Day 13
THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS THROUGH US
WHEN I BECAME the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Palmer, Tennessee, in March 1955, at
the age of nineteen, I was the youngest member. There were a couple dozen children around plus a
handful of slightly younger teenagers than myself. But they were not actually members. Furthermore, I
had felt the divine call to preach only four months before (November 1954). My first sermon in
Palmer was possibly the fifth time I ever preached at all. Feeling so inadequate and insignificant, I
don’t think I seriously thought that God really spoke through me in those days. Although I had nothing
to do with their calling me, I honestly felt that these people in Palmer were doing me a favor by
letting me be their pastor. After all, I was still a student at Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville. It
was not until a few years ago, since we moved back to Nashville, that I discovered that God had
indeed used me after all. I was invited to return to Palmer and to preach there. Less than ten in the
congregation had been around when I was there over fifty years before. But a lady, about sixty years
of age, came up to me to say that she was actually saved as a young girl under my ministry there more
than fifty years before! It was the first I knew of that.
Can you think of anything more thrilling than the thought that God actually speaks through you?
After almost sixty years of ministry I never cease to be amazed that God would truly speak through
me.
I think David felt that way. As he came to the end of his life, he wrote, “The Spirit of the LORD
spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). He probably was referring to what he
wrote rather than when he spoke, although the latter cannot be ruled out. He might also have been
referring to his singing. He is referred to as “Israel’s singer of songs” (v. 1) or “the sweet psalmist of
Israel” (v. 1, ESV). Whatever, David became aware at the end of his life that the Holy Spirit used him
by speaking, singing, or writing through him. Although David did not write Psalm 45, the opening
words could surely describe him: “My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer” (v. 1).
Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him that “words may be given” to him (Eph. 6:19; “utterance,”
KJV). Paul wanted that indescribable anointing whereby he did not struggle for words but that they
flowed with ease and without effort. It is a marvelous phenomenon when a speaker—under the
influence of the Holy Spirit—finds himself or herself uttering words that come so easily. This is the
anointing. You may recall that we said the anointing is when your gift functions with ease. Therefore
when one speaks and the words flow with ease, it is a wonderful moment.
There is an interesting study in the Greek language when you compare Acts 2:4 and Acts 2:14. Acts
2:4 states that the disciples spoke supernaturally in other tongues as “the Spirit enabled them,” or
“gave them utterance” (KJV; ESV). The Greek word is apophtheggesthai. It comes from
apophtheggomai, which means to “speak out loudly and clearly.” This is why everybody could hear
them speaking in tongues. But all grasped what they said supernaturally in their “own native
language” (v. 8). That the disciples were “enabled”—or given “utterance”—shows that their
speaking in tongues flowed loudly and with ease. Now to Acts 2:14: Peter
“addressed”—apephthegzato, from apophtheggomai—the crowd. This means he not only spoke
loudly but also with ease with the same utterance or enablement as the disciples were given in Acts
2:4. Think about this. When Peter preached his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he had the same help
to speak in his own language that he had moments before when speaking in a different tongue. It
indicates the supernatural power given to Peter that day. This word is used later when Paul said to
Festus, “What I am saying [apophtheggomai] is true and reasonable” (Acts 26:25).
Peter said, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Pet. 4:11;
“speaks oracles of God,” ESV). So I conclude this segment where we began. When David’s last
words are introduced, it is written: “The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted
by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs: The Spirit of the
LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:1–2).
What a wonderful thing to know that God can speak through us. And David wasn’t perfect. This
gives hope that the Holy Spirit can speak through you and me.
For further study: Psalm 45; Acts 2:1–4; Ephesians 6:10–20; 1 Peter 4:7–11
Glorious Holy Spirit, I want so much for You to use me, to speak through me. I know my
words will not be infallible as in Holy Scripture, but use me as much as You can,
knowing as You do how frail and human I am. In Jesus’s name, amen.


Day 14
THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES NOT FORSAKE US
WE HAVE SEEN that each person in the Trinity is truly and fully God. This has relevance with regard
to our relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For example, it is written of God the Father
that He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). Jesus said before His ascension to
heaven, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Can we expect the
same faithfulness with regard to the Holy Spirit? Yes. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit that He would be
with us “forever” (John 14:16). But even if Jesus had not said that of the Holy Spirit, I would believe
it is true.
We mentioned earlier that David, though a man after God’s own heart and Israel’s greatest king,
was not perfect. His sins of adultery and murder rank at the top of the list in grievous and disgraceful
sins in the Old Testament. Unlike Saul, David repented as soon as the prophet Nathan reproved him,
and afterward he wrote down his prayer. It is Psalm 51. The first thing David asked for was mercy:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from me sin” (vv. 1–2). But I
want to focus on these words: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”
(v. 11). Some think this shows that the Holy Spirit leaves us when we sin because David prayed as he
did—that God would not take the Holy Spirit from him. He did not pray that because the Holy Spirit
leaves us when we sin; David prayed this because he feared this and was conscious of what he
deserved. He prayed this way because the presence of God was so precious to him. To him the
presence of God and the Holy Spirit came to the same thing. David was horrified at the thought he
might forfeit this.
He need not have worried. “Great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:23). The God of the Old Testament
does not leave us; Jesus the Son of God does not leave us; the Holy Spirit does not leave us. And yet
the proof that the Holy Spirit had not left David is the fact that he prayed as he did. Only a person
who was motivated by the Holy Spirit could pray like that! His prayer for mercy shows the Holy
Spirit was with him! Praying for mercy showed his repentance. Also, pleading for mercy shows you
have no bargaining power; David recognized that God could give or withhold mercy and be just
either way. The entire Psalm 51 can be described with one word: repentance. That is what David
was showing. The Holy Spirit was at work in him, enabling David to pray as he did. Indeed, Psalm
51 is a part of Scripture—of which the Holy Spirit is the Author! All Scripture is “God-breathed,”
which means inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16).
David also wrote the amazing Psalm 139. Whether he wrote this before or after his horrible sin, I
don’t know. In any case, David wrote: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your
presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (vv.
7–8). The King James translates the latter part of verse 8, “If I make my bed in hell.” The ESV leaves
the Hebrew untranslated: “If I make my bed in Sheol”—death, the grave. David certainly had made
his bed in hell when he sinned with a high hand as he did. (Hades is the New Testament equivalent of
Sheol.) If he wrote that psalm after his sin it is a testimony that God indeed had not left him.
We are all sinners. “I am a sinner—great as any, worse than many.” 1 “If we claim to be without
sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and
will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9). It is by the grace of
God that I have not sinned as David did. I am just encouraged to know that the God of the Bible is full
of mercy. Jesus said to the woman found in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you . . . Go now and
leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). The Holy Spirit is the same; He will never leave us, but He will
tell us to leave our life of sin.
For further study: 2 Samuel 12:11–14; Psalm 139; Lamentations 3:19–26; 1 John 1:7–2:2
O Holy Spirit, I think of the phrase, “There go I but by the grace of God.” Forgive me
for my sins, including my self-righteousness. Thank You for Your great mercy. In Jesus’
name, amen.


Day 15
THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN BE PROVOKED
HAVE YOU EVER provoked the Holy Spirit? I’m afraid I have. Too often. Sometimes I feel it
immediately; sometimes God waits awhile before He shows me. Whereas the Lord is “slow to anger”
(Exod. 34:6), it is also true that “his wrath can flare up in a moment” (Ps. 2:12). Speaking personally,
I would prefer to have the latter—when He shows His annoyance at once—to get it over with. I have
also concluded that, generally speaking, the greater the sin, the longer He waits to show His anger.
The Lord waited some two years before He sent Nathan the prophet to expose David’s heinous sins
of adultery and murder. But when Moses pleaded with the Lord not to require him to be the one to
deliver the Israelites and prayed, “Please send someone else to do it,” instantly the Lord’s anger
burned against him (Exod. 4:10–14).
The children of Israel “rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips”
(Ps. 106:33). The ESV has a different take on his incident: “They [the Israelites] made his spirit bitter
[meaning Moses] and he spoke rashly with his lips” (although there is a footnote that it could read
“they rebelled against God’s Spirit”). Between these two interpretations there is to be seen both the
Lord’s displeasure and Moses’s anger. But what Moses was feeling was righteous anger toward the
children of Israel. Godly leaders sometimes carry heavy burdens and inwardly sigh with anger when
their followers go astray.
The Holy Spirit never loses His temper. He mirrors joy and gladness that are always present at
God’s right hand (Ps. 16:11). But if we are not careful, we might unwisely show personal annoyance
at the wickedness we see around us. Moses—next to Jesus—was the greatest leader of men and
women in human history. But he wasn’t perfect. When the Israelites gave in to folly, two things
happened simultaneously: they provoked the Holy Spirit, and they made Moses angry. But because
Moses was human and therefore imperfect like all of us, “he spoke rashly with his lips” (Ps. 106:33,
ESV). A great test of leadership is to see evil and wickedness without losing our tempers.
And yet it is difficult sometimes to tell the difference. Jesus showed righteous anger when He went
into the temple and “found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers
sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them out of the temple, with the sheep
and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told
those who sold pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade’”
(John 2:14–16). Jesus had the Holy Spirit without any limit (John 3:34). He was therefore angry
because the Holy Spirit was angry, and also because the Father was angry, for all Jesus ever did was
carrying out the wishes of the Father (John 5:19). Whereas Jesus did not lose His temper when
showing His provocation, those present may have wondered! The question is: “Can I be provoked in
my spirit but not lose my temper?” Paul said, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26).
As we will see later in this book, the Holy Spirit can be grieved. The ancient Israelites “rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them”
(Isa. 63:10). James warned the early Christians, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is
hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”
(James 4:4). Martin Luther said that we must know God as an enemy before we can know Him as a
friend.
God’s anger toward His children is called chastening, or being disciplined. “The Lord disciplines
those he loves” (Heb. 12:6). In any case, thankfully, His anger toward His own “lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”
(Ps. 30:5).
So have you provoked the Lord? The more serious it is, the longer He may take to show it. This is
why we want to know as soon as possible if we have displeased Him. In any case, be thankful for
this: if we are disciplined (and we all need it from time to time), it is because we are loved.
For further study: Numbers 20:6–13; Isaiah 63:7–10; 1 Corinthians 10:1–13; James 4:1–10
Blessed Holy Spirit, please show me as soon as possible when I displease You, for the
last thing in the world I want is to provoke You. Thank You for countless mercies as I
submit myself to You afresh today. In Jesus’s name, amen.Day 15
THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN BE PROVOKED
HAVE YOU EVER provoked the Holy Spirit? I’m afraid I have. Too often. Sometimes I feel it
immediately; sometimes God waits awhile before He shows me. Whereas the Lord is “slow to anger”
(Exod. 34:6), it is also true that “his wrath can flare up in a moment” (Ps. 2:12). Speaking personally,
I would prefer to have the latter—when He shows His annoyance at once—to get it over with. I have
also concluded that, generally speaking, the greater the sin, the longer He waits to show His anger.
The Lord waited some two years before He sent Nathan the prophet to expose David’s heinous sins
of adultery and murder. But when Moses pleaded with the Lord not to require him to be the one to
deliver the Israelites and prayed, “Please send someone else to do it,” instantly the Lord’s anger
burned against him (Exod. 4:10–14).
The children of Israel “rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips”
(Ps. 106:33). The ESV has a different take on his incident: “They [the Israelites] made his spirit bitter
[meaning Moses] and he spoke rashly with his lips” (although there is a footnote that it could read
“they rebelled against God’s Spirit”). Between these two interpretations there is to be seen both the
Lord’s displeasure and Moses’s anger. But what Moses was feeling was righteous anger toward the
children of Israel. Godly leaders sometimes carry heavy burdens and inwardly sigh with anger when
their followers go astray.
The Holy Spirit never loses His temper. He mirrors joy and gladness that are always present at
God’s right hand (Ps. 16:11). But if we are not careful, we might unwisely show personal annoyance
at the wickedness we see around us. Moses—next to Jesus—was the greatest leader of men and
women in human history. But he wasn’t perfect. When the Israelites gave in to folly, two things
happened simultaneously: they provoked the Holy Spirit, and they made Moses angry. But because
Moses was human and therefore imperfect like all of us, “he spoke rashly with his lips” (Ps. 106:33,
ESV). A great test of leadership is to see evil and wickedness without losing our tempers.
And yet it is difficult sometimes to tell the difference. Jesus showed righteous anger when He went
into the temple and “found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers
sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them out of the temple, with the sheep
and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told
those who sold pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade’”
(John 2:14–16). Jesus had the Holy Spirit without any limit (John 3:34). He was therefore angry
because the Holy Spirit was angry, and also because the Father was angry, for all Jesus ever did was
carrying out the wishes of the Father (John 5:19). Whereas Jesus did not lose His temper when
showing His provocation, those present may have wondered! The question is: “Can I be provoked in
my spirit but not lose my temper?” Paul said, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26).
As we will see later in this book, the Holy Spirit can be grieved. The ancient Israelites “rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them”
(Isa. 63:10). James warned the early Christians, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is
hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”
(James 4:4). Martin Luther said that we must know God as an enemy before we can know Him as a
friend.
God’s anger toward His children is called chastening, or being disciplined. “The Lord disciplines
those he loves” (Heb. 12:6). In any case, thankfully, His anger toward His own “lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”
(Ps. 30:5).
So have you provoked the Lord? The more serious it is, the longer He may take to show it. This is
why we want to know as soon as possible if we have displeased Him. In any case, be thankful for
this: if we are disciplined (and we all need it from time to time), it is because we are loved.
For further study: Numbers 20:6–13; Isaiah 63:7–10; 1 Corinthians 10:1–13; James 4:1–10
Blessed Holy Spirit, please show me as soon as possible when I displease You, for the
last thing in the world I want is to provoke You. Thank You for countless mercies as I
submit myself to You afresh today. In Jesus’s name, amen.