The articles in "The Jesus Window" section for 2021 will be tied to our daily Bible reading that takes us through the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) once each quarter. Our reading focus this past week has been on John chapters 15-21. (Download the "Chasing Jesus" reading plan.)
Years ago, we were going to a new church. When it came time to head home one evening, we could not find our 22-month-old son. He had been with us just a few moments earlier, but as they were turning off the lights and closing the building, Zach was nowhere to be found. The building was new turf for him. He didn't know his way around. Worst of all, we didn't know his favorite places in the building. All the lights, except a few in the foyer, were off.
Donna and I were frantic!
What if he made it to the street with it already dark outside with busy streets on both sides?
Where could he be?
How had he gotten away so quickly?
Why wasn't he crying?
I began a search of the parking lot and the street. Donna searched through all the classrooms in the children's wing. She found him in his Sunday morning classroom. The lights were off, but a window let light from the parking lot filter through the vertical blinds into where Zach played quietly with the teaching props.
He was perfectly happy, playing with a few toys in near-total darkness. He talked and sang his Sunday school songs, unaware of his crazed parents looking for him. He didn't feel alone in that room because he was in a place where people who loved him taught him to talk to God in prayer. They had spoken to him about God loving little children in this room where he now sat in darkness. This Bible classroom was home for him. He could be alone and unafraid because his church classroom was a familiar and safe place. We had telescoped our fear for our lost son onto him. We expected him to be frantic because he was alone and lost. We had transposed our adult fears onto him.
Most of us know the terror of being a child who momentarily is lost. Many of us remember a time when we thought we were left alone as a child. Adults who are left alone and left behind collide with even deeper pain. Think of these jarring adult realities:
- Left at the altar.
- Left alone in ER after a beloved one dies.
- Left alone to pay the bills after a business partner has stolen funds.
- Left by a rebellious child who has run away from home determined to leave behind all the values a parent holds dear.
- Abandoned by a parent who left you alone as a child so she or he could live her or his own life.
- Left alone after having been served divorce papers by an officer of the court, surprised, devastated, and in shock.
Jesus' disciples were about to be left behind by their Lord. So, Jesus shared with them some of the most beautiful and comforting words ever recorded:
[Jesus said,] "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).
As beautiful as these words can be in times of death, our question remains: "What do we do when we feel alone... today... at this moment in history... in the depths of our isolation... in our darkest moments of chaos and uncertainty?"
Jesus' words of comfort don't stop with his promise that he is preparing a place for us with the Father later. They don't stop with his promise to come back to take us home with him later. Jesus makes the following promises based upon the Holy Spirit's coming to us and living in us, NOW:
- "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you" (John 14:18).
- "I too will love [you] and show myself to [you]" (John 14:21).
- "My Father will love [you], and we will come to [you] and make our home with [you]" (John 14:23).
- "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).
Because of the Holy Spirit within us, Jesus reminds us that we will never be alone. The Spirit will live in us and make our heart the home for "all the fullness of God" living within us (Ephesians 3:16-19). God never abandons, forgets, or leaves us on our own (Romans 8:26-39). God is not only near; he is also present within us. Until the Father is ready for us to come home to him, He chooses to make his home in each of us! We are never left behind. The Spirit is always there with us, within us, to do God's work and bring God's blessings to us! (For a list of some of the things the Spirit does for us, with us, and through us, see the list at the end of this article.)
Several months ago, I walked out into a field from my truck. It was a cold, dark, crisp morning, two hours before the sun would come up. There were no clouds in the sky. It was a new moon, so there was no moonlight. The first two hundred yards of my half-mile hike was a bit treacherous, so I used a green light to walk carefully yet not scare the wildlife. Once on an old ranch trail, I turned off the green light, and my eyes began to adjust. After walking another four hundred yards, my eyes had adjusted to the darkness. I looked up into the inky darkness of the moonless sky. I was stunned into reverence.
The sky was not dark at all. The deepest "darkness" was still a dull, faint glow as billions upon billions of stars merged into the gentle glow of the night's background. When my eyes focused on a few clusters of stars, the background sky became dark; the stars appeared everywhere — all sorts of brightnesses. They were all around, twinkling in their dazzling array, like diamonds scattered across black velvet in a jeweler's display case — each star like a diamond's facet reflecting bits of light.
I had to stop. The Holy Spirit immediately called up the words of Psalm 8:1-5. I uttered them instinctively and out loud — not once or twice, but three or four times, rhythmically repeating them without regard to scaring off the wildlife.
As we look at all the Holy Spirit does for us while indwelling us, we cannot help but be awestruck. Like the shimmering stars in the darkest night sky, there are layers upon layers of grace upon grace as the Spirit works in us, for us, and through us.
What follows is a list of SOME of the work the Spirit does for us while indwelling us. Space does not allow me to list all that the Spirit does even if I could list them all — if I were wise enough to discern them all. Suffice it to say, we are left to praise and thank Jesus, who loved us so much he was willing to die for us. Then, he loved us so much as our resurrected Lord that he sent the Spirit to live within us and make his home with us. The Spirit's abiding presence ensures that we are never alone. The Spirit also guarantees that we will one day see the Father face-to-face in the place Jesus has prepared for us.
Indwelling Holy Spirit in Our Lives Today!
The Holy Spirit...
Is the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit that only Jesus' disciples have — a gift that the world cannot have (John 14:15-18; 1 Corinthians 2:12).
Cleanses, washes, and makes us right with God (sanctifies us) (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Indwells in us and makes us God's holy temple (Acts 2:28-39; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Pours God's love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
Gives us spiritual gifts to bless the church and honor the Father (1 Corinthians 12:).
Helps us cry Abba Father and testifies that we are children of God (Romans 8:14-17).
Strengthens with power in our inner being with the same strength used to raise Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 1:17-20).
Empowers us to put to death sin in our flesh (Romans 8:13).
Opens our minds to know the things of God and to know God better (1 Corinthians 2:10-18; Ephesians 1:17-20).
Makes known and guides us into the truth about Jesus (John 16:12-15).
Inspires joy in us (Acts 13:52; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6).
Teaches us and helps us remember and know the truth about Jesus and what Jesus said (John 14:25-26; 1 John 2:20-27).
Enables us to discern truth from what is false (John 14; 1 John 2:26-27; 1 John 5:).
Reassures us (1 John 2; John 15).
Intercedes for us in sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26).
Intercedes for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
Helps us have spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:10-15; 12:10).
Gives us 24-7 always-on instant access to God (Ephesians 2:18).
Convicts the world of sin and judgment (John 16:8-11).
Helps us confess Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Gives us words to say when faced with threats, uncertainty, and persecution (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12).
Leads us through life in the way of God (Galatians 5:18, 25; Romans 8:14).
Gives life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11).
Guarantees our salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13).
Empowers us to witness and testify about Jesus (John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; Acts 5:32; 1 John 5:7-8).
Brings forth the fruit that shows the character and compassion of God (Galatians 5:22-23).
Transforms us, little-by-little, to become like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
When I look at this list, I am stunned at the comprehensiveness of the Spirit's work. I am humbled that Jesus would love me so much that he would provide all these gifts through the Spirit he has poured out upon me. I am thankful. Most of all, I am assured that I am never alone or abandoned by God!