Day 242

When the Holy Spirit Comes

Wisdom Psalm 104:1-18
New Testament 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6
Old Testament 2 Chronicles 33:21-35:19


I remember the first time I prayed ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ on an Alpha Weekend. I knew that the Holy Spirit had ‘come’ every time those who had led the Alpha Weekends before me had asked him to come. Even so, I did not think he would come in answer to my prayers – as I prayed ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ I shut my eyes, because I did not want to see the Holy Spirit ‘not coming’!

When I opened my eyes, there was an amazing sight. The Holy Spirit had come in a powerful way – people were being filled. He was changing people’s lives. This was the ministry of the Holy Spirit. That is why at some point in virtually every one of our services we pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit.’ We always try to leave time for ‘ministry’ – for the Holy Spirit to minister to us.

We often associate the word ‘minister’ with leadership, whether by government ministers or by church ministers. In fact, the word really means ‘to serve’. Politicians are called to serve their countries. Pastors are called to serve the church. Doctors, who administer treatment to their patients, are called to serve the sick and the dying.

The Holy Spirit ministers to you. He brings authority greater than any politician, comfort deeper than any pastor, and healing more wonderful than any doctor. God ministers to you in the deepest part of your life by the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul speaks of ‘the ministry of the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:8). John Wimber defined this kind of ministry as ‘meeting the needs of others with the resources of God’. Wonderfully, this type of ministry is now available to you and me.


Psalm 104:1-18

Psalm 104

1 Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
   you are clothed with splendour and majesty.

2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
   he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
   and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers,
   flames of fire his servants.

5 He set the earth on its foundations;
   it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
   the waters stood above the mountains.
7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,
   at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
8 they flowed over the mountains,
   they went down into the valleys,
   to the place you assigned for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
   never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
   it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
   the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
   they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
   the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
   and plants for people to cultivate—
   bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
   oil to make their faces shine,
   and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
   the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
   the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
   the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.


Ministry of ‘wind’ and ‘flames of fire’

This is a marvellous psalm praising God for his entire creation. Everything that God has created is good. I love the fact that in addition to ‘oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts’, he has made ‘wine that gladdens human hearts’ (v.15).

Of course, like every good gift from God, wine can be abused. The Bible often warns against drunkenness. However, wine, like oil and bread, is given by God for our enjoyment and to gladden the heart of human beings.

Earlier on the psalmist says, ‘He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants’ (v.4). The word for ‘servants’ can be translated ‘ministers’ (see RSV, ESV, KJV).

This passage is a fascinating Old Testament backdrop to the account of the day of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came, they heard ‘a sound like the blowing of a violent wind’ and they saw ‘tongues \[flames\] of fire’ that separated and came to rest on each of them (Acts 2:2–4).

‘Wind’ and ‘flames of fire’ are God’s ministers. They symbolise the power, passion and purity of God. When you pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, expect God to send the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit and expect the ministry of the Holy Spirit to be powerful and life changing.


Lord, thank you for the transformation in people’s lives as they experience the power, passion and purity of God. Come, Holy Spirit and fill me today.

New Testament

2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6

Ministers of the New Covenant

12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant —not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


Ministry that gives life

How can you bring life to others? In this passage, Paul describes himself as a minister of a ‘new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (3:6).

  1. Through you, people smell the sweet scent of Christ

    ‘Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance’ (2:14b, MSG). Paul describes his ministry as being like that of a ‘perpetual victory parade’ (v.14a, MSG). When a king or general had won a notable victory, the whole city would turn out to welcome them home. They would bring with them the prisoners they had taken. It might well be accompanied by the ‘sweet smell of incense’.

    For some (the prisoners) it was ‘the smell of death’ (v.16a). For others (the victors) it was the ‘fragrance of life’ (v.16b). Similarly, ‘We give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognised by those on the way of salvation… But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse’ (vv.14–15, MSG).

  2. Through you, people read about Jesus

    The only Bible some people will read is your life. Paul writes to the Corinthians, ‘Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it – not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiselled into stone, but carved into human lives – and we publish it’ (3:1b–3, MSG).

    Not everyone can or will read books – but everyone you encounter can, and will, read your life.

  3. Through you, people hear about a relationship with Jesus

    You should never say, ‘I am useless’, ‘I can do nothing’. You are able, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to bring the good news of Jesus to others. This should give you great confidence – not self-confidence but God-confidence.

    ‘Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God’ (vv.4–5).

    The Holy Spirit gives you not just a new start in life, but also a new life to start with. The old covenant was the one made by God through Moses, but it did not have the power to make the people everything that God longed for them to be.

    Because the people could not keep the law that was written on tablets of stone, ultimately it brought death – ‘the letter kills’ (v.6). On the other hand, the ministry of the Holy Spirit –written in your heart – is a ministry that ‘gives life’ (v.6).

    The Holy Spirit brings a change in human nature. Never say, ‘I can’t change’. With the Holy Spirit you can change.

    It is the difference between a religion of rules and regulations (which ultimately none of us are able to keep) and a relationship with God through Jesus, which brings life, and life in all its fullness (John 10:10).


Lord, thank you so much for this ministry where time and again we see the Spirit giving life to people who were spiritually dead.

Old Testament

2 Chronicles 33:21-35:19

Amon King of Judah

21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. 23 But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt.

24 Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place.

Josiah’s Reforms

34 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. 4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

8 In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God.

9 They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the gatekeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the Lord’s temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple. 11 They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.

12 The workers laboured faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites—all who were skilled in playing musical instruments— 13 had charge of the labourers and supervised all the workers from job to job. Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and gatekeepers.

The Book of the Law Found

14 While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan.

16 Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. 17 They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.” 18 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

19 When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. 20 He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan , Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 21 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”

22 Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.

23 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people —all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ 26 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 27 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. 28 Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’”

So they took her answer back to the king.

29 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 31 The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book.

32 Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.

33 Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

Josiah Celebrates the Passover

35 Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the Lord’s temple. 3 He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the Lord: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built. It is not to be carried about on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel. 4 Prepare yourselves by families in your divisions, according to the instructions written by David king of Israel and by his son Solomon.

5 “Stand in the holy place with a group of Levites for each subdivision of the families of your fellow Israelites, the lay people. 6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves and prepare the lambs for your fellow Israelites, doing what the Lord commanded through Moses.”

7 Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and also three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions.

8 His officials also contributed voluntarily to the people and the priests and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel, the officials in charge of God’s temple, gave the priests twenty-six hundred Passover offerings and three hundred cattle. 9 Also Konaniah along with Shemaiah and Nethanel, his brothers, and Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad, the leaders of the Levites, provided five thousand Passover offerings and five hundred head of cattle for the Levites.

10 The service was arranged and the priests stood in their places with the Levites in their divisions as the king had ordered. 11 The Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them, while the Levites skinned the animals. 12 They set aside the burnt offerings to give them to the subdivisions of the families of the people to offer to the Lord, as it is written in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13 They roasted the Passover animals over the fire as prescribed, and boiled the holy offerings in pots, caldrons and pans and served them quickly to all the people. 14 After this, they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were sacrificing the burnt offerings and the fat portions until nightfall. So the Levites made preparations for themselves and for the Aaronic priests.

15 The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, were in the places prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun the king’s seer. The gatekeepers at each gate did not need to leave their posts, because their fellow Levites made the preparations for them.

16 So at that time the entire service of the Lord was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had ordered. 17 The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18 The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. 19 This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.


Ministers of a new covenant

Tim Keller defines a covenant as ‘the solemn, permanent, whole self-giving of two parties to each other. It is a stunning blend of both law and love… a relationship much more intimate and loving than a mere legal contract could create, yet one more enduring and binding than personal affection alone could make.’

Paul writes, God has ‘made us competent as ministers of a new covenant’ (2 Corinthians 3:6). He contrasts this with the old covenant. Here we see something about this old covenant.

After Amon, who was an evil king who ‘did not humble himself before the Lord’ (2 Chronicles 33:23), Josiah became king at the age of eight (34:1). His faith came alive when he was sixteen years of age and ‘he began to seek the God of his father David’ (v.3). He cleansed Judah and Jerusalem of all the bad stuff and scrubbed the place clean (vv.3–7, MSG). He ‘repaired and restored the temple’ (v.10).

While they were doing so they ‘found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses’ (v.14). By looking at the old covenant they saw that ‘they had not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book’ (v.21).

God spoke to them through the prophetess Huldah (v.22). (Again, here in the Old Testament we see yet another example of a woman in a prominent position in ministry.)

In the hearing of the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites, Josiah read ‘all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord’ (v.30). He ‘solemnly committed himself to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to confirm with his life the entire covenant’ (v.31, MSG).

The old covenant was a good covenant. But, it was written on tablets of stone. Even when the people did try to keep the law, it never lasted very long. The outward reformation lasted only as long as Josiah was there to enforce it. Ultimately, they failed to keep it (see Jeremiah 11–13).

The law shows us our need for a saviour. You can only keep God’s covenant when you receive forgiveness from Jesus and, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the law is written in your heart.


Lord, thank you that we are ‘ministers of a new covenant’ and that your law is now written in our hearts by the Spirit who enables us to walk in him and to minister in his power.

Pippa adds

In 2 Chronicles 34:3 it says:

‘In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, \[Josiah\] began to seek the God of his father David.’

Josiah was sixteen. You are never too young to have a relationship with God, or to have an anointing for leadership.



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Timothy Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Viking, 2015) p.104

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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