Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 3)

June 2nd, 2024 | Series: Pentecost – Life in the Spirit

This sermon discusses the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, emphasizing the importance of community, prayer, service, and gathering together as believers.

Sermon Resources
Sermon Content

Hello there. Hi. I feel like I have friends. My name is D’Andrea Jones and I’m on staff here at S. O. U. T. H. and today we are going to be wrapping up our short three week series on Pentecost. In week one, two weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday, Alex invited us to look at who the Holy Spirit was and we celebrated baptisms together.

And then last week he invited us to look at how the Holy Spirit works. And he invited us into the tension, if you remember, of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, of immediate miraculous transformation by the Holy Spirit, and then the tension also that is a lifelong journey with Jesus and the transformation that slowly happens over time.

And today we’re going to be looking at what it looks like for the Holy Spirit to work through us towards others and through others towards us. I asked a few of you to share with me how you’ve either experienced the Holy Spirit or how the Holy Spirit has used you. And here’s a little bit of what I got back.

This is probably an obvious one, but I suspect it’s the Holy Spirit at work when someone says, God put this on my heart. For example, when someone or something pops into your mind, seemingly out of nowhere, and you feel motivated to pray for or reach out to that person. It’s often something small, but it can make a difference.

And then this. I do think that back in 2019, when I felt the need to choose a family motto of always choose love, it was the Spirit’s way of preparing me for the things to come over the next three years. Over and over again, I was reminded that love is what mattered, and it became so foundational in how I related to my own husband and kids during some really trying and confusing times.

It’s like I was compelled to name what matters and what I needed to fight for. And then this one, sleepless nights can bring about spirit led intercession. Instead of worrying, I ask who I need to pray for. If someone comes to mind or I have a dream of them, I ask for direction and how to pray. Sometimes I’m prompted to follow up with a text, checking in and connecting with that person.

The more I look for the Holy Spirit, the easier it is. to see him. Notice that each of these experiences lead to connection, support, discernment, and actions in life and specifically within relationships. We’re going to look at the text again that we did two weeks ago in Acts 2, but before we jump in, I want to invite you back to those 10 days between Jesus ascension and when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost.

Consider how the disciples and early Jesus followers might have felt and perhaps where their minds may have journeyed as they sat in the upper room together, waiting and praying. Peter’s journey specifically grabbed my attention, particularly because he’s going to be who stands and speaks in Acts 2.

We’ll read here soon. Peter had experienced moments of closeness and connection with Jesus. He got to participate in incredible ministry and miraculous healings. He would have heard Jesus share his poetic promises about sheep and the shepherd and knowing his voice. But a short time later, Peter, along with all the other disciples, would hear Jesus tell them of his impending betrayal and death just before he’s nailed to the cross.

If I were Peter in that upper room in those 10 days, I’d be trying to piece together the previous couple of months. I’d be wrestling with, is this really the life to the full that Jesus talked about? I might even be wondering if any of us would really know it when the Holy Spirit had arrived. I think relief to his racing mind and thoughts might come as he looked around the room and sat beside 119 other disciples and Jesus followers.

The time together praying and waiting and watching. At least the family that Jesus had gathered together We’re still together. Peter’s mind might wander to that early morning when Jesus said, Hey, let down the net on the other side. I can see him in that room as he’s processing all the things, smiling a little bit when he remembered the breakfast of fish and grilled bread that Jesus had waiting for them.

It must have felt like old times and maybe it rekindled this hope. Jesus was alive. And in fact. Maybe that new kingdom they’d been waiting to come to pass, they would see. I imagine Peter sitting in that room with those early followers, remembering the way that Jesus restored him after his denials. For every single embarrassing time, Peter had let Jesus down.

Jesus had spoken purpose and a future over his life. Feed my sheep. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep. My sheep. And then the commandment that he gave to everybody. Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. And maybe in the midst of his scrolling thoughts two words might stand out to him.

Greater things. He would remember that Jesus told them when they were together that they would do greater things because of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the rest of the early believers and followers of Jesus would obey and wait for the Holy Spirit in that room. And it seems to me that being in that room together, praying constantly, would help them do just that.

But perhaps one of the greatest struggles might have been reconciling how to believe Jesus when he said that having the Holy Spirit in them Would be better than the living Jesus beside them. Let’s jump quickly into Acts two. If you have your Bible in front of you. I’m gonna start right off the top.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent one came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were, staying in Jerusalem, God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one had heard their own voice. Language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked, Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, Visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they ask one another, what does this mean?

Some, however, made fun of them and said, they’ve just had a little too much wine. Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd. Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you. Listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose.

It’s only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken about by the Prophet Joel. When he said, in the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in those days.

And they will prophesy, I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this. Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did among you through him as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death. Because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Skipping ahead now to verse 32. God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the father, the promised Holy Spirit, and has poured out what you now see and hear.

And then jumping to verse 36. Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this, God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you’ll receive.

The gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and all who are far off. For all whom the Lord our God will call. With many other words, he warmed them and he pleaded with them, save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3, 000 were added to their number that day.

Father God, as we dive in together,

Father your wisdom. Your will, Lord Jesus, your work and your word and Holy Spirit, your wisdom, your power, your peace today. Amen. You see this group of believers who were waiting and praying together in the upper room knew they were on the lookout for something extraordinary, the Holy Spirit. And I would suggest that the wind, the blowing violent, blowing wind and the tongues of fire and the declarations of praise in every single language that was represented there were not everyday occurrences.

This is extraordinary. And Peter and the other disciples know that it is. Their words are given power and authority and they stand as witnesses. together. But I want to know if you see what I see. There’s a theme. These Jesus followers are almost always together. Let’s look when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, this is now before he was actually crucified, This is from John 14.

If you love me, keep my commands and I will ask the father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the spirit of truth. But the world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.

I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in my father and you are in me. And I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

Then Judas, not Judas is scary it said to the Lord, but Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus replied, anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

These words you hear are not my own. They belong to the father who sent me. All this I’ve spoken while still with you, but the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace, I leave with you. My peace, I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be sad. afraid. This promise is given to them when they’re together. Then, really quickly, just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he is now at this point in time he’s been raised from the dead. He has spent 40 days revealing himself to people, making appearances, over 500 that we can tell.

And now it’s just before he’s getting ready to ascend to heaven. Amen. This day between the day 40 and 50 and they’re having a meal, of course, they’re having a meal. Jesus enjoyed gathering around tables. This is from Acts 1, 4 through 8. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command.

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then they gathered around him and they asked him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?

They are still looking at this point for this kingdom to come right then right now. And his answer to this question about his kingdom And what’s next is, it is not for you to know the times or the dates. The father is set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

They were together again, when Jesus commanded them, wait for the Holy Spirit. And do you see the kingdom plan? It isn’t about their own. Cushy lives. It’s not about everything being perfect and in place. The Holy Spirit is to come to give power to be witnesses. So then, finally, when they obey Jesus, they are waiting on the Holy Spirit.

This is, they’re all up in the upper room together from Acts 1, 12 through 14. Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas, son of James.

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. These men and women were together. We experienced the Holy Spirit When we gather together, gather when waiting and praying. And celebrating together might be better than doing it alone.

If you weren’t here a couple of weeks ago, when we celebrated the baptisms on Pentecost Sunday, I’m so sorry you missed it. It was really a beautiful time together. I’m not going to lie. Actually, when we were doing the baptisms, we do them right up here in the corner. And I elbowed my way. up here.

We had, it was like a mosh pit. I elbowed my way up here and I took some close up photos because one of the teens in our life group was being baptized by my husband and I just wanted to get the closeups, the good shots. And I after I did that, I texted the pictures to the group. And then all of us spilled that into the foyer out there and over into the breezeway and we had hamburgers and hot dogs and you brought food.

There were tables full of homemade dishes and desserts and all the good things. We were together and we made it a party. And I think it made Jesus smile. I was full of emotion, not just because we were together with great food and celebrating these decisions to follow Jesus. Yes, but because as I walked past table after table, I saw so many faces of people that I know who are in tough life places right now, maybe similar to how those followers of Jesus felt in the upper room.

Maybe the picture you imagined life would be, what it would look like, how the kids would turn out, it just isn’t coming to be. I saw us, and I know only a fraction of the stories, but I know enough. In spite of hard life stuff, we still came together. We sat side by side, and I saw us encourage each other, pray for each other, and share a life gathered.

Round tables. Sky Ani shares it this way when he says, sharing a meal is a bodily social, creative, and spiritual act, perhaps second only to sex in its power to form bonds. A church that ignores this power or uses it in a manner contrary to the gospel, does so to its own peril, but for Christians who recognize the formative power of the table, it can be used by God to shape their lives and community.

in unimaginably beautiful ways. So later that evening I get home, we clean up here. I put my feet up and I grabbed my phone for the first time. And our life group has been hearting pictures and all these sorts of things. And I got this text. I, oh and names are used with permission. Just so you all know

I love that we were all in town, all well and all there to share with. Share this with you, Bens. I love that. One of us who have seen Jack grow up was the one who baptized him. I felt as happy as I did or would if Jack was my own son. And when I realized that through my own happy tears, I felt a new wave of gratitude.

That family of God isn’t just a sweet christiany thing. We toss around. You are my family and it was a joy to celebrate with you today. Let me just cut to the chase about something. Our life group has amazing times. We have laughed until we have cried together, but we have also walked through hard things from cancer to job loss to depression, and we have experienced the Holy Spirit through each other’s words, through each other’s prayers, and then he’s used us in each other’s lives.

Now, I can hear some of you in the room right now because I keep saying the word together, and maybe you’re an introvert and you’re squirming right now. Okay, Andrea, great. I’m an introvert. You’re an extrovert. You love being with people, which I do. But you might be thinking this overwhelms me.

Or maybe actually you don’t have a problem being with groups and with people, but you’ve been hurt before. I get that, and I’m urging you to try again. We mess up, you’re gonna mess up. We’re human. We set unrealistic expectations for each other, but I promise you it’s worth another try. And please don’t hear me saying that gatherings of over 200 are where it has to happen, but we are human and we’re not wired physically, mentally, or spiritually to walk through this life alone.

And I think baby steps are okay. So even a coffee with a friend or a play date with a couple of other people at the park is a step. That’s why we have the circle signups out there. It’s to make space for you to come together and to get to know each other. And as Alex shared earlier, it’s why we’re doing summer nights at South starting this Wednesday.

We’re going to come and meet around tables. We’re going to have food. We’re going to pray for each other and we’re going to stand by each other. Another way that we experience the Holy Spirit is when we grow and serve. And I’m going to say the word.

We experience the Holy Spirit by saying yes to him at work through us here at South. Gathered hearts and minds will discover extraordinary opportunities that lead to growth. I’m going to dive really quick into the last six verses. We didn’t read them before in Acts two. They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and they ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. See, the Holy Spirit was given to remind and teach these early believers to give them power and authority for the purpose of being a witness of Jesus and his gospel message to their community, their city, surrounding cities, and the world.

These things that they did together were to help them grow closer to God and to each other and to live lives that would invite those far away. closer to Jesus. The Holy Spirit also equipped them with spiritual gifts for the specific purpose of this work. That is gonna, that’s a whole other series you guys, but if you’re at all curious, and you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are there’s some reading in 1st Corinthians 12 through 14, Romans 4.

These gifts are not by the way, just given to people who are in full time ministry. They’re for every one of us. And if you’re not sure what your gifts are, I just really encourage you to touch base with one of our staff, or you can look up all kinds of tests and resources online. But I’m going to beat the together drum again.

These early followers gathered around Jesus. They lived in extremely close proximity for over three years and they had become a family. The invitation from Jesus wasn’t just to a one on one relationship, but was to a new family of believers headed in a new direction with a new purpose. Being part of a local church family might be that there’s places here at South or wherever you might call your church home.

That would benefit from your experiences, your time, and your unique giftings. That’s why you guys might see some Servant South forms. located on your chairs. Those are just some of the opportunities that we have here at South. And some of you, you already I’m going to say this. Some of you are already a little over committed here at South.

You need to make space for those who are not so committed to say yes. Because they’re going to be better and we’re going to be better when everybody says yes and serves. You guys, we don’t need volunteers for kids ministry and we don’t need volunteers for student ministry and we don’t need volunteers for the food bank.

We need this family, this body of South, in this season. To say yes to serving our family. To use our gifts to make an eternal difference here. Because the Holy Spirit will grow us as He uses us in the lives of others. I sat down about three weeks ago with Kathy, our kids ministry director, and she looked at me and she said, I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

But by faith, I’m opening another room. We’re exploding in kids ministry. That’s amazing. And we gotta open up another room. We gotta do a well. That’s a need. We could use another 15 or 20 individuals regular to help out with making coffee and donuts and welcoming and praying with people on Sunday mornings.

That’s a need. Take the list with you. Please don’t make any decisions. Go home and pray and listen.

Can you imagine what it would look like if every member, every person who calls this place home said yes to serving somewhere?

Another way that we might experience the Holy Spirit. Is by getting out there when we experience the Holy Spirit by saying yes to him At work through us out there gathered hearts and minds will discover again extraordinary opportunities That lead to growth if we take a look at what we saw in acts 2 again These this is verse 41 and 47 Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3 000 were added to their number that day And then in verse 47 the lord added to their number daily Those who were being saved When the Holy Spirit leads and empowers, it is not without effect.

Specifically here, we see that they grew in number. Peter’s message, as I’ve already shared, has been given authority and empowered. And his preaching, along with the teaching of the other disciples, resulted in significant and immediate growth, and then that continuous and ongoing growth. But the early church quickly encounters some struggles.

In Acts 6, we learn that they are trying to care for the poor and the widows. And there was some unequal distribution of resources going on. So processes and people were put in place. To allow the early church to help serve the world around them, and they did this very well. Their numbers grew, the message of the gospel was taken to the ends of the earth as they knew it, just as Jesus had told them.

Joseph Hellermann says it like this, Because the early Christians lived out church as God intended it, the whole Roman Empire ultimately bowed its knee to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Millions were genuinely converted. So about a year and a half ago, our local outreach team began to imagine a new way to invite each other to show up in the world around us, practically, relationally, and spiritually.

We prayed together, and then we waited, and we listened. We began to dream about what it would look like to spark a neighbor loving movement here at South. We’re calling it to the TOGETHER teams, and here’s an example of a recent experience that came together in May.

Maybe not. Oop, video. Can you do that in the tech booth?

Our small group were talking about things that we could do to be Jesus with feet on and, and be able to help the community. We decided our small group would want to do this together. So we got together, we asked, who would be willing to volunteer. They could come help set up on a Friday.

Then they could come today and just read and welcome people and whatnot. My women’s Bible study, all those women came. We had family members come. We had kids come. We had some grandkids come. It was a whole community. of people that came together to make this work. We’ve done it four times and it’s just been amazing.

It’s, God is so good at providing the clothes that we need when we need it. At these events, we’ve had hundreds of people come. There’s about 60 to 70 that have come today, but there’s just so much energy. There’s 50 bags of clothes that we had to go through, some coming from Renewed Treasures, but a lot coming just from neighbors and just the community that are bringing the bags, probably a thousand dollars worth of clothes.

And really the whole idea was just to be welcoming, to let them know that God loves them, that we love them, that we see them, we know them, we want them to feel treasured, and we want to help. The most exciting thing about this is that it is really church members doing their own ministry. Even though we’re in the church today, there’s really no church staff here today.

It is our small group doing their own ministry here in the building. When I heard about the church launching the together teams, it was just perfect. It was exactly what we were looking to do. So I made the call to the church. We talked about the project. So we actually were able to get seed money to fund this.

And it was just, it was awesome. It was, we were able to just bring everything together, make it happen.

Yeah, so fun.

Can you guys imagine what it would look like if every single. One of us decided to coordinate and complete a Together Team project, maybe just once a year. And can you imagine our entire church family with eyes wide open, looking for opportunities to invite our friends and our family, whether they come here or not, to participate in a Together Team experience that would meet practical, relational, and spiritual needs?

If your curiosity is piqued even a little bit, please see the together team table. It’s over here and the outreach team is wearing blue shirts today. Perhaps you might say yes to what the Holy Spirit might want to do through a neighbor loving movement outside of South, out there. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit worked 40 specific miracles through the apostles.

And 39 of them were outside of the church. The apostles understood the church to be a movement birthed by the mighty rushing wind of the Spirit of God, not an institution, a place to go, or something to go sit through according to J. D. Greer. We’ve talked today what it looks like to experience the Holy Spirit as we gather, grow, and serve and go out there together.

And as hard as it is to process, Jesus was right when he said that we would do greater things and that it would be better to have the living Holy Spirit in each of us than the living Jesus walking beside one of us.

So family, please don’t settle for a half empowered relationship with a living God and a risen Savior who calls you his beloved. The Holy Spirit is in you if you follow Jesus. Maybe ask him to tune your ears and your eyes and your heart to where the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. Ask him to fill you anew and ask him to show you the width and the depth and the breath of his love and his power and his peace.

He will meet you right where you are right now. But maybe you’re here and you can’t even think about gathering with other people or growing by serving together or going and doing a neighbor loving project because the walls of life feel a little bit like they’re closing in on you. God’s shoulders are big enough for that.

And maybe at one time your relationship with Jesus was new and it was fresh and it almost felt electric. But you’ve wandered or you’re doubting or you’re just weary. Maybe. God’s shoulders are big enough for that. Or perhaps you’re here and you’ve been pulling the thread on stepping into a relationship with Jesus.

We’re just not quite sure yet. If any of these resonate with you, I wonder if you’re brave enough, if you might pray a simple prayer. My flower child mother prayed back in 1969. See, she was driving on the I 5, I believe it was, from San Diego, from LA to San Diego. She had been invited to a weekend of meetings at a church and she was discounting enthusiastically why it was all wrong.

She pulled off the interstate into a scenic overlook and the ocean waves were crashing in. She couldn’t see the waves because it was 5 a. m. and it was still dark and the fog was there, but she heard them and she felt the breeze on her face and she very quietly said, if you’re real God, make yourself real to me, prove it, please.

Because I think I really need you. And then these are her words as she shared what happened next. Instantly tears streamed down my face. A peace I couldn’t explain came over me. And everything just changed. I had met God, and I knew He loved and cared for me and watched over my entire life. Sometimes I think it’s simple prayers like that, and our relationship with Jesus, and these cries of our heart that are our foundation.

And that foundation ultimately is you. brings us back to this table. This is Jesus table, and we’re invited to take it together. Again from Sky Jothani, he says,

Jesus was offering himself as a sacrifice for the world’s sins and through his death, opening a way for us to be united with God and one another. For that reason, this meal has always been central to the Christian life, and any exploration of the church must consider Christ’s table, its meaning, its place in our worship, and how it forms our life with God and one another.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, this table is for you. Today, though, we’re going to take the elements together. So go ahead and please feel like you can go ahead and come up, take the bread and the wine, and then take them back to your seats. And we’ll go ahead and partake together.

Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 3)2024-06-10T14:45:06-06:00

Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 2)

May 26th, 2024 | Series: Pentecost – Life in the Spirit

This sermon explores the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives, emphasizing the importance of both sudden and gradual spiritual growth through personal participation and the historical significance of Pentecost in this process.

Sermon Resources
Sermon Content

Good morning friends. How are you doing today? That was bold. I like it strong. Good morning. Welcome on this Memorial Weekend. If you’re visiting, thanks for joining us. My wife and kids and I, we kicked off Memorial Weekend as we always try and do. We went to the pool. We went and last year I learned my lesson that the pool is packed on the Friday before Memorial Weekend.

And so we went last year, couldn’t get a space anywhere, like it was just full of people. Every single spot was taken. And so I said to my wife we’re going to leave 10 to 10. We’re going to be at the thing at 10 o’clock when it opens. We’re going to save some space for our friends. And so we pulled in and This was what the pool looked like.

And this was what the grass area looked like. And I was like, just when I think I’m beginning to understand the culture, I feel like something went wrong. It was just different this year. But Memorial Weekend is not as much as it’s fun to spend time at the pool, spend time barbecuing. That’s not the point.

The point is this solemnity, this memory. That this recognition that for a lot of years a lot of people have laid down their lives And then Jesus actually speaks to that speaking of himself, but also by extension others He says these beautiful words greater love has no man than this that he lays down his life for his friends.

So so before we move on in the service I just want to invite you this Memorial Day tomorrow. Just a pause At some point, just to be grateful for what you have, grateful for the things you enjoy, and also to move from there to the ultimate sacrifice that we remember as followers of Jesus.

That Jesus laid down his life for you and I. I don’t know about you, but that dangerously becomes normal. That happened, and yet this is the thing that we live and we breathe. So in amongst the pools and the stakes and the other things you do, the friendship gatherings, my encouragement is pause before you do anything else or in the midst of all that you do and choose to remember even when it’s hard.

Last week we in the midst of baptisms, where we celebrated with baptisms, yes, and gelato as well. I was excited about both, but in that order, very specifically, we got to baptize 16 people in all sorts of stages of faith. We took this idea that you whether you call yourself follower of Jesus or not, were made for life with God within you and that God has made that possible.

You, as a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and that is a transformative thing. But I didn’t want to move on quickly. From this idea of Pentecost, because within the American church, specifically the Western Church, perhaps generally, we have what you might call a Holy Spirit problem.

This was a recent survey of people in America of self-identified Christians. 58% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real living being, but merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity. 58%. So that the Holy Spirit, this member of the Trinity, this God within you, this gift of the church, the thing that Jesus described as, it’s better that I go away because the Holy Spirit otherwise would not come, this thing that, that Jesus said, this is better than me being here.

This being is just cast aside as just a power or an idea or a symbol of presence or purity. This is a conversation in the church that has been going on for a while. Francis Chan, in his book Forgotten God, talks about the loss for the church of the presence, the relationship of the Holy Spirit. That this is the thing that you were made for.

Gordon Fee, who has written some of the best material available on life in the spirit, says this, that the spirit as an experienced and living reality was the absolute crucial matter for Christian life. from beginning to end. How do we get from there, the experience of the early church, that said our relationship with the Holy Spirit is central to everything that we do, to today, where people would say, I’m not even sure if we’re talking about a person.

Where we would say that the Holy Spirit, some people have described as being in their minds, a gray oblong, or like a messed up comforter. There’s no image to associate to it. We’re just uncomfortable. How did we get there? According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit was the person that would come and lead us into the fullness of Christian life.

Life, I don’t know which part of that is him and which part of that is us somewhere There’s a tension somewhere. We live in the midst of that tension Sometimes we live in a world where we say I do everything I am the one that makes me like Jesus and that’s exhausting and sometimes we live in a world where People say, I’m just as I am and I don’t need to change, but somewhere the picture Jesus paints is of a relationship with the Holy Spirit where we gradually do what it says on the wall as you walk in.

We gradually grow to live in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus. So Augustine of Hippo said, without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not. It’s a partnership that we’re invited into. And so my goal for today is this, to pause for a second and to appreciate that we have lost perhaps something in terms of our relationship with the spirit.

And so to do that, I’d like to begin with a prayer and then we’re going to unpack some of the content together. So if you’d like to just for a moment prepare your hearts and if you’d like to say these words with me.

Renew in my heart, O God, the gift of your Holy Spirit, so that I may love you fully in all that I do, and love all others as Christ loves me. May all that I do proclaim the good news that you are God with us. Amen. If the Holy Spirit is the agent of change within us, I have a question for you that I’d like us to begin with.

If transformation is the work of God within us, why aren’t I more transformed? Why aren’t I more transformed? Why aren’t I, after all of these years of following Jesus, more transformed? Better at following Jesus. Why does it feel like it’s a slow work coming out of me? Why can’t it be, the story that we read around Pentecost last week, why can’t it be more instantaneous?

Perhaps even a little bit more like magic. The other day I had a wonderful encounter with my son Jude, who’s six. This really happened. I was going through something, I can’t even remember what it was. This is how central his reaction came to my experience of the story. But he knew that there was something up with me, and so my beautiful little six year old came alongside me and he said, Dad, can I pray for you?

And I was like, absolutely, you can pray for me. And I think it was probably something like I had a headache or something. And so Jude, just in that moment of simple child likeness said, Jesus, please make dad’s head better, or whatever it was. And then, he grabbed a wand off the table, and went, Bippity boppity boo.

Sometimes, if I’m honest, That’s how we think prayer works. And sometimes, if I’m honest, that’s how I want prayer to work. I want my encounters with Jesus to be those things that instantly transform me so that the person I was, the person that frustrates the life out of me, the person that’s just as annoying as you can imagine, becomes something else.

And yet, it seems like rarely, How does spirituality work in that way? It seems like God does things in different ways. So what we want to do today is hopefully sketch out some of the ways God does work in us through the Holy Spirit. To get us there, I would love to make sure we’re all on the same page around this word Pentecost and the festival that we celebrated last week.

One of the things that I love about scripture is this. God in incredible ways weaves the thoughts of multiple authors. Although there’s different human voices within it, though the personality of the writers comes out, there is this one voice that seems to stretch through it. The word for that is auteur.

It’s the idea that, like in movies, there’s a script writer who wrote down the words. There is a director that brings his vision to a movie more distinctly. You might say that the movie is more his than it is the person that wrote down the words of the script. That’s how scripture as a whole seems to work.

The personalities of the gospel writers, for example, come and go. out very distinctly. Mark is a guy that writes very quickly, and he uses words like and a lot. He sounds like a six year old or seven year old stringing sentences together. I went here and there and. It’s a personality trait.

Luke sounds like he’s Shakespeare born out of time. It’s very sophisticated. The language is full of whilsts and all these different things. Jesus sat by a well. Whilst he was there, a woman approached him. There’s personality there. But there’s this big common story that is being developed that happens across the whole of scripture.

And if you don’t read it as a whole, you miss pieces. And this is true of some of the big themes within scripture. God incredibly takes a story that is old and creates a new idea around that story that is new. Incredibly, it seems the new and latest story was his point. To make sure I don’t lose you with that, let me show you an example of that.

An example is the story of Exodus. In the book, Exodus. There is this movement of the people of Israel, this Jewish nation, they are captive in Egypt, and through supernatural means, God removes them from Egypt into freedom. This is celebrated at a festival called Passover. Thanks for watching! But, two thousand, five hundred, two thousand years later, something in that region, on Passover, Jesus crucifixion happens, and then his resurrection a couple of days later.

God takes a story that is very well known, and says that this is the real meaning, and always was the real meaning. This was always where the story was moving. These are these big arcs within scripture. Just for a moment, think how controversial this idea would have been to a group of people hearing Jesus for the first time.

It’s actually no different than if I were to stand on this stage and say, I’ve been pastor here for a few years now. It’s been like four years. We’re going to stop talking about Jesus and we’re going to start talking a lot more about me. I’m central to this thing now. Can you feel the horror of that?

I can.

For Jesus to stand up and say the Moses story was important but is now the old story and I’m doing something new to his first followers had elements of horror to it. You can see it in some of Peter’s comments, some of the other disciples comments. What do you mean by this? This is hard to handle.

There’s these big movements in stories, as stories become to mean, come to mean new things. And there’s this really important arc around this word Pentecost that I want you to see to make sure we’re all on the same page. If you go back into the story of Exodus, we have this moment where the people of Israel get to leave, there’s this moment of Exodus, they move out together.

And they’ll celebrate that in this festival called Pentecost. called Passover. But as they leave, there’s another part of the story that we often overlook. It’s not just them that leave. But other people leave with them. In Exodus chapter 12 verse 37 38 it says this, the Israelites journeyed from Ramesses to Sukkoth.

There were about 600, 000 men on foot besides women and children. Many other people went up with them and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. Outside of the Jewish people, there’s other people that take this journey. In Hebrew, this word is Erev Rav. Sometimes it gets translated a mixed multitude.

In your scriptures in front of you, it might say many other people. I think the message it is, the New Living Translation translates it a rabble. The message translates it a crowd of riff raff. Some other people say a motley crew, which means I can never get this image out of my mind when I read it. I’m like, did those guys go?

Were they there? They look old enough. But there’s this all this idea of people that are outsiders, fringe people. In the Mishnah, in the commentaries on the Jewish texts, There’s all sorts of thoughts about these people. Some people critique them and say they were a negative influence on the Jewish people.

But others have said they reflect this particular group of Egyptian society. They’re not the first group, which might be the people that oppress the Jewish people. They’re not the second group that said we got to get these people out of here. They’re hurting our country. They’re the third group that says we are with these people and we are for these people.

We’re going to leave with them. And so in a, amongst a group of people that leave, there are people that have been Jewish from birth and people that have chosen to come alongside this Jewish nation. But that’s a mess, right? Can you imagine what that feels like to have all sorts of people that have no common background together?

No common God? No common language? No common ethical system? They’re a whole group of people that are off on a journey. They leave together in this moment called Exodus that’s celebrated in Passover. And God takes them to a mountain in the middle of nowhere, a mountain that nobody owns because nobody owns this God.

And he gives them a law, a code of ethics, a common code to live by. which is celebrated on this day, 50 days after Passover, called Pentecost. So keep that arc in your mind. There’s Exodus celebrated on Passover, and then there’s the giving of the law that will be celebrated on Pentecost. On Pentecost, those are deeply important to what we’re going to talk about.

We read about this giving of the law in Exodus chapter 34. We were told that Moses, God said to Moses, Chisel out two stone tablets, like the first ones, and I will write on them words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. That’s a whole other story, we don’t have time for that. Be ready in the morning, and then come up to Mount Sinai.

Present yourself to me. There on the top of the mountain, no one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain. Not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain. And then there’s this moment where Moses comes down the mountain and we read, Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands.

This thing that will unify this riffraff, this motley crew. He was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. So understand this in this. moment in this system, only one person can talk to God. Only one person gets to engage. Only one person is up the mountain, and it’s Moses.

It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s just Moses. In our setting here, it would be me, and it would be not you. Which again, sounds horrific. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses courted them, so Aaron and the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them.

Afterwards, all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. This group of people that are not one people are given a law code to help make them one people. But the problem is this. It doesn’t work, right? It’s just on the surface. Doesn’t really unify.

A group of people with very little in common are given the law code as an identity. But it’s not really their identity. It’s not really who they are. And to help you understand this, I wanted to give you a visual. Some of you know that I have a love of this hockey team. I’ve talked about it before. Boo, that’s fair enough.

This is the Detroit Red Wings. My heart beats Detroit. I lived in Detroit. I love the Red Wings. That means that I came here and I had a natural hatred for certain things that some of you love. The Avs. And so some good friends of mine that happen to be sitting here on the front row today, when the Avs won a Stanley Cup, gave me a t shirt to celebrate that moment.

And I said, I don’t know why you’re giving me that. I’m going to burn it. I tried burning it. It didn’t burn. I don’t know what that tells you, but it was helpful that I didn’t because it gave me a chance to do something today that I said that I never would.

But here’s the thing. This is the reason for it. It doesn’t mean anything.

It means nothing. Because in my head, all I hear is, Let’s go Red Wings. Let’s go Red Wings. Let’s go Red Wings. Which, incidentally, is all you hear at Ball Arena when the Red Wings come to town. It’s it’s the thing that everybody yells. There’s something about what I’m doing on the outside that matters, but nothing’s changed.

It’s all external. And that was the problem with this law code. It was supposed to unify people, but all it did was change very specific behavior some of the time. And in scripture in the old Testament, God longs for something different. In Jeremiah 31, he says, this is the covenant I will make. This is what it will look like in the future with the people of Israel.

After that time declares the Lord, I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer this surface thing, no longer just this token gesture, no longer the external shirt on my body, but something different. See, it turns out real transformation includes action, but it is never only action.

It includes action, but it is never only action Perhaps you felt some of that tension yourself some of the ways that you would say at times I do what I think I should do But I feel like there’s something inside me that doesn’t quite get to the point of wanting to live as Jesus wants me to live But hopefully somewhere deep down inside you as a follower of Jesus, you might say these words are true of me.

Oh God I don’t love you. I don’t even want to love you, but I want to love you. That’s this core heart change that scripture seems to say will be coming, this idea that somewhere deep inside of us, something has transformed that’s not even in our control. It’s beyond us. It’s God working within us.

And it happens here. Passover, we already talked about this, Passover becomes centered around Jesus death. No longer the old exodus, now that’s just a memory. And Jesus death becomes the significant thing. And Jesus says to his followers, one day the spirit will come. Wait. Don’t do anything, wait for it to happen.

And a day passes, and nothing. And a day, and thirty days. and 40 days. 41, 42, 43, 44, 45. And I just wonder in those moments, in the midst of all the hiding from the Romans, in all of the struggle of living in one room, it seems, together for an extended period of time, all the wondering of will the promise ever be delivered?

What is next? 46, 47. I just wonder if someone at that point said, Oh, Remember that old story, where we left in the exodus, and it took us 50 days to get to that mountain, and we were given this law. Just wonder if something similar is happening here, 48, 49, 50. 50 days after Jesus death, the spirit is given.

Because now Pentecost is no longer about the giving of the law. What’s Pentecost now centered about? Pentecost is now centered around the giving of the spirit. Think about that passage we read in Acts last week. Acts chapter two now. They were staying in Jerusalem. God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard their own language, been smoke, spoken, utterly amazed. They asked, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it then that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs.

We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, what does this mean? On Passover, Jesus dies. On Pentecost, a mixed multitude, a riffraff, a rabble from all sorts of places, a motley crew is gathered asking, what does this mean? And on Pentecost, the spirit is given and a community of people become one, not because of something changed on the surface, but because something changed deep within them.

A group of people with very little in common are given the spirit as an identity. That is who we are. People tied together by the work of a spirit that is far deeper than what we look like on the surface. That is the people of God. That is people that you may not recognize as followers of Jesus, people who you may not connect with at all on the surface, but somewhere inside there is something deeply connective.

The people of God are the people that are filled with His Spirit, whether they know that or not at times, whether you know that or not, certainly, there’s all sorts of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, all sorts of different places that God has rescued through Jesus in something that looks like Exodus and is filled with His Spirit through something that looks like Pentecost.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, we read Paul’s somewhat convoluted, where he makes these mixed metaphor movements all the way through to the story of Moses. He starts here in verse 7, Now if the ministry that bore death, he’s talking about the work of the law, which was engraved in letters on stone, the stone tablets, came with glory so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory, though it was.

Will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? He says the thing that happened before doesn’t compare to this thing. This new thing is truly transformative. If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness? For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.

And what if it was, what if, and if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts? Can you see now why Paul is so upset when his Galatian church that we talked about last week says, we just went back to the law, we just decided we’re going to fix ourselves again.

He’s baffled that they would go back to this because to him this new glory, it’s more spectacular and it’s not even close. Therefore, since we have such a hope, he says, we are very bold. We are not like Moses who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away.

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. He said there’s some people that look at Passover and still see Exodus, not Jesus work. There’s some people that look at Pentecost and still see law and not the giving of the Spirit. But we are not those people.

But their minds were made fer. To this day, the same veil remains. When the old covenant is red. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day, when Moses is red, a veil covers their hearts, but whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Paul would not make a very good like PC type person.

He just doesn’t fit that vibe. He’s this only happens in Jesus. He’s the central thing, he’s the center to everything, he’s the one that transforms, he’s the one that takes away the veil that covers our hearts. And now catch this bit, this is the bit that I want us to land in. And now the Lord is the spirit.

Often when Jesus uses the word Lord he’s talking about Jesus, here he’s very distinctly talking about the Holy Spirit. Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. There is transformation. There is God’s work in you and I. He is unashamed about the fact that this spirit brings transformation, removes bondage, removes old habits, brings change to people like you and like me.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord’s glory. are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory. He says you and I are transformed people. There is something that is happening, some work in us that is not you and me working hard.

It is God’s work in us. And it is beautiful. The image that he grasps there is this word metamorpho. It’s the same word as metamorphosis, the same idea of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, which is an incredible process. As spectacular as if a field mouse were to transform into a hummingbird.

It’s a complete breakdown of one type of being and a creation of a new type of being. And he says, that’s what’s happening in you and I. There is a complete new work that is being shaped in us. And it’s all done by the spirit, which brings me back to my first question. If transformation is the work of God within us, why aren’t I more transformed?

Why aren’t I more transformed? If this work is at least mostly God’s work in me, call it 90%, 10%, call it 80%, 20%, why don’t I look more like Jesus? Why are the things about me that still frustrate me? Why are the ways that I don’t feel like I do a good job of living in the way of Jesus, in the heart of Jesus?

Why can’t that transformation happen in the same way that my son can pick up a wand and yell those magical words over me? Bippity boppity boo. And perhaps I’d say this, transformation needs participation from you. It needs persistence from you, but never power from you. That’s an element that you are unable and I am unable to bring.

There’s ways that we might hope for a moment we can bring some kind of transformation, but I wanted to show you for a second just how weak we are as human beings and unable to make those kind of changes. This is Clocky the alarm clock. What it does is this. When you hit snooze on Clocky, it knows you, kinda, or the creator does.

It knows your tendency, perhaps maybe in this room, to hit snooze. and then to hit snooze, and then to hit snooze, and then to oversleep and miss your first meeting and have to apologize or etc. So Clocky jumps up in the air and it darts off on its wheels to go and hide in the darkest corner so you have to get up out of bed and go find it to turn it off.

As human beings we are so unable to bring transformation, we need a clock to go and hide in a corner. To stop us sleeping in. That’s where we’re at as a group of people. Maybe we make some incidental changes. Maybe we pick up a self help book and it starts to make a little bit of movement. But the kind of transformation, the Jesus transformation that we put upon the wall, that is not within you.

And that is not within me. I cannot make myself look like Jesus. I need him through his spirit to bring transformation to me. But, Here’s the but, there’s two ways that seems to happen. Two elements of time that seem to affect how that happens. And they’re these, the two Greek words for time, kairos, a special in the moment time, a different kind of time, a standout experience.

And then there’s kronos. Kairos might be the moment of surprising transformation, breakthrough, healing, revelation. Maybe a moment you’ve experienced at some point in your life. A moment where you suddenly realized that the basis of your life was a bad basis to live by. A moment where God became real to you in a particular way.

A moment where maybe there was a sin that you just could never let go of and suddenly something happened and you were now able to let go of it. A moment where you needed healing from something and this is the moment where God brought his healing. Maybe you’ve seen this kind of idea abused. Maybe you’ve heard people charge money for this kind of experience and yet God doesn’t charge for these kind of things.

The moments that maybe people in the room will put up a hand and say, I’ve had that, I’ve experienced that, I’ve seen these moments, I’ve seen people healed of cancer. fades of all sorts of different things. I’ve seen God work, and for some reason that I can’t explain, He works more in countries that aren’t Western countries than He does here.

But I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it for myself, experienced moments where somebody in my life has told me something very specific that God has told them to tell me. I’ve felt the transition, the change that, that’s been in the moment, gracious, no strings attached. I’ve had those. But not that many, if I’m honest.

They’ve happened unexpectedly. They’ve been wonderful. Often come with lots of tears. Sometimes tears that felt like a flood that I couldn’t control. They’ve usually meant me standing up from that space or walking out from that space feeling different. But, there’s that other word. Cronos. And this is where I think God makes character.

This is faithful practice. Eugene Peterson called it long obedience in the same direction. The slow work of years, habitual surrender to the work of God within you. God’s steady progress. The ways that life constantly asks new things of you. The ways that hopefully in the midst of it, in the midst of the struggle of raising kids, in the midst of the struggle of work, of life not being what you wanted it to be, God slowly draws that character out of you.

Gordon Fee again says this, the key to life in the spirit for some is to spend much more time in thanksgiving and praise for what God has done and is doing and promises to do, and less time on introspection, focused on your failure to match up to the law. Sometimes we need to take the effort to notice this kind of work in us.

Paul to the Galatians in chapter 5 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control against things there is no law. Those kind of things don’t happen because something happened to you supernaturally. They happen to you because natural life happened to you.

Slowly they grow, slowly they develop. Seung Chan Ra says this, he’s a theologian in Chicago, what would happen to our faith if we believe that God reigns sovereign over both our celebration and our suffering? These kind of experiences, they build character. They change us. And those are equally the work of the spirit as those supernatural moments, as those distinct experiences.

I started growing this tree about four years ago. It’s my peach tree. I’m very proud of it. I planted it as soon as I got here and then was deeply frustrated that for the next three years it did nothing. Not a blossom, not a bud, not the tiniest thing. And then when I was traveling. About a month ago, my wife texted me.

She said, there’s peaches on the peach tree. I was like, send me pictures. I need to know how my baby is doing. It’s like a fifth child to me at this point. Send it to me. And for the first time, hundreds of peaches are all over this tree. But it doesn’t happen without the time. It doesn’t happen because it got planted.

And that, it seems, is the work of God’s Spirit in you and in I. This is equally God’s work. I’m going to invite Aaron and the team to come back on the stage, but I wanted to share with you a story I heard recently from a pastor that I just really respect, that reflected some of what is needed as we process this.

This is a pastor about my age, pastor of a big church. And he’s going through some cancer right now. He’s wrestling with what’s going to happen to him. And in the midst of that, someone said to him, how can I pray for you? How can we pray for you? And he said this, and it just amazed me. He said, if you’d you can pray that God would heal me instantly.

But that’s not how I’m praying for myself. That’s not my sense of the story. that God is working in me right now. My sense is that God is working a longer story. And so if you want to pray with me, yes, you can pray that God would heal me instantly. But know this, I would much rather have God’s presence with me than his power for me.

And what you can pray is this. If you want to pray like I’m praying, pray that God would allow me to grow old with my wife. And then I would get to hold my children’s children. That’s not my sense of the story that God is working in me. And my curiosity question was this, God, what story are you working in me right now?

And by extension for you, my friends what story is God working in you? Perhaps there’s something in you that is deeply painful and frustrating. And your longing is that God in this supernatural moment, this bippity boppity boo moment might take it away. Might bring this transformation that is instant and fast.

There’s moments that bring tears, and perhaps He will. That’s a real possibility. That’s why we pray for people. And that’s why there’s people that would love to pray for you today. And perhaps he’s working something longer that’s forming something deep in you, some character in you that is going to lead to much fruit, but not today.

But whichever of those you’re experiencing, know that the work is still the work of the same spirit. who works in us to make us like Jesus. I lost a passage of scripture. Someone stole it from me. Can you put the last slide back up, please?

Now the Lord is the spirit. And where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory. which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. I’d love us to just take a moment to do what we did last week, which is our acronym, Pray.

We’re gonna pause, we’re gonna reflect for a moment, we’re gonna ask, and we’re gonna yield or surrender. So just take a moment to pause, to shake yourself off, to realize you’ve been listening to the same person for a while. To put aside the questions that don’t really matter, which might be, why did he say this?

Why did he unbutton his shirt? Didn’t expect to say that in church. All those different things.

Just to pause. To gather your scattered senses. This language is beautiful. And to reflect.

God, what story are you working in me?

Perhaps there’s something that comes to mind, something painful, something you don’t have an answer for. Some of you wish that God could just magic away. Maybe you’ve wondered why he hasn’t. You’ve asked so many times. And perhaps you’ve heard God say yes to so many things. And this thing, for whatever reason, he hasn’t said yes to.

Maybe he’s writing an instant story. And this is a Kairos moment that there’s some people here that love to pray. And God has anointed them to pray. And this anointing, it breaks the yoke.

And maybe God’s writing a longer story in you. Maybe that story’s written in the midst of loneliness. A feeling like you don’t have enough. Of missing some relationships. Grief. Struggle with sickness. All sorts of things. The long years of parenting. The long years of not getting to be a parent. And as you reflect, that this is the thing.

And so together we’re gonna ask and yield. So I’m going to ask just the prayer team to scatter around. I’m going to ask us to stand together. And whichever of those it is for you, our prayer team would just love to pray a couple of sentences over you. They’d love to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring transformation, whatever that looks like.

They’d love to ask with you, and then you get to do the yield, surrender part.

I just want to encourage you to take this step because I’m going to ask one of these guys to pray for me. There’s just some stuff that I have just been waiting on God for.

And so as Aaron leads us, come and allow these guys to pray over you.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of your spirit. Help us to remember that he’s the one that brings transformation. Perhaps you’re here and you don’t follow Jesus. Perhaps your prayer is just simply, Holy Spirit, would you bring transformation to my heart? Maybe it’s time to ask Jesus to be the Lord and Savior that you need.

You can do that in this space.

Jesus, thank you that you’re here to bring transformation through your spirit. Sometimes today, but always sometimes. Amen.

Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 2)2024-06-10T14:45:12-06:00

Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 1)

May 19th, 2024 | Series: Pentecost – Life in the Spirit

This sermon focuses on the transformative power of God’s spirit, emphasizing the shift from relying on human efforts to surrendering to God’s transformative work in individual lives.

Sermon Resources
Sermon Content

Good morning friends. How are you doing today? Fantastic. That was vocal. I love it. One person is fantastic. Everyone else is doing just fine. If you’re visiting. Today just a special welcome. My name’s Alex. I’m one of the pastors here. If you’re visiting today because someone you love, someone you care about is getting baptized thank you for being here to support them.

If you are here and someone you know or love is getting baptized and you’re like, do you know what? We seriously disagree on how the world works, maybe even faith and Jesus itself and you are still here today. Thank you for being here. Like that, to stand alongside someone going through that is a big deal and I’m just delighted and honored that you would be here with us.

I was away last week took a little trip back to England just a few days by myself to see the family. You may have heard. There is a rumor that the weather in England is not good. And so I headed back over the other side of the pond, and it’s apparently been biblical in the rain level, is how it’s been termed.

Four weeks of straight rain. And no kidding, I landed in rain, and I drove up the highway to my folks house. And the sun came out and it was sunny for the entire week. And then I got on a plane and an hour later it started raining again. And it’s still raining. And if your theology says that was God’s kindness, that’s fine.

If your theology says you got incredibly lucky, I’m also fine with that as well because I got to sit in England in May in the sun which is a big deal. Acts chapter 2, if you have a text in front of you, if you’d like to open it, feel free. If you don’t have one and you’d like one, after the service, we’d love to help you get one.

You can download an app called Bible App online as well, but I’m going to read along. We’ll go through it verse by verse later. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all to gather together in one place. Suddenly, a violent wind A sound like the blowing of violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

They saw what happened to seem to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard in his own language You The words of Jesus.

Utterly amazed, they asked, Aren’t all these that are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and parts of Libya near Cyrene. If you don’t know where any of those places are, then you’re in good company, because most people in the room don’t know.

Cretans and Arabs, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed. And perplexed, they asked one another. What does this mean? Jesus, as we open this word and we ask what it’s saying to us today, as we take a breath from all of the things that are going on in our minds, as we gather around this old and sacred text, would you give us the courage to listen to you, to ask what it means for us to hear you speak?

And to hear you’re trying to experience your transformation because of it. Amen. I’m going to ask you to begin this morning with an exercise of imagination. I’m going to ask you to try and put yourself into the mind of a first century person living in the Middle East area of the world around 2, 000 years ago.

Now, this is really hard to do because there might not be any cultures that are more different than that culture and our culture today. They had a culture that inherently believed in the supernatural. We have a culture that are never, that believes simply in fast food. We want everything quick, we want it now.

We want everything like right this moment. They didn’t believe in any of that. They waited on God to do things That was just part of what the culture looked like. So imagine yourself in this place You are in the city of Jerusalem. The highways are dusty. The streets are full of people. It’s a festival day And as you walk down the street Your eye is caught by noise A group of people are in the streets and they’re yelling, they seem to be very excited, they’re talking about something significant that has happened.

You recognize one or two of them, you know that they’ve been with this man Jesus who was a big deal, but that was seven weeks ago. Jesus has been gone for what seems like an eternity now. The Romans made sure he was dead. The Romans make mistakes of justice, but they don’t make mistakes in execution. When they kill someone, they stay dead.

You know from a lifetime of experience that when someone’s breath is gone, their spirit is gone and their life is gone. And yet these people are yelling excitedly. They’re yelling in all sorts of different languages. You pick up the occasional word in Greek that you happen to know, but there’s languages from all sorts of places in the world.

And then finally you hear your own language in amongst them, and you hear them excitedly talking about the fact that this Jesus is not dead, he is risen. But surely that’s ridiculous. Surely no one comes back from the dead, and yet there’s something about their story is compelling, perhaps most compelling is these people themselves.

Because this has happened before. The Romans have found someone important who seems to have the will of the people, someone who seems to be leading some kind of change, and they’ve killed him, and his followers have disappeared in a moment. There’s only one solution when the Romans come looking for you.

You run, and you hide. You certainly don’t find yourself in the middle of the street in Jerusalem recruiting other followers. And who would be stupid enough to join them? This is a death sentence, and yet, you can’t get out of your mind this question. What does all of this mean? These people in the first century encountered a group of people who suddenly stand in the middle of the street and suddenly are given the ability to talk all sorts of languages.

Our modern sensibilities struggle with that idea. But in a first century worldview, the supernatural was a possibility on any given moment. And this is what you’re seeing in this moment. You’re seeing the supernatural. There’s this moment where some followers of Jesus now find themselves stood in the middle of the street sharing the good news of Jesus for the first time after his death and his resurrection.

And the crowd asks some questions, the central one I would suggest being this one. This one. What does this mean? It’s the third of three questions that they ask and probably the most perceptive of them. A couple of notes on what we just read and the concept we’re talking about here. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

You may not know what the day of Pentecost is. It’s a festival that follows the festival of Passover in the Jewish calendar. It’s exactly seven weeks after, sorry, five weeks after Passover. Passover, it’s on all sorts of different days. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. I wish we had time to delve a little bit more into this idea of spirit. All I can say really quickly is this.

In most ancient languages. The word for spirit and the word for breath are the same thing. So when you have breath, you have spirit. When it’s gone, you don’t. When you have breath, you’re alive. When you don’t, you’re dead. When you have spirit, you’re alive. When you don’t, you’re dead. So to hear people talking about something like the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God is to hear them talking about the very breath of God.

So some people have called it something like God’s animating presence, the way that God works in the world. And yet, What we’re reading about here is not a force. This isn’t Star Wars. This isn’t some kind of fantasy adventure, and I know that’s, yeah, those are good things. You watch that all you like but right now we’re talking about something very different.

We’re talking about God’s animating personal energy in the world, the idea that God is both relatable and deeply relational, and is so with these people, and people are seeing it for the first time. Frederick Beaton says this, the word spirit, sadly, has come to mean something pale and shapeless like an unmade bed.

If I say to you, picture spirit. What comes to mind. Some people have described that image as a gray oblong for some reason. Some people have described it as a shapeless mass. And yet again, deeply personal is what we’re reading here. Now they were staying in Jerusalem, God fearing Jews from every nation and heaven.

When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly they amazed, they asked, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans, this is a deeply insulting term, this is aren’t these like the slow people? Isn’t this the Nebraska crowd?

Isn’t the I don’t even know, I don’t even know I’m just trying to fit in the Colorado world. I got nothing against Nebraska. It’s Colorado, so half of you are probably from Nebraska, you just moved here at some point. How is it that each of us hears them in our native tongues? What’s going on here?

These are the first two questions that they ask. But then this super pertinent question that appears third. We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, what does this mean? Some however made fun of them and said they have had too much wine.

That’s our explanation for every kind of weird behavior. Have you been drinking a little early, isn’t it? That’s what we do. What does this mean? This is an amazing question in almost any moment of life. What’s going on here? It’s especially pertinent in moments like this where you may encounter something supernatural, but anytime You experience something that you’re unsure of.

Asking what it means is actually key. When you have an emotion, a big emotion, that appears out of nowhere, asking what it means actually matters. Perhaps it’s your body trying to tell you, pay attention to this thing that’s going on here. It’s actually important. You actually need to spend a little bit of time processing that.

Pausing in life to say, what does this mean? You It matters. It’s good. And here it’s especially good. Because there’s a possibility that something special is happening. The Jewish worldview has been the worldview at this point for 2, 000 years for this group of people. And now Jesus has come and said, I’m doing a new thing in the midst of this old thing.

And perhaps in this moment, this is true. And then we get a response. We get to hear what it means from a character called Peter. Again, now if you’re new to the scriptures, new to reading, I want to give you a quick kind of summary of what Peter’s character is. Maybe the two words I’d give you is, he’s that alpha male type character with all of the joy, that brings.

If if that’s you, great. I was not that growing up, and so I, I had a, questionable relationship with the alpha mayor characters. They were always the ones that we would walk into an Indian restaurant and they would bravely say something like, give me the spiciest thing on the menu. They were always looking for a way to show off.

I I don’t know if Indian guys walked into our English restaurants and said, give me the blandest thing on the menu. I don’t maybe they did. But But for whatever reason, this was the way English alpha males showed their ability to be alpha males. Peter, so far in, in the story of scripture, has shown this by always talking first, even when he may not be ready to talk.

He always has an answer, and sometimes he absolutely hits the bullseye, but oftentimes he misses by a long way. And yet, being with Jesus has changed him. Has humbled him and now he stands in front of this group of people as a transformed person and shares in Amazing detail the way of Jesus and just what it means We don’t have time to go through all of it But we just can stop at this first little snippet fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem Let me explain this to you.

Listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk as you suppose It’s only nine in the morning. There’s a whole bunch of people like, no, watch me. I can do that. That’s not a problem. And no, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people.

Peter says this is a Jesus thing that is happening. God is pouring his spirit out and that is a transformative thing. It’s what Jesus predicted would happen himself. Towards the end of his, oh, I didn’t change the scripture reference there, so that’s not Acts chapter 2, that’s John chapter 14. Towards the end of his ministry he said, If you love me, keep my commands.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you, and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. The promise of Jesus to his followers is one day their relationship with God would change.

No longer would God be external and distant, God would be present. They would be indwelt by God’s very spirit, and that would be the most transformative thing. When you look back in the first century, there are two premises for why people became followers of Jesus, and these seem to be it. The earliest Christians, It became so based on the resurrection of Jesus, which became known as something of a fact in the world around them and the transformation of his followers.

If you have had an experience of church where people have acted in a way that seems anything but the way of Jesus, I’m so sorry you’ve experienced that, but of all people, Christians should be the most transformed people and it shouldn’t be close. We should be made and formed to look like the Jesus that founded this faith and so often we fall short.

But that transformation is only possible because of what we’re reading in Acts chapter 2. It isn’t a you thing, it’s a spirit thing. You can do some transformation. You can grab a book, and you can read some stuff, and you can try a new practice, and it will work a little bit. You can go exploring the world, trying to find yourself, and it may produce some good results, but at least according to the scripture worldview, the only way there’s genuine transformation is through the spirit.

Because the problem is, the standard isn’t just trying to be good. The thing we’re trying to copy is Jesus. And he looks a little bit different to most people. The message of Acts overall seems to be this, you were made for life with God. But more than that, you were made for life with God within you, a truly transformative relationship.

And, by extension, this is what the book of Acts will argue. And God has made that possible. The work of Jesus has made that transformation. possible for you and I. Andrew Murray says this, the spirit did everything on the day of Pentecost and afterwards. It was the spirit who gave the boldness, the wisdom, the message and the converting power.

It was a God thing, a spirit thing. Gordon V says the spirit as an experienced and living reality was the absolute crucial matter for Christian life from beginning to end until it wasn’t. Until a whole bunch of followers of Jesus got so smart they decided, you know what, we can work this ourselves. We’ve got it covered.

In a letter to a church in Galatia, a church probably founded by some of the people that was stood here on the day of Pentecost, we read the words of a writer called Paul who writes to them and says this, you foolish Galatians. This is deeply insulting. This is like the way a mother writes to a wayward child who’s not been sending any kind of money back home or something like that.

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? And before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you. Did you receive the spirit? Did this Pentecost moment happen because of works of the law? Or because you believed what you heard? Did it happen because God is good?

Or because you are. How did this thing begin? And if it began that way, why are you now trying to keep it going like you’re the person that’s making it all happen? Oh foolish Galatians. Again, deeply insulting. This is like the language of attack. Paul is appalled that they’ve ended up in this The language of bewitched.

Who has bewitched you? I wanted to give you like an image. This is who’s given you the evil eye and who’s entrapped you in this way. So the best picture I could figure out for this was this person right here. This is who’s who’s hypnotized you? Who’s led you astray? Who’s brought you to this place?

This is a disaster. This story, the way he talks to these Galatians it reminds me of my childhood. I have this deep memory of a moment where I had my first soccer lesson or football coaching session or whatever and I Figured out after one session, I needed the help of the coach But after that, I got it sorted.

So I had one at like age six, and then it went down to the local park with my family, and at this time, I’m six and my dad is thirty six. Still a fairly athletic, youngish guy. Thirty six has got to be young still, I hope. But then I had my brothers and sisters dotted around, and so confident was I in my newfound abilities that I said to them this, We’ll play a game of soccer.

It’s you guys versus me. Me on my own. I got it. I don’t know what personality trait that reveals, but I’m worried it might still be there on some level. It was this moment where I said, I got this covered. You guys play, I’m going to play against you. And of course my dad at 36 just stood there with the ball under his foot, and every time I tried to come near him, he just turned around and turned around, and I’m just running around in circles, and I realize in this awful moment, I can’t do this alone, and so I come up with this solution.

I say to my family, it’s me and dad versus all of you I’m calling in some help in this moment. Some of that experience is what is going on here. I love the fact I’m just telling you that story with the hypnotizing eyes just lurking at you. This is some of what’s happening here. Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

What began it all? Are you so foolish? Man, it gets even worse. After beginning by means of the spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Are you really trying to make all this happen? I’m gonna show you two images. I’ve shown them to most of you before. I’m gonna keep showing them to you until it becomes part of your spiritual formation.

Even worse, I’m gonna keep showing them to you until it becomes part of my spiritual formation. And that may take a lot longer. Does your spiritual life, whatever that looks like, does it reflect this image? Or does it reflect this image? Does it reflect this image? Or does it reflect this image? Or even this image?

The two things are very different, inherently different, you might say. One relies on a power that is not your own. You get to participate, you get to do something, but you’re not crafting the power yourself. The second one is absolutely about you and about only you. You make the thing happen. When you think about life with God, which of those two images do you think about?

What does it look like for you? Augustine of Hippo said this, without God we cannot, without us God will not. It speaks to those elements of participation, but also to the truth of our own helplessness. We cannot make these things happen. I cannot change myself. And yet I find myself routinely getting into a pattern of saying, I am going to make myself better.

I’m going to work it, I’m going to improve. Watch me grow. Watch me glow. I just came up with that moment of poetry for you. But the truth of scripture is this, you were made for life with God within you. And God has made that possible. The thing we experience is only based on grace, none of it based on you.

And that always comes free from all other aspects, free of charge on the house, no strings attached. So before we get to baptisms, before we celebrate, we have these people who are gonna celebrate like they did on the day of Pentecost. They’re gonna do the same thing, the same act of obedience that those first followers of Jesus did 2, 000 years ago.

Some of them are children, some of them are adults, some of them are going through those first elements of transformation, some of them have been working at it for a long time in participation with the Spirit. All of them have more to do All of them are going to grow in ways that will maybe even surprise them.

But right now, they’re in a place of saying, what we long to do is say to you, our friends and family and community, we have experienced transformation. God has done something in us, and we want you to know about it. Before we get there, I’m going to ask you to just pause for a second. We’re going to work through this acronym.

We’re going to pray, you’re going to pray, perhaps for the first time in the service, perhaps for the first time in a long time. We’re going to begin by pausing, just taking a breath, realizing that maybe there’s some distraction. Maybe you’ve got a lot on your mind, maybe you’ve lost a job this week, maybe there’s been an argument on the way here, maybe there’s been all sorts of things going on, maybe you’ve not been in church for a long time and this is I don’t know about these people, they seem awfully happy and I don’t know if I like that.

We’re going to pause. And then we’re going to reflect. We’re going to reflect on what we heard. Some of the things that we’ve just talked about. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions. Then I’m going to give you an opportunity to ask God for something. And then the final one, yield. In actual fact, I prefer surrender, but it really messes up the acronym.

It just doesn’t look the same. Pass? I don’t know what that means. Pause, reflect, ask, and yield. So we begin by pausing. If you’d like to close your eyes,

I’m going to invite you to gather your scattered senses, all of the things that are on your mind. Just let them go. Realize that they may not be important right now.

Maybe put your cynicism aside, your sense of I’ve done this before. Maybe if you’re not a follower of Jesus saying, am I open to that?

Then we’re going to move to reflect. We’re going to reflect on a story that is all about God and very little about you. And the truth is most of us recognize that we’re the heroes in our own story. We think about ourselves an awful lot. And yet in this moment we reflect on the fact that this is a God driven story, not an us driven story.

I’m going to ask you to bring to mind those two images, sailing and rowing. You’re gonna reflect on which of those images for a moment reflects how you live life in the way of Jesus Or how you live life in general if you I’m not a follower of Jesus You’re gonna feel for a moment the beauty of what it is when a sailboat catches the wind And starts to move under a power that is maybe a little controlled but far beyond anything you could conjure up And then you’re going to think about the exhaustion of rowing rowing and rowing.

For a second I’m going to ask you to think about how your life feels like that at times. How there’s always another thing to do, so much to fix.

Going to ask you maybe to reflect on your own baptism, if that’s a journey you’ve taken. The excitement you felt, the first steps into faith.

And then finally, or not finally, penultimately, we’re going to ask,

God, would you speak to hearts in this room, wherever we are? Would you let us know that we’re loved exactly as we are? The following you doesn’t begin with good behavior, doesn’t begin with us doing anything.

It begins with your story for us.

Perhaps you might ask in this moment for God’s spirit to Refill you. Maybe the tank feels empty. Maybe your heart feels dull. Maybe there’s ways that you’d say it feels like there’s a blockage somewhere and you’re not sure how to fix that and you don’t need to fix that. You’re simply gonna say God can you move in my life?

Can you be transformative in new ways? And finally we’re gonna surrender. We’re gonna yield. and say, God, I need you. I cannot do this alone. All that I have is yours.

Pentecost – Life in the Spirit (Part 1)2024-06-10T14:45:22-06:00
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