Sunday, July 28, 2013

Forgotten God - Francis Chan


Most of us assume that what we believe is right. (Of course, it's why we believe what we believe) but have never really studied for ourselves. We're told, "this is the way it is" and don't question. The problem is much of what we believe is often based more on comfort or our cultures tradition than on the Bible.
(Acts 17:11) "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." --> Even the Bereans were lifted up as good examples because they questioned the things they were taught. They made sure even the apostles' teachings were in line with what was written!
 We should expect our new life with the Holy Spirit to look radically different from our old life without Him.
In today's culture we think we're strong enough to live on our own --> WRONG. Even if our church growth can happen without Him. Lets be honest, if you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means you've created a space, that's appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday.
   --> the worst part is that when your outside the church's walls and interact with the Christian and non-Christians in the same sphere can you really tell the difference? Many non-believers seem more joyful, welcoming and at peace than Christians today.
   If its true that the Sprirt of God dwells in us that our bodies are the Holy Spirits temple, then shouldn't there be a HUGE difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him and the person who doesn't?
 Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity. Our sanity or even worse our God. And can we blame them? --> (James 3:11) "Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?"
 What do we do with the fact that Jesus says its better for his followers to have the Holy Spirit? Do we believe Him? If so, do our lives reflect it?
---> (John 16;7) "So some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I am going to the Father'?"
First of all --> it is impossible for us finite humans to completely understand an infinite God.
Second --> many of us don't need more knowledge about the Spirit from a cerebral vantage point- what we need is experiential knowledge of his presence.
Third --> we can never "go back" only forward, seeking what it means to live faithfully in the time and culture where God has placed us.
" I don't know what the Spirit will do or where He'll lead me each time I invite Him to guide me. But I am tired of living in a way that looks exactly like people who don't have the Holy Spirit of God living in them. I want to consistently live with an awareness of His strength. I want to be different today from what I was yesterday as the fruit of the Spirit becomes more manifest in me."
It pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Holy Spirit out of fear that He won't come through. How much it grieves Him to watch His children ignore the promises He's made throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won't be kept. Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It's not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk into His strength.
(Luke 11:13) "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
The truth is the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you won't normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross and that's definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be.
--> the Holy Spirit doesn't seek to hurt us, but he seeks to make us Christlike and this can be painful!
If you don't want to know or do His will genuinely, why should you ask for His presence at all?
We need the Spirit in order to live faithfully. But we also need one another as we work out our faith.
What you believe absolutely determines how you act.
When Jesus (the Holy Spirit) dwelled among the disciples they were different; we read of Stephan, the 1st martyr. We see Peter, a changed, courageous man. We see Paul (formerly Saul) go from killing Christ followers to becoming one and showing many others how to do so too. They were no longer timid or confused; they were bold and inspired and began to declare and live the gospel of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. --> HUGE moment in their lives! (Acts 2:38-39) "And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promises is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
 When Peter preached the gospel that one day around 3,000 people became part of God's kingdom and accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit is a person who has personal relationships with not only believers, as we have seen, but also with the Father and the Son. We see the Spirit working with them multiple times through the scriptures. (Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14) 1st "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" 2nd "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
  • The Holy Spirit is God
→ He is not a lesser or different kind of Being than God the father and God the Son.
(Acts 5:3-4) "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God." → Peter refers to the Holy Spirit as God. This is vital to remember. When we forget about the Spirit, we really are forgetting God.
  • The Holy Spirit is eternal and Holy
→ Because the Spirit is Holy and dwells in us, our bodies are Holy sanctuaries from God’s vantage point.
  • The Holy Spirit has his own mind and He prays for us.
→ (Romans 8:27) "And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." In any given situation, we may not know exactly how we should pray or what we should do. But we can take confidence in the fact that the Holy Spirit knows our hearts and the will of God and He is always interceding on our behalf.
  • The Spirit has emotions
God created feelings. The Spirit is grieved when there is a breach in relationship. Because He is the creator of emotions, I believe that the Spirit grieves more deeply than we can even understand.
  • The Holy Spirit has His own desires and wills
→ The Spirit has a plan for our lives
  • The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
→ He’s all powerful, all knowing and present everywhere. (Zech. 4:6, Psalm 139:7-8, and 1 Corinthians 2:10) 1st "Then he said to me, 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." 2nd "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!" 3rd "These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."
(Isaiah 40:13) "Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel?"
If the Holy Spirit dwells within you, a number of things should be a part of your life.
  • The Spirit helps us speak when we are in precarious situations and need to bear witness. (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12) 1st "And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit." 2nd "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
  • The counselor teaches and reminds us of what we need to know and remember. He is our comforter, our advisor, our encourager and our strength. He guides us in a way we should go. (Psalm 143:10) (John 14:16, Acts 9:31, 13:2, 15:28, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, 1 John 5:6-8) 1st "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!" 2nd "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever." 3rd "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied." 4th "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" 5th "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements" 6th "But, as it written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him'- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." 7th "When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, 'Do you want to be healed?' The sick man answered him, 'Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.' Jesus said to him, 'Get up, take up your bed, and walk."
  • From the Spirit we receive power to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. It’s the Spirit who draws people to the gospel, the Spirit who equips us with the strength we need to accomplish God’s purposes. The Holy Spirit not only initially draws people to God, He also draws believers closer to Jesus. (Acts 1:8, Romans 8:26, Ephesians 3:16-19) 1st "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 2nd "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words." 3rd "That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God."
  • By the power of the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. The Spirit sets us free from the sins we cannot get rid of on our own. This is a lifelong process we entered into, in partnership with the Spirit, when we first believed. (Romans 8:2) "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ jesus from the law of sin and death."
  • Through the Spirit we have received a Spirit of adoption as children, which leads us into intimacy with the father, instead of a relationship based on fear and slavery, the Spirit bears witness to us that we are His children. (Romans 8:15-16) "For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" the Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God"
  • The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin he does this both before we initially enter into right relationship with God and as we journey through this life as believers (John 16:7-11, 1 Thess. 1:5) 1st "Nevertheless, i tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged." 2nd "because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."
  • The Spirit brings us life and freedom where the spirit is, there is freedom, not bondage or slavery. In our world that is plagued with death, this is a profound truth that points to real hope. (Romans 8:10-11, 2 Corinthians 3:17) 1st "But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit we abound with hope because our God is a God of hope, who fills His children with all joy and peace.
(Romans 15:13) "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
  • As members of God’s kingdom community, each of us is given a manifestation of the Spirit in our lives for the purpose of the common good. We all have something to offer because of what the Spirit gives to us. (1 Corinthians 12:17) "If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?"
  • The fruit of being led by the Spirit of God includes (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 3;18)1st "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." 2nd "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit"
→ These attitudes and actions will characterize our lives as we allow ourselves to be grown and molded by the Spirit. The Spirit is our sanctifier.
The Holy Spirit has given you a supernatural ability to serve the people God has placed around you. If God cares enough about His church to give you this Spirit empowered ability, shouldn’t you care enough about the church to use that gift for the same purpose?
The apostle Paul wanted to go to heaven, but He was torn because he loved the church so much. His love for the church was the only thing that kept him tied to life on earth. (Philippians 1:23-25) "I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith."
The way of the Spirit is not a gentle downhill grade, often walking with the Spirit is an uphill trudge through all sorts of distractions and difficulties. But while the path is winding and difficult, you are constantly moving in a particular direction and that direction is set by the leading of the Spirit. At some point along the way you agreed with God that you were not meant to be ruled by your fleshly desires and passions (like anger, self-indulgence, immorality and obedience) and you removed the central role that these things once had in your lives. We were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts.
→ We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It’s when we live like this that the spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we aren’t capable of. This is our purpose for living. This is our “hope” (Romans 5:5) "And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
It takes faith to believe God is truly like the prodigal son’s father, who from afar, “saw Him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” Luke 15:20 "And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him."
→ the father made it absolutely clear that His son was to be forgiven, with no questions asked.
→ (Romans 8:1, Romans 8:39, 1 John 1:9) 1st "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." 2nd "Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. 

The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little 

extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ didn’t die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that 

we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11) "But 

we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to 

us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, 

but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so 

that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given 

over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."

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