Holy Spirit

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.05.16

The Active Presence of the Holy Spirit                        

John 16:5-15

The most under-appreciated aspect of our salvation may be the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In his farewell address, Jesus keeps coming back to the Holy Spirit so we will be mindful of his active presence

 

The Holy Spirit is our great advantage in this world (v7)

Jesus’ leaving was to fulfill the Father’s plan in establishing a New Covenant

Jesus did everything necessary to make the gospel possible and the Holy Spirit does everything necessary to unite us to the gospel

As the disciples in John 16 were to anticipate the Holy Spirit’s coming, we are to expect the Holy Spirit’s work

The Holy Spirit has come and he does abide in every believer

He is being faithful to fulfill all the wondrous purposes of the gospel in us

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (vs 8-11)

Jesus starts here, because this is the Holy Spirit’s necessary starting place with us

The world needs the Holy Spirit’s “conviction” because people don’t see clearly (Revelation 3:16-17)

Even as believers, our motivations and justifications are not as pure as we think

The Holy Spirit brings conviction in three areas  

1. We need conviction about “sin” (v9)

     Sin is always deceptive, evil and foolish. Sin is an act of rejecting God

     If we are not taking sin seriously, we are not taking Jesus who died for sin   seriously

2. We need conviction about “righteousness” (v10)

     A proof of this is that we are not more drawn to holiness, which is God’s own character

     Our goodness is defiled, so only Jesus can make us righteous before God

3. We need conviction about “judgment” (v11)

     People who don’t believe in God’s rule, are not concerned about coming judgment

     How we live should take into account that only what submits to Christ will survive judgment (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

     If you want to see clearly, invite the Holy Spirit to speak by his voice, his word and his people

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in believers (vs 12-15)

1. The Holy Spirit guides us in the truth

We cannot trust other sources to be fully true    

The Holy Spirit always speaks in harmony with Scripture (v13b)

     The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture that is what he will bring to us

     The Holy Spirit never tells you that your sin is ok

The Spirit-filled believer lives in harmony with God’s Word, which means they are engaged with the Bible to test their lives against to it

2. The Holy Spirit draws our attention to kingdom fulfillment

“He declares to us the things that are to come” (v13)

What is “to come” drives our motivations: We look to better job, a bigger house, a fulfilling relationship and a higher reputation

What is “to come” drives our fears: We become anxious over what our kids will do, our doctor will say, or how the economy will turn

The Spirit-filled believer looks to the fulfillment of Jesus’ kingdom, for we know all that is ‘to come’ is ruled by Christ

     Our desires become shaped by wanting to honor and be used for Jesus kingdom

     Our fears are eased by knowing all things are in Jesus’ hands

3. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (v14)

The whole of God’s plan for this world and for humanity centers on Jesus

Jesus is the answer for the world’s groaning and he is the fulfillment of humanity’s hope

The Holy Spirit will not emphasize anything above Jesus

The Spirit-filled believer spends a lot of time and attention on Christ

     Trusts him  

     Exalts him  

     Obeys him  

     Serves him

     Rests in him

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.25.16

             “Peace is found in Jesus”                     

John 14:25-31

People look for peace in the absence of conflict, intrusion, people and problems. They miss the fact that peace is found in the presence of Christ

 

Jesus gives more instruction about the Holy Spirit (vs 25-26)

The word for ‘Helper’ means “one who comes along side”

One of the ways he ‘comes alongside’ us is by “teaching” us  

He will teach them what Jesus has already ‘spoken’ to them

Jesus’ disciples had heard Jesus for years, yet their understanding remained shallow

We need to understand more than words and concepts, the realities of Christ must capture our hearts

We need to see them as true for us and compelling to us

The Holy Spirit brings truths to our “remembrance”

This is how biblical truths touch the practices of our life

Jesus is giving assurance to his followers concerning how we will make our way in life

 

Jesus’ leaving is hard, but it is also victorious (vs 28-29)

Jesus was sovereign over all the circumstances of his leaving

He has been telling his disciples for months about the details of his death

His crucifixion was not a surprise, everything was according to God’s plan

Jesus would leave in complete victory

Jesus entered death to conquer death, by breaking the power of sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

When Jesus paid the price for our sin, death lost its hold on us  

The result would be Jesus returning to the Father having fully completed his plan to save a people for himself

It seems like a loss to have Jesus leave, but he leaves to reign

Jesus would leave death exalted over the powers of this world

The ‘ruler of this world was coming’ (v30), Satan was involved in the events leading to Jesus’ death

But Satan’s efforts would not override God’s plan, his efforts were contained in it

Jesus would enter death, the territory of Satan, but it would have “no hold” on him

As followers of Jesus, v28 we should rejoice because his victory is our victory

Jesus tells them in v29 not to misinterpret events of his death; the same is true about interpreting the circumstances in our life

 

Jesus leaving this world doesn’t rob us of peace (v27)

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with his victory

We think we cannot have peace when life goes wrong or is out of our control

Even though wrong can be done to us, in Christ our future cannot go wrong

As citizens in Christ’s kingdom it is impossible for the events of our life to be out of control

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with the Holy Spirit

God is not watching how we are making it as Christians, he is involved in all of it

And we can be assured that the Holy Spirit’s work in us will be completely done 

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with himself

Jesus did not leave his humanity, he remains fully man, with understanding and empathy for us

Jesus did not leave this world; his Divine nature continues to operate the universe

Jesus was sovereign over the events his arrest, over the moment of his death . . and over your troubles

Jesus will not leave our lives! He will never ignore or fail those he died to save, and reigns to keep

We have surpassing peace in Jesus, so let’s live in it

The Hebrew use of the word peace meant blessing through a right relationship with God

Jesus’ first words to his disciples after his resurrection would be “Peace be with you”

Jesus who is the “Prince of Peace” came to establish a “covenant of peace” (Ezekiel 37:26-27)

Peace is here . . it’s ours . . we cannot lose it . . we can only lose sight of it

How or where are you looking for peace?

When I have financial security

When my problems finally are solved

When I find the right relationship or fix the people in my life  

These are all about our control and they ignore the reality that we live in a broken world

True peace is only in Christ: what he calls in v27 “my” peace

Only Christ fully removes all disturbances of peace

Only Christ reigns to guarantee that his peace will last

 

DRIVE-THROUGH CHURCH?

 

Our church is in the midst of a series of sermons on Biblical Community.

In the coming weeks we will be renewing our Membership Covenants together. These messages are mean to refresh how we look at our commitment to one another and to God.

Biblical Community is a value at Greentree which receives significant  attention year round. This is because the Bible gives it significant attention.

To be biblically accurate, we not only need to affirm biblical truths, we also need to give truths the same emphasis that the Bible gives them. For example the Gospel should receive far more emphasis than ‘end times’.

On Sunday we entered two weeks of looking at Biblical Community through 1 Corinthians 12. With that in mind, I encourage you to read this article by Daniel Hyde recently posted at Ligonier Ministries.

The article entitled “The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant”, leans heavily on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

However, it doesn’t matter what text or topic your church is currently preaching, Hyde’s thoughts are worth taking in. The Church is always in a battle against having its members view it according to the prevailing culture rather than the Bible.

Let’s be sure we are not falling into that trap which is detrimental to the church and displeasing to God.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.26.15

Gifted for Life Together

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual gifts are an individualized aspect of Christian life. In Corinth, their use was selfish, divisive and creating classifications. Paul corrects them with a richer understanding of biblical community

 

#1 We Are Gifted By A Trinitarian God (vs 1-6)

God is a Trinitarian being (vs 4-6)

One God who always existed as three separate, yet equal persons

This is not an awkward doctrine; it’s transcendent

It ought to be celebrated, because it is part of God’s glory and beauty

Paul makes this emphasis here, because it brought needed clarity

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community

A Trinitarian God has never been alone; he has always been communicative and interactive

The biblical emphasis on community is driven by God’s very nature

Paul wanted us to see the rich reality behind the scenes, which is that our individualized gifts are meant to reflect God’s communal nature

 

#2 We Are Gifted in Diversity and Uniformity

A three-fold diversity of spiritual gifts is described (vs 4-6)

There is a wide range of spiritual gifts; no list is exhaustive (Romans 12, Ephesians 4)

Paul here lists the gifts that were being misunderstood and misused

The presence of gifts doesn’t indicate maturity, how we use them does

Our concern is not to be for gifts that we don’t have, but to use what we were given

Despite this diversity, all gifts contain threads of uniformity

The “same” God empowers them all; the gifts in us are to work harmoniously

All gifts are given to serve one kingdom and it’s not ours!

All gifts have the same purpose which is to serve and strengthen the church (v7)

 

#3 Our Gifting is Holy Spirit Driven v11

The Spirit’s operation in us is contrasted v2 to ‘mute idols’

The Holy Spirit works in power: every simple gift is the activity of God who is Almighty  v11 

The Holy Spirit works in wisdom: distribution of gifts flows out of his eternal plan  v11  

The implication is that someone extraordinary is at work in us and through us

Regardless of our weakness, we have manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Regardless of our ignorance, we have the right gift(s)

This knowledge brings expectation in our service and activities for God

v6 the Holy Spirit empowers the activities wherever our gifts serve him
God never sends us to serve him on our own so don’t act like it

Do you want your giftedness to flourish (even if not sure which you have)?

Based upon v7 there are two keys for us:

(1)  Have a soft heart for the Holy Spirit to use

(2)  Be involved in the lives of the people of your church

 

Application of Our Being Gifted for One Another

1. Our presence is important

Our presence is meant to be enriching

The Church (your brothers and sisters) are weakened by your avoidance of church life

Our presence not simply important in church services, we need to be active in sharing life together

2. Being creative is good, but cleverness doesn’t drive fruitfulness

Reliance on the Holy Spirit is the engine of fruitfulness

We show this reliance through submission to God, and prayerfulness in all things

3. Our gatherings (at all levels) always have a supernatural element

We ought to be in expectation as we gather and the gifts are multiplied

Our gatherings are an orchestration by God of his gifting to all

We have been Gifted for Life Together – so let’s BE together

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.29.14

 “Is Your Heart Full?”

“How’s life?”  What goes through your mind when people ask that question? Despite real difficulties and the mess of this world, we can answer: “My heart is full”

John 7:37-39

A little background helps us better grasp Jesus’ point

We see in v1, Jesus said this during the Feast of Booths

People spent a week living in booths to remember the wilderness years

This feast included an elaborate and festive water ceremony

This celebrated God’s provision in the wilderness and gave hope for his provision in the present

It also looked ahead to the spiritual rain of the messianic age (Zechariah 14)

When Jesus “cried out” in v37, it may have been during that ceremony

It was clearly a messianic proclamation, and to the Jew that meant the fulfillment of God’s greatest blessing (Isaiah 55:1-3)

We short-change Christ if we see his work for us as just an escape from judgment

Jesus is inviting us to come and be filled

His invitation is given to those who thirst – those who have need

As Jesus declared in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”

We all have a Sin need: we are sinners under judgment by the just God

We all have a Truth need: we are plagued by misunderstanding and treacherous thinking

We all have a Life need: we foolishly seek it from broken places (Jeremiah 2:13)

Jesus invites us to drink – to be full and satisfied

To drink is to believe in Christ

To drink is to fully accept what Jesus claims about himself, such as “I am the true Vine” . . “I am the Light of World” . . “I am the Good Shepherd

To drink is to practice his word with wholehearted obedience

To drink is to trust his Lordship by living in submission to him (Matthew 11:28-30)

There are common problems to drinking fully

1.  We don’t believe as much as we think we do: the doctrines we say we believe don’t fully shape how we live

2.  We sip and think we have had enough: we don’t see the goodness of “drinking” in fully

Yet, no one has better plans for us, or higher desires for us

Nothing can be better than to more fully know, love and live for Christ!

An essential clarification is added in v39

The active source of this promised vitality is the Holy Spirit

Jesus doesn’t simply give us blessings and benefits to use

The Holy Spirit (who is all that God is) comes to live and work in us

The Holy Spirit takes all that the gospel provides, and all that God’s plan desires and causes it to be fulfilled in us

The Holy Spirit enables our hearts to flow with life like a river

All rivers depend on a source; they flow with what they receive

We have received the Holy Spirit. We have the fullest source possible!

The Holy Spirit’s intentions are clear:

To produce fruit in us (Galatians 5)

To gift us (1 Corinthians 12)

To use us (1 Corinthians 12)

To perfect us (Romans 8:30)

A river flows best when debris is cleared away

A waterway doesn’t become clogged in a moment; a little debris along the edges snags more debris and eventually silt builds up

What is your debris? 

We deceive ourselves when we think we can be ‘functional sinners’

Jesus said this river of the Holy Spirit flows “out of (our) hearts”

Does God have your heart?  Is your heart deepening in its devotion and love for God?

Why does Jesus want you to drink?

Jesus wants you to be more than quenched in your thirst

He didn’t say drink and be quenched, he said, drink and life will pour out

Your life is meant for more than self-satisfaction, God has a greater purpose for you

Don’t shrink your life to the meager desires of this world

Lift up your heart and your life to the wondrous works of Christ’s eternal kingdom!

Jesus wants your heart to be full

Drinking deeply and being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t make life easy, but life will be joy-full peace-full

Imagine if everyone in your church drank deeply of Christ and flowed freely with the Holy Spirit

This is not a fantasy, it’s God’s plan – it’s his desire which he will complete!

Will you pray for this?  It is a worthy prayer!

 

IS ANYTHING GOING ON?

“Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church.

Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning.

Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?”

from “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.02.13

“The Holy Spirit Brings Hope” Romans 8:18-25

Suffering is a universal experience

The Bible deals with this reality head on

In this passage Paul says the whole creation “groans”

There is a brokenness that affects the whole earth

It is not just that suffering is common, v20 indicates there is no way out

Suffering can affect how we look at God and live for Him

We may doubt the depth of God’s love and care for us; He seems distant

We become worn down and filled with self-pity

We may be bothered at God; resentful and feeling that He has been unfair

Some become disillusioned with God; expecting less suffering and more ease

These responses steal our joy, slow our growth and stop our involvement in mission

What lies ahead for us outshines all suffering (v18)

Paul boldly says “it’s not worth comparing”

He is not minimizing our suffering, he is exalting our coming glory

This is said by a man who knew suffering (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

This is said to people who are “in Christ” (who trust Christ as the only payment for their sin)

Twice in vs 18-19 Paul says a “revealing” is going to take place

“Glory” is going to be revealed (v18)

God who made all that’s good and beautiful, will make it perfect

This will be goodness undisturbed

At the center of it will the glorified Christ!

Part of this glory is the new revealing of us (v19)

We are part of what will be perfect and undisturbed (v30)

This is not hype, we will be like Jesus in his character (1 John 3:2)

 v19 Describes creation as looking for these things with “eager longing”; it is the picture of people craning their necks to see ahead for something

What do we eagerly long for?

But how do we know for sure?

The big challenge to our hope is we cannot see the glory to come

We are God’s adopted children, but we haven’t received our inheritance

The Holy Spirit is our proof from the Father (2 Corinthians 1:22)

The Holy Spirit is a “guarantee” of God’s commitment and promises

There is no half-heartedness on God’s part toward us – ever!

The Holy Spirit is called the “firstfruits” of what is to come (v23)

The Spirit is working in us to fulfill all that salvation promises

v1 He confirms to our hearts that in Christ there is no condemnation

v4 He walks with us, leading us into new ways of thinking and living

v6 He bears witness to us that God has adopted us  

Believer, our hearts are different and we are being changed

These are not our accomplishments; it’s the Holy Spirit in us

If this present reality is true, we can trust that all the rest is also coming

The Holy Spirit turns the groaning of futility into the hopeful groaning of childbirth (v22)

He brings hope to our suffering and in our groaning

The fact of his presence is in us forever reminds us that our sufferings will end

The fact of his working in us shows that our sufferings are purposeful (v28)

Biblical hope: is knowing that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled

What promises of our salvation encourage you most?

Our hope is a powerful influence and example

Everyone walks through suffering and they all are burdened by it

We can be real about our suffering, and real about our hope

When our hope is in what the Holy Spirit brings – it never stops shining

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.18.13

“Our Biggest Problem” Romans 8:1-8

“Romans 8 answers the question, ‘What does God provide for Christians with real problems?’”  Ray Ortlund 

“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6)

Where do problems come from?

Since God is perfect in all he does, that includes the world and people he created  

Since God’s wisdom is perfect, his guidelines didn’t misdirect us

Since God’s power is absolute, he didn’t fail to hold up his purposes

So what went wrong?

Humanity doubted and disobeyed God

We tried to take charge and everything imploded

Sin has bred every pain, sorrow and problem

Most seriously the human condition has been corrupted, so even the good things we do are affected by sin

The good news is that through Christ our sin problem can be solved (vs 1-4)

Jesus took the guilt of our sin and paid its penalty on the cross (v1)

God gives us a spiritual birth and frees us from the bondage of sin (v2)

The Holy Spirit dwells in us, to be our strength and to lead us

Why do Christians still have problems?

The world as a whole lives in rebellion against God

Until all sin is removed, there can never be peace around us

This is why we hope for the coming kingdom that will never be marred

Yet, none of the world’s problems present any difficulty for the Holy Spirit who lives in us

He has no fear or questions; he is never intimidated or burdened

Right now He is fulfilling God’s un-improvable plan in us

Of all the people in the world, we have an immeasurable advantage

Our biggest problem is not the world of sin; it is when we live in the flesh (vs 5-8)

The ‘flesh’ is our human nature that has been corrupted

v 7 tells us the flesh does not “submit to God” and v8 adds it “cannot please God”

When we think, talk, act and respond by our will; that is living in the flesh

When try to make life work by our own abilities; that is living in the flesh

The biggest issue we face throughout each day is what we are living by?

All Christians are “in the Spirit”. The question is do we live this reality?  

Just as I am married to Debbie, but do I live like it?

Each day, we make choices to live by the Spirit or the flesh

We pursue time with him, or we pursue our to-do list

We either say “Father not my will, but your will be done”, or the reverse

We rest in the Lord, or we seek comfort in food, alcohol, pornography or fantasy etc

We follow behind God, or we try to fix life’s problems on our own

This choice is most the serious issue each day, because there are consequences (v6)

The flesh can only produce “death”. 

All labor by the flesh will end in nothing

All achievements outside the Holy Spirit will die forever

As believers who have the Holy Spirit, this would be a monumental waste of life

The Spirit brings “life and peace”

This is not maybe or sometimes

Life in the Spirit makes our labors last beyond the grave

He brings peace, because God is eternally sovereign and good

The Holy Spirit is not reluctant to bring life and peace

He is ready to be our sufficiency against sin and for godliness

He is ready to use our life well in the ordinary details of life and in the most important issues of life

What is our level of urgency about living in the flesh or the Spirit?

John 6:63 warns us

‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all’

Do you have any urgency about starting the day with God?

Do you consider God’s agenda in your decision-making to be essential?

Are there parts of God’s word that you are suppressing?

How do you assess how your life is going?

In all these things we have a great encouragement

Every true Christian will live for all eternity fully in the Spirit

What we will have forever, we can grow in today

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.11.13

All that God is, lives in us

Romans 8:9-11

We begin a series of sermons from Romans 8 that encourage us in how the Holy Spirit works in every believer

Paul is emphatic, the Holy Spirit is in every believer

1.  The Spirit in us affirms we “belong” to God (v9b)

This presence is more than God being everywhere, with everyone

God is as close to us as is possible: he could not do more to show it

God is active for us: the Spirit is not a neutral presence or in the background

God is always gracious toward us: that is the point of his coming

God is committed to us: the Spirit’s presence declares “I am for you”

God is ‘God’ in us: our potential is no longer our own

2.  The Spirit in us is a magnificent and staggering reality

All that God is, lives in us: this means every attribute of God with all of his faithfulness

The Spirit operates in complete wisdom and absolute power

We who could do nothing, can now do anything! (John 15:5, Philippians 4:13)

This reveals that our cannots for God are actually will nots

3.  The Spirit in us means we are no longer “in the flesh” (v9a)

The Spirit is God’s response to our many limitations:

. . to our emptiness – “I want you to be full”

. . to our spiritual deadness – “I want you to live”

. . to our brokenness – I want you to be whole”

. . to our sinfulness – “I want you to be clean”

. . to our weakness – “I want you to be fruitful”

Old categories and limitations are being overturned

Limitations remain just as real, but they no longer matter

Fear and anxiety are not needed, because everything we face is with Holy Spirit

The very concept of weakness has changed its meaning (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

We will still experience struggle, but failure is no longer our identity

The Holy Spirit is transforming us and leading us on a new road (more on that next week)

4.  The Spirit comes with the entirety of God’s purpose

In v9 he is referred to as the “Spirit”, the “Spirit of God” and the “Spirit of Christ”

The Holy Spirit carries out all the purposes of the Father and Son in us

Nothing is missing in the Spirit’s ministry, every truth and purpose of God is contained in him

5.  The Spirit’s presence brings us “life” (vs 10-11)

It begins with the Spirit regenerating us to be “born again”

Our new life is not a change we make, it is what the Spirit does

What does life in the Spirit tell us about the shallowness of life found anywhere else?

What is your biggest problem?

None of them present any difficulty for the Holy Spirit

He has no fear or questions; he is not intimidated or challenged

Right now he is fulfilling God’s un-improvable plan for us

Of all the people in world, we have an immeasurable advantage

Our biggest problem is that we ignore the realities of Romans 8 and live by our flesh (our sinful human nature)

We have his presence, yet ignore him

We have his Word to us, yet don’t read it

We have his comforts and strength, but we look elsewhere

The Holy Spirit is not hiding and he doesn’t need convincing

The Spirit is ready to be your sufficiency against evil and for righteousness 

He is ready to use your life well in the ordinary and in the most important

The Spirit wants to fill us!

He wants to transform every action, thought and word to serve the Lord

He wants to lift our hearts to fulfill the Great Commandment

He wants to make our life a fountain of God’s character and gospel

He wants to make us instruments of grace wherever we are

The Spirit of life is in us, so let’s go out and truly live!

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT and YOUR CHILDREN

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“How often do you speak about the Holy Spirit with your children?” I have to admit when Marty Machowski presented that question in a blog article, it gave me pause. I have spoken to my children countless times about God the Father and Jesus Christ, but I have not spoken as often (or much at all) about the third person of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit.

Considering that the Holy Spirit dwells in and empowers every believer, He should be a topic of frequent conversation as we guide our children in godliness.

A couple things that did encourage me: (1) we read the entire Bible (and the New Testament a few times) with our children, so this topic was not omitted; (2) in the many different resources we used for family devotions (we tried to have variety) we went over classic confessions of the church which cover all major areas of theology.

However, on the level of informal discussion about God with our children, the precious topic of the Holy Spirit was lacking.

I encourage you to read this article by Machowski entitled “Teach Your Children About the Holy Spirit”. While you are at it here are links for his two follow up articles, “Keeping in Step with the Holy Spirit”, and “Be Filled With the Holy Spirit”.