Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Don’t Stifle the Spirit

Paul, in chapter five of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, provides words of advice to the believers there. He tells them how they are to act as Christians and be God’s representatives to the world.

According to Paul and others in the Bible, it is not enough to just say that you believe in Christ Jesus and repent of your sins. It is a lot more. You have to live your life as a true believer. That is why in his letters Paul provides the churches with advice on how to live and conduct their lives as Christians. By living as believers and followers of Christ Jesus in a world filled with sin and evil, we show the world that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

We show those who walk in darkness that the things of this world are only temporary. They rot, rust and return back to the earth from where they came. When people try to find their own way, that path only leads to more emptiness and, ultimately, damnation. All have tried to fill that void in their lives with all sorts of things. Many have tried drugs, sex, alcohol and other vices to make themselves feel good on the inside. They only find that the void never gets filled. No matter how much or what you shovel into the void, it never, ever gets filled.

But, one day, they see us and they become curious and ask about our faith and about the joy we have found in our relationship with Jesus and the Father. So many of my fellow believers have shared the same story of how people they have known for years will all of a sudden ask a question about faith. They share their story with them and then a small prayer occurs. One leads the other to that peace that surpasses all understanding. 

However, it can only happen when we allow the spirit to work in our lives and live in accordance to the will of God. Each day is an opportunity for us to live as God leads us to live. 

Looking back at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, specifically chapter five of that letter, he writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

I, like many of you, have read this passage repeatedly. It seems almost elementary to Christians, but one particular verse caught my eyes as I read it again. That verse talks about not stifling the Holy Spirit. In some translations, words like “quench” or “extinguish” are used. In any case or translation, the meaning is clear.

We should always be in tune with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to teach and guide us and is not to be taken lightly. He does a number of things in our lives. He brings conviction to our hearts when we have strayed away from the path of righteousness. The Holy Spirit fills us and gives us wisdom and understanding as well as power.

For example, John, while recording the words of Jesus in chapter fourteen of his Gospel, writes, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

If we stifle or quench the Holy Spirit and fail to follow his lead, we will soon find ourselves returning to our old sinful ways very quickly. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all that we need to know when it comes to our daily walk with the Lord and provide that gentle reminder of all those wonderful lessons and the words of the Father. Receiving all of this wealth of knowledge is contingent upon us not stifling or extinguishing the Holy Spirit who fills us.

Paul’s advice is very clear and to the point regarding our Christian lives. When you look at all of the things that Paul tells the Thessalonians and, by extension, us, to do, you can easily see that none of that is possible unless you are completely in tune with the Holy Spirit and following his lead. As you continue your daily walk with the Lord, do not dismiss the importance of the Holy Spirit and listen to the Holy Spirit. When you do all those things that Paul advised you to do and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, you can rest assured that you will stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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