And Peter said to them, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the reason why we must stop depicting the gift of salvation as nothing more than fire insurance. When I was very little, I "became a Christian," for the sole reason of escaping Hell. Truth be told, I was terrified of being sent to a place of torture and torment for eternity. The ABC's of becoming a Christian, to me, was a fire escape. That was it.
But there is so much more! This is the part of the Good News that is often skipped over when telling others about Jesus. We're sure to include "He died for your sins!" "If you receive Him, you can live with Him in paradise when you die!" "He loves you so much, He paid the price!" All of that is true. It's beautiful, convicting, and wonderful truth. But there is more. If we make conversion a momentary agreement with benefits to receive after death, if we make it sound like a prize that will be bestowed after this life, we are missing something sooo important.
When we repent and are baptized, we are given a gift; He is the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us His Spirit. This world can be a dangerous place for believers, but we have been given someone who guides us through life! He is someone who sees God's plans, because He is God. Why do we overlook the opportunity of living with the Spirit of God within us? He is the part of the trinity that remains so mysterious, because He is seldom talked about. But when Jesus left, He sent the Holy Spirit to guard us, protect us, and teach us until Christ's return.
So who is He?
And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin,
and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.
--John 16:8, 13-14
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you. When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative- that is, the Holy Spirit- he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
--John 14:16-17, 26
We are called Christians because we strive to be imitators of Christ. The only way we can truly be like Him is if we listen to the Spirit that He has put inside of us, right? We already know that the Fruit of the Spirit, (the fruit we produce when we let the Holy Spirit take control) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, and gentleness. It is the Holy Spirit living inside of us that transforms us into the image of Christ! Though many people don't truly understand what it means to "accept Jesus into our hearts," that is what it means! He gives us the amazing gift of His own Spirit, to direct our lives into God's Will.
Sounds ideal, does it not? We get so worried over what we should do with our lives- where we should go, who we should marry, what job we should apply for... we stress over figuring out God's Will for our lives. But we have someone inside of us who knows those plans. He directs us towards that great blueprint for our lives.
So there's no need to worry, right? We can leave it up to God's Spirit, who has made his home inside our very hearts. It's the perfect gift- indescribable, really. However... many of us have become deaf over time. Many of us rarely listen to Him.
When was the last time you felt convicted? When was the last time you felt your heart tugging you to go help someone, say something, or do something difficult? When was the last time you listened?
God has given me plenty of opportunities to shed His light to those around me. Those chances have come up in the most random places at the most unexpected times... at the pool, at a theatre, at a track meet, in a food court, on the street, in a line-up, at the gas station, and countless other places. Some of those opportunities I took. Some I ignored. But I can tell you this for a FACT: the ones that I took, I never regretted... but the ones I ignored haunt me to this very day.
The Holy Spirit is what sets us apart, as believers. Therefore, the more we listen to Him, the clearer His instruction becomes to us, the more evident our Walk with Christ will be. He is the way to live an abundant, fulfilling life- He is always there to guide us, if we would just take the time to listen and obey.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Before we believed, we couldn't understand. We couldn't see the sin in our lives. We couldn't see the truth. It was like we had a veil over our eyes, and we did not see the need to try to live holy lives. But look at the drastic difference the gift of the Holy Spirit gives us:
2 Corinthians 3:16-18~
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord- who is the Spirit- makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.
So often we hear the Holy Spirit's guiding us, but we don't realize how truly and infinitely perfect His instruction is. We can't see beyond our own ideas and goals, so when we feel convicted for some work or deed, we sometimes back away because it interferes with our own plans. It's stupid! We have the power that holds the universe, and the wisdom that surpasses all understanding living in our hearts, and we STILL think we know better.
We make excuses. I'm too tired. Too busy. Too young. Too old. Too scared. Too ________. When Jesus returns and receives all of us who have His Spirit... I don't think those excuses will mean anything to Him. With the Spirit of God living inside of us, there are NO limits on what we can do. Therefore, there should be no excuses. The Holy Spirit's calling, wherever and whenever we feel it, should ALWAYS override our schedules. It is priority. We are Christ's agents of Love, and we have a pager that is active 24/7. It's our choice and our responsibility to obey, abandoning our own skepticism.
It is my personal belief that we please God, giving glory to His Name, when we obey His instruction despite our flaws. It is time to grasp that in our weakness, He is stronger! The commands He gives us that we think we are unable to do are the ones that He can display His amazing power through!
Don't back away from the scary opportunities, run towards them! When the Spirit gives you a challenge, dive in saying, "God, I can't wait to see the miracle you're about to perform!"
God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. --Henry T. Blackaby
Next time you feel the "nudge," D.E.A.R.
Drop. Everything. And. Respond.