The following is the transcript from the April 24, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.
During the Middle ages, in Florence Italy, there was a wealthy citizen by the name of Lorenzo de’Medici. He was a patron of the arts and very proud of the grand plays and pageants he staged for the citizens of the area. Among his productions were several amazingly realistic religious pageants performed in church.
But one Pentecost, Lorenzo went too far: He had his players reenact Acts 2 where it tells of the tongues of fire which descended on the apostles… and he used actual fire.
As a result, the stage caught fire and the entire building burned to the ground.
The people of God should always desire God’s power in their lives. But, the Bible tells us: we don’t have to manufacture that power. We don’t have to stage a grand production or experience earth shaking feelings of ecstasy to come into contact with the Spirit of God, because God’s Spirit is right here.
He’s inside of every believer.
And Paul tells us:
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Cor. 2:12If you are a Christian today - you HAVE received God’s Spirit. He’s dwelling right inside of you.And He has some very specific purposes to accomplish in your life.
1. God’s Spirit marks me as belonging to God (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the seal of salvation. When God looks down from heaven on you and I, He sees His Spirit and knows us to be His son/daughter.
2. He helps me pray (Romans 8:26). “…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
3. He makes me powerful as a Christian (Eph. 6:17). This is a difficult and hard world at times, and God’s Spirit works inside me to help me keep my footing and stand firm for my faith.
4. And thru those Scriptures, He teaches me about the things of God (I John 2:27). The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit because it is used (in part) to teach me about God and His will for my life.
5. He reminds me of Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26).
6. He convicts me of sin, and the need for righteousness in my life (John 16:8). He’s like my conscience… except this isn’t my conscience. My conscience is based upon my life experiences and my personal take on morality. By contrast, the Spirit’s prompting is based on God’s morality… and there are times when He’s going to convict me of things I don’t necessarily want to deal with.
7. And He helps me to understand the mind of God (I Corinthians 2:11&16).
“… no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God… We have the mind of Christ”I could preach entire sermons on each one of those topics. But I wanted to focus on the LAST of those because I believe that this is the key to the Spirit’s power in our lives.
God’s Spirit helps me to understand the mind of God. If I can understand how God thinks, then I should be able to start thinking that way myself and then my life will change… and I can even change the world around me.
This is such a powerful concept, that Albert Einstein once said:
"I want to know God’s thoughts... the rest are details."
The beauty for us is that the Spirit is like a direct line between God and us. We are literally tapped into God through His Spirit. And when we allow ourselves to be immersed in God - if we allow ourselves to be focused on His thoughts - then we can do powerful things in this world.
What every Christian should understand - when you tap into the mind of God, you can accomplish great things for God.
· You can change your life
· You can change your family
· You can change your workplace
· You can even change the world around you.
But FIRST, you need to think like God. And that is one of the most significant things the Spirit does for us.
You see, as God’s Spirit takes over my thinking, several things happen.
First – My priorities change. Before I became a Christian… it was all about me. I did - what I did - because I wanted to. My morals were MY morals.
My goals were MY goals. I made my decisions based on what I felt was best.
BUT NOW… things have changed - God’s Spirit constantly reminds us that we don’t belong to “ourselves” anymore. We belong to God. We’ve been bought with a price. We’re no longer our own.
And because we now belong to God, His Spirit expects to make changes in our lives. Sometimes the change He makes in us is dramatic. I’ve seen people who’ve come out of alcoholism, drug abuse and other disastrous lifestyles when they became Christians. It was like the wickedness of their life simply snapped away and they had literally received a different personality.
But more often the change in our lives is far more subtle. In fact, it can be so subtle that we don’t even know that’s its happening.
But THIS IS KEY - I don’t become a better person because I’m a superior individual. I become a better person because God’s Spirit is a superior influence in my life.
So, first - God’s Spirit changes my priorities.
Secondly – when God’s Spirit takes over my life… I pray differently - the Holy Spirit changes how I think when I pray.
Romans 8:26 tells me
“… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”The Spirit is there to guide me in what to pray for… and how to pray for what I DO pray for. I’m convinced that when we commit ourselves to serious praying, the Spirit of God can literally help us know what to pray for, and bring God’s power into the lives of people we care about.
But the Holy Spirit’s involvement in my prayer life goes even deeper. Because – you see, in my weakness - I may sometimes think God’s not listening to me.
But that’s never going to be a problem because – notice again what Romans 8:26 says
“…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”That’s the PROMISE of God. I don’t have to FEEL that God is hearing me because even when I can’t find the right words His Spirit is INSIDE of me, feeling every emotion I feel knowing exactly what I want to say, even when I can’t say it.
The Spirit of God doesn’t depend upon what I feel. His presence is not based upon my emotions.
But there are people who aren’t satisfied with that. There are people who want something more. They desire more flash and showiness or they don’t “feel” the Spirit. And when they can’t get that “feeling”, they tend to try to “manufacture” the Spirit’s presence.
If the Spirit wants to “move” in a congregation, He really shouldn’t need my help to “manufacture” the feeling of His presence. Even back in the days of the early Church (in the days when God’s Spirit gave Christians miraculous and flashy gifts and abilities) even back then, people mistook showiness and emotion for God’s actual presence.
The Christians in Corinth could speak in tongues, prophesy, and heal the sick. And yet – notice what Paul writes to them;
“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly— mere infants in Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:1Because they were Christians, the Spirit was inside them. And because they lived in the early days of the church, the Spirit did miraculous things through them He doesn’t do today. But they were still “UNSPIRITUAL.”
They didn’t have to manufacture the showiness of God’s Spirit like some folks today do. But even with the REAL miraculous gifts from the Spirit they still missed the God’s real presence.
The Spirit hadn’t changed them. The Spirit hadn’t affected how they thought, or how they prayed or how they treated others. They lived like mere mortals, not Spirit filled children of God.
Why - because they weren’t looking for the Spirit to make them better servants of God. They wanted God’s Spirit so they could be BETTER THAN OTHER servants of God.
And the difference between those two motives is the difference between
* a power that can burn down a church building through the selfishness of Christians
* and a power that can set God’s people on fire because they’ve sacrificed self to service.
For 2000 years, the Christians who understood that difference have been God’s best servants. They have been the ones who understood that Scripture never exalted and gloried in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Instead it always focuses on worship of Jesus and glorying in the freedom and blessings He gives us.
That’s what Paul says just before he launches into his description of the Spirit’s involvement in our lives:
”… I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Cor. 2:2 NKJVNo matter how someone views the Holy Spirit - that should be the primary focus of our faith. We should be so taken by Jesus - so given over to worshipping and lifting up His name – so that we bow to nothing and no one else.
Father God, you are the source of all truth, wisdom, justice, and love. Lead us through this time of worship and throughout this day of service to you. Help us constantly to rest our lives upon the eternal foundation s of your love and presence. Save us from haste and confusion, from wrongful desire, and the net of evil. Through the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, enlighten, instruct, and guide us all the day long. In the name of Jesus. Amen.