Connie and went on a long hike through old growth forest at Cataloochie in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Deep in the woods we came across the ruins of an old settlement. The Pioneers had built this stone wall by hand, without mortar and it still stands strong over 100 years later when the rest of the cabins and outbuildings have long disappeared. I remembered what Peter wrote.
1 Peter 2:5: you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We are living stones, personally chosen and graciously, artfully, carefully placed in the building of God’s own temple by the Holy Spirit. The idea of living stones suggests the paradox of something solid and strong and yet at the same time alive and vital.
This morning marks the day of Pentecost. The word “Pentecost” was the Greek word for a Jewish holiday ordained by God. It was written of in Exodus and was sometimes called the feasts of weeks, or the feasts of harvest or first fruits (Exodus 23:16). It was a harvest celebration in which the first fruits of the harvest would be offered to God in worship. It was called “Pentecost”, which means “fiftieth” in Greek, because it fell on the fiftieth day after the first day following the Passover Sabbath. It was on the day of Pentecost, some 2,000 years ago that God fulfilled His promise, first given in the Old Testament and then reiterated by Jesus, that He would pour out His Spirit on all of His people in a new and powerful way. Romans 8:23 calls the gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian the first fruits of the fuller harvest of salvation blessings that are yet to come when God restores all of creation.
With respect to our present relationship to the Holy Spirit a number of verses come to mind.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not put out (quench) the Spirit’s fire
The Holy Spirit is alive and He is the means by which God mysteriously interpenetrates your own thoughts, feelings, convictions and choices. It only makes sense that He would be constantly stimulating your own mind, to good thoughts, your own heart to good emotions, your own conscience to right convictions, and your own will to godly choices. You don’t hear voices you just find yourself being encouraged, stimulated, impelled, motivated, moved and urged from within to think, believe, feel and do what is right and true. To respond to the Spirit and walk by the Spirit means that when those impressions come we say; “yes”. Say; “yes, I’ll do that. Lord, you will have to give me the strength I need, I’ll have to depend on your power but I’m willing. I will believe, walk, continue, wait obey rejoice…” Say, “yes”, to the Holy Spirit. It really is that simple sometimes.
“The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice you will quench it and your personal spiritual life will be impaired.” Oswald Chambers , My Utmost For His Highest
Through the Holy Spirit we are enabled to be solid as stone wall but very much alive; in fact full of life. But we have to listen to and depend on Him to be fully alive and trully strong.