Giving Gratitude

Since I have trouble sifting through all the blessings God has dropped on me in my short time on earth, I’ll focus on something maddeningly precise: I am beyond grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God has allowed generations of Christ-followers to fulfill prophecy, perform miracles, and most essential, speak what He hears from the Father and Son (John 16:12-13.

The reasoning behind my love for the Spirit is that He is the creative genius behind believers’ ability to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the blackest parts of the earth. The baptism of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was the greenlight for the Apostles to fulfill the admonition of the Great Commission. That green light is still blaring today, and the call hasn’t changed. If we welcome the Holy Spirit, He will work amidst our situation to reveal the glory of God and stir up the courage that comes with the presence of the Spirit.

As a college student who lives in a politically correct culture that scoffs at the mere idea of the presence of the Spirit, I find myself cherishing the history of the Holy Spirit and His ability to make unfulfilled prophecy rise from its slumber in the present. If believers read the book An Appeal to Heaven (by Dutch Sheets), we will soon realize that the Holy Spirit is not yet finished working in America. In fact, God wishes to see the Third Great Awakening happen in America, but He needs His people to partner with the His Spirit.

Why such an emphasis on the Holy Spirit? The Supreme Court has chosen to bow to the idol of Secularism and the Federal government has clearly shown that it knows not where it came from. For them, the Constitution has become a sidepiece and an unwanted ornament. In the present, our secular culture wishes for the Body of Christ to simply keep to ourselves and “shut our yaps” about God’s heart toward America. This sentiment shows that there are many that wish us to essentially toss away our Constitutional right to freedom of religion, which gives us the freedom to take the Gospel beyond the four walls of our churches. I’ve seen a lot of Christians get intimidated by the disgust and vitriol that some spew at them, and as a result, they become stagnant.

Have we forgotten our history? What if Peter and John had kept quiet when the Sanhedrin to stop testifying about Jesus as the Messiah? Once again, the Acts 4 Testimony gives us our battle orders. This is speculation, but if Peter and John had not told the Sanhedrin, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), the church would not have reached many people for Christ. This was a pivotal moment where godly men had to cinch their feet in the ground and testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are in a similar time Today. The secular world wants us to conveniently go away. What will be said of our response?

Despite the encroachment upon our religious liberty, we must rest in the understanding that the Holy Spirit does not need religious freedom to shake the public to the core. When Peter and John were before the Sanhedrin, they were not alone. In Acts 4:8, Luke wrote that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit as he spoke before the Chief Priests. There was no such thing as religious liberty in Israel during the Apostles’ time, yet the Spirit swooped down in that court and changed ministry forever.

We have the privilege of  religious liberty and freedom of expression today, so I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to use it to the fullest. On the other hand, if the day comes when religious freedom for Christians is non-existent, our ability to spread the Gospel will not be dampened. Just look at the persecuted church and you will see that they know what it means to welcome the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:13 says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” The Holy Spirit guided Peter and John in activating their fruits of righteousness and courage. He will do the same for you. Whatever laws made to prevent testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ do not compare to the law that James 1:25 has given us, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25

2 Corinthians 3:6 reads, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Thanks be to God for the letter of the Spirit! You are not alone and the Holy Spirit will work with those who have open ears and grateful hearts. God has given us the Holy Spirt, so let’s give Him some spiritual fruit to feast on. This Thanksgiving, I ask you to do something utterly unconventional in our nihilistic culture: turn off the football game for a few minutes (Yes, I’ll have trouble with this one too), get on your knees before the Lord, and lose yourself dwelling on the favor that God has planted all throughout our lives.

P.S. If you can’t do without some literature about the Pilgrims on this Thanksgiving (I can’t either), read  John Winthrop & “A Model of Christian Charity.”

Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer  with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with ears to hear to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. The great pursuit of his life is to live by the words he writes and develop his character along with the prose he pens. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.

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