January, February, March 2017
Want to learn more about Holy Spirit? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 12-part series.
Lesson 1: The Spirit and the Word (1 Corinthians 2, Daniel 2, John 16)
Of all the important teachings of the Bible, one of the most important is an understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8:14-17 we read the story of new believers who have been baptized in the name of Jesus, but still have a very serious deficit; they have not yet "received the Holy Spirit." Peter and John "placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Do you have a deficit in your Christian life? Are you like those Christians used to be, baptized, but missing the Holy Spirit? The extent of the potential problem becomes clearer when we consider how the Holy Spirit operates in our life. Let's begin our journey in the Bible to learn how the Holy Spirit is critical to our life!
Lesson 2: The Holy Spirit: Working Behind the Scenes (Genesis 1, Acts 2, Luke 1)
The title to our lesson challenges our understanding of the Holy Spirit. When I think of "scene" it reminds me of a play which has several scenes. Does the prominence of the Holy Spirit vary with the "scene?" Does it vary based on where the scene is taking place? I think it does. Consider our tradition understanding of the work of the Godhead. Jesus, according to Hebrews, is acting as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary presenting His sacrifice on our behalf. On earth, the Holy Spirit is pictured as the omnipresent substitute for Jesus. The Spirit is living within Christians to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. God the Father is running the Universe. While we might debate the exact role of each, in my mind this puts the Holy Spirit front and center in our life, in our modern "scene!" Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what it tells us about the work of the Holy Spirit in various "scenes" in the history of the world!
Lesson 3: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4-5, Titus 3)
Last week we examined Bible texts revealing that the Holy Spirit takes the lead role in our relationship with God. Consider your insurance company. I think about God the Father as the CEO who is running the overall business. Jesus is in charge of reconciling the risks with the company's assets and investments. The Holy Spirit is our personal insurance agent, the one we deal with most. This is a crude comparison, and it understates the fact that the Trinity is One. But, my crude analogy places the Holy Spirit where I think He belongs, as the primary interface with us. You should have noticed that I've assumed in these lessons that the Holy Spirit is God. Let's plunge into the Bible and explore texts that place the Holy Spirit in the Trinity!
Lesson 4: The Personality of the Holy Spirit (John 14-15, Romans 8)
How many times have I written "It" when referring to the Holy Spirit? Too many times! Perhaps you have too. Perhaps you still do! Does "He" seem to be the correct term for someone who is compared to wind? Someone who can be everywhere at once? Someone who not only lives in you, but lives in Christians everywhere? It is hard to wrap your mind around these concepts. However, I think it is easier to understand that the Holy Spirit is a "He" if we focus on His personality, and not His form. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!
Lesson 5: The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit (John 4, Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 12)
What does it mean to be "baptized" with the Holy Spirit? When I was baptized, the pastor said "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Does that accomplish the task? What makes me wonder about this is that a lot of people are baptized with the same words, yet they don't seem very Spirit-filled in their religious experience. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out more!
Lesson 6: The Holy Spirit and Living a Holy Life (Deuteronomy 30, 1 Peter 1, 1 Timothy 1, Galatians 5)
One of the greatest blessings of my spiritual walk was realizing that I was saved by grace alone. I've seen those who struggle with obedience express great joy when they first understand grace. They feel free! The great danger is misunderstanding the reason for obedience. God does not call us to obedience as some sort of test. He does not intend for obedience to be a burden. Rather, obedience brings blessings to our lives and glory to God. God is looking for followers who want to obey Him, those whose hearts desire God's will to be done on earth as well as in heaven. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!
Lesson 7: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit (John 15, 1 Corinthians 13, Romans 14, Galatians 6)
Last week we ended our study with the thought that if we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, our life should reflect the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are largely attitudes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Galatians 5:22-23. Living a life led by our sinful nature, in contrast, brings evil acts. Galatians 5:19-21. Let's dig into our Bible and explore how our lives can be dominated by the fruits of the Holy Spirit!
Lesson 8: The Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12, Matthew 12, 1 John 4)
What a blessing it is to have the Holy Spirit! We learned two weeks ago that the Holy Spirit guides our mind if we ask. We learned last week that the Holy Spirit changes our attitudes so that we experience love, joy and peace. This week we learn how everyone of us is given at least one gift from the Holy Spirit to use to build up the body of believers. Do you like gifts? Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and learn more about the gifts the Holy Spirit has to offer to us!
Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit and the Church (Ephesians 1, 1 Corinthians 12)
Is there evidence that the Holy Spirit is active in your church? Is there evidence that He is directing the work of your church? These are serious questions that go to the heart of the health of your congregation. My concern is that my church denomination, and many others, is a "quart low" on the Holy Spirit. Indeed, some denominations seem somewhat hostile to "charismatic" churches. Does "not charismatic" equal "not directed by the Holy Spirit?" The connection between the health of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit raises serious questions which are answered by our study this week. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to see what we can learn about the Church and the Holy Spirit!
Lesson 10: The Holy Spirit, the Word and Prayer (Romans 8, Ephesians 3, Matthew 7, Mark 11)
Sometimes we have trouble matching the promises of the Bible with our own experience. For example, in several places the Bible tells us that if we ask God we will be given what we seek. See, e.g. Matthew 7:8. In Matthew 18:19 we are promised that if two agree "about anything" then "it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven." Have these promises always worked out for you? If not, why not? Very recently, I read that if I might benefit from my prayer, that would be a "questionable motive" that would invalidate my request. No doubt the writer of that statement thought that explains why some of our prayers are not answered. How can a selfish motive disqualify my prayers when Jesus tells me that I should pray "Give us today our daily bread?" Matthew 6:11. Clearly, we need further study on this topic! Let's dig into our study of the Holy Spirit and prayer!
Lesson 11: Grieving and Resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7 & 15, Romans 14, Colossians 2, Ephesians 4 & 5)
Would you have liked to have met Jesus in person? I would! Christians say that they wish they could have lived when Jesus was here on earth. They wish that they could have been one of Jesus' disciples and spoken to Him personally to get direction and answers about how they should live. I'm doubtful that reality matches this wishful thinking. Why? Because we often do not like to hear the truth. When people don't like what the Bible says, they reject it. When people don't like what prophets say, they reject them. What about when people don't like what the Holy Spirit says? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about the problem of resisting the Holy Spirit!
Lesson 12: The Work of the Holy Spirit (John 16)
What does it mean to be listening to the Holy Spirit? When I'm studying the Bible to write these lessons, I find new insights I've not considered before. I think that is the Holy Spirit. No doubt that also happens to you when you study the Bible. But, I think there is much more to the concept of listening to the Holy Spirit. Those who are truly attuned to the Holy Spirit are led to take or avoid certain actions. My wife started getting the impression that she should contribute money to a specific student. She knew this student, but not well. My wife kept getting that impression until she wrote a check and sent it. When she was writing the check, she had an impression about how much she should send. After she sent it, this student called and said it was exactly the right amount that she needed in a crisis, and it came on the last day possible. Let's plunge into our Bibles to learn more about being attuned to the Holy Spirit!