DO NOT mistake caffeine for the Holy Spirit

I’m somewhat of a walking and talking billboard for 5 hour energy drinks.

You know them? Those little red and yellow bottles that claim to pack a punch? They really work for me.

They give me a boost of energy (the equivalent of a cup of coffee), and just like they advertise, I don’t crash afterwards. It’s rare for a Sunday to go by without me draining one.

Lest I be judged for my dependence on these drinks, I’ll point out that I’m not the only caffeine junkie. Just look at the vats of coffee we put out on a Sunday morning, or the “free refills” of Diet Coke people pay $2.50 for in local restaurants.

Some like it hot, some like it cold, and some like it in a little magic bottle, but caffeine is, apparently, the drug of choice for lots of us.

Do you know what caffeine is? I had to look it up on Wikipedia. Apparently, caffeine is a “bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid”, whatever that means. It’s found in certain leaves and plants, most notably coffee beans and tea leaves.

It is, “the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug”, and 90% of Americans ingest caffeine on a daily basis.


Honestly, I’m not here to debate caffeine’s health merits or deficits. I’m here to ask a simple question:

If we have caffeine, do we still need the Holy Spirit?

I mean, caffeine wakes us up in the morning. It helps us focus. It opens us to inspiration. It gives us the little push some of us need to get moving.

Didn’t that use to be God’s job? Inspiring us, energizing us, focusing us and getting us moving?

Didn’t that used to be the work of the Spirit?

Well the answer is obviously ‘yes’, that’s always been the work of the Spirit. No “xanthine alkaloid” could ever take the place of God in our lives.

But, just in case we forget, here are 3 ways that caffeine could never replace the Holy Spirit:

1. The Holy Spirit is Holy Energy. This is more than some stimulant. It is the creative impulse, the loving urge, the power of Grace. The Spirit won’t just change your morning. It will change your life.

2. The Holy Spirit Gives Direction. The Holy Spirit fills us and then leads us. To new ministry fields, to new realizations, to each other. Coffee usually just leads you to…more coffee.

3. The Holy Spirit Does Not Fade. How long does a coffee buzz last? An hour? Maybe two? Not so with the Holy Spirit. This is the eternal God we’re talking about. Love without end.

Is it really possible for someone to mistake the work of their latte for the work of the Holy Spirit?

Maybe so. We’re so used to taking shortcuts (i.e. caffeine) for making things happen in our lives, we just might mistake a short-term boost for the real thing.

But when the Spirit touches your life, when you’re turned to receive it, there’s nothing like it. A life in the Spirit is a life of real joy, and adventure, and challenge.

A little caffeine might be a way of waking up…

but the Holy Spirit is a way of life.

Have a great week,


(This devotion originally appeared as a blog on

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