your head you will just pray for them on your way home. The thing is, He didn’t ask you to do it on the way home. He wanted you to do it in that moment. You don’t know what was going on in that person’s day, who was watching and would have their faith expanded, or if it was just for you to be obedient. The Holy Spirit will never ask you to do something against God or the Bible. If it is against God or the Bible, then it is not Him.
I was running and listening to a sermon. I ran past this bridge and felt like the Holy Spirit pricked my heart to pray for the lady on the bridge. I had one of those moments; “Holy Spirit, I will just pray for her as I am running.” I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to do it in that moment. So, I turned around and did. I felt excited to trust and obey what the Holy Spirit called me to do.
I have had moments in my own life when I needed someone to pray for me because I was in the middle of something stressful and exhausting. Then one of my good friends randomly texted me, “You have been on my heart, I am praying for you today.” That was exactly what I needed. There are so many other things He has done because I have learned to follow Him in my life. There are times when I don’t listen, and I know better. That is when I ask for forgiveness and start over the next day.
The Holy Spirit was left for us as a guide through our lives, to comfort us when we are sad, and to help us when we need it.
Father, this week I ask you to be with us as we learn to follow your Holy Spirit and trust what He has called us to do.
“But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you (John 14:26 AMP).”
John 16:12-14 (ESV)
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 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.”
If you ever wonder how Jesus would handle a situation, look to the Holy Spirit inside of you. If you ever wonder how Jesus views your sin, look to the Spirit inside of you. If you ever need reminded about who Jesus is and who you are in Jesus, look to the Holy Spirit inside of you. We discovered last week that Jesus always pointed to the Father in His actions and teachings. The Holy Spirit is no different. He too is so aligned with the heart of the Father and the purpose of Jesus that we can look to Him for anything we need. He will guide us the same as if Jesus Himself were guiding us.
In today’s reading, we see the Holy Spirit referred to by Jesus as the “Spirit of truth.” The truth that resides in the heart of the Father also resides in the Spirit. He speaks directly to us about the concerns and cares of the Father’s heart. When we surrender and trust the Holy Spirit to lead us, He will lead us in truth…the truth of what matters most to the Father, the truth about what is best for our lives, the truth about how we are loved, the truth about what’s in store for those who are disciples of Jesus. My friends, we need these truths to guide us. We are reckless sheep without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let His truths lead you; let Him tell your heart the very things that are in the Father’s heart for you and for His kingdom.
John 16:7-11 (ESV)
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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Jesus communicates to His disciples that the Holy Spirit is more advantageous for them, because Jesus in His physical human body was limited by just that, His physical human body. In His human form, Jesus was not able to provide all that the Holy Spirit was amazingly able to provide. Jesus names a few capabilities of the Holy Spirit in today’s reading, but this is only a drop in the bucket of all the Holy Spirit can provide for the life of someone who surrenders to His power.
The generosity of Jesus to die for our sins was an unfathomable and undeserving gift, but His generosity did not stop there. He left His disciples (and us) with the VERY Spirit of God. Yes, the VERY Spirit of God lives and dwells inside of those who receive Him! As we read today, the Holy Spirit draws us into relationship with the Father God. Once we’re in that relationship, the Holy Spirit helps us to prosper in a condition that would, without Him, leave us hopeless, powerless, and devastated.
John 14:15-17, 25-26 (NLT)
If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
Christianity is a matter of obeying a person. It is not law; it is love for the kindest, most generous, most powerful, most loving person in the universe. Everything centers in Jesus, and how to please and know Him.
These verses are a conversation Jesus is having with the disciples, and now the Lord turns their attention to the devastating fact that He is going away. The disciples aren’t to be alarmed because Jesus is going to send them another Helper (Advocate). Jesus explains this Helper has been with them, but after Jesus leaves, the Helper will be inside them, forever. He will never leave. (This happened on the Day of Pentecost.)
In His capacity as Helper, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence with us, in us.
The Lord had revealed many remarkable things to these men in His time with them, but by the nature of the questions they were asking, it was evident how little they had grasped. When the Holy Spirit would come, He would complete the revelation and confirm what had already been revealed.
It was so tender of God to know we would be in constant need of help. It is like getting to always take the test with our notes and book open. He wants us to succeed. Yes, we have to keep His commandments, but He has provided a Helper to keep leading us and empowering us!
There are stipulations for receiving this help. We must be in relationship with Jesus, we must ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, and we must always be looking for Him and recognize Him. Jesus sets us up for success by giving us lifetime help from the Holy Spirit...God on earth.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Before Jesus’s sacrifice, the law that God established required that a cleansed high priest step into a location in the temple of God called the Holy of Holies. The priest stepped through a veil, into the presence of God, where He offered up the blood of a sacrifice for the sins of the people. This sacrifice meant their sins would be forgiven by God. This is a very shortened explanation of this act, but it gives you a general picture of what today’s reading is essentially about. However, the writer of Hebrews does a marvelous job of clarifying for us and the Hebrew audience he was writing to, the remarkable change that occurred when Jesus fulfilled the law, once for all, in His sacrifice on the cross. As we read, His sacrifice was better than any sacrifice ever offered because it came with the relational investment on Jesus’s part to remain our great high priest forever. Jesus now speaks to God on our behalf. When He speaks, it is not based on anything we have done…He tells the Father that He, in love, has taken away our sin. In turn, we receive mercy from the Father.
As you have read and studied all week, together the Father and the Son have created an indestructible plan that now allows us, the undeserving, to approach God whenever we need forgiveness. We don’t approach him in uncertainty, but in confidence that we are going to be met with complete love and grace. Oh, how blessed we are, my friends, to have such confidence. Walk freely in it today.