Editor's note:

The Reservoir is a fifteen-month weekday devotional that moves through the six major Christian traditions outlined by Richard Foster in Streams of Living Water. The excerpt below is from Month Seven: The Spirit-Empowered Life.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Reservoir

Monday

A VITAL AND EXCITING LIFE

The truth of the matter is this: God wants to be active in our lives; to endow us with supernatural abilities; to see us live with love, joy, peace, and so on. — Richard Foster

Often Christians earn a reputation as killjoys, people afraid of happiness and excitement. But reading the book of Acts demolishes that stereotype. There we see Jesus’ disciples filled with the Holy Spirit, doing the very things Jesus did—healing the sick, casting out demons, and boldly and joyfully proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

Far from being sad and dull, the Spirit-empowered life is joyful, vital, and exciting. We turn our attention to that life this week.

Read: Acts 3:1–10

Reflect: 

  1. Sometimes we may try to be faithful disciples on our own, without the power of the Holy Spirit. Describe what that looks like. What is the result of striving to follow Jesus in our own strength?
  2. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can empower you to live the same kind of life and do the same kinds of things that the apostles did in the first century? Why or why not?

Tuesday

A LIFE THAT BEARS THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Consider a tree. It doesn’t bear fruit of its own will. Rather, it simply functions as it was made to function. If its fruit is missing or poorly formed, the fruit-grower knows that something is wrong. 

You may remember from the Sermon on the Mount a section about false prophets. How do we discern them? Jesus says simply, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). Likewise, followers of Jesus are known by their fruit. Psalm 1 says that those who delight in the law of the Lord “are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.” 

Read: Galatians 5:22–25

Reflect: 

  1. What words would you use to describe the process of a tree going from seed to sapling to bearing fruit? How do these apply to our spiritual life?
  2. Take note of which word Paul places first in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. Why do you think he does this? What implications might we draw from this? 
  3. Read through the fruit of the Spirit again. Is there one aspect in particular that stands out to you, perhaps one you wish to grow in? Write out a prayer to ask for the power of the Spirit in that area.

Wednesday

A LIFE OPEN TO THE RENEWING WORK OF THE SPIRIT

To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behavior will be transformed. — Charles Stanley

Have you ever seen a snake shed its skin? As the snake grows, the old skin stretches until it can no longer contain the snake. The snake then glides across a rough surface to leave its old skin behind. The shed skin is often full of parasites and surface wounds that get left behind as the snake emerges renewed.

A Spirit-empowered life constantly stretches us. Our “old skins”—bad habits of thinking and relating to one another—are getting sloughed off. Sometimes the process is uncomfortable, even painful. But take heart. What God wants to make us into is well worth the process.

Read: Titus 3:1–7

Reflect: 

  1. Scripture speaks often of the power of the Holy Spirit. In today’s passage, Paul gives examples of a Spirit-renewed life that may not sound powerful: be subject to authorities, avoid quarreling, be gentle, show courtesy. How is the power of the Holy Spirit evident in these qualities?
  2. Have you ever experienced a time where you were aware of the Spirit’s work in your life and it surprised you—for example, a time when you may have normally been angry but responded in love, or a time when you said something you hadn’t planned to say and it blessed someone else? Thank God that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life.

Thursday

A LIFE OF WORSHIP

Worship must be Christ centered, Holy Spirit led, a response to the Father … and always lead to transformation. — Tim Hughes

For the Samaritan woman whose story is told in today’s passage, worship was location dependent. Her main question was one of place: Where should we worship? But Jesus, as he so often does, interacts with a better question: How should we worship? 

Places and forms of worship can be helpful. But ultimately worship—ascribing worth and honor to God in whatever we do, say, or sing—is about the heart. The Holy Spirit, as our teacher, wants to reveal to us God’s goodness, beauty, truth—and most of all his love. We need only ask. And when God’s love and beauty and truth are seen, it is only natural to respond in thankfulness and worship.

Read: John 4:19–24

Reflect: 

  1. What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and truth”?
  2. Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and is now here.” What happened in the coming of Jesus that allows us to worship in spirit and truth?
  3. Do you desire to grow in the area of worship? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you today God’s goodness, beauty, truth, and love in specific ways. When that prayer is answered, when your heart leaps at beholding something good, offer a simple prayer of worship—like “Thank you, Lord,” or “You are amazing, God.”

Friday

A LIFE THAT USES SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN LOVE

Signs, wonders, miracles and healings, revelations and visions—these are all part of our walk with the Spirit. They become a witness to nonbelievers and an affirmation of hope to believers. — Richard Foster

One of the mysteries of coming to faith in Jesus is that we are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit. In today’s passage, Paul outlines a few of them. 

It is possible to use our spiritual gifts in unhealthy ways, disconnected from relationship with Jesus (Matthew 7:21–23). Gifts can also be overemphasized or even fabricated. But God’s desire is that we use spiritual gifts motivated by love and in relationship with Jesus. This is good for everyone! We receive the joy of serving, others receive the encouragement of being served, and God receives the glory in it all.

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:1–11

Reflect: 

  1. Which of these spiritual gifts are you familiar with? Which are unfamiliar?
  2. Depending on culture and denomination, spiritual gifts can be a divisive topic. What have been your own experiences with the spiritual gifts?
  3. What are your spiritual gifts? If you are unsure, consider praying and talking with a pastor, friend, or colleague to identify how the Holy Spirit has gifted you.

Learn more about The Reservoir: A Fifteen-Month Weekday Devotional for Individuals and Groups.