Remembering the Forgotten God
We started our study with a prelude review of appearances of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. We discovered that He only dealt with selected individuals. He power was immense and life changing for that individual and others around that person saw the evidence of miraculous change but they did not experience Him. They could want or wish for a closer relationship but that was reserved only for those chosen vessels.
From our perspective as New Testament Christians we might wonder how man could love and honor a God that they could not experience. It is the same way others worship in idolatry. God, the one true God, our Creator placed within man an incredible capacity to love and believe. Man sometimes believes the wrong things and we have also within us a just as strong capacity to hate or destroy.
We found in the New Testament on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter promised by Jesus, came into every believer’s heart and took up residence. We have also looked at the fact that through century’s of doctrine and religion many denominations have either focused exclusively on the gifts of the Holy Spirit or as in most Baptist Churches viewed Him only as the ambassador and implementer of salvation. Hopefully through this study we have a more accurate understanding and, more importantly, a deeper relationship with Him.
What have we learned?
Are we listening? Do we engage enough to hear what he is saying to us? It’s not about our comfort or tranquility. I loved the part in the video that gripped my heart when Francis said about God looking down on him at the beach and He said: Isn’t that cute, hope you’re comfortable. But what about the millions just trying to stay alive today? What do you think my will is?
Hearing may not always be what we expect. When Jesus asked Peter in John Chapter 21 “Do you love me?” He didn’t say, go to Church, study the scriptures, pray to me daily or any of the other things we expect good Christians to do. He said “Feed my sheep”.
The Great Commission has nothing to do with building programs, Christmas cantatas or Easter plays. It tells us in Matthew 28:19-20 to Go, teach and baptize. Sometimes we need to feed spiritual food, sometimes it’s physical food just like Jesus did when He fed the five thousand. I believe the Bible teaches we are to feed the hungry and love the hurting. Jesus was always in the midst of suffering and pain. When someone died, He was there, when someone was sick, He was there. When they needed, He supplied. He still does today. In His power, we can be His ambassadors in mercy.
Have we missed it? Is coming to Church and Sunday school all there is; or is there more? As Francis said; If we are the temple of God are we humble enough to take the back seat and listen to what He asks us to do? Just knowledge or action: Do we listen? Is there a mission for each of us?
Is the Church in America missing something? Are our beliefs based on convenience and consistency rather than careful study and application of scripture? Are we regularly seeing people saved and discipled? Do we seek only to take care of our own? People like us.
How do we minister? Do we do it out of obligation, in our own power and get “burned out” or “fed up” because we are so busy? I always found the opposite when I was ministering the power of the Holy Spirit, I was energized! The energy came from the life giving power that He provides.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all John 6:63 ESV We cannot live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit i.e. to be saved is to have Him.
Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. Rom 8:9 ESV
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. Rom 8:11 NASB
That power, the power to resurrect life from death lives in the believer. This is the Spirit working in us, giving us strength, energy and stamina. He also provides His supernatural presence that moves on stony, cold, self satisfied, self centered, human hearts.
Most of us live “normal” American lives: Work or retirement, house, car, food on the table when we want it, family around us when we want them, Church on Sunday (when we want it?)
When have we seen or do we see the miracles of God? Not beautiful sunrises, mountains, green grass; the beauty of nature, tiny fingers and toes of a newborn etc All those things are wonderful.
But what about changed lives through the compassion and Love that only God can give? What about reaching out to those who are different and going the distance? Anyone can give a few dollars to some obscure ministry that shows touching pictures of starving kids. What about our individual and personal involvement? That’s power! Is God calling us to something more? It’s not just the drug addict, alcoholic, demented, perverted or profane that needs this power; it’s us. We need it to fulfill His mission. We need it to have enough heart to care about those in need and act. Otherwise we are saved, content and satisfied just to go through the motions.
Service to God is denial of self; it is a sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice unless it costs us something dear. (In simple English: If it doesn’t cost you something important, what good is it?) If we serve in expectance of a return have we really served at all or have we just fooled ourselves?
Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:46-47 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? NASB
We studied it; He is that ‘still small voice’ that spoke to us and led us into our conversion.
He still speaks softly and gently to us today asking us to join Him in His mission and purposes. Sometimes it’s encouragement of others, sometimes it’s in the giving of our time, talents and resources but it is always in the willingness of our submitting ourselves to His will rather than our own. Are you willing?
Let’s talk about what our teacher refers to as “camps”. He is speaking of the different types of evangelical Churches. Two types of evangelical Churches charismatic and non-charismatic
For practicality purposes of this lesson without getting into a long theological and doctrinal debate we are going to say that charismatic evangelical Churches focus primarily on the healing powers of the Holy Spirit and most practice speaking in tongues. Non-charismatic evangelical Churches limit the focus on the healing power of the Holy Spirit to the notion of God’s will for the individual’s life and shun or, or in some cases, adamantly refuse to believe that speaking in tongues exist today. As noted, this could be debated infinitely.
This can come from a lack of faith. We may not want admit it but that is many times what it comes down to. It can come from just not asking or asking with incorrect motives. James 4:2-3
What if I call on the Holy Spirit and His miraculous power and he doesn’t answer?
As stated, possibly the most daunting; What if the Holy Spirit does “show up”? Let that sink in a minute. We’re talking about the Holy presence and active influence of God in our lives. If we are in His presence do you think it will have an effect on us? Think about all miracle enabling powers we have already looked at that came through the Holy Spirit and His activity. “Do ya think” it will have an impact on how we live? That’s where the fear comes in. We know it will!
Lesson two dealt with our fear(s) concerning the Holy Spirit; Will I be labeled if I talk about Him too much, can I trust Him to show up if I call on Him and what if He does show up; what do I do then? The root of all these fears are a lack of faith on our part to believe and be willing to trust God to do what He says He will. Where are you?
Consider these attributes of the Holy Spirit:
He is a person and He is an equal member of the personal Godhead. Matt 28:19 He is not less than the Father or the Son He is consistently presented as equal with the other members, in short He is God. He is just as real as Jesus because He is Jesus’ Spirit.
He has emotions. Eph 4:30
This means we can relate with Him, talk to Him, cooperate with Him and reverence Him. He speaks to us through preachers, teachers, scripture, music and life situations. Do you ever think about or ask yourself; what does God think of my behavior? Does He like the way I live or does this matter to you? If we live contrary to what God wants in direct disobedience, how does that make Him feel when He gave Himself for us? Ok, I know you’re thinking, here comes the guilt trip, no; it is how we, or do we, apply what we know?
When there is disunity and lack of love, whether with other people or with God Himself, we cause the Spirit to grieve. Do we ever think about the effect our sin has on God? He is saddened when we fail to honor Him as we ought.
Examine the following areas of your life in terms of how God feels about you:
1. Salvation: This is always the starting point. Are you sure, do you know with all that is in you that you are saved?
-Is God just a fire escape to us?
2. Communication: How does He feel about how much, how often and the
depth of our communication with Him on a daily basis?
-Do we limit our communication to a laundry list of wants or needs?
3. Do we love God? Odd question? I don’t think so. Think about people who
are in love and how they act and react with each other. Do you think a
human relationship would ever get off the ground if lovers treated each
other the way we treat God sometimes? (maybe all the time) Remember
we are talking about how God feels about us.
4. Interest: Are we interested in the things that God is interested in, or is it
all about me and what I need or want?
5. Loyalty: Yes that’s right loyalty. You’re quick to say: I don’t have any
other Gods, I’m absolutely not an idolater. Let’s talk about something
Americans only read about in stories. Kingship We don’t have a king in
America and many countries who still have monarchies have them only
figuratively; they are not ruled by the king. The best example of this is
Britain, they have a queen who has great influence but little power. The
point is, kings were loved, at least the good ones were, by their subjects.
They were revered above all others. How do we really look to God in this
area of our lives? Are we loyal to God or ourselves, come on, be honest?
If the Holy Spirit has emotions and he can be grieved. What does He feel about us and how we treat Him?
Yesterday was Christmas Day 2010. How do you think our Lord felt about the way we spent it? Was He pleased? Just a thought.
Notice I didn’t use the word service in the above. We have become a nation of services; we don’t make anything anymore. We understand what service is all about, it’s what we do, and that is the point. This is not about what we do; it’s about surrendering ourselves to Gods power through His Spirit. It’s about being “under His influence” daily to the point that others notice it and are drawn to what we have.
We know people in the Church that run themselves ragged being everywhere all the time, doing “stuff”, important “stuff” for God. They are taskmasters. They exhibit Herculean strength getting things done and are constantly exhausted and eventually wind up, fed up, burned out, ineffective and sitting on the bench on the sidelines or existing on the memory of past successes. What if they had the power of the Holy Spirit that we have studied to give them the power they need and energize them? What if God had a whole Church full of people energized by His Spirit? Would it move us off the couch, out of our comfort zone and on to the playing field?
He has a will. Romans 8:27, 1 Cor 12:11 His will is the same as the Father’s. The Spirit supernaturally enables us to fulfill our mission here on earth. Our mission is in Matt 28:19-20. God’s will, as we learned in Experiencing God is the redemption of mankind. So what is your role in that? Do you have one? If you are saved you do.
He is the Comforter John 14:16. Thank You Lord for the Comforter!!!! He is that small voice (in your head) that said : “Come on I want to save you, don’t be afraid, trust Me.” He is also the small voice that’s says “It’s Ok, I’ll take care or it, don’t be afraid of tomorrow, I’ve got it under control.” Or how about: “You’re saved, you’re mine, don’t worry, when your time comes you’re coming home to Me.” He also says to those who will listen: “Go talk to that person about Me, don’t be afraid their heart needs to hear from Me”. “Go ahead, step out on faith and believe and I’ll take you places of joy where you’ve never been, just trust Me.” “Surrender your heart, I’ll do the rest.” Not, serve Me because I am God and He does have every right to say this but rather, Surrender to Me and I will lead you. This is an active, ongoing, personal and deliberate act of love on our part. This is worship and adoration in practice.
He is all-powerful, all-knowing and all present. I Zechariah 4:6 God called His people to rely on the power of His Spirit. In I Cor2:10 Paul tells us that He knows everything and that He reveals truth to us. In Psalm 139:7-8 David tells us the Spirit is everywhere, and we cannot escape His presence. Should these truths matter to us and if so will they affect the way we behave daily?
After studying His attributes and understanding His role in the life giving encouragement and empowerment of mankind. Will you submit to His supreme authority and embark on the fulfilled life he intends for you? We have to put our fear aside and believe that He has a plan for us and that He is willing and capable of giving us what we need to live out His plan. Are you ready?
Heart check time
Are we being honest with ourselves, God and others? Just ask yourself why. We can’t simply move forward and assume that our hearts are in the right place—what’s at stake is too important.
(Here is where we must divest from the curriculum as a Sunday School class rather than a small group. A SG meets under and covenant of confidentially. and are bound to the covenant and agree to accountability. This works great in a SG but not in this forum).
It’s important to remember that the difference in being powerfully used by God or being aggressively opposed by God lies within the motives of our hearts. James 4:6 & Hebrews 4:12
Hunger for power
Read Acts 8:9-12 Simon was a magician. He conjured up acts of trickery that astounded many. When he saw the power of the Holy Spirit he recognized that these were not acts of magic or delusion they were true power. He wanted the power but he didn’t want to pay the price of belief.
He wanted to use the corrupt to gain the incorrupt, the love object of the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10) to gain the power of sinless perfection. He had tainted motives!
If we desire the power of the Spirit in order to gain influence, popularity, or personal gain, our motives are tainted and rooted in pride. Simon did not want the power for the “common good” (1 Cor 12:7) He wanted to control the power for personal fame and gain.
The Holy Spirit works to glorify God (John 16:4) Many times those who talk the most about the Spirit are the ones who receive all the glory. When God shines through us and draws others to Himself, He gets the glory not us.
Whose plan is it anyway?
If we come up with a plan of our own dreams and desires (honorable or not) then ask God to bless it, have we fallen prey to pride? I think it is important to remember that being under the Spirit’s influence is submitting and being led not devising the plan and calling the plays ourselves. If it’s all about us, it’s not honoring God. It’s not about you as Rick Warren likes to say, and if it is all about Him, is that what we want? Being completely honest— do you really want to follow the Spirit, regardless of where He may lead you? You know it will cost are you willing to pay the price? The end result will be repaid in everlasting life for others.
Being attentive and ready
The Spirit does communicate with us. He may lay a person on your heart to pray for or someone you specifically need to speak to. He convicts us of sin and calls us to repentance. He works and speaks in many ways but we must be listening and be ready to act. Sometime we might get the message but be uncomfortable in the execution of His plan.
What is your place in the Church?
I Cor12:4-31 These are classic verses we’ve studied before. They outline gifts of the Spirit and give us the analogy of the body of Christ and how His “members” interact. Where is your place? You have one according to scripture.
Are you filling it? We only fill it though executing God’s plan. There are no positions on the bench, we are the only ones that can allow ourselves to be there. We’ll only be on the bench if we want to be on the bench.
I might not be the quarterback, I might only be the water boy but my job is important and my place is secure. We’ll always have a place to serve; you are needed. Not that God can’t do whatever He wills without us, because He can. But each of us is unique and we have our own special place in the body
Is it our desire to be close to God and do His will? What are our motives for doing this? Is it to please God or man? Do we want to power for our own desires or prestige or are we really seeking to put a smile on our Lord’s face because He knows we serve Him out of Love and devotion? What are your motives?
When it comes to a relationship with God, there is nothing worse than insecurity and nothing better than enjoying an ongoing intimacy and confidence in your relationship.
Before you go any further, honestly describe your relationship with God. Be descriptive—how does your relationship feel, how do you maintain it, and so on?
Most believers understand that Christianity is about a relationship with God. But we don’t always recognize the Spirit’s critical role in that relationship.
Galatians 4:1-7. We (mankind) were once slaves but now we are sons and daughters. The only legal relative you can pick besides your spouse is an adopted child.
The incredible truth is that in Christ we have been adopted by God. Whether or not we feel like children of God, this is reality. But God wasn’t satisfied with simply adopting us, He wanted to be sure that we would feel like children of God. Paul says that God gave us the Holy Spirit for that very reason: “Because you sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba Father!’” (Gal. 4-6).
The most important reason to pursue a relationship with the Spirit of God is that Jesus gave His life so that you could pursue one.
As Paul explained, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3-13-14).
At times, you may be tempted to feel that the Spirit is keeping Himself distant from you or that you’re trying to find God, but He doesn’t want to be found. When that thought enters your mind, remember the truth of Galatians 3:14. Jesus died so that you could receive the Spirit. He purchased that intimacy for you at the greatest possible price. Are you guilty of taking the Holy Spirit for granted? If so, you can begin to reverse that trend in your life today!
In knowing that we are adopted sons and daughters where are we today in our relationship with God? What type of ongoing deepening relationship do we have? Are we sitting on the sidelines watching the parade of life go by or are we just going through the motions of religion? He has a purpose and a plan for each of us individually. It will be too late at the end of our life to say I should have…. Our life is but a vapor and it is therefore fleeting just like smoke from a fire; it drifts toward eternity. Who will you take with you? Where is your relationship with God today?
What are you going to accomplish with your life? That’s a big question; maybe we can break it down into something a little easier: What’s your five-year plan? Maybe you can answer that question, no problem. Or maybe you feel sick to your stomach when you have to make plans for the weekend.
Probably the most-asked question at graduation is, “What are you going to do with your life?” For whatever reason, we tend to focus on what we can and should do in the future, rather than what we can and should do today. We may not have tomorrow but we do have now. You may have no idea what God “might” call you to. But that’s not really the point. Generally speaking, the answer is not as important as the question. Daily considering and pursuing the Spirit’s leading in our lives is crucial.
Read Romans 8:1-13.
In Romans 7, Paul discusses the impossibility of obedience in the flesh: “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (v.18) This is a hopeless situation. But what is impossible in Romans 7 is made possible in Romans 8. What makes the difference? The Holy Spirit!
The Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (8:2). According to Romans 8, the difference between trying and failing, and truly obeying God has everything to do with following the Spirit’s leading.
Paul refers to this process of following the Spirit’s leading as walking “according to the Spirit” in Romans 8:4 and walking “by the Spirit” in Galatians 5:16 and 25. The concept of walking is so basic that perhaps you’ve never considered what walking entails. Think about how simple it is: You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going: it doesn’t require any planning; all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. Really, the only way to walk is one step at a time.
We can get so caught up in the big picture that we lose sight of the fact that God is simply calling us to walk. It won’t necessarily be easy, but we can always put one foot in front of the other.
There is a real difference between adding the Spirit to your life and actually following Him minute by minute. If you add the Spirit to your life, you’re not open to change; you just want to enhance what you’re already doing. This is not what the Spirit came to do. Who is in charge?
On the other hand, if you begin following the Spirit’s leading in your life, you will find yourself changing. The Spirit may prompt you to let go of things that were once important to you. He may even call you to give up some good things in your life, at least for a time, in order to accomplish His purposes in and through you.
As we discuss the Spirit-filled life, there can be a real pressure try harder in our own strength to produce the “fruit of the Spirit” mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Maybe studying the Holy Spirit has made you feel even more overwhelmed, like you’ll never be the kind of person that God wants you to be. If that’s the case, then you’re not seeing an important truth: All of this life-change and obedience comes through the power of the Spirit. If we do whatever we try to do for God and it’s not in the power of the Spirit, it is of the flesh. It’s then about us and not about God.
God welcomes us into His family to expand His family by our addition and through the addition of other we have or will have influence with. This is accomplished through the power of God working in and through our lives. Is the Holy Spirit calling you into action?
If you could create the perfect church, what would it look like? As soon as you or I joined it would be imperfect because you and I are imperfect. (How would it be run? How would people act, reach out, worship, pray, and so on?)
Now consider this questions: Could that perfect church be accomplished through human talent and strength? Or would it require the power of the Holy Spirit? Why?
Let’s be honest: We could duplicate most of our successful churches by assembling the right group of talented, winsome people. If a church has the right worship leader, an exciting children’s program, and an entertaining speaker, it will grow. But is that really the secret to life-changing ministry? Is that how God designed the church to operate? Where does the Holy Spirit fit in that model?
What do you consider a successful Church?
-A large congregation (Mega Church)
-Beautiful Sanctuary and grounds
-Great preaching & teaching
How about a Church the actively wins souls and daily meets the needs of people? I think that would be the Biblical answer and the one that pleases God. All the “stuff” above can be accomplished through man’s own devices and in man’s power.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:26—2:5.
When Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, he had to address factions that were dividing the church. Groups were forming around attractive personalities (Paul, Apollos, Cephas). In order to address their preoccupation with human personalities and wisdom, Paul brought their focus back to the power of God, rather than the brilliance of men.
How does Paul describe human effort as compared to the power of God?
According to this passage, why is it so important to rely on the power of the Spirit? (See especially 2:5.)
Think about the way you minister to the people around you. Can
You say along with Paul, “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1Cor. 2:4-5)? Why, or why not?
What’s true of the church in general is also true of our lives in particular. There ought to be a real difference between a Spirit-filled person and everyone else. I’m not necessarily talking about walking around raising the dead and speaking foreign languages all the times. Remember the fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5? The fruit mentioned there is not all that shocking. Many non-Christians are actually happy, peaceful people.
But as Christians, we have the Source of both joy and peace living inside of us. So while anyone can show love at times and to certain extents, we who have the Holy Spirit ought to love the people around us to a supernatural degree in any and every circumstance. Sometimes the difference isn’t apparent until tragedy strikes. When we find ourselves in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, the Spirit has a chance to show His incredible power. We depend on and cry out to God in crises but what about our daily lives and how we interact with others? Are we depending on His power daily or are we living lives so comfortable and predictable that we don’t need (want) His intervention?
The Spirit wants to do more than just help us out a bit. He wants to transform us, patiently but steadily, into people who transform our corners of the world. We sometimes get so caught up in everything God wants us to do that we lose sight of who God wants us to be. The difference is significant. God wants us to be the type of people who love Him wholeheartedly, who depend on the Holy Spirit, who by faith reach out to the people around us. As we spend time pursuing God and enjoying fellowship with the Spirit, we will begin to see our lives changing from the inside out.
We won’t be transformed by simply trying harder. “Grunting and saying through clenched teeth, ‘I will be patient!’ hasn’t worked yet, and that isn’t likely to change. But what does effect change is when we begin to ask God to make these fruit manifest in our lives, by the power of His Spirit, and when we spend time in communion with our God” (Forgotten God, 148-149).
Remember, it’s never been about you doing it on your own. It’s about the power of the Spirit in your life.
What would it look like for you to cultivate a relationship with the Spirit, allowing Him to transform you, rather than simply trying harder on your own?
It’s been brought up in previous chapters, but perhaps we don’t recognize the Spirit’s power in our lives because we’re not stepping out and doing anything where we desperately need God to show up. Anyone can show up to a Sunday meeting, sing a few songs, sit still for forty-five minutes, shake a few hands, and then drive home.
But when you start talking to the hurting people around you, digging deeper to learn how you can love and serve them, that’s when you need the Holy Spirit, and that’s precisely when He shows up! (Not just family members or close friends that have made bad decisions and are now reaping the consequences) That’s not risky, that is expected. God works in the most desperate situations so that no one can mistake it for anything other that His power. Maybe He will grant you boldness to speak in a frightening situation. Maybe He will give you a divine compassion for the lost and destitute. Maybe
He will give you the wisdom to say exactly what a person needs to hear at a crucial moment in his or her life. You won’t know what God will do until you get out there and follow His leading.
The question is, do you trust Him enough to follow Him into the unknown, confident that He will work powerfully in that situation?
We absolutely need to step beyond our own abilities. It’s much safer to stay where we’re comfortable, but our lack of confidence in God’s power does not bring Him any glory. You get praised for using your natural talents well. God gets praised when His power accomplishes the humanly impossible.
Are we trying to “do Church”, live the Christian life, be what God wants us to be in our own power? We have access to all the power of Heaven through our “blood bought’ relationship with our savior, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives inside us provides us access to the power if we want it. It’s supernatural and it’s ours if we want it. Do you want Him to lead your life?
What have we accomplished over the last three months of meeting and studying? My role as a teacher is to: Present information, encourage retention, seek to inspire application. Has there been any change in you? Is it just more information about God and the Holy Spirit? Is it just another class that is now over and we move on to another subject? Is there something more?