Alright, it is time to get ready for the next game! One of truly challenging aspects of coaching football is, that immediately after a game, you begin preparing for the next game. After a loss, it is a blessing because you are ready to move on. After a win, it is much harder because you really want to take time to enjoy the victory. Unfortunately, there is no time to do that because the next opponent is looming. Getting a team ready to play is always a battle against time. After many years of walking with the Lord, I began to realize how similar the experience of winning and losing football games was to the challenges in my life as a Christian. When I had any type of victory in Christ, I wanted to take some time to enjoy it and rest in that victory. However, the next test would be right around the corner. Got to get prepared, right? Well, how do we get prepared for the spiritual challenges we face. What can we do to get ready for "the next game"?
I'm glad you asked that question. Oh wait, that was me who asked. As a reminder, last time we talked about surrendering our will to Christ completely. I hope you have taken that step. You need to realize that this is something we must do on a continual basis. We all have a tendency to want to take back control of our lives. Romans 12 tells us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This needs to be a daily prayer. We must be willing to give God the opportunity to use us. Then we must be empowered for use by God's grace. This is where the differences lie between worldly preparation and spiritual preparation. In coaching, the empowerment to be successful comes from talent, matched with hard work and good strategy. God uses these things in our spiritual lives too. Just read the book of Acts and you will see that Paul used his gifts (talent), strategy and worked really hard at the ministry entrusted to Him. But, there is one more ingredient for victory in the spiritual realm. That is the power of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Now, some of you may know a lot about the Holy Spirit and some may not. Some may even have seen or heard of the"gifts of the Spirit" being used and it seems strange to you. You may be somewhat skeptical. Even worse, you may have seen people who claim to be "in the Spirit" when they are certainly not. As troublesome as that is, it is not a valid reason to dismiss the proper role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is vital for a Christian to understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit, in order to have spiritual victory. In fact, anything that we do that has eternal value will be that which is done by the Holy Spirit working through us. This is a subject that cannot be covered in a short blog. Many books have been written just about the work of the Holy Spirit. I do, however want to point out some things that will help you in your understanding of His role in our lives. Remember, we are still building on the fundamentals.
We must understand that the Holy Spirit is God. Not a god, but God. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the one God. I will not try to explain this as; it has been tried down through the ages. No explanation will suffice. I can only say with great assurance that this is what the Bible teaches. The Bible describes the Holy Spirit in several different terms. Counselor, comforter, helper are some examples The Spirit testifies of Jesus (John 14:26). When Jesus was about to leave his disciples, he promised them that the Holy Spirit would come. In fact, He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and endue them with power before they went out to evangelize the world. This happened on the day of Pentecost, written about in Acts, chapter 2. This is when the lives of the disciples really changed. They went from being defeated men, who had even denied knowing Jesus, to men who turned the world upside down for Christ. It seems logical to me that we would need the same power to accomplish anything of spiritual value. It is clearly taught in the rest of the New Testament that this is the case. This is how God's grace is appropriated in our lives to do His will. When we are doing His will, we cannot be defeated!
GAME PLAN: There are 42 references to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts alone. There are another 12 using the term "the Spirit" (S capitalized). Make it your goal this week to read each one of them. After that, start looking up references in the other books of the New Testament. Learn as much as you can about the wonderful third person in the Trinity. Make it a part of your daily prayers to ask Him to work in your life. It is a promise from God that He will!
In the next few posts, we will begin to examine how this works out very practically in our daily lives. It's time to start putting the fundamentals into action!
See you soon and may God bless you as you walk in His grace,