I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT … BUT
2 Samuel 23: 1-5
ACTS 2: 1-4
JOHN 14: 15-27
February 16, 2020
In the book of Second Samuel church we hear the last words of David. David, that remarkable man whose life stories have energized people of faith for generations … we know the stories from his youth when he came face-to-face with that giant of a man named Goliath … all of the brave soldiers of Israel trembled in fear at the mention of his name.
Mark Hall in the song Voice of Truth wrote,
“Oh what I would do to have the kind of strength to stand before a giant with just a sling and a stone surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors shaking in their armor … wishing that they’d had the strength to stand.”
Yet, David stood. David heard God in those moments and the giant fell to the ground.
David destined and chosen by God to become king after Saul. Flawed and sin-filled … a warrior and a poet … a friend and a person whose words gave us many of our Psalms … a personal genealogy, according to Ancestry.com, that establishes a direct connection from David to the family Jesus grew up knowing as His own. But, in his last words David is declaring for history what matters … what mattered to him … “The Lord’s Spirit speaks through me; His Word is on my tongue.” David; God mattered.
That verse to me has always been a challenge and this morning church as we worship the Creator … as we praise and remember Jesus the Christ … when I pray and hope that God’s love permeates deep into my soul and into each of your souls and that God’s love is reflected in the people we all are … I am challenged to consider my failures and my shortcomings wondering if the Lord’s Spirit speaks through me … if the Word of God; the Good News’ instructions of Jesus are on my tongue in the difficult times we live in.
We declared again this morning … I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. And few seconds later, together those in this church and perhaps those watching stated that we believe in the Holy Spirit. However church, do you pause when you state the Creed to silently add after you say you believe in God’s amazing and awesome gift, the Holy Spirit whose whispers continue each day directing those who believe to make choices for God … to live for Jesus Christ … church do you say I BELIEVE in the HOLY SPIRIT and then quietly think BUT ….
There’s the challenge … people don’t like doing what Jesus taught. A young high school student wrote me this week asking me why people she knows seem to set the teachings of Jesus aside in order to act like the world … and she was talking about the administrators of her Christian school. People want to be in control and are happy to join with those who endorse what talk radio hosts say. Wanting to be one with their friends who are in a RUSH to fit into a world where some people are accepted because they look and act and live exactly in one apparently approved way but those who don’t … well loosening a torrent of insults is just fine against those people; it’s ok to divide churches; to establish groups that ban certain types to protect and to preserve and to join with communities whose reason for existence is making sure only one kind are welcome and so what if the Holy Spirit is telling us no … no … no
Jesus knew His disciples were confused and frightened by His Words in that Upper Room so He carefully unwrapped a gift from God to all who believe. Friends, this morning we declared together … no hesitation in this place of love … this church whose doors fling open with love where you the body of this church go out of your way to welcome and love all. Anyone and everyone can join this church, lead this church, and join in the clear chorus of welcoming love with this church declaring to the world JESUS!
A quick aside … some of you have heard this already but last week two of my friends came to church here. Beth from Maryland and Cindy from the shore. They sat right over there. Now, I knew they were coming and as they walked through our doors I was quick to hug them both but that was it. They walked through this church and sat down … strangers not knowing what would happen next. But, once again this church welcomed the stranger with love. When we went to breakfast after church they both said that they had NEVER … NEVER … been greeted with such love in a church. It is my constant prayer that the church called St. Paul’s of West Deptford never ever changes … and always represents God and Jesus Christ sensing the Holy Spirit by treating each visitor and every stranger with true and complete love because in the times we live in … within miles of where we are at … there are churches busily setting up rules and barriers to deny connection for some in their faith walks; in their personal faith calls; and in their lives perhaps reflecting that talk radio matters more to them than the message of Christ. To block and deny is not the message of God’s Holy Spirit but … it’s easy to block the Spirit for the sake of the crowds’ approval.
So, Jesus tells us … “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God and also Trust in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father accept through me.” And, then Jesus unveils a special gift from God to those who have made the life changing decision to follow Jesus … those of us who are willing and able to declare to the world that we are CHRISTIANS who believe and follow Jesus Christ not as a mere formality but we have decided that Jesus is Lord and Savior so that our goal together is to try to live towards His standards not the world’s. God knows that believers need more … need something … because that world is a challenging place when we leave the sanctuary of a loving church where God’s love through Jesus Christ is reflected to all … the world loudly tell us don’t do it out here. It’s easy to chant but hard to love all.
And, listen carefully again friends to Jesus this morning because many of you wonder about the Spirit of God. Jesus said, “IF YOU LOVE ME … you WILL keep my commandments. I will ask the Father and God will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth. You know Him because he lives with you and will be with you. I won’t leave you as orphans. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me.”
There within two short paragraphs Jesus repeats the call … Jesus offers the agreement … If we have the commandments of Jesus as our life directives. You remember them LOVE GOD and LOVE ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS as I have loved you. Then we have shown we love Jesus and if we love Jesus then God will send us the Spirit of Truth as our lifelong companion and guide. It comes back to faith … total life changing faith … it comes back to deciding Jesus matters out there not just in here.
In Matthew we are exposed to the Trinity in One place. When Jesus was baptized by John we read, “heaven was opened to Jesus and Jesus saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven declared “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in Him.” The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together in the midst of the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit is perhaps best described as a breath of fresh air but it’s also a rushing wind as the early believers discovered at Pentecost, “Suddenly, a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were seated. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Friends in the midst of our lives don’t you need a breath of fresh air? I sure do. Don’t you need to sense the good amidst the storm? I know my storms are powerful … I need the good of God. Are you ready to take on the voice of truth whose story is in contrast with the world? In his song, Mark Hall reflects that “the Voice of Truth says, ‘Do not be afraid. This is for my glory.” But he also writes about all the voices that are calling out and friends, many Christians sense the Holy Spirit’s Voice of Truth calling out … always present … whispering and nudging at them to be different; to live for God and Christ but the resonance of the world is too much. Adam Hamilton writes in his book CREED, Christians who have not been “encouraged to seek the Spirit’s work in their lives’ end up having ‘spiritual lives that a bit anemic. They are people trying to live their Christian lives by their own power and wisdom not God’s.’ Perhaps that’s someone here today; no time for Scripture nor prayer forget quiet moments but still enjoying the Christian label but a self powered not God changed life with rules that fit in rather than the fruits of the Holy Spirit guiding them.
In Galatians, Paul writes about God’s Holy Spirit with these words, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Sounds like some Godly virtues doesn’t it … sounds like the type of lives Christians whom Jesus has said will be identified by our love should be living. Totally in contrast with the world’s view … not part of the news rather living out the GOOD NEWS of CHRIST.
So, let’s try to get rid of the but in the statement I Believe in the Holy Spirit but and instead proclaim I believe in the Holy Spirit; God’s Voice of Truth and I welcome, need and am thankful that God and Christ gave me this lifelong Holy Companion.
It takes prayer friends … it takes willingly and purposefully finding time in my days and yours to read God’s Word, listen to music of faith, pause and listen for God’s call. I am sure you have sensed and heard God’s Spirit since you believe but … is the Voice changing you? Do you get that it is a real message from God? The Spirit of God is proof of God’s prevenient grace ; everlasting love for those who believe. The Spirit of God helps us maintain the right relationship we need to have with God.
I am in full agreement with Hamilton who writes, “The Spirit is already at work in your life seeking to speak, call, form, shape and empower you. But, the Spirit will not force itself on you.” Friends we each can choose to accept and welcome or resist and reject God’s Spirit. We each know the truth of whether we are trying ways to be closer to God in our daily lives or whether we are finding ways to pull away from God … that is your truth and mine and God knows it and the Spirit senses it. The Spirit is not going to send out a loud overwhelming sound that you are forced to listen to … you and I will only find God’s Spirit in our quiet places and times.
Do you value your noises more than God’s whispering Spirit? I know that with my loss of hearing it is easier for me not to hear people speaking softly around me than to hear them … and sometimes I just tune out. It’s the same way with God’s Spirit of Truth. However, it is vital to our faith walk … it is essential for our lives if we want to follow Jesus as Savior and we want to bow down and worship God … we have been given a gift of the Spirit. Mark Hall wrote,
Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in … onto the crashing waves. To step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is … and He’s holding out His hand.
This morning we stated that we believe in the Holy Spirit of God. God’s guide … God’s gift to us as a life-long companion. When we allow the Holy Spirit; God’s Voice of Truth; to be our guide … to be in our lives then we will begin to have the kind of faith that can move mountains and most importantly allow each of us to leave our comfort zones and to set aside the world’s priorities so that together you and I can venture into the unknown where Jesus is … you see Jesus and God are holding out their hands wanting us to come into their arms; listen to their directions; find joy and hope and peace.
We can soar with the eagles … young and old … healthy and not so healthy … ALL humans loved by God … called by God to live faith-filled lives where we make a difference through our faith no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we hold dearest to our hearts … God is calling us to accept God’s love through Christ and God’s guide in the Holy Spirit. But, we need to stop and listen.
Consider if it is time for you do make that choice. Let us pray, “Come Holy Spirit Come! I need You … my church family needs You … those watching today need You. Breath of God fill us; form us; and shape us into the people God You wants us to be. Lead us to do what you want us to do in this short life we have. Empower us and use us. Help us to listen to Your voice amidst the noise and static of the world. Come Holy Spirit Come! I need You! My church family needs You! Those watching today need You! In Jesus’ name,