Happy Resurrection Day, church! Today, in what is traditionally called “Easter” but what I like to call “Resurrection Day,” is the most significant day of Christianity. You could say that it is the “Super Bowl” of Christianity! And the good news is that we are on the winning team every time! Yes, we are always victorious in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we have every reason to celebrate today! Amen?
Friends, as important as the birth of Christ is and as important as the Cross of Christ is, if it were not for the Resurrection of Christ, our faith would be for naught and we would still be lost in sin (First Corinthians 15:17). This is why this day is the single most significant day for us Christians.
Now, of course, these other two days—His birth (Christmas) and the Cross (Good Friday)—were absolutely necessary for what God desired to accomplish for us. However, if Jesus would have just been born and even would have gone to the Cross, our faith would be futile. There had to be a resurrection!
Yes, in order for you and I to be born again, children of God, we must believe in the resurrection of Christ! This is why I like to say that you cannot be a Christian and not believe in miracles. It is because in order to become a Christian, you had to believe that a Man was raised from the dead. Amen.
But the best part of the Resurrection is that Jesus did not just rise from the dead Himself, but He was made alive so that we could live to. Yes, He indeed is risen, and because He is risen, we can be risen too! Because He lives, we can live also! This is the power of His resurrection!
Did you know that there are some very practical lessons that we can learn from Jesus’ resurrection? Yes, there are things we can learn from how Jesus Himself approached His resurrection and how He “believed” for it. Yes, like you and I are to believe for our miracle, Jesus actually believed for His resurrection! Let me explain:
In John 2:18-22, He boldly proclaimed to those Jews who asked Him for a sign that authorizes Him to do the things He did, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up!” (Now this will become important momentarily, but His resurrection was meant to be the sign.) In John 10:17-18, He described how He had both the power to lay His life down and to take it up.
These verses show us that not only did Jesus know of His death and resurrection, but He believed the power had been given to Him to raise Himself up. Now you could argue that He was speaking prophetically here; therefore, it was the Father speaking these words. Either way, He spoke as being the One who would take His body and raise it up again. Therefore, what we can take away from this is that the authority over our bodies experiencing the life of God is in our control because we are to be following Jesus’ example, amen? Just as we have the authority to lay it down—maybe through poor natural choices, such as abusing it with poor dieting, no exercise, etc.—we also have the authority to take it up through taking command of it, washing it with the water of the Word, etc. So, Jesus had an obvious part to play in experiencing His resurrection as we do as well. Amen?
You see, the Lord gave His covenant people the right to choose between life and death, blessing and cursing. We are told in Deuteronomy 30:19— “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Amen! Now it is noteworthy that He calls heaven and earth as a witness before them because this is a disputable issue and God wanted to make sure that this seemingly unbelievable truth that He has given us the ability to choose was confirmed in multiple witnesses.
Even the apostle Paul made the statement that he had the power to choose to live. Let’s look at some of the things he said concerning this: In Philippians 1:19-26 Paul was talking about his current imprisonment and in verse 19 he begins by saying, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance…”
Now these words “turn out” literally mean in the Greek language to go “out and up.” Friends, we can be confident that God wants us to go out and up every time! Hallelujah! But notice how Paul was so confident of God’s deliverance. Again, he knew that even in this situation, that He was going to go “out and up” and be delivered.
But now notice verses 21-22: Paul begins to describe the options of both life and death and then he ends up telling them, “yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.” Did Paul really have a choice between dying through this current sentence he was serving or living through his deliverance? Apparently, he did.
And this element of choice is much more critical than most of us realize. Have you ever noticed that when someone loses their will to live that they go soon thereafter? You hear of those stories of people fighting through certain sicknesses and diseases and winning but then you hear of those who maybe lose a spouse of many decades and then they soon follow them. Well, that is generally because they lose the will to live because of their lost loved one. For example, you can see how when one spouse precedes the other, and then the one left behind loses their purpose, joy, and desire to continue living apart from their deceased mate that they soon follow them. I believe that the reason for this is because they, in essence, “choose” death. They might not consciously admit that this is what they want, but in their heart of hearts, they are choosing not to live. Therefore, our will (or, desire) to live is so, super important. We must want to live this long and satisfying life and then choose it through a fighting spirit to finish our race.
So, the first step to receiving our resurrection is by first understanding that the authority is in our hands to do so. Then, with that fighting spirit and will to live, we choose the life God said is ours. Amen!
SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING
This is what the Bible calls having the spirit of faith. And it is critical that we understand that we must first believe in this resurrection and then we will see it, not the other way around.
I recently had a conversation with an atheist and he kept wanting me to prove to him that God was real. He would say things like— “Do you expect me to just believe?” And the answer is—YES! God expects all of us to believe without seeing. But the world says, “seeing is believing.” No, that is not true. Seeing is seeing; it’s not believing. For we walk by faith and not by sight. So, if we are walking by sight, what are we not walking by? Faith!
Now there are those who seek after signs, but the Lord said an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs in Matthew 12:38-40. In this Scripture, Jesus used the example of Jonah being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish (i.e. whale) to describe how He would be three days and nights in the heart of the earth before His subsequent resurrection. But I want you to notice that this was given is response to the scribes and Pharisees clamoring for a sign from Jesus. In other words, they wanted to see and experience something supernatural to validate Him.
This reminds me of the story of the rich man & Lazarus in Luke chapter 16: While being in torment in Hades, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his family’s house to testify to them. But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (verse 29). In other words, Abraham was saying, “They have the Word. They need to hear it!” But the rich man responded—“No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (verse 30). But Abraham’s response here is very telling: He said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (verse 31). So, the lesson here is that even the greatest signs and wonders such as someone being raised from the dead will not cause people to believe. The only thing that breeds faith is hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). You see, faith does not come by seeing signs and wonders, miracles, supernatural manifestations, etc. Faith comes by hearing the Word. And hearing the Word once a week in a pew is not enough. We must spend time on our own in the Word and take it to heart and apply it to our life.
I remember vividly one of the first revelations God ever gave me: I was on my first fast in a Sunday school class and the teacher was reading about the children of Israel in the wilderness and commenting on how they kept being filled with unbelief even in the midst of seeing such supernatural signs and wonders and acts of God’s faithfulness and provision. This is quite amazing! I mean, they saw all the plagues come upon the Egyptians. They saw the parting of the Red Sea. They were supernaturally fed manna from heaven. They were led around the desert by cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They saw all of these amazing and spectacular signs, yet they had little faith. Then the teacher stopped and said—“How could they stay so faithless when they saw the things they saw?” Then the Lord spoke in my heart and I just blurted it out- “It is because faith does not come by seeing miracles; faith comes by hearing the Word!” You see, the reason the children of Israel were so wishy washy was because they did not allow themselves to hear the Word of God given to them through Moses. And because they did not hear Moses, they were weak in faith. If only they would have heeded the words that were spoken through Moses, they would have had faith come into their hearts and, therefore, they would have come into the promised land and possessed their inheritance.
We see this same issue in the ministry of Jesus: Sure, there were great multitudes who came to Jesus who received the healing, freedom, and ministry that they needed, but there were also those who came to hear Jesus but never received anything from Him—namely, the religious leaders. They came to “hear” Him but they really did not have ears to hear Him. You see, a lot of believers think that if the anointing is strong enough and God’s presence is manifested enough, people will automatically have their needs met, etc. This is simply not true. You could not get any more anointed than Jesus and I can guarantee you that God’s presence was greatly manifested in His meetings, but not all of those who came to Him received what they needed. He certainly healed all who came to Him in faith, but many of those who did not come in faith did not get healed.
But the fact is that faith does not come by signs and wonders, for we walk by faith and not by sight. If we are seeing it, we cannot believe it any longer. We see this also in the example of Doubting Thomas & Jesus’ Resurrection in John chapter 20. We know the story. Thomas wanted proof of His resurrection, and Jesus said to him— “Blessed are those who believe who have not seen!” (John 20:29). Just as it is with Jesus’ resurrection, you don’t need a sign; you only need believe in what is written! Likewise, we don’t need manifestations and signs to believe; we just need to truly hear the Word and let it spawn faith in our hearts.
For example, there are many who want God to prove His love for them, basing His love for us on their circumstances. Saints, the only proof we need that God loves each and every one of us is the fact that He gave us His Son. The disciple whom Jesus loved said that this is the manifestation of God’s love for us (see First John 4:9). It’s not our circumstances or our situation. It’s the Cross, and the Cross alone. Likewise, the only proof we need that God will work a miracle for us and that we can receive our resurrection is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. Amen?
In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, I would venture to say that just about none of us have seen the Lord in His glorified, resurrected body. Yet, we believe! And what was the result? We experienced our salvation and were born again. Yes, the gospel of Christ was proclaimed to us, we believed it, and we experienced the fruit of it. It is like that with everything in God’s kingdom—the Word is sown in our hearts and then the fruit comes.
THE FRIEND OF THE FATHER
Now it is not simply hearing a bunch of Bible teachings, etc. It is about having ears to hear the Scriptures. Yes, our hearts need to be open to the Word. And like Jesus fellowshipped with His Father, spent time in His presence, and listened to His voice, he also received His Sayings. In other words, Jesus was a friend of His Father—thereby receiving rhema from Him.
A good parallel to this is the example of Abraham—the friend of God and one who certainly came to know God personally and experientially—being asked by the Lord to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Now if you watch many theatrical portrayals of this story, you will see Abraham struggling to obey God in this. This simply comes from what these film producers & directors could relate to, but I don’t believe Abraham approached this in fear, doubt and unbelief. The writers of Hebrews tell us the opposite was the case. Hebrews 11:7-9 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
So, notice that Abraham offered up Isaac by faith. Now when one does something by faith, this does not mean that they do it blindly and unknowingly. Trust might do that, but not faith. No, faith knows and sees. What makes it faith is that it knows based on what it knows is a reality in the spirit realm. Yes, it sees what is in the spirit realm. And because it knows and sees the truth, it rejoices, has peace, and is confident and fully persuaded. And this is exactly what Abraham was doing here.
Verse 8 shows us that he had received promises from God—namely, the one that said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” So, Abraham already had the Lord tell him that Isaac was the son of promise and his seed would come through him. Therefore, Abraham knew that this, what seemed to be an apparent change of plans, had to simply be that God would raise Isaac from the dead. We see this in verse 19 when we are told that Abraham concluded that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Abraham knew how to walk by faith. He was a friend of God. He spent time with God. When we do that, the logos (written) Word becomes the rhema (revealed) Word. So, what happened here was God had already told Abraham that in Isaac his seed would be called, and then since God asked him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice, he just figured God would raise him from the dead because He knew God couldn’t lie. That's faith! That's a man that knows his God and what to expect from Him.
So, I can see Jesus following this same pattern. He knew what His Father had shown Him. He clearly knew that He would be asked to lay His life down and then would be raised up three days later. Therefore, when God asked Him to drink from the cup of the Cross. He willingly submitted to His Father’s will—knowing by faith that He would be raised up. Amen.
IT IS WELL!
But Jesus didn’t just keep His faith to Himself; He made His faith known—even to the point that His reputation was of declaring that He would experience a resurrection. We see this in Matthew 27:62-64 where Jesus' predictions of his crucifixion and resurrection were obviously common knowledge. And these predictions of His resurrection by Jesus were of such common knowledge that it led the religious rulers to ask Pontius Pilate to secure the tomb. Let’s look at some of them:
Notice how Jesus began to show them things concerning His resurrection in the Gospel of Matthew. Now it is important to understand that Matthew’s Gospel is commonly known to be written to the Jews—to help them to believe on their Messiah. Therefore, the following statements Jesus made regarding His resurrection were important to their believing in Him. But this is also the reason why He knew and attempted to prepare His disciples:
So, what are we seeing here? First of all, it is that Jesus knew of His death, burial and resurrection! How? His Father had shown Him and He was convinced and persuaded of it. We also see and can learn that because He was so persuaded of it, He repeatedly spoke of it. Therefore, He affirmed it to others. Now you only do this when you are convinced of something.
So, our lesson here is: It is imperative that we commune with our Heavenly Father until we know we have heard from Him, until the Scriptures have been opened up to us, until the truth has made us free. Then once we let those truths live in our heart, they will repeatedly come out of our mouth.
Now this reminds me of the story in Second Kings chapter four of the Prophet Elisha & the Shunammite woman (see Second Kings 4:8-37). You know the story: This noble woman desired to honor the man of God when he would pass by, so she asked her husband if they could have a room prepared for him. So, after taking such good care of Elisha, the prophet asked this woman what he could do for her to return the favor. And it was told him that she had no son. So, Elisha declared over her that within twelve months she would have a son, which obviously came to pass.
But then after the child had grown, in the process of events, he died. And after he died in his mother’s arms, she took and laid him in the man of God’s room and shut the door. Then she requested of her husband—who was obviously unaware that his son had died—that she be given the means to go visit Elisha. And when the husband inquired as to why she needed to go see him, her response was— “It is well.” Even when the servant of Elisha was sent to ask her if all was well, still her confession was “It is well.”
Now what I just love about this response is that it comes from the Hebrew word shalom. And while this word is commonly known to mean “peace,” it means so much more than this. This word means “completeness, soundness, health, prosperity, safety & welfare.” Some expositors say it means “nothing missing & nothing broken.” So, in essence, this woman would only respond when asked if everything was okay with “Nothings missing and nothings broken!”
And do you know why this is important to do sometimes? It is because even good, well-meaning people can hurt your faith. They might say, “Oh, you need to hurry up and do this or do that!” when that is not what the Lord thinks you should do. So, avoiding those who might try to talk you out of your “resurrection” is imperative.
We also see this in the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead: In this account, the room was filled with friends and family who were mourning over her. So, what did Jesus do? He kicked them out! You see, sometimes you gotta kick the unbelief out—that is, block out all that would hinder you receiving your miracle. Now your friends & family might not like it, but would you rather have their approval or your resurrection? Amen? You see, there is no room for doubt and unbelief in the resurrection room. And we see this again in the story of the Syrophoenician woman, who was very bold and persistent in pressing for her miracle, even when it wasn't yet time for Jesus to minister to the gentiles. So press through and MAKE it the timing of God.
So, after this woman only responded like so, when she got to Elisha, she threw herself on him and declared that she would not leave him. So, he came with her. And guess what happened? She received her resurrection!
So, this Shunammite woman received her son’s resurrection because she knew how to block out the unbelief and she only said what she wanted to see. And we see the same with Jesus. Even when Peter tried to talk him out of all this “I’m going to die and be raised from the dead” talk, Jesus responded strongly with “Get behind me, Satan!” (see Matthew 16:22-23). Now why did Jesus respond so strongly to Peter’s words here? I believe it was because He was already being tempted, and Satan was now using the voice of one of His closest friends—teaching us that if we are going walk in everything God has for us, we are going to have to quench all of those fiery darts that the devil throws our way, including the ones from those closest to us.
So, church, use your words to both resist the devil and to create the atmosphere for your miracle. Romans 10:9-10 teaches us that this believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth is how salvation is received. And salvation is more than just going to heaven; it includes experiencing heaven on earth. Yes, because we believe in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead, we must also believe in our hearts that the Lord will raise our lives from the dead. But we must also confess it—for with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:10 that we ought to know the power of His resurrection! Well, Proverbs 18:21 shows us that life and death are in the power of the tongue! So, guess what? The power of His resurrection is in our tongues! We just have to start speaking it! We receive His resurrection by choosing it. We hide God's Word in our heart, and let it come out of our mouth.
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!
Along those lines of Jesus being tempted, we see in the Garden of Gethsemane how Jesus, like all of us, had that moment where He was struggling in His faith (see Matthew 26:36-46). And it is noteworthy that His greatest moment of struggle was soon before the manifestation of what He was believing for.
Did you know that this is generally how it happens? When things get the darkest—when there is the most adversity—is usually right before the miracle. And that was exactly the case with Jesus here. In just a few days, His joy would be made full.
The Bible teaches us that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, and is now sitting at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). This Scripture teaches us that Jesus took up His cross in exchange for the joy that He would experience afterwards. In other words, Jesus traded His life on the Cross for the joy that He would receive as a result of laying down His life. Of course, this does not mean that the joy necessarily came while He was hanging on that Cross. There was indeed pain and suffering involved in His crucifixion. But, praise the Lord, joy indeed came in the morning of that third day! On that great and glorious Day, He tasted the resurrection life of God and His joy was fulfilled! Glory!
And this is how it works, church: Our resurrections occur after we have laid down our life. It won’t necessarily come in the “evening”—that is, when we are having to make those tough decisions involved in laying our life down. For example, if we feel led to give our nest egg away, our flesh might start kicking and screaming. Then, even after we decide to die to our ourselves and release that money, our flesh might still be in mourning. But the good news is this—joy always comes in the morning (see Psalm 30:5). Yes, there will be an eventual joy that will flood our hearts because we have operated according to this spiritual principle of how the Kingdom of God works.
HUMILITY = RESURRECTION
So, what did Jesus do during this difficult time? He prayed, He prayed and He prayed. He went back to the thing that produced His initial confidence—fellowship with His Father. In other words, He pressed through the pain and into His presence. He even said, “Not my will, but your will be done”—which encapsulates His heart of humility.
Jesus’ becoming a servant to His creation wasn’t the height of Jesus’ humble attitude. The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:8 that Christ not only lowered Himself and became a servant to His creation, but was also obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Wow! What we see here is that Jesus willingly lowered Himself from being Jehovah Elyon—the Most High Himself—to the “most low” here on the earth.
Saints, there was no greater humiliation for the Lord Jesus Christ than His crucifixion. Aside from the shame and the physical suffering, we cannot even fathom the depths that He went to, spiritually, for us. Yes, when Jesus took up that Cross, He laid down His life more than any man ever has. But here is the awesome part: Notice the end result of Jesus coming from heaven to earth and from the best of lives to the worst of deaths. The apostle Paul said that it all resulted in God highly exalting Him and giving Him the name above every name. So, the end result of His humiliation was His exaltation and being given the name that every knee will bow to and every tongue will confess (Philippians 2:9-11)! Glory to Jesus! Yes, He lowered Himself, which resulted in God raising Him up to the highest place.
So, here is the point we need to get: When one chooses to lay their life down for the Kingdom of God, the reward is always exaltation. And this exaltation is not just honor and reward; it includes joy and happiness too. As it was said concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, He was anointed with the oil of gladness more than His companions (see Hebrews 1:9). And I believe He had this joy enveloping Him more than any other man because no one had laid their life down for the Kingdom of God any more than He did. Therefore, no one was capable of walking in the kind of joy that He did. Glory to the name of Jesus!
Church, when we learn to serve like our Lord and humble ourselves to this extent, our joy will never diminish. On the contrary, our joy will stay full. The Lord also said in John 15:9-13 that when we learn to walk in the love of God, our joy will be full. Saints, our joy will never be any fuller than when we learn to empty ourselves. Yes, our joy and contentment will be at its pinnacle when we are completely void of self—all of the selfishness, self-centeredness and self-promotion. Again, this is just how God’s Kingdom operates, which is the opposite of the world’s way of thinking. So, let this mind be in you today and choose the joy that comes by taking up your cross.
Church, I believe the Lord is calling us—Christ’s disciples—to emulate our Master. Not just in the laying down of His life, but also in His resurrection! Yes, He wants you and I to experience His life and for us to “Arise!”
This was the word I heard this week in preparing for today’s “Easter” message— “Arise!” Yes, I believe the Lord wills for each and every one of us to arise from our dead situation and receive the power of His resurrection. It might be in your physical body. It might be in a relationship in your life. It could be your finances. It simply might be in your spiritual life. I believe the Lord would say to you today— “Arise, shine; For your light has come. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
You see, God has given us the ability choose to live and not die and declare the works of the Lord! Hmmm, sounds like that’s in the Bible somewhere. It is! Psalm 118:17 boldly states— “I will not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord!” Glory to God!
Church, we can take words like this and believe God that the thing in our life that is seemingly dead can “Arise!” So, it doesn’t matter how hopeless, bleak or dark our situation might seem. God specializes in giving life to the dead. In fact, it is one of His favorite past-times. He loves calling things that be not as though they were and giving life to the dead. And if He does this, so should His children.
So, begin to call things that seemingly are not as though they are and watch God bring to life that circumstance, situation or thing in your life that seems to be dead.
Now today, I believe we will be concluding our shorter series on the Holy Spirit entitled— “The Advantage of the Holy Spirit.” In it, we have been looking at the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how He actually serves as an advantage to us.
And we have seen that the Holy Spirit certainly gives us an advantage in our Christian walks! Yes, He gives us an advantage over our flesh, this world, and even over the devil. But guess what that also means? It means that if we do not have the Holy Spirit or if we do not utilize His ministry in our lives, then we will be at a disadvantage. We certainly don’t want that, saints.
So, we have been looking at John chapter 16 and seeing what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. We saw in this chapter how the disciples had sorrow filling their heart over the fact that Jesus was leaving them because, for during the previous three years, Jesus had been their everything—He had been their Counselor, their Teacher, their Provider, their Inspiration, and their Best Friend. They had left everything to follow Him and had put their full trust in Him and relied on Him to be their provider in every area of life. He taught them how to pray and He prayed for them. He instructed them on what to say and how to act. He bailed them out of many different situations and circumstances. Yes, He was their everything. So, they were understandably upset about Him leaving them.
But we saw how Jesus knew they needed to hear some good news, and that is why He went on to say what He did in verse 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.”
First of all, notice how Jesus begins with the word “Nevertheless.” Taken apart, this word says, “Never the less.” But here is the problem. Most believers are “Always the less”—that is, they are usually focused on what is not important and unworthy of our attention. Church, we need to focus on what is “Always the best” not the “less.”
And we saw that the reason that Jesus said that what He said here was the truth was because what He was about to tell them might not seem true. But yes, Jesus was telling us that you can bet the bank that this is absolutely true even though it might not seem like it on the surface. And I can assure you that to most believers, what Jesus was about to say would be considered heresy if it didn’t come out of our Lord’s own mouth.
You see, if you were to poll a large group of Christians, asking them if they would rather have Jesus physically present with them, you would get the overwhelming majority saying, “YES!” Yes, most believers would give anything to be able to go back in time and be one of Jesus’ disciples and physically be with Him for those three years. They think that nothing could be greater than having Jesus physically present with them. But did you know that Jesus actually taught us differently in this verse?
So, we saw that Jesus quickly made a radical statement in John 16:7 that if it did not come out of His own mouth would seem like heresy: He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away…”
Now we have seen how this word “advantage” has been translated many different ways. Some versions of the Bible translate it as “for your good or benefit.” Others say, “it is best or expedient.” Therefore, we could say that Jesus was saying here that we would be “better off” if He left us.
And I can just imagine what His disciples might have been thinking. Perhaps they were saying in their heads, “What do you mean it would be better for us if you went away!?! You have been our everything! And, in case you haven’t noticed, we have not done the greatest job of learning the lessons you’ve tried to teach us. How could your leaving actually be better for us?” This is why Jesus went on to say, “…for (or, because) if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Ah, now we see why it would be better for us for Jesus to return to heaven. It is because then He would be able to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—from heaven to us!
Now we saw that this term “Helper” was the New King James Version’s translation of the word Jesus used here, and If you use the original King James Version, you will see the term “Comforter.” Other translations use the words “Counselor” or “Advocate.” (We will get into these other terms more this week)
But what we did in part one of this series was we focused on the word “Helper.” And we saw that a “Helper” describes an assistant, associate, partner, or a right-hand man. But there is another synonym for “Helper” that we camped on—the term Helpmate (or helpmeet). We saw that after God created Adam, He then said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). Now you could paraphrase this statement like so— “It is not advantageous for man to be alone…” or “It is not beneficial, profitable, or best for man to be alone…” Does that sound a little familiar (see John 16:7)? Then the Lord went on to say in Genesis 2:18— “I will make a helper comparable to him.” Ah, isn’t that interesting that we see the same word “helper” used here? I believe that is strategic by the Lord to reinforce this truth from John 16:7—that it is to our advantage to have a Helpmeet in the Person of the Holy Spirit! Praise God!
But we saw that what God did after making this statement about it not being good for man to be alone was not immediately putting Adam to sleep, pulling his rib out, etc. No, in verse 19, the first thing God did was form every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Then Adam named all of these animals, but we are told at the end of verse 20 that there was still not found a helper comparable to him.
So, what is interesting about this situation is how God gave Adam alternatives to the true helper that He intended all along. Therefore, Adam could have settled, couldn’t he? But, thank God, Adam waited for God’s best. Therefore, we learned that when it comes to the Helper—the Holy Spirit—we likewise need to learn to choose Him above all of these other things that tend to come to us before Him—our own understanding, our flesh, etc. For example, if we are presented with a problem that we need an answer to, our tendency is to lean on our own understanding or to try to fix it in the arm of the flesh. But that is when we need to wait on the Lord, enter into His rest, and let the Helper give us the solution that we need. Amen and Amen!
So, we learned that we must learn to “take advantage of the Advantage.” No, not “take advantage” in the negative sense, but taking advantage as in utilizing the help that God has made available for us to use. And the way we take advantage and utilize the advantages that the Holy Spirit provides us with is by not compromising and settling for something less profitable or beneficial. That could be anything from us getting in the flesh and trying to make it happen ourselves to us succumbing to the pressures of this world to make a decision before we’ve heard from Him. And if we will utilize the Advantage on the inside of us, He will lead us to always give the right answer and be at the right place. The Holy Spirit’s help is what provides us with the Advantage. Amen!
So, last week, we asked the question: How is the Holy Spirit an advantage over having Jesus? For some, that is hard to compute because how can we say that having the Third Person of the Godhead is better than having the Second Person of the Godhead? One is not better than the other, are they? Then we answered that question by going back a couple of chapters and looking at John 14:16.
Notice again that in this verse that Jesus begins by saying, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you…” Isn’t that a beautiful thought--that Jesus is praying for us? Yes, the Lord, as our Advocate, prays for you and I which gives us every advantage—including the Advantage Himself, the Holy Spirit. So, if you are ever tempted to think that nobody loves you and no one will pray for you, remind yourself of this very truth—that you have an Advocate in Heaven, Jesus Christ the righteous (First John 2:1), and He is your merciful and faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), who ever lives to make intercession for you (Hebrews 7:25)! Glory! So, with us receiving the Holy Spirit being Jesus’ prayer, we know that His prayer was answered 2,000 years ago when He was poured out on Pentecost. Glory to God!
Well, we saw last week in this statement in John 14:16, Jesus answers the question of how having the Holy Spirit is better than having Jesus. Notice what He says: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—”
So, if the Holy Spirit is “another Helper,” then that must mean that there was an original Helper, right? In other words, since Jesus uses the word “another” here, then that indicates that the Holy Spirit is not the first Helper to come on the scene. So, who do you reckon was the original Helper? JESUS! Yes, Jesus was that other Helper! Therefore, Jesus was stating in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit, who would come after His departure, would be “another Helper” like Him.
Now most people would conclude that the most important word to understand here is the word “Helper.” And while we are going to camp on this word today by looking at the original Greek word and other possible translations of it, I believe that an equally powerful word to understand here is the word “another.” That is why we looked at this word “another” last week.
So, we saw that there are two different Greek words that could be used to translate the word “another.” One was heteros and the other was allos: The word heteros means “another of a different kind.” This is where we get our English word “heterosexual” from, which is someone who is attracted to another (human being) of a different kind (of sex). The other word is allos and means “another of the same kind.” More specifically, allos described another of the same kind that is essentially an exact representation, a duplicate, or even a twin. This is the Greek word that Jesus used when He referred to the Holy Spirit as— “another Helper!”
So, Jesus was not saying to His disciples that the Holy Spirit was just some other kind of Helper, but rather the Holy Spirit is the exact same kind of Helper that He had been to them for the past three years! In other words, the Holy Spirit is an exact duplicate of Jesus – His identical twin, if you would! Glory! So, just like when Jesus said in John 14:9 that if you have seen Me you have seen the Father, likewise, if you have seen the Jesus, you have seen the Holy Spirit! Yes, He is here to mirror the Lord Jesus Christ to us!
You see, I believe we have the same problem today that Jesus’ disciples had then. They weren’t aware of who was on the earth with them! Through their carnality, they did not perceive the Glory that they had been with for the past three years. So, they wanted to see the Father. Yes, they wanted to see God in some supernatural, spectacular way. When the truth was, the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3) was before them. Likewise, the Church today puts all the focus on Jesus (and rightfully so in many ways). But the problem is that the Church tends to look at the Lord out there somewhere—that is, in the heavens—when the Holy Spirit is right here with us today! Therefore, the truth is that if we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Holy Spirit, and vice-versa. Yes, just as Jesus perfectly emulated His Father, the Holy Spirit perfectly emulates Jesus.
What that means, church, is that anything you saw Jesus doing for His disciples while He was on the earth is exactly what the Holy Spirit is willing to do for His disciples today. Praise God! So, in order to see what the Holy Spirit’s ministry is toward us, we need look no further than the ministry of Jesus: When we see Jesus constantly teaching His disciples, that is what the Holy Spirit does. When we see Jesus guiding and directing His disciples that is what the Holy Spirit does. When we see Jesus always showing a willingness to minister to others that is what the Holy Spirit desires to do. And the list could go on and on. The bottom line is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same and the Holy Spirit’s calling is to pick up where Jesus left off and continue His works. So, the Holy Spirit is to us today what Jesus was to His disciples! So, as I said last week, we can read the Gospels through this lens, and begin to see how the Holy Spirit is meant to be our Rabbi, our Healer, our Guide, etc. today.
So, we learned that the Holy Spirit certainly is an advantage for us even over having Jesus here physically with us. And here is why:
Notice again the end of John 14:16: Jesus said that the Father would give us this other Helper, “that He may abide with you forever—" So, one of the things that makes having the Holy Spirit with us here on the earth better than having Jesus still with us is the fact that Jesus promised us that He would “abide” (remain or stay) with us forever. In other words, while Jesus’ time with us was temporary according to the plans and purposes of God, the Holy Spirit is not here with us for just a few years. He remains with us forever!
But we also saw that the main thing that makes having the Holy Spirit better for us than having Jesus was to His disciples is what Jesus went on to say in the following verse: Notice Jesus said in John 14:17— “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.” Notice that last phrase— “for He dwells with you and will be in you.” What Jesus was promising His disciples is that while the Holy Spirit had been by their side (“with you”—Grk. para), He would soon be on the inside of them!
So the reason why it is to our advantage to have Him is because Jesus—being in a physical body—could only minister to so many at a time. His fellowship would have been limited, but not so with the Holy Spirit! He was going to not just be with us in a limited way by being here physically. No, He was going to take up residence in them and in us and now it is like having our own personal “Jesus.” Amen!
So as promised, let’s now begin looking at this word “Helper.” As I’ve mentioned, this is the New King James Version’s translation of the word Jesus used here, and If you use the original King James Version, you will see the term “Comforter.” Other translations use the words “Counselor” or “Advocate.”
All of these translations come from the Greek word parakletos. Parakletos is a compound word that comes from the Greek words para and kaleo.
Now para is a preposition that describes “coming alongside of.” It is where we get our words “parallel, paraprofessional, paramedical, etc.” Let me give you a good Scriptural example of this:
In Second Timothy 3:14, Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” The word “from” here is the Greek word para, so this is like Paul exhorting Pastor Timothy to be sure to continue doing the things that he had learned and been assured of while he was at Paul’s side. And what we need to understand is that this is a great example of what we have in the Holy Spirit. We are like Timothy in this Scripture, and the apostle Paul is like the Holy Spirit. We are right by His side (or vice versa, whichever way you want to look at it), and if we awaken to the fact that the Holy Ghost in there to mentor us and then utilize who is at our disposal, we would be better off, I promise. I mean, just think about it. What if you had the apostle Paul himself at arm’s length, right beside you? Can you think of some questions you might want to ask him? I can! I’d love to ask him to explain to me some of the things that he wrote in his epistles, for one. Well, did you know that the One who inspired him to write those letters is right there with you? So, ought not we start asking Him some questions when we are reading the Book that He inspired? I can guarantee you that we will start getting more understanding of it if we start reading through the Holy Spirit’s lens. Amen?
Now the other word used in this word parakletos is the word kletos. Kletos literally means “to call,” but not to call like you would call your dog or call your friend; in this instance, it denotes “calling with purpose or intent.” Therefore, kletos describes more of a “vocation, a career, or a mission.” Paul used this word to describe how he was “called to be an apostle” (Romans 1:1). So, again, this describes God calling Him, not just to get his attention, but as Paul goes on to say in Romans 1:1, to “separate (him) to the gospel of God.”
But in the example that we are looking at, it is not a man who is called; it is the Holy Spirit! So how does this apply to the Holy Spirit? It shows us that He has a calling, just like Paul was “called” to be an apostle, and like you and I are called by God to do certain things and fulfill certain positions in God’s kingdom.
And what is His “calling”? It is to be para--right alongside of us! So, the Holy Spirit has been given one job, and that is to be by our side, helping us in any way that we need it! That’s what you get when you put these two words together: you get parakletos—one who is called to come to the side of someone else. It was used in their time to describe someone who came alongside of us to give us aid. It was commonly used to describe a legal aid or assistant (i.e. a defense attorney). We will get more into that in a moment.
So, this is the literal Greek definition of parakletos, but its meaning is far vaster than this: By far the most elaborate and detailed translation of this word comes from the Amplified Bible because its description of this word is, for lack of better words, more “amplified.” It says “… He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby).” I believe that this “amplified” description most accurately defines the Greek word into its broad and vast meaning. So, let’s look at each of these words that it uses in order to detail and discuss what the Holy Spirit is specifically called alongside of us to do.
The first and primary word the Amplified Bible uses to translate parakletos as is “Comforter.” So, this would obviously describe the Holy Spirit as being called alongside of us to comfort us. Now this can mean a couple of things:
One is that the Holy Spirit’s callings is to encourage and console us when we fall into various trials and tribulations (see Second Corinthians 1:3-4). He comforts us by gently reminding us of God’s promises and by wrapping His arms of peace and encouragement around us when we need it. In other words, the Holy Spirit knows how to console us during tough times—which is the opposite of Job’s friends.
You see, they started out right when they first arrived, but then wound up not providing Job with any comfort when they began accusing him. We don’t want to be Job’s friends, saints. We want to be like the Holy Spirit who truly comes alongside of us to comfort us when we are hurting, to encourage us when we are despairing, and to simply love on us when we need it. Sure, there is a time where He speaks expressly—giving us the truth. But as it is with prophecy, He knows how and when to edify, exhort, and comfort—for He is the author of this wonderful gift.
But another way that the Holy Spirit becomes our comforter is simply by us knowing that He is with us. Yes, He ought to provide us with comfort simply by knowing that He is there, present with us to help us with whatever comes up. May I say He’s like our “woobie?” Do you remember the movie Mr. Mom from back in the 80’s? That little boy wanted his blanket because it provided him with a source of comfort. So, like Linus’ security blanket, we need to be carrying the Holy Ghost around with us wherever we go—because He is indeed our security.
So, the Holy Spirit’s presence—both us knowing that we have Him with us wherever we go and Him being there to edify, exhort, and console us—should bring us much “comfort.” That’s right—this should make us feel safe and secure—for the Holy Ghost is our “Comforter.”
The next word that we see used by the Amplified Bible is “Counselor”: This obviously describes the Holy Spirit being called alongside of us to give us His counsel. The word “counselor” today describes several things, but what we might identify it with the most is a person who is trained to give guidance on personal, social, financial or psychological problems like say a marriage counselor, a financial counselor, or a mental health counselor. What these “counselors” are there to do is provide people with the direction, treatments, etc. that they need in their respective field.
Now while we certainly have Scriptures that teach us wise biblical principles of how to obtain counsel like say, Proverbs 11:14 which says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” and also Proverbs 15:22— “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established,” we need to also know that we have the fairest of ten thousand counselors living on the inside of us! Sure, the Holy Spirit will minister to us through wise, Spirit-filled people, and we need to always remain open to that, but we need to also realize that every answer for every need lives within us. So, we ought to go to Him first.
Yes, just like we had “guidance counselors” in school to give us advice and guidance for our academic lives, we now have the Holy Spirit to give us the advice and guidance we need for every area of our lives. He is with us and lives within us to not only counsel us regarding big, spiritual issues, but He is also there to advise us of what job we should take, what car we should buy, who we ought to date, what investments to make, etc. He is our Omniscient Guidance Counselor! Yes, He lives within us to guide us into all truth.
And that leads me to the next term the Amplified Bible gives us—the next word used is “Helper”: I won’t spend much time on this one because we’ve covered it already, but I do want to say this describes the Holy Spirit as being called alongside of us to help us with whatever we need. There are plenty of times that we need help, and during any of those times, all we have to do is just rely on Him and He will give us all the help we need.
Psalm 46:1 says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This last phrase literally describes an “abundantly available help.” In other words, the Helper is not just available to help us; He’s more than available! Why? Because He is more than enough.
And, church, that’s one thing I hope you have heard me reiterate to you in this series of teachings—that He is not just in us to help us with the BIG things. Sure, He’s there to help us with those alarming issues that we seriously need His help with. But He’s also there to help us with the little things. That’s more than enough help!
So, yes, if you lose your child in a public place, ask the Holy Spirit to help you in those types of situations. But even if you simply lose the remote control, include Him on that too. He’s not going to grow weary with you asking Him for His help. Saints, the Holy Spirit is more than willing to help you with everything from becoming a better soul winner and flowing in His gifts to being a better cook and finding that good parking spot. Nothings too big and nothings too small. Ask abundantly for this is His call. Glory!
Then we see the Amplified Bible translating this word as “Intercessor”: So, this means that the Holy Spirit is called alongside of us to intercede for us and on our behalf.
Now we see this in Romans 8:26 when Paul tells us that when we do not know what to pray for as we ought, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. That means that He stands in the gap for us when we are ignorant concerning what to pray for. How does He step in, you ask? He does this praying for us by praying through us. Amen!
Saints, this is why praying in the Spirit is so vital in the life of the believer. You see, there are so many times when we are ignorant of what to pray or even that we need to pray. That is when the Holy Spirit is available to pray through us and for us. All we have to do is yield to Him by praying in other tongues. In fact, He is called in the Old Testament “the Spirit of grace and supplication” (Zechariah 12:10).
Church, praying the Holy Spirit is one of the most important weapons that we have. Many people miss this, but did you know that in Ephesians chapter 6 that there are not just six weapons of our warfare? There are seven! After listing the first six in verses 14-17, he continues in verse 18 to give us what some call our “lance.” Let’s look at it:
Ephesians 6:18 says, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—" Now when you look at this verse in the original Greek, you will find that the first half reads a little differently. It literally says, “Through all kinds of prayer and supplication, praying in every season in the Spirit…” So, I see this as the apostle Paul describing us utilizing all the various kinds of prayer that we have (i.e. the prayer of faith, the prayer of petition, the prayer of intercession, etc.) while also always praying in the Holy Ghost.
You see, the Holy Spirit is meant to assist us in our prayer life as well, and this certainly includes praying in another tongue. He wants to use our mouths to intercede for people and things that we have no idea about. This is why He is called the Intercessor!
The next word used by the Amplified is “Advocate”: In fact, this is probably the most popular definition of this word parakletos because in their days, it described a legal counselor. So, this word certainly describes a lawyer, or more accurately a defense attorney. Therefore, this means that He is called alongside of us to stand by our side and to plead our case for us.
But most Christians do not see the Holy Spirit as our defense attorney; they see Him as the prosecuting attorney. You will hear many Christians accuse the Holy Spirit of “taking them to the woodshed” when they do something wrong, saying that the Holy Spirit “convicted” them of their sin. Church, this is not the nature of the One we have living inside of us.
You see, the problem is that they see Him as being against them and not really for them. They see the Holy Spirit as the One who heaps all of that condemnation on them, but I can assure you that this is not His ministry. How many of you ever see a defense attorney turning around and start accusing and trying to convict their client in a court of law? You won’t—because their job is to defend you and not condemn you.
Church, the Holy Spirit is for us and not against us! We see this clearly described in Romans 8:31-34. While He does convict us when we are missing it, He never condemns us! His ministry is to defend us. Yes, He builds us up (i.e. edifies); He does not tear us down.
I especially like the next word the Amplified Bible translates parakletos as— “Strengthener”: This also obviously describes the Holy Spirit as being called alongside of us to strengthen us.
Hallelujah, this means that He lives within us to empower us and to give us the ability to do what God desires for us to do! You see, He doesn’t just give us the counsel on what we should do; He also gives us the strength to do His counsel! Thank God we don’t have to obey God in our own strength! Through the Holy Spirit’s inner-strengthening we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). All we have to do is stay so full of the Holy Spirit that it is no longer we who live, but Christ living in and through us. Yes, “He works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (see Philippians 2:14).
You see, the Holy Spirit, doesn’t just instruct us, He even gives us the strength. He’s kind of like our strength and conditioning coach, in that He trains us to become spiritually fit, developing our spiritual muscles (the fruit of the Spirit). We’ll get more into this momentarily.
So, don’t focus on your weaknesses—talking about what you cannot do, what you do not know, etc. Focus on Who you have living on the inside of you. He is your strength. Indeed, let the weak say, “I am strong.” We can say this with full confidence because you have the Strengthener living on the inside of you!
And, last but not least, the Amplified Bible uses the word “Standby” to translate parakletos: No, this does not mean that the Holy Spirit is on “standby” in the sense that He is on waiting and not the priority. Rather, it describes His “readiness for duty and immediate deployment.” This would describe the Holy Spirit as being called alongside of us to do just that—stand by us.
You see, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is faithful to never leave us nor forsake us. Oftentimes we quote these Scriptures in reference to Jesus, but they are just as true for the Third-Person of the Godhead too. The Holy Spirit is promised to abide by our side forever (John 14:16).
Again, He is faithful to us. Being a part of the Trinity, faithfulness is His nature as well. So, erase that wrong doctrine out of your mind that the Holy Spirit is easily offended and leaves us when we grieve Him. He STANDS-BY us always, even when we are hard to stand by. He won’t leave us or forsake us.
In fact, as I thought about this term “Stand-By” I came up with a song, which I’m sure could become a hit one day. It’s called “Stand by Me.” But the fact is, the Holy Spirit is there to be yours and my STAND-BY. And He is more than willing to stand by you, with you, and for you until you breathe your last breath. Amen.
So, all of these words that the Amplified Bible uses to translate parakletos give us a well-rounded view of its true meaning, but there is a one-word translation that I like more than any other. I heard it from Rick Renner, a Greek scholar and apostle to the former Soviet Union. He said that parakletos could also be accurately translated as “coach.”
Why do I prefer “coach” above all the other translations, you might ask? It is because this literal definition of parakletos—one called alongside to help—perfectly describes the role of a coach. So yes, I believe the term “coach” perfectly describes His and our responsibility in this ministry we have together. And that is precisely the first thing we need to understand—that we are in this together. He has His part, and we have our part. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not going to make it happen all Himself. He is simply there to help coach, lead, guide & instruct us.
You see, as it is with anything we might have a coach for, they are not there to perform for us. No, a baseball coach is not there to swing the bat or throw the ball for you. A vocal coach is not there to sing for you. A life coach is not there to live your life for you. No, any of these various types of coaches are not going to step in, take over, and do your responsibility for you. However, they will help you perform better through their counsel, correction, and instruction. So, a coach’s part is to help you do your part.
And this is exactly what the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to us: He is our Divine Coach! He is not going to make you do anything. He will lead, but we must follow—letting Him coach us through life.
THE FUNCTION OF A COACH
So, what exactly does a coach do? Let’s look at few common examples of a coach’s function in a few areas:
Fundamentally, a coach teaches, advises, corrects, instructs, trains, tutors, guides, directs, and prepares you for things to come. If you are new at what you are doing, his coaching may include a little more gentleness. However, a coach will also encourage you by showing you what you did wrong so you can do it right the next time. Yes, a good coach shows you what’s needed. He will open your eyes; change the way you think; bring you up by the hand; and develop, foster, improve, and “break you in” on things.
THE FIRST COACH
So as disciples, we must learn to take the Coach’s advice and diligently follow Him, taking each one of our cues from Him. He must become our Heavenly Coach, and we must learn to accept His leadership and be willing to yield and concede to His divine guidance with no objections. If we will open our hearts to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He will do everything that Jesus did. He will coach; He will teach; and He will be a Helper. He will be there to teach us how to pack our bags, how to travel, what to say, and how to pray for the sick. He will do everything that Jesus would do, because He is a Coach to us in the same way that Jesus was a Coach to the disciples.
Regarding this, we see that Jesus was the original parakletos, and yes, He did step in to do a lot for His disciples. However, He was still their “Coach” and was simply there to train and disciple them as their Rabbi. So, I believe that this term “Coach” perfectly describes Jesus’ role in the lives of His disciples during His three-year ministry. Yes, He had been their Rabbi, Leader, Teacher, Prophet, Miracle-Worker, Healer, Pastor, and, of course, their Lord. They did nothing without Him; they simply followed His leading, instructions, etc. So, you could easily say that Jesus was their Mentor and Coach.
So, how do we see Jesus “coaching” His disciples? Well, Jesus was the One who sent the disciples out to spread the message of the Gospel, and He imparted the message they preached. When He gave them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick, He taught them how and when to address demon spirits and lay hands on the sick. Jesus showed His disciples how to deal with religious leaders and how to conduct themselves as ministers of the Gospel. I’m sure He even taught them how to build a ministry and even how to handle money in the ministry. So, for three years, the disciples carefully followed the Master’s orders and dared not take a step without consulting Him first. Therefore, in the truest meaning of the word, Jesus had been their Coach.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
But although the disciples certainly went out and did certain forms of ministry, you could make a case that those three years that Jesus was physically with them was their “practice time.” What do I mean by “practice time?” Well, just as there is a big need to “practice” before “game time” when it comes to anything in life, this same principle holds true in spiritual things as well.
You see, with anything, like me standing before you today and speaking, there is a cultivation process—that is, a time where you learn how to effectively communicate. Many are under the incorrect notion that if it is “God” or “the anointing” that it is just going to fall on us like an apple out of the tree, but that is not true.
It works this way in the gifts of the Spirit as well. You have to “practice prophesying.” The reason is because like with any vocal gift, there are dirty pipes that these living waters are flowing through. Yes, and how do you clean out those pipes? By running a lot of water through them. Likewise, the way that we become more proficient in things like teaching, preaching, prophesying, etc. is by stepping out and letting those waters flow through us. Sure, you might have a bunch of gunk that comes out initially—things that people wouldn’t want to drink—but over time “practice makes perfect.” Yes, those rivers of living water will become more and more pure.
I was always an avid baseball player growing up. And while I always had good hand/eye coordination and could hold my own with my peers, I was never the best ball player that I could be. And then one year, my dad started taking me to the batting cages (that is, where there were pitching machines that you just popped quarters in to hit all the balls you want). That particular season, I would go to the cages before every game and hit maybe a hundred balls, and guess what the result was? My batting average was off the charts that year. My point in bringing this up is to show you that practice indeed does make perfect. I’m sure many of you could attest to how when you began to practice something like typing, public speaking, etc., you got better than others around you simply through the repetition.
But let me give you a little insight of how to practice more effectively. Ask your Coach to show you how it’s done. Don’t just practice on your own. While that certainly has its own benefits and you will improve simply by repetition, the best way to practice is under the tutelage of a coach—that is, someone who is well-versed in knowing how to instruct you in the thing you desire to improve at. And the Holy Spirit is certainly the expert at the Christian walk. So, practice humility first by asking Him how to practice more effectively. Amen?
You see, the Gospel is this—the Holy Spirit has come to teach us everything we need to know — if we’ll listen to Him as the disciples listened to Jesus. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do what He was sent to do in our lives, He will coach us just as Jesus coached the disciples.
A great example of this coaching aspect of the Holy Spirit is with witnessing: You know, many believers are terrified of witnessing. Why? One of the main reasons is because they are afraid they will not know what to say, but this is why we were given the Holy Spirit! He is in us to help coach us through those occasions where we are witnessing to an unbeliever. You see, He knows that person inside and out. He knows everything about them. So, all we have to do is approach the person when the Holy Spirit leads us to and then listen with the ear of our heart to how the Holy Spirit coaches us through it. He will give us creative examples to minister to them. He will bring Scriptures to our remembrance. He will prompt us when to listen and when to speak. He will guide us through the whole process if we will just depend on Him. I like to say that the Holy Spirit is witnessing made fun. He will make us look good in witnessing (and in life in general) if we will just heed His instruction.
Praise God, church! We have a Coach living inside of us who holds the answers to every question of life. And the good news is that He is ready to give you the winning game plan for the things which concern you. This is not the question; the real question is are we going to listen to Him, invite His coaching in humility, and then do the exercises that He gives us.
GO TEAM JESUS!
You see, His job is to coach us how to live undefeated in this life and the next! 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…” You see, through the person of the Holy Spirit, God is always leading us into victory. The Spirit’s job is to lead us; our job is to follow His leadings. And if we successfully follow His promptings and His commands we will always win. He will lead us into the winning circle every single time! Of course, this does not mean that we will never encounter any contests. It just means that we can have victory over every one of those contests that come our way!
Yes, the Holy Spirit is here to guide us all along our Christian journey towards Heaven. He will lead us into winning our race of faith, fighting the good fight of faith, and receiving the crowns of life and of righteousness for overcoming the world. He will instruct us how to run roughshod over the kingdom of darkness and knock the devil out of the ballpark! You see, just as the great coaches can turn their mediocre players into exceptional athletes, likewise the Holy Spirit is here to coach us individually so that we each become conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
But just as we like to say, there is no “I” in “Team.” The Holy Spirit is also here to coach us into the unity of the faith—into a perfect reflection of Christ Himself. His job is to make the Church into a team and a family, and not just a bunch of individuals. You see, just as the best coaches can cause their players to work together and operate as a well-oiled machine, likewise the Holy Spirit is here to coach the Church into operating as one Body. And just as in the world the coach does not generally get much credit for the success of the team, the Holy Spirit does not prefer to receive the glory either. All the glory is to go to the organization as a whole— “TEAM JESUS” (i.e. the King and His kingdom).
Yes, the Holy Spirit is called alongside of us to be our divine coach—to train and instruct us to be all that we can be for God’s kingdom. He is on this earth to stand by our side—comforting, counseling, and strengthening us.
So today I urge you to open your heart to the coaching ministry of Holy Spirit. Simply say, “Holy Spirit, be my life Coach, be my strength and conditioning Coach, be my financial coach, etc. Yes, be my coach in every area!” The truth is, He was sent to be your Coach whether you recognize it or not. But as you open your heart to the Holy Spirit—listening to Him and diligently following every aspect of His instruction from His role as your Coach in life—this I can promise you: It won’t be long until you look back on who you were before you made the decision to allow the Holy Spirit to be your Coach, and you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your decision started a process that has completely changed your life! Yes, you will be a WINNER—because you allowed the Holy Spirit to coach you into the winner’s circle. Amen!
THE LORD IS THERE
So, Church, we have Someone who is called alongside of us to be our Comforter, our Counselor, our Helper, our Intercessor, our Advocate, our Strengthener, and our Standby. He is all of this to us and so much.
In fact, one of the lesser known names of God, found in Ezekiel 48:35 is a perfect description of the Holy Spirit. There, God is called “Jehovah Shammah” – “The Lord is there.” And I believe this is the Holy Spirit—He is there! There to what? To be your ever-present help in a time of need, there to be whatever you need Him to be. If you need a mechanic, He’s there. If you need a doctor, He’s there. If you need a spouse, He’s there. If you need a friend, He’s there. Whatever you need Him to be, He is there to be that to you.
But the real question is not if the Holy Spirit is there; it is are we there. Like when God called on a man names Ananias, simply speaking His name, and he responded with— “Here I am, Lord.” (see Acts 9:10). I wonder how many times the Lord has called many of us and we weren’t there. But if you reverse this example, and just simply call out—“Holy Spirit”—His response is always, “Here I am, my love.” He is called to be called upon, church. Call on Him today.