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Following Jesus by Practicing Holy Spirit Administration (Part One)

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Recap & Intro: Prayer and Holy Spirit 

The third spiritual practice in following Jesus is prayer, both the right and left foot of walking with Jesus, as in a) set time of daily prayer as Jesus taught in Luke 11:1-13 and Matt 6:5-15, and b) continual prayer-interaction through the day, as Paul taught in 1Thess 5:17. This week I focus on the latter, but in terms of practicing the abiding presence and leadership (“administration”) of the Holy Spirit. I ended last week on Luke 11:5-13: Jesus taught persistent perseverance (Jewish “chutzpa”) in prayer on the basis of faith and confidence in God’s goodness, that he will give us what we need and ask for. Jesus ends the passage with the key, v.13: “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him and keep on asking, seeking and keep on seeking…” This joins prayer and the gift (ministry) of the Spirit, whom the Hebrew prophets promised God would be poured out in the last days (Joel 2:28-32).

Why the Holy Spirit? What is the practice of Holy Spirit Administration? 

John the baptizer announced the coming of the Messiah-King, The Anointed One, the Spirit-bringer in fulfillment of the prophets (Matt 3:11). The Spirit came on Jesus at his baptism (Matt 3:16-17) enabling “Be-Loved” relationship with his Father, in exquisite intimacy, via ongoing prayer-full interaction. This was the source of his life, ministry and miracles (Luke 4:18). Jesus said, “Though I am God’s Son, I do nothing on my own initiative. I only do what I see my Father doing, I only speak what I hear my Father saying” (John 5:19-20, 12:49-50). Jesus lived and ministered by the koinonia (intimate friendship) of the indwelling Spirit, empowered and led by the Spirit in all things.

He imparted the same Holy Spirit to his followers (John 20:21-22, Acts 1:4-8, 2:1-4, 37-39) – including you and me! Prayer is the native breath of the soul; for Christ-followers it’s the eschatalogical Breath of Heaven – Holy Spirit. Prayer and Spirit-administration is a seamless garment that enfolds us in the abiding intimacy of the Spirit, prompting our every thought, word and deed, in every moment, so that we not only do God’s will on our piece of earth as it is in heaven, but we become his embodied living will.

Thus THE BIG expectation of the Jews is the gift of Ruach ha Kodesh (Spirit of the Holy One) in the coming of Messiah, that ends this age and begins the new age. This “promise of the Father”, as Jesus called it (Acts 1:4), happened in history 2000 years ago. Jesus prepared his followers to receive the Spirit by teaching his indwelling companionship and co-working – just as Jesus himself experienced moment by moment. Jesus said the Spirit is God’s Parakleo, meaning “to come alongside” to counsel and encourage. It’s translated as Counselor, Comforter, Advocate, Helper, Intercessor. In short, the Spirit will live within us, teaching, reminding and convicting us, revealing truth to us, showing us what is to come, speaking what the Father and Son say, making known to us all that belongs to the Father and Son (see John 14:16-20, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15). And the Spirit will empower us to be witnesses to Jesus to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Therefore we soooo need the indwelling presence and administration of the Spirit in our lives.

Two illustrations of what this means:

The source and principle of life on earth is the breath and blood in our bodies – without it we die. The source and principle of life in heaven, the coming age of God’s Kingdom, is God’s Spirit. Just as Jesus lived by God’s Spirit, bringing heaven to earth, so we too learn to live heaven’s life on earth by the same indwelling Spirit, by the blood of Jesus that enables us to receive that HOLY Spirit. We live eternal life now only by God’s Spirit.

The head-body image: The head is the governing center of the body, giving life, initiative and harmonious coordination to the body by instant communication of the biochemistry – the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS, some call it the CNS, Central Nervous System). Jesus is the Head of the Church – of the believer, the local church, the universal Church – and we are his body (Eph 1:22-23). If he is Lord and Head over the Church, the Holy Spirit is Lord and Administrator in the church. The Spirit is the life-blood and the ANS (or CNS) in the body of Christ – your body and my body, in our church – giving us life, leading and guiding us in all things, moment by moment, if we just listen and be led by him. Paul says, “All who are led by the Spirit are children of God… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Rom 8:14, Gal 5:25). That is walking with the right foot and then the left foot: both a specific time of focused daily prayer and the practice of ongoing prayer – growing consciousness of interactive Spirit-presence.

This raises the question how to? Next week I’ll teach on how to pray without ceasing: practicing Holy Spirit indwelling and administration by cultivating Spirit sensitivity, how to hear and obey the Spirit in all things, being led and empowered by the Spirit.

I conclude by returning to Jesus as Head and the Spirit as Administrator (the CNS) of each individual follower of Jesus, and of our local church, Following Jesus. Nick James is known for his picture and message of “The Quadriplegic King”: Jesus as the King, the Head, that has a body that is paralyzed from the neck down, where the body doesn’t respond to the head. Though the Head is joined to the body, the communication and connection – the indwelling Holy Spirit – is blocked… it’s not received and responded to by the body. So the King cannot do his will and work in our lives, let alone in the world, on planet earth. He is paralyzed because we don’t honor, receive and respond to the gift and ministry (administration) of the Holy Spirit day by day, moment by moment. We are powerless – even lifeless – disconnected, uncoordinated, with each member struggling on their own, doing their own thing.

Paul says God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him to the highest place of authority in the heavens, and “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be Head over everything for the church, which is his Body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way!” (Eph 1:20-23). This is breath-taking! Re-read it and think about it! We are the Body of Christ and he is the Head who continually pours out all his fullness, his loving life and government, into us, and through us into the world, so that his glorious rule and reign reaches the ends of the earth. Let us receive and respond to his outpoured fullness, the gift and ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that Jesus is no longer a quadriplegic King, that his rule and reign of love – by our exquisite receptiveness and responsiveness to the Spirit – may fill the world around us!

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