Alongside: Experiencing Jesus With Us Every Day-Week 1
At the time I’m writing this, many churches around the world recently celebrated Pentecost Sunday, the day we remember Jesus sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who come to and believe in him. On this day at my church, we also celebrated the high school seniors with the gift of faith quilts. This milestone marks a time in these young peoples’ lives when they are graduating from high school and moving on to a new phase. Some will be starting college, some will be working, some staying at home, and some moving to new places. Whichever path they take, things will be different, but the faith quilts are a reminder of the one thing that remains – God and his love for them.
As I thought about this, I realized those quilts are a perfect symbol of the Holy Spirit. As the families placed the quilts on their high schoolers’ shoulders, it reminded me of the way God’s spirit rests upon us, wraps us in love, gives us strength when we’re down, and comfort when we need it. The quilt pictured in this post is one that was made for my husband years ago by his grandmother, and it has been to many places with us. I'm thinking this could be another reminder of the way the Holy Spirit works. It guides us on our path in life and is always with us.
I thought this focus on the Holy Spirit would be the perfect way to start this Alongside: Experiencing Jesus With Us Every Day series. His presence with us every day is promised in the gift of the Spirit.
John 14:15-17 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (NIV)
Instead of Advocate, other translations of this passage use the word Counselor or Helper. The amplified Bible adds the words Comforter, Intercessor, Strengthener, and Standby. Wow! Can you imagine how different our days might be if we remember we have these qualities in us? Notice I said that we HAVE them. Jesus told us in John 14:17 that he lives with us and is in us, and his words and promises are true. So, why, you might ask, do we sometimes feel weak, uncomforted, in desperate need of help and guidance? My answer to that is because we forget, or we get distracted, understandably so because the world and our lives can be significantly distracting, busy, stressful, and loud. Noticing God’s Spirit takes conscious and consistent effort and work, and without his help, we can’t possibly handle all the things that fly in our direction.
This week, I’m going to spend more time paying attention to the presence of the Holy Spirt, and I’m inviting you all to do the same.
The readings I’m posting for this week are all focused on the Holy Spirit and its work. My invitation is to read any or all of these, but please do so with the goal of slowing down. If this simply becomes a checklist to hurry and do, it won’t be very meaningful.
So, even if you only read one passage over and over, or one verse each day, noting what catches your attention, what you think it’s saying to you, praying about it, asking for God’s guidance with what you see and hear, that’s better than blazing through all of the readings just to say you did it. If you do have the time to get through all of them, wonderful, but
the goal in this is to simply seek and notice God with you.
Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)
It doesn’t say you’ll find him when you hurry. It says you’ll find him when you seek WITH ALL YOUR HEART.
James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and he will come near to you.”
So let’s do that together. Let’s draw near to the one that can help us, counsel us, intercede to God for us, stand by us, and strengthen us.
This week, read as much of the following readings as you want, and if they’re helpful, try the following journal and reading strategies.
Like I tell my current youth group, this isn’t a homework assignment I’m going to check and grade. It’s simply an invitation, and you are a very important guest. Do what you can and savor your time with God each day in the readings, the journaling, and the rest of your day as you notice him at work with you.
At the end of the week, I plan to share my thoughts, what I noticed in my time paying attention to his Spirit each day. I invite you to share any time as well, and thank you for joining me with Jesus at our sides.
A Simple Prayer to Say Before Each Reading:
Help me to hear the words you have for me today and give me understanding. Help me to feel your presence as I read and throughout my day. Thank you for being my helper, my advocate, the one I can count on in all things.
In Jesus’ name,
Readings for this week:
John 14:15-17; 25-27; 16:1-11
Acts 1:4-8; 12-14
Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:14-29
Psalm 1:1-3 & 16:7-8
Some Simple Daily Journal prompts:
1. What words or passages stood out to you in what you read today?
Copy a phrase or verse in your journal. Why do you think it caught your attention? What might God be saying to you through these words? Write your thoughts and maybe write a prayer asking God for understanding and wisdom. What might you do differently today based on the words you read today? Write your thoughts.
2. In addition to what you noticed in God’s word, where else have you seen God recently? (Something in nature, in a friend or loved one, in a conversation with someone, in an answered prayer, in your thoughts) Write down what you’ve noticed in a prayer of thanks to God.
Have a Blessed Week Noticing God's Spirit With You!