Nehemiah 9: 16-20
JOHN 14: 15-21 & JOHN 16: 12-16


October 20, 2019

I am not sure how many of you fully understand how our cell phones operate.  For those of us who were born more than 50 years ago we still may hold memories of the comic character Dick Tracy with his wristband phones that allowed him to see who he was talking with but as we read <<RED>> about those communication devices in the 1960’s and the 1970’s we thought that they were just an impossible dream but friends that dream is a reality today.  Our cell phones reach across the globe and the essence of what makes them operate is something simple called a SIM card.  The SUBSCRIBER IDENTITY MODULE carries our identity information so that we can effectively communicate in the 21st century.  Inside the phone this card says who we are.

This morning as we explore how we can build our faith … experience the workout for life that believers need and so we can fully connect with God I am going to ask that we understand the essential value of our faith’s SUBSCRIBER IDENTITY MODULE better known as the HOLY SPIRIT or for some of you who grew up in churches like I did the HOLY GHOST and it is much more friendly than Casper and this Holy Ghost; God’s Holy Spirit has nothing spooky about it, no connection to Halloween and every single member of the ALL SAINTS CLUB has had this gift of God living with them.

So today I have to ask you whether you have allowed God’s Holy Spirit to join you in your life’s journey.   Our faith life’s engine will never get started unless we say yes to the Spirit; yes to God. COME HOLY SPIRIT COME.  Without God’s Holy Spirit we are missing our personal trainer of faith who is the guide that keeps us on track for our journey here so that we are truly ready for the journey THERE <<POINT UPWARD>>.  Without God’s Holy Spirit as our daily guide frankly it is almost impossible not to succumb to the world.  And, the world wants us to lose God … value the temporary … and lose sight of the prize that comes through Jesus Christ.

God’s Holy Spirit is an essential part of God’s presence and as we heard this morning from Nehemiah “Lord, God You gave Your Good Spirit to teach them …” so friends the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us … a teaching gift that provides direction for living the life of faith that as believers should be the life we are attempting to live daily.  Jesus said, “The Spirit will guide you in all truth.  The Spirit will glorify me because He will take what is mine and proclaim it to you.”  The essential teacher … a gift of God and today I am going to provide you with four steps of faith that believers need to take related to God’s Holy Spirit if we are to journey as believers rather than just falling back into the crowd on the sidelines with all who don’t believe.

Since we started this series of lessons in building our faith, I have shared the importance that each of us undergo personal healing through Jesus.  That getting in shape requires a change in our daily diet and habits.  And, last week I laid out the three key steps for a faith journey noting that we need to be ready to live for God through simple steps that allow our human side to stretch towards the Holy.  Those three steps were finding a place to really pray, discovering God through a personal Scripture and I recommended choosing a Psalm to read over and over again and finally to make it our daily mission to discover God’s reality.  I hope that most of you tried to stretch yourselves out this past week because there is a difference between saying you have faith and living a life that is faithful to God and believing Jesus Christ is more than a religious symbol that you can put in the closet when services end on Sunday.

If you are doing those things … if you have heard God’s call to believe in Jesus as more than a man of history and instead as your Lord, Master, and Savior then the next step in building our faith is taking on a personal trainer; a personal trainer whom God has already gifted to us through God’s grace .. God’s love.  Jesus said it clearly, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  I will ask the Father, and He will send another Companion who will be with you forever.  This Companion is the Holy Spirit of Truth … He lives with you and will be with you.” 

The Holy Spirit friends is our direct connection with God … our acceptance of the Spirit is how we strengthen our faith and John in his first epistle is even more direct when he writes, “The person who keeps Jesus commandments remains in God and God remains in him; and this is how we know that God remains in us, because of the Spirit that God has given to us.”  So, if you don’t keep the commandments of Jesus you won’t ever experience the Spirit … if you stepped forward with Jesus but reject Jesus life style and don’t pay attention to God’s gift … then how in the world are you able to connect with God as a believer and a Jesus follower?

I can fully understand that sensing the Spirit of God is difficult when the world offers so many distractions.  Friends, when Jesus came to be amongst us Jesus experienced God’s Holy Spirit.  We read in the Gospel of Luke that when Jesus was baptized by John and was praying that the heavens opened up and the HOLY SPIRIT came down upon Him like a dove.   Now that might sound similar to the Pentecost  experience of some earlier believers when a wind rushed into the house where the disciples and other believers were and filled them with the Holy Spirit.

But it is in the lesson of Luke that we hear what the Evil power that is alive in the world today attempted to do with Jesus.  Jesus returned from the Jordan River filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness.   I know you know this story church … Jesus went to get closer to God but even in the midst of the desert’s nothingness Satan tempted Jesus.  Satan wanted to drive that Holy Spirit away from Jesus … Satan wanted Jesus.  Just imagine the joy the evil power experiences today when the distractions of the world so easily pull church attending people … people who may have raised their hands in faith or walked up to the front of churches declaring belief only to have eagerly demonstrated to their friends, their families, and the world that something matters more than worship; other things deserved their personal time, lust and praise not Christ and that God is for the limited moments.  Their personal driving force for life on earth are the lessons and expectations that steal God’s time … I could list the options but personal gain, personal rest, work, play, and so many other temptations control individual time; they are the tools of temptation that are reflected in shrinking churches, empty houses of worship, and for so many good people the Spirit of God doesn’t stand a chance because they want to fit in with their neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members and those who reject God.

So today, taking what we have learned already it is time to boldly take a step into understanding how God wants to direct us and then the tougher challenge is accepting how God wants to use us and then doing it.  This is personal … this is invitational … this is you and me actively deciding that we need to have an internal trainer that becomes the power of our unique SUBSCRIBER IDENTITY MODULE that gives us the identity that we are people who belong to Jesus Christ … that God is our essential reality … and that this gift of God; the Holy Spirit is welcome here <<POINT to THE CHEST>>

And, friends … you will be hearing more about God’s Holy Spirit in the weeks to come.  But today, I have time for some basics … some active decisions for each of us even if our faith is strong; even if we feel safe in the stormy seas that life present.  But more importantly for those of you who today have been sitting on the shore looking out at the ocean of opportunity that God has in front of all believers … if you have denied God’s special gifts that God has given to you … if you feel your faith wavers all too frequently then today I am going to share FOUR FAITH STEPS that you need to combine with last week’s THREE STRETCHING EXERCISES if and as a pastor this is a hard statement but I know it’s the truth for some in here and for some watching online … if you want to belong to Jesus; if you want to follow what God teaches … if you don’t like what Jesus has told us to do because something out there <<POINT TO THE DOOR>> appeals to you more … if you like aligning with the world’s powers and don’t want to be connected with this LOVE ALL of YOUR NEIGHBORS concept … well then you don’t have to do anything because you have given the tempter the reward of your existence.

So, step one … step one is something we all have.  Barriers.  Things that block God.  For some of us they are always present but for others it is the occasional.  STEP ONE of getting the Holy Spirit to work in us is to remove the BARRIERS to experiencing God’s call to take over our lives.   This is where Scripture is helpful because when we believe we know that God’s Word is the tool box for life.  Join a Bible Study; read that personal Scripture lesson daily; dive in.  The Holy Spirit is whispering wanting a relationship so we need to remove the barriers.  What is keeping you from the Spirit; I think you know.

Then we need to ask the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.  This gets into prayer.  Don’t try to fit into normal prayer … don’t you want something special in your relationship with God.  If you do the simple prayer … now I lay be down to … bless this food … heal the sick well those are ok but friends in faith; church don’t you want the EXTRAORDINARY and the AMAZING and the EXCITING FAITH that God offers?  Don’t you want to feel God’s power lifting you up like ten cups of strong coffee opens up your eyes … well step two is taking that person prayer time and saying GOD I NEED YOUR HOLY SPIRIT … I invite that SPIRIT into me and am ready to live with the SPIRIT daily and to follow those directions for life.  STEP TWO is your invitation because God and Jesus are knocking on your door but we have to invite them into our lives and the Good News is that this personal trainer called the Holy Spirit is the gift … the house warming gift that will be left with us but are you inviting the Spirit into your life.  Your call; your invite.

STEP THREE friends you have to receive God’s gift like a child.  Just think of how kids accept presents and gifts from their parents when they are young.  It is with an attitude of gratitude … its with a verification of love not a questioning of why that gift and not another.  Children don’t put a price tag on the gifts their parents give them … each gift is a gift to add to their lives.  As adults we become jaded and we try to judge the value of our gifts; we dismiss gifts if they aren’t exactly what we wanted rather than what we might have needed.  Is it any wonder that Jesus teaches that we must become like children to see the Kingdom of God.  So, friends it is true that God’s Holy Spirit might direct you away from some things you do now that reject the lessons of Christ but is that a bad thing?   Are you open and excited to understand that God is giving you a personal trainer for life … to change and grow you in faith?  So, we need to accept the Spirit like young children accept gifts from their parents.  This gift from God is a supernatural gift that surpasses all human understanding.

The final step is one that the prophet Ezekiel addressed and its all about God’s call to get out into the water.  God called the prophet to slowly and surely get out into the water … ankle deep … then knee deep … God uses the prophet to teach about our faith life experience but God calls to to go into the water of God’s faith journey.  People are afraid of following God’s Holy Spirit so the final step is to RELATE to the HOLY SPIRIT daily wherever the river flows.   The DEEP WATERS all relate to faith … we are to let God empower us to fulfill God’s call to us.

Jesus told His disciples to go back to the deep water and throw the nets out to get the fish that they had not caught.   The final step of gaining the power of the Holy Spirit is to have the courage to say yes.

So, today church … the chicken is on the barbecue but did God’s Spirit lead you to invite someone here but you said nah … not to church.   Today, church will you plan your Bible reading for the week because I know God’s Holy Spirit is calling open up the Book … but then reading two pages is a lot of work when Netflix has a great show that needs your attention.

FOUR STEPS it’s a start and there is more to discover about the Holy Spirit, our Personal Trainer who insures that our SUBSCRIBER IDENTITY MODULE says he or she belongs to CHRIST.  Remove the Barriers; Invite the Spirit; Welcome this gift of God like a child welcomes gifts; and have the courage to go into the water where God is calling.

A workout for life … God is calling; God is loving … our eternity depends on what we do here and the world will be better if we choose Jesus.


Today’s Pastoral Prayer is not my every weekly prayer because all of you know that we need to pray for the struggling and the hurting.  We have a prayer list … we are a praying church.  We pray for our leaders and for those who protect us.  We pray for God’s Holy Church and this church.

Today, I want to use the words of the Apostle for whom this church is named as he finished his second letter to the church of believers in Corinth.

Paul said “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you.”

So, let us pray …

GOD today we pray that we will not do anything wrong in Your eyes not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that You will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. Help us as Your people to rejoice! Give us the strength to strive for full restoration in You, help us to encourage one another and to be of one mind in following Jesus, and to live in peace. Fill us with Your love and peace. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Your love God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of us today, tomorrow, and in our life journeys.


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