September 9, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Rachel and I appreciate your kindness in sharing with us in prayer each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. “Prayer is the autograph of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) upon the renewed heart.” So said, Charles H. Spurgeon. Interestingly, this is what was said of him, “While most people know that few have ever preached like Spurgeon, not nearly so many know that few have ever prayed like Spurgeon. Believe it or not, many who attended his church spoke less of his preaching and more of his praying!” (Tim Challies).
As we come to the final devotional in First Thessalonians five, let me ask, how aware are you of the activity of the Holy Spirit within you? Remember He is a divine person, and He lives within us. He is not an influence, or a force, or phantom of some sort. He is a real person. This may help us understand how we should respond to His work inside us. Like any person, He can be joyful, angry, sorrowful, accepted, rejected, or grieved.
Listen to how Paul presents the command to the Thessalonian believers in chapter five, verse nineteen. I’ll give you a few translations:
“Do not quench the Spirit.” ESV
“Don't suppress the Spirit.” MSG
“Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” NLT
“Do not smother the Holy Spirit.” TLB
“Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit.” TPT
“Stop stifling and suppressing the Spirit.” Wuest
The TPT or Passion Translation New Testament presents a compelling word picture that we can all relate to. Last week my daughter Thea had a friend over and made a small fire in the backyard. Then it happened so quickly. The breeze, the clouds, the sudden deluge of rain, and they ran for the house. The fire was smothered and put out by the rain. The technical answer as to why this happens is that the water creates a barrier between the fuel source and the oxygen source. It also has a cooling effect as the fire’s energy is used to convert the liquid water into water vapor. And so as the water pours down, the fire is smothered.
The questions that come to mind are these — What has been smothering the Holy Spirit’s fire in you lately? Has something created a barrier between you and His working? Or, has something cooled you off to the love He generates in your heart? These are all searching questions that deeply affect our walk with God and effectiveness for God.
We know that when we permit sin in our lives, the Spirit is grieved, and therefore His actions stifled. A persistent sin that continues unchecked will douse any spark the Spirit may have. It will create a barrier in your relationship with God. This calls then for special attentiveness to the feelings of the Spirit, because we all sin. When it occurs we must repent, confess, and then God promises cleansing will come. (1 John 1:9). As a preventative measure, Paul says in verse twenty-two, “Abstain from every form of evil.” Stay away from sinful things. Stay away from those things that will tempt you and lead you into sin.
The positive side of this exhortation is that we pursue what is good, right, and true. Allow the Holy Spirit to light a fire in our hearts that will burn bright and hot for the glory of God. Stir the embers, add the fuel, and see God work. This should be happening in all areas of our lives. We have already discussed some of these in past devotionals, like, respecting those who labor, living at peace, encouraging the faint, helping the weak, rejoicing in the Lord, praying, and being thankful.
There are certain mindsets we develop that may instead stifle the Spirit’s working within us. Since 1 Thessalonians is being presented to a local church, it may be that some of the saints were limiting, or even criticizing some of the gifts of the Spirit designed to bless God’s people. This is why in the next verse he states, “Despise not prophecies” (1 Thes. 5:20).
It could also be that some of the saints were not putting their gifts into practice. Or, it may be that some were minimizing the gifts of other believers. If either of these things occurs, the fire of the Spirit will be smothered.
The opposite and positive truths to this involve allowing the Holy Spirit to develop your own gift, and to build up your brother or sister in the God-given gift that they have been given. When this happens, the Spirit is not suppressed, and the church community can function for the blessing of all.
Let’s take it to heart, “Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit.”
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel