Forgotten God ~ July 15, 2018 ~ John 16:4-15
Lord, upon the pages of this book is your story. It is also our story. Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand, and our hearts that they may be transformed. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Well, in the first service, we sing something called the Gloria Patri. Have you heard of that?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
World without end. Amen.
So I looked up what does that mean? What is the Gloria Patri. It is a hymn of praise to God, and it’s normally sung after we read the Word of God, and we stand and we sing it.
I’m thinking, I have sung this song since I was a little kid in church in Wethersfield at the Congregational Church where my parents were married, I was baptized, and I was raised as a child. But it never dawned on me that that’s singing to the three People of God: God the Father, our creator and sustainer; Jesus, the Son, the sacrificial lamb, died, resurrected, seated at the right hand of the Father (He is currently there); and God the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit. He was all three of them. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were in the beginning, are now, and will be forever. But then I started thinking. How many of us could say that we understand the Holy Spirit’s role and power that He is designed to have in our lives? Probably most of us, or many of us, don’t understand that.
Many years ago I received Jesus, in 1987. Everybody who received Jesus receives the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s a package deal, you get all three. There is a difference, though, in allowing that Holy Spirit to have reign, to have dominion, to have power over all of your life. Many of us keep the Holy Spirit in a little box, and we call Him out on Sunday during church, or in a Bible study, or when we need something desperately; but I know, myself, I prayed to receive more of the Holy Spirit, a filling of the Holy Spirit, and I believe my life has been totally different from when I just had an intellectual understand of God and His Spirit. And as I said, don’t misunderstand: you receive Jesus, you receive the Holy Spirit, but the difference is from knowing that you have Him, allowing, releasing Him to work in your life, instead of relying on yourself and your own understanding. It is much different. And for us New Englanders, we are holding on to what we believe and we’re gonna hang on to that, and we’re in contraol, and we’ve got it together. But the weird paradox of receiving the Holy Spirit is that it’s letting go. Letting go of control, letting go of your senses, and allowing a supernatural event, which is releasing the Holy Spirit to have power and dominion in your life.
Dido passed a book onto me recently which he knew I would love. It is called Forgotten God, there’s the book.
It’s by Francis Chan, and it’s focus in his word, is our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit. I agree with him. I have, for many years noticed, even on a surface level, that we talk more about God the Father, and Jesus the Son, a lot in church. but when we get to the Holy Spirit, people are quiet, hesitant, confused, possibly afraid; which is hard for me to understand considering what His role and position and purpose is in the Trinity.
So, I’ve used these examples with kids. An egg, you’ve got the shell, the yolk, and the white. An apple, you’ve got the skin, the core, and the flesh. Water, you have the mist, the ice cube and the liquid. But that does not hold any water with the real – I’ve been around Pastor Adam too long – it doesn’t hold any water about what the Holy Spirit really is and how it is with the Father and the Son. And what I shared with you before I think the last time I talked about the Holy Spirit, was that the greatest image is a cube.
A three-dimensional cube – length, width and depth. If you take one of those away, you no longer have a cube, so the bottom line is you can’t separate Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are one, and to take one away, your image of God is not correct. And it is biblical, and it is not correct. From the beginning of time until now it has been Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I love the story that Francis Chan shared in his book about when he asked his wife, “Have you ever wondered what caterpillars think about?” She said no, of course. Really, who does think about that? Then he proceeded to tell her about the confusion that a caterpillar must experience. For all of the caterpillar’s life, he’s crawling around in this little patch of dirt, maybe crawling up some green plants here and there. Then one day, he takes a nap. A long nap. Then, what in the world must go through this little caterpillar’s head when he wakes up and discovers he can fly! What happened to this dirty little, plump little worm-like body? All of a sudden I have wings, I can fly! This is the same experience and joy that we as believers should experience when we receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit into our lives. We should be astounded, in disbelief, over becoming a new creation with the Spirit living inside of us. That joy of not being able to fly, to fly. Of being empty to being filled.
There are some things that we’ll never know this side of heaven. It is ridiculous to think that we can explain the Holy Spirit totally with human words and human understanding. It’s just not possible. He is a supernatural being.
But there are also things that are revealed in Scripture. Don’t you love when you find a verse and you say, wow! That was in there the whole time? you know, you read the Bible for 30 years and then you’re like, gee, I never saw that verse. So I’m going to – if you have a pencil and you want to write down all these verses, please, there’s a ton of them, a ton of them supporting the Holy Spirit and what He does – but listen to Deuteronomy 29:29, which I love:
The Lord has secrets known to no one.
The Lord has secrets known to no one…
And we say we will not know this until we are in His presence. And here’s the Good News: we’re not accountable for the things we don’t know.
… we’re not accountable for them, but we and our children…
I love how they put children in there.
… are accountable forever for all he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of instruction.
So there are mysteries – we’re not responsible for those – but the truths, we are responsible for them for ourselves and for our children.
So, in this book, there’s a list of seven qualities of the Holy Spirit with a verse attached to it, so I’m gonna go through them pretty quickly. Number one: The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not an it, He is a He. He has a relationship with believers as well as the Father and the Son. You will never see a Scripture in the Bible calling the Holy Spirit “it.” It is – He is a human, a supernatural being, part of the Trinity. John 14:17 says:
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him…
Well you can’t recognize Him because you can’t see Him! You can only recognize what He does. Just like the wind – you can’t recognize the wind, you can’t see it, but you can see what it does. Same with the Holy Spirit.
… But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.
He. He. He. Alright, number two: The Holy Spirit is God. And apologies for the flame. We thought it was so cool, but it probably makes you feel hot, because the flame is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit is God! First He’s a Person, now He’s God. They’re interchanged in language. Where Peter and Ananias were talking in the beginning of Acts 5, “Ananias, why have you lied to the Holy Spirit?” and then look at the end of the verse:
“How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
Holy Spirit, God, same.
Alright, number three: The Spirit is eternal and holy. Alright, John 14:16 says our bodies hold the Holy Spirit, and He dwells in us. And because He’s holy and He’s inside of us, that makes us holy – not because of ourselves, our goodness, but because He is inside of us. And the verse for that is Romans 8:27:
And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
So, it’s not God pleading with us. The Holy Spirit is the pleader. That’s the pleader. God and Jesus are not here. The Holy Spirit is here, and He is God.
Number four: The Spirit has His own mind, and He prays for us. Romans 8:27. Did I read that already? “And the Father who knows all hearts…” Yeah, I read that one already.
Number five: The Spirit has emotions. It says that we can make God sad. We can make God sad. That kills me. And the verse is Ephesians 4:30:
Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
This body – we have to have control over these containers. We are containers of the Holy Spirit, and so why do we eat well, and sleep, and exercise? It’s not to make us great and look good and to be proud of ourselves. It’s that this container will stay healthy in order to carry the Holy Spirit to shine to the world!
The Holy Spirit has His own desires and will, number six. Did I forget any of these? I feel like I forgot one. Anyway, the Holy Spirit has His own desires and will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says:
It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
And then the last one, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Those are three big words for all powerful, present everywhere, and all knowing. All powerful, Zechariah 4:6:
“This is what the Lord says… It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
He is present everywhere. Psalm 139:7:
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
And then all knowing, 1 Corinthians 2:10: These are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
Remember we cannot do all these things on our own, and this is what the Holy Spirit can do in your life. The Father tells us to ask Him, and we can do that because God tells us to ask Him for what He promises.
Now, for those of you who are math people: Who knows what the distributive property is? No, I’m sorry, transitive property! Renee knows. A=B, B=C, A=C! You know God uses the transitive property all over the Bible? He says if God is Jesus, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit, then God is the Holy Spirit. They are all equal, three in one!
I feel like I forgot something, and it’s gonna bug me until I find it. Person… God… alright.
I saved the children’s talk because first of all, we don’t have children here. We have young adults. A couple kids. So, this is going to be my illustration for all of you. I remember when I did chidlren’s talks in Wethersfield, it was popular for every age, and do you know why? Because it’s simple. It’s simplistic, and many of us need simple ideas to understand big concepts.
So, here’s my beautiful light that I dusted off from my den today, it was time to dust. So, what is this beautiful light’s purpose? Anybody? To illuminate! To bring light! So let’s turn it on. [clicks it on, no light] Hmmm… there’s a lightbulb. Let me try again. [tries again] Nope. Let me check. [finds that it’s unplugged] Oh! There’s power missing! [plugs in, turns it on] Oh, now we have the light! Our source of power was missing. [turns it off] This is us without the Holy Spirit. This is us when we keep the Holy Spirit in a little box in our lives, and we only allow Him out on Sunday morning when we’re praising God, or we’re in our Bible study or we’re desperate to pray and calling on Him. [turns it on] But this is our purpose. God designed us to carry Him and to bring His light to the world. Your light might be dim right now. It’s not God’s fault. He’s got all that you need, all you need to do is ask Him for more. It’s less of you and more of Him, which is a problem for us because we’re selfish, we’re self-centered. We can’t act like children, heaven forbid we act a little goofy or strange or excited, or had joy in our faces! It’s because of God in us!
I got a lot of things wrong with me, a lot of habits that God’s still working on me a lot in my life. But the one thing I can bank on and I can rest on and I can give God glory for is that I have His Holy Spirit, and He shines for me whether I’m grumpy or mad, or I’m having a bad day, or angry at someone, or frustrated. Whatever those emotions might be, I just ask God, more of Your Holy Spirit, Lord. Help me. More of Your Holy Spirit, Lord.
I wanna read you – how many of you know Joni Eareckson Tada. Have you heard of her? Raise your hand. Okay. This is Francis Chan: “Recently I was asked, ‘Who’s the most Spirit-filled person you know?’ My response: Joni Eareckson Tada. In 1967 she had a diving accident that left her, at 17 years old, a quadriplegic. Laying in the hospital bed she was filled with overwhelming desire to end her life. The thought of spending the rest of her years paralyzed from the neck down and relying on others to care for her basic needs was staggering. But Joni did not end her life that day; instead she chose to surrender to God. Little did she know that the Spirit of God would transform her into one of the godliest women ever to grace this earth.
God gave her a humility and a love that enables her to look beyond her own pain and to see others hurts. She is a person who consistently, in humility, counts others more significant than herself. I don’t know where to begin with all that she has done. She’s written more than 35 books. She’s brought 52,000 wheelchairs to 102 countries, and trained hundreds to minister to people with disabilities. She’s founded Joni & Friends and Wheels for the World, and she’s been featured on Larry King Live…” She’s just got credentials, you can’t even add them all up. “Yet, it is not because of these accomplishments that I consider her the most Spirit-filled person I know. Actually, it has nothing to do with all that she’s accomplished. It has to do with the fact that you can’t spend ten minutes with Joni before she breaks out in song, quotes Scriptures, or shares a touching and timely word of encouragement. I have never seen the fruit of the Spirit more obviously displayed in a person’s life as when I am with Joni. I can’t seem to have a conversation with Joni without shedding tears. It’s because Joni is a person whose life, at every level, gives evidence of the Spirit’s work in and through her.”
Imagine, 17 years old, paralyzed from the neck down, and she has the joy of the Lord all over her. Does anyone today wanna be grumpy about anything? I mean, Lord help us, we have nothing to be grumpy about. We should be praising Him from morning til night for all that He has given us.
Just about done here, guys. I’m sorry Cam, too many slides, I know. I would like, I think now just to encourage you all that you don’t have to beg the Holy Spirit to give you what He wants to give you. You don’t have to beg for anything that God promises you in His word. He says He will heal us – sometimes healing is here on earth, sometimes it’s in heaven – but He will heal you. He will heal you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He has given you the Holy Spirit. This is what I don’t understand: God the Father is in heaven, and Jesus the Son is with Him in heaven at His right side, interceding for us in prayer as we pray. The only part of God that we have here, now, in this place, in us, is the Holy Spirit! I know you guys know, because I’ve talked about this before. I get so frustrated because to me, Pentecost should be as big as Easter! He said, if I don’t go away, you won’t get the Advocate. If I don’t go away, you won’t get the Counselor. He went away, He sent us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit – you can’t see Him, but He’s always there!
So my prayer today is for each of you, in the quietness of your heart, to ask God for more of His Spirit. Ask Him for His Spirit to anoint you when you’re in the grocery store! Anoint you when you’re at the beach! Anoint you when you’re walking down the street! To be so filled with the Holy Spirit that He will touch people even as you walk by. I beg you, receive more of Him. Receive what He’s got, because I believe that if we all were walking in the power of the Holy Spirit consistently, Satan would have a lot harder time. He would have a lot harder time getting to us. Because the Holy Spirit gives us boldness, gives us courage, tells us when we’re doing something wrong, guides us into the light, helps us to pray boldly for things we never thought we could.
So as we pray today and as we go into our final worship songs, I’m asking all of you to ask God to give you more of Him here on earth, here on earth. Let’s join together in prayer.