Like a dove, like the wind and like fire

Published 10:09 pm Friday, April 24, 2015

By Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

As I write these words, it is an absolutely gorgeous spring morning. I can look outside and see a lovely white dogwood in full bloom. I can hear hundreds of birds singing their songs. A fresh breeze is blowing through the open window. And a ball of fire called the sun is shining.

I love springtime in Suffolk!

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All of these gifts of nature are reflections of the beauty and brilliance of their Creator. The new blossoms in the trees remind us of new life.

Christianity is all about new life. As we just celebrated at Easter, we worship a risen Savior. Jesus is alive, and new creation has begun in him. That work of new creation begins with making people new.

As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

And the breeze, the birds and the fire of the sun remind us of images that the Bible uses to describe the Holy Spirit.

Even before his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus spent a lot of time talking with his followers about another “Helper” who would come to them. The night before he went to the cross, Jesus assured his troubled followers that they would not be left alone.

I would encourage you to read John 14 and John 16, and let your heart be refreshed by what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit. He promises his followers that the Spirit will come to them and furthermore explains to them what the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be like.

His ministry (yes, the Holy Spirit is a “he,” not an “it.” He is not an impersonal force, but the third person of the Triune God.) and the promises Jesus makes about him are not just for those followers who were listening that night. They are for every believer in Christ.

After his resurrection, Jesus told his followers to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

In the book of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit being poured out in power. The followers of Jesus, so fearful, timid and downright cowardly before his resurrection, now are empowered to proclaim the risen Christ at the risk of their lives.

In the rest of the New Testament we see that the Holy Spirit is essential for believers to live as God’s people and carry out his message and ministry.

To hear many people talk, one would think that the Christian life is all about receiving Christ and then “getting on with it” in your own power.

But the Bible says something altogether different. It says we must do life leaning upon God, in humble dependence upon him. When we do life like this, he promises to guide us and empower us by his Spirit.

So the chirping birds, the fresh breeze and the ball of fire in the sky this morning remind me of Someone else — the Spirit who descended on Jesus “like a dove.” They remind me of the Spirit who came into the lives of Christ followers at Pentecost “like the wind,” the Spirit who on that same day came “like fire.”

May He set your heart on fire with love for God and others today.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.