G O D: Basic Course 101 – The Holy Spirit: Comfort, Guide and Goad!

Preach …for a decision. That’s what I was taught. Preach …for a decision. So, should I have a nodding acquaintance in the room, so to speak, let me give the invitation before you doze and leave the party for awhile! I invite you to decide today in favor of the Holy Spirit in your life! I invite you to decide in favor of holding GOD’s hand, not wringing your own hands in tough times. I invite you to decide. ‘In favor of looking where the Spirit is pointing, not just riding where the tides are carrying you. Oh, how I invite you. ‘To decide in favor of not just looking, but actually going where the Spirit points. Thank God for the Spirit. What a comfort! Such a guiding presence. But that can be a mixed bag. Sometimes we get goose bumps at the good-we-get or the bad-we’re-spared. But some times we get goaded into goin’ where we’d never have guessed. Or chosen. Or dared. And wonder of wonders, that might just be the holiest time of all. If you’re gonna doze in church today, decide first. In favor of the Holy Spirit.

I love these words as a promise of comfort.

Every time I feel the Spirit, movin’ in my heart, I will pray…

YES! EVERY time I feel the Spirit, movin’ in my heart, I will pray.

The words echo the word of our Lord, himself.

“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. …

The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, the Father will send in my name, and he will teach you all things.”

No thing comforts quite like this. God is with us; we are not alone. ‘Doesn’t matter what’s goin’ on, God’s not lettin’ go. Experience God’s Presence and you are standing in the company of the Spirit!

It’s as old as time itself. “In the beginning was God… and the Spirit of God moved across the face of the waters.” One Holy Spirit, no waiting. Not even for light or dark, much less land or sky, or the faithful or faithless. ‘Not for David’s day or Jesus’ journey. The Spirit: always with us, with power and might! No matter our lot or life then, we needn’t merely wring our hands in fear, frustration. Doubt or desperation. The Spirit has the power and the perseverance to do what we cannot. So in the end, we can! See the Psalm at the top of your bulletin (51). Whenever you or I couldn’t be more beaten up or put down than David, he singsFill me with joy and gladness; (Lord) let the bones you broke… rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, blot them all out. [You’ve got the power…] Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Don’t cast me away from your presence. Don’t take your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. If you’re over age 5, you’ve had a moment or a season when you felt broken up, like David. Or like you just wish God would turn God’s head when you walked by, so as not even to see your sorry self. (Come on. Admit it. ‘Not to the rest of us, to God. Confession’s good for the soul, you know!) Who here hasn’t felt so low you just wanted a whole new Spirit, but couldn’t bring it off yourself. We all wanta feel right sometimes, but can’t get over feelin’ all wrong. (… ‘In some class where you just can’t win, some task where you just can’t get it; some relationship, marriage or moment where you just can’t make it good again.) Alone. Inept. Unworthy. Stuck. Empty. Help/hopeless. THIS is Spirit-time! What David trusts, Jesus delivers… the Holy Spirit… “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. …The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, the Father will send… and he will teach you all things.” Preach …for a decision, they taught me. So today I invite you decide to trust. Trust in the power of the Spirit when you feel powerless in your spirit. Know the holy promise is for you. “Fear not. Your God will come and save you!” (Enough hand wringing! Take the Holy Spirit in hand!)

But get this. The Spirit will take you in hand, too. Walk with the Spirit and you will not merely wonder on your way. Now there is a guiding hand, a pointing presence in your path. This hour, I invite you to decide to look where the Spirit points, not just ride where the tides are carrying you. How easy it is, to just go along. ‘Speed with the flow of traffic. ‘Do the job by rote. ‘Talk the talk of the Middle School hallway or the high school locker room. ‘Lear at the girls or guys; lollygag over the lurid lyrics of the Grammies or laugh at the lame humor and jagged jokes of the day. How easy to think whatever Fox News or MSNBC might be peddling for pay this week. How convenient to hate those whose accents are different, to distrust those who do not look like us, and to make objects of others to whose ideas we object. Fitting-in is just so

much easier than standing-out. UNLESS you decide to look where the Spirit points. There are famous examples. A lady finds a penniless retiree living in a chicken coop. The Spirit leads her to found AARP, for mercy’s sake. Nascar’s Jeff Gordon sees the Spirit pointing when a friend’s child is stricken. He pours millions and many hours into helping families through pediatric cancer. We have our local heroes. Jim Gourley, our Zimbabwe Zephyr. Dolores, our diva of dinners wherever there’s a need. Charles in his hardhat lookin’ like Bob the Builder. Jessica Blair gets the Spirit award at AHS, refusing to wander through her teens with a creed of whatever! The Spirit’s unlikely to point you to fame. Or award you a prize. But it is as available to your baptized soul as to the soul of Christ. First the waters. Then his prayers. Then the Spirit with a word from Heaven. You are my beloved. You belong to me! We do, too. The Spirit fills Jesus because Jesus is open to the Spirit. How open are you? Jesus is then led by the Spirit. The Spirit still points our way. Are you lookin’ where the Spirit’s pointin’? You need to decide!

At the last, the question isn’t just where you’re lookin’, but where you’re goin’. I tell you the truth. I share with you from personal experience. The Spirit can be pretty persuasive, powerfully insistent, not just a guide but a goad. When we don’t want to budge, the Spirit can be God’s forceful nudge. [KH, eyes to souls, church to church, corner to corner, oft contra will.] I love it. The Gospels of Good News are not followed in the NT by the Book of Thoughts. Or Beliefs. Or Doctines. Or Resolutions. Nope. The Book of Acts comes next. It’s the record of how the Spirit forms the church and how the church acts in and for Christ’s Good News all across Bad News Times! It’s not enough to look where the Spirit points. We gotta go where the Spirit leads. Peter doesn’t get to watch Jesus heal on the Sabbath (at the cost of his life, in part). He himself, led by the Spirit becomes a Sabbath healer. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, says, "Rulers, concerning a [Sabbath] good deed done to a cripple, know that by the name of Jesus, whom you crucified and God raised this man is standing before you well. This stone which you rejected has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, by which we must be saved.” Peter expected to fish. He was Spirit goaded to touch, to heal, to preach. You won’t be moved to be Peter. Just your best you. Comforted. Guided. Even goaded a bit. By the Spirit. Just decide. TODAY!

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