Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Fire In My Bones" by J. Lee Grady (Zacharias)

There would be no Christmas story without the Holy Spirit’s power.

We Christians are notorious for limiting the Holy Spirit. Many churches put Him in the back seat, confine Him in a box of tradition or ignore Him altogether. Some Christians treat the Third Person of the Trinity as if he magically materialized in the Book of Acts, like a genie out of a
bottle, and then vanished after the early church was established.

But God is God, not a genie, and the same Holy Spirit who brooded over the waters at Creation, inspired the Old Testament prophets and empowered the first disciples at Pentecost is still doing miracles today. It is also important to recognize that the Holy Spirit was involved in every step of the Christmas story. This holiday, I’m paying closer attention to the Spirit’s work in the miracle of the Incarnation.

Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, pays close attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in the gospel that bears his name. Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is the most detailed, and he highlights the Holy Spirit’s activity in the lives of five people in the first two chapters.

We tend to look down on Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, because he doubted God’s ability to give his barren wife a child. But Luke reminds us that after Zacharias was struck dumb in the temple, he was filled with the Spirit when his son was born (see Luke 1:67-80) and he began to prophesy. Humbled and chastised by God, Zacharias gained new strength from the Spirit and uttered one of the richest Messianic promises recorded in Scripture.

Zacharias reminds me that the Holy Spirit refines and corrects us, and ultimately uses us in spite of our failures and weaknesses. We must never grow weary of God’s discipline — because in the end, we will emerge with a message from Him.

[I am indebted to J. Lee Grady for the above, published in Charisma Magazine]

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