The Holy Spirit: the Unblocking, Pt. 2

christoffer-engstrom-189369-unsplashGod is so extravagant; look at the way He made the universe (at least, so far as we can even see!). He created people – you and I – with the capacity to choose or to not choose Him. He chose to make us, imperfect and flawed as we are, for the purpose of pursuing and wooing and loving us to no end.

In relation to the pursuit of the Holy Spirit, we can respond in one of three ways: pursue Him back, reject His pursuit completely, or merely co-exist with Him. God’s intention for us is the first of these – fullness and abundance and intimacy with Him. His story – His very purpose – is one of pursuit.

Part 1: The Holy Spirit participates in creation (including the creation of you and me!); the Word implies anticipation and expectation when He creates.

  1. Genesis: 1:2: The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Part 2: The Holy Spirit fills specific people for divine purposes.

  1. Numbers 27:18-20: So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight. You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey.
  2. Judges 6:34: But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.
  3. 2 Samuel 23:2: The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.
    1. If every part of your life is comfortable and in control, where is there room for the Holy Spirit to move?

Part 3: The Holy Spirit is on Jesus, leading Jesus, and in Jesus.

  1. Matthew: 3:16-17: And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
  2. Matthew 4:1: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
    1. Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness, knowing that he would be tempted there? And why does He do the same in our lives? Because, often, the way to green pastures and still waters and lands of milk and honey isn’t around but though the wilderness. God promises to lead you, not leave you.
  3. John 20:21-22: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 

Part 4: Jesus promises the Holy Spirit would be with you and in you.

  1. John 7:38-39: Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
  2. John 14:15-17: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Keys to Unblocking the Holy Spirit:

  1. Unrepentance –> Repentance
    1. Acts 2:38: 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.
    2. Galatians 5:16: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
      1. We have to be careful and intentional in our repentance; we’ve equated repentance with confession. There’s a difference between talking about it and turning from it.
  2. Disobedience –> Obedience
    1. Acts 5:29-32: But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
      1. Obedience is not hindrance. Rather, it’s a means to abundance.
      2. Start simple. Ask yourself: God, what was the last thing you asked me to do that I haven’t done?
  3. Disunity –> Unity
    1. John 17:20-23: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
    2. The enemy likes to use unforgiveness and comparison to tear us apart.
  4. Apathy –> Prayers of asking
    1. Luke 11:5-13: And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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!”
    2. Jesus withholds nothing from us. All He wants is for us to ask!

Biblical references: Genesis 1:2; Numbers 27:18-20; Judges 6:34; 2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 4:1; John 20:21-22; John 7:38-39; John 14:15-17; Acts 2:38; Galatians 5:16; Acts 5:29-32; John 17:20-23; Luke 11:5-13

Questions:

  1. What unrepentance do you have in your heart?
  2. Where have you disobeyed God?
  3. Where is there disunity in your relationships?
  4. Where do you need to start asking instead of being apathetic?

God at Work, Pt. 3

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Talking about work is so important because we spend so much time working. Last week, we looked at the why of work, and today, thanks to our wonderful speaker Jim Larson, we are diving into the how of work.

A myth about work: your manager writes your ultimate performance review.

  1. The sacred/secular divide: the incorrect concept that parts of our world are sacred, and the rest of it is secular. This implies that God cares about some things more than He cares about others, which is absolutely untrue. God is in everything. He is Lord over all. 
  2. Martin Luther: “The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in a church and by the works done therein…The whole world could abound with the services to the Lord, Gottesdienste – not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field.”

The Truth about work: God ultimately writes your performance review.

Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…

  1. Our value is not in our performance. It is in our adoption and sends and daughters of the Kingdom, and it is high and fixed.
  2. That’s not to say, though, that God doesn’t care about our performance. He does! He has invited us to co-labor with Him, and He expects us to do it well.
  3. Being a Christian at work is the same as being a Christian. 

5 ways we can live out this Truth:

  1. Love others, and love them well.
    1. Matthew 22:37-40: And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
    2. Treat people as ends and not as means.
    3. Be a giver and not a taker (givers, on average, perform worse on reviews than takers or “matchers”, but, having a culture of givers actually produces more fruit and increases performance).
  2. Have integrity.
    1. Proverbs 11:3: The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
    2. Proverbs 28:6: A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food.
  3. Be diligent and seek excellence.
    1. 1 Corinthians 9:24: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
    2. Psalm 24:1-2: The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
      1. Our blessings, our talents, and our time all belong to Him (we often forget that last one!).
  4. Be joyful.
    1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    2. We aren’t called to be joyful circumstantially, but always.
    3. There is a clear connection between gratitude and joy (biblically and scientifically).
  5. Rest well.
    1. Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
    2. We must rest well so that we can work well.
    3. God didn’t need rest (He’s God), but He chose to model it for us.
    4. Take an inventory as to what truly refreshes you. (because, honestly, it probably isn’t social media).

What is the one way God is calling you to work like how He would work?

Biblical references: Colossians 3:17; Colossians 3:23; Matthew 22:37-40; Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 28:6; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Psalm 24:1-2; Genesis 2:1-3

Questions:

  1. What is the one way God is calling you to work like how He would work?
  2. How are you going to have integrity with your work this week?
  3. How are you going to be diligent and seek excellence?
  4. How are you going to be joyful?

 

Message Recap: Welcome 2018!

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Matthew 6:22-35: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The core issue here has really nothing to do with the food we drink or the clothes we wear (though our anxiety often manifests in these areas of eating/drinking and shopping); the issue is really our heart posture. The material things, the tight schedule, the busyness – these are not the things Jesus is after. He’s after our hearts. In this passage, Jesus provides the antidote for our anxiety about all of these things (praise, amirite?):

The first dose for curing our anxiety is knowing that our identity is in Jesus (Matthew 6:32: For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all). God is our Heavenly Father, and He knows everything about you (your worries, your dreams, your fears. And he cares about every single one). In the case of earthly adoption, the law states that an adopted child is the same as a child born into the family; an adopted child is seen exactly the same as his or her biological counterpart. It is the same for us in the family of God. When He adopts us into His Kingdom, it is as if we were part of the family starting on day 1 (just like Jesus!). His holy adoption eliminates any separation between us and Him, our Father. Thanks to Jesus Christ, we are now considered related to God.

The second dosage for curing our anxiety is to seek Him (Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you). Jesus doesn’t tell us to stop doing something without also telling us what to start doing. He’s a God of abundance. He wants more for us than to stop being anxious; He wants us to be part of His family. We have this beautiful invitation to seek His invaluable Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.) 

The Greek translation of “seek” – as in “seek the Kingdom of God” – means seek in order to find. This happens by meditating, reading, thinking, inquiring, striving after, and aiming for. This is God’s invitation for us! It’s important to remember in our seeking that it’s not about the “to-do list”, or our goals, resolutions. It’s all about the fact that we are seeking after Yahweh, the Living God, with everything we have to give. That’s exactly what he wants of us: our hearts. That’s our invitation; let us take Him up on the offer!

Biblical references: Matthew 6:22-35; Matthew 13:44-46

12 Questions for the New Year:

  1. What is one thing I could do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?
  2. What will my personal times of worship look like this year?
  3. How will I approach reading the Bible this year?
  4. What one thing could I do to improve my prayer life this year?
  5. Whose salvation will I pray for most fervently this year?
  6. What books will I read this year?
  7. Who is the person I want to encourage most this year?
  8. What is the most helpful new way I could strengthen my church this year?
  9. How will I make time in my schedule for these things to actually happen?
  10. What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it this year?
  11. What changes should I make with my finances this year?
  12. What single things that I plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?