Saturday, August 6, 2011

The lovely work of the Holy Spirit

When we repent and come into reconciliation with Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit into us and the Spirit begins the work of regeneration. Because we are born dead, spiritually empty and carnally minded, when the Spirit comes, He revives us and begins the work of shaping us like clay, into the Lord's likeness. Here are but two verses that remind us that He grows us sovereignly and perfectly:

"One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message." (Acts 16:14)

"For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom 8:6)

The change is not instant, from one who is dead in the flesh to one who is bearing all the good fruit is that the Spirit nurtures in us (Galatians 5:22-26). Even the Apostle Paul battled flesh (Romans 7:15). But through constant submission, prayer, study of the word, and good works in His name, the Spirit leads us into good things, which will be completed on the day we are glorified in body at the rapture. (Gal 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But sometimes it is hard to detect if we can see this change in ourselves. In growth by degrees you don't see it at first. Our first day of school was Friday and I looked at the little kindergarteners I'd worked with last year. Some had sprung up like weeds! I noticed it because I had not seen them for 8 weeks. But do I notice growth or change in myself? No. But I'm sure others did, not having seen me for 8 weeks either.

I remember the first time I noticed a Christlike change in myself. I was saved 7 years ago and really started studying the bible and attending church 5 years ago. So I'd have to reach back in my mind ten years to go beyond the point when the Spirit began His regenerative work in me.

During my 30s I traveled to Italy once a year. I love Italy so much. The rolling Tuscan hills filled with sunflowers, the steep and somber Umbrian mountains, the castles, villas, architecture. I fell in love with the art. In the Accademia Galleria where the famous sculpture of David is housed, I was absolutely floored when I saw it for the first time. Since I was not saved, I had no idea, really, of the story behind it, other than the surface. David killed Goliath with a rock. That's as far as my understanding went. But I did a great study of Michaelangelo, the sculptor of the statue of David, and the marble itself. I even went to Carrara to see where the marble came from and how it was extracted from the mountain.

The bible says for us to "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Col 3:2). So I do. I ponder heaven, and the Spirit and Jesus and the things He has told us in the bible. As I looked to heaven I mourned the loss of all the beautiful things in Italy. I'd think of the tribulation earthquakes and pictured in my mind the crumbling of the leaning tower of Pisa, of the Colosseum, of the castles that had stood for thousand years. "Gone..." I'd muse to myself. "How tragic!" I thought of the David, the most perfect man-made thing I'd ever seen, and though of how anything else could be more beautiful. For a long time I could not picture it and went around sad that my treasured Italy and everything in it would be destroyed.

So one day I was musing along in my mind and thought of the David again. "Gone..." I shook my head. Then another thought popped into my mind. "Hey! I can go over and see the REAL David!" It was then I laughed because I could detect the Spirit had grown me over time. My mind was no longer on earthly things but realized that a greater treasure was the resurrected, glorified and perfected David that the Lord had personally set as King of Israel! I laughed out loud. The real David, how about that! I began to get a glimmer of just how beautiful the Lord's work is in us and that there will be many more things that will be stunningly beautiful that my brain can't even conceive of but was just getting a tiny glimpse of. Slowly and surely the Holy Spirit does His work in us, praise God.

My mind was instantly set at ease as I realized I'd let go of earthly things and trusted the fact that no matter how lovely the things of earth are, the LORD is preparing a place for us that will be astoundingly beautiful, the foremost beauty of which are the glorified and redeemed people populating the place through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ.

Do you have a moment when you came across a growth marker in yourself when you realized that your response to a thought or a situation was a direct result of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit? Please share. Let's celebrate Him!

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful post! So encouraging.

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  2. This is such as wonderful post, Elizabeth. I think breaking away from the things we used to cherish is a painful process, one that requires a great deal of trust and imagination. Like you, I appreciate a lot of things here on earth - nature, music, food. There are moments when my mind goes back to a time when life was perfect and beautiful. And then I try to switch my thinking into what heaven would look like and it feels sad because it's like I'm staring into a blank canvass. That's where imagination comes in. If things here on earth are beautiful, what are about to witness in heaven would blow us away. We just need to have faith that God, in His infinite wisdom, power and creativity, is able to create things far better than we ever imagined.

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