Pentecost Sunday Message
As we prepare for Communion, I begin by reading the entire chapter of Romans 8.
This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Those wonderful words which open the chapter, still get me excited and still send shivers through my soul and down my spine from time.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
This wonderful proclamation comes on the heels of Paul’s tremendous words at the end of chapter 7, words which everyone of us can relate to because he reminds us that we are engaged 21 centuries later in the same battle that he fought, and all of humanity has fought and still fights, but with a very important reminder that it is a battle that can be won!
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
(I remind us for a moment, that when Paul speaks of the law, he is referring to the law of Moses laid out in books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy which formed the basis of the Jewish faith. And when he speaks of the flesh, he is referring to our human nature.)
While we must acknowledge the truth of our soul condition in these final verses of chapter 7 such acknowledgment must lead us to embrace and live in the truth, power, and hope of verse 1 and the rest of chapter 8 or we are stuck in an attitude and pattern of living that is full of despair and not increasing victory through and in Christ.
And on this day, when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit, in power as Jesus said that He would come, we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is still present today with no less power than He had back then.
Many people live in fear of the Holy Spirit. Some referred to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost and often use the pronoun ‘it’ rather than ‘He.’
It’s okay to say Holy Ghost as that is the term used in the King James Version of the Bible. The word ‘Ghost’ comes from the Old English word gast, “spirit.” But the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is not an it.
We have nothing to fear from the Holy Spirit. He is present to help us and I have us move to Romans 8:26-27 to be reminded of this help:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
The Holy Spirit is our prayer partner. He is our intercessor.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans
He goes to God the Father on our behalf.
The Holy Spirit is for us! He is not against us! He is for us! Yes, He is the one who convicts of our sin and wrongs. He is the one who makes uncomfortable when we are out of God’s will. He makes uncomfortable because it is a reminder that we are not living the way we need to live. His convicting power is a call for us to come home.
But, as Paul says a few verses later, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
A few weeks ago, I concluded a sermon series which focused on having an emotionally healthy faith. I used the image of an iceberg to remind us that there is more to us that meets the eye. There are deep, deep areas of our life, our soul where the battle rages to do what is right!
This is where the Holy Spirit works!
I think that Paul gets at this when he concludes Romans 8 with these powerful affirmations:
in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let’s get practical now because I think that we need practical when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit because He works in the practical, everyday aspects of life – the attitudes we struggle with, the habits that cause us problems, the hurts we have trouble letting go of – this is Holy Spirit territory and praise the Lord it is!
Grab a pen and your bulletin…
Now, take a moment and respond to this question…
What is causing you the most difficulty right now in your life?
Is it an attitude like resentment, fear, or worry?
Is it a habit like drinking too much, or eating too much, or a sexual habit of some kind, or?
Is it a wound from the recent or distant past that you have trouble letting go of?
Write down what you are having the most difficulty with right now.
Now reflect again on this passage from Romans 8 and come up with a few ways the Holy Spirit can help you deal with this difficulty:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
One of the most important ways that the Spirit helps us with such difficulty (and I remind us that He wants to help us with such difficulties) is when we let Him help us. He will help us with our issues, but we must be willing to allow Him to help us and we must want Him to help us.
Christ did not come and die, and then, praise God, rise from the grave just for us to live a miserable life.
The Holy Spirit came on this day that we now call Pentecost Sunday, not for us to wallow in sin, self-pity, defeat, and despair.
No Christ came and the Holy Spirit came to give us life, and life more abundant!
We do not have to live defeated, discouraged, and disgusted with our life and faith.
Through and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can choose, and keep choosing to live in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit!
The choice is ours. Let us choose to do it!
I conclude with some wonderful quotes about how the Holy Spirit works in a variety of ways:
“Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs my mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend… The simple act of reassurance from another human being [becomes] a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear — because peace and fear are both contagious.” John Ortberg
“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” Billy Graham
“To ignore, repress, or dismiss our feelings is to fail to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit within our emotional life. Jesus listened. In John’s Gospel we are told that Jesus was moved with the deepest emotions (11:33)… The gospel portrait of the beloved Child of Abba is that of a man exquisitely attuned to His emotions and uninhibited in expressing them. The Son of Man did not scorn or reject feelings as fickle and unreliable. They were sensitive antennae to which He listened carefully and through which He perceived the will of His Father for congruent speech and action.” Brennan Manning
“Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes–all the time! It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.” Henry Blackaby
“The wizard [of Oz] says look inside yourself and find self. God says look inside yourself and find [the Holy Spirit]. The first will get you to Kansas. The latter will get you to heaven. Take your pick.” Max Lucado
“In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit.” Brennan Manning
“… self-control is not control by oneself through one’s own willpower but rather control of oneself through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Jerry Bridges
“We say we want revival . . . but on our terms. We don’t pray this way, but this is what our hearts are saying to God: “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if you promise in advance to do things the way we have always done them in our church.” “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if I have some sort of prior guarantee that when you show up you won’t embarrass me.” “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if your work of revival is one that I can still control, one that preserves intact the traditions with which I am comfortable.” “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if your work of revival is neat and tidy and dignified and understandable and above all else socially acceptable.” “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if you plan to change others; only if you make them to be like me; only if you convict their hearts so they will live and dress and talk like I do.” “Come Holy Spirit . . . but only if you let us preserve our distinctives and retain our differences from others whom we find offensive.” Sam Storms
“But the Holy Spirit is not in a hurry. Character is the [product] of a lifetime.” John Stott
As we prepare for communion, I ask to consider:
Are we open to the Holy Spirit this morning? Are we open to His convicting work? Are we open to His comforting work? Are we open to His deepening work?
How much of you does the Lord have this morning?
He wants, He needs it all!
Let us be responsive and obedient to the movement of the Spirit this morning.
And thanks be to God for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit!