Today begins “21 Days of the Spirit” — a spiritual growth adventure through the life of the Holy Spirit. Our church is spending May 1 – 21 to reflect on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I have committed to blog every day for the next twenty-one days. I will make blog entries that come out of my reading of our 21 Days of the Spirit devotional guide. If you are interested in the devotional journal email me.
Here is the introduction to the journal and our entire 21 day journey.
A Journey through 21 Days of the Spirit
April 2006 marks the one-hundred year anniversary of the beginnings of the Azusa Street Revival of Los Angeles, California. Birthed out of the holiness movements of the nineteenth century, this revival became the epicenter of a spiritual awakening within the church around the world and for generations to come. Those of us touched by the waves of this revival, in what is now called the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition, have experienced something more than mere fanaticism or emotionally-driven enthusiasm. The revival at Azusa sparked a distinct spirituality, a renewed way of living in the fullness of the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
What God did at Azusa was never intended to be privatized, shared by an exclusive group or relegated to caricature and extremism. Rather, God breathed new life into His church and her ministry through the experience of the Holy Spirit. God designed this spiritual movement to be shared throughout the various expressions of the one, holy, apostolic and universal church. The Pentecostal/charismatic tradition has something to offer the Church in her various forms—Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Holiness, Fundamentalist, Liberal, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Non-denominational, Traditional and Emergent—for all of those who claim allegiance to Christ and His kingdom. God, our Father, has offered a way to live a life patterned after the life of Jesus by the power of the Spirit. This way of living the spiritual life is the essence of the spiritual awakening that began at Azusa in 1906 and it goes way beyond the formation of classical Pentecostal doctrines, denominations and charismatic forms of worship. The heart of Pentecostal/charismatic spirituality is an integration of belief, affections of the heart and the experience of a life lived in relationship with God. The spirituality that grew out of Azusa was a focus on the work of the Holy Spirit.
This kind of spirituality is the heart of this devotional guide. The Azusa Street Revival and the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition has to offer to the body of Christ a perspective of Christian living and discipleship that is grounded in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This devotional guide emphasizes the biblical truth behind the Spirit’s nature and His work in the hearts of Christ’s followers, which was the pursuit of the thousands of Christians who traveled from all over the world to the Azusa Street Revival from 1906-1909.
Using this Devotional Guide
This guide specifically looks at the Spirit’s role in spiritual transformation—the Spirit’s work and power in conforming us into the image and example of the Son according to the glory and design of the Father. Spiritual transformation includes the practice of classic spiritual disciplines such as prayer, holy reading, meditation, reflection, worship, fasting, silence, solitude, journaling, confession, community, communion and the like. But ultimately, transformation is something that the Spirit does in us to glorify the Son, whose mission is to glorify the Father. Using this devotional guide as a spiritual discipline puts us in a position to allow the Holy Spirit to do His empowering and transformative work in us.
Each day of this journey includes four sections: 1) Scripture, 2) devotional, 3) description of the Spirit’s work, and 4) a reflection and prayer guide.
Read through each section pausing for times of reflection and prayer. Write down your thoughts, impressions, prayers or any actions you feel prompted to do or to change. Don’t rush through the reading, reflection, prayer or meditation. It is not a matter of “filling in the blanks” of the reflection and prayer guide in order to get it done. The meditation, reflection and prayer is a vital part in giving the Spirit time to work in your heart.
It is helpful to see ourselves as spiritual athletes in training during this process. Athletes do not become proficient in their sport by merely trying to master the skills. Rather they train over a period of time to shape their hearts, minds and bodies. Successful athletes do not have a trying attitude, but a training attitude. Trying causes people to rely on pure willpower, but training causes people to rely on a prescribed plan. This devotional guide is a training guide for our hearts and spirits. It takes effort on our part to dedicate time to work through the pages, but we do not rely on our ability to try. We rely on our commitment to train with the Spirit’s help. In the end, this guide can only put you in a position to receive spiritual transformation, the shaping and transformation of our hearts, which is—the Father’s joy, the Son’s image & the Spirit’s work.
Parts of this devotional guide may be written in the first and second person using “me,” “my,” or “you,” because this guide is intended to be used in private times of silence and solitude, but this is only the beginning. Consider sharing your thoughts and prayers in community with friends, families, spiritual partners, small groups or within larger congregational gatherings. That which begins in the privacy of our hearts can be amplified in dialogue with other Christ-followers on the same journey.
My Prayer and Hope
My prayer for you is echoed in Paul’s prayer and encouragement to the church at Ephesus as paraphrased in Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible.
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—
not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—
that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.
Reach out and experience the breadth!
Test its length! Plumb the depths!
Rise to the heights!
Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know–
far more than you could ever imagine
or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
He does it not by pushing us around but by working
within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
The Message Bible
May this twenty-one day experience be a time where God the Father works His Spirit deep within our hearts changing us from the inside out to look more like Jesus, the master plan of our transformation.
Derek Vreeland, Pastor