The Definitive Guide to the Holy Spirit’s Work in Your Life
Becoming a new creature in Christ is only the beginning…for the full dominion of Christ’s rule to penetrate, “the real you” needs to be rebuilt.
This is not a self-help book. Neither is it a structured Bible study of the Book of Nehemiah.
But this is a book about help, or better yet, about a Helper. The best part is that the help He has is for you, and the Book of Nehemiah can provide you with a picture of how He wants to help you.
Therefore, far from being a self-help book, this is a book about how to partner with the Holy Spirit on your personal renewal project, which is something that He has wanted to help you with since before you were born again.
Self-help books usually mislead because they promise too much and provide too little. In all self-improvement books, the fundamental grounds for hope are humankind—you, me, us, we. As “self-helpers,” we may not be all that bad, but we’re not really good enough. When you start with human beings, all you’re going to get is human help. Even though the presumption survives that people have what it takes, the evidence is in; the fact is, it isn’t enough.
This book’s foundational proposition is that there is a genuine possibility of personal restoration and fulfillment for everyone, regardless of what your past may hold, but that personal restoration can only occur at the invitation of the Holy Spirit and under His ongoing tutelage.
We have all experienced something of brokenness: hearts, homes, health, finance, dreams, relationships—all as breakable as bones, though harder to set. We may not all be basket cases, but it’s certain we all need the Doctor. The Doctor is God, who is larger than any brokenness and is the fountainhead of life itself. He is the Father of love, and He has the right to speak with authority to His children. He has given us His Word, and He enlivens it to our human hearts.
He sent the Messiah, Jesus, and He has proven the Messiah’s miraculous capacity for meeting our needs by raising Him from the dead and sending His Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. In the context of the reality of the Messiah’s resurrection, there is nothing impossible for your life or mine.
The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus is glorified most of all through our human personalities. The Father created us in splendor, in His own image, but that splendor has been badly marred. Jesus came to redeem the Father’s original intention in us and through us.
I believe that you believe this too, because I believe everyone has faith: “As God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). I am not saying that everyone’s faith is perfect, accurate, or functional. But it is there.
In fact, it takes studied effort and a deep commitment to not believe, for faith can rarely be crowded out of a human soul. Disaster may burn it, tragedy may smash it, injury may bruise it, or arrogance may denounce it. But faith, like seed buried under concrete, is difficult to keep down permanently.
Your faith is probably ready. Your faith may be active, alive, and vibrant enough to respond to the truth of God’s eternal Word and His risen Son.
Let me encourage you to welcome a new dimension of “help” into your life—the help I referred to at the beginning and that comes in the person of a Helper.
His first name is “Holy,” and He is the Spirit of God, called the Holy Spirit. He is as truly and completely God as either the Father or the Son. He is deeply personal, all-powerful, and ever present. He wants to make Himself known in the details of your life.
He is one of the Three-in-One, but don’t worry if you don’t understand such theological elements. He doesn’t mind our human limitations, because the Holy Spirit—indeed, God in any aspect of His person—is fully secure enough to be comfortable with our finite understanding. He isn’t running a heavenly quiz to see how much we know, for in the last analysis, our salvation and our destiny will not be resolved by how much we know but by whom we know.
His mission—and He’s decided to accept it!—is to maximize your potential by helping you to truly “get it all together.” I think your perspective on both yourself and the Holy Spirit will be broadened and deepened as you pursue these pages. As we examine how the seldom-read Book of Nehemiah presents a beautifully encoded picture of the Holy Spirit’s person, style, and ministry, we will be able to participate in the rebuilding of our own souls.
The Helper is ready to bring you to fulfillment and to your highest destiny…
Chapter 1: Meeting a Forever Friend
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is somewhat of a mystery to most people. Referred to for centuries as the Holy Ghost, a dimension of unreality, if not spookiness, has surrounded His person for a long time.
The Holy Spirit is personal. He is God, a “He,” not an “it.” He is not some abstract force or distant cosmic influence. The Holy Spirit is one expression of the God who created us, loves us, redeemed us, and longs to bring us to full maturity in life, to the realization of His created purpose in each of us.
Jesus shed a great deal of light on the personality of the Holy Spirit when He taught us that: (1) He is like Jesus Himself in character, temperament, and works (John 14:17), (2) His mission is to help us personally understand more and more about Jesus (John 16:14), and (3) He has come to abide—to stay with us, somewhat of a heaven-sent forever friend (John 14:16). The most cursory reading of John’s Gospel, chapters 14 to 16, establishes this. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father, in the name of the Son, to be with each one of us and to help us. There’s nothing spooky about that.
The Holy Spirit Enters at New Birth
When a person comes to God the Father and willingly receives the gift of life through Jesus the Son, the first thing that happens is that the Holy Spirit enters that person’s life. Jesus described Him as a “Comforter”—One who will remain beside you to help, to counsel, to teach, and to strengthen you. His entering is only a beginning, though, and the sensible believer in the Lord Jesus will keep open to the Holy Spirit’s increasing desire to expand the evidence of God’s purposes in his or her life.
The fullness of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and, most of all, the abundant, flowing love of the Holy Spirit are all expressions of God’s intent in giving us His Spirit. In other words, to simply realize that the Holy Spirit entered when I received Christ is to grasp a precious truth. But I need to see more—to want more. The practical development of God’s work in my life requires that I give a growing place to the Holy Spirit’s working within me. The Comforter has come, and His mission is to help us to move forward as growing sons and daughters of the Most High God.
In the Word of God, we can see how to test the validity of the Spirit’s presence and work in a believer’s life: He makes people more thankful, more loving, more generous, more considerate, more understanding—in short, more like Jesus. Since our study will have a great deal to say about the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, let us understand from the beginning that the whole objective is not to displace Jesus with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, but to replace our weakness and personal inadequacy with the Holy Spirit’s enabling presence. In this way, Jesus Christ will be seen more perfectly in each of us.
Even among people who have experienced the entry of the Holy Spirit into their lives—that is, people who have received God’s love and forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection—there seems to be wide variations in response to the Holy Spirit. Some hesitate in their readiness or their ability to allow the Holy Spirit an ever-increasing breadth of space to work in their lives. Such hesitation or apparent inability often seems related to a person’s depth of difficulty with life prior to his or her conversion.
We are notorious for not asking for God’s help until our backs are against the wall. Somehow, we have been persuaded either that we can manage by ourselves or that to “bother” God for anything other than a crisis condition would somehow impinge upon His patience. This habit of waiting until our circumstances are drastic usually means that by the time we finally open our lives to Christ, considerable damage has been done. The net result is that whatever our past, however gifted our capacity at survival, virtually all of us badly need the Holy Spirit’s restoring work in our lives. That work begins when we welcome Him to take charge of the rebuilding process. That process advances as He is permitted full rein—and full reign.
If you have never opened up to the beginning of God’s Spirit working deeply and powerfully in you, the path to that entrance is through one clearly marked door: Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He said, “I am the door. . . . I am the way. . . . No one comes to the Father except through Me. . . . Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12). To open your life to Jesus Christ is to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life at the same time, for “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). Simple heartfelt prayer can establish a turning from your own way unto His. From this beginning, your life is waiting to unfold in the will of God and by the Spirit of God.
Excerpted by permission from Rebuilding the Real You Copyright © 2009 by Jack Hayford. Charisma House, A Strang Company, Lake Mary, Florida. Used by permission; all rights reserved.
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