A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

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 July 11, 2020

 

Red Letter Summer Sermon Series

 

“Jesus’ Final Words To His Disciples”

 

This is the last message in our 2020 RED LETTER Summer Sermon Series.  These red letters are just some of the words that Jesus spoke during his ministry on earth . . . as recorded in the Gospels.

 

The idea of printing the words of Jesus in red came from an editor of the Christian Herald Magazine, and the first Red Letter New Testament was published in 1899.  This really helped in reading the Gospels, because the King James Version of the Bible didn’t use quotation marks around the words that Jesus spoke.

 

The red letter words in our scripture today are the very last words that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Matthew . . . and these final words, to his disciples, are very important to us!

 

Luke 28:16-20 (NLT)

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  17 When they saw him, they worshiped him - but some of them doubted!  18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

When I was a kid, about 12 or 13, I took a Greyhound bus from Indiana to Kansas to stay two weeks with my cousins who lived there.  At a bus station along they way, I went to a When I was about 12 or 13, I took a Greyhound Bus  from Richmond, Indiana, to Hutchinson, Kansas, to spend a week with my cousins who lived there.  In a bus terminal along the way, I went to a vending machine to get some hot chocolate.  (Remember, this was when automatic machines like this were pretty new!)  I put in my quarter and pressed the button labeled “hot chocolate.”  No cup appeared; but, the machine buzzed and hummed - shooting out the nozzle coco power and them hot water.  After all of that had gone down the drain, the machine turned off and an empty cup dropped into place.

 

I remember thinking, as I wiped the splashes off of my shirt and pants, “Man, that’s real automation!  This thing even drank my hot chocolate for me.”  

 

I sometimes wonder if that is how some people want to be a disciple of Jesus.  They want to make an initial deposit / put in some money . . . and let the rest be taken care of automatically.  THAT IS NOT TRUE DISICPLESHIP!

 

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  17 When they saw him, they worshiped him - but some of them doubted

 

The particular mountain they went to is not named, but was evidently a place well-known to them.  This event may have included others, for they worshipped him, but “some” doubted.  This may not mean some of the disciples had doubts, but some of the 500 others that Paul said had seen the resurrected Jesus.

 

However, it may mean the disciples!  After all, some “believers” do have doubts about certain theological issues and they distance themselves . . . so they don’t have to deal with their doubt.

 

The word “doubt” that is used in verse 17, is not presented as an obstacle to discipleship; but, is recognized as a PART of discipleship.

 

The word used for doubt is only found here and in . . .

 

Matthew 14:31

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.

“You have so little faith,” Jesus said.  “Why did you doubt me?”

 

Notice that in verse 18 it does not say that Jesus came ONLY to those who had no doubts . . . 

 

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” 

 

He came to them (AND TO US) all!

 

This word “doubt” refers to the wavering of a person who must decide when more than one possibility seems reasonable and right.  It does not carry the negative connotation that we give it.

 

Jesus is telling us that he does not wait until we are full of faith, and cleansed of doubt, before he comes to us - using us in his mission and ministry to the world.  HE DOES NOT WAIT UNTIL WE ARE PEFECT.  HE ACCEPTS US AS WE ARE . . . BUT, HE DIED AND ROSE AGAIN IN ORDER TO DAILY TRANSFORM US TO BECOME MORE LIKE HIM!  He has the authority!

 

19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

These verses are known as “The Great Commission,” (NOT the “Great Suggestion”) which serves as a job description for every follower of Jesus Christ.

 

19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations - In the two words “go” and “disciple,” Jesus tells us what is expected of we who call ourselves his followers.

 

19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This is our collective task.  Our job is the saving of souls.  Every Christian has this same commission, and it is most difficult in places that abuse the human rights of Christians.  Regardless, WE ARE TO “GO” - whether that is around the world, next door to our neighbors, or within our own family - WITH OUR WITNESS FOR JESUS CHRIST.

 

The next imperative is to “MAKE.”  Disciples are pupils, trained and instructed.  Christianity is love in action to all people and ethnic groups.  “All” means that nobody is left out.  God challenges us to a level of love beyond ourselves!

 

The third imperative is “BAPTIZE.”  Baptism can mean wash (Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38; Acts 22:16), or passing through the sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), and even suffering (Mark 10:38). 

 

The fourth imperative is “TEACH.”  The main thing is the main thing . . . and Jesus specifically said, “Teach what I have taught YOU!” 

 

All healthy churches preach the whole Bible, but our focus should be on the Gospels - where most of Jesus’ teachings are located.  Healthy, God-honoring preaching will cover the entire Bible . . . and always tie it to the Gospel.

 

What unites us, whether we are EFCA, Baptist, or Independent?  We believe what Christ taught!  Jesus is the priority in the Bible, and the words he taught his first disciples.  When we focus on Jesus, other issues seem to fade into the background, and, we find common ground that unites Christian churches.

 

In concluding our Red Letter Sermon Series, we must embrace Jesus’ final commandment (words) to us / his disciples:  Go, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them

 

This is his command and his commission to us.  And to that end, Jesus tells us . . .

 

John 14:15 (NLT)

“If you love me, obey my commandments.”

 

 

July 4, 2020

 

Red Letter Summer Sermon Series

 

(HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY JULY 4th)

 

“AVOIDING MILLSTONES”

 

We’re near the end of our RED LETTER Summer Sermon Series.  We’ve looked at some of the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospels (and these words are printed in red letters.) 

 

Those words weren’t actually printed in Red in the original Greek, instead it was the brainchild of an editor with the Christian Herald magazine in 1899 who thought it would be good to print the words of Christ in Red in Bibles - so they would stand out.

 

Red letters have been used for five centuries to mark important words.  They were first used on calendars to mark the Holy Days, called Red Letter Days.

 

The Red Letter words we’ll read today seem a little at odds with the picture that some people have of Jesus.  You know, the picture of a Jesus who is always loving and kind and never says a mean or condemning word, and is never judgmental . . .

 

Luke 17:1-4 (NLT)

1 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!  2 It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.  3 So watch yourselves!  If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.  4 Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

 

(A millstone is a huge round stone used to grind corn and grain, etc. - often powered by animals!)

 

What Jesus just said, now that’s the stuff nightmares are made of . . . a huge stone tied around your neck, and holding you under water!  You can’t breathe, total pressure is closing in, and your last thoughts are stress and panic.  I can’t imagine a death more frightening than being drowned.  Just knowing the ultimate outcome but being unable to do anything about it.  The panic.  The sense of helplessness.  Doom.  And Jesus told us that that would be preferable to leading a another Christian astray!

 

In this passage, Jesus is referring to the little children listening to him preach.  But, this warning is repeated in Matthew and Mark, and the implication is that we have a responsibility not only for our personal salvation but also for our influence on other believers around us.

 

Luke 17:1-2 (NLT)

1 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!  2 It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. 

Wow, that doesn’t sound like the meek & mild Jesus that some people love so much!

 

There’s a warning here that tells us we are not only responsible for our own salvation, but to a certain degree we are responsible for the process of the salvation of others.  This concept can be difficult to understand, but it isn’t new.  Go back to the start of humanity.  In the book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible), is a story of how Cain (the son of Adam and Eve), killed his brother, Abel, in a fit of jealousy.

 

When Cain was confronted by God, after murdering his brother Abel, Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  God didn’t respond directly to his question, but the implication was clear - “Yes, Cain, you are responsible for your brother.”

 

Today, if you talk to people about their behavior and how it might or might not affect another Christian, you get the same type of response as God got from Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper, seriously?”  And the implication is still clear . . . “Yes you are!”

Paul told Christians in the early Church:

 

Corinthians 8:9

But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.

 

Please understand . . . followers of Jesus will not be held accountable for the actions of society.  Jesus called us to be salt and light but, he never called us to legislate Christian behavior to an unchristian world.  And, ultimately we will never be held to account for the behavior or misbehavior of other Christians.

 

So, while we are not responsible for the actions of our brothers and sisters, we are responsible for our actions.  We may not be responsible if they stumble, but we are responsible if what we do causes them to stumble.  If you’re a klutz, and can trip over a line painted on the road, that isn’t my fault.  If you would pick up your feet and pay attention to where you’re walking, you’d be a lot better off.  BUT . . . if I intentionally put something in your path and you trip over it - that’s a different story!

 

Most of us have no problem with that. 

 

BUT, THERE IS MORE . . . 
 

I believe the implication is also that if you, through you’re carelessness, leave something in my path and I trip over it - you are still responsible, even though your intent wasn’t to hurt me.  That’s a little tougher!

 

So . . . How Do Christians Cause Others To Stumble?

 

They Can Stumble Over Our Behavior

 

The depth of your spiritual commitment is always shown in our behavior.  How you act, what you do, how you behave in certain situations IS the measuring stick that people use to determine your relationship with Jesus.

 

Now, anytime you talk about behavior in referring to a person’s relationship with Christ, you are immediately accused of being either judgmental or legalistic.  Right?  OK.  Listen to what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth . . .

 

1 Corinthians 5:12 (NLT)

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.

 

That’s important, but it’s not fun.  It’s a lot easier to judge “those people” out there who are doing really horrible things (whoever “those people” might be) than to judge people we worship with every week.  But, the scriptures are clear that we have a responsibility to say to other Christ followers, “That behavior is wrong, for a Christian.”

 

You who know me, know that I’m a recovering legalist.  But, if being legalistic means that I want you to obey what the Bible says, then go ahead and stick that label on me!  I am so tired of watching people who profess to be a Christian . . . but you’d never know it by their behavior.  That’s NOT the way it’s supposed to be!

 

Jesus told us that as Christians we would be light - and people shouldn’t have to say “Look, I’m a light.”  Their actions should prove that.  Lights don’t have to define themselves.  All they have to do is be what they are supposed to be - a light.  Jesus told us . . .

 

Luke 11:36 (NLT)

“If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

 

But the flip side of that is also true.  It doesn’t matter how strongly you announce that you are a light - if it’s not shining you won’t be believed.  Nowhere are the words truer, “What you are doing speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you are saying.”

 

Jesus also told his followers that they were to be the salt of the world.

 

And in the same way that you don’t have to define light, you don’t have to define salt.  If salt is salt then it tastes like salt!

 

Throughout the Bible, we are told that there’s certain behavior that is not consistent with Christianity.  You know what those behaviors are, and those around you in church know what those behaviors are.  Even those outside the Church know what type of behavior a Christian ought to exhibit and ought not to exhibit!  That’s why they feel free to say, “And you call yourself a Christian!”

 

Paul told early believers what type of behavior wasn’t acceptable in the life of Christians, and the lists haven’t changed.

 

Ephesians 5:3-8 (NLT)

3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you.  Such sins have no place among God’s people.  4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes - these are not for you.  Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.  5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God.  For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.  6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.  7 Don’t participate in the things these people do.  8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.  So live as people of light!

 

Another list is given in . . .

 

Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

I know some people think lists like this are really negative and that we should focus on the positive side of Christianity.  But, if there was a bottle in front of you filled with sulfuric acid, you’d want to know that wouldn’t you?  You wouldn’t care that there was a negative skull and cross bones label on the bottle.  And, you really wouldn’t care about all the positive things that liquid could do . . . or even if it was a pretty color and tasted nice.  If it could kill, you you’d want to know it!

 

If there was a giant sink hole in a road you were driving on, you would want to know that - even if the sign seemed a little negative!  You wouldn’t care if it was a great winding road with a wonderful view.  You would want to know that if you keep driving you will die!  You want to be warned:  If you continue on this route very bad things are going to happen!

 

Listen again to the last sentence in Galatians 5:21 - 

 

21 Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

It is amazing to me how people justify their behavior that is on those lists.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “That which we call sin in others, is experiment for us.”  And, Peter Marshall said, “We are too Christian really to enjoy sinning, and too fond of sinning really to enjoy Christianity.  Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we do not want to do it.”

 

People are watching how we live, and when we blow it, someone will say, “Well, I guess there’s nothing to that Christianity thing.”

 

OK.  So, what type of behavior should our lives be exhibiting? 

 

God’s Word tells us that, too!

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things!

 

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

BUT, it’s not just what we do that can cause people to stumble.  They can also stumble over what we don’t do!

 

They Can Stumble Over Our Lack of Love

 

The day before Christ was crucified he set out a litmus test for his believers.  This is the way that people will recognize you he said, and it wasn’t by how you dress, or how long your hair is, or whether you are pierced or tattooed.  Jesus didn’t say that people would know that you were his disciple by your church membership or political affiliation.  Instead what he said was . . .

 

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

 

Of course the converse of that is true as well.  If you do not have love for one another, it will prove to the world that you are not Jesus’ disciple!

 

Paul defined love this way . . .

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 

When you show love like that, people know it has to be supernatural!

 

And when we do not exhibit that type of love / behavior, we are setting up a stumbling block for believers and unbelievers alike.

 

And these two, our behavior and our love, have to go together!  We can act completely righteous, but if we don’t show love, it will cause people to stumble.  On the other hand, we can love everyone but not be obedient to Christ in other areas - and that becomes another block for people to trip over.

 

They Can Stumble Over Our Words

The way we speak and what we say reveals a great deal about our Christian character . . . or lack of Christian character.

 

The human tongue is the most powerful influence in the Church . . . and it is able to build people up or tear them down.

 

I personally don’t think that disciples of Jesus need to pray for the gift of tongues . . . they need to pray for the Holy Spirit to control the one they've got now.  I’m serious!  I don’t know how many times I’ve had to apologize for something stupid, hurtful or hateful that was said by someone who claimed to be a Christian.

 

When we looked earlier at the acts of the sinful nature as listed in Galatians, did you notice how many of these are manifested through speech?  They are all actions . . . which are expressed or revealed through our words! 

 

And it’s the same thing with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!  More times than not they are also expressed in our speech.  So, it's not just how you walk but how you talk that will determine the credibility of your Christianity!

 

That means that on a day to day basis you are judged not just on your actions, but on your words, and on your tone of voice.  And you're not just judged by the person you are talking to - you are judged by everyone within earshot!

 

Does your speech betray spiritual flaws, or does your speech reveal spiritual strength?

 

There is a threefold test that we should apply to what we say:  1) Is it true, 2) Is it kind, and, 3) Is it necessary.  If that was a constant filter for our lips, it would probably help a lot. 

 

Paul proposes some guidelines for how we think . . .

 

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

 

I don't think it will do any injustice to the scripture to read that verse again, this way . . .

 

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Speak only about what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Speak about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

 

And if we speak on those eight things then we won't have time to be hurtful or nasty!  Let’s commit ourselves to being careful to not put obstacles in the path of those who need Jesus.

 

Let’s realize that our behavior, our words, and our lives will either draw people to Jesus or will push them away.

 

Our responsibility is to not only invite people to the Gospel, which we have received, but also to make it something that they want to share . . .

 

Titus 2:10 (NLT)

Make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.

 

 

June 27, 2020

 

Red Letter Summer Sermon Series

 

“THE PROMISE”

 

We are nearing the end of our RED LETTER Summer Sermon Series.  We’ve looked at some of the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospels.  These words are printed in red

 

In our passage today, Jesus tells his disciples that he would soon be leaving them, BUT they wouldn’t be left alone!  So, with Jesus gone, who would be with them?

 

Our scripture today, is from the Gospel of John, chapter 16.  Jesus is promising his disciples that he would not leave them alone . . . and that same promise is also for US today! 

 

The promise is that even though he wouldn’t be here in a physical form, the Holy Spirit would be here to give us the guidance and comfort that we need in our day-to-day lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

 

John 16:5-15 (NLT)

5 “But now I am going to Him Who sent Me.  Yet none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  6 Your hearts are full of sorrow because I am telling you these things.  7 I tell you the truth.  It is better for you that I go away.  If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you.  If I go, I will send Him to you.  8 When the Helper comes, He will show the world the truth about sin.  He will show the world about being right with God.  And He will show the world what it is to be guilty.  9 He will show the world about sin, because they do not put their trust in Me.  10 He will show the world about being right with God, because I go to My Father and you will see Me no more.  11 He will show the world what it is to be guilty because the leader of this world (Satan) is guilty.  12 I still have many things to say to you.  You are not strong enough to understand them now.  13 The Holy Spirit is coming.  He will lead you into all truth.  He will not speak His Own words.  He will speak what He hears.  He will tell you of things to come.  14 He will honor Me.  He will receive what is Mine and will tell it to you.  15 Everything the Father has is Mine.  That is why I said to you, ‘He will receive what is Mine and will tell it to you.’”

 

It wouldn’t be long and Jesus knew it.  For three years he had taught throughout Israel.  For three years he had healed the sick and fed the hungry.  For three years he pointed people to the Kingdom of God . . . but the time was coming.  It wouldn’t be long now and he knew it.  The end was in sight - it was time for the chapter to close on his earthly ministry.  But, how would he explain it to his friends?  How would he explain that he was leaving?  Would they feel deserted, betrayed?  Would they be able to see that there was a much bigger plan, a much longer story, then they could presently see?

 

In our scripture today, it was just hours before the arrest of Jesus.  The group had eaten what we call “the Last Supper.”  From this famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, apparently Peter said at the end of the meal, “Hey everyone, you need to be on this side of the table if you want to be in the picture!”

 

Anyway, Jesus was explaining the events that were about to happen.  He tried to ease their fears, to let them know that whatever happened that he was still in control and that it was all part of the plan.  I’m not sure that the disciples bought it.

 

Most of all, Jesus wanted them to know that he wasn’t leaving them alone.  Really, isn’t that a fear that we all have?  The fear of being deserted, being rejected, being left on our own? 

 

So, Jesus’ statement was almost an, “I have bad news and I have good news” statement.”  He told them that the time had come that he had been telling them about, when he would have to die - but in the same breath he assured them . . .

 

7 I tell you the truth.  It is better for you that I go away.  If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you.  If I go, I will send Him to you. 

 

The “Helper” Jesus referred to is the Holy Spirit.

 

Now most of us don’t have a problem with the term the Holy Spirit.  But, do we really understand who he is and what he does?  In our scripture today, Jesus is telling the disciples that his time on earth is coming to an end, and it is there that we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

I think that the majority of us have a grip on God the Father - we know that he is our Creator.  And we have no problem with God the Son - we know that Jesus is our Savior.  But, for many of us, the concept of the Holy Spirit is a little . . . fuzzy, a little vague.

 

Hopefully, today will bring some clarity!

 

1) The Promise of the Holy Spirit

 

Throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts we see Jesus promising the disciples that they won’t be left alone.  You may think that the Holy Spirit was a last minute thought by Christ . . . “Oh by the way, I’m leaving, but don’t be upset, tell you what I’ll leave the Holy Spirit for you.”  That isn’t the case at all.  The Holy Spirit isn’t an afterthought.  He was part of the original plan!  Early in Christ’s ministry, right after Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, he makes this comment . . .

 

Luke 11:13 (NLT)

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

 

As a matter of fact, before Jesus began his earthly ministry he was announced by his cousin John who said . . . 

Matthew 3:11 (NLT)

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God.  But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am - so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

 

So, it should have come as no surprise when, hours before his arrest, Jesus told his disciples . . .

 

John 14:15-17 (NLT)

15 If you love me, obey my commandments.  16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.

 

 

2) The Person of the Holy Spirit

 

Theologian A. W. Tozer wrote this in his book, The Counselor . . .

 

“Spell this out in capital letters:  THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON.  He is not enthusiasm.  He is not courage.  He is not energy.  He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather.  Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything.  He is a Person, the same as you are a person, but not material substance.  He has individuality.  He is one being and not another.  He has will and intelligence.  He has hearing.  He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think.  He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice.  He is a Person.”

 

If we were to do a pop quiz right now and ask you who or what is the Holy Spirit, I wonder what we would get for answers?  “The Third Person of the Trinity” / “The Comforter” / “The Counselor” / “Our Guide” / “Teacher.”  How about this?  HE IS GOD!

 

Often times when we think of the Holy Spirit, we think of him as the third person of the trinity.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Why is that?  Why do we define him in that way?  For many people the Trinity is ranked Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . The Father being the most important, then Jesus, then somewhere on down the line we place the Holy Spirit.  Why is that?  When asking people, they will often say, “Because that’s how the Bible lists them.”

 

Does it?  Well, it does in Matthew 28:19.  When Jesus is giving his last instructions to the disciples he says:

 

Matthew 28:19 (NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

But it’s interesting to note that this is the ONLY place in the Bible where the Trinity is listed in that particular order!  In other places, God is listed as Father, Holy Spirit and Son.  And, sometimes as Holy Spirit, Son and Father or Son, Holy Spirit, Father.  As a matter of fact, there are six different ways that you could list the three members of the Trinity . . . and all six ways are used in the Bible!

 

Others think that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity because he isn’t mentioned until the day of Pentecost.  WRONG! 

 

In the initial account of creation we read . . .

 

Genesis 1:2 (NLT)

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

 

King David poured out his heart to God in repentance over his affair with Bathsheba . . .

 

Psalm 51:11 (NLT)

Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

 

The Holy Spirit who was present at the conception of Jesus . . .

 

Luke 1:35 (NLT)

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

 

The Holy Spirit was present at Jesus’ Baptism . . .

 

Luke 3:22 (NLT)

And the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove.  And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

 

The Holy Spirit is not some created being or force that magically appeared on the day of Pentecost.  He always was, because he is God.  The Holy Spirit is not some third string player waiting until late in the game to make his appearance.  He has been active through the entire realm of history from day one until the present. HE IS GOD.

 

 

3) The Presence of the Holy Spirit

 

Maybe the question you’re asking today is, “So what?  What does that have to do with me?”

 

Everything!  When Jesus made the promise to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be a presence in their lives, that promise wasn’t limited to just those guys!  It is as real today as it was then and as real for you as it was for them.  The Holy Spirit is not an option in the Christian life.  It’s not like getting rust protection and an upgraded stereo system in your new car to make it more awesome.  Instead, we need to understand that HE is the engine; HE is what makes us go; HE is the power of our Christian experience.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit is the very center of our Christian life, and you cannot live an obedient, productive, fruitful Christian life without the Holy Spirit’s presence.

 

So what is it that the Holy Spirit does?  What is it you need him to do?  A lot can learned just by looking at the word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7 (NLT)

But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come.  If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

 

Look at that word, Advocate (in the New Living Translation).  In the King James version the word is translated Comforter; in the New King James version it’s Helper, and it can mean a variety of things.  It can mean an intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter or it can mean counselor.  But however you choose to translate the word it means someone who comes alongside to help you.

 

And whichever of those definitions you use, it’s good.  Who wouldn’t want an intercessor in their life or a consoler or an advocate or for that matter a counselor?

 

So, what does he want to do for you?  The Holy Spirit didn’t just come to hang around and confuse people, so let’s take a look at the purpose of the Holy Spirit.  Why has the Spirit come?  Why did Jesus think it was so important for the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit?  How did the Spirit’s presence affect the Church then, and what effect should he have on the Church now?  And not just the church as a body of Believers, but also you and me - as individual members of the Church!  The Bible answers our questions . . .

 

Acts 1:8 (NLT)

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

 

The Holy Spirit Gives Us Power.

 

Power.  What an incredible concept, power.  For everyone who thinks that they don’t have what it takes to live the life that Christ expects of them, let me tell you this:  You’re right, you don’t!  But . . . the Holy Spirit has ALL of what it takes and he wants you to have it!  This is one of my favorite scriptures; I love the very concept of the promise that when the Holy Spirit has control of our life you will receive power.  Not you might receive power or you may receive power or there’s a chance you will receive power, but you will receive power.  (And not just a little bit of power, but wonderful, incredible, dynamic world changing power.)

 

The power you need to conquer bad habits and the power you need to start good habits; the power you need to tell others about Jesus and the power you need to be everything that God wants you to be!  He doesn’t expect you to do it alone.  He doesn’t want you to do it alone.  He wants to help you to do whatever it is you have to do!

 

Do you realize that you have the infinite power of Almighty God in your life?  That is his promise to you today!

 

He’s saying:  Let me come into your life and you will have power.  But it’s NOT just a matter of power.

 

Romans 5:5 (NLT)

And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The Holy Spirit Gives Us Love.

 

Christianity places a high premium on love, after all Christianity itself is rooted in love . . . 

 

John 3:16 (NLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

And Jesus said Christianity would be defined and identified by LOVE . . .

 

John 13:35 (NLT)

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

 

Probably the one commandment that is given the most page space in the New Testament is to Love One Another.  And as long as the Church is made up of people, that is going to be tough to do . . . especially when you use the definition of love that is given in the New Testament.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  5 or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 

You cannot love people in the Church like that in your own power.  There is always going to be some jerk that you just can’t get along with, and God still expects you to love ME!  And even though you can’t do it on your own, the Holy Spirit can fill your heart with love.  Is it any wonder that the first in the list of the fruit of the spirit is LOVE?

 

 

1 Corinthians 12:4 (NLT)

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

 

The Holy Spirit Gives Us Gifts.

 

Now I don’t know if this will come as a shock to you or not, but, if you are a Christian then the Holy Spirit has a gift for you.  And he also has a reason why he has gifted you! 

 

1 Corinthians 12:7 tells us that a spiritual gifts are given to each of us . . . so that we can help each other.  Some of those gifts are prophecy, teaching, evangelism, discernment, healing, hospitality, speaking in an unknown language, and interpreting unknown languages.  And each Christian is given at least one spiritual gift!  WHY?  As a way to help the entire Church!  We all love gifts so we should be excited to find the gifts that the Spirit has for us.

 

Paul describes what a person’s life is like when they are controlled by sin, and what it should be like when it is controlled by the Holy Spirit . . . 

 

 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

 

The Holy Spirit Gives Us Character.

 

Did you notice that the word fruit is singular?  These aren’t several different characteristics that we can pick and choose from.  If your life is controlled by the Holy Spirit, then this is how you will live.  The converse is also true.  If this isn’t how you are living then the Holy Spirit isn’t controlling your life.  It’s not rocket surgery or brain science!

 

So, what’s the bottom line? 

 

Romans 8:6 (NLT)

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

 

Through my 37 years of ministry, time and time again, I’ve heard Christians either pray or make the statement, I want more of the Holy Spirit.” 

 

The Holy Spirit is GOD . . . he’s not a collection of pieces.  You can’t have more of him or less of him.  It’s like being pregnant - you either is . . .or you ain’t!  There’s no in between!! 

 

Before he went back to heaven, Jesus promised his disciples (us) the Holy Spirit.  So . . .

 

the question we must answer today is not,do I have all of the Holy Spirit?”   The question that we must answer is . . .

 

“Does the Holy Spirit have all of ME?”

 

 

 

 

June 20, 2020

 

Red Letter Summer Sermon Series

  (FATHER’S DAY)

 

“KNOWING THE FATHER”

 

 

We’re in the middle of a brief RED LETTER Summer Sermon Series, looking at some of the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospels.  These words are printed in red letters.  The idea of printing the words of Jesus in red

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