I could not believe my eyes! Most little girls dream of getting a special doll, and I had been hoping for one for several years. My family and I lived in a small two bedroom home in a town of 25,000 population in central Texas, surrounded by cotton fields. Dad was a traveling salesman and at that time we had one car which was a necessity for his job. He was responsible to service the area of surrounding cities and towns. His job required that he carry many samples of his products to show his customers. He had to spend a night or two on the road each week because several of his clients were too far from our home to get back the same day. One week a month he was gone for three nights. We walked to school or wherever we needed to go. Sometimes we rode with friends when he was out of town. We were blessed to have our needs met but there were not a lot of extras. We were content and never felt we were missing anything.
It was Christmas Day and we were huddled around the Christmas tree in anticipation of opening our gifts. Mom, dad, my brother Rusty and I always loved Christmas. My dad was a salesman for a large paper company. He would bring home retired samples of wrapping paper and ribbon and we would use them to fashion the most beautiful packages. My mother was very creative at designing and dad would teach us the latest techniques for making beautiful bows and decorations out of ribbon. Some of our packages were very ornate while others were cute and inventive.
I remember one gift that Christmas which was a dress mom had made for me. She was an accomplished seamstress. Earlier that month she had made silhouettes of my brother and me and framed them as pictures on the wall. She had wrapped that beautiful dress in a box and placed my silhouette on it. We used boxes with lids which enabled us to wrap and decorate the lid separate from the bottom of the box. We re-used the special boxes year after year. We kept that box for almost 50 years. Wrapping packages was as much fun as opening them. We worked for hours on our creations and Christmas Day had finally come!
One of us would be chosen to play Santa Clause. He or she would pass out the gifts to each family member. Then we would begin to open them one at a time. A family of four did not take long to open a few packages. Finishing the last one, I soon realized again, the doll I had dreamed about was not among the gifts. Glancing over at the Christmas tree I saw there were no other packages remaining. Feeling disappointed I began to help pick up the special bows and boxes that could be reused. After a few moments had passed my dad exclaimed, “Kay Karen, I believe there’s one more gift here with your name on it.” I turned around to see a large box beautifully wrapped. I ran over to check it and confirm my name was on the tag. Ripping off the paper as quickly as I could and opening the box, I saw my dream doll laying inside. She was more beautiful than I had imagined! I picked her up and hugged her tightly. With tears in my eyes I thanked my parents for such a wonderful surprise.
The doll was the last one I would have as a child. I was growing and would soon be too old to play with dolls. Because she was so special, I took great care as I played with her. I kept that doll and gave it to my daughter to play with when she was young. It was a special Christmas that year and I received a most amazing gift.
When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His death on the cross, He told them about an amazing gift He was going to give them after His death and resurrection. It was imperative He leave them equipped to carry on the ministry of reconciliation to God, and with full understanding of His Kingdom. They had to feel insecure at the thought of Him leaving them. He had only been ministering for three short years and they were still elementary in their knowledge of God and His Kingdom. They were focused on everything He said and did, but without Him, they would have felt helpless and fearful.
In John 14:20-21, 23, 26, Jesus assured His disciples, “At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you. The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]” “Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” “But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” (Emphasis mine)
What an amazing gift the Lord promised to all His disciples. The Holy Spirit would be sent. He would live inside of them and teach them the wisdom of God. He would give them understanding of what Jesus had spoken and knowledge of His ways and His Kingdom.
We see this special event actually unfold in Acts Chapter 1:12-15. “Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the hill called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, [only] a Sabbath day’s journey (three-quarters of a mile) away. And when they had entered [the city], they mounted [the stairs] to the upper room where they were [indefinitely] staying—Peter and John and James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas [son] of James. All of these with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer,] waiting together] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Now on one of those days Peter arose among the brethren, the whole number of whom gathered together was about a hundred and twenty.”
There were approximately 120 people gathered in the upper room, waiting for the amazing gift the Lord was going to send. Of the 120 there were both men and women. Eleven of them were the apostles. We can safely assume Matthias was among them. He would become the 12th apostle replacing Judas Iscariot. Scripture continues in Acts Chapter 2:2-4 “When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].” (Emphasis mine.)
Today many people believe that God exists. They believe that Jesus was a good man and a prophet, but their lives have never been changed by an encounter with the living God. Many go to church but they look and act no differently than the rest of the world. It is impossible to be strong and live righteously without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction. It was the Holy Spirit Who gave Peter (and other apostles) enough courage to give their lives for Jesus. Through the centuries the Holy Spirit is the One who enabled believers, (men, women and children), to proclaim the name of Jesus in the face of death. Living a righteous and holy life is evidence the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Filled with His Spirit, believers become a signpost to the world that God is real and that He has a plan and a purpose for every life.
His Holy Spirit is for all who believe in Jesus and His Kingdom, and have surrendered their lives to His direction. Acts 2:38-39 explains, “And Peter answered them. Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (See Isaiah 57:19 and Joel 2:32). (Emphasis mine)
How incredible it is to have an indwelling Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby! Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the children of God, from the first 120 in the upper room to our generation until the Lord returns, will never have to lack in wisdom and understanding. A Counselor and Advocate will stand beside us bringing Comfort and Peace in our time of need. This means God Himself is willing to live inside of man empowering, equipping, encouraging and enlightening us to successfully navigate our journey in our generation. He enables us to fulfill His plans and purposes for our lives today when we allow Him full authority over our lives.
The Holy Spirit helps us understand the written word of God, and empowers us to hear the rhema (spoken) word of God directly in our hearts. He warns us when we are moving in the wrong direction and comforts us when we hurt. He forgives and encourages us when we have made mistakes, motivating us to believe for more. He assures us of His love for us, which gives us courage when we are afraid. He inspires us to stand, even if we have to stand alone. He bathes us in the Love of God and clothes us in His Righteousness.
His Holy Spirit is for all who believe. What an Amazing Gift, indeed.