Summary: The Holy Spirit offers his influence but he does not guarantee his empowerment. If we are not prepared to exercise the proper spirit toward the Spirit we will lose the intended blessing and anointing of God.

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¡§Scrooge¡¨ is a classic story that emphasis the ¡§what¡¨ against ¡§what if¡¨. It is the story of a wealthy, miserly businessman who does not know any joy in life nor wills for anyone else to taste the same. He use to have heart but it died some years before.

The spirits of Christmas past, present and future visit Ebenezer Scrooge. The spirit of Christmas past reminded Scrooge of who he was. The spirit of the present showed him who he is and most dreadful of all is the spirit of the future that shows him what will become of him as a result of his current living and choices. The picture is a most horrifying reality of death and complete disregard by the community who mocks the man who was Scrooge. Of course, he awakens from the dream, sees the wrong of his selfish and self-centered heart and changes instantly which shapes a different future ¡V one that leads him to experience unbelievable joy and exhilarating satisfaction by living a life that is built around helping others.

The story is not unlike the characters of today¡¦s lesson. We will see the followers of Jesus in three stages of their lives ¡V past, present and future. We¡¦ll look at who they were before Jesus, who they are during Jesus¡¦ time with them and who they became after Jesus returned to the Father.

My mentioning ¡§The Spirits of Pentecost¡¨ was not a typing error. It was quite intentional. While it is, in part, a reference to the Holy Spirit who came during the Feast of Pentecost and His baptism of fire it also refers to how Jesus¡¦ followers responded to the Divine Presence. The response of the human spirit to the Holy Spirit is critical to the extent that God can be transfused into humanity.

The Holy Spirit offers his influence but he does not guarantee his empowerment. If we are not prepared to exercise the proper spirit toward the Spirit we will lose the intended blessing and anointing of God. We must never forget the gift of free will, which even the Holy Spirit will never violate.

We need to understand the disciples

1. Before Jesus

Matthew 4:18 ¡V Simon and Andrew were casting their nets in the water for they were fishermen ¡V nothing special going on here. Matthew 4:21 ¡V James and John (sons of Zebedee) were in a boat with their father ¡V the same scenario as Simon and Andrew. The fact that these four men immediately left their trade to follow Jesus speaks as much about their desire for something more purposeful than hauling nets, as it does their likely frequent conversations with Jesus before he called them, that prompted their response when he said, ¡§It¡¦s time to go. Decide. If you will follow, then follow me now.¡¨

How well-intentioned we often are:

„X ¡§I¡¦d give more but¡K¡¨

„X ¡§I¡¦ll get involved in the work of the ministry when¡K¡¨

„X ¡§I would if¡K¡¨

The truth is the Spirit has called. We have heard and continue to hear His voice about behaviour, response and responsibility and He says to us in essence, ¡§Enough with the ¡§buts, when¡¦s or ifs¡¨. You know what you are to do and how I would have you live so if you¡¦re going to obey me, then get on with it and follow me.¡¨

The calling of Matthew, who wrote the gospel just quoted, never happened until chapter 9. He was a tax revenue agent. Who in their right minds would want him around during tax time?! However, Jesus called him and he quickly followed. Not only that, Jesus had a second revenue agent, as he also called Levi (Mark 2:14) from the tax table. Somewhere along the way he also called Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Thaddaeus, another James (the son of Alphaeus), and Judas, who later betrayed him. Their lives were dictated by Old Covenant living ¡V Feast of Pentecost was one such practice. Others involved restrictive rules and regulations, cleansing ceremonies and multiple religious practices ¡V an exhausting list. Teens, if you think the rules at home are difficult, try reading Leviticus some time! There existed severe repercussions for sinful or unacceptable behaviour, sometimes resulting in stoning or even death. The disciples were fishermen, revenue agents for government, physicians and family men. For the most part, they lived safe, predictable lives and performed their community service and family obligations as any good citizen and provider should.

Before Jesus came, the disciples had a spirit of religion and morality.

Before Jesus came to our lives, most of us focused on moral living, job security, family care and acquiring things. There may have been, for many, after-school sports, weekend hockey runs or parties from Friday to Sunday. Entertainment and self-enjoyment were at the top of the purpose-peak of existence. Generally we were good people with good intentions. Most people in our city, province, country, are moral, good people. Sadly, they live a pre-Christ existence. They go to a religious service at Easter or Christmas, or attend the occasional funeral or wedding. They do not however, become engaged in the language, spirit or Presence of Holy God in that activity. Another alarming reality confronts us. Some of us may find our selves in a pre-Christ state of spirit, mind and experience. It is possible to be engaged religiously but not relationally; to have the religious jargon but not the spiritual expression of the Holy Spirit; to enjoy the music but not be energized by the Master.

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