Liturgical/neo-liturgical, traditional, blended, contemporary, modern…
All of these words denote worship styles, all methods that worship leaders use to reach people in the pews, to get them involved with God. Some of these styles may necessitate change; a church used to a traditional service now evolving into a worship style that is more modern. Pastor Graham addresses this issue in his response to a worshipper who wrote to him about not wanting to change, especially in the area of worship music.
“Instead of complaining to your pastor (or anyone else), I urge you to ask God to help you be grateful for all music that points us to God, new or old. No, you may not like some of it, but others do, and God can use it in their lives to encourage them and bring them closer to Christ. Remember, the old hymns you like were once new and someone probably did not like them when they were introduced years ago.”
In his book, The Holy Spirit, Graham addresses the second way that believers can sin against the Holy Spirit. They can “quench” the Holy Spirit. For me, quench means to put out something, as in to quench a fire or put out a fire. The Apostle Paul says in 1st Thessalonians 5: 19 “Do not quench the Spirit.” Graham thinks we can do this when we try to block something new that God is doing. We don’t see the value, we can’t imagine that anyone would benefit from it, we don’t like things to change because we have to change. The list goes on and on. Maybe these are all flimsy reasons for complaining but we use them to stop change dead in its tracks. We quench the Spirit. We stop God from doing something new.
A second way we quench the Spirit is we get so busy with life that we can’t find time to use the means of grace. Graham says this is tantamount to letting the fire go out because we are not supplying it with fuel. We can always rely on others to stir us up but honestly, we are responsible for keeping our own spiritual fire stoked. Have you ever been so busy that you could not find five minutes to pray? Were you in a situation where you could witness for God but you backed away, when the Holy Spirit was saying “go ahead, I will supply you with the words?” Have you forgotten how important it is to read God’s Word? You just can’t find the time to read The Bible anymore. Graham writes “These things are channels through which God gives us the fuel that keeps the fire burning. And the Holy Spirit wants us to use those gifts to maintain His burning in our lives” [Graham, 163].
The last way we quench the Spirit is through willful sinning. The word “willful” is very important. No Christian must sin, but keep in mind that just because a person has given his life to Christ does not mean they are incapable of sinning. Everyone knows the pull of temptation. Our human nature can direct us to say and do many things that are not glorifying God, things that are worldly, selfish, and even evil. John Piper once wrote these wise words that I hope to always remember: “The Christian can really begin to glorify God when he or she chooses God over sin; the love of the Lord is more important than sin.” God does not make us sin; we choose to do it when it is not necessary. Graham says it is impossible to keep the Holy Spirit fire burning if we are sinning. We are constantly throwing water on the flames.
When we give our lives to Christ, He intends for us to walk each day in the fullness of the Spirit; He wants us to be receptive and sensitive to His leading in our lives. He wants us to experience His power in our lives.
When we give our lives to Christ, we can’t imagine where God is going to take us, but we need to be open to where He leads us. We don’t need to get stuck in one place and refuse to budge. We don’t need to get so busy that we don’t turn to God in prayer and read His word. We don’t need to turn our lives over to sin; we need to let Him help us turn away from sin.
We need to be grateful, taking ourselves out of the equation as much as possible. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit, our helper, our comforter, our guide.
We should thank God for the Holy Spirit…
We should never quench the flame of the Spirit.
For it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to lead a life dedicated to Christ.