Current Issue

My daughter was 11 years old when a tsunami hit the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. Shortly after that, my husband was asked to spend a month doing relief work in Indonesia, the nation that was hit the hardest. We missed him even before he left. But he gave our daughter a gift to remember him by—a teddy bear she named Sparky. It was a thoughtful gift. She could take Sparky everywhere and snuggle with it at bedtime. It was something that would comfort her until her father returned.

That’s a simple illustration of what Jesus has done for us. Shortly before His death, Jesus promised His disciples a gift. He knew they would be lonely. After all, they’d been with Him constantly for three years. When He told them that He had to go, He promised to send them the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you” (John 14:16–18, NLT).

This text is not the first time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible. In fact, He was present at the creation of this world: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1, 2).

The Holy Spirit was also present when Mary became pregnant with Jesus. The angel who spoke to her said, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God” (Luke 1:35, CEV).*

The Holy Spirit was also present when Jesus was baptized. Matthew 3:16 says that after He was baptized, “he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”

And the Holy Spirit helped Jesus during His earthly ministry. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19).

The Holy Spirit is given various titles, depending on the translation of the Bible that’s being used. He’s called Advocate, Comforter, Helper, and Counselor. Regardless of how His name is translated, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant Companion. And three of His specific roles are to convict us, to comfort us, and to commission us.

The Holy Spirit convicts

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. Just how does He do that? One way is through God’s word, the Bible.

Don was reading Luke’s Gospel one morning when the Holy Spirit impressed him with a truth. He was reading a parable Jesus told about two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (Luke 18:11, 12).

Then it hit Don: That’s me, he thought. I have a judgmental personality just like that Pharisee. I judge my neighbor when he doesn’t keep up his lawn. I judge the people at work who keep their workplace messy. I judge the homeless man on the street asking for a handout.

Don was experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit! He was leading Don into truth—a truth about himself from the Bible.

Carrie was also convicted by the Holy Spirit. She came home from church one day all mad and offended because a certain member had been critical of her. “I thought the lady was an old biddy!” Carrie told me. But that evening, as she was having worship with her family, something about what the woman had said nudged Carrie, and she knew that her bitter feelings toward the woman were wrong. So she began to pray for her and when she saw her at church the following week those bitter feelings were gone. In fact, Carrie went up to the woman and hugged her! The Holy Spirit had used their family worship and prayer time to show Carrie that she needed to let go of her bitterness.

The Holy Spirit comforts

When Pastor Alex walked into Finn’s hospital room, he saw a broken man. An accident had left Finn’s body paralyzed, and his mind was also paralyzed by fear.

“He was terrified!” Pastor Alex later told me. “He couldn’t speak. The only thing he could do was move his eyes.”

Pastor Alex knew that Finn needed the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—to calm him. So he sat down by Finn’s bed, opened his Bible, and started reading Psalm 91: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (verses 1, 2, NLT).

“It was amazing!” Pastor Alex said. “As I read God’s Word, I watched the fear drain out of his eyes, and he became calm.”

I’ve seen the Holy Spirit comfort many people: people standing by the grave of a loved one; people who received the news that they have a terminal illness; people who lost their jobs; people whose rebellious child ran away. The Holy Spirit will comfort us anytime we need it—through God’s Word and as we pray.

The Holy Spirit commissions

When you give your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is waiting to give you a new job! The Bible says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). Then, after listing several gifts, verse 11 says, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

After Alonso and Isabel became Christians, they were eager to work for God, and it took only a little while for them to discover which gifts the Holy Spirit had given each of them. Alonso really connected with the young people of the church, and before long he was working in the youth room. That led to a weekly youth group meeting at their house, with the youth inviting their non-Christian friends.

Isabel, on the other hand, worked better one-on-one. She soon discovered that she loved being a greeter at church. When members walked in each week, they looked forward to her smile and kind ways. And visitors always felt warmly welcomed. Isabel also became a “Mom” to the youth group, especially to those who came from rough home backgrounds.

Jesus loves us so much that He promised to never leave us or forsake us. So He sent the Holy Spirit to be a constant Companion for us.

He will convict you—so listen for His voice as you go through your day.

He will comfort you—so listen for that comfort as you read your Bible and pray.

He will commission you to serve—so discover your spiritual gifts and use them to bless others every chance you get.

* Scriptures quoted from CEV are from the Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

A Constant Companion

by Nancy Canwell
From the February 2015 Signs