Generosity: The Surprising Secret To Joy

I asked one of my great friends and gospel co-laborers for many years now, Graham Cochrane, to write a post on generosity for me this week in light of what I preached on Sunday (Acts 2:42-47). Graham is a follower of Jesus, a terrific husband and daddy, a business owner, and a deacon at Aletheia Church, serving in a hundred different ways but primarily as one of our worship leaders and city groups leaders. He is one of the most generous people I have ever known, living out daily what it looks like to “distribute the proceeds to all, as any has need” (Acts 2:45). This post will encourage you. Enjoy!

If you stop and think about it, just about every activity or endeavor we attach ourselves to has an underlying motivation of personal joy or happiness surrounding it.

Whether it’s going to work to make money so we can buy things we want, disciplining our kids so they are quiet and well behaved, or even reading our bibles, we all choose to pursue things in order to find that elusive joy in the midst of the craziness and challenges of life. In fact, most of our pursuits of happiness involve looking for one more person, place, or thing to add to our lives that will bring joy along for the ride.

But what if I told you that the real secret to joy wasn’t adding something, but rather giving something?

The Apostle Paul had this surprising secret figured out and he shared about a peculiar church in a place called Macedonia whose “abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2 ESV)

How in the world can a group of people have an abundance of joy (not just some joy, but more than enough) while living in extreme poverty? On top of that, how can someone want to give more when they already have so little?

The answer is that they understand who God is and how he works.

The Bible tells us over and over that God is a good father who:

  • loves to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:7-11)

  • knows what we need and promises to take care of us (Luke 12:22-34)

  • is able to make it so we have sufficiency in all things (2 Corinthians 9:8)

If God, who is all good and all powerful at all times, promises to meet our needs (physically and spiritually) then that changes how tightly we hold on to things. In fact, we can dial back the stress meter knowing that we are covered.

Specifically Jesus gave us the Church to be an incredible place of safety and protection. When needs arise, the Church takes care of its own. As the saying goes at Olive Garden, “When you’re here, you’re family…”

This past Sunday, Pastor Aaron taught through an eye-opening passage of scripture in Acts chapter 2. It depicts what the very first Christians spent their time doing and what the model biblical community looks like.

“And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:45-47, emphasis added)

Here we have a picture of a vibrant, passionate, and joyful community that is growing by the day. But the brilliant thing nestled within these verses is the unbelievable display of generosity. Needs are being met because the people are being generous.

I don’t want you to miss the encouraging nugget within this passage: those who were being generous are just as much entitled to having their needs met, if/when they fall into hardship. They give freely because they trust Jesus with their lives, and trust his Church to have their backs.

What a picture of freedom. Don’t you want to live this way?

Here are just a few practical truths about generosity that I want us to let soak in, so that we can begin living that liberating “life abundant” that Jesus talks about in John 10.

1. God is generous with us. He offers complete forgiveness of sin, a new life, and provision for our basic needs. We did nothing to deserve this; he simply gives because he wants to.

2. The Church is a place of refuge and provision for its members. If you are part of a biblical church community then you are never alone. You can bring your hardest needs to the rest of the “body” and give them the joy of meeting them head on.

3. In light of points 1 and 2 you can freely give without fear. That’s right, open your wallet, open your home, and open your life. It’s a much better way to live than holding on to all three with a kung fu grip.

4. Everything you have is God’s anyway. The big truth behind everything here is that all the stuff you have isn’t yours to begin with. It’s God’s. He’s simply letting you manage it. And newsflash, one way God wants you to manage his stuff is to give some of it away to help take care of other people. Best get to it!

If you want more joy in your life this year, why not try something different than the same old attempts of building your own happy little kingdom? Why not try the complete opposite and start being more generous?

And if you think about it, there are only three results to generosity: other people are blessed, you live with a lighter grip on things, and you get to see God come through for you and others in huge ways.

All three sound good to me. Let’s do this!

“Preach the Gospel at All Times…”

Where did your mind go when you read the subject line? Probably “And when necessary, use words!”. This quote that has been attributed to St Francis of Assisi (albeit falsely) is one of the most overused sayings when it comes to people’s excuses for not wanting to share the good news. I mean, let’s be honest with each other for a moment. How selfishly arrogant could we possibly be to have been spoken to (by someone) the truth of the gospel and yet come up with an excuse to not have to do likewise in another individual’s life? Eh hem. Pretty selfish, right?

Scripture is very clear about how the gospel is to be furthered. And it is most significantly through proclamation. Remember Pentecost? What happened when the Holy Spirit of promise finally came upon the church? The “about” 120 (Acts 1:15 – Don’t you love it how even biblical writers exaggerated numbers?) started speaking. They didn’t start healing. They didn’t start casting out demons. They didn’t start raising people from the dead. They started speaking. What did they say? Luke tells us that these Galileans began to speak (in somewhere around 19 different dialects) the mighty works of God (Acts 2:11). In other words, they began to share the gospel. The first thing that happened after the power of the Holy Spirit came upon the church was that the gospel was shared. This had nothing to do with deeds. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. We need to preach the gospel with our deeds as well but that’s for another day and another post. What we need to center on here is that Jesus chooses to first and foremost use our words as the primary gospel furtherance tool. If there is no proclamation, there is no gospel furtherance.

The proof is undeniable. When the gospel is preached, incredible things happen. Scripture even tells us the results of gospel proclamation that is spirit-empowered and Christ-centered:

1. Results will be driven by pure conviction. In Acts 2:37, people are cut to the heart after having heard the good news.

2. Results will be rooted in true repentance which produces tangible fruit. In Acts 2:38, Peter proclaims that if people repent, they will receive the Holy Spirit.

3. Results will be determined by God, apart from any determination by man. In Acts 2:39, we are reminded that God is the one who calls people to Himself to be saved (people need to hear this and they will only know it if they hear it from us).

4. Results will be confirmed through the testimony of those who flee idolatry and run to Jesus. In Acts 2:40, Peter, bears witness (with his words) that people must turn from idolatry (and obviously turn to Jesus).

5. Results are numerous. In Acts 2:41, after the gospel is preached from the mouth of Peter (a guy who had just denied Jesus with that same mouth a few short weeks earlier), 3,000 people are saved and baptized that day.

Gift of Tongues (It’s Significance)

Yesterday, in the 84 degree Florida heat, I preached, drenched in sweat, on Acts 2:1-13 where the Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind into the house where the first Christians met and rested upon their lives as of fire. This was a powerful and comforting event all at the same time. The comforter and helper that Jesus had promised, had finally come. He came in great power. And He would never leave.

The first expression of His presence and power was through the proclamation of the “mighty works of God” (AKA the gospel) by a bunch of Galileans who spoke these things in 14 or so different dialects. The results: bewilderment, perplexity, amazement, and astonishment. Some who witnessed it were interested in knowing more. Others there just flat out chalked the experience up to a drunken coincidence.

What we must understand about what happened at Pentecost that day is that this account is a move of God to usher in the church age, making it known that His gospel of peace would be for every nation under heaven. This was all about the Holy Spirit breathing life into the church, launching it out on mission, and making the emphatic statement that this movement would be full of the presence, power, and the proclamation (of the mighty works) of God. That being said, a few matters of importance regarding the topic of the spiritual gift of tongues need to be addressed. This is by no means a comprehensive explanation. But it’s a start.

1. In Scripture, there seems to be a distinction between the human dialect(s) and a heavenly dialect (“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels…” 1 Cor 13:1). Heaven seems to have one dialect and this is what is being accomplished at Pentecost. There was no need for a translator there. With Christ, comes unity. He brings the nations, races, and cultures together. One day that will happen fully. We are given a glimpse of that here.

2. The spiritual gift of tongues is private (“For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” 1 Cor 14:2). Paul seems to hint at a secret prayer language here. But it is to be used in private. The languages that the spirit-filled Christians at Pentecost were speaking were known languages. This leads us to our next point.

3. The spiritual gift of tongues can/should be used for evangelistic purposes (“…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of.” Acts 2:11) but can also be used at times for the building up of the body (1 Cor 14:26-27) . The first time the spiritual gift of tongues are demonstrated, 3000 people are saved by the grace of Jesus (Acts 2:41).

4. The spiritual gift of tongues can be public (within a corporate gathering) but when done must follow the biblical guidelines (Acts 14:27).

5. The spiritual gift of tongues must be done properly or else it will create confusion with non believers (“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” 1 Cor 14:23). This is pretty clear. Why would we want to exploit a spiritual gift that serves to lead people to Jesus, but in our misuse of it, will do the exact opposite?

6. Cessationism vs Continuationism: Who is right? Cessationists say that the gift of tongues ceased at the end of the apostolic age. Continuationists say that the gift of tongues continues today (by the way, this is where I – and Aletheia –  fall in my theological convictions). They are both right to a certain extent. Tongues will cease one day (“…as for tongues, they will cease…” 1 Cor 13:8). But not yet so they still continue today (“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12). We are not face to face with Jesus. When that day comes, tongues will cease. Why? Because everybody will speak the same language.

The point of all this: There is a place for tongues today. Should our church be marked by it? Sure, if that’s what God desires. But, more significant than whether or not this gift is expressed during our gatherings is that we must remember the larger significance of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit brought the gift of tongues so that the proclamation of the gospel would happen and so that people would be saved. That’s what it comes down to. It’s all about Jesus. And His ability to use whatever means to bring people to Him. Let’s make that our focus in all that we do and leave the spiritual gift distribution and usage up to the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel Overcomes Racism

This week I will be preaching (by God’s grace) from Acts 2:1-13 (as long as it doesn’t rain on our outside gathering). What we see in this passage is how the Holy Spirit comes upon the church for the first time (never to leave), and brings unity among the nations through one massive supernatural and powerful event.

The result: All those people from around 14 different cultural/ethnic backgrounds were spoken to by a bunch of Galileans in their own language.

What was said? The Galileans were essentially proclaiming the gospel in the different dialects.

The Point: The gospel brings the nations/cultures/ethnicities together. Why? Because Jesus isn’t exclusive. Jesus (and His gospel of peace) isn’t a racist. In fact, the gospel overcomes racism. Where all of our hearts are sinfully drawn to separate ourselves from each other because of our physical/national/cultural differences, the gospel overlooks all of that and brings us all together with one common goal: JESUS!

I stumbled upon this video by John Piper earlier this week. Pray that the gospel will expose any sin in your heart and bring you to repentance so that you truly will have a heart for ALL people.

A “flood” of emotions

Not so surprisingly, on a day when I was prepared to preach on how prayer should be central in moments of uncertainty, and how it can bolster confidence, and how before any action needs to take place, prayer should take place; and on a day that we were ushering in “40 Days Of Prayer”, God gave Aletheia Church the opportunity to live it out.  And when thrust into the face of uncertainty and adversity with little to no option for anything else, we did as Peter and the disciples did upon entering the upper room: We prayed! God gave us no choice.

Now our adversity this past weekend was most certainly a first world problem (we realize this). But it was/is still a pretty big deal. We accidentally flooded the basketball courts at the Y where we gather on Sunday mornings, after leaving a hose running all night on Saturday. This hose was filling the baptismal tank that we were going to use on Sunday morning to dunk a bunch of people. To say that the tank was filled up would be an understatement. Our band arrived on Sunday morning at 7:15, prepared to sing songs about the “water of life”, only to actually be welcomed by literal waters of despair (I had to do it).

There was a half inch of water on 70% or more of the two courts. I received the news at 7:30. I had woken up at 5:45 that morning to pray and to prepare to teach like I always do. My prayer as it had been all week was “Your will be done”. Of course, deep down in my heart a more truthful rendering would have been “Your will be done God, unless it sucks for me and Aletheia”. I’m not going to lie, when I found out, my first thought was “now we can’t have our cool baptism service that we had planned to do!” And I “may have” cursed in my heart. And I may have thought very selfishly initially about the situation. Quickly though, God brought me to repentance.

All the while, the word started to get out. And what did people do as they found out? They prayed. And what were the results? Well, we didn’t need to wait on the Holy Spirit like the disciples did in Acts 1. He had already been given to us. What God did do was that He certainly broke the uncertainty. He certainly gave us confidence. He certainly catapulted us into action. All of those things happened. And the people of Aletheia responded in ways that I have never seen (insert 40 people cleaning up 4,000 gallons of water in an hour). He even gave us peace AND we might have even chuckled at times through it.

As of right now, nothing is resolved. The Y has had to cancel much of their weekly activities during the busiest week of the year for them. We are looking at 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of damage that might very well come out of pocket (if the insurance claim we filed is rejected). We will most definitely have to gather as a church body outside in a parking lot again this Sunday right next to 3 dumpsters. We may even be out of a gathering space altogether when it’s all said and done. Yeah, it pretty much sucks. But do you know what we’re doing right now? We’re praying. And we’re trusting that the same sovereign God who gave answers to the prayer of the disciples in Acts 1 as they looked to fill the “apostle vacancy”, is the same God who is orchestrating all of this.

He’s a good God. We are witnesses of that goodness (His resurrection is at the top of the goodness list – Acts 1:22). What we do know is that He is good whether this situation ends well or ugly for us. We know He’s good because He died for us. That’s “good” enough for us. But He’s also good because He’s given us the gift of prayer. And we are using it. Believe me, we’re wearing it out like Kevin Hart wears out bad jokes.

On that note, if you have a minute, please PRAY for this situation. Thanks. Glory to Christ!

40 Days Of Prayer

One of our hopes at Aletheia Church (Tampa) for 2014 is that we would become a church marked by prayer. Meaning, even more important than being a “doing church”, we are a praying church. This Sunday I will preach a sermon on Acts 1:12-26 called “Living out the Mission of Jesus Through Prayer”. It is my hope that the Holy Spirit will ignite a passion in the body for prayer.
I stumbled recently upon the words of Jesus’ little brother, James: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16). I believe Aletheia is becoming a church marked by confession and repentance, with people who are seeking to find identity solely in Christ. But when it comes to prayer, I feel as though we have a long ways to go in seeing the extent of God’s grace in this area.

This coming Sunday we are going to usher in 40 days of prayer. During these 40 days, we feel as though God has given us 5 fearless prayers that we will pray as a church body; essentially choosing one prayer a week to focus on for the entire week.

1. Our Worship – We must pray that our lives will be marked by the grace of Christ and our hearts will be full of continuous praise to our King! We must pray that our identities will be rooted in Jesus, meaning practically, He will be given control over all areas of our lives.

2. The Church – We must pray that Aletheia will be marked by the grace of Christ; that we will be a people full of the light, life, and love of Jesus. That our aim will be to bring glory to Christ through the planting of more churches and that the churches we currently are partnering with in St Petersburg, Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Sarasota will continue to be a gospel force in those respective cities.

3. Our City – We must pray that Jesus will continue to redeem our city; that people will be rescued by the grace of Christ and reconciled in love to God. We must pray that 100 people in our city will be baptized this year at Aletheia as a reflection of the gospel fruit accomplished in Tampa, through Aletheia. We must pray that our city groups will multiply so that the community of Christ can be built up in more and more dark corners of Tampa. We must pray that Jesus will multiply our city groups this year twice over.

4. Our World – We must pray that Jesus will continue to pour His grace over the world and use us to assist in His redemptive efforts. Specifically, we are praying that the churches we support in Italy and India will be used to accomplish the mission of Jesus. We must pray that other strong global church planting partnerships will take place, specifically in Latin America as well as those places across the globe that are unreached.

5. Our Leaders – We must pray that the grace of Christ will pour over into the lives of the men who are leading Aletheia Church, both elders and deacons, and their families. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will gift, raise up, and equip other godly men and women to lead this church, as well as our church plants in the future.

Now, this will have the tendency to become like anything else in our lives: routine and mundane. We can view it legalistically and feel obligated/pressured to be a part of it. We can view it self-righteously as a sort of a check list where God will be more pleased with us if we do it.

OR, we can view these 40 days as an opportunity to worship our God in a deeper way and beg Him to stir our hearts and to move in ways that we have never seen Him move before.

We are also asking that all those who participate seek to fast 5 of the 40 days (here is a helpful article on fasting).

Prayer is not about receiving. It is about worship. What an opportunity we are going to have as a church body to worship our King and watch Him go to work in our hearts, His church, this city, and this world. Buckle up!

Preparing for War

War Movies are Cool: I mentioned on Sunday that I saw a very moving film recently called “Lone Survivor”. I was absolutely blown away by it. Usually a sucker for good war movies, I was not disappointed. Never has a movie brought out such a variety of emotions in me. I was moved to anger, anxiety, sadness, joy, and heartbreak. Of course the movie made me proud to be an American, and as many of the rest of you men probably have done, I fantasized about what it would be like to be in the situation of fighting bad guys with my closest friends. These feelings quickly dispelled as the reality of war and life loss sunk in.

I will not spoil the flick in any way for those of you yet to see it, but what I do want to do is reveal how the gospel for me was so clearly seen in the movie. As four highly trained, war-ready, supremely gifted men (whose mission had been thwarted) ran for their lives, being relentlessly chased by a group of Taliban fighters who knew the Afghan terrain as locals and who had a vast array of weaponry from automatic rifles to rocket-propelled grenades, I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual war that every single person (Christian or not) is entangled in. The four American men in the movie just couldn’t believe how relentless the Taliban fighters were. They just kept on coming. One of the protagonists even exclaimed something to the effect of “they’re so fast!”. No matter what the Americans did to escape, the enemy kept on coming.

As I thought through all of this from a spiritual perspective, I was moved to tears, right there in the movie theater. Sin, death, and Satan are constantly vying for supremacy in our hearts and in this world. They all are combining their efforts to wreak havoc on countless lives and families around the globe at a seemingly unstoppable rate. Relationships continue to fail. Addictions continue to rise. Suicides and murders are rampant. People are dropping like flies (emotionally, physically, spiritually, and eternally). Honestly, the situation for the most part appears bleak.

Reality Check: We are engaged in a war. The apostle Paul calls Christians, soldiers (2 Tim 2:4), who “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12). Paul talks about warfare in other places (2 Cor 10:4; 1 Tim 1:18). He even uses “war-like” terms in regards to our attack against evil such as “armor” and “weapons”.

Truth is, many of we American Christians are not in the spiritual fight. Why not? Because we don’t necessarily have to be. We don’t wake up every day begging Jesus to spare our lives for threat of physical endangerment. For the most part, we wake up to comfort, which leads to idolatry for most of us. Thus, we view the spiritual struggle as being more of a game than a war. Instead of suiting up with a pack, rifle, and helmet we otherwise choose jerseys, headbands, and sweet Nike kicks.

The Gospel: The most hopeless part of all of this is that we are in an impossible struggle. If left up to us to fight this war, we lose every single time. The good news is that it isn’t left up to us. Jesus came and waged war against Satan, sin, death, and hell. And guess what? He won, causing Paul to exclaim “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”. The war has been won. But the fulfillment of that victory is still not quite fully fulfilled. Jesus will one day make all things new. For now, the battle continues to wage on. But again, Jesus didn’t leave us to fight it on our own. He gave us the promised Holy Spirit, who was first validated in and through Christ, His suffering, and His resurrection (Acts 1:3) and is now being validated in and through the witness of us, Jesus’ church (Acts 1:8). There’s the hope!

Recognize that you are in a war. Prepare your heart and mind for that. Put on the appropriate gear. And fight the battle, by Christ’s grace and the Spirit’s power, knowing that the war has already been won.

5 Pastoral Leadership Disciplines

Jesus has designed the church to function a certain way. Even though He doesn’t need men to lead His church, He chooses to appoint godly men to do so.

On Sunday, we had the blessing of being able to appoint another pastor at Aletheia. What a celebration it was (Check out an instagram photo here). So much grace. So much Jesus. It was one of the more grace-filled moments that we’ve had in the history of this church (we’ve had some great moments but this ranks as probably the highest). I am grateful that God calls godly men to lead His church and I see the value and the need in it.

During our gathering together, I gave some quick thoughts on Acts 20:28 (Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.). To me, 5 very clear pastoral leadership disciplines come out of this verse.

1. A pastor knows himself (Pay careful attention to yourselves). This means that a pastor is acutely aware of his shortcomings and subsequently his desperate need for Jesus. What it comes down to is that a pastor must live out repentance. His life must be marked by it. He must lead out in repentance, meaning everyone knows that he operates this way and therefore can feel good about following him. Nobody wants to follow a guy who puts up a front.

2. A pastor knows the flock (and to all the flock). This means that he is acutely aware of their shortcomings and subsequently their desperate need for Jesus. Their repentance is his goal. He gets angry over their sin. He gets sad and cries over their sin. And he celebrates when there is victory over their sin.

3. A pastor’s ministry is empowered by the Holy Spirit (in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers). The Holy Spirit is responsible for calling, equipping, gifting, and empowering the man for pastoral ministry.

4, A pastor will spend himself for the flock (to care for the church of God). A shepherd will be thoroughly invested in the safety/protection/care of his flock. But not at the expense of his first church (his household).

5. A pastor ultimately trusts Jesus with the flock (which he obtained with his own blood). Since the pastor didn’t pay for the church with his own blood like Christ did, he doesn’t feel the burden of being her functional savior. He can work like an Arminian but sleep like a Calvinist, knowing that his sovereign God and Lord is in complete control of the outcome for the good of God’s people and for God’s glory.

 

 

Leading Those You Live With

The majority of us do not live alone. We live with our parents, our spouses, our children, our roommates etc. Due to this fact, we are given an enormous opportunity to invest spiritually in those around us. Most of us don’t. And if we do, it’s very minimal and for the most part not very intentional. But our primary community is with those we live with. We “do life” with many others and need to be investing spiritually in those relationships for sure. But the people we actually “live” with need to be the priority.

Tim Keller and Sam Shammas developed an adult and children friendly Catechism which can be downloaded on any smart device or computer for free. It is a very succinct, easy, user-friendly way to intentionally invest spiritually in the lives of those you live with both young and old. Ashlee and I are always thinking of ways to be more intentional with our children. This is a great way to do so. There is even a great explanation on what a catechism is. Here is the link:

New City Catechism

Enjoy!

 

A Job Description is Helpful

This past Sunday I joked in my sermon that there are two things in my life that I wish I would have had a job description or manual for: Marriage and Parenting.

Nobody ever gave me detailed instructions or what to expect when it came to either marriage or parenting. Pre-marital counseling was kept general and let’s be honest, who really listens during marriage counseling anyways (because you think you are going to boss the thing). And the birthing classes, although helpful (more like overly explicit and unnecessarily intense) when it came time for the birthing process, never told us what to actually do when the thing came out.

The Holy Spirit on the other hand  has a very clear job description that is three-fold. Knowing this helps us to know the third member of the trinity a little bit better. I only dealt with two on Sunday but another very important job of the Holy Spirit must be noted here.

1. The Holy Spirit Reminds us of the gospel. John 14:26 says But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Tim Keller notes in his book “Meaning of Marriage” that “Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit primarily as the ‘Spirit of Truth’ (Jn 14:17) who will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Furhter, he stated “The Holy Spirit’s task is to unfold the meaning of Jesus’ person and work to believers in such a way that the glory of it – its importance and beauty – is brought home to mind and heart.”

2. The Holy Spirit Empowers Us for Mission. Not only does the Holy Spirit secure our hearts in Christ (Eph 1:13-14), constantly reminding us of our new identities because of the work of the gospel in our lives; but He also empowers us for the mission of Jesus (Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”).

3. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. You might have noticed in the verse I referenced above (Jn 14:26) the word “helper”. Some translations (I prefer the ESV) read comforter. The Greek word is parakletos. It can be defined as one who pleads another’s cause before a judge. It’s great to have an advocate. We all probably have one or two of those (a spouse, a parent, a boss, a best friend etc.). It’s even greater when our greatest advocates are two members of the trinity. Jesus is probably your go-to when it comes to intercession, right? He better be. He is the lone mediator between God and man because of His redemptive, atoning, divine wrath-bearing work on the cross. But the Holy Spirit can to be our go-to as well. Why? Because he is called our comforter, our advocate, our helper. Romans 8:26 says “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Sometimes, we just don’t even know what to say to the Father and need someone to speak on our behalf. The Holy Spirit does that.

The Holy Spirit loves to bear your burdens. It’s His job after all. Let Him do His job in your life and watch how different your life will look.