I was raised Catholic and grew up with "The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit"....and fast forward to now...Our church is going through a teaching called "Alpha". Basically it is a teaching of our basic Christian beliefs. Tonight we talked about the Holy Spirit and how He works. God in heaven needed to come to earth to be a sacrifice for our sins so He asked His son Jesus to come down and walk on the earth with us, to die for our sins, and then to rise again to His right place in Heaven. But God loves us so much that He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us so that we will never walk without Him again. The Holy Spirit ministers to our spirit so that we walk in the will of God!
Joel 2: 27, 28 says, "Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your
God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your
young men will see visions." The Holy Spirit is for ALL people! Praise God!!! The word used for "pouring out" used in the old testament translates into an image of the Holy Spirit surrounding us/engulfing us like a ship sinking and being engulfed by the ocean water.
The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit and to God on behalf of us.....and when we step out in faith on North 1st St. in the boldness of the Holy Spirit to reach out to the lost... we get the honor of being a conduit....a connection between the Holy Spirit and the lost.... God can move without us, but He allows us to experience the joy of being the Hands and Feet of Christ!!! So I see it like this.... God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit reaches the lost through our obedience and even though they may think that they are being drawn to the empty lot on North First St. every Sunday because of the food and clothes....they are getting a Holy Spirit bonus!!! They are getting drawn in and immersed in the Holy Spirit in a way that engulfs their spirits....in a way that changes them little by little....like a sinking ship that starts taking on water...the water seeps through the holes in the ship and slowly fills it until it is completely submerged.
The people on North First St. may or may not be ready to die to their old selves...but the more the Holy Spirit seeps into the bows of their ship...the more they are "considering Jesus". Praise God!!!! And many of them are considering Jesus!!
The Holy Spirit is revealing Himself more and more to all of us!! A great example... Maria from last week who just returned from treatment for Meth wanted to go to church with us so I called her and arranged to pick her up for service. (Which for me was a huge step because I have a lot of anxiety and it was out of my comfort zone.) Keith and I talked about where to take her both last night and this morning. I wanted it to be the right fit...Church's have different cultures...as was the sermon today :0) and I wanted the church culture to be one where she felt comfortable and that met her needs. Keith and I made a 11th hour decision and took her to a church that was right in her neighborhood. We didn't know that it was going to be a great fit...but the Holy Spirit did! Maria raised her hand at the end with the alter call and said that she thought her husband would also enjoy it. The church offered the support for her recovery that she will need in the coming months. Thank You Jesus for speaking to us in Your Amazing Wisdom!!!
Another great example... Keith prayed on the way down to North First today..."Holy Spirit, please open my ears and my eyes today to see what you want me to see and to be bold." Fast forward to our day...Keith walked down the line of homeless people who were waiting to get their meal. He shook each of their hands and looked them in the eye with a friendly welcome. One man in particular caught his attention. Joe was an older man in his 50's. His face looked as if it had been clawed by a bear. Deep claw marks ran from his forehead, down across his eye, over his cheek, draping down his neck. It truly looked like he had been malled. His other eye and cheek showed that he had been badly beaten. Keith in boldness said, "Man, what happened to you? Someone messed you up! What is your name?" The man was reserved but did introduce Keith to his wife and then turned away. Keith worked his way down the line and then returned to them with a box of clothes. Does anyone need gloves? Joe raised his hand and accepted the gloves and shirts that Keith was offering. Later in the day he and his wife ate their lunch by the area where Keith was handing out clothes so Keith was able to talk a bit back and forth with him. The man and his wife opened up and connected with Keith. Well... the Holy Spirit is so cool because He prompted someone in our volunteer group to bring cookies that had scripture written inside. Joe and his wife left and walked back to the mission only to return shortly after to say that the scripture that he read meant more to him today than any in his whole life!!! Wow, Wow, and Wow!!! God is so so so cool.
The Holy Spirit is doing a work in all of us....before we even arrived today, people were lined up waiting. Through these months they have learned that if they wait in line on Sundays about 2:00 in this empty lot....good things will come. They will receive good things...hot food...warm clothes...love...kindness...no judgement....they don't know it, but what they receive is the Holy Spirit...each week seeping into their bows....each week peeling layer after layer off of the hard shell that oppresses their spirit. A man that was standing back in the line asked Keith, "What's up there?" He wanted to know what kind of food we were serving today. Keith told him and he was so happy. "That's my favorite! (spaghetti)" He trusted that if he stood in this really long line... not knowing what would be there...that it would be something "good". We know that what they experience is the Holy Spirit...extended through the hands and feet of amazing volunteers both young and old with hearts that love Jesus!!! Grade school kids, jr. high kids, highschool kids, young adults, young families, middle aged couples, and older wonder folks who just want to show the love of Jesus....that's what they experience.
The incredible joy that we feel preparing food, sorting clothes, packing the trailer, and serving each week is only from The Holy Spirit! It is a joy that I can not explain well... it is a joy that bursts from my chest...it is a joy that engulfs me as I burn my fingers on hot spaghetti noodles, and try to figure out how to make the hundred + pounds of pasta??? That kind of joy is not logical given the tasks but is totally understandable given the Holy Spirit!!!
My last story... Rosa....lives by the river...has been estranged from her family for a long time...asked for prayer a while back...said that she had 4 of the best days she has ever had with her mom last week. Praise God!!! Layer by layer... the Holy Spirit is seeping in!!! Two different homeless people today shared how they take care of others down by the river. I sent extra with them...Now they didn't say it in a manipulative way as if to get more food... in each case it came up later in the conversation... how they were getting the things they were for people they were caring for. These are people with nothing...people who are dirtier and more ragged than any of the people out there and they are caring for other people. The Holy Spirit is ministering to all of us...rich or poor...man or woman...child or adult...the Holy Spirit is healing and filling and restoring what was lost.
Thank You Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ministering to my heart every day...every minute! Thank You for Your provision, Your strength, You unending love!! Thank You! It is an honor and a privilege to serve You. I love You with all of my heart!! Please continue to seep into my bough and engulf me with Your Spirit! In Jesus Name Amen :0)