Last weekend we set out for our MS Winter Retreat. This is a trip we have taken for several years, but we introduced some changes like going to Myrtle Beach vs. Charleston and going to Medieval Times were the major changes. It was a great trip. This trip is different from others in that there is so much relational time built into the weekend. The schedule is a little more relaxed to allow for this time. I was able to spend a good amount of time just shooting the breeze with students and I was also able to get their perspective on Merge and talk about some possible changes or ideas based on student’s input.
I’ve been thinking about what to write and have been replaying the trip over in my mind and I’m incredibly happy with how this retreat went. From a Bible study stand point, I don’t know that I’ve ever been as happy with how things turned out. While the subject matter wasn’t something that is light or easy, I feel that I was able to communicate right where it needed to be for middle school students. What follows may not be short, but I think it’ll give you a really good idea about what we talked about and and what your student was presented with.
The weekend was titled What’s the deal with the Holy Spirit?
Most of students when asked said that they have grown up in the church and since that is that case, I think we have a really good grasp on who God is. That He is our loving Father and Creator who wants a relationship with us. The sin in our lives stops us from getting to Him. So God sent Jesus to live the life we couldn’t live, a sinless life, to be our model, die in our place for our sins and to make the way for us to get to God. I think we also have somewhat of an understanding the God exists in three persons. One thing we constantly said was 1 God, 3 Persons
What I think we struggle with is how the Holy Spirit fits into this.
What we looked at first that the Holy Spirit is a He, not a force or a feeling. The Holy Spirit is a person so he has a personality. We looked at this in 3 ways:
1) The Spirit knows the things of God-1 Cor. 2:10-11, Romans 8:27
2) We can grieve the Holy Spirit-Eph. 4:30
3) The Spirit can distribute spiritual gifts as He wants-1 Cor. 12:11
Then we answered the question is the Holy Spirit God?
Things only God can do:
1) The Spirit knows the things of God that man doesn’t-1 Cor. 2:11-12
2) Can’t escape the presence of the Spirit-Psalm 139:7
3) Regeneration-John 3:5-6
4) Bring the humanity of Jesus-Luke 1:35
5) Creation of the world-Psalm 104:30
With this we moved into how the Spirit guides us. We looked at Galatians 5:18-26.
I like how this passage sets up that our default mode, the way were are born is this sinful nature that is opposite of God’s nature. Then we see how our lives should be marked when we become Christians. These 2 sides are always warring inside of us. They are constantly at odds. We settled on the fact that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to guide our lives to line up more and more like Christ’s.
In this session we looked at The Role of the Holy Spirit.
We kinda set this up the night before but really took an in-depth look at it in this session. We started by looking at the fact that our hands and our legs have different but equally important roles. This idea help to set up that the Holy Spirit has different by equally important roles. The first one we looked at is that He is our seal or our guarantee. Our Scripture came from 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 and Ephesians 1:12-14.
We talked about the Holy Spirit in our lives is an identifying mark on our lives. We illustrated this with a picture of a king’s seal. That when a king would make a decree or law he would seal it with his mark so that people would know that it was from him.
It’s the same idea with the Holy Spirit. He is our mark, our seal. And He is also our guarantee that God will keep His promises. He’s our guarantee that we belong to God and that we get all the benefits that with belonging to God.
The second role we looked at was Convicting.
We set up this idea that conviction is bigger than feeling bad or guilty for the bad things we have done. Conviction brings the fact of how bad our sin is and the continual need for a Savior to our eyes. Without conviction we would have no idea how sinful we are .
Part of what the Holy Spirit does is point us back to our need for Christ. John 16:13 sets this up. That the Spirit speaks the things of Christ. That growing in Christ is a continual process not one and done.
The third session I feel really put a good cap on the weekend. I think we continued in the thread that connects each Bible study. We talked about the idea of Grieving the Holy Spirit.
Our passage came from Ephesians 4:17-32
This passage draws alot on what we talked about in Session 1. That when we don’t follow the Spirit and we go back to our default mode, our sinful nature, that’s how we grieve the Holy Spirit. These verse do a great job telling us some of the things that grieve Him. They also tell us some things that please Him.
We wrapped this session and really the whole weekend by talking about how we can never lose our salvation. That once we belong to Christ nothing, not even our our sin, can separate us from Him. Again that’s one of the roles of the Holy Spirit.
We did drive home that if we continue to live a life that goes against Christ we have to question wether or not we know Christ.
I then laid out that we can have assurance of salvation and that salvation is not supposed to be one of those things that we guess about or hope that we are. We can know without a doubt that we are saved, we are a Christian, we do have Christ in our lives and the Holy Spirit within us.
I tried to make this very clear and plain and not make it anything emotional or use an scare tactics.
The highlight of the weekend was on Sunday night after doing a wrap-up for the weekend for students who weren’t able to go, we had a seventh grade girl accept Christ!!! It was a great way to wrap up what God was doing that weekend.
My personal takeway is how thankful I am for all the members of the Trinity and how they work together to bring be closer to the Lord. That each member plays a key role in salvation. That our God is a God that saves and is still changing lives!!